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.