Buyers Advice

Good guns...precision plinkers...spotting scopes.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Q: I want to know what guns are best for deer and wild boars. I was thinking about a .270 or .30/06. I have a .30/30 but want something with more power. --J.L.

A: Either the .270 or .30/06 would be fine. They're the same cartridge except for bullet diameter. Most experienced hunters consider the .30/06 to be more versatile, as you can buy .30/06 ammunition with much heavier bullets than any .270 ammo. An old-time gun writer named Townsend Whelen once said, "The .30/06 is never a mistake," and after hunting with the cartridge on three continents, I agree completely. Any 180-grain .30/06 factory load should work fine on deer and boars.

Q: Could you please recommend a .22 Long Rifle semiauto pistol for precision plinking? I don't intend to compete but do want a pistol that's accurate and well made. Price is not an issue. I'm willing to pay for quality, something I can bequeath to future generations. I've researched the S&W; Model 41, Browning Buck Mark, and High Standard line, but would appreciate some insight based on your experience. I'm willing to consider other makes in light of your recommendations. --C.G.

A: I've shot all three of the pistols you list, and they're all fine firearms, though the High Standard is no longer manufactured, and I believe the S&W; 41 has been discontinued. In my experience it's hard to buy a bad .22 semiauto if you're willing to spend over $200. You may want to buy a new gun (or at least a presently manufactured used gun), because repair will be cheaper if something breaks down. But .22 autoloaders are simple enough that problems are rare--as long as they're made right and kept clean.

My own "precision plinker" is a Ruger Mark II, a "slabside" barrel target model I got in a trade with a friend. He had a detachable 2X-7X scope on it. With the scope, I've been able to keep a 10-round clip of Winchester Power Point bullets inside 2 inches at 100 yards, which matches most .22 rifles. With iron sights it's accounted for many varmints and small-game animals out to 50 yards.

The big factor in any good .22 semiauto is a fine trigger. Many can be worked over by a gunsmith, but you can save some money if the trigger breaks cleanly at 3 to 4 pounds at purchase. My Ruger's is a crisp 3 1/4 pounds, which makes hitting small targets much easier.

Q: Could you give me some advice on spotting scopes? I live in western Kansas, which is mostly open, but we do have some creeks and rivers. What power of scope would be best for someone on a budget? --C.D.

A: I've done some hunting in western Kansas, and it's great country. No matter how much you pay for a spotting scope, more than 40X is almost never usable in the field because of heat waves and dimness. I'd look at a variable porro-prism scope (the ones with a "dog-leg" body) in the $150 to $250 price range, with magnification starting at 12X-15X and running up to 35X-40X.

Variables allow you to change the magnification to allow for heat and light conditions. At lower power they also allow you to find objects more easily, due to a wider field of view. Then you can zoom in for a closer look.