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March 31, 2006

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High-Priced Screwups

This past week I tested a factory bolt-action rifle that proceeded to break with fewer than 60 rounds through it. The ejector jammed and a gas baffle rotated out of position so you couldn’t close the bolt.

I was going to whine about this, and then point out that if you spend all that money for custom guns you don't have to put up with such malfunctions, but then I realized that I've had plenty of trouble with rifles that cost a lot of money. Here’s a short list:

  • A cheekpiece carved on the wrong side of the stock. The maker ignored the left-hand bolt.
  • A .222 that wouldn’t extract.
  • A .338 whose tang cracked.
  • A .375 H&H whose bolt stop didn’t work most of the time.
  • A Ruger Number One, restocked and rebarreled to .22 Hornet that came out of the bluing bath with a pit on the receiver flat that an armadillo could crawl into.
  • A very, very high-priced .30/06 with an oversized chamber.
  • A .458 that had so many things wrong with it that the list took two single-spaced typewritten pages. I wrote the maker about it in August and heard back in May of the next year.
  • A .375 H&H whose ejector worked only occasionally.
  • A 7mm Weatherby Magnum that arrived with the rear action screw missing. It shot MOA groups anyway. When I called the maker, he said “My life is such hell.”
  • And so on.

The moral is that high price is not always a guarantee that everything will work. But usually it is.


ranger Nick

Gosh Dave,

Those big shooting irons seem to be troublesome.

I was leaning toward those high dollar guns till i read this column. You convinced me otherwise.

I think now i will stick with my custom Arisaka rifles in 6.5 Roberts, 308 Win., and my new Arisaka 38-55 Win with a 30 inch Shilen barrel. They all give me 1 inch groups at a 100 yards. They are ugly, but no problems like those high dollar guns.

Don't you have any "PULL" with these gun people? It's your word we "gun-nuts" rely on. I wouldn't shoot that T-REX with the .222 Rem. Will piss it off!

Keep us informed about those fancy shootin' rigs. We like the way you whine=)!


Dave I had asked earlier about scopes and you replied with a questions about magnification. I responded but thought I would re-open some dialogue in a newer post. I travel a bit and last week was one of those weeks, sorry for not keeping up to my post. Anyway I was thinking about a 3-9 power and actually leaning to the 4-14 power range. A friend has an IOR 4-14 50 mm objective and a tactical MP8 illuminated reticle. From what I can tell it seems to be a great scope, but it is the only one I have looked through, and I don't know much about their customer service just yet. I have been told by a few people (that were not trying to sell me anything) that a $300 dollar scope will be dissappinting on this rifle. Any comments? (Have you some experince with IOR, or the new Zeiss Conquest)

Dave Petzal

Brian: Hope you get to see this. I've found the 4X-14X range too powerful for most big game hunting, particularly at the lower end. I like 3X or 2.5 X much better.
As for an illuminated tactical reticle, god forbid. Way too complicated. Military snipers usually have lots of time to aim, but in most hunting, you have to aim and shoot fast.
As for $300 scopes, there are some good ones out there. I have a $3,000 NULA rifle with a $300 Cabela's Alaska Guide Premium scope on it, and the rifle doesn't appear to be suffering.


Dave thanks for that comment. I agree things should be kept simple. The quality of the glass is hard to get away from, it just feels nice to look through good glass, something I have never really had other than to borrow on a few occasions. I will keep looking and dreaming. Thanks for the advice.

Roger E. Reeves, Sr.

Most hunters buy more gun than they will ever need unless headed to Africia. A hard kicking gun will rin your bench pratice and especially your hight dollar hunt. Most calibers from 30-30's up will kill Deer,Elk, Black bear and others. I prefer a modest rifle in the 30-06 range, which will kill most animals in the lower 48 states. With such of an array of loads, you cannot go wrong with a time proven 30-06. I;ve used a 30-06 for 40 ys, and as a rule one shot kills. However, I don;t try 400 yds and beyond shots. Know you liminations and stick with it. Most North American game is killed at l00 yds or less, so a Cannon is not necessary if you learn how to hunt and shoot.


I could not find a contact link so I'll respond here. I saw your deal on the ammo holder with the caption "So Round So firm So Fully Packed" - "Just right for my Hand, makes me Wanna go Around & Around your World and then go Round again" from the song "Golden Globe Award" by the legendary John Hartford (R.I.P.)

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