October 10, 2006
A Shovelful of Salt
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
This past Saturday, I was discussing the architectural philosophies of Sir Christopher Wren versus I.M. Pei around the campfire when a friend of mine joined the conversation. He had, it seemed, taken my advice and bought a .375 H&H from a gunmaker who has my highest regard. This rifle was to go to Alaska to hunt deer in brown bear country, where the bears often come at the sound of a gunshot to argue about who should eat the deer.
The gunmaker had recommended that my friend use Federal Premium Vital-Shok ammo loaded with 260-grain Nosler Accubond bullets. When I heard this, I nearly urped up my quiche. I asked my friend the reasons, and he said the gunmaker told him that high velocity bullets like the 260-grain .375 carry more shock to the bear than heavier, slower ones.
Let us consider the following:
1: The 260-grain Nosler Accubond is a fast-expanding bullet that’s meant to be used on thin-skinned game, not on 1,000-pound-plus brown bears.
2: There is no such thing as shock, on any animal, with any gun. If you want to stop a massive animal like a brown bear you do it by destroying vital organs and, hopefully, by breaking the shoulder. And the .375 bullet you use for this is any tough 300-grain slug such as the Nosler Partition, Swift A-Frame, or Barnes XXX.
The moral to all of this is that when you get advice, you always ask “How do you know?” Very often, it turns out that the wisdom is based on the flimsiest of assumptions. I can tell you about rifles, but my opinions on handguns and shotguns are of the most rudimentary kind because there is a ton to know and I don’t know it.
Advice should not be taken with a grain of salt. A shovelful is more like it.