Assume Nothing: You Guess, You Miss

by David E. Petzal I was much taken with Ruger’s Gunsite Scout rifle when I shot one in April, and … Continued

by David E. Petzal


I was much taken with Ruger’s Gunsite Scout rifle when I shot one in April, and when it came out left-handed a little while ago, I bought one. Unlike the first Scout, this one is fussy, and does not like 147- or 150-grain bullets. It does, however, shoot 165- and 168-grainers just fine, so I settled on two loads: Federal .308 168-grain Sierra Match for tactical shooting, and handloads with 165-grain Nosler Partitions for hunting. Velocities are practically the same: 2,450 for the Noslers and 2,470 for the Sierras. At 100 yards, both bullets shoot to exactly the same point of impact, and both average 1.4 inches. You can’t tell the groups apart.

This Scout is set up as a 200-yard rifle; and not much can go wrong inside 200 yards, or can it? Since I now test everything and assume nothing, I set up two 8-inch bull’s-eyes at 200 yards and discovered the following: When sighted in three inches high at 100 yards, the Noslers drop five inches below the point of aim at 200, which is a lot more than I thought they would, and the group is not pretty. It would kill a deer, but you would not wave it around in public. The Sierras drop four inches, drift to the right four inches, and print a beautiful group. (The groups are 10 shots, by the way.) This does not mean that Sierras are better than Noslers, but that the two slugs have different flight characteristics.

So now that I know what is what, I can compensate, which is the reason Daniel Boone invented Kentucky windage. But the point is, I know. Inside 150 yards, you can guess and probably get away with it, but farther than that and you will probably have to eat your own liver.