Gift Quandaries

An anniversary rifle...shooting better with a varmint rest.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Q: For my anniversary my wife asked me what I wanted for a gift, and of course I replied a new deer rifle. Now I have to choose one. I'm stuck between a Weatherby Ultra Lightweight in .270 Weatherby Magnum or a Lazzeroni in 7.82 Patriot. Is there any advice you could give that would help my decision? --R.

A: I sincerely hope it's your wife's anniversary, too, and that you're planning to buy her a generous gift as well.

I would lean strongly toward the Weatherby combination. (Actually I'd lean strongly toward a .270 Winchester, but that doesn't answer your particular question.) Not only is the Weatherby Ultra Lightweight rifle a very nice size for most deer hunting, particularly in open country, but you'll always be able to buy .270 Weatherby ammunition. Maybe not in every country store, but somewhere.

Ammunition for the Lazzeroni 7.82 Patriot, however, is already difficult to find and will probably become even scarcer, mostly because it's another "short magnum" .30 caliber. Now that both Winchester and Remington are making short .30s, the Lazzeroni will probably fade into obscurity. Even if you handload, you'll run into problems. A few months ago a customer at the local sporting-goods store asked in vain for a shell-holder for his priming tool for the 7.82 Patriot. He had brass and dies, but without primers, cartridges don't go bang.

Q: I was given a varmint rest recently and noticed a difference in my accuracy--but not what I expected. I normally shoot while gripping a firm anchor (such as a tree) and resting the rifle's fore-end on my arm. I'm more consistently accurate using my arm than with the mechanical rest!

I've been an accurate rifle shot for 40 years and am baffled by this. Certainly I can always shoot as I have, but I thought this rest would make a substantial improvement, especially for longer shots on groundhogs.

When shooting from the mechanical rest I seemed to be hunched over the rifle. Could this change the sight picture enough to make consistency difficult? Are there other factors that may be influencing shot placement? It's frustrating, and suggestions from you may be of interest to many of us. --J.B.

A: The answer probably lies in your "hunched" position. While it's desirable to use the steadiest rest possible when shooting a rifle, it's also desirable to be as relaxed as possible. If you have to strain your body to aim, you're probably straining against the rifle in a slightly different way each time, which affects point of impact, especially at long range. Also, because of the strained position, you may be relaxing slightly just as you pull the trigger, again affecting accuracy. Follow-through is as important in rifle shooting as in any other sport.

If there's some way you can raise the rest so that you can aim "unhunched," without strain, your shooting will probably improve. Good luck on those groundhogs.