An ideal single-shot rifle choice when big-game is on the menu, and maneuverability is essential, Traditions Outfitter G3 is a compact, accurate shooter that deserves a place in your arsenal.
by Brad Fenson
We gathered around the shooting bench to confirm that everyone’s rifle was hammering bullseyes in preparation for the evening activities. We were on an Alberta elk hunt, and a big bull can be unforgiving when shot with a bullet lacking the killing accuracy to put it on the ground quickly.
Three hunters in our crew had firearms that generated lots of attention. Specialized carbon-fiber barrels, muzzle brakes, big riflescopes with insane magnification, bipods built into the stock, and a sticker on the buttstock with the dope for elevation adjustments on a ballistically calibrated turret were the norm.
The rifle that generated more attention with the guides was the Traditions Outfitter G3. The break-action single-shot rifle is compact, lightweight, and easy to shoot. The guides that tromp through the woods on active elk trails saw the advantages immediately and asked about details. The benefits for a hardcore hunter were obvious.
There are some places where being able to shoot 800 yards or more is an option, but in northern Alberta, where the boreal forest is so thick that you cannot see 20 yards, a compact and easy-to-carry and maneuver rifle shines. Staying mobile, maneuvering in tight quarters, and having the hitting power of a big bullet made the diminutive gun stand out.
The Outfitter G3 rifle is the third generation of a model and concept that continues improving with refined technologies and improvements. The original models are still beautiful options, but manufacturers continually strive to build a better product like anything else in the hunting world. Traditions upgraded the Outfitter line, creating the G2 and G3 models.
Traditions is well known in the muzzleloader industry and have a solid following among cowboy action shooters with pistols. The Outfitter G3 rifle continues to grow in popularity and is ideal for many hunts. It is available in .357 MAG, .35 Whelen, .44 MAG, .45-70, .35 Rem, 300 AAC Blackout, 450 Bushmaster, and 350 Legend as heavy hitters. Popular calibers are available, but anyone hunting rough country, heavy bush, or areas requiring a straight-walled cartridge will appreciate the versatility and performance. The Outfitter G3 rifle package includes a scope with rings, bases, and a case. The MSRP ranges from $550.00 to $675.00.
A Closer Look
Caliber options cover anything in North America, and for the elk hunt, the .35 Whelen was the perfect cartridge for a big-bodied animal and dealing with thick forests. The wildcat cartridge is best described as a .35 caliber bullet on a .30-06 casing, creating a 250-yard rifle with extreme hitting power. The .45-70 is another excellent option, but to cover various ranges, the Whelen was an obvious choice.
A short, lightweight rifle may intimidate some shooters worried about recoil. However, a ported barrel helps maintain control of the lightweight rifle when fired. The fit and balance of the rifle allow the shooter to maintain muzzle control and recover quickly from recoil. The big and fancy guns in the camp were also ported with oblong holes angled back toward the shooters. The Outfitter G3 has round ports that exhaust to the side. It is easier on the ears, but hearing protection is still necessary. It may not seem important, but the gents with the angled ports continually complained about the brakes getting caught in tree limbs. The hunters in camp took note of the different port angles.
The new G3 rifle was easy to sight in. I took 10 shots and then cleaned the bore with copper remover between each shot to clear riflings and break in the gun. The next three shots touched at 100 yards, confirming accuracy and consistency.
The Outfitter G3 features a 22-inch Chromoly fluted barrel. The barrel is a Lothar Walther, a brand known for quality, innovation, and a vast range of products for sharpshooters and hunters. The ported and fluted barrel helps reduce overall weight without compromising quality or performance.
The Outfitter G3 has a Traditions Elite XT trigger system that is intuitive to engage and breaks clean. The trigger system has built-in safety features, including a rebounding hammer and a manual cross-block trigger safety. A notable function is that the trigger allows the action to be broken open with the cross bolt safety engaged, which allows you to load or unload your Outfitter G3 and view the chamber. Most firearms would need to have the safety off and the hammer uncocked. The Elite XT trigger system is used in premium Traditions muzzleloaders and is proven to help maintain accuracy.
Forend and Breakdown
A few of the hunters in camp are backcountry enthusiasts. Weight is always a factor. The quick detachable forearm on the Outfitter G3 can be deliberately removed from the barrel, and some G3 models have a new QD forend that allows removal with the push of a button. The forend does not come off without intent, but when off, allows the action to be opened by pulling back on the release lever, rotating the barrel forward, and then sliding it back and off the receiver. The receiver, barrel, and forend can pack up easily for quick retrieval and reassembly.
The G3 rifles utilize a crossbolt safety designed to work with the trigger, allowing the action to open with the safety engaged. Visualizing the chamber and removing or loading a cartridge becomes easy and safe. Knurled thumb extension screws thread into both sides of the hammer to firmly cock the hammer and play an essential role for rifles fitted with a riflescope. Left- and right-side thumb extensions combined with the break action make this rifle fully ambidextrous.
Sights and Scope
The Outfitter G3 comes drilled and taped for bases and rings. Rifles bought as a package come assembled with a base, rings, and scope. Traditions have riflescopes ballistically calibrated to specific calibers. The .35 Whelen riflescope is 3-9X40 with an illuminated BDC range-finding reticle. It is fast and intuitive to use in the field, especially in heavy cover when every second counts.
An Alberta elk hunt with Northern Backcountry Adventures was the perfect field test for the rifle. It was not unusual to trek over 10 miles daily, often through thick forests on actively used game trails. We hunted two people per guide, and it took only a short time to determine the benefits of the G3. The lightweight design made it easy to shoulder and carry for long periods.
We hunted the rut and faced bulls in thick alder and willow where shot windows were tight. The maneuverability of the rifle was a standout, and the large caliber was the perfect choice for the tangle of limbs and challenging shooting conditions. There was the opportunity to catch elk feeding in forest clear-cuts or pipeline corridors seeded to clover and protein-rich grasses. Knowing the rifle could easily take an elk out to 300 yards was peace of mind after working hard for an opportunity.
The break-action, single shot was never a disadvantage. A second shot can be accomplished quickly, but there are seldom opportunities for a follow-up.
Outfitter G3 Specs
Barrel: 22” Lothar Walther Chromoly Fluted Barrel
Barrel Finish: Premium CeraKote Finish on Barrel
Weight: 5.8 lbs (gun only)
Trigger: Elite XT™ Trigger System
Safety: Manual Trigger Block Safety
Frame: Steel Frame
Crown: 11 Degree Target Crown
Drilled & Tapped: Yes
Thread Pitch: 5/8 x 24 American Standard
ALPS Pursuit Pack
The ALPS Pursuit pack was perfect on longer hikes to pack essentials for the day and any equipment needed when successful. The Pursuit has a capacity of 44L / 2700 in³ and is 19 inches high, 11 inches wide, and 7 inches deep. The waist belt ranges from 33 to 63 inches, and the pack weighs 4 lbs. 7 oz. Extra straps and pockets provide plenty of room for gear.
Wildlife Research Center Scent Killer Gold and Elk Fire
Staying undetected from elk is critical when hunting them in close quarters. Wildlife Research Center Scent Killer Gold products eliminate human odor and help hunters slip close. The Elk Fire scent tells a bull that a cow in estrous is nearby, and we put the fresh scent on boots and clothing to smell like elk.