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 email@example.com. We cannot guarantee polite answers to all questions.
Q: Elvis shot a TV. What’s the most unusual/interesting/spectacular inanimate object you’ve shot?
—J.B. Ackerman, Greensboro, N.C.
A: In college, I used to shoot textbooks that irritated me (12-gauge No. 4 buckshot does well). Years ago, I shot a computer with, I believe, a .416 Rigby. Not much happened; a little silver dust drifted from the monitor, but it was nonetheless immensely satisfying, and I’d like to do more.
Q: If you could have any artist past or present render your portrait, who would it be, and what rifle would you pose with?
—Anthony Pedro, Portland, Ore.
A: With all due respect to Jack Unruh, who is a caricaturist, I would opt for Hans Holbein the Younger (1497–1543), arguably the greatest portrait painter of the 16th century. It is said of him that he could capture a personality more surely with a brush than a photographer can with a camera. As for a gun, no gun. Props are a distraction.
Q: None of the many copper cleaners I’ve tried completely removes all copper fouling. What do you use?
—Robert R. Allison, Ventura, Calif.
A: I use J-B Bore Cleaning Compound. It’s certain death for copper fouling and just about every other kind of fouling.
Q: In a recent Ask Petzal, you heralded the book The Shootist by Glendon Swarthout. I immediately bought it but found the selection less than riveting. Can you offer another recommendation in hopes of maintaining my sincere admiration for your advice?
—William Van Bingham, Lakeland, Tenn.
A: If The Shootist left you cold, I’m at a near complete loss as to what you might like. Try Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour. If that fails, submit yourself for medical experiments; there’s something wrong with you.
Q: I’m 13 and looking for a lefty rifle and scope for under $650. Any suggestions?
—Benjamin Pawlak, Green Bay, Wis.
A: Look for a Tikka T3, in particular a used one, and put a Redfield scope on it. You will be happy.
Q: I’ve looked everywhere for .250/3000 ammo for my Savage Model 99, with no luck. What are my options, short of reboring?
—Lynn D. Abernethy, Alpharetta, Ga.
A: Because .250 Savage ammo doesn’t sell well, it is loaded only sporadically and is right now in very short supply. But it’s a great cartridge, and the 99 is a great rifle, and it seems a shame to alter it to something else. You can try gunbroker.com, but if I were you I’d bite the bullet and handload. In about five minutes on the Web I found two sources of brass and dies; bullets are no problem at all. Free yourself forever from the tyranny of factory ammo. Take the bull by the balls, and load your own.
Q: I hunt in an area where the weather is always changing. Should I get a rifle with a stainless finish or blued?
—Kyle Stromecki, Hamburg, N.Y.
A: I’d go with stainless. It’s very hard to make it rust if you give it even minimal maintenance.