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