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Never Trust a Quirky Rifle

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April 11, 2011

Never Trust a Quirky Rifle

By David E. Petzal

In my post of April 7, wherein I pissed and moaned about my groups breaking up at 300 yards, Amflyer asked a couple of very interesting questions: First, would a bullet that dropped 10 inches below point of aim at 300 yards really cause me to miss any animal that was big enough to justify shooting at it with a .338? And second, would not a range-compensating scope compensate for the fact that some bullets went way low?

 

To which I reply: there are two things every rifleman should fear:  shifting winds and anomalies of any sort. Since the first is not relevant to this post, we will deal with the second. In the wonderful world of rifles, consistency is king. Just as surely as Congress is comprised of petulant, half-bright children, any gun, or load, that does weird, quirky stuff is not to be trusted, no matter how often or seldom it occurs, because, when it counts most, that anomaly will jump up and bite you right in the ass.

In theory it would be hard to miss an elk-sized animal with a 10-inch low shot at 300 yards. Except I might be shooting at something a lot smaller than an elk, and a lot farther off than 300 yards. Those who tolerate inconsistency are doomed to failure.

As for the rangefinding scope, I have one on only one rifle, and not the .338, because while I think they are highly useful, I don’t need one as a rule. And, more important, they function on the assumption that your bullets will go where they’re supposed to. If your rifle is spraying slugs all over the place, no scope in the world will save you.

Comments (49)

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from SD Bob wrote 3 years 1 week ago

It's time to trade that .338 in for something young and supple, may I suggest a booth babe?

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To SD Bob: They're all too young for me. I don't date anyone who can't name both of Danny and the Juniors' hits.

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from MJC wrote 3 years 1 week ago

The most important lesson I'm getting from these two posts is that if you haven't tested [insert rifle, insert load, insert range] personally, assume it's quirky. If a Remington Custom shop rifle can come unglued at 300 then God knows what horrors my rifles could print at untested ranges. My range is 100 yards long and my hunting shots are 100 yards or less (usually much less). Period.

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from ishawooa wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I once traded off a beautiful .280 that I really liked except I had convinced myself that it was "quirky". Perhaps someone mentioned this thought in the previous "evil" post but reloaders should absolutely make certain not to harm a bullet in any way during the insertion into the case. A tiny bit of damage in this step will provide great food for thought as the range increases since destabilization sometimes equals quirky rifles. So why did I trade off the quirky .280? It was one of a matched pair I owned, the second one was never quirky.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Suggest you get a rifle with a more reasonable cartridge, like a .30-06, and a short, stiff barrel. A Mannlciher Schoenauer would do the job without random 10" drop. ;)

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from chrisb9381 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Maybe it's just me but I don't see the need to (or fun)in shooting at game at 300+ yds. Isn't the whole thrill (and skill) of the hunt getting as close as possible? Personally I'll stick to 100 yds or less with my rifle and patiently wait for archery season to roll around.

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

"At The Hop" and "Rock-n-Roll is Here to Stay"....and no I won't date you, DP. I'm a traditional guy.

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from Tony C. wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Most of my shots in the woods and food plots in the hills of North Alabama are 50 to 100 yards. But I shot my 7mm-08 at 225 yards last fall "just in case".

I was shooting off a rough rest, basically a wooden rail with a sandbag. I pissed and moaned to a couple of my buddies about my woeful accuracy at that range... until I actually put a ruler to the group. It was 2 inches. Isn't that MOA at 200 yards.

The first group I ever shot out of the 7mm-08 was a clover leaf, one bullet touching another, just a beautiful thing.

If I can't do that now -- and I haven't -- I piss and moan. The 4 deer I shot last fall (4 out of 4)didn't complain. The smallest of the 4 ironically was the only one that needed a follow up shot.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To MJC: You are guilty of poor reading. The rifle did not come unglued; the rifle is fine. Go back and re-read.

To Mike Diehl: You've got to get over your Mannlicher problem. When we all have to pass psychological tests to get a gun, you're going to be in a lot of trouble.

To Mark-1: I am impressed.

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from Amflyer wrote 3 years 1 week ago

DEP: thanks for addressing my question.

Accuracy and ballistics are always interesting...I spent the noon hour messing with a ballistics calculator.

I think we can safely rule out a component failure (primer or powder)causing a swing in velocity. To print ten inches low I had to lower the velocity from 2870 all the way to 2425 at the muzzle. That's probably not going to happen from a factory load or hand load.

You mentioned your hypothesis that the bullets are destabilizing it longer distances. This would effectively drop both the BC and the velocity in such a way that meager anti-math's like myself cannot hope to calculate. Would you expect to find the POI directly south in a mildly destabilized bullet, rather than a more random 360 degree dispersion? Too many variables for more than speculation and experience.

I like to figure out issues like this as much as the next guy. I get a bit obsessed when working up a hunting load, then find myself wiping the powder burns from the pelt when it's time to hang the tag...but not always. Prepare for the worst, as they say.

Still, the part of me that deep-down wishes to be the second coming of Jeff Cooper whispers "You had two shots at him that were perfect; what the hell do you need three more for?"

(Although the Colonel would never have ended a sentence with a preposition.)

Mention your results when you find your load. It will be interesting to see what the combination turns out to be.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Jeez. "Danny and the Juniors?" Youse guys are OLD!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 1 week ago

It's kind of funny how people went for the "NEW AND IMPROVED" but like ice cream, but as time went on, the Old Fashion way what people like the best.

All of this fancy smancy stuff of high tech has more variables to fail!

KISS, KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To Mike:

Yes I'm *becoming* old. I consider it more being a Professor of Musical Knowledge. :-)

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from Mike Diehl wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Good reply Mark. I'll confess I knew the answer to Dave's question, but I don't think it really counts if the only time you'd heard them was on the Wolfman Jack show in the late 1970s. ;)

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from Proverbs wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To Chrisb: Most people who hunt the southwest and the Rockies will miss a lot of opportunities if they don't learn to shoot well past 100 yards.

It's the geography that dictates longer shots. And deer are certainly not in abundance as they are in the eastern part of the country. I sometimes hunt deer in Wisconsin and Indiana, and it's nothing like the western hunts. Last November I harvested three deer in northern Wis. The longest shot was 70 yards. I thought all three shots were rather simple, straightforward shots on level ground with no wind.

As far as the shooting goes there is no comparison, say to that of hunting elk in the Colorado rockies (which I do 9 of 10 years). The shots are routinely between 200-300 yards, occasionaly longer. It seems to be always windy in those mountains, too. And those who wait for the perfect sub-100 yard shot don't fill tags. In fact, a couple of them hunt with me.

And it is why I spend considerable time at the 300-yard range at Ben Avery.

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from 99explorer wrote 3 years 1 week ago

IMHO, ten inches off the mark is a LOT at any range, and at any animal on this continent.

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from jim in nc wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Mike diehl:
Damn right we're old. And the older we get, the better we wuz.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Take a 03-A3 and top it with quality rings and base with a Leopold 3x9, what possibly can go wrong!

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To Amflyer: With all respects to Col. Cooper, there have been at least five occasions when I got off five shots at animals that were way beyond my limit of competence as a shooter. When they're 400 yards away or more, they have no idea where the shots are coming from and are likely to stand there and listen to the cracks of the bullets going by. In four of the five cases I was able to bracket, and by sheer trial and error hit the poor dopey creature.

The fifth, a truly monstrous Quebec caribou, escaped with a little chest hair clipped off.

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from Michigan Gunner wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Petzal is right. Life is way to short to shoot a quirky rifle. It's also too short to shoot an inaccurate one.

Lock and Load!

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from outdoorsman29 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I am 100% with Mr.Petzal on this one.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Dave I really don't think I read your post correct. 10 inches low at 300 is about right if sighted at dead zero for 100.
But now that I re-read, I do think there is a problem and not with your rifle. These are the trying times a handloader goes through. Factory stuff never gives me the best accuracy but dammit the stuff gives me the best consistency, and it pisses me off!

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from Quiet Loner wrote 3 years 1 week ago

One might have to shoot at a wounded animal at a distance much longer than he would like. Shooting at paper from 300 plus yards using field positions is also way more fun and instructive (humbling?) than paper at 100 yards. LV3RP

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from AZSlim wrote 3 years 1 week ago

"Just as surely as Congress is comprised of petulant, half-bright children, any gun, or load, that does weird, quirky stuff is not to be trusted, no matter how often or seldom it occurs, because, when it counts most, that anomaly will jump up and bite you right in the ass."

Truer words may never have been written . . . ;-)

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from huntslow wrote 3 years 1 week ago

DEP - It seems to me that if your hold was based on the 2 shots that hit near the center of the bull and the actual hit was 10 inches below that, you could easily miss a very large animal (with a heart shot hold for example). If the expected POI was between the 2 then maybe you would be OK. You still have the right view of quirky rifles no matter what POI/POA.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I once had a Colt manufactured M-16 that randomly jammed when clean or dirty until it "accidentally" was backed over by a deuce and a half after a couple of trips to the armorer didn't fix it. The replacement GM Hydramatic Division M-16 never failed to feed and fire. Had a quirky M-60 prone to stoppages that miraculously cured itself. Never did figure out why it malfunctioned.

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from MReeder wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I guess it's possible those low bullets may not be stabilizing, but if that were the case wouldn't they be more likely to spray all over the place rather than just drop low? I know muzzleloader bullets can sometimes do strange things. Bullets that are right on the mark at 50 yards may keyhole at 100, but that doesn't sound like that's what's going on with your .338. Here's one thought for what it's worth, and it's probably not much. Are you loading it one cartridge at a time or loading up the magazine and working them through the bolt? If it's the latter, could the recoil somehow be compressing the powder charge in the last couple of rounds and effecting pressures? That might explain a steady drop.

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from Amflyer wrote 3 years 1 week ago

So what you're telling me WAM, is that you destroyed govt. property for which my tax dollars paid ?

Since no one else claimed recompense, I think you should reimburse me in total for the M-16 .

Please send me a check for, oh, probably two bits or so. That should about cover the worth of the M-16.

Sorry. I'm re-reading "Coopers Commentaries," and I guess it's rubbing off on me. I have even been calling my younger son "Dragoon" and my oldest "Baby."

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 1 week ago

First, would a bullet that dropped 10 inches below point of aim at 300 yards really cause me to miss any animal that was big enough to justify shooting at it with a .338?

Answer, knowing the approximate distance and where to hold. If not, shouldn't be shooting at that distance.

second, would not a range-compensating scope compensate for the fact that some bullets went way low?

For a 300 yard shot, a range-compensating scope is laughable!

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from wingshooter54 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Who the hell is Danny & The Juniors? If it wasn't Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jeffy Jeff Walker and the rest of the outlaws being played, someone would get lynched. Like good marriages and bad marriages, there's nothing better than an accurate rifle and nothing on this earth worse than one with a curse on it.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Amflyer

Yes sir, your honor; it was strictly an accident. Just like those lizzards what got shot at the ammo dump in Qui Nhon....

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 3 years 1 week ago

All . . .

A brief story here about an untested (on game) rifle, gale-like winds, a very long pair of shots, and coyotes around my property as insolent and bold as coke-sniffing rap-listening crime-committing teenagers.

The rifle: a 7x57 Ackley Improved with a heavy 24" Lilja barrel on a blue-printed Remington 700 action bedded and pillared into an all weather Hogue stock. Nikon Monarch scope. Nosler 120-grain Ballistic Tips driven at 3350 fps MV--a safe load in that rifle--and zeroed at 250 yards. One-half MOA groups at any sane range. But no actual field use. No game ever taken.

Winds gusting 20-25 mph from left to right, slightly quartering from front to rear. Way past sunset, five minutes of can-maybe-still-see-the-crosshairs light left. Maybe. A coyote--one I recognized, the alpha of a group of seven big adults living in a den in the woods not more than 225 yards from my garage door--on a distant hill, trotting from left to right. The previous morning, just after sunrise, I had one-shot bagged a fellow gang member at 200 yards in perfect conditions with a 22-250.

I am usually a pathetic liberal live-and-let-live person when it comes to coyotes. The ones in my area, which I listen to at night (with pleasure) and watch through the binocs (with pleasure) in the daytime when I'm lucky enough to have a little time to look for them, stroll amidst and though the cattle herd on the distant hill. The momma cows and baby calves, for the most part, treat the coyotes as if they are invisible, which is a remarkable sight and vice-versa. Some local coyotes use the herd to pounce upon grasshoppers and field mice that the cows stir up in the tall grass. The coyotes in my area do not perceive the cows and calves as Big Mac items.

But the Gang of Seven, or components of it, have been coming into my garage at night to terrorize my dog and steal his food right from his bowl. He is now mostly blind in one eye due to an attack. I had to take action.

True, I have yet to actually see a coyote in my garage, but my dog likes the neighbor dogs in the area (as do I) and gladly shares his food with them. Second, my dog is more than big enough and feisty enough--even though he is a bit of a p*ssy most of the time--to never permit a raccoon or skunk or similar creature to come into the garage. Third, I've discovered fresh coyote scat not twenty yards from my garage for weeks in a row. And finally, I've been awakened at 0230 in the morning on several occasions in recent days by terrible battles right outside the garage or even in it, but have never been able to get a clear, safe shot at anything but shadows. That is not a shot I can take.

But on this recent evening I spotted the alpha through my binocs on the distant hill, no cows anywhere in sight. He emerged from a small grove of trees and, according to my self-made map of the hill, was 400 yards out and moving further away as he crossed from right to left before me. I put down the binocs, quickly turned the Nikon down to 7x to widen the field of view, swiveled the rifle on the bag and prayed I would see the coyote through the scope. And I did. He was trotting who knows where, with no idea at all that I was looking at him.

Other than a crow, I had never previously taken a shot at an animal over maybe 350 yards. Although I knew the rifle and knew my handloads and knew my ballistics and trajectories, the near-black darkness, the gale winds, the distant uphill shot and the pace of the trotting coyote, when all combined together, presented a shot possibility more difficult and far beyond anything I had ever taken before. My head was spinning with bullet drops and wind drift adjustments and proper-lead-on-the-coyote adjustments when I got the crosshairs just above the coyote's head as he moved in the fierce left to right wind at what was now 425 yards out. I pulled the trigger. To my amazement, I actually saw the hit--not a great hit, too far to the right, outside the heart-lung area. I cursed at myself and watched the coyote tumble downhill for thirty yards while I automatic-pilot slammed the bolt back and chambered another round.

The coyote tumbled-fell into a bushy ravine. I then made the stupid amateur mistake of putting down the rifle and picking up the binocs (which have far better night capability). Right as I obtained a sight picture through the binocs, the coyote popped up from the ravine and, to my horror, began running from left to right back to the woods (and den) some 200 yards away. I threw the binocs to the ground, picked up the rifle and spotted the coyote, which was now moving through a copse of trees and brush about thirty yards away from the thick forest where he lived. I couldn't get a shot. But there was a clearing maybe five yards wide just between the copse of trees and the thick woods. The coyote emerged into that clearing, slowed, and in the half-second I had left to me, I took my second shot, this one at 415 yards and made from pure instinct with no time for calculations or minute adjustments or math or anything else. Saw and heard the second hit, which, to my disbelieving eyes, appeared to be a head shot. The coyote dropped as if a car had fallen on him. A part of my mind noted that both shots hit at least six inches to the right of where I wanted them to.

But then, a millisecond later, the coyote somehow got to its feet and ran-stumbled-threw itself into the thick woods and disappeared. I cursed and swore and kicked and said many unpleasant things. I knew this night would be a long one.

I waited an hour then strapped on my .45, put on a hiker's LED headlamp, put a small Maglight in my back pocket, and headed out. It was pitch-black, of course, no moon, no stars, Mother Nature's way of punishing me, but by now the wind had died and at least I could hear and smell normally. I hiked to where I had seen the second shot occur and scoured the area. I eventually discovered fur and blood and tracks leading into the woods. I hopped over an ancient fence and, three feet later, was in woods and undergrowth and thorns and nastiness so thick and so low to the ground that a rifle or shotgun would have been useless. I put my Maglight in my left hand, my pistol in my right, turned my headlamp on as bright as it would get, and crawled inbound, moving in half-circular arcs every few feet as I moved deeper into the woods. An hour later I smelled the coyote. I found him not thirty yards from where the second shot had occurred. He was, of course, long gone.

The first shot, I'm ashamed to say, was indeed a gut shot. The damage made by the Ballistic Tip was horrific, the exit wound consisting of five or six inches of blown-out flesh. I have no idea how the coyote lived through that first shot for any length of time, but he got up and ran close to 200 yards before I was able to fire my second shot.

The second shot removed a good-sized chunk of the coyote's uppermost skull and semi-scalped one half of the top of his head. That shot should have instantly killed him. But somehow the coyote managed to get to its feet and run-stagger-throw itself another thirty yards before it finally gave up the ghost. I have never seen an animal with a greater will to live.

The rifle performed exactly as it should have. The handloads performed exactly as they should have. It was probably foolish of me to take the shots, but I did and the coyote is dead and that's that.

I hear the remaining Gang of Seven howling in the woods at night. But with two of their number gone, they have not appeared in daylight (at least not when I was around) anywhere nearby, and there have been no more late-night battles with my dog in the garage.

Mission accomplished, at least for now.

I am sure, however, they will return.

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from MJC wrote 3 years 1 week ago

DEP- Poor reading?! Them's fightin' words, dam yur eyes!

I will, however, plead guilty to the lesser crime of poor summarization.

My above comment should have read: If a Remington custom shop rifle can produce unpredictable results at 300 yards with ammunition that was accurate at lesser ranges then God knows what horrors my rifles could print at untested ranges.

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from duckcreekdick wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Chrisb9381- I'm with you on getting closer to what you hunt. That's why they call it hunting, I believe. Having to do a "Carlos Hathcock" on a critter brings into question a lack of hunting skill or shaky hunting ethics. And yes, I've hunted elk in Colorado. If a blackpowder hunter can succeed under 150 yards and an archer can do the job under 30 yards, don't you think the rest of us can manage under 300yds.?

WAMtn Hunter- That quirky M-60 worked better after you turned the gas piston around, didn't it? LOL So Sorry!

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from shane wrote 3 years 1 week ago

duckcreekdick - Amen. I laugh at all the Western Hunting Experts who claim that you have to go long or go home.

Tell that to the bowhunters, the smokepole folks, and the .45-70 single shot people.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 1 week ago

@ duckcreekdick - LMAO! Not that I had not done that before, but that was not the issue with that "pig"! once had my AG put another one back together and he installed the trigger group retention spring upside down and backwards.. You can guess the outcome....

@ Shane - You might get pretty hungry bowhunting where we hunt elk, ML maybe... It all depends on one's definition of "LONG RANGE". For me, 300 yards is "way out yonder", 400 yards is "That's a long ways to have to shoot" and 500 yards is "Now that is a long shot, think I'll pass." to me, 200 - 250 yards is a chip shot. I bet there a lot of guys on here that can hit a golf ball that far!

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from 1uglymutha wrote 3 years 1 week ago

bowhunters and front stuffers have the advantage of getting to the elk first and when the bulls are in full rut 2nd,3rd and 4th season rifle shooters hunt spooky game and when the elk have stopped bugling for the most part. in later colorado seasons snow sometimes,but not always, helps. if you can get close on snow that has partially melted then refrozen, you're a ninja. if the only elk you've seen all season is a 6x bull in a meadow 500 yards or so distant at dusk, would you be glad you had practiced with your rifle all year in all conditions and at all ranges to which your cartridge is capable? for some, this much practice is expensive work. for me it's fun. and sometimes, when the stars are right, it pays off.

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 1 week ago

What bugs me is that your 100 yard groups are good. So I would rule out your optics, bedding, shooting technique, etc. Dave, what is the rifling spin in that .338's barrel? And how heavy were the bullets? If they are understabilized, that could have a greater effect at long range than at short. Is the same load that is buggy in this rifle good in another one?

One last option; if your handloads have an extremely wide SD, that could cause things to come apart at longer range but still shoot straight at 100 yards. Have you been playing with primers, new powder, etc.?

As should be plain from this post, I got nothin. Remind me never to buy a rifle from you.

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from ingebrigtsen wrote 3 years 1 week ago

A really good hunter would never need more than his rifles ability to coldbore-shoot. second shot is more dependant on controlling your adrenaline rushes than the rifles ability to put 2 bullets in the same hole..
Although shooting tiny groups is a comforting thought, it isnt really nessesary if my humble wiev :)
(and if your rifle only shows one or two "quirks" in its lifetime i put it its the shooters fault in overdjudging his abilities and concentration, rather than the guns :D )

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from JohnR wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I have been extremely fortunate. My rifles are all pretty stable (even the historical surplus ones).
My best friend however had a Remington .243 that he loved and used for deer hunting. It had a bad habit of not firing when he had a really nice buck dead to rights.
He would take it to the gunsmith and the gunsmith could find nothing wrong with it. My friend would then go out an shoot 2 - boxes of shells at the range and it functioned flawlessly.
The very next time he went hunting and would shoot at a deer from his tree stand...click...eject shell chamber another...click. Take it back to his house and bang it fired every time. He ended up giving it to his daughter before he passed away because it was the rifle she always used when they hunted together. It never misfired for her.

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from JohnR wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Oops! That should have been 2-3 boxes of shells! It was a Remington 700.

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from Amflyer wrote 3 years 1 week ago

JohnR, that's pretty strange about the 243. Sometimes things just happen and everyone is at a loss to explain. I think this is largely where the whole "limp-wristing" phenomenon came from in pistol work, but I could be wrong. Or it could be supernatural.

Street lights go off when I'm under them, whether walking, riding a bike, or driving. Not every time mind you, but enough that my wife just looks up and says, "you turned that one off" when we drive together.

Maybe I'm an undiscovered Ninja or something. I am pretty good with a Bo staff...

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from WildBill3 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

There are some things on this earth we will never figure out. Life is short - get rid of the damn gun, unless it is special to you. You know like the Queen presented it to you for being such a wonderful human being.

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from RES1956 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I have never owned a quirky rifle (for very long).

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 1 week ago

It's a David E. Petzal impostor that wrote this! David must have paid someone to fill in for him while going turkey hunting. The more I go back and read DEP's Quirky Rifle story, the more oxymoronic it gets!

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from dasmith wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I had a quirky rifle/shotgun combo. The 20ga barrel wouldn't fire everytime in the field. The gun had been in the trunk during a rain storm when I changed a tire. Must had gotten damp in the insides. The 2nd time that it failed to fire, it cost me the only deer I had a shot at all season. Took it to a gunshop and sold it. My confidence was gone, so it wasn't worth keeping.

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from Darrell Mora wrote 3 years 4 days ago

"To Amflyer: With all respects to Col. Cooper, there have been at least five occasions when I got off five shots at animals that were way beyond my limit of competence as a shooter. When they're 400 yards away or more, they have no idea where the shots are coming from and are likely to stand there and listen to the cracks of the bullets going by. In four of the five cases I was able to bracket, and by sheer trial and error hit the poor dopey creature."

Hey, Dave... Don't I recall reading a rather vitriolic rant from you a few months ago about Sarah Palin doing exactly the same thing?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 4 days ago

Uh Oh! The gloves just came off!

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from dale freeman wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

David, David....
I hope you parted ways with that rifle by now.
It dosen't matter wheather it has a quirk or not.
If you don't have confidence, in any rifle, cut your losses and get one your're confident with.
Works everytime.

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

"At The Hop" and "Rock-n-Roll is Here to Stay"....and no I won't date you, DP. I'm a traditional guy.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To MJC: You are guilty of poor reading. The rifle did not come unglued; the rifle is fine. Go back and re-read.

To Mike Diehl: You've got to get over your Mannlicher problem. When we all have to pass psychological tests to get a gun, you're going to be in a lot of trouble.

To Mark-1: I am impressed.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I once had a Colt manufactured M-16 that randomly jammed when clean or dirty until it "accidentally" was backed over by a deuce and a half after a couple of trips to the armorer didn't fix it. The replacement GM Hydramatic Division M-16 never failed to feed and fire. Had a quirky M-60 prone to stoppages that miraculously cured itself. Never did figure out why it malfunctioned.

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from MJC wrote 3 years 1 week ago

The most important lesson I'm getting from these two posts is that if you haven't tested [insert rifle, insert load, insert range] personally, assume it's quirky. If a Remington Custom shop rifle can come unglued at 300 then God knows what horrors my rifles could print at untested ranges. My range is 100 yards long and my hunting shots are 100 yards or less (usually much less). Period.

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from chrisb9381 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Maybe it's just me but I don't see the need to (or fun)in shooting at game at 300+ yds. Isn't the whole thrill (and skill) of the hunt getting as close as possible? Personally I'll stick to 100 yds or less with my rifle and patiently wait for archery season to roll around.

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from Tony C. wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Most of my shots in the woods and food plots in the hills of North Alabama are 50 to 100 yards. But I shot my 7mm-08 at 225 yards last fall "just in case".

I was shooting off a rough rest, basically a wooden rail with a sandbag. I pissed and moaned to a couple of my buddies about my woeful accuracy at that range... until I actually put a ruler to the group. It was 2 inches. Isn't that MOA at 200 yards.

The first group I ever shot out of the 7mm-08 was a clover leaf, one bullet touching another, just a beautiful thing.

If I can't do that now -- and I haven't -- I piss and moan. The 4 deer I shot last fall (4 out of 4)didn't complain. The smallest of the 4 ironically was the only one that needed a follow up shot.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Jeez. "Danny and the Juniors?" Youse guys are OLD!

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To Mike:

Yes I'm *becoming* old. I consider it more being a Professor of Musical Knowledge. :-)

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To SD Bob: They're all too young for me. I don't date anyone who can't name both of Danny and the Juniors' hits.

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from Amflyer wrote 3 years 1 week ago

DEP: thanks for addressing my question.

Accuracy and ballistics are always interesting...I spent the noon hour messing with a ballistics calculator.

I think we can safely rule out a component failure (primer or powder)causing a swing in velocity. To print ten inches low I had to lower the velocity from 2870 all the way to 2425 at the muzzle. That's probably not going to happen from a factory load or hand load.

You mentioned your hypothesis that the bullets are destabilizing it longer distances. This would effectively drop both the BC and the velocity in such a way that meager anti-math's like myself cannot hope to calculate. Would you expect to find the POI directly south in a mildly destabilized bullet, rather than a more random 360 degree dispersion? Too many variables for more than speculation and experience.

I like to figure out issues like this as much as the next guy. I get a bit obsessed when working up a hunting load, then find myself wiping the powder burns from the pelt when it's time to hang the tag...but not always. Prepare for the worst, as they say.

Still, the part of me that deep-down wishes to be the second coming of Jeff Cooper whispers "You had two shots at him that were perfect; what the hell do you need three more for?"

(Although the Colonel would never have ended a sentence with a preposition.)

Mention your results when you find your load. It will be interesting to see what the combination turns out to be.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 1 week ago

It's kind of funny how people went for the "NEW AND IMPROVED" but like ice cream, but as time went on, the Old Fashion way what people like the best.

All of this fancy smancy stuff of high tech has more variables to fail!

KISS, KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!

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from Mike Diehl wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Good reply Mark. I'll confess I knew the answer to Dave's question, but I don't think it really counts if the only time you'd heard them was on the Wolfman Jack show in the late 1970s. ;)

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from AZSlim wrote 3 years 1 week ago

"Just as surely as Congress is comprised of petulant, half-bright children, any gun, or load, that does weird, quirky stuff is not to be trusted, no matter how often or seldom it occurs, because, when it counts most, that anomaly will jump up and bite you right in the ass."

Truer words may never have been written . . . ;-)

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from 1uglymutha wrote 3 years 1 week ago

bowhunters and front stuffers have the advantage of getting to the elk first and when the bulls are in full rut 2nd,3rd and 4th season rifle shooters hunt spooky game and when the elk have stopped bugling for the most part. in later colorado seasons snow sometimes,but not always, helps. if you can get close on snow that has partially melted then refrozen, you're a ninja. if the only elk you've seen all season is a 6x bull in a meadow 500 yards or so distant at dusk, would you be glad you had practiced with your rifle all year in all conditions and at all ranges to which your cartridge is capable? for some, this much practice is expensive work. for me it's fun. and sometimes, when the stars are right, it pays off.

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from ingebrigtsen wrote 3 years 1 week ago

A really good hunter would never need more than his rifles ability to coldbore-shoot. second shot is more dependant on controlling your adrenaline rushes than the rifles ability to put 2 bullets in the same hole..
Although shooting tiny groups is a comforting thought, it isnt really nessesary if my humble wiev :)
(and if your rifle only shows one or two "quirks" in its lifetime i put it its the shooters fault in overdjudging his abilities and concentration, rather than the guns :D )

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from SD Bob wrote 3 years 1 week ago

It's time to trade that .338 in for something young and supple, may I suggest a booth babe?

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from ishawooa wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I once traded off a beautiful .280 that I really liked except I had convinced myself that it was "quirky". Perhaps someone mentioned this thought in the previous "evil" post but reloaders should absolutely make certain not to harm a bullet in any way during the insertion into the case. A tiny bit of damage in this step will provide great food for thought as the range increases since destabilization sometimes equals quirky rifles. So why did I trade off the quirky .280? It was one of a matched pair I owned, the second one was never quirky.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Suggest you get a rifle with a more reasonable cartridge, like a .30-06, and a short, stiff barrel. A Mannlciher Schoenauer would do the job without random 10" drop. ;)

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from Proverbs wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To Chrisb: Most people who hunt the southwest and the Rockies will miss a lot of opportunities if they don't learn to shoot well past 100 yards.

It's the geography that dictates longer shots. And deer are certainly not in abundance as they are in the eastern part of the country. I sometimes hunt deer in Wisconsin and Indiana, and it's nothing like the western hunts. Last November I harvested three deer in northern Wis. The longest shot was 70 yards. I thought all three shots were rather simple, straightforward shots on level ground with no wind.

As far as the shooting goes there is no comparison, say to that of hunting elk in the Colorado rockies (which I do 9 of 10 years). The shots are routinely between 200-300 yards, occasionaly longer. It seems to be always windy in those mountains, too. And those who wait for the perfect sub-100 yard shot don't fill tags. In fact, a couple of them hunt with me.

And it is why I spend considerable time at the 300-yard range at Ben Avery.

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from 99explorer wrote 3 years 1 week ago

IMHO, ten inches off the mark is a LOT at any range, and at any animal on this continent.

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from jim in nc wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Mike diehl:
Damn right we're old. And the older we get, the better we wuz.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 1 week ago

To Amflyer: With all respects to Col. Cooper, there have been at least five occasions when I got off five shots at animals that were way beyond my limit of competence as a shooter. When they're 400 yards away or more, they have no idea where the shots are coming from and are likely to stand there and listen to the cracks of the bullets going by. In four of the five cases I was able to bracket, and by sheer trial and error hit the poor dopey creature.

The fifth, a truly monstrous Quebec caribou, escaped with a little chest hair clipped off.

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from MReeder wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I guess it's possible those low bullets may not be stabilizing, but if that were the case wouldn't they be more likely to spray all over the place rather than just drop low? I know muzzleloader bullets can sometimes do strange things. Bullets that are right on the mark at 50 yards may keyhole at 100, but that doesn't sound like that's what's going on with your .338. Here's one thought for what it's worth, and it's probably not much. Are you loading it one cartridge at a time or loading up the magazine and working them through the bolt? If it's the latter, could the recoil somehow be compressing the powder charge in the last couple of rounds and effecting pressures? That might explain a steady drop.

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from Amflyer wrote 3 years 1 week ago

So what you're telling me WAM, is that you destroyed govt. property for which my tax dollars paid ?

Since no one else claimed recompense, I think you should reimburse me in total for the M-16 .

Please send me a check for, oh, probably two bits or so. That should about cover the worth of the M-16.

Sorry. I'm re-reading "Coopers Commentaries," and I guess it's rubbing off on me. I have even been calling my younger son "Dragoon" and my oldest "Baby."

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Amflyer

Yes sir, your honor; it was strictly an accident. Just like those lizzards what got shot at the ammo dump in Qui Nhon....

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from duckcreekdick wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Chrisb9381- I'm with you on getting closer to what you hunt. That's why they call it hunting, I believe. Having to do a "Carlos Hathcock" on a critter brings into question a lack of hunting skill or shaky hunting ethics. And yes, I've hunted elk in Colorado. If a blackpowder hunter can succeed under 150 yards and an archer can do the job under 30 yards, don't you think the rest of us can manage under 300yds.?

WAMtn Hunter- That quirky M-60 worked better after you turned the gas piston around, didn't it? LOL So Sorry!

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from shane wrote 3 years 1 week ago

duckcreekdick - Amen. I laugh at all the Western Hunting Experts who claim that you have to go long or go home.

Tell that to the bowhunters, the smokepole folks, and the .45-70 single shot people.

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from JohnR wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I have been extremely fortunate. My rifles are all pretty stable (even the historical surplus ones).
My best friend however had a Remington .243 that he loved and used for deer hunting. It had a bad habit of not firing when he had a really nice buck dead to rights.
He would take it to the gunsmith and the gunsmith could find nothing wrong with it. My friend would then go out an shoot 2 - boxes of shells at the range and it functioned flawlessly.
The very next time he went hunting and would shoot at a deer from his tree stand...click...eject shell chamber another...click. Take it back to his house and bang it fired every time. He ended up giving it to his daughter before he passed away because it was the rifle she always used when they hunted together. It never misfired for her.

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from Amflyer wrote 3 years 1 week ago

JohnR, that's pretty strange about the 243. Sometimes things just happen and everyone is at a loss to explain. I think this is largely where the whole "limp-wristing" phenomenon came from in pistol work, but I could be wrong. Or it could be supernatural.

Street lights go off when I'm under them, whether walking, riding a bike, or driving. Not every time mind you, but enough that my wife just looks up and says, "you turned that one off" when we drive together.

Maybe I'm an undiscovered Ninja or something. I am pretty good with a Bo staff...

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from RES1956 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I have never owned a quirky rifle (for very long).

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Take a 03-A3 and top it with quality rings and base with a Leopold 3x9, what possibly can go wrong!

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from Michigan Gunner wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Petzal is right. Life is way to short to shoot a quirky rifle. It's also too short to shoot an inaccurate one.

Lock and Load!

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from outdoorsman29 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I am 100% with Mr.Petzal on this one.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Dave I really don't think I read your post correct. 10 inches low at 300 is about right if sighted at dead zero for 100.
But now that I re-read, I do think there is a problem and not with your rifle. These are the trying times a handloader goes through. Factory stuff never gives me the best accuracy but dammit the stuff gives me the best consistency, and it pisses me off!

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from Quiet Loner wrote 3 years 1 week ago

One might have to shoot at a wounded animal at a distance much longer than he would like. Shooting at paper from 300 plus yards using field positions is also way more fun and instructive (humbling?) than paper at 100 yards. LV3RP

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from huntslow wrote 3 years 1 week ago

DEP - It seems to me that if your hold was based on the 2 shots that hit near the center of the bull and the actual hit was 10 inches below that, you could easily miss a very large animal (with a heart shot hold for example). If the expected POI was between the 2 then maybe you would be OK. You still have the right view of quirky rifles no matter what POI/POA.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 1 week ago

First, would a bullet that dropped 10 inches below point of aim at 300 yards really cause me to miss any animal that was big enough to justify shooting at it with a .338?

Answer, knowing the approximate distance and where to hold. If not, shouldn't be shooting at that distance.

second, would not a range-compensating scope compensate for the fact that some bullets went way low?

For a 300 yard shot, a range-compensating scope is laughable!

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from wingshooter54 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Who the hell is Danny & The Juniors? If it wasn't Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jeffy Jeff Walker and the rest of the outlaws being played, someone would get lynched. Like good marriages and bad marriages, there's nothing better than an accurate rifle and nothing on this earth worse than one with a curse on it.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 3 years 1 week ago

All . . .

A brief story here about an untested (on game) rifle, gale-like winds, a very long pair of shots, and coyotes around my property as insolent and bold as coke-sniffing rap-listening crime-committing teenagers.

The rifle: a 7x57 Ackley Improved with a heavy 24" Lilja barrel on a blue-printed Remington 700 action bedded and pillared into an all weather Hogue stock. Nikon Monarch scope. Nosler 120-grain Ballistic Tips driven at 3350 fps MV--a safe load in that rifle--and zeroed at 250 yards. One-half MOA groups at any sane range. But no actual field use. No game ever taken.

Winds gusting 20-25 mph from left to right, slightly quartering from front to rear. Way past sunset, five minutes of can-maybe-still-see-the-crosshairs light left. Maybe. A coyote--one I recognized, the alpha of a group of seven big adults living in a den in the woods not more than 225 yards from my garage door--on a distant hill, trotting from left to right. The previous morning, just after sunrise, I had one-shot bagged a fellow gang member at 200 yards in perfect conditions with a 22-250.

I am usually a pathetic liberal live-and-let-live person when it comes to coyotes. The ones in my area, which I listen to at night (with pleasure) and watch through the binocs (with pleasure) in the daytime when I'm lucky enough to have a little time to look for them, stroll amidst and though the cattle herd on the distant hill. The momma cows and baby calves, for the most part, treat the coyotes as if they are invisible, which is a remarkable sight and vice-versa. Some local coyotes use the herd to pounce upon grasshoppers and field mice that the cows stir up in the tall grass. The coyotes in my area do not perceive the cows and calves as Big Mac items.

But the Gang of Seven, or components of it, have been coming into my garage at night to terrorize my dog and steal his food right from his bowl. He is now mostly blind in one eye due to an attack. I had to take action.

True, I have yet to actually see a coyote in my garage, but my dog likes the neighbor dogs in the area (as do I) and gladly shares his food with them. Second, my dog is more than big enough and feisty enough--even though he is a bit of a p*ssy most of the time--to never permit a raccoon or skunk or similar creature to come into the garage. Third, I've discovered fresh coyote scat not twenty yards from my garage for weeks in a row. And finally, I've been awakened at 0230 in the morning on several occasions in recent days by terrible battles right outside the garage or even in it, but have never been able to get a clear, safe shot at anything but shadows. That is not a shot I can take.

But on this recent evening I spotted the alpha through my binocs on the distant hill, no cows anywhere in sight. He emerged from a small grove of trees and, according to my self-made map of the hill, was 400 yards out and moving further away as he crossed from right to left before me. I put down the binocs, quickly turned the Nikon down to 7x to widen the field of view, swiveled the rifle on the bag and prayed I would see the coyote through the scope. And I did. He was trotting who knows where, with no idea at all that I was looking at him.

Other than a crow, I had never previously taken a shot at an animal over maybe 350 yards. Although I knew the rifle and knew my handloads and knew my ballistics and trajectories, the near-black darkness, the gale winds, the distant uphill shot and the pace of the trotting coyote, when all combined together, presented a shot possibility more difficult and far beyond anything I had ever taken before. My head was spinning with bullet drops and wind drift adjustments and proper-lead-on-the-coyote adjustments when I got the crosshairs just above the coyote's head as he moved in the fierce left to right wind at what was now 425 yards out. I pulled the trigger. To my amazement, I actually saw the hit--not a great hit, too far to the right, outside the heart-lung area. I cursed at myself and watched the coyote tumble downhill for thirty yards while I automatic-pilot slammed the bolt back and chambered another round.

The coyote tumbled-fell into a bushy ravine. I then made the stupid amateur mistake of putting down the rifle and picking up the binocs (which have far better night capability). Right as I obtained a sight picture through the binocs, the coyote popped up from the ravine and, to my horror, began running from left to right back to the woods (and den) some 200 yards away. I threw the binocs to the ground, picked up the rifle and spotted the coyote, which was now moving through a copse of trees and brush about thirty yards away from the thick forest where he lived. I couldn't get a shot. But there was a clearing maybe five yards wide just between the copse of trees and the thick woods. The coyote emerged into that clearing, slowed, and in the half-second I had left to me, I took my second shot, this one at 415 yards and made from pure instinct with no time for calculations or minute adjustments or math or anything else. Saw and heard the second hit, which, to my disbelieving eyes, appeared to be a head shot. The coyote dropped as if a car had fallen on him. A part of my mind noted that both shots hit at least six inches to the right of where I wanted them to.

But then, a millisecond later, the coyote somehow got to its feet and ran-stumbled-threw itself into the thick woods and disappeared. I cursed and swore and kicked and said many unpleasant things. I knew this night would be a long one.

I waited an hour then strapped on my .45, put on a hiker's LED headlamp, put a small Maglight in my back pocket, and headed out. It was pitch-black, of course, no moon, no stars, Mother Nature's way of punishing me, but by now the wind had died and at least I could hear and smell normally. I hiked to where I had seen the second shot occur and scoured the area. I eventually discovered fur and blood and tracks leading into the woods. I hopped over an ancient fence and, three feet later, was in woods and undergrowth and thorns and nastiness so thick and so low to the ground that a rifle or shotgun would have been useless. I put my Maglight in my left hand, my pistol in my right, turned my headlamp on as bright as it would get, and crawled inbound, moving in half-circular arcs every few feet as I moved deeper into the woods. An hour later I smelled the coyote. I found him not thirty yards from where the second shot had occurred. He was, of course, long gone.

The first shot, I'm ashamed to say, was indeed a gut shot. The damage made by the Ballistic Tip was horrific, the exit wound consisting of five or six inches of blown-out flesh. I have no idea how the coyote lived through that first shot for any length of time, but he got up and ran close to 200 yards before I was able to fire my second shot.

The second shot removed a good-sized chunk of the coyote's uppermost skull and semi-scalped one half of the top of his head. That shot should have instantly killed him. But somehow the coyote managed to get to its feet and run-stagger-throw itself another thirty yards before it finally gave up the ghost. I have never seen an animal with a greater will to live.

The rifle performed exactly as it should have. The handloads performed exactly as they should have. It was probably foolish of me to take the shots, but I did and the coyote is dead and that's that.

I hear the remaining Gang of Seven howling in the woods at night. But with two of their number gone, they have not appeared in daylight (at least not when I was around) anywhere nearby, and there have been no more late-night battles with my dog in the garage.

Mission accomplished, at least for now.

I am sure, however, they will return.

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from MJC wrote 3 years 1 week ago

DEP- Poor reading?! Them's fightin' words, dam yur eyes!

I will, however, plead guilty to the lesser crime of poor summarization.

My above comment should have read: If a Remington custom shop rifle can produce unpredictable results at 300 yards with ammunition that was accurate at lesser ranges then God knows what horrors my rifles could print at untested ranges.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 1 week ago

@ duckcreekdick - LMAO! Not that I had not done that before, but that was not the issue with that "pig"! once had my AG put another one back together and he installed the trigger group retention spring upside down and backwards.. You can guess the outcome....

@ Shane - You might get pretty hungry bowhunting where we hunt elk, ML maybe... It all depends on one's definition of "LONG RANGE". For me, 300 yards is "way out yonder", 400 yards is "That's a long ways to have to shoot" and 500 yards is "Now that is a long shot, think I'll pass." to me, 200 - 250 yards is a chip shot. I bet there a lot of guys on here that can hit a golf ball that far!

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 1 week ago

What bugs me is that your 100 yard groups are good. So I would rule out your optics, bedding, shooting technique, etc. Dave, what is the rifling spin in that .338's barrel? And how heavy were the bullets? If they are understabilized, that could have a greater effect at long range than at short. Is the same load that is buggy in this rifle good in another one?

One last option; if your handloads have an extremely wide SD, that could cause things to come apart at longer range but still shoot straight at 100 yards. Have you been playing with primers, new powder, etc.?

As should be plain from this post, I got nothin. Remind me never to buy a rifle from you.

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from JohnR wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Oops! That should have been 2-3 boxes of shells! It was a Remington 700.

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from WildBill3 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

There are some things on this earth we will never figure out. Life is short - get rid of the damn gun, unless it is special to you. You know like the Queen presented it to you for being such a wonderful human being.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 1 week ago

It's a David E. Petzal impostor that wrote this! David must have paid someone to fill in for him while going turkey hunting. The more I go back and read DEP's Quirky Rifle story, the more oxymoronic it gets!

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from dasmith wrote 3 years 1 week ago

I had a quirky rifle/shotgun combo. The 20ga barrel wouldn't fire everytime in the field. The gun had been in the trunk during a rain storm when I changed a tire. Must had gotten damp in the insides. The 2nd time that it failed to fire, it cost me the only deer I had a shot at all season. Took it to a gunshop and sold it. My confidence was gone, so it wasn't worth keeping.

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from Darrell Mora wrote 3 years 4 days ago

"To Amflyer: With all respects to Col. Cooper, there have been at least five occasions when I got off five shots at animals that were way beyond my limit of competence as a shooter. When they're 400 yards away or more, they have no idea where the shots are coming from and are likely to stand there and listen to the cracks of the bullets going by. In four of the five cases I was able to bracket, and by sheer trial and error hit the poor dopey creature."

Hey, Dave... Don't I recall reading a rather vitriolic rant from you a few months ago about Sarah Palin doing exactly the same thing?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 4 days ago

Uh Oh! The gloves just came off!

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from dale freeman wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

David, David....
I hope you parted ways with that rifle by now.
It dosen't matter wheather it has a quirk or not.
If you don't have confidence, in any rifle, cut your losses and get one your're confident with.
Works everytime.

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