June 02, 2008
Odds and Ends
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
A correspondent of mine just came back from New Zealand where he killed a very big red stag with a single shot from a .308 at 200 yards. The stag dropped in its tracks, and I asked the hunter how he was able to do this with a 58-year-old cartridge whose ballistics are modest at best.
"Easy," he e-mailed back. " I simply put a piece of tape over the caliber stamp on the barrel. That way, the animals don't know what they're being shot with."
In 1978, I had the pleasure of hunting in Botswana with Ian Manning, then a South African PH. As we sat around a mopane-wood fire, toasting dung beetles for supper, the talk turned to the Carter administration, then in its second year and setting new records for ineptitude.
"David," said Ian, "you people [Americans] must stop electing these a******s president. This is quite serious."
It is quite serious; we have not listened to Ian Manning; and we are paying for it.
I've been reading Frederick Forsyth's novel The Afghan, which contains the following information:
"Some snipers like a really tiny bullet, like the Remington 700 .308, a slug so small that it has to be sheathed in a detachable sleeve to go down the barrel at all."
"Heaviest of all [sniper rifles] is the Barrett Light Fifty, a monster that sends a bullet like a human forefinger over a mile with enough speed times weight to cause a human body to explode."
"It [a .408 Cheyenne] was a bolt-action rifle, which he appreciated because the total lockdown of a closed bolt gave that tiny extra stability at the moment of detonation."
"He had burnished and buffed the nose tip [of the bullet] to eradicate the tiniest vibration in flight."
And of course the American SF sniper under discussion makes a head shot at 2,100 yards. Oddly enough, this is do-able. The record for the longest confirmed sniper shot is held by a Canadian sharpshooter named Rob Furlong, who hit a militant in Afghanistan with a .50 McMillan rifle at 2,657 yards. The first shot missed altogether; the second struck the man's backpack, and the third did the job.
Excuse me; I have to go and burnish some nose tips.