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Illustration by Mark Matcho

David E. Petzal answers your questions about guns, shooting, hunting, and life. Got a question for our rifles editor? Send it to askpetzal@fieldandstream.com. We cannot guarantee polite answers to all questions.

Q: What is the most fun you’ve ever had shooting? —Marc Pickering, Pierre, S.D.

A: Shooting rats in a dump long ago. Nonstop action. Endless violence. Smoke. Stench. And all sorts of other stuff you could shoot the hell out of and no one cared. I’ll never see anything like it again.

Q: I hunt with an 85-​year-​old man who is still a great wingshooter and a legend at our club. I’ve been hinting to him that, God forbid anything should ever happen to him, I wouldn’t mind getting his Winchester Model 12 sweet 16. When should I start hinting to his wife?—John Yothers, northern Michigan

A: I’d do it after you’ve gotten your own affairs in order, because I don’t think the wife is going to appreciate your overtures one little bit.

Q: Suppose you had an Adirondack deer camp and a rack on the wall that held five guns. What five rifles would you fill it with? —Alan Maclaren, Utica, N.Y.

A: First, not all of them would be rifles, because there’s more than deer at an Adirondack deer camp. No. 1 would be a rotary-magazine Savage 99 in .250 Savage. No. 2 would be an A.H. Fox side-by-side, one of the new ones, in 16 gauge, because they don’t come in 12. No. 3, a wood-​stocked Cooper Firearms Jackson Squirrel Rifle in .22 LR. No. 4, my Ed Brown Precision .338, because it’s a .338. And No. 5, a Freedom Arms single-action .44 magnum, because you have to have a handgun in there somewhere.

Q: Is there any real advantage to having a ­controlled-feed bolt over a push-feed or vice versa? —Owen Kinsley, Topeka, Kan.

A: In theory, controlled feed is more reliable because the cartridge is in the grip of the extractor throughout the firing cycle. But it’s not infallible; the action has to be set up correctly. Push feed also works flawlessly if it’s made right. So practically speaking, there is no great advantage in getting one over the other.

Q: If you were not a gun writer, what would you be?—Max Sullivan, Nashville, Tenn.

A: I would be a paleontologist specializing in Neanderthal Man. I’ve been fascinated by them since I was a kid. Their history is one of the great human mysteries, and one of the great human tragedies.

Q: I’ve noticed that a lot of gun writers now refer to ARs as “modern sporting rifles.” That strikes me as an idiotic euphemism, not to mention a sort of concession. Aren’t ARs ARs; doesn’t it say so right on the rifle? And aren’t the latest bolt actions also modern sporting rifles?—Perry Reynolds, Cheyenne, Wyo.

A: You are right. MSR is the politically correct version of AR—a mealy-mouthed evasion.

Q: I’m thinking about getting a cowboy hat, but I’m not sure I can pull it off. What does it take, exactly? —Rex Holmes, South Bend, Ind.

A: This strikes close to home, because I’ve had to accept that I can never wear one, and I’ve given all of mine away. You need a Western face. Unless you look like Clint Eastwood did in the 1970s, you’ll just look like a fool in a big hat.