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Bullets, Optics and Ammo: Putting the Power to Prairie Dogs

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July 02, 2012

Bullets, Optics and Ammo: Putting the Power to Prairie Dogs

By David E. Petzal

This past week, having not done so for quite some time, I went to Wyoming to put down a possible prairie dog rebellion. It was some of the best shooting I’ve had, and I got to use some very good equipment as well.

My gun was a Browning X-Bolt Varmint Stalker in .223. The X-Bolt is the successor to the A-Bolt and is a highly refined rifle with a very low receiver, good, not great, trigger, very fast lock time, and a tang safety. It comes in several configurations and innumerable calibers, but the Varmint Stalker is all flat-black, has a composite stock, and what looks like a No. 3 contour 24-inch barrel. It’s heavy enough to hold steady even with a powerful scope, but is not weighty enough to qualify as a barbell.

It feeds flawlessly from a five-shot detachable rotary magazine and has a nice squishy recoil pad. What impressed me about my rifle was that it was highly accurate when I shot it cold, and stayed accurate when it was so hot that the heat crept from the barrel into the scope rings. That’s hot. The MSRP is $1,120, which is reasonable for what you get, which is a lot. Maybe someday they’ll make it left-handed.

Perched on the Varmint Stalker was a Bushnell 4X-16X Elite scope, which is just about perfect for suppressing pasture-wrecking rodents. It sells for $383, has good optics, and is strong. I’ve been using Elites for something like 20-plus years, and have never broken one, though God knows I have not spared them anything.

The Elite line used to consist of the 3200 and 4200, the latter incorporating additional refinements. However, Bushnell has now upgraded what used to be the 3200 line and done away with the two numerical designations. They are all simply Elites. I don’t think this line of scopes has gotten the credit it deserves for absolute drop-dead reliability. There’s nothing better that I know of.

Last on the list was Hornady ammo. I shot two types: the 55-grain V-Max load, and the new Superperformance 35-grain NTX load which sends its bullets screeching along at 4,000 fps, which is .220 Swift velocity. In my rifle, the latter did not shoot quite as well as the V-Max ammo, and it seemed that the wind pushed them more, although this is just my impression.

However, the effect of the NTX ammo on rodents was, shall we say, spectacular. If you’re one of the Red Mist crowd, you’re going to be drooling with pleasure. Every shot produced a Mary Lou Retton or a Nadia Comaneci.

All told, I don’t think the prairie dogs enjoyed it much, but I had a hell of a good time, and if you haven’t tried this kind of shooting, you should.

Comments (52)

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

This is something I would absolutely love to do. Is there anyone who can tell me the closest place to Tennessee where I could pay a guide or whatever just to experience this phenomenon? I mean I shoot blackbirds and crows every day just because I love this sort of thing. Call it a sickness but it is better than shooting rats in a junkyard... ;D

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from jay wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Really Dave, nothing better than a Bushnell Elite? Don't pee on our legs and tell us its raining. Maybe nothing better for the price but you certainly can't compare the Bushnell to a swaro or zeiss.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Hornady factory ammo aimed by a Bushnell scope is something I will never experience (again). Second tier stuff.

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Jay, I think the "Nothing better that I know of" statement was regarding the reliability of the scope.

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

To Jay: Trust me, I would never pee on your leg. As Amflyer correctly points out, I was referring to the reliability of the line. There are optically superior scopes, but I've never seen a busted Elite, and I have seen other very high-quality scopes cave in.

To WA MTN Hunter: Boy, do we disagree about that.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

David,

All I know is that every box of Hornady ammo I have ever fired had either a misfire (two) or was out-performed by other factory loads. The 7mm Weatherby Mag 154 gr Interbonds almost stayed on paper. It may be all good in Neverland now, but why would I go back and spend money to see if an inferior product has improved? I used to drink Boone's Farm and Seagram's 7, but that doesn't mean that I will go back and see if it is any better now.

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from Beekeeper wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Dave, you sounded kinda like one of the Bass guys on that roll call.

I'll have to agree with WAM, my experience with top drawer Hornady ammo has been less then stellar. As for the X-Bolt all I can see is that they took a nice rifle in the A-Bolt and figured out how to make it all with a machine. Fugly gun, but then you didn't ask me.

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I don't understand all the "hate" directed toward Hornady ammo...I've been shooting the superperformance in my .270 for three years,...it delivers devastating performance on deer and hogs, shoots consistent moa. and fits my budget quite nicely.
My Bushnell elite has held it's zero for 6 consecutive seasons with only a 1/4" of windage adjustment ( which was probably my fault).
So what if these products are "cheap"?

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

So you can actually BUY pre-loaded rifle ammunition, huh?

What will those city-slickers think up next?

DEP catches hell whether he talks about 8K custom rifles with Euro glass or affordable American sticks with Bushnells...such a fickle species we are.

Happy Independence Day.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Ripper, I don't hate Hornady products. I use their bullets, case prep stuff, brass, etc. with good results. The rifles that I have tried Hornady ammo in certainly performed better with something else, but then again I don't shoot a .270 either. And I am always suspect of optics made in China.

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from ishawooa wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Over several decades I have worn our a number of rifles shooting dawgs in Wyoming and Montana. For sheer shooting pleasure this sport is hard to beat.

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from Safado wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Dave,
Sounds like a nice rig; I haven't been to prarie town but I like my Savage Long Range Precision in 22-250 with a 1:9 twist. I don't use Hornady ammo (because I roll my own) but I do use their bullets with great success. I'm a little surprised that you let the barrel get so hot though...I guess that's why most vistors to dogtown carry multiple rifles:-D)

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from cliff68 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I shoot PD's a lot living here in NE, and use B&L Balvars exclusively which are basically the same scope but older and probably don't have quite the glass in them as the newer ones. One thing they do have is repeatability like no other scope I've used. I use V-Max bullets out of a 220 Swift and they shoot and red mist em with the best of them.

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

WAM, I believe that the Bushnell Elite line are made in Japan, which may or may not alter your opinion of them.

As I remember, you are a Burris fan, yes? Good American company, they, unless something has changed that I am not aware of.

I took DEP's advice and bought a Meopta MeoPro 1-4x recently, and so far I like most things about it. I wish it had just a touch more eye relief, mostly.

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

@ WAM, I wasn't pointing you out specifically, because I've heard a few other guys speak poorly of Hornady rounds.
Just may be that my rifle happens to like 'em.
I shoot federals just as well, but can't justify the significant price difference on killing whitetails and hogs.
I don't know the exact ballistics on the superperformance rounds, but practically speaking, with my gun zeroed at 100 yds, I've killed several deer at 200-250yds with the bullet striking where I was holding, insignificant drop, and a heck of a wallop.

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from krwheeler wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Considering Mr. Petzal's affinity for all things 30 caliber, I'm surprised that he didn't use one. But then again, after living in Wyoming for 15 years, I never saw a Prairie Dog that was as big as an elk.

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from Beekeeper wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Ripper,

I don't hate Hornady either. I own Hornady dies, and case prep hardware. I love their case lube. I use Hornady slugs in a select few loads. But... I've had no luck with their ammo shooting in anything I own. I've also seen similar at the local range.

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from damo450 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

If anyone ever questions the reliability of the Elite's I always (politely) point them in the direction of my Barrett model 99 50BMG, which ships from the factory in a package with an Elite 10x40 tactical scope. I just shy of 200 rounds through it with zero problems and hits to 1,000 all day. The swarovski lovers puke at the sight of my rifle and the leupold lovers laugh. But it works, and damn well at that. Oh, and It is most certainly not made in China.

I will agree somewhat about hornady ammo. I handload, but used to always shoot 165 grain sst's in my old savage 30-06 for deer and it was a 3/4" gun (with an elite 4200). Now that superformance has taken over I have to handload as I do not find a gun that stays in 3" at 100 yds desirable. Other than that, all there ammo is top shelf.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Obviously I mistakenly presumed the new Elite's were made in China since their other lines are/were. I know the 6500 is a good scope as well it should be for $700. Never had a Leupold or Burris (USA) fail either. I stand pat on my assessment of Horndog ammo. Several of my friends have made the same assessment and while thye were loyal Hornady shooters, switched to Brand X when the Hornady would not shoot well. And no their rifles were not fouled nor other issues either. Maybe the new and improved action packed thrilling zombie varmint loads are the best thing since the electric toaster and sliced bread.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I only shoot factory ammo and I have never owned a rifle that shot Hornady well. I have probably only tried it in about 10 rifles though, because after the first 10 I quit trying.

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from Asherdan wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I don't get the flak on the X-Mark. I was out at the range last week and the young man next to me was trying to sight in his new .308 X-Mark for the first time with a Leupold VX-III 4.5x14x50. We got to talking and it led to me shooting several rounds of Federal ammunition to help round him into shape. Damn nice rifle, well fit wood stock with nice checkering, good balance, a smooth bolt throw and an acceptable or better trigger. Plus it was pretty and it shot good. I felt better looking just holding the darn thing and that's no small feat.

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from bruisedsausage wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

WA Mtnhunter,

None of the bushnell elite series scopes has ever been manufactured in China to my knowledge. So far as I know they are all Japanese made.

And I would agree with Petzal about the elite series scopes. They are rugged, and as yet I've not had one fail. Have seen some of my buddies "superior" scopes malfunction and break during our hunts but my elites seem to keep on working.

The burris scopes you speak so fond of, might be made in the Philippines!!! Some of the entry level models are for sure. I'll take Japanese craftsmanship over the other any day.

As far as Hornady ammo I'm not a big fan. I've had too many inconsistent results for my liking.

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from buckstopper wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Dave,
Did you happen to shoot any Zombie prairie dogs while you were there?! I have noticed that Hornady has some Zombie killing bullets and Leupold has a Zombie scope for .223's. I thought that 22" barrels are best for non-magnum calibers.nb

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from Del in KS wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I've taken Dave's advice several times with good results. The Elite scopes are very good and the only scope I will buy for the immediate future.

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from fordman155 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

About a month ago a friend asked me to tune up his newly-puchased 308 Win for some nuisance permit work. Deer are taking down his corn pretty bad. The Bushnell 3200 scope on that 308 is a fine-tuned scope and I would love to get one. At 200yds the shot group was an inch low of the target center. Four click up and the next group was an inch over the target center. For kicks I went two clicks right and fired. Yes, the bullet was one inch to the right of the previously fired group, but still right at an inch high. Yes, I'm a believer in the quality of Bushnell scopes.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Well contrary to swearing I would't, I took you'll's advice and bought a Zeiss Conquest.
I recieved it last week and today I'm mailing it back.
Tomprrow I'll go and buy another Leupold.
By the way a Burris was one time I let people fool me.
Never again, from Pet. or WaMountainhunter, never again.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Bushnell was one to.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

bruisedsausage,

As usual, you fail to read carefully. Burris Signature, Six X, and Black Diamond scopes are Made in USA. Read the box more carefully than you read the posts. Burris Fullfield II's are indeed made in the Phillipines and I don't own one nor have ever heard of them failing. My old eyes can spot a piece of junk right away.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Just heard a unnerving rumor.
Is "Google" anti-gun?

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

there is nothing better then setting up a shooting bench with a .223 AR and a 22-250 and just massacring a field full of prairie dogs. the shooting gets a bit interesting when you start reaching out to 500+ yards. the constant wind on the prairie gives it a bit of a challenge as well. for those of you who havent experienced this, bucket list it. this is where you learn how to shoot.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Hey, I just thought I'd stir the pot and jerk a few chains over the Bushnell Elite scopes. I have looked at them in the stores and did not find them to be awesome for the money, but I don't have experience with their reliability.

I was actually just checking to see if 'Del in KS' was awake since he is a big Bushnell Elite fan.

The Hornady ammo poke is for real. Looks like there are others with similar opinions. It even comes in crappy boxes, IMO.

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

To buckstopper: I didn't see any prairie dogs that were zombified, but I did see a number that acted quite oddly, and we had one or two charges, both real and false.

To dale freeman: What, specifically, was wrong with the Zeiss, and which model did you have?

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Only thing I have ever found to complain about my two Zeiss scopes are that they are a bit long for their respective magnification, and do not look quite as elegantly simple as the Leupolds. Otherwise, the adjustments are precise and the glass is really, really nice.

(Plus, when my neighbor asks what kind of scope I have on those rifles, I get to do the "snuff/nose rub" à la Barney Fife when I answer "Zeiss!")

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Oh, and everyone knows that Hornady ammo only shoots well through quality rifles. Them Weatherbees just don't make the cut. Right below the Mossberg stuff if you ask me...

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Amflyer,

Maybe you got something there. Perhaps that Hornady ammo is custom designed for Mossberg, Remington 710/770, Ruger American, and Axis/Edge rifles. I guess I'll have to keep handloading to force those Weatherby's into 1/2 inch groups. Shucky-darn!

Cheers

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I don't have a Weatherbee (you're spelling it wrong) but I read on the internet that they are not up in the "Zombie Killer" class that most of the new rifles are.

If the internet sez so then it must be true.

Plus, they don't have the little Glock thingy's on the trigger. How can you get a good trigger if you don't have a little thingy?

Best Regards,

Cooked in Corntown

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from Shootstir wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Finally...Dave and I agree on something. You just can't beat the V-max for varmint hunting- I love the stuff. I used it with a bolt-action Brno chambered in .22 Hornet on prairie dogs and the suckers disappeared in a pale, pink mist.

Could not believe the power in that little package...flawless execution. Pun intended.

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from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

My Rem 700 VS in 22-250 with the American made Burris Signature 6 X 24 is great for where i shoot ground hogs. Plus i have talked to the folks in Greeley and they are most helpful.
I load my own and like the Sierra 52 HPBT Match with IMR 4320.
The only Hornady i tried was Superformance in 06 and the chrono showed no significant increase in my rifle so i continue to handload.

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Bruisedsausage:

Don't discount the Philippines as a manufacturing center. They make some pretty fine guns for RIA, etc., at a decent price. They'll never be a BBQ gun, but they work well.

Regarding Hornady ammo: The plant is just up the road about 90 miles from here, and I almost never see anyone shooting their ammo, nor find any once-fired brass, or see it in any quantity in the local shops.

I myself am in the same category as most; I use their bullets, dies and equipment, but I'm not a user of the loaded stuff.

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from Safado wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Dale,
I have two Zeiss 3 x 9's that I picked up for about $399. Have never had a problem. I'm using them on a .308 and a 270 Win (so no excessive recoil)and have never had a problem. I agree with the other criticisms that they are a little long and may not look as elegant as others but the glass is superior. I'm curious what you saw in a week that caused you to send it back. I don't have experience with Bushnell or Burris but I do like Nikon scopes.

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from Safado wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Asherdan,
I think the X-Bolt critics don't like the removable magazine. The purist like blind magazines or hinged flooplates. Doesn't bother me my Tikka 3 has a removable magazine.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

to;
Safado and david;
Length, weight and slower focusing (AND LOOKS)

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

TO dAVID;
Opps, I haD THE 3X9X40 "CONQUEST".

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

All . . .

I have a 3x9 Bushnell Elite 3200 that, for the money, in its price range, is the best scope I have. I recommend it (as compared to other similarly priced scopes) to anyone.

I must agree with WAM and Co. who have less than glowing reviews of Hornady factory ammo, Superformance or otherwise. I've tried 22-250, 7x57 and 30-06 Hornady factory rounds. Those that were supposed to give me an extra 100-200 fps muzzle velocity didn't. And none gave me accuracy better than about two MOA, even though the rifles I fired the ammo through will give me MOA with some factory loads and smaller than MOA with certain handloads. My overall experience with Hornady factory ammo is that it is not consistently, reliably accurate (which I define as MOA at 100 yards).

In contrast, some of the Hornady components I've experimented with over the years have proven to at least be very good (in terms of accuracy and downrange effectiveness) to outstanding. In my .257 Roberts and .257 AI rifles, the 75-grain Hornady V-Max bullets in the proper handloads are incredibly accurate, virtually match-grade (and devastating on coyotes and wild dog packs). In one 7x57 Mauser rifle, and in my 7x57 AI and 280 AI rifles, the 139-grain Hornady SST bullets, in the proper handloads, produce reliable MOA groups, sometimes better. Oddly enough, the "139-grain" SSTs tend to weigh about "139.6" or "139.7" or even "139.8" grains on my two digital scales (while the 75-grain V-max bullets in .257 caliber are almost always "75.0" grains on the dot, with rare, and minute, variance).

Hornady brass, at least in all the calibers I've used it in, tends to be tough and durable and last six or seven reloads before neck cracks (and similar issues) begin to appear. I used to buy Hornady factory ammo (when on sale at a reduced price) to use for target practice or close-range hog-hunting, my primary purpose to use the brass for my (longer range, MOA or better) handloads.

Then, however, I had a problem with a box of 7x57 Superformance ammo. As per the norm, the ammo was only about two MOA accurate. When I attempted to punch out the primers and neck-size the empty brass, however, none of it--not one round from a 20-round box) would fit in the standard size shellholder I've used to load thousands of 7x57 and 7x57 AI (and 257 and 257 AI and other cartridges) handloads.

I have no idea why the empty Superformance brass won't fit into my standard size shellholder. What I do know is that the brass is useless. As such, I will not purchase factory Hornady ammo in the future, and probably won't purchase empty Hornady brass unless I can test whether it fits in a standard size shellholder (as intended) right there in the store.

TWD

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

TWD,
I bought some Hornady 7mm Wby 154 gr Interbond ammo that would almost stay on the paper at 100 yards. Weatherby and Norma brass usually weighs 212 +\- grains deprimed. Hornady Frontier comes in about 243 gr average. Use the previous load data and get some pressure surprises with that stuff! Huge volume difference.

Happy 4th

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from Topper wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Ok, men, somebody's gotta tell it like it is and I guess it'll be me. Using prairie dogs as targets is shameful unless you're gonna eat 'em. Pdogs are a necessary element in the prairie ecosystem and all the stories about cattle and horses busting a leg in Pdog burrows is sheer BS. I am a hunter and Most of the reasons for shooting Pdogs are made up by Ranchers, and nobody has done more to destroy the ecology of the West than that group. Pdogs are the cornerstone of an ecosystem that has existed for millions of years, and to use them as targets is bad medicine.

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from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

T W Davidson. i had the same thing happen with 6.5 55 ammo. i tried some norma that was suppose to be 'full size'. sure enough it would not fit in the standard shell holder. maybe the metric ammo is closer to original specs?? anyway, i just used the next size that it would fit in and used the brass.

Topper - where i shoot ground hogs the farmer lost a leg because his tractor wheel fell into a ground hog structure and tipped over on him.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Good article DEP! I've smoked many a barrel shooting those pesky critters. They sharpen your aim like no other kind of hunting. The .223 is quite capable out to 500 yards and beyond.

I load my own so I don't use the Hornady factory ammo. I LOVE Hornady. I've been using their bullets for 50 years now and they remain my best performing hunting bullets in most calibers. They typically are more affordable and the terminal performance of the Interlock & Interbond are exceptional. The V-Max is absolutely my best performing varmint bullet and the inexpensive A-Max rivals the absolute best at 1000 yards and yet remains the most affordable VLD bullet available. I REALLY like the idea of them selling bullets in 100 and 250 count packages. Most of us would have to take out a second mortgage to buy bullets if their competitors did that.

I use an Elite 4200 Tactical 6-24x50. If all the Elites are like that, they are great scopes. It is highly accurate, good visibility, a great reticle. The key improvement I would suggest ((if they haven't done it already) is a locking turret. Those big knurrled knobs will catch things as you cart them around. I am continuously checking to see if the turrets are still on their zero setting. Too often, they are not, so I find them somewhat difficult to hunt with in rough territory. I easily took an antelope at 500 yards last Fall with this scope and I had 100% confidence in my shot. It shoots p-dogs out to 1000 yards just fine.

Topper, with your view of hard working ranchers, you must be from the city. What is your view on rats? Do you consider them a necessary element of the garbage dump and general city environment? You have obviously never tried to feed a cow on 6 acres of grass and then had a five mile wide p-dog town eat your pasture right down to the dirt, killing the sacred grass for generations. Hunters don't make much impact ont these vermin. The poisoners do make an impact and if they didn't all city dwellers might be vegitarians. I very much appreciate your concern for our environment but rhodents do have to be thinned or they can make a mess of our environment. Also most ranchers I know understand our environment better than most people I meet and as a group, I'd be willing to bet that they contribute more to its well-being than all the city dwellers combined. Nothing against city dwellers... its just that ranchers are rare breed. They work hard and they care about the planet.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

DakotaMan,

While I don't wish to debate the goodness or badness of shooting prairie dogs and Hornady components, I might add that I shot some exceptional groups yesterday with my .308 with some Hornady 150 gr Interlock SP over 44 gr of TAC.

But prairie dogs at 1,000 yards? Really?

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from 007 wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I gotta ask. Though I've never seen a prarie dog other than in zoos and the like, I do know they're not that big. How on earth do you see them at 1k yards? I've got a 6x24 on my .220 Swift and have taken a few eastern groundhogs at 300 yards, can't imagine seeing something half as big at three times the distance.

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from 8Crow wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I popped one once at 678 paces with a 22-250 and a box of trial and error (er, adjustments). The crosswind was just a breeze but at that distance the bullet did something just a little different every time and I could watch the little puffs of dust on the mound to see what was going on. Now in the last NRA mag there was an article about a US sniper in Iraq that popped someone at over a mile...but that was a sniper, using a mean round and very custom rig. The thing about "seeing" the PD's at that range is that many times the heat creates such a mirage effect that anything over 18-20 power is just wasted magnification.
I used to believe if some is good, more is better, but Dave is right about the scope...16-18x is just about ideal.

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from Topper wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

DakotaMan: No city man , me. I live high in the Appalachian Mtns. Pdogs don't kill yer grass, pal, it's the cattle. If 2000 lb. buffaloe can graze and co-exist with Pdogs, why can't cattle? You know the answer. Try raising that cow on 12 acres instead of 6 acres OF PUBLIC LAND, and try to see where your headed for using live animals as targets.

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

To Jay: Trust me, I would never pee on your leg. As Amflyer correctly points out, I was referring to the reliability of the line. There are optically superior scopes, but I've never seen a busted Elite, and I have seen other very high-quality scopes cave in.

To WA MTN Hunter: Boy, do we disagree about that.

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

So you can actually BUY pre-loaded rifle ammunition, huh?

What will those city-slickers think up next?

DEP catches hell whether he talks about 8K custom rifles with Euro glass or affordable American sticks with Bushnells...such a fickle species we are.

Happy Independence Day.

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I don't understand all the "hate" directed toward Hornady ammo...I've been shooting the superperformance in my .270 for three years,...it delivers devastating performance on deer and hogs, shoots consistent moa. and fits my budget quite nicely.
My Bushnell elite has held it's zero for 6 consecutive seasons with only a 1/4" of windage adjustment ( which was probably my fault).
So what if these products are "cheap"?

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from Topper wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Ok, men, somebody's gotta tell it like it is and I guess it'll be me. Using prairie dogs as targets is shameful unless you're gonna eat 'em. Pdogs are a necessary element in the prairie ecosystem and all the stories about cattle and horses busting a leg in Pdog burrows is sheer BS. I am a hunter and Most of the reasons for shooting Pdogs are made up by Ranchers, and nobody has done more to destroy the ecology of the West than that group. Pdogs are the cornerstone of an ecosystem that has existed for millions of years, and to use them as targets is bad medicine.

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from jay wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Really Dave, nothing better than a Bushnell Elite? Don't pee on our legs and tell us its raining. Maybe nothing better for the price but you certainly can't compare the Bushnell to a swaro or zeiss.

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Jay, I think the "Nothing better that I know of" statement was regarding the reliability of the scope.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Ripper, I don't hate Hornady products. I use their bullets, case prep stuff, brass, etc. with good results. The rifles that I have tried Hornady ammo in certainly performed better with something else, but then again I don't shoot a .270 either. And I am always suspect of optics made in China.

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

WAM, I believe that the Bushnell Elite line are made in Japan, which may or may not alter your opinion of them.

As I remember, you are a Burris fan, yes? Good American company, they, unless something has changed that I am not aware of.

I took DEP's advice and bought a Meopta MeoPro 1-4x recently, and so far I like most things about it. I wish it had just a touch more eye relief, mostly.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I only shoot factory ammo and I have never owned a rifle that shot Hornady well. I have probably only tried it in about 10 rifles though, because after the first 10 I quit trying.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Just heard a unnerving rumor.
Is "Google" anti-gun?

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

there is nothing better then setting up a shooting bench with a .223 AR and a 22-250 and just massacring a field full of prairie dogs. the shooting gets a bit interesting when you start reaching out to 500+ yards. the constant wind on the prairie gives it a bit of a challenge as well. for those of you who havent experienced this, bucket list it. this is where you learn how to shoot.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Hey, I just thought I'd stir the pot and jerk a few chains over the Bushnell Elite scopes. I have looked at them in the stores and did not find them to be awesome for the money, but I don't have experience with their reliability.

I was actually just checking to see if 'Del in KS' was awake since he is a big Bushnell Elite fan.

The Hornady ammo poke is for real. Looks like there are others with similar opinions. It even comes in crappy boxes, IMO.

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Only thing I have ever found to complain about my two Zeiss scopes are that they are a bit long for their respective magnification, and do not look quite as elegantly simple as the Leupolds. Otherwise, the adjustments are precise and the glass is really, really nice.

(Plus, when my neighbor asks what kind of scope I have on those rifles, I get to do the "snuff/nose rub" à la Barney Fife when I answer "Zeiss!")

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Oh, and everyone knows that Hornady ammo only shoots well through quality rifles. Them Weatherbees just don't make the cut. Right below the Mossberg stuff if you ask me...

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Amflyer,

Maybe you got something there. Perhaps that Hornady ammo is custom designed for Mossberg, Remington 710/770, Ruger American, and Axis/Edge rifles. I guess I'll have to keep handloading to force those Weatherby's into 1/2 inch groups. Shucky-darn!

Cheers

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I don't have a Weatherbee (you're spelling it wrong) but I read on the internet that they are not up in the "Zombie Killer" class that most of the new rifles are.

If the internet sez so then it must be true.

Plus, they don't have the little Glock thingy's on the trigger. How can you get a good trigger if you don't have a little thingy?

Best Regards,

Cooked in Corntown

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from Amflyer wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Bruisedsausage:

Don't discount the Philippines as a manufacturing center. They make some pretty fine guns for RIA, etc., at a decent price. They'll never be a BBQ gun, but they work well.

Regarding Hornady ammo: The plant is just up the road about 90 miles from here, and I almost never see anyone shooting their ammo, nor find any once-fired brass, or see it in any quantity in the local shops.

I myself am in the same category as most; I use their bullets, dies and equipment, but I'm not a user of the loaded stuff.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

All . . .

I have a 3x9 Bushnell Elite 3200 that, for the money, in its price range, is the best scope I have. I recommend it (as compared to other similarly priced scopes) to anyone.

I must agree with WAM and Co. who have less than glowing reviews of Hornady factory ammo, Superformance or otherwise. I've tried 22-250, 7x57 and 30-06 Hornady factory rounds. Those that were supposed to give me an extra 100-200 fps muzzle velocity didn't. And none gave me accuracy better than about two MOA, even though the rifles I fired the ammo through will give me MOA with some factory loads and smaller than MOA with certain handloads. My overall experience with Hornady factory ammo is that it is not consistently, reliably accurate (which I define as MOA at 100 yards).

In contrast, some of the Hornady components I've experimented with over the years have proven to at least be very good (in terms of accuracy and downrange effectiveness) to outstanding. In my .257 Roberts and .257 AI rifles, the 75-grain Hornady V-Max bullets in the proper handloads are incredibly accurate, virtually match-grade (and devastating on coyotes and wild dog packs). In one 7x57 Mauser rifle, and in my 7x57 AI and 280 AI rifles, the 139-grain Hornady SST bullets, in the proper handloads, produce reliable MOA groups, sometimes better. Oddly enough, the "139-grain" SSTs tend to weigh about "139.6" or "139.7" or even "139.8" grains on my two digital scales (while the 75-grain V-max bullets in .257 caliber are almost always "75.0" grains on the dot, with rare, and minute, variance).

Hornady brass, at least in all the calibers I've used it in, tends to be tough and durable and last six or seven reloads before neck cracks (and similar issues) begin to appear. I used to buy Hornady factory ammo (when on sale at a reduced price) to use for target practice or close-range hog-hunting, my primary purpose to use the brass for my (longer range, MOA or better) handloads.

Then, however, I had a problem with a box of 7x57 Superformance ammo. As per the norm, the ammo was only about two MOA accurate. When I attempted to punch out the primers and neck-size the empty brass, however, none of it--not one round from a 20-round box) would fit in the standard size shellholder I've used to load thousands of 7x57 and 7x57 AI (and 257 and 257 AI and other cartridges) handloads.

I have no idea why the empty Superformance brass won't fit into my standard size shellholder. What I do know is that the brass is useless. As such, I will not purchase factory Hornady ammo in the future, and probably won't purchase empty Hornady brass unless I can test whether it fits in a standard size shellholder (as intended) right there in the store.

TWD

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

TWD,
I bought some Hornady 7mm Wby 154 gr Interbond ammo that would almost stay on the paper at 100 yards. Weatherby and Norma brass usually weighs 212 +\- grains deprimed. Hornady Frontier comes in about 243 gr average. Use the previous load data and get some pressure surprises with that stuff! Huge volume difference.

Happy 4th

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from Topper wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

DakotaMan: No city man , me. I live high in the Appalachian Mtns. Pdogs don't kill yer grass, pal, it's the cattle. If 2000 lb. buffaloe can graze and co-exist with Pdogs, why can't cattle? You know the answer. Try raising that cow on 12 acres instead of 6 acres OF PUBLIC LAND, and try to see where your headed for using live animals as targets.

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from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

This is something I would absolutely love to do. Is there anyone who can tell me the closest place to Tennessee where I could pay a guide or whatever just to experience this phenomenon? I mean I shoot blackbirds and crows every day just because I love this sort of thing. Call it a sickness but it is better than shooting rats in a junkyard... ;D

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Hornady factory ammo aimed by a Bushnell scope is something I will never experience (again). Second tier stuff.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

David,

All I know is that every box of Hornady ammo I have ever fired had either a misfire (two) or was out-performed by other factory loads. The 7mm Weatherby Mag 154 gr Interbonds almost stayed on paper. It may be all good in Neverland now, but why would I go back and spend money to see if an inferior product has improved? I used to drink Boone's Farm and Seagram's 7, but that doesn't mean that I will go back and see if it is any better now.

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from Beekeeper wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Dave, you sounded kinda like one of the Bass guys on that roll call.

I'll have to agree with WAM, my experience with top drawer Hornady ammo has been less then stellar. As for the X-Bolt all I can see is that they took a nice rifle in the A-Bolt and figured out how to make it all with a machine. Fugly gun, but then you didn't ask me.

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from ishawooa wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Over several decades I have worn our a number of rifles shooting dawgs in Wyoming and Montana. For sheer shooting pleasure this sport is hard to beat.

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from Safado wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Dave,
Sounds like a nice rig; I haven't been to prarie town but I like my Savage Long Range Precision in 22-250 with a 1:9 twist. I don't use Hornady ammo (because I roll my own) but I do use their bullets with great success. I'm a little surprised that you let the barrel get so hot though...I guess that's why most vistors to dogtown carry multiple rifles:-D)

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from cliff68 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I shoot PD's a lot living here in NE, and use B&L Balvars exclusively which are basically the same scope but older and probably don't have quite the glass in them as the newer ones. One thing they do have is repeatability like no other scope I've used. I use V-Max bullets out of a 220 Swift and they shoot and red mist em with the best of them.

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from RipperIII wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

@ WAM, I wasn't pointing you out specifically, because I've heard a few other guys speak poorly of Hornady rounds.
Just may be that my rifle happens to like 'em.
I shoot federals just as well, but can't justify the significant price difference on killing whitetails and hogs.
I don't know the exact ballistics on the superperformance rounds, but practically speaking, with my gun zeroed at 100 yds, I've killed several deer at 200-250yds with the bullet striking where I was holding, insignificant drop, and a heck of a wallop.

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from krwheeler wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Considering Mr. Petzal's affinity for all things 30 caliber, I'm surprised that he didn't use one. But then again, after living in Wyoming for 15 years, I never saw a Prairie Dog that was as big as an elk.

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from Beekeeper wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Ripper,

I don't hate Hornady either. I own Hornady dies, and case prep hardware. I love their case lube. I use Hornady slugs in a select few loads. But... I've had no luck with their ammo shooting in anything I own. I've also seen similar at the local range.

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from damo450 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

If anyone ever questions the reliability of the Elite's I always (politely) point them in the direction of my Barrett model 99 50BMG, which ships from the factory in a package with an Elite 10x40 tactical scope. I just shy of 200 rounds through it with zero problems and hits to 1,000 all day. The swarovski lovers puke at the sight of my rifle and the leupold lovers laugh. But it works, and damn well at that. Oh, and It is most certainly not made in China.

I will agree somewhat about hornady ammo. I handload, but used to always shoot 165 grain sst's in my old savage 30-06 for deer and it was a 3/4" gun (with an elite 4200). Now that superformance has taken over I have to handload as I do not find a gun that stays in 3" at 100 yds desirable. Other than that, all there ammo is top shelf.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Obviously I mistakenly presumed the new Elite's were made in China since their other lines are/were. I know the 6500 is a good scope as well it should be for $700. Never had a Leupold or Burris (USA) fail either. I stand pat on my assessment of Horndog ammo. Several of my friends have made the same assessment and while thye were loyal Hornady shooters, switched to Brand X when the Hornady would not shoot well. And no their rifles were not fouled nor other issues either. Maybe the new and improved action packed thrilling zombie varmint loads are the best thing since the electric toaster and sliced bread.

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from Asherdan wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I don't get the flak on the X-Mark. I was out at the range last week and the young man next to me was trying to sight in his new .308 X-Mark for the first time with a Leupold VX-III 4.5x14x50. We got to talking and it led to me shooting several rounds of Federal ammunition to help round him into shape. Damn nice rifle, well fit wood stock with nice checkering, good balance, a smooth bolt throw and an acceptable or better trigger. Plus it was pretty and it shot good. I felt better looking just holding the darn thing and that's no small feat.

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from bruisedsausage wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

WA Mtnhunter,

None of the bushnell elite series scopes has ever been manufactured in China to my knowledge. So far as I know they are all Japanese made.

And I would agree with Petzal about the elite series scopes. They are rugged, and as yet I've not had one fail. Have seen some of my buddies "superior" scopes malfunction and break during our hunts but my elites seem to keep on working.

The burris scopes you speak so fond of, might be made in the Philippines!!! Some of the entry level models are for sure. I'll take Japanese craftsmanship over the other any day.

As far as Hornady ammo I'm not a big fan. I've had too many inconsistent results for my liking.

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from buckstopper wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Dave,
Did you happen to shoot any Zombie prairie dogs while you were there?! I have noticed that Hornady has some Zombie killing bullets and Leupold has a Zombie scope for .223's. I thought that 22" barrels are best for non-magnum calibers.nb

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from Del in KS wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I've taken Dave's advice several times with good results. The Elite scopes are very good and the only scope I will buy for the immediate future.

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from fordman155 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

About a month ago a friend asked me to tune up his newly-puchased 308 Win for some nuisance permit work. Deer are taking down his corn pretty bad. The Bushnell 3200 scope on that 308 is a fine-tuned scope and I would love to get one. At 200yds the shot group was an inch low of the target center. Four click up and the next group was an inch over the target center. For kicks I went two clicks right and fired. Yes, the bullet was one inch to the right of the previously fired group, but still right at an inch high. Yes, I'm a believer in the quality of Bushnell scopes.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Well contrary to swearing I would't, I took you'll's advice and bought a Zeiss Conquest.
I recieved it last week and today I'm mailing it back.
Tomprrow I'll go and buy another Leupold.
By the way a Burris was one time I let people fool me.
Never again, from Pet. or WaMountainhunter, never again.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Bushnell was one to.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

bruisedsausage,

As usual, you fail to read carefully. Burris Signature, Six X, and Black Diamond scopes are Made in USA. Read the box more carefully than you read the posts. Burris Fullfield II's are indeed made in the Phillipines and I don't own one nor have ever heard of them failing. My old eyes can spot a piece of junk right away.

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from davidpetzal wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

To buckstopper: I didn't see any prairie dogs that were zombified, but I did see a number that acted quite oddly, and we had one or two charges, both real and false.

To dale freeman: What, specifically, was wrong with the Zeiss, and which model did you have?

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from Shootstir wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Finally...Dave and I agree on something. You just can't beat the V-max for varmint hunting- I love the stuff. I used it with a bolt-action Brno chambered in .22 Hornet on prairie dogs and the suckers disappeared in a pale, pink mist.

Could not believe the power in that little package...flawless execution. Pun intended.

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from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

My Rem 700 VS in 22-250 with the American made Burris Signature 6 X 24 is great for where i shoot ground hogs. Plus i have talked to the folks in Greeley and they are most helpful.
I load my own and like the Sierra 52 HPBT Match with IMR 4320.
The only Hornady i tried was Superformance in 06 and the chrono showed no significant increase in my rifle so i continue to handload.

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from Safado wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Dale,
I have two Zeiss 3 x 9's that I picked up for about $399. Have never had a problem. I'm using them on a .308 and a 270 Win (so no excessive recoil)and have never had a problem. I agree with the other criticisms that they are a little long and may not look as elegant as others but the glass is superior. I'm curious what you saw in a week that caused you to send it back. I don't have experience with Bushnell or Burris but I do like Nikon scopes.

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from Safado wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Asherdan,
I think the X-Bolt critics don't like the removable magazine. The purist like blind magazines or hinged flooplates. Doesn't bother me my Tikka 3 has a removable magazine.

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

to;
Safado and david;
Length, weight and slower focusing (AND LOOKS)

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

TO dAVID;
Opps, I haD THE 3X9X40 "CONQUEST".

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from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

T W Davidson. i had the same thing happen with 6.5 55 ammo. i tried some norma that was suppose to be 'full size'. sure enough it would not fit in the standard shell holder. maybe the metric ammo is closer to original specs?? anyway, i just used the next size that it would fit in and used the brass.

Topper - where i shoot ground hogs the farmer lost a leg because his tractor wheel fell into a ground hog structure and tipped over on him.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Good article DEP! I've smoked many a barrel shooting those pesky critters. They sharpen your aim like no other kind of hunting. The .223 is quite capable out to 500 yards and beyond.

I load my own so I don't use the Hornady factory ammo. I LOVE Hornady. I've been using their bullets for 50 years now and they remain my best performing hunting bullets in most calibers. They typically are more affordable and the terminal performance of the Interlock & Interbond are exceptional. The V-Max is absolutely my best performing varmint bullet and the inexpensive A-Max rivals the absolute best at 1000 yards and yet remains the most affordable VLD bullet available. I REALLY like the idea of them selling bullets in 100 and 250 count packages. Most of us would have to take out a second mortgage to buy bullets if their competitors did that.

I use an Elite 4200 Tactical 6-24x50. If all the Elites are like that, they are great scopes. It is highly accurate, good visibility, a great reticle. The key improvement I would suggest ((if they haven't done it already) is a locking turret. Those big knurrled knobs will catch things as you cart them around. I am continuously checking to see if the turrets are still on their zero setting. Too often, they are not, so I find them somewhat difficult to hunt with in rough territory. I easily took an antelope at 500 yards last Fall with this scope and I had 100% confidence in my shot. It shoots p-dogs out to 1000 yards just fine.

Topper, with your view of hard working ranchers, you must be from the city. What is your view on rats? Do you consider them a necessary element of the garbage dump and general city environment? You have obviously never tried to feed a cow on 6 acres of grass and then had a five mile wide p-dog town eat your pasture right down to the dirt, killing the sacred grass for generations. Hunters don't make much impact ont these vermin. The poisoners do make an impact and if they didn't all city dwellers might be vegitarians. I very much appreciate your concern for our environment but rhodents do have to be thinned or they can make a mess of our environment. Also most ranchers I know understand our environment better than most people I meet and as a group, I'd be willing to bet that they contribute more to its well-being than all the city dwellers combined. Nothing against city dwellers... its just that ranchers are rare breed. They work hard and they care about the planet.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

DakotaMan,

While I don't wish to debate the goodness or badness of shooting prairie dogs and Hornady components, I might add that I shot some exceptional groups yesterday with my .308 with some Hornady 150 gr Interlock SP over 44 gr of TAC.

But prairie dogs at 1,000 yards? Really?

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from 007 wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I gotta ask. Though I've never seen a prarie dog other than in zoos and the like, I do know they're not that big. How on earth do you see them at 1k yards? I've got a 6x24 on my .220 Swift and have taken a few eastern groundhogs at 300 yards, can't imagine seeing something half as big at three times the distance.

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from 8Crow wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I popped one once at 678 paces with a 22-250 and a box of trial and error (er, adjustments). The crosswind was just a breeze but at that distance the bullet did something just a little different every time and I could watch the little puffs of dust on the mound to see what was going on. Now in the last NRA mag there was an article about a US sniper in Iraq that popped someone at over a mile...but that was a sniper, using a mean round and very custom rig. The thing about "seeing" the PD's at that range is that many times the heat creates such a mirage effect that anything over 18-20 power is just wasted magnification.
I used to believe if some is good, more is better, but Dave is right about the scope...16-18x is just about ideal.

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