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Among the letters and e-mails to “Ask Petzal” there are always a bunch that don’t make it into print because there isn’t room, but that I hate to see go by the boards, so here are three of them.

Q: In a 1952 book, Jack O’Connor wrote “The most accurate loads I have ever worked up for my tight-chambered .270…are as follows: Winchester 130-grain pointed expanding bullet with Winchester No. 120 primer and 49.5 grains of DuPont No. 4064 powder, and the Barnes 160-grain bullet with the same primer and 52 grains of DuPont No. 4350.”

I’d like to try and replicate O’Connor’s loads. Are the current IMR 4064 or Hodgdon 4350 interchangeable with the older DuPont powders? If not, which powders should I start with in a Ruger American .270?

A: As a rule, it’s wise to approach other people’s handloads with caution at the least, and outright terror at the most. To put it a little differently, nothing interchanges, and each rifle is a rule unto itself. O’Connor never says what kind of brass he uses, or whether these loads are mild or hot or in between. I doubt if the 4064 of today is precisely the same as it was 63 years ago, and precise is what you need, nor is Hodgdon 4350 the same as IMR 4350.
For a .270, depending on bullet weight, I would try IMR 4831, Hodgdon 4831, or RelodeR 22.

Q: I understand that primers are highly sensitive to how they’re stored. So, how long can they be kept before their performance is compromised, and how long can primed brass be stored in containers with a lid?

A: Primers are not all that sensitive; I have a couple of boxes of Winchester 120s that date from the early 1960s, and they’re still fine. If you store primers correctly, they’ll last almost indefinitely. “Correctly” means cool and dry. I keep all my components in a basement that is dry and in the 50-degree range during the winter, and humid but still cool in the summer, so I have an industrial-strength dehumidifier down there and I run it nonstop from May to October.

As for storing primers in sealed containers, I have my doubts. I’d rather keep them where the air can circulate.

Q: A gunsmith once told me that you could use a 2×4 as a gunstock as long as it was bedded properly. Do the materials and quality of a stock matter as long as the action is glassed and pillar bedded?

A: Yes, they do. The best bedding in the world is useless if it’s done in punky wood or cheap plastic. It’s like building a skyscraper on sand.