Q: I recently purchased a rifled barrel for my Mossberg Model 500 shotgun. Until a few seasons ago, I'd been shooting 3-inch magnum Remington Sluggers. Last hunting season I was told they can damage my rifled barrel. I was also told I need to be shooting sabot slugs in a rifled barrel, and rifled slugs in a smooth barrel—but I haven't had an accuracy problem with my rifled slugs. Are there any negative consequences that can come from shooting a rifled slug through a rifled slug barrel?
–KIRK HEFLEY/VIA E-MAIL
A: Rest easy, Kirk; you can't hurt your rifled barrel by shooting rifled slugs through it. The slugs will, however, fill the rifling grooves with lead residue and negate the shooting advantages of a rifled barrel. Rifled barrels are made for sabot slugs and you will only get the performance advantage of a rifled barrel by using sabot slugs.
My suggestion is to thoroughly clean the barrel. Then you'll find that your Mossberg rifled barrel prefers conventional velocity (about 1,500 fps) sabot slugs best. Stick with 23/4-inch slugs such as Hastings slugs, Lightfield Hybrids, Remington Copper Solids or BuckHammers, or Federal Barnes Expanders. Good luck!
Q: I'll be hunting elk in Arizona, at an altitude between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. Both of my rifles, a .270 Win. and a .30-06, are zeroed at 100 yards at an elevation of 1,100 feet. I was recently told that these rifles can shoot as much as 6 inches high at elevations similar to those in which I'll be elk hunting. Is this true?–JIM O'NEILL/VIA E-MAIL
A: Altitude, temperature, pressure, relative humidity and air density, collectively called "environmental conditions," can change the rifle's point of impact, but seldom as much as 6 inches at 100 yards. Usually, it's only enough for the competition shooter to be concerned.
Calculating how to adjust your rifle for the conditions of a high-elevation mountain hunt requires using a complicated formula found in most reloading manuals, or you can purchase ballistic software that can make it easy to make the needed adjustments.
Many hunters who annually make several of these high-country hunts simply zero their rifle at their home range, and when they get to the hunting area, they fire their rifle again to make sure it wasn't bumped during the long trip to the mountains. This is also the time to make any adjustments necessary due to change in environmental conditions.
More times than not, I've not had to make any adjustments.
I would be more concerned with being able to make long-range shots accurately rather than making changes due to elevation. I suggest you sight-in your .270 Win. or .30-06 at 2 inches high at 100 yards, so you can make those 300-yard shots that often come with high-country hunts. Practice until you're comfortable shooting at long distances.
When you get to your hunting area, take the time to make sure no fine-tuning is necessary. Most outfitters will insist that you check your rifle by shooting it anyway. –J. WAYNE FEARS
Q: I own a Remington BDL, chambered in .300 Win. Mag., that I've been hunting with for many years. Recently, I've been struggling with accuracy and haven't been able to zero the gun. I tried everything I can think of, including changing the scope and mounts, cleaning it thoroughly —I even tried different ammunition. Do you think it's possible the barrel is worn out?–JIMMY GRAYSON/PALMETTO, LA
A: Jimmy, it's difficult to determine if your barrel is shot-out without knowing how many rounds have been fired through it, how well the gun has been cared for, etc. But even so, I'm guessing there's something else at play here.
I contacted John Trull, director of brand management and product development at Remington Arms to get his take on your problem. "Typically, when we see something like this on any rifle, regardless of caliber, we check to ensure the scope and mounts are tight and don't allow for movement," Trull told me. "Next, we check to ensure the action is securely bedded in the stock and no foreign objects have come in contact with the barrel or action that could attribute to instability of the action in the stock. These two things cure 90 percent of all problems with a rifle that used to hold zero but mysteriously seems to have changed. If that doesn't solve the issue, I'd recommend taking the rifle to a competent gunsmith for a thorough cleaning and expert examination. If the firearm used to shoot well and now it doesn't, there's a logical explanation. Excessive wear of the barrel is certainly a possibility, but more likely than not, there's a more subtle and less costly culprit contributing to the change in behavior of the rifle. A good gunsmith can likely diagnose the problem and correct it for you quickly."–GORDY KRAHN
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