Rifle Ammo photo

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Before we get into this rant, I’m compelled to re-state one of the basic rules of this blog (in fact, the only one): No profanity. If you feel compelled to use any of the seven famous words that George Carlin says you can’t use on the air, employ asterisks. And if you don’t know what the f**k an asterisk is, ask someone who’s brighter than you are. Remember that this blog is the property of TimeWarner, a vast media conglomerate that has the power to destroy you, and if you p**s off TimeWarner, you will be shown no mercy.

Anyway, this question goes: I have a such and such rifle in such and such caliber, and can you recommend a bullet/load that will shoot accurately in it?

The answer is no, I can’t, and neither can anyone else. Each rifle, regardless of cost or make or caliber or pedigree, is a law unto itself, and does what it damn well pleases.

A classic example of this is a .270 that was made for me in the late 1980s by Ultra Light Arms. I shot it and shot it and shot it and could get only assemblies rather than groups until I tried some of the original Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullets. They turned it into a 1-inch gun. ULA rifles are made as carefully as it is possible to make a hunting rifle, so why is this gun weird? I dunno.

I had exactly the same experience with a beautiful .270 sporter made by the great custom gunsmith Joe Balicikie. It sprayed bullets all over the paper until I tried a now-discontinued powder called H205. Is the .270 strange and quirky? Of course not.

Kenny Jarrett once told me that about twice a year, he would build a rifle that could not be made to shoot. They’d change barrels, stocks, even triggers, but the gun would not cooperate. Finally, they’d say the hell with it and cut the receiver in half. Why would the gun not shoot? Kenny doesn’t know.

This is part of the fascination of shooting. I hope the day never arrives when we understand everything about how a rifle works, and are able to alter it if need be. Forrest Gump said that life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. Same with rifles, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.