LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH
Q: I currently own two .30-06 hunting rifles. They both have served me well over the years, but all of my hunting partners carry a 7mm Rem. Mag, a .300 Win. Mag. or a .338 Rem. Ultra Mag. when hunting elk.
I'm thinking my reliable .30-06s are not "up to par," and perhaps I should buy a bigger and faster gun. Should I expand my rifle collection and buy one of the three aforementioned rifles, or should I stay loyal to my tried-and-true .30-06?
–ROGER FULLER/SPANAWAY, WA
A: All of the calibers you mention, when loaded with the appropriate ammunition, make good elk rifles. Most elk are shot within 200 yards, and these calibers take the 1,600 foot-pounds of energy—the minimum amount of energy necessary to put down a big bull—out to 300 yards or more. It's more important for you to determine which of these calibers you can shoot well rather than how fast they shoot. A well-placed 180-grain Nosler Partition bullet from a .30-06 will do the job just a good as a .338 Win. Mag. within the effective killing range of most hunters.
I've taken elk with all the calibers you mention, but I still prefer a .280 Rem. if given a choice. If you enjoy shooting your .30-06 rifles and they shoot accurately with elk loads, then take them elk hunting.
–J. Wayne Fears
A .22 FOR TWO?
Q: My wife and I would like to do some target shooting together, using a .22 rimfire rifle. We want to share the rifle because we don't have a lot of extra money to purchase two guns. The problem is I'm 6 foot, 5 inches tall, and she's 5 foot, 2 inches tall. Therefore, a gun with a long stock that fits me is too long for her, and a gun with a short stock that fits her is too short for me. Is there a gun with a stock that can be easily adjusted to accommodate both my wife and me? –ALEX GORT/GRAND RAPIDS, MI
A: Good news, Alex: Thanks to the popularity of the Ruger 10/22 rifle, adjustable stocks are readily available. Two years ago Russell Potterfield of Midway USA showed me a prototype Fajen Legacy Series Silhouette Stock for the 10/22 Ruger rifles that adjusted from a 131/4-inch to a 15-inch length-of-pull. That item has become a hot seller, and it should work for "Stretch and Shorty." The comb also adjusts up and down for perfect eye/scope alignment, and the butt plate slides up and down—plus it twists to fit various shoulder "pockets" perfectly. You can buy this stock for about $120.
Brownells also lists an adjustable Christie & Christie Super Stock for $150 that extends from a 127/8-inch to a 157/8-inch length-of-pull, and a Bell & Carlson Odyssey Target Stock for $335 that features an adjustable length-of-pull, plus comb-height adjustments and butt-end height/twist adjustments. Cabela's also sells a $70 Tapco 10/22 T6 military stock with a variety of adjustments.
To save money, buy a used 10/22 with a beat-up stock, or get the least expensive new model 10/22 you can find on sale. Have fun shooting!
MAD AT MY MUZZLELOADER
Q: I recently purchased a Connecticut Valley Arms Optima Pro rifle and a Nikon BDC scope for it. I bought CVA sabots and Triple Seven powder pellets. The directions for the scope say to use a 250-grain bullet and 150 grains of powder. I went to the rifle range and it took only three shots to find the bull's-eye at 50 yards. I then started to shoot at a 100-yard target and used the rest of the pack of bullets—and I was all over the paper. Do you have any suggestions on bullet types or different powder charges? I'm very frustrated! –DONALD SELLERS/CARPENTERSVILLE, IL
A: Donald, many rifles—centerfires, rimfires and muzzleloaders—simply show a definite preference for a given load, and simply "stink" with others. In my opinion, you began the process correctly; I always shoot bullets sold by the rifle manufacturer because they should be a fine match. If those fail, I look elsewhere to fix the problem. The first thing that comes to mind is your loading procedure.
Most in-lines respond very positively to a swab with a slightly moistened patch between shots. I always run a moist patch down the bore in short 5- to 6-inch jabs (this prevents building up residue at the end of the stroke which makes the ramrod difficult to pull upwards). Then I run a dry patch down the barrel, add the powder pellets and seat the bullet. Never seat the bullet with excessive force—stop pushing downward when you feel resistance. This process will eliminate any variables in the loading procedure.
Today, there are many great bullets on the market; I've had particularly good results with the Hornady SST saboted bullets. You have a fine rifle and scope, and now you simply need to determine the load it prefers. Another suggestion is to test the number of powder pellets you use; some rifles shoot best with two pellets, some with three. There's a bit of a performance drop when using less powder, but you will still kill any buck you shoot when you put the correct BDC circle on his chest.