I spoke yesterday with an old friend who has been a big-game hunter and a gun nut of the first magnitude since the 1950s. He’s been using top-rank custom rifles for half a century, and owns what is probably the finest privately-held collection of modern and antique firearms in the United States. I have not seen his battery, but a friend of mine who knows what he’s looking at has, and says it’s beyond belief.

Anyway, he just got back from a brown bear hunt in Alaska, and I asked him which rifle he used.

“A Ruger Mark II stainless steel .338 with a synthetic stock. The only thing I did to it was replace the lousy trigger. It shoots minute of angle or better. I don’t hunt with the good stuff any more.”

And neither do you need to. You can put away your Al Biesen and your Jerry Fisher and D’Arcy Echols and David Miller rifles; send them into honorable retirement. What with the airlines the way they are these days, it ain’t worth the risk.