David E. Petzal answers your questions about guns, shooting, hunting, and life. Got a question for our rifles editor? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot guarantee polite answers to all questions.
Q: I don’t understand some people’s deep fascination with knives. Can you explain it? —Ron Walters, Dover, Del.
A: As someone who bought his first custom knife (a Randall Bowie) in 1957, I should be able to explain that, but I can’t. Why are people obsessed with paintings, or wines, or cigars, or anything else? What I can tell you is that there’s no shortage of knife nuts, and the prices they pay for some of the fancier stuff will take your breath away.
Q: Oh Mighty Petzal, what .22 LR should I get? I want something accurate, yet light and small enough to go in my bug-out bag. —Cody Obermiller, Willow Springs, N.C.
A: If you’re talking about a handgun, I vote for the Ruger Mark III Standard. If you mean a rifle, look for a used Remington Nylon 66 with the tubular magazine. If such a thing as an indestructo-gun exists, this is it.
Q: I tripped and put a pretty good ding in the rounded end of my rifle’s muzzle. It still seems to shoot O.K., but should I have it repaired? —Andy Batcho, Seattle, Wash.
A: A ding on the crown that touches the rifling can destroy a barrel’s accuracy; it will cause the bullet to tip as it leaves the barrel. But it sounds like you got off lucky. If you want to make sure, a gunsmith can cut a fraction of an inch off the muzzle and recrown it. And be more careful next time.
Q: With today’s bullets, do you foresee more states allowing smaller caliber rifles for use on big game, such as the .223 for deer and .25/06 for elk? —Jody Logsdon, leitchfield, KY.
A: I can give you a definite “possibly” on that. The average state legislator can’t grasp the difference between a bullet and a cartridge or a magazine and a clip, much less absorb the subtleties of bullet design. Yet we are seeing miraculous events such as suppressors legalized for hunting, so there is hope.
Q: As a fellow lefty who must occasionally fire a right-handed bolt action, I wonder if you prefer to cycle the bolt with your left or right hand? —Andy Peck, Foothill Ranch, Calif.
A: Neither. I’ve found both methods of shooting a right-handed gun from the sinister shoulder to be such a pain that I’ve learned to shoot a rifle right-handed. No kidding.
Q: I want to buy a .300 Win. Mag. Should I get a 24- or 26-inch barrel? —Dan Hanon, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
A: I detest 26-inch barrels in hunting rifles; the little bit you gain in velocity is more than offset by their extreme unhandiness. Get the 24-inch barrel; you’ll find the increase in muzzle blast and noise to be hardly noticeable, and shorter barrels are more accurate.
Q: Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met through hunting? —Sharon Byrne, Eugene, Ore.
A: In July, 1976, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (now the Buffalo Bill Center of the West) dedicated its new firearms wing (now the Cody Firearms Museum). One of the invited guests was John Wayne, and another, because I worked for Field & Stream, was myself. So I got to meet the Duke, who was even bigger offscreen than he was on.