@ 03:48 pm (GMT)
Nathan FosterHi Randal, I think to some extent this is a personal choice. To my way of thinking, a bolt action rifle is a simple and effective proposition. The bedding, trigger and bore can be worked on with ease. The ejection port can be cleared easily. The comb of the stock on a bolt action can be made to have better alignment. So on the one hand, while a lever can be faster to cycle, the bolt action will not recoil in the same manner and recovery from recoil is very fast. Such a rifle can be made both portable and highly accurate to the point that what once may have appeared to be a woods only cartridge, is now more than suitable for cross valley shots.
On other hand, if you have a preference for the BLR, then that is your call. And this is where personal choice comes into play. I have only known you for a short time but I think that you are the type of person who, if you discover something is not up to scratch, will set about working on the rifle in your workshop until you are satisfied that (for example) the trigger and forend assembly are optimal.
The question is, based on your "fix it" mindset (like mine)- do you want a workshop project that may involve many weeks of experimentation. Or do you want something that is more straight forwards (although it will still need bedding etc).
I don't think any input from myself can answer this.
As for barrel length and portability- again, this is highly subjective. We started out with Lee Enfields. Perhaps you did the same. We never had short barrels and we never thought we had a less than ideal bush rifle.
There is no correct answer to this thread. One person may prefer a BLR lever (or even a BAR), another may prefer a modern bolt action. Yet another may prefer a Lee Enfield (even a .35-303 if the feeding issues can be overcome). Another may prefer a Marlin 45-70. Some prefer to have one of everything. Reasons may be based on nostalgia or function or whatever...
My personal preference for large bodied medium game in brush conditions is a .35 Whelen, bolt action, 24" barrel. I am not adverse to the .358 Norma either, whether loaded to full capacity or downloaded to Whelen velocities. I do not believe my preferences should bear any weight on your decision making.