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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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Dave Petzal

To WA Mtnhunter: Your 77 should probably shoot good; in 1976 Ruger was, I believe, using Douglas barrels. The first quarter-inch varmint rifle I ever saw was a .220 Swift Model 77 HB from that period.

You may get some spectacular groups from the Barnes bullets. If a barrel likes them, they do the most amazing things.

Del in KS

WA Mtnhunter,

Beware of the tang safety on that Ruger. When my uncle went deer hunting with my group he had one in 270. That dang safety was always slipping off safe for unexplained reasons. Scared the hell out of me. I told Uncle he should get rid of the thing before there was an accident. Did not seem to be anything wrong with it. Just in a bad location. He would have it slung on his shoulder. I would say check your safety and it would be off. It happened several times on one hunt.

Del in KS

My expect that is probably why Ruger did away with the tang safety.


You're right about a tang safety. It belongs on an over and under only. My Ruger 77 SS 308 has killed several deer, most right where they stood. Del's uncle, my dad, gets excited around deer and for that reason, Del gets nervous. The tang safety is safe as I took his rifle to the range and it functioned fine. You just have to keep your fingers off of it, as with the trigger, until you're ready to fire. Del, you're safe now. Dad's hunting days are done!


You're right about a tang safety. It belongs on an over and under only. My Ruger 77 SS 308 has killed several deer, most right where they stood. Del's uncle, my dad, gets excited around deer and for that reason, Del gets nervous. The tang safety is safe as I took his rifle to the range and it functioned fine. You just have to keep your fingers off of it, as with the trigger, until you're ready to fire. Del, you're safe now. Dad's hunting days are done!


So, back to the article...

Dave, I feel that your words, "...I would use them with sublime confidence..." capture what I am after. I like handloading so that I can get better and better accuracy -- not because the kill zone on an elk is only the size of a dime but because when everything is tightened and tuned to its best, the whole sector of "weapon preparation" is eliminated as a negative factor in the hunt.

Thinking back to previous blogs on fine (read "expensive") guns, the same concept applies -- the job doesn't require a gun that fine and expensive, but if you can manage it, a fine double rifle on a safari gives that added confidence that one's weapon is order.

Mike Reeder

Dr. Ralph and Thomas are right about tuning up with a .22, but you can also do yourself a world of good without spending a dime or leaving the AC by spending a quarter-hour or so every day dry-firing. I've got a couple of sheep in an art print on my wall that I've killed a thousand times over. When I get bored with that I squeeze off a few at the mounted heads, always from offhand or sitting. If you call your shots honestly and make yourself get off shots quickly it's amazing how much it helps your actual shooting. I also run a lot of pellets through my Crossman in the backyard, again from hunting positions. As for my rifles, I only shoot from a benchrest to get sighted in. Once that's done I prefer to use my limited range time shooting at water-filled milk jugs. Offhand at 100 and sitting at 200. You know right away how you've done and the jug is about the same size as the heart/lungs on a deer. More fun than punching paper, too, and very instructive when it comes to demonstrating to kids what a high velocity bullet will do to a human being composed mostly of water.


Dave, I read "THE ACCURATE RIFLE" by non other than Warren Page (Winchester Press)(1973). Very good reading. People can learn something reading after Warren Page. One of my prized works in my gun library.


Mike Reeder,
I have spent many hours training in the different positions when I shot Junior small bore rifle. I would watch TV while holding my 9 pound Remington 513 Match Master. The knees eventually become accustomed to sitting in the kneeling position for 30 minutes to an hour. And the figure 8's that the barrel makes eventually get smaller. But it is not the muscles that hold your rifle up but bones. While in position you are resting bone on bone. Even in Off Hand or Standing position. I added a steel weight to the butt of the stock and it brought the center of balance back towards the trigger guard. That helped because I was not expending extra energy trying to hold the rifle in position.
I still have my Rem 513 and will not part with it for the world. It is older then I am but still shoots better then I do.

Tom the Troll


Thanks for reminding me I have that book in my library. I have forgotten about it for a number of years.

Tom the Troll

Rocky Mtn Hunter

Some firearms shoot differet ammo to a lesser MOA than others. I'm 73 ys old and until about 15 yrs ago I thought Amo was just that Ammo. Then I began to try out different brands and wts. Until about 4 yrs ago, my choice was the time provem Rem Core-lokt. Then Rem. came out with the CDL 30-06 in 24" bbl and the Scricco bullets. So I bought the new rifle and some cheap ammo ( 4 brands) to get close to zero with the new gun mounted with a Nikon Monarch scope and Leupold DDT mounts. After getting reasonably close to bull at 100 I switched to the Scricco's and bingo the first shot (cool bbl) was dead on at 100, so I changed the scope a tad as wanted Bull eye at 200 for out west hunting. The first shot at 200 yds was within l.25 of the bull but low, so changd the scope a couple clicks and let the bbl cool again, then the next shot was dead center of the Bull. Now, I'm confident in the rifle, bullets and my ability to hit a pie plate at 300 yds after much pratice. Last yr in MT and Wy I made 2 killing l shot kills at 325 yds and 345 yds( Deer and Lopes) and one shot here at home at 270. Until I begun going West to hunt, if a rifle shot within 2-3' of bull at l00 yds that was fine. Ammo can be funky in different firearms. I have a 742 that will only pattern Rem. extended range l65 grs ( not made now, but have several boxes on hand)

Now in last issue of F&S the rifle section , I was happy to see my new Marlin 270 listed as such. I bought one as soon as I heard they were available. I got one before Rem bought out Marlin. It's a jewel to shoot and shoots as well as the Rem 700,maybe a little flatter, my only objection is the size of the Scriccos available for the 270. But this 270 is for hunting here at home as our shots are mostly 100 yds or so plus a haul about gun for Coyots, Foxes and my 4 wheeler during deer season. For Woods hunting my 336 Marlin 30-30 open sights goes with me. I will add, I am disabled and use a Bi-pod in the field to shoot from. Those long shots above were me using the Stoney-Point Bi-pod, and I held on the back line each shot. I believe this new XL7 of Marlins will be long sought after, due to performance and price. The quality of workmanship, fit of stock to metal is beyond any Syn stock gun I have seen of any brand. Also, love the new trigger and the adjustment and the recessed bbl at the muzzle. I have 2 other MArlins on back order, one in 243( for wife) and one in 25-06. Hopefully they will soon add the 223 but doubtful, as I doubt they will be able to produce as many of the 3 calibers they now have. With the Ecomony in the dumps, the Marlin will be the gun of many hunters looking for a new firearm. Good hunting guys, Shoot-um-straight and often. Man o Man it't good to get all back talking guns/hunting/ammo, rather than the mess in DC.After I became disabled/handicapped in l990, guns and hunting have kept me going and looking forward to pratcing and hunting, plus lots of reading hunting articles and this BLOG Be suprised what a old guy of 73 has learned here, and hopefully I have been able to contribute some information to others that was helpful. Untill tomorrow night; Old mans bedtime.


I'm getting into this discussion a day late but...to say that modern, quality produced rifles are different than yesterday's quality produced rifles is a bit nit picky. Rifles will shoot better than humans when left to their own desires. It's seems when we grab hold of them and try to make them do our will that things tend to go awry. That tiny shake we develop after we hit 40-something or maybe the eyesight that bends the light just a bit differently than when I was a teenager, contributes significantly to my rifle's accuracy when it is in my loving arms. Now on ammo quality, there is no question on the pursuit of accuracy, or consistency as you speak...we must strive for the best we can get. Otherwise there can be no pride in our accomplishment. The satisfaction comes equally in the pursuit as well as in success.

Steve Ferber

Years ago when the British pound was approximately equal in value to the dollar, and traveling through London en route home from somewhere, I dropped in to Rigby--when the old store was in a basement space--and asked if they had any used left-handed bolt guns. I bought a lovely 'Rigby .275', (7x57 Mauser), and it has been a favorite rifle ever since. It was built for a chap a year prior to my fortuitous arrival who had made a down payment but never returned.

Mounted with a Pecar 4-power scope, sporting a bone forend tip, more-than-OK wood and nice checkering...it fit me better than a Hong Kong suit and shot under two inches with almost any factory ammo of the time. I handload for it and can squeeze out 1-inch groups, but achieve 'close enough' to that accuracy with heavier hunting hand-loads. Its taken, as the eskimos count, '1,2,3...many' beasts here and abroad with nary a loss, and it often tells me it likes me too.

Less accurate rifles, including the time-worn 'thuty-thuty' lever guns shooting big Crisco-can-sized groups at 100 yards, have taken more deer and black bear than there are condos in Florida. But..."know thy rifle."

I don't shoot big game beyond 200 yards with my Rigby, and on one such occasion in Scotland, peering down at a fleet of stags from atop a 'hill', I told my guide, "Arthur, I can easily take one from here." Arthur looked at me with a bit of distain and said, "Achh, I'm sure you can laddie, but then it wouldn't be stalking, would it? We'll go up and around the mountain." Two dead-tired hours later I took my stag at a hundred yards.

WA Mtnhunter

Dave, Del, & Rick

Thanks for your feedback. BTW, those Barnes Triple Shocks turned my Weatherby Mk V into a sub MOA shooter from a so-so rifle. It is not unusual for 2 of 3 holes in a group to be touching. The TSX performance on the one deer I shot with it was stupendous. I'm sold! There are some cleaned and sized cases on my bench awaiting the marriage of the .257 Triple Shock BT and IMR parked nearby for the Ruger 77.

I am not a huge fan of the tang safety, but there are multitudes of Savage 99's and Ruger No. 1's out there with tang safeties. No worries here. I never chamber a round while spot and stalk hunting or walking about. To me, mule deer and elk hunting isn't jump shooting, so I feel no need to load the chamber. That way, I'm only worried about breaking bones, not banging a loaded rifle, if I fall!

The Weatherby Mark V safety is the finest in the business in my opinion. Positive, quiet, and easy to manipulate with gloves.

Both of my prized Remington 700's ( ca. 1966 & 1988) are destined for a Gentry 3-position wing safety conversion.

Rocky Mtn Hunter

In my opinion the cross boltsafety as on Rems 742 and ll00 shotguns are the safest safty available. Tell me more about the Gentery 3 position safety for a Remington 700, please. I knew Gentry had a 2 psition for the Mauser but was not aware for the Rem.Thanks a lot,

Rocky Mtn Hunter

One item I might add to shooting at paper targets.You must shoot enough to know where that bullet is going when you pull the trigger. Also, I learned that no one can zero your rifle for you, they can get close, but it is impossible for each of us to shoot the same. I ad my Son hunt together 99% of the time. Both have same firearms, scopes, ammo, but we each have different eye problems in scopes and therefore whenever use the others rifle as it would have to be re-zeroed for us to shoot to point of aim.As Ammo has gone sky high, many of us will be using our old faithful 22's in bolt or Auto. A 22 is not like a 30-06, but it will improve your shooting ability and accuracy in the field at live game. Checked Ammo today, continues to go upwards like gaseoline. To travel to the Rockies now, will cost twice the amount as I paid 2-3 ys ago. Plane fares are un-believeable fron East cost to Denver, MT and Wy , C0. Think 4 of us gonna pile into l 4 door truck with cover and drive l/2 way, spend the night and continue next day and l/2. Then Camp out for our hunt. Maybe be a poor man's hunt, but thats how us poor hunters must hunt the Rockies. A outfitted hunt is gone. However, if Possible i do want to hunt Caribou in Canada while yet able to get about somewhat...To bad when we young can;t do all these things, but then raising a family, paying for a home and cars, no funds for trips away from home. My first deer hunt, had to drive 300 miles to find deer. Where I lived no Deer till about the mid-70's, now running out our ears. Time for these young guys to kill some Does and leave the button bucks to grow up. If he's not larger than what I got on the wall he walks and I take a fat Doe. By far better eating. Shoot often and straight. Good Hunting,. PS; What did you think of the Supreme Courts decision today about DC and ownership????? Lots of unanswered questions yet to come forth. But my 2nd Adm, I will protect my self with firearms, thats why I got the CC Permit. 3 people within 3 miles of me were murdered last week by unknowns, no break-ends, just apparently just walked in or was known by the victums. At night when door bell rings, I go to the Door with a handgun behind my back.

WA Mtnhunter


Gentry in Belgrade, MT lists tehm on the website still.


Ed Lapour Gunsmithing in WA does too.


Rocky Mtn Hunter

WA;MTNHUNTER; Will check them out. I got a Mauser Custom with the old orig safety and hate it. It is in the way of the Scope, do believe a Gentry would be more to my liking. Thanks for the info.
Read above in regards to the tang Safety: If I recall correct, Savage has used the Tang safety fo many years and yet sells many large Caliber guns yearly. My theory, keep you fingers off the Safety and trigger till ready to fire. When you have hunted as many years as I and different Ammo, it comes Automatic to keep your hands around the grip till shooting time. When the time comes, its instant to move the safety and get you finger closer to the trigger. Love the new Trigger on the MArlin XL7. We tonight finally got a good shower of about l", badly needed, as all grasss was brown. Hopefully now can Sod Plant my Deer plots for this falls hunting.As I failed to draw 3 states i applied, and teh cost involved, think will stay home and plan on next year. With a 5 week season here and 3 week after ours in VA for BP will get in enough hunting in 8 weeks i do believe. Only 50 miles to my Daughters in Va and they got some big old Deer. Glad this Blog finally got back to guns/hunting. Shoot-um-straight and often. My theory, weare out the 22, as they cheap, and it will pay off when the big game shows in the Rockies.Would like to think I will burn out my bbl on the Rem 700 CDL in 06 shooting,Elk, Mule Deer and Lopes ( use teh 700 Classic 25-06 on Lopes). Plan to use teh Marlin 270 here at home if I can get the scope mounted to suit me. I'm picky with my scopes and Mounts. Got spoiled with the Leupold DDTails. Once you zero with thoe mouns they stay zeroed, at least for me. Take care, thanks again.

Jim in Mo.

I like the tang safty because it keeps my trigger finger away from the TRIGGER! With heavy gloves on a cold day rabbit hunting the finger could set trigger off when you slide it quickly forward.
My favorites still is Liberty Valence, Culpeppter Co. and The Gunfighter. Never saw Unforgiven, will look it up.

Rocky Mtn Hunter

Few Western Movies I did not like. Just wish had seen more of them when were first shown. Now, it's hard to find a western on TV or Cable. I shop the DVD Stores for the Oldies. Yard Sales and Good-will for Western Paperbacks. If unable to hunt or shoot, then I read. Only problem in my reading is finding a place to stop for the night. O well, sleep enough I suppose. Now at 73, no worry of being late for work, so read as much as I care to. Shoot-um-straight and often.PS; I did at one time subscribe to about 8-10 Hunting Magazines, all turned to advertisements, land conservation and Sex pills or cream. Only 2 of the one's I now get will I renew, those being NAHC and Petersens Hunting,.


I have a Ruger M77 30-06 caliber. On the barrel is stamped: Made in the 200th year of american liberty. Is this a rare gun?

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