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June 23, 2008

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Too Much Accuracy?

The other day I re-read "Old Betsy," Warren Page's love song to his 7mm Mashburn Magnum, in the 1959 Gun Digest for the 2,105th time. Warren had more and more varied hunting experience than all of us have dreamed of, and he remains a voice of sanity in a world gone batty.

Old Betsy killed 475 head of big game during her 20-year career, all sizes, all ranges.  She wore a straight 4X scope with a medium crosshair and would put five shots in 1 1/2 inches. If Old Betsy were delivered new today she would have a 2X-16X  scope with a rangefinder reticle, and her groups would get her sent back to the Mashburn shop with a note to Art Mashburn to please get the damned gun shooting.

I think accuracy is a good thing, but we should not go any nuttier about it than we already have. One of my correspondents is an ammo maker who specializes in loads designed for use on very big game at close range. The first batch of ammo he sent me turned in freakishly small groups on the order of 3/4-inch at 100 yards. Two subsequent batches of ammo have grouped in 1/ 1/2 - 1/3/4 inches, and their maker is in despair because he can't match the accuracy of that first batch.

I've tried to tell him that his cartridges are still twice as accurate as they need to be for their intended purpose, and that I would use them with sublime confidence, but my words fall on deaf ears.

In a similar vein, or artery as the case may be, a friend of mine just got a .270 WSM from Mark Bansner, and with it came a test target whose 3-shot group could be covered with a dime and give back change. I will be working up a handload for this rifle, and will ignore the test group, because I think the load that produced it gives only about 3,000 fps, which is a nice velocity for a standard .270, but is about 200 fps too slow for a .270 WSM.

I don't care if the loads I work up shoot into a half inch or an inch or an inch and a quarter, because it won't make any difference in the number of critters the rifle takes over its career. As I explained to the Bansner rifle's owner, the most important quality in a hunting rifle is not accuracy, but consistency.

Of that you can never have too much.


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Tater Tot


The American National Socialist Workers Party is planning a family picnic and recreational shoot outside of Augusta, Georgia this August. Details and dates are being confirmed, but the event will be open to white activists and their families, with wives, women and children welcome. A $25 recommended donation will be collected from all adult participants.

We have a unique opportunity to use an 1100 acre wilderness site. There is no road access to the location, but off-road vehicles will be welcome and parking with off road transportation to the site will be available.

Food and beverages will be provided. Bring your own guns and ammunition, or there will be a nominal charge for ammunition at the event. Camping will be available.

Felons, the mentally ill, minors without an adult guardian and those who cannot handle firearms responsibly will not be permitted to handle weapons. Alcohol will not be served and intoxicated individuals will be asked to leave.

Those interested in attending can email me at [email protected] or Chris Drake at [email protected]


Dr. Ralph,
I agree that it is to the point where the .22LR is the only affordable way to shoot. I have a Remington 597LS HB that I use and love. I see that Remington came out with a 597 TVP model this year. Apparently they liked the looks of the Boyd SS EVO stocks. I bought one on Ebay last year and you can't tell the difference between mine and the TVP model.

Tom the Toll



I agree with your comment about the marlin xl7. I am now considering buying one of these rifles after reading about it in Dave P's article in F&S. I need a new deer rifle pretty badly, and never realized I could get a quality gun for that kind of money.

Bill White

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- The Keystone State Skinheads have launched a poster campaign in Philadelphia featuring the photograph of a slain Philadelphia cop and the words "Guns don't kill people; dangerous minorities do."
Keith Carney, a leader of the organization who has also faced charges for the violent disciplining of one of the group's members, has recently been moving the group towards a more political orientation, holding demonstrations and distributing literature, changing its image from one of more typical skinhead criminal thugs to that of a legitimate organization struggling for white working people.

The City's Commission on Human Relations said it had "investigated" the fliers but determined they were "legal".

Such trite nonsense is typical of newspaper reports on white nationalist activities, which always portray white activism as something verging on criminal and meriting "investigation".


Emailed to you by:

ATTN: Bill White, Editor

Post Office Box 8601
Roanoke, VA 24014
[email protected]
[email protected]

Clay Cooper

We all talk about “MOA”, yet it’s that old fella with that beat-up rifle that shoots “MOP” (Minute of Pieplate) that GETS THE BIG ONE, while we go home empty handed!

Wyatt Carson

Really like the bolt actions tested for accuracy in this months issue. One brand seemed to be missing though.....was it not possible to acquire a Ruger Model 77 Mark II or Hawkeye ....or did you test a few and not have them group very well when chambered in 30-06 or 306 Win. Wish Ruger would offer either of their bolt action rifles with a little heavier contour barrel in their sporting models.

Just want to take a minute and plug how accurate the Marlin Model 336 are..........they can produce amazing sub-MOA groups at 200 yards....

Del in KS

One of the old timers (Cactus Jack or Julian Hatcher maybe)said that only accurate rifles are interesting. I agree. We may not need .5 MOA to kill a deer but, it sure is fun to do it in one hole at the range. The farther the better.

Del in KS


You left out Kimber and Ruger in your tests. Please let us know why? Poor accuracy? Not available? Too many guns to test all of them? What gives?


Pastor Carney says, "Who the hell invited the Nazis?


I can sit for 30 minutes between shots and with carefully handloaded ammunition produce 3 shot groups in my rifles that can be covered by a nickle or a dime. I am over all that however, I still like to shoot but don't like to wait for the barrel to cool so now for where I hunt I load minimal loads, not the most accurate but those that use the least powder, and I just shoot 3 in reasonable quickness to produce a 1-1.5 inch group, they all land in about the same place everytime I go out and they all do what they are supposed to do. I guess I am over the pursuit of tiny groups for a while. What is important to me is that when I shoot my rifle during the season once or twice to check my zero the bullets always land where they are supposed to land. I wonder how much scope parallax adds to group size sometimes, and I wonder if people put their heads in the same place relative to the objective off the bench that they do when in the field.


Minute of Angle, Minute of Pieplate, minute of bobble-head doll! It doesn't matter a whit if you can't put the shot on the money when you just hustled up a ridgeline, sucking wind and your barrel is wiggling like that bobble-head doll on a dirt road!

There is more to hunting accuracy than the perfect charge of the right powder in the right case pushing the perfect bullet out of a custom made rifle. It is about being prepared to make that money shot with a rifle you have practiced (familiarized yourself with Clay) with until it comes up like second nature, it is about being in good enough shape to go up that ridgeline easily. When the hunt is on the line you have to make that shot.

Dave Petzal

To Del in KS: I was more interested in the brand-new guns, and there wasn't enough time to shoot everything. I don't think I've ever shot an inaccurate Kimber, and most of them have been outstanding. Ruger 77s, however, have been highly mixed.


I love the comments. Also, that was an awesome show the other night on Nat. Geo. Hopefully they air it again.


Agree with Silver Arrow. Get yourself in shape and practice. Practice does not make perfect....Perfect practice makes perfect. Shooting a rifle is very similar to playing golf. Your intent is to put a projectile in a desired spot. Too many times, people think they can "buy" a good golf game by getting the latest and greatest,without the need to pracitce. Same goes for shooting a rifle. You can spend thousands on the very best rifle/scope combination, but it does not mean you can hit the broad side of a barn if you don't put in the neccessay time it takes to practice.

Dr. Ralph

I think the reason more emphasis is put on accuracy these days is the same reason for the black rifle craze. There's a large group of people who now spend more time at the range than in the woods. If they spend any time in the woods at all...

Shooting off a sandbag will not prepare you for most hunting situations. I usually have something to lean against or at least my elbow on my knee when shooting at deer and even that can be tough with buck fever. Shooting offhand is a humbling experience, it's much more fun to shoot tiny groups but it has little to do with hunting unless you're out west with your rifle laid on a bedroll.


Went out into my woods yesterday and followed an ancient stonewall put up by NH farmers when the woods were fields. Sat upon a mossed- up flat piece of granite and got very still for awhile moving only my eyes. Can't climb down from a tree stand anymore, so I slowly follow the walls where the cedar, white pine and oak aren't heavy and peer thru the branches for my big buck......... and there he is, nose to the breeze and a-puffin as I shoulder my brand new MRC and ...... damn, it's my applewood walkin stick...

Thank you Dr. Ralph for appropriate comments.

Everyone always talk about practicing and what I good is that?

I remember when I was seven years old; my Father enrolled me in a NRA Junior shooting program at Vandenberg AFB California. The personnel that ran the program where fully fledged NRA Coaches, the next level up from Instructors and on the Air Forces Shooting Team. I remember I was in prone position pounding the 8, 9 and 10 ring when one of the Coaches leaned down repositioned my body and gave me some tips along with a dry fire lesson. When I assumed live fire, I smoked the 10 ring the remainder of the night and told the Coach that I’m going to practice that, right? WRONG! Boy, did he jump square in my case, dropped down to one knee and looked me straight in the eye and gave one hell of a chewing out! What did I say was wrong? He said, “Don’t you ever use the word practice, practicing is for losers. For now on you will use the word training instead, you can not practice what you have not MASTERED!” To this day, I have used the Coaches advice with the greatest success. Back in 95 being on the Air Force Team I was asked to coach the Dysart High School Junior ROTC Air Rifle Team had the worst equipment I have ever witnessed, yet they placed second in the Regional shoot! How did they win? They never practiced; they were never allowed to practice because they were in training to win! I wonder what ever happened to Sandra Worman? She was picked for the Olympic tryouts at the Whittington Center in June of 86 and the last I word I heard, she was well known throughout the NRA Shooting community. The bottom line is this, if you think you know your full potential chances are your wrong. TSgt Paul Turner that had glasses like Coke bottle bottoms never thought he could win third place at 1000 yards!
If you can shoot a ½ MOP at 100 yards, you can shoot 200 yards! If you can shoot ¼ MOP at 100 yards you can shoot 400 yards!
Training is the key to success of the ultimate Sportsman!

Your closer to the truth than you think!

May I rephrase what you said?

It is about being prepared to make that money shot with a rifle you have “trained” with until it comes up like second nature!
Now, go do it!


Anyone look at ammo for this season?

I just browsed the Hornady and Cabelas(for Federal) websites for .300Win ammo. jesus ... the stuff is between $2.25 and $2.75 a round plus shipping.

I'll be using my own loads again.


Is there some way to get a copy of the artice you refered to? Could you print it in Field & Stream and then a lot of people could learn a good lesson.

Thank you,
Robert C. Turpin
aka: silvertip


A 1/2 MOA rifle does not make up for poor shooting ability. Practice and experience is vital to placing an accurate bullet on a target or animal. Some idiots today are of the mindset that a super accurate rifle will automatically place them on a par with a Marine sniper. Tain't so. You forgot to mention Dave, that Page was a premier bench rest shooter who had pulled a trigger thousands of times in his career.

Clay Cooper

Right on Brother, I wish I had a dollar for every bolt gun I out shot on the 1000 yard line with my M1 Garand and M1A

Clay Cooper

With open sights!

Del in KS


I know the above mystery post must be you. You are the crackshot we all know. Natty Bumppo was aka Hawkeye and the Deerslayer among other names in James Fenimore Cooper's series of books. The 2 potato was (I think) in "The Deerslayer". You see its been over 40 years since I read the book. You take 'ol Killdeer and have 2 people each throw a potato. When they cross in mid-air you put your round ball thru them both. I'm sure some of these guys probly have the facts better than me. Heck my cousin Rick used a Rem. pump gun to suspend four dead quail in the air right in front of me a few years ago. Dang that man can shoot fast with a pump. They wuz the pen raised variety of quail tho.

Del in KS

Guys I am already in TRAINING for the coming hunting season. Just didn't know it. Yesterday loaded up a batch of 45-70. Today me and young Betsy (my Sharps is about 8 yr old) are headed to the range to make holes in paper and train, train, train. Clay I love your posts man. Wish I had met you in AK.


Thanks for the answer. You confirmed my faith in Kimber.

WA Mtnhunter

Hey Dave,
I had heard all the mixed bag reviews of Ruger 77's, too. I reluctantly bought a M77 tang safety ca. 1976 in .257 Roberts.

It shoots 1 MOA with the 100 gr. Nosler and Hornady SP handloads that I acquired in the deal. It certainly shoots well enough for any deer hunting. I have loaded some 100 gr. Barnes TSX BT with Ramshot Hunter for it, but have not been to the range yet to see what it will do with that load. hopefully I'll get the same results.

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