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November 10, 2008

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The Rifleman's Badge of Honor

This past Friday I was coaching a young hunter in the finer points of riflery when he got careless with the .30/06 he was shooting and received a medium-good scope cut in his forehead. He asked me not to mention it to anyone and I said, Pish tush, you should be proud of it; it’s the mark of the rifleman. I then pointed out three or four of my choicer scars.

Eventually, if you shoot enough, you are going to get a scope cut. Actually, you’re going to get a collection unless you spend all your time shooting .22s or centerfires with IER scopes. (Given the choice between an IER scope on a rifle and a good, bloody scope cut, I will take the latter.)

The two best I’ve ever seen came from a .30/06 with a cheap scope that had no eye relief to speak of, and a .300 Weatherby, whose owner contorted himself into a weird prone position, shooting downhill at a caribou. The ocular lens bell caught him on the bridge of the nose and opened it up like an ax. My own best scope cut came from a .30/378 with a muzzle brake. I was curious how hard it kicked without the brake and fired it prone. I found out.

I came home with blood all over my face and my shirt. My wife summed up the situation in one word:
“A*****e,” she said.

Some people, upon getting a scope cut, are like to swoon, and develop PTSD. Others brush it off. Susan Casey, who wrote a wonderful story for Field & Stream about an elk hunt on which she could not bring herself to pull the trigger, got a medium one, and decided she liked it.

“It makes me look like a badass,” said Susan.

In 2003, I bought a bunch of life-sized whitetail deer targets from the NRA that have been by far the best teaching tool I’ve ever seen if you want to teach someone how to shoot whitetail deer. The vital zones are marked so you can’t see them at a distance, just like real deer.

Last week I tried to reorder, but no one at the NRA seemed to know what I was talking about, and I’m afraid they’ve been discontinued. Does anyone know anything definitive or, failing that, does anyone know of anything similar? My gratitude will be nearly boundless. 


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TW, WA, etc.:

Guns and Ammo always called Jeff Cooper "Col." I mentioned that Boddington was a general (who has been to the Gulf, by the way; reservists are not weekend warriors any more, as you would know if you kept up with the times) to show that he has accomplished something with his life over and above slaughtering animals.

As to that, nobody 'slaughters' game animals. The market hunting days have been over for a hundred years. Game wardens, resource departments, etc. the world over number desirable, huntable game the way you count your grandchildren, and parcel out the tags accordingly. And the idea that a modern hunter (esp. one with a camera pointed at him) would down a beast in Africa and walk away from hundreds of pounds of protein after taking the hide and horns is absurd.

50-60 years ago when O'Connor, Page and Keith were in their primes, there were half as many people in the world as there are now, computers filled a room, and TV was a 12" glass screen with black and white images in glorious mono sound. Game was plentiful and every man was (or wished to be) a hunter. It was a different world, a better one in many ways, but it's gone now and it won't be back. If you ever make it to Africa, Boddington's advice will be a lot more valuable to you than Keith's or O'Connor's.

To me, Boddington lives a life the rest of us can only dream of. If Winchester, Remington, or any other sporting goods company wants to field test their latest elephant or lion hunting rifles and gear and can't get Boddington on the horn, they can feel free to give me a call.

WA Mtnhunter


I stand by my opinion that I could care less about CB's military status with regard to his magazine article writings, or his G&A TV show (which is sort of hokey, not due to him).

I also could care less about how Jeff Cooper was referred to by G&A, another commercial enterprise. I liked his articles because they were interesting and informative and half the magazine was not filled with his writings. I also salute Jeff Cooper as a great American and patriot!

I suppose my bottom line is that the quality of CB's articles is not an issue for me, just an excess of a good thing.

I doubt I will ever go back to Africa for hunting or anything else. I already spent a few days too many over there to suit me.


I've shot 22 to 50 BMG bolt action rifle, and have never drawn blood doing so, push your shoulder forward a little, pull the gun tight into it and weld your cheek tight to the stock and although you get shoved back sometimes all the parts move in unison.
I do however have a nice scar on my forehead from working on a gun, trying to break a rusted screw loose on a old military rifle, pulling on gun, pushing on screwdriver and the screwdriver slipped......
SMACK, right in the middle of the forehead, and bleed like a stuck pig. Gave me a good headache too.

T.W. Davidson

Jim in Mo, et al . . .

I'm not upset, I'm just old fashioned. I would not travel the world to kill literally tons of game that I wouldn't eat or that my friends wouldn't eat or that wouldn't otherwise go to some worthwhile organizaton that could well use the meat.

The closest thing I could do to what CB does, if I had the money, would be to travel the world, take the occasional head of game which I and my family and friends would personally eat (or we'd donate the meat to people in need or equivalent worthy projects), and "harvest" countless head of exotic, rare, and beautiful game . . . with several cameras and assorted expensive lens. Killing for the corporate dollar could never be my deal, nor killing a beautiful game animal just because I could. There has to be a legitimate reason by which I can justify ending life. Neither the corporate dollar nor the rationale of "just because I can" constitute any justification at all, in my book.

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX



No one can argue with your personal convictions. Personally I would never shoot an elephant; no place to put the mount.

Seriously, poaching and loss of habitat are what endangers game. Hunting values game and its habitat, which contributes to making both worth protecting. Nobody needs to kill as many animals as Boddington has, but his is an unusual role. By doing what he does he promotes hunting, and that can't be bad for the game animals or the sport.

I've never gotten a scope cut because I always wear eye protection. Early in my shooting career, while firing some old .30-06 ammo I experienced a case head rupture. Luckily all I got was a faceful of very hot gas and a pants wetting scare. Still, when it was over I was so delighted that I could still see out of both eyes that I've never busted a cap without protective lenses since that day. Let a word to the wise be sufficient.

Jim in Mo

I've never wanted to kill an elephant either unless it was a rogue animal hurting people and crops, then I'd love to be in on it. Same with lions. But for the rest I'd love to be in CB's shoes.

I wear Rx glasses and if the scope touches my frames I know I'm do something wrong and adjust.

T.W. Davidson

Eyeball, Jim in Mo, WA Mtnhunter, DP, et. al . . .

Today, at the age of 47, I took my first deer. Despite seeing my stepfather take numerous deer when I was a kid, despite seeing other people take numerous deer through the years, and despite having the opportunity to take several deer myself over the last several decades, today I finally pulled the trigger.

I normally hunt wild pigs in the area where I was. In fact, last night I was up almost all night (nearly freezing to death in the process) under a nearly full moon waiting for a herd of wild pigs to come out into a farm field and wreck their havoc so I could wreck havoc on them. I didn't see any pigs, but I did see plenty of deer, including a beautiful young doe that fearlessly approached my different positions for several hours through the night, flirting with me until I finally put down my rifle, got up, walked toward her, gently threw dirt clods at her (while she stood there stomping her feet and snorting at me), and yelled at her to stay away from people with rifles because not all of them are nice like me. (She finally wandered off, still completely unafraid of me.)

Today, in a different part of the farm/game ranch, I decided to at least entertain the possibility of taking a deer. My guide mentioned to me in passing that there was a wounded doe in the area, a three year old whitetail. A negligent bowhunter had shot an arrow into a rear leg, crippling her but not killing her. This particular bowhunter, being of low moral character, had not pursued her. He failed to finish the job he started.

The doe was about 150 yards out and looked calmly at me while the big buck and two large fawns that were with her broke from cover and ran off at a high sprint. My guide and I pondered over this as we also talked about range and distance and angles and the fact that the doe, while standing in tall grass above her belly line, was giving us only a very narrow front quartering aspect shot. We both noted the near inpenetrable swamp only 30 yards away from her, a fact neither of us liked at all. We did not know whether she was the injured doe, but I suspected she was, since she didn't run and her companions did. I told my guide I could make the shot and that I would take her.

I used my 257 Ackley loaded with 120-grain Partitions going out the muzzle at 3200 fps. I fired. The doe turned, then stumbled about 20 yards before disappearing from view. I was almost positive I saw her fall/lay down before I lost sight of her.

My guide was initially very apprehensive that I had made a poor shot, a gut shot, because of the way the doe hunched her back after bullet impact rather than leaping into the air the way most hooved animals react when heart-lung shot. On the other hand, I fire thousands of rounds of ammunition a year, am generally an excellent shot, know my 257 AI better than my ex-wife, had a good steady sight picture, and was completely calm when I pulled the trigger. I was positive my shot was within 2" of where I wanted it to go.

And it was. We waited about 10 minutes, then cautiously approached the area where the doe had been standing. We found her less than 25 yards away. She did not suffer. We looked her over and found the terrible wound (right through an elbow joint) in her right rear leg left by the negligent bowhunter of low morale character. I don't know if the arrow wound would have eventually killed her, or if her leg would have rotted off below the wound and she somehow could have survived like this, but I am sure she suffered horribly and for a long time (several weeks)at the bowhunter's carelessness and selfishness. I am relieved that I ended her misery. That I will eventually take home about 40lbs of meat is just a small (but very nice) bonus.

And that's the story of my first deer.

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX

Clay Cooper

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX

First of all thank you for what you did Sir
A 257 cal with a 120 grain Partition at 3000fps plus also makes a good Elk load in the hands of a competent shooter like you.

And speaking of unethical sportsmanship
While stationed at Eielson AFB Alaska and being on the Air Force Shooting team (2nd generation) I was volunteered by many including my Wing Commander (LOL!) that I really didn’t mind of course to help run the Base Range for recreational shooting. The Thursday just before the first weekend of August everyone would meet in my office to talk about and arrange their caribou hunting up on Tyler Mountain or just north on Buck Skin Ridge by Chicken Alaska. This one Buck Sergeant the Saturday before came out to the range with a brand new 375 H&H shooting Nosler Partitions said that’s the load he is going to use on Caribou. I told him that that was too much gun and a 270 with a 130 grain would do the job fine and my 338 Win Mag really turns the rib meat into too much grease as is. Anyhow, this clown went up to Taylor Mountain wounded a really nice Bull that ran off the mountain and knocked down three cows behind it. He panicked went back to camp and returned the next day to haul all the meat out and to turn himself in at the Biologist station at Tok. Upon arrival the Biologist just finished loading his ATV to come after him. Thanked him for coming in and saving going out. He believed his story after many reports from other hunters that witnessed it then asked him for his harvest ticket. It wasn’t punched for the date etc. and said “a kill is a kill”. He received a $100.00 fine and loss of hunting privileges for the remainder of the season. What really makes my blood boil about this; this Buck Sergeant had the audacity to ask me the following week to take him north of the Yukon River where you’re allowed 5 at the time to shoot a Caribou or two with my gun and on my license.


T.W. Davidson:

OK, I gotta ask. How the hell are you getting 3200 fps from a .257 AI w/ 120 gr. Partitions??
I can't get that much velocity out of my .25-06 w/ those slugs. That sounds like one VERY hot load. Seriously, are you using a canister powder not available to the rest of us?

Del in KS

Got back last night from my annual deer hunt in MO. Had a great time. Shot 3 deer in the first hour. First shot two does with 3 shots from the 25 06 Kimber w/Leupold VXIII B/C reticle. It was cold and very windy. The range was 205 yds. Barnes 100 gr XXX's worked great. A little later 3 bucks chased a doe by the blind. Managed to shoot an 8 point with tall wide antlers at 117 yds. It was a double lung shot and he piled up after running 60 yds. A friend I was hunting with on the same property saw 2 bucks chasing a doe. One he said was a Booner. They ran by in a hardwood bottom and he could not get the big guy to stop by grunting. When a snort-wheeze finally stopped him there was a tree blocking any shot. Next came the buck he shot. It was a big nine pointer with lots of character points. I have some pics of both our bucks. The antlers look very simular in size and shape. But the nine point has a huge body. At least 100 lb heavier than my deer. That buck is heavier than the big 10 I shot in Kansas last month. The hunter was Joey Floyd a paramedic from GA. Joey said he has never taken anything even close to this size in GA. I wanted to weigh that buck but had no place to hang my scale and gambrel.
I would post the pic if knew how. Did send them to Jim in MO.

Clay Cooper

I’m pushing 257 Weatherby Mag velocities with Hornady 117 BTSP and SST’s out of my Remington CDL 25-06 with 54 grains of IMR4831 and Federal 215 primers. I loaded up some 120 partitions with 52 grains I’ll give you a performance report later this week.

Clay Cooper

By the way, I’ve found IMR4831 to the best for 100 to 120 grain bullets. I use 55 grains behind 100 grainers for years and it works great.

Clay Cooper

I don’t get out near as much as I used to, but I’m glad there are still good Sportsmen like

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX

WA Mtnhunter

Those are some seriously warm .257 AI loads. Quite a difference between .25-05 and .257 Roberts AI. 3200 fps is in Weatherby country!

Danger? maybe.

T.W. Davidson

Flip . . .

I recommend that you experiment with Hodgdon's fairly new powder, H-100-V. When you reference Hodgdon's handloading website at www.data.hodgdon.com, you'll see that Hodgdon, which is normally very conservative in its published loads, is pushing a 100-grain bullet out of a 257 Roberts at over 3200 fps, and a 115-grain bullet out the barrel at over 3050 fps. When I experimented with H-100-V using both my daughter's 22" barrel 257 Roberts and my 24" barrel 257 Ackley, I discovered that Hodgdon's data, despite the already very impressive velocities posted for the 257 Roberts, was STILL a bit conservative.

It is safe and easy to achieve 200-250 fps increases in velocity over the 257 Roberts with any strong 257 AI rifle. I recommend experimenting with powders such as H-100-V, VVN-550, RL 19, and RL 22 with bullets of 100 grains and higher.

I regularly and consistently achieve 257 AI velocities that exceed those published by the Accurate Powder Company, particularly with bullets weighing 115-grains or more, and using slightly less powder than in the APC's published loads. With Winchester brass or Hornady Light Magnum fireformed brass and Winchester large rifle primers, my preferred 115-grain bullet is the Combined Technology Ballistic Silvertip (CTBS) spitzer or 115-grain Partition pushed by 53 grains of Accurate 3100. With either of that bullet/brass/primer/powder combination, which consumes one full grain less than the maximum load listed in the Accurate Loading Guide, my chronographed velocities 15' from the muzzle of of past and current Remington 700 257 AI rifles average 3225-3250 fps or slightly greater. I have reduced the powder load to 52.5 grains of Accurate 3100 for older cases and use 52.7 to 52.8 grains for new cases, because 53 grains of Accurate 3100 will sometimes produce slightly flattened primers (I think) and slight signs (I think) of powder leakage in older cases (maybe). I have not attempted to shoot the published 54-grain load (of Accurate 3100) in my current 257 AI rifle with the 115-grain CTBS bullet or Partition, and do not intend to, for fear of incurring a blown primer or other bad thing. What I'm getting is plenty hot enough, and accurate enough, too. I have fired many, many hundreds of rounds as listed/loaded above, completely safely, with no problems whatsoever.

In regard to handloading 120-grain Nosler Partitions in my 257 AI--

Using 52 grains of Accurate 3100, my rifle routinely produces chronographed velocities 15' from the muzzle of 3180-3225 FPS with the 120-grain Nosler Partition, 3200 fps being about the mean average. Sometimes the muzzle velocity is a little faster (3225 fps is common), sometimes a little slower (3185 or so), depending on the brass, the primer, the altitude, the outside air temperature, air density, etc. I do not venture above 52 grains of ACC 3100 with the 120-grain Partitions because I have noticed (I think) slightly flattened primers at loads of 52.5 grains or higher in newer cases, and because I have detected (again, I think) very slight gas leakage around the slightly flattened primers in older, much-fired cases at loads above 52 grains. Accuracy was routinely under an inch at 100 yards, day in and day out, except that my barrel is close to becoming shot out and needs replacement this next year. Oddly enough, the 120-grain Partitions routinely give me excellent accuracy and slightly higher muzzle velocities than other manufacturer's 115- and 117-grain bullets.

Carefully experiment with the powders and bullets mentioned in this note. I think you'll find the safe, yet high performance, loads you're looking for. Also, I recommend that you call the people at Hodgdon (as I have) and talk with them about their H-100-V in the 257 Roberts, 257 AI and similar cartridges. That new powder performs. The only difficulty you may encounter is finding the right bullet, OAL and powder load to achieve routine MOA or sub-MOA groups.

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX

clarence kuehner

For meny years I wanted to comment on gun calibers. I bought a savage 7mm mag when I was in high school. It kicks enogh for me I would like a chance to prove it is big enough for Elk carabou, and large bear. It is the shooter. Igot some ammo for it reloaded. 120 at 3000 for less kick. It is plenty for the small deer we have in south dakota. I feel it is not nesassary for anything mutch bigger then what I have.I would like to prove my point to anyone who will listen. sincerly clarence

WA Mtnhunter

I don't think anyone here will argue that a 7mm magnum is not adequate for deer and elk. Your choice of a 120 gr bullet is questionable however.

If that little bit of recoil bothers you, how are you going to hitch up your panties to drag out that elk?


WAMtnhunter: Agreed...However, I think young Clarence would do well to revisit that high school he's talking about...

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