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Perfect Rifles: My Custom John Noveske .280

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August 26, 2013

Perfect Rifles: My Custom John Noveske .280

By David E. Petzal

In my post of Aug. 21, I mentioned that a .280 of mine, built by now-departed riflesmith John Noveske, was a perfect gun. Reader R. Peterson, who is obviously a person of taste and culture, asked if I would write a bit about the .280 and run a photo. Pleased to, but there is a chance I covered this gun three years or so ago. If I have, indulge me.

Back in 2008, I became aware of Bedrock Rifles*, a company that offered high-grade bolt guns in left-hand only. Having spent a shooting lifetime being ignored, scorned, and told to f**k off by the gun biz, as all southpaw shooters are, I was enthralled and had to have one. The guns were actually built by John Noveske of Grants Pass, Oregon. He was one of those supremely skilled fellows who did virtually perfect work.

Noveske used left-hand Nesika actions, which are made in the same plant that produces Dakota rifles. The Nesika is much-beloved of precision shooters. It’s flat bottomed, has a fixed, rather than plunger-type ejector, a bolt-knob that unscrews so it can be changed for another style, and an extremely tight lockup. For stocks, Noveske went to High Tech Specialties in Pennsylvania, which makes very light fiberglass stocks that are about as flexible as your average aircraft carrier hull. Better than High Tech, there is not. The triggers were made by Jewell (If you have not touched off a properly set up Jewell trigger, you do not know what bliss is.) and the barrels came from Lilja which, like everything else here, is top of the heap. I asked for a #2 contour barrel , 22 inches long, 1-10 twist.

Now, sometimes in the wonderful world of made-to-order rifles, you can assemble a gun from top components and they do not form a harmonious whole. Either the thing doesn’t shoot or there is something wrong somewhere. Jack O’Connor once wrote that the only perfect rifle he owned was a .416 Rigby built by a gunsmith named, I believe, Bob Johnson, and since O’Connor owned the very best work available at the time and a lot of it, this gives you some idea.

For example, I have a Griffin & Howe 7mm Weatherby Magnum that was built in 1972 and with which I’ve taken a whole menagerie of big game. It was very accurate (before I burned it out), has fantastic wood, and a lovely and ornate checkering job that was done by Winston Churchill when he worked at G&H. But the cheekpiece looks like a cow turd that was slung over the comb and left to dry. What was the stockmaker thinking?

But such was not the case with the Noveske rifle. It came out perfect, just as I had envisioned. Weight, with a Zeiss scope on board, is precisely 8 pounds, which is correct to the ounce. It shoots everything well, and will group Nosler E-Tips in .600-inch. I showed the rifle to Craig Boddington and asked him to find something wrong. He simply smiled and shook his head.

All it needs is luck. Just one break. Just one head of big game with which to be photographed. That isn’t so much to ask…or is it?

*Despite John Novekse’s passing, Noveske Rifleworks, LLC, is carrying on his work. I believe that their entire production now is geared to ARs, and AR parts and barrels. Bedrock Corp. is alive and well, but no longer sells bolt-actions, having switched to Noveske ARs—in left-hand only.

Comments (37)

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

It looks perfect Dave -- well done. But tapping into your previous post on luck, I gather the rifle still needs to prove itself?

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from Mark-1 wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Whoa! 1-10 twist for a 7mm bullet when the rest of the commercial world uses 1-9 1/4 or 9 1/2 twist? What was your rationale, DP?

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from Amflyer wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

DEP, very nice rifle. Maybe you need to take it somewhere that you are guaranteed a lot of shooting, like the Kalahari.

Off-topic, but what is the scoop with the Terra line of Zeiss scopes? Can find little on the highway of misinformation at this point. Only noticed that the ocular no longer says "Assembled in the USA."

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from DSMbirddog wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

It looks like a great hunting rifle and from what you say quality abounds with it. I'm not a big fan of ornate rifles and this one just looks like it means business. Gotta like the caliber as well.

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from Tim Platt wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Winston G. Churchill... it took me a long time to figure out you didn't have a rifle that had been worked on by the Prime Minister of England.

I love this rifle. I love Zeiss scopes, I love 7mm's, I have lusted after a Jewell trigger forever. I am just scared that if I bite the bullet and get one I will hate all my other triggers.

Can't believe O'Connor gave a back handed slap in the face to Winchester with his comment on the one perfect gun he owned. Brutally honest, my kind of guy.

Now Mark-1 has me wondering about twist rates. Why did you order 1:10? My No. 1 7X57 has 1 in 8.75" rifling. I know there is some correlation between twist rates and bullet weight. Does my slower rate stabilize lighter or heavier bullets better? I need to buy some of those 175 grain bullets and see what's up. I have only shot the 139-140's.

How about some expert advice or opinions gun nuts?

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from Amflyer wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

It's not the weight, it's the length of the bullet that needs more to stabilize. A longer bullet needs to be spinning faster to keep it from falling yawing or yammering or whatever it is that it will do.

I would guess that Dave like to shoot heavy for caliber bullets in his 7mm-bores, and since the 280 doesn't have so much velocity as the more overbore catridges, it could use a little more twist.

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from huntslow wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

O'Connor was not slapping Winchester as much as the MANY custom gunsmiths he used. He may not have been slapping anyone, just noting that perfection is very hard to achieve

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from davidpetzal wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

To ALL: Great gobs of goose grease! I checked, and the twist is 1-9 even. I think I'm suffering from .30 caliber default syndrome, which can be cured with human growth hormone. Endless apologies.

To Amflyer: I have no idea what the scoop is on Zeiss Terra scopes, but they are probably a very good low medium priced scope. I have a number of Zeiss Conquests, and have used them hard, and they have all been fine.

To Tim Platt: Winston Gordon Churchill is the greatest American gun engraver of the 20th century, and one of the three or four best in the world during his prime. Jack O'Connor was not giving the back of his hand to Winchester. He would no more use a factory Model 70 than he would a J.C. Higgins. I know he thought the world of Al Beisen, Earl Milliron, and half a dozen top-rank gun builders, and would not slight them for anything. He was merely pointing out that perfection is a very, very rare thing.

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from Happy Myles wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Beautiful clean lines. Reminds me of of a rifle Mark Bansner made for me. Hope that is not an insult

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from Happy Myles wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

It also has a Lilja barrel and Jewell trigger

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from davidpetzal wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Happy: The similarity is not a coindicence. That's one of Mark's stocks. Nobody better than Mark.

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from Proverbs wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Amflyer: The Terra line of scopes is Zeiss' new entry-level line of scopes. They are Chinese-made. They are decent scopes, but do not hold a candle to the Conquest line.

The former Conquest 3-9x40 scope could be had for $400 at many national retailers. This was a price set by Zeiss. There was very, very little mark-up and was almost like a loss leader to get people into the Zeiss line. Honestly, they were a bargain for $400.

The least-expensive Conquests now run about $550, and are easily worth that price.

The Terras are somewhat overpriced, according to the opinion of a good friend of mine who happens to be a scope engineer in Oregon, whose company makes components for some well-known American brands. His company has broken down some Terras to see what they are made of.

The least-expensive Terras (3-9x42) run $400. My engineer friend doesn't think they are quite as good as the Redfields for half that price. He would know.

By the way, Cabela's was directed to clear their 'old' model Conquests out of stock this past winter to make way for the Terra line. They had a 'door busters' special for the Conquests for $300, good only from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. I was among the first in the store and got exactly 1 of them (hoping to buy 2 or 3). There was 22 of these scopes available. The first few people in line bought ALL of them, but were nice enough to let me have one of them. Clearly they were going to resell them. Mine will be a birthday present to my son.

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from Happy Myles wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

David,
I am a little embarrassed, should have realized that, getting way too old.
One of my favorite rifles is an old 416 Rigby by Griffin & Howe. Frank Pachmeyer talked me into buying it, even though I could not afford it at the time. I think it has accompanied me to Africa more than twenty times. One trip it was the only rifle that showed up , used it for everything. It is a battle scarred veteran. Kindest Regards

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from Tim Platt wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

I have three of the Conquests, 3-9X40 which according to their website they no longer make. What a shame. The first two were $399 and the third was $459 which was still a bargain. Looks like everyone on the internet is unloading these scopes, better get another one while the getting is good. It would be a shame if they ruined their reputation with these Terra's...

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from RPeterson wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Mr Petzal, thank you for the article, I do enjoy your articles about fine rifles. If I may bother you with another question. I currently use a Nosler M48 Custom in 30-06 but find it a bit much for deer. So I was considering ordering a Kenny Jarrett Ridge Walker in 270 or 280. However I hunt in northern Ontario Canada which is pure bush country. The Ridge Walker comes in 24" barrel, would you suggest I ask for it in a 22" barrel and in .270 or .280?
Thanks again, Ryan

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from davidpetzal wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Happy: One of the rifles I most wanted to buy was a G&H .416 Rigby that they had in the showroom in the 1980s. It was made on a much-altered 1917 Enfield action, and was just about an ideal working heavy rifle. Except it was right-handed. I hope whoever owns it is taking care of it.

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from Safado wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Mr. Petzal,
That is a very clean rifle.
Proverbs,
I'm with you on the Zeiss Conquest. Dave Petzal did a review on th 3 x 9 x 40's and reccomended that you buy as many as you could afford. I bought two and put them on my primary hunting rifles and have never looked back. I was in the market for a new scope recently and looked into the "Terra" line but figured that it was a lower priced scope being sold for the price that you could previously get a Conquest.

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from davidpetzal wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

TO RPeterson: I just checked on Kenny's website, and the Ridge Walker comes with a 25" barrel and a muzzle brake, which is a poor start for a brush gun. The rifle was designed as a whole, and it's been my experience that if you take an integral design and screw with it (assuming that Kenny would do it) you end up with something less than satisfactory. If you're looking for a brush popper, permit me to suggest the Ruger Scout Rifle, which is short, very handy, and quite accurate for what it is. Only throw away the factory trigger and get a Timney.

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from O Garcia wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Dave,

the dang perfect rifle hasn't been bloodied yet? (Sorry.) Hand it to a PH/guide and tell him to follow you up. That way it can at least take the finishing shot. (Sorry again. I really wish that rifle finally gets its big break.)

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from Sarge01 wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

If Jack OConner had gotten his hands on a .280 first no one would ever have heard of a .270. Fine cartridge selection Dave.

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from Amflyer wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Thanks Proverbs. I was afraid of something like that. Glad I have the Conquests I do.

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from O Garcia wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Sarge,

There were in fact a few .280's before the .270, if by that we mean "something that was/is faster than the beloved 7x57". You can pick the 7x64mm Brenneke since it's the one closest to the .280, but it was made by a German, in 1917, during the Great War. Even earlier than that or around the same time, were the .280 Ross, the .276 Enfield, the .275 Holland, etc. All were fast 7mm's that were ahead of their time (think 7mm Remington half a century earlier).

The .276 Enfield was never adopted for military service, the .280 Ross was associated with the dreaded Ross rifle, and the .275H&H... should have been the belted "7 mag" instead of the Remington, except it was hampered by the limitations of the British propellant of choice, cordite. So on paper, it didn't seem that much better than the 7x57 and later, the .270.

The Brenneke was never loaded with cordite, and was impressive even by then, but the Brits never warmed up to it and never swiped and renamed it the way they did with the ".275 Rigby" (7x57). Cactus Jack never championed it, and it never caught on here. (We'll never know why gun writers push one round but not another. We'll never understand why Warren Page never championed the 7mm Weatherby, one of Roy's truly great cartridges. It was already available in the 1940's. He chose the Mashburn instead.)

So it's probably inevitable that America would be .270 country and not .280/7mm. The .270 had it all: magnum performance (and pressure), great sounding name, made by one of the great American gun makers, championed by Cactus Jack.

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from fordman155 wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Dave: When I got the chance to have a custom rifle, I picked the 280 Rem and I've been happy with my pick since then. The gunsmith put a 24" ER Shaw barrel with a 1:9.5 twist on a FN action and this stunning rifle makes almost half MOA groups at 400 yards. The 140 - 160 grain bullets all group well and this is the rifle I'm taking into deer season in December.
Sarge01: I think JOC would have taken the 280 over the 270 if they would have arrived at the same time. Both are fine choices, so you really can't go wrong.

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from Proverbs wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Amflyer: I wouldn't be afraid to put a Terra on a rifle. That being said, I won't do it because there are better options for $400.

You won't find a bigger Zeiss fan than right here, and based on my significant history with Zeiss, and my engineer's assessment, I think the Terra is a decent scope. But don't expect the Terra to perform like the former Conquest, despite the identical price.

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from Proverbs wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Safado: I just read your last post and think your assessment is right on.

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from Tim Platt wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

And O Garcia I remember Cactus Jack saying that as a youth the shelves were full of heavy 30-06 bullets and if the 150 grain bullets were available he may have chosen it as his favorite instead of the .270 which had the high stepping 130 grain loads. Can't find it anywhere on the web but I spent my youth reading his works and am sure those were his words.

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from MReeder wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Tim Platt,
I remember reading something along those same lines in one of O'Connor's books. I'll run the exact quote if I can locate it. However, I think what he actually said was that the .270 might not have been so successful with general shooters if faster '06 loads had been more readily available. He loved the '06 and preferred it as an all-around cartridge, but he definitely believed the 130 gr. .270 load was the superior open country choice for longer shots.
Re. DEP's rifle, as always, my personal "perfect" gun would wear fine wood, but that's purely personal preference. No question the synthetic will almost always shoot better. However, that lefthanded bolt.... Just kidding, of course. Also, if anyone here is not familiar with Churchill's engraving, you ought to pull up some shots off the internet. It is something to behold.

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from MReeder wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Tim Platt,
Was just looking through "The Rifle Book" and may or may not have found some of the O'Connor comments you referred to. At least in the section I found, though, O'Connor thought that the ammo company's introduction of 150 gr. '06 game loads a few year's prior to the .270s debut was one of several factors that retarded the latter's acceptance. Other factors were that so many NRA sporters in '06 were already in so many hands and still so readily available and affordable, and that there was so little coverage of new cartridges back then. It took the NRA's "American Rifleman" three years to even mention, much less do a review on the .270.
O'Connor credits the .270s emergence with what he called "enlighted" gun nuts out west who appreciated what a .130 gr. bullet with excellent ballistic coeffiency moving along at 3,140 could accomplish. Additional factors were the excellent Winchester bullet construction compared to most of the 150 gr. '06 bullets, along with the .270s ability to actually achieve listed speeds, while the '06 usually fell about 200 fps short. In other words, the .270 won coverts over time because of its performance.
O'Connor was also a big fan of the .280, but Remington really messed up the way it introduced and marketed that load. They paired it with non-bolt action rifles and held the velocity down for one big thing. Had they introduced a 140 gr. factory load at a shade over 3,000 it might have caught on a lot quicker. It is certainly one of the world's most useful and well-balanced cartridges.

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from Mark-1 wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

@MReeder: Think the prime consideration here is "The Rifle" not the caliber. DP's comment O'Connor would have scorned using a factory Model 70 is aptly shown in the "The Rifle Book" Chapter on what is a Custom Rifle.

That chapter is a O'Connor masterpiece. It also is an excellent yardstick for DP's fancy custom 280 in this blog.

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from dick mcplenty wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Hey Petzal how about a continual update on left Hand rifles. You've owned an envious amount of ULA/NULA and now this Noveske. How about the new Forbes Rifle,you buying one of those?

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from MReeder wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Mark-1,
Agree the main topic is the rifle, but I was strictly responding to Tim Platt re. O'Connor's writings on the 150 gr. '06 vs. the 130 gr. 270. O'Connor also notes in that same chapter on the .270, .280 and .284 that the better comparison is between the 130 gr. .270 and the 165 gr. '06. As in most things, he's right on that score as well. Sectional density (pardon to DEP) and ballistic coefficient, given the same shapes, are much more similar. That becomes a pick 'em, depending on whether you prefer 35 more grains of lead or 300 fps or so more velocity. Either is good and I doubt very much if any animal posing within 350 yards of either could tell the difference, campfire debates aside.
Also, if memory serves, one of the last custom rifles O'Connor had built was a .280. He was also enthusiastic about the 7X57, .375 H&H and the .416 Rigby and frequently used the 7mm mag and .300 Weatherby.
One sentence in particular from that chapter is esp. instructive; ie., "There is no particular magic in a .277 bullet or in the .270 case. The .284 Winchester and the .280 Remington are so much like the .270 ballistically that if similar bullets are used any difference between the three cartridges would be a matter of imagination."
So much for O'Connor being unreasonably wed to the .270.
Incidentally, I'm constantly surprised that the .284 hasn't enjoyed a rebirth given the current popularity of short action rifles. I guess maybe the 7mm-08 beat it to the punch.

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from Treestand wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Back in the Day It was a toss-up between a Remington Mod 7-7mm/08 or Winchester Mod 70-284, The Big Diff, was $123.00 more for the Winchester, both are in Walnut checked Stocks the win had a 22" Bbl the Rem has 18.5" Bbl, I found the Rem more Conducive for Deep Woods and Green field Hunting. JMO~ the 284 Win came out to late to fight the 7mm/08...

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from O Garcia wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

The .284 case with its PO Ackley-like shoulder was difficult to make for Winchester, and therefore less cost-efficient, given their technology at the time of its intro. Obviously it's no longer a problem now in the WSM era, where blown-out, sharp-shouldered cases are commonplace. Even Norma now regularly uses this case to make .284-based 6mm and 6.5mm benchrest rounds. But back in the 60's, too many cases were ending up in the scrap heap.

Also, it was introduced in an autoloader and a lever action.

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from hutter wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

I love the .280 Rem. I own one on a Weatherby MarkV stainless synthetic. I believe it was only chambered in .280 for a couple years. My .280 unlike yours is well bloodied with pronghorns and mule deer and does wonderfully with 140gr Nosler BTs. Ya can't call it perfect until it's bloodied so give it the Ivory soap number. GREAT rifle Dave!

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from RPeterson wrote 33 weeks 2 days ago

Mr Petzal, what scope do you use on your Ruger Scout?

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from Happy Myles wrote 32 weeks 6 days ago

I was so focused on David's 280 forgot to mention mine. Many years ago, before synthenic stocks, John Bolliger crafted a beauty which I own. Have taken several caribou, a couple of deer, and one elk with it. It is a super caliber.

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from Tim Platt wrote 30 weeks 3 days ago

Yet another word on those Zeiss scopes like Dave's perfect rifle is wearing. His is probably a Victory of course, but they really are replacing the Conquest line with these Terra's .

The good news is you can now get a Zeiss 3-9X40 Conquest for $369 if you hurry. I ordered a Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14X44 today for $599.... they usually run upwards of $800. Thanks for the heads up Proverbs.

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from huntslow wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

O'Connor was not slapping Winchester as much as the MANY custom gunsmiths he used. He may not have been slapping anyone, just noting that perfection is very hard to achieve

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from davidpetzal wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

To ALL: Great gobs of goose grease! I checked, and the twist is 1-9 even. I think I'm suffering from .30 caliber default syndrome, which can be cured with human growth hormone. Endless apologies.

To Amflyer: I have no idea what the scoop is on Zeiss Terra scopes, but they are probably a very good low medium priced scope. I have a number of Zeiss Conquests, and have used them hard, and they have all been fine.

To Tim Platt: Winston Gordon Churchill is the greatest American gun engraver of the 20th century, and one of the three or four best in the world during his prime. Jack O'Connor was not giving the back of his hand to Winchester. He would no more use a factory Model 70 than he would a J.C. Higgins. I know he thought the world of Al Beisen, Earl Milliron, and half a dozen top-rank gun builders, and would not slight them for anything. He was merely pointing out that perfection is a very, very rare thing.

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from Proverbs wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Amflyer: The Terra line of scopes is Zeiss' new entry-level line of scopes. They are Chinese-made. They are decent scopes, but do not hold a candle to the Conquest line.

The former Conquest 3-9x40 scope could be had for $400 at many national retailers. This was a price set by Zeiss. There was very, very little mark-up and was almost like a loss leader to get people into the Zeiss line. Honestly, they were a bargain for $400.

The least-expensive Conquests now run about $550, and are easily worth that price.

The Terras are somewhat overpriced, according to the opinion of a good friend of mine who happens to be a scope engineer in Oregon, whose company makes components for some well-known American brands. His company has broken down some Terras to see what they are made of.

The least-expensive Terras (3-9x42) run $400. My engineer friend doesn't think they are quite as good as the Redfields for half that price. He would know.

By the way, Cabela's was directed to clear their 'old' model Conquests out of stock this past winter to make way for the Terra line. They had a 'door busters' special for the Conquests for $300, good only from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. I was among the first in the store and got exactly 1 of them (hoping to buy 2 or 3). There was 22 of these scopes available. The first few people in line bought ALL of them, but were nice enough to let me have one of them. Clearly they were going to resell them. Mine will be a birthday present to my son.

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from Happy Myles wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Beautiful clean lines. Reminds me of of a rifle Mark Bansner made for me. Hope that is not an insult

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from davidpetzal wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Happy: The similarity is not a coindicence. That's one of Mark's stocks. Nobody better than Mark.

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from davidpetzal wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Happy: One of the rifles I most wanted to buy was a G&H .416 Rigby that they had in the showroom in the 1980s. It was made on a much-altered 1917 Enfield action, and was just about an ideal working heavy rifle. Except it was right-handed. I hope whoever owns it is taking care of it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Safado wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Mr. Petzal,
That is a very clean rifle.
Proverbs,
I'm with you on the Zeiss Conquest. Dave Petzal did a review on th 3 x 9 x 40's and reccomended that you buy as many as you could afford. I bought two and put them on my primary hunting rifles and have never looked back. I was in the market for a new scope recently and looked into the "Terra" line but figured that it was a lower priced scope being sold for the price that you could previously get a Conquest.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

If Jack OConner had gotten his hands on a .280 first no one would ever have heard of a .270. Fine cartridge selection Dave.

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from Amflyer wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Thanks Proverbs. I was afraid of something like that. Glad I have the Conquests I do.

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from MReeder wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Tim Platt,
Was just looking through "The Rifle Book" and may or may not have found some of the O'Connor comments you referred to. At least in the section I found, though, O'Connor thought that the ammo company's introduction of 150 gr. '06 game loads a few year's prior to the .270s debut was one of several factors that retarded the latter's acceptance. Other factors were that so many NRA sporters in '06 were already in so many hands and still so readily available and affordable, and that there was so little coverage of new cartridges back then. It took the NRA's "American Rifleman" three years to even mention, much less do a review on the .270.
O'Connor credits the .270s emergence with what he called "enlighted" gun nuts out west who appreciated what a .130 gr. bullet with excellent ballistic coeffiency moving along at 3,140 could accomplish. Additional factors were the excellent Winchester bullet construction compared to most of the 150 gr. '06 bullets, along with the .270s ability to actually achieve listed speeds, while the '06 usually fell about 200 fps short. In other words, the .270 won coverts over time because of its performance.
O'Connor was also a big fan of the .280, but Remington really messed up the way it introduced and marketed that load. They paired it with non-bolt action rifles and held the velocity down for one big thing. Had they introduced a 140 gr. factory load at a shade over 3,000 it might have caught on a lot quicker. It is certainly one of the world's most useful and well-balanced cartridges.

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from MReeder wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Mark-1,
Agree the main topic is the rifle, but I was strictly responding to Tim Platt re. O'Connor's writings on the 150 gr. '06 vs. the 130 gr. 270. O'Connor also notes in that same chapter on the .270, .280 and .284 that the better comparison is between the 130 gr. .270 and the 165 gr. '06. As in most things, he's right on that score as well. Sectional density (pardon to DEP) and ballistic coefficient, given the same shapes, are much more similar. That becomes a pick 'em, depending on whether you prefer 35 more grains of lead or 300 fps or so more velocity. Either is good and I doubt very much if any animal posing within 350 yards of either could tell the difference, campfire debates aside.
Also, if memory serves, one of the last custom rifles O'Connor had built was a .280. He was also enthusiastic about the 7X57, .375 H&H and the .416 Rigby and frequently used the 7mm mag and .300 Weatherby.
One sentence in particular from that chapter is esp. instructive; ie., "There is no particular magic in a .277 bullet or in the .270 case. The .284 Winchester and the .280 Remington are so much like the .270 ballistically that if similar bullets are used any difference between the three cartridges would be a matter of imagination."
So much for O'Connor being unreasonably wed to the .270.
Incidentally, I'm constantly surprised that the .284 hasn't enjoyed a rebirth given the current popularity of short action rifles. I guess maybe the 7mm-08 beat it to the punch.

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from hutter wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

I love the .280 Rem. I own one on a Weatherby MarkV stainless synthetic. I believe it was only chambered in .280 for a couple years. My .280 unlike yours is well bloodied with pronghorns and mule deer and does wonderfully with 140gr Nosler BTs. Ya can't call it perfect until it's bloodied so give it the Ivory soap number. GREAT rifle Dave!

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

It looks perfect Dave -- well done. But tapping into your previous post on luck, I gather the rifle still needs to prove itself?

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from Mark-1 wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Whoa! 1-10 twist for a 7mm bullet when the rest of the commercial world uses 1-9 1/4 or 9 1/2 twist? What was your rationale, DP?

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from Amflyer wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

DEP, very nice rifle. Maybe you need to take it somewhere that you are guaranteed a lot of shooting, like the Kalahari.

Off-topic, but what is the scoop with the Terra line of Zeiss scopes? Can find little on the highway of misinformation at this point. Only noticed that the ocular no longer says "Assembled in the USA."

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from DSMbirddog wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

It looks like a great hunting rifle and from what you say quality abounds with it. I'm not a big fan of ornate rifles and this one just looks like it means business. Gotta like the caliber as well.

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from Tim Platt wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

Winston G. Churchill... it took me a long time to figure out you didn't have a rifle that had been worked on by the Prime Minister of England.

I love this rifle. I love Zeiss scopes, I love 7mm's, I have lusted after a Jewell trigger forever. I am just scared that if I bite the bullet and get one I will hate all my other triggers.

Can't believe O'Connor gave a back handed slap in the face to Winchester with his comment on the one perfect gun he owned. Brutally honest, my kind of guy.

Now Mark-1 has me wondering about twist rates. Why did you order 1:10? My No. 1 7X57 has 1 in 8.75" rifling. I know there is some correlation between twist rates and bullet weight. Does my slower rate stabilize lighter or heavier bullets better? I need to buy some of those 175 grain bullets and see what's up. I have only shot the 139-140's.

How about some expert advice or opinions gun nuts?

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from Amflyer wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

It's not the weight, it's the length of the bullet that needs more to stabilize. A longer bullet needs to be spinning faster to keep it from falling yawing or yammering or whatever it is that it will do.

I would guess that Dave like to shoot heavy for caliber bullets in his 7mm-bores, and since the 280 doesn't have so much velocity as the more overbore catridges, it could use a little more twist.

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from Happy Myles wrote 33 weeks 5 days ago

It also has a Lilja barrel and Jewell trigger

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from Happy Myles wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

David,
I am a little embarrassed, should have realized that, getting way too old.
One of my favorite rifles is an old 416 Rigby by Griffin & Howe. Frank Pachmeyer talked me into buying it, even though I could not afford it at the time. I think it has accompanied me to Africa more than twenty times. One trip it was the only rifle that showed up , used it for everything. It is a battle scarred veteran. Kindest Regards

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from Tim Platt wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

I have three of the Conquests, 3-9X40 which according to their website they no longer make. What a shame. The first two were $399 and the third was $459 which was still a bargain. Looks like everyone on the internet is unloading these scopes, better get another one while the getting is good. It would be a shame if they ruined their reputation with these Terra's...

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from RPeterson wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Mr Petzal, thank you for the article, I do enjoy your articles about fine rifles. If I may bother you with another question. I currently use a Nosler M48 Custom in 30-06 but find it a bit much for deer. So I was considering ordering a Kenny Jarrett Ridge Walker in 270 or 280. However I hunt in northern Ontario Canada which is pure bush country. The Ridge Walker comes in 24" barrel, would you suggest I ask for it in a 22" barrel and in .270 or .280?
Thanks again, Ryan

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from davidpetzal wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

TO RPeterson: I just checked on Kenny's website, and the Ridge Walker comes with a 25" barrel and a muzzle brake, which is a poor start for a brush gun. The rifle was designed as a whole, and it's been my experience that if you take an integral design and screw with it (assuming that Kenny would do it) you end up with something less than satisfactory. If you're looking for a brush popper, permit me to suggest the Ruger Scout Rifle, which is short, very handy, and quite accurate for what it is. Only throw away the factory trigger and get a Timney.

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from O Garcia wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Dave,

the dang perfect rifle hasn't been bloodied yet? (Sorry.) Hand it to a PH/guide and tell him to follow you up. That way it can at least take the finishing shot. (Sorry again. I really wish that rifle finally gets its big break.)

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from O Garcia wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Sarge,

There were in fact a few .280's before the .270, if by that we mean "something that was/is faster than the beloved 7x57". You can pick the 7x64mm Brenneke since it's the one closest to the .280, but it was made by a German, in 1917, during the Great War. Even earlier than that or around the same time, were the .280 Ross, the .276 Enfield, the .275 Holland, etc. All were fast 7mm's that were ahead of their time (think 7mm Remington half a century earlier).

The .276 Enfield was never adopted for military service, the .280 Ross was associated with the dreaded Ross rifle, and the .275H&H... should have been the belted "7 mag" instead of the Remington, except it was hampered by the limitations of the British propellant of choice, cordite. So on paper, it didn't seem that much better than the 7x57 and later, the .270.

The Brenneke was never loaded with cordite, and was impressive even by then, but the Brits never warmed up to it and never swiped and renamed it the way they did with the ".275 Rigby" (7x57). Cactus Jack never championed it, and it never caught on here. (We'll never know why gun writers push one round but not another. We'll never understand why Warren Page never championed the 7mm Weatherby, one of Roy's truly great cartridges. It was already available in the 1940's. He chose the Mashburn instead.)

So it's probably inevitable that America would be .270 country and not .280/7mm. The .270 had it all: magnum performance (and pressure), great sounding name, made by one of the great American gun makers, championed by Cactus Jack.

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from fordman155 wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Dave: When I got the chance to have a custom rifle, I picked the 280 Rem and I've been happy with my pick since then. The gunsmith put a 24" ER Shaw barrel with a 1:9.5 twist on a FN action and this stunning rifle makes almost half MOA groups at 400 yards. The 140 - 160 grain bullets all group well and this is the rifle I'm taking into deer season in December.
Sarge01: I think JOC would have taken the 280 over the 270 if they would have arrived at the same time. Both are fine choices, so you really can't go wrong.

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from Proverbs wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Amflyer: I wouldn't be afraid to put a Terra on a rifle. That being said, I won't do it because there are better options for $400.

You won't find a bigger Zeiss fan than right here, and based on my significant history with Zeiss, and my engineer's assessment, I think the Terra is a decent scope. But don't expect the Terra to perform like the former Conquest, despite the identical price.

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from Proverbs wrote 33 weeks 4 days ago

Safado: I just read your last post and think your assessment is right on.

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from Tim Platt wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

And O Garcia I remember Cactus Jack saying that as a youth the shelves were full of heavy 30-06 bullets and if the 150 grain bullets were available he may have chosen it as his favorite instead of the .270 which had the high stepping 130 grain loads. Can't find it anywhere on the web but I spent my youth reading his works and am sure those were his words.

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from MReeder wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Tim Platt,
I remember reading something along those same lines in one of O'Connor's books. I'll run the exact quote if I can locate it. However, I think what he actually said was that the .270 might not have been so successful with general shooters if faster '06 loads had been more readily available. He loved the '06 and preferred it as an all-around cartridge, but he definitely believed the 130 gr. .270 load was the superior open country choice for longer shots.
Re. DEP's rifle, as always, my personal "perfect" gun would wear fine wood, but that's purely personal preference. No question the synthetic will almost always shoot better. However, that lefthanded bolt.... Just kidding, of course. Also, if anyone here is not familiar with Churchill's engraving, you ought to pull up some shots off the internet. It is something to behold.

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from Mark-1 wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

@MReeder: Think the prime consideration here is "The Rifle" not the caliber. DP's comment O'Connor would have scorned using a factory Model 70 is aptly shown in the "The Rifle Book" Chapter on what is a Custom Rifle.

That chapter is a O'Connor masterpiece. It also is an excellent yardstick for DP's fancy custom 280 in this blog.

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from dick mcplenty wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Hey Petzal how about a continual update on left Hand rifles. You've owned an envious amount of ULA/NULA and now this Noveske. How about the new Forbes Rifle,you buying one of those?

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from Treestand wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

Back in the Day It was a toss-up between a Remington Mod 7-7mm/08 or Winchester Mod 70-284, The Big Diff, was $123.00 more for the Winchester, both are in Walnut checked Stocks the win had a 22" Bbl the Rem has 18.5" Bbl, I found the Rem more Conducive for Deep Woods and Green field Hunting. JMO~ the 284 Win came out to late to fight the 7mm/08...

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from O Garcia wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

The .284 case with its PO Ackley-like shoulder was difficult to make for Winchester, and therefore less cost-efficient, given their technology at the time of its intro. Obviously it's no longer a problem now in the WSM era, where blown-out, sharp-shouldered cases are commonplace. Even Norma now regularly uses this case to make .284-based 6mm and 6.5mm benchrest rounds. But back in the 60's, too many cases were ending up in the scrap heap.

Also, it was introduced in an autoloader and a lever action.

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from RPeterson wrote 33 weeks 2 days ago

Mr Petzal, what scope do you use on your Ruger Scout?

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from Happy Myles wrote 32 weeks 6 days ago

I was so focused on David's 280 forgot to mention mine. Many years ago, before synthenic stocks, John Bolliger crafted a beauty which I own. Have taken several caribou, a couple of deer, and one elk with it. It is a super caliber.

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from Tim Platt wrote 30 weeks 3 days ago

Yet another word on those Zeiss scopes like Dave's perfect rifle is wearing. His is probably a Victory of course, but they really are replacing the Conquest line with these Terra's .

The good news is you can now get a Zeiss 3-9X40 Conquest for $369 if you hurry. I ordered a Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14X44 today for $599.... they usually run upwards of $800. Thanks for the heads up Proverbs.

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