Hidden Evil In Your Rifle

Working on the principle that actually knowing where your gun is shooting rather then where you hope it's shooting, I took two of my proven rifles out to 300 yards last week to see how they did on paper. My standard test is to shoot 5 shots at an NRA 50-Yard Slow Fire target, which has a nice 8-inch bull. I aim right at the center of the bull, with a wind flag up because life is difficult enough, and cut loose when the flag lies limp.

One rifle was a Nosler Model 48 in 6.5/284 Norma that had already killed a whitetail at 270 yards or so, and true to form it gave me a group 5 ½ inches below the point of aim that you could cover with the palm of your hand. Fine. You could hardly ask for better.

The other rifle was an extremely accurate Remington Custom Shop .338 that had accounted for a red stag and two swine, although all three shots were under 100 yards. But the spectacular groups I got with the gun at 100 yards broke down at 300; I had two shots right near the center of the bull and the remaining 3 dribbled down to a full 10 inches below the point of aim.

I've seen this before with other rifles. Some bullets, depending on the speed at which they're fired, destabilize when they get some distance from the muzzle. It's not the fault of the rifle or the projectile; it's just physics.

So, even as this is written, I am working up a load that will not fall apart at long range. I don't like it, but it beats missing.