August 18, 2008
Petzal: A Sorrowful Tale of High Velocity
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
Once upon a time in 2007, there was a hunter who had done very well in phrenology and went to a Wise Custom Gun Builder (hereinafter known as WCGB) and said, “Build me a 7mm STW.”
“Why do you want a 7mm STW?”, asked the WCGB. “Unless you put a 28-inch barrel on it, an STW is just another 7mm magnum, and the only thing a 28-inch barrel is good for is pole vaulting.”
But the Wealthy Hunter (hereinafter known as WH) was like many other men who had done well in life. Because he knew from phrenology, and making money, he thought he knew about guns and hunting as well, and would not listen to the WCGB who had been accumulating knowledge for 40 years but who, after all, had to make a dollar now and then.
They compromised on a 26-inch barrel. The WH took delivery of the rifle, worked up a handload employing 140-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips at nearly 3,600 fps that went into one ragged hole, and went off to practice.
That fall, the WCGB got a call from the WH who said,
“I’m going on a mule deer hunt with an outfitter who guarantees me a shot at a 35-inch buck. It’s $14,000, and I’m taking the STW.”
“But what happens if you get a shot at 100 yards,” said the WCGB, “the Ballistic Tip is a peerless projectile, but at that kind of range with that velocity it’ll blow up. You won’t even break a rib. Use another bullet.”
“What do you know,” sneered the WH. “That rifle shoots ¼-inch groups and I can hit groundhogs with it at 600 yards.”
The WCGB sighed and went back to his lathe; he had heard it all before.
And so a month passed. Then the phone rang in the WCGB’s shop. It was the WH, back from the West.
“*&^*(*&*&&&#@^!@#$,” said the WH.
“Let me guess,” said the WCGB, “you got a shot at 100 yards and you never even broke a rib. You lost your 35-inch deer and they couldn’t find him.”
“It took them three days to find the carcass,” said the WH. “It was completely rotted. They sent me the antlers. *#&^%&*()&^^%!”
This is a true story; only the names have been changed to protect the silly. I would point out what the morals are, but you can deduce them yourself. Unless, of course, you’ve made a lot of money at something and don’t need any kind of advice from anyone.