Saving an SKB 100 from the Cowboys

Until now, I had nothing against cowboy action shooting, which is more or less three-gun shooting with late 19th century firearms. If people want to dress up in period clothes, give themselves a western alias and shoot targets simulating stage robberies and saloon shootouts, that’s fine. It’s probably a lot of fun. I’ve watched it on Youtube. Some of those cowboy action shooters can really shoot. They use lever-action rifles, single-action revolvers and side-by-side, pre-1899 pump, or lever-action shotguns. Again, all fine, except I learned a while ago that means some old Winchester Model 97 pumps get their barrels cut down to twenty inches, which isn’t great, but, whatever. There are a lot of 97s around and they make a good riot gun. Then I found out that, since the coach guns on the market don’t hold up well under the stress of competitive shooting, some cowboy action shooters buy old Savage Stevens doubles and cut them down. Well, okay, again, not great, but I can live with it. Those are good old cheap guns but hey, cowboy action shooters need shooting irons, too.

Now I come to learn that the hot guns among some cowboy action shooters are SKBs and the Browning BSS. They like them because they are very good guns and don’t give them the problems they run into with the cheaper doubles. So there are gunsmiths who specialize (specialize!) in chopping the barrels off these guns and tuning them up so the Paramus Kid and friends can use them to shoot balloons and falling plates.

Now I’m upset. Cutting the barrels off a neat old bird gun is no way to treat it.dove hunting in Argentina

The SKB, in its various grades (100, 200, 280 etc) and the BSS, both made in Japan, were excellent, reasonably priced double guns of the 60s and 70s at a time when there were no more good American doubles to be had. Ithaca imported the SKB guns, which have no relation at all to American made Ithaca doubles. The 20-gauge Model 100 weighed under six pounds and is one of the best close cover woodcock guns ever offered to American hunters. The SKB 100 had only one quirk: the scalloped edges where the stock meets the receiver will crack if the gun is fed too much heavy ammunition, although they can be readily repaired. Otherwise, they are trouble-free and sweet-handling guns.

I wouldn’t mind people cutting these guns down if more were being made every day, but they’re not. The SKB factory is gone (tooling for the BSS was all destroyed years ago) so there won’t be any more made, ever. At the very least, demand for these guns drives up the price, but what’s worse, every one that has its barrels cut off for cowboy action shooting is, essentially, ruined beyond repair* as a hunting gun. It shouldn’t be allowed.

I can’t save all the SKBs, but I got to this one before a cowboy found it. It’s in great shape and its 28-inch, Modified and Full barrels will stay that way, and I have high hopes for it as a pheasant gun. I’ve shot it some, and have done okay but not great with it. I’ll probably put it away and practice with it more next summer prior to the season. In the meantime, it’s locked away from anyone with a cowboy hat and a hacksaw.

You could have new barrels made and sleeved onto the monoblock, which would cost you more than twice what either gun is worth.



Five Top New Fishing Electronics for 2017

1) Angler Labs AngLR TrackerAngler Labs AngLR Tracker argentina wingshooting

Angler Labs is brand new and utilized ICAST to launch its product line—which got plenty of buzz. The AngLR Tracker works in sync with
LR fishing app, which is free of charge, currently available on Android, and scheduled for IOS release in September. The app itself has tons of capabilities: It tracks weather, lure selections, fish caught, catch rates, hot spots, and a variety of other information. The AngLR Tracker is a small device that attaches to a fishing rod, taking the data collection to a new level. The device tracks the number of casts made, reeling patterns, hook-ups, and fighting fish, and anglers can press a button to drop pins and record catches. Logging information and tracking patterns can have a long-lasting effect on an angler’s succes
s, and there’s probably no better way to collect a trove of info than the new technologies from Angler Labs.

2) Marcum Recon 5

For a committed ice angler such as myself, the new Marcum Recon is a must-have. I’ve used underwater cameras for a few years, and it doesn’t get more exciting than watching a fish inhale your jig live on screen.Marcum Marcum Recon 5 argentina dove hunting Such cameras also let you know exactly when to set the hook, upping your catch rate. My biggest issues with the cameras I’ve used, however, are that they tend to be big and heavy and are, by and large, incompatible with recording devices. The Marcum Recon 5 solves these issues. It is a compact, portable unit with built-in recording capabilities. It stores up to 32GB on an external Micro-SD card and is able to play back and delete footage. Plus, the display switches from black and white, providing an amazingly crisp, clear image.

3) FLIR Ocean Scout TK

Night vision can be vital for anglers plying either fresh or saltwater after dark. Traditionally, the biggest obstacle to acquiring such capabilities has been the enormous cost. FLIR’s Ocean Scout TK is the first thermal night-vision camera available at an affordable price. The camera lets you see other vessels, landmarks, buoys, floating debris, crab pots, marine mammals, and anything else in the water at night; it would also be an invaluable tool should a fisherman go overboard. The Ocean Scout TK is designed to withstand wind, rain, and even a drop in shallow water. Moreover, it can store 1,000 JPEG images and four hours of video, and has a five-hour rechargeable battery. Whether you use it for navigation or in an emergency, the Ocean Scout TK would be useful for anyone on the water once the sun goes down.

4) Garmin Striker

One look at the Garmin Striker fishfinders could make you think these were four-figure units, but that’s not the case. In fact, the largest unit in the series will cost only $500. The new line of fishfinders features CHIRP traditional sonar, in addition to CHIRP DownVu and SideVu. For those unfamiliar with these technologies, I can assure you that finding them all in one unit at this price is unheard of. The display on the Striker is crisp, and though the 7-inch screen would be my pick, anglers would not be missing out with the 3.5- or 5-inchargentina dorado fishing Garmin-STRIKER-Review-7sv models. Each are equipped with built-in GPS and a waypoint map, making it easy to mark favorite spots, brush piles, stumps, and rocks.

5) Humminbird HELIX 10

Shortly after I watched a demonstration of the HELIX 10, it was crowned Best of Show for electronics at ICAST 2016. And for good reason. Aside from the incredible technologies packed into the HELIX 10, it has a huge, incredibly detailed, crisp display—on which I could watch the Giants game on a Sunday afternoon. With these output capabilities, coupled with GPS chartplotting and high-def down and side imaging, this unit is nothing short of perfection. The ContourXD base maps are compatible with Humminbird LakeMaster charts, allowing them to display the landscape in intricate detail. Best of all, this ultra high-end piece of electronics is still moderately priced. If I had to pick one unit to stick with for the next 20 years, this would be it.




The marriage of Malbec and meat may be as famous as Maradona, but ask five leading Argentine sommeliers to champion any grape and its food pairing potential, and the results give lie to the versatility of Argentina’s diverse wine styles.


Torrontes. Torrontes.

Sommelier and consultant, Vinomanos

The Grape
Torrontés is singular and unique, exclusively Argentine and unlike any other variety in the world.

A Taster
Jasmine, lime and lemons, tropical fruits like pineapple, almost crystalline, plus a spicy note, refreshing, with intense acidity and a light body.

A Fact
Nowadays there is a tendency to mature the Torrontés for long periods in barrels, which allow us to enjoy more complex and interesting styles of this wine.

With Food
Torrontés is a very versatile white wine, great as an aperitif, but perfectly adapted to different cuisines. It coexists in harmony with intense and hot flavors, working very well with Japanese, Chinese or Thai cuisine and the Peruvian ceviches or tiraditos are also fantastic parings. Mature goat cheeses are also good partners, as is charcuterie. The most traditional pairing for Torrontés are hot meat empanadas, typically from the North of Argentina, where some of the best examples of this variety come from.

A Perfect Pairing
As a challenge I propose Torrontés with some of the fatty cuts of Argentine asado (grill), like the sweetbreads, the chorizos and the black puddings. The fatty characteristics are perfectly matched by the acidity and character of Torrontés.



Consultant & sommelier, 0800-VINO

The Grape
Adaptable and capable of greatness, Chardonnay can be cultivated in diverse microclimates and terroirs and vinified in a wide range of styles, with or without oak.

A Taster
As Argentina has such a diversity of terroirs it’s hard to pinpoint a particular Argentine style, but one could generalize as having generous, tropical-leaning fruit and being extremely adaptable to barrel ageing.

A Fact
Chardonnay is a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc, and its name has been linked to a village in the Macon region of Burgundy, and is derived from Cardonnacum, meaning “place of chardons or thistles”.

With Food
It depends to a degree whether the Chardonnay is oaked or unoaked. A lightly oaked, tropical fruit-forward Argentine Chardonnay from Luján de Cuyo or Patagonia would pair well with roasted or marinated grilled chicken and vegetables, or a pasta dish with a creamy sauce where the wine´s vanilla-y richness and creaminess is in harmony with the rich, creamy sauce.

A Perfect Pairing
My choice with an oakier wine would be roast chicken, cooked with a generous dollop of goose-fat, mixed herbs, sea-salt and a lemon or two inside, served with garlic roast potatoes. Again the richness of the Chardonnay complements the fatty richness of the dish and the oak stops its semi-charred crispiness from overpowering, while the lemon citrus pairs nicely with the tropical and citrus characteristics of the variety.



Consultant & sommelier, Unik (Buenos Aires) and Unico (Paris)

The Grape
The second most widely planed red grape in Argentina (after Malbec), Bonarda is typically fresh and fruity and great to drink young, but it can be more serious and intense as winemakers unravel its full potential.argentina wines

A Taster
Expect aromas and flavours of sweet ripe raspberries, while darker fruits like blackberries are revealed in wines from higher altitude. Typically very fruity, intense, and sometimes showing spices like nutmeg or liquorice, Bonarda also has bright acidity and moderate tannins.

A Fact

This variety has an Italian name but its origins are in France! It is actually the Corbeau from Savoie but adopted the name of Bonarda in an era of ampelographic confusions. Today it is called Bonarda Argentina because the characteristics are unique and it has adapted so well to the different Argentine terroirs.

With Food
The young Bonardas with nervous acidity and no oak match perfectly well with the morcillas (black puddings), which we eat during the asado before the meat. Bonardas are also an excellent choice for a pizza with tomato and arugula or pasta with “bolognesa”, the typical meat and tomato sauce.

A Perfect Pairing
At Unik, Buenos Aires, chef Fernando Hara prepares a grilled saddle of rabbit with homemade bacon, fresh pine mushrooms and organic polenta. This dish works very well with the beautiful acidity and moderate tannins of a medium bodied Bonarda. The rabbit meat is lean and doesn´t need a big and structured wine, while the aromas of the red and black fruits are a wonderful combination with the earthiness of the mushrooms and the slightly sweet polenta.



Head sommelier, Aramburu Restaurant

The Grape

Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon is known as King Cab, the conqueror! You can find Cabernet Sauvignon almost everywhere where the sun shines, from Bordeaux to Australia to California, but in Argentina it tends to be a deep, full-bodied variety because we have a lot of sun and altitude so it ripens very well.

A Taster
Deep ruby red, fragrant with typical aromas and flavours of red bell pepper, black pepper, tobacco, leather, black fruits, it’s also a grape with loads of ageing potential.

A Fact
Most of our top blends in Argentina are Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon based, with the Cabernet giving longevity to the wine because it has a great acidity and structure.

With Food
Cabernet is a full-bodied grape with deep and round tannins, which help to refresh the palate when combined with fatty foods, so I would suggest pairing it with pork dishes and rich, winter-warming meat stews.

A Perfect Pairing
One of the matches I love to offer at Aramburu is Cabernet with smoked sirloin, crispy sweet potatoes, smoked potato cream and mushrooms. The fattiness of this cut of meat pairs so well with the tannins of the wine, the sweet potatoes enhance the fruit of the wine giving a sweet sensation in the mouth, while the mushroom add a complimentary earthy touch.



President, Association of Argentine Sommeliers, HG Restaurant at Fierro Hotel

The Grape
Malbec can be round and smooth, but the sweetness should not be confused with lack of seriousness, as it can be strict and firm as well. Noble, fair, and ready to be enjoyed today, it can also be counted on to last.

A Taster

Malbec. Malbec.

Argentina has very diverse terroirs, so Malbec can be bold and concentrated in Salta in the Northwest; plummy and rich in the Luján de Cuyo area or sharp, structured and with notes of violets and sour cherries in the Valle de Uco, both in Mendoza; or more delicate and with a red, bramble character in Patagonia.

A Fact
Malbec was introduced to Argentina before the vineyards in its native Bordeaux were wiped out by the phylloxera plague during the nineteenth century and has been adapting to the Andes (without this bug) ever since.

With Food
Malbec can be very versatile. A number of months ago, to celebrate Malbec World Day on April 17th, I prepared an eight-course menu paired exclusively with it: we had sparkling Malbec, white Malbec, rosé of Malbec, three reds of different parts of Argentina, fortified Malbec for dessert, and even grappa of Malbec to finish! In general, however, Malbec is brilliant with our asados, but also works well with game, poultry, lamb, pork, pasta and hard cheeses. Fortified Malbec, like ports, is amazing with chocolate and dulce de leche based desserts, too!

A Perfect Pairing
At HG Restaurant at the Fierro Hotel in Buenos Aires, we like to keep it simple. The best Malbecs are best enjoyed over a grass-fed sirloin steak, smoked with apple-tree wood, and served with a pinch of sea-salt from the province of Chubut in Patagonia…


(Source: By Andrew Catchpole.

Ten New Binoculars Ranked and Rated

We know what you really want: affordable, full-size binoculars that get the job done. So that’s what we tested. Here’s how 10 new models, each priced at or under $1K, stacked up in our most rigorous optics test ever.

Most hunters won’t drop a grand on binoculars. We know because our readers have told us so—many times. And that’s O.K., because most don’t really need to. Truly high-class glass is a joy to behold, but mid- and even low-priced optics have improved vastly in recent years. If you make your living spotting far-off critters in big country, that’s one thing, but for the average hunter’s needs, today’s modestly priced binoculars will likely do the job. The only question is: Which one should you buy?

To help you figure that out, I traveled to western New York to meet hardcore whitetail hunter and University of Rochester professor of optics James Zavislan, whose living room houses a miniature optics lab and whose hunting property made for the perfect field-test venue. Zavislan enlisted hunting buddy Bill Lipnickey and urban bowhunter–optics undergrad student Joel Hoose. Together, we subjected 10 new full-size binoculars, ranging from a little over $100 to right around $1,000, to the most thorough and technical optics test F&S has ever conducted.

[caption id="attachment_4336" align="alignleft" width="547"]Sig Sauer Zulu 7 Sig Sauer Zulu 7[/caption]

1. BEST OF THE TEST: Sig Sauer Zulu7

Score: 92.3 • Specs: 10×42 • 5.9×5″ • 28.3 oz. • 17mm eye relief • 4.2mm exit pupil • 341′ FOV @ 1,000 yd. • 5.9′ close focus

Lowdown: How good is the Zulu7? One measure is all the 9s and 10s it scored in our eight test categories (see p. 78), including top marks for resolution, perceived image quality, and weather resistance. Another was all the wows and oh damns issued from the testers upon looking through them, which is like stepping into a world where everything is bigger, sharper, and more brilliant. The open-bridge design and tacky rubber finish provides a great feel in the hand, and the grooved focus wheel responds smoothly to a medium-light touch. The one glaring fault is the objective lens covers, which engage only with concerted effort—though it hardly matters because you’ll lose them within days due to how easily they pull off. It’s a small shortcoming, however, that you’ll forgive the second that you bring this binocular to your eyes.



2. Cabela’s Intrepid HD

Score: 86.4 • $800 • • Specs: 10×42 • 6.1×5″ • 29.5 oz. • 16.3mm eye relief • 4.2mm exit pupil • 340′ FOV • 9.8′ close focus

Lowdown: A Cabela’s-branded binocular made by Vortex, the Intrepid HD got off to a sluggish start in our test with a mediocre ergonomics score, due to a somewhat slick finish, a slightly awkward feel in the hand, and a focus wheel that wasn’t exactly rough but wasn’t smooth either. It made up for those shortcomings, however, with stellar scores in almost every other test category. Resolution and perceived image quality were just a tick below the Sig’s; low-light performance was better—a 9.9 out of 10. The Intrepid’s diopter ad
justment, which locks and features clicks, was one of the best of all the test models. A thorough soaking had almost no effect on the perceived image, and after an

[caption id="attachment_4335" align="alignright" width="595"]prismaticos-vanguard-endeavor-ed-iv-8x42 Vanguard Endeavor ED IV[/caption]

hour in the deep freeze, the Intrepid was one of only two models to still deliver a serviceable picture with noticeable detail.

3. KILLER DEAL: Vanguard Endeavor ED IV

Score: 86.3 • $499 • • Specs: 8×42 • 5.8×5″ • 28.8 oz. • 19mm eye relief • 5.25mm exit pupil • 377′ FOV • 5.9′ close focus

Lowdown: This was a surprise. Priced on the bubble between the mid and low range, there was no reason for us to think the Endeavor ED IV would hang with models costing $300 to $500 more. But it did—and in many of the categories that matter most to hunters, including resolution, image quality, and low-light performance. The Endeavor pulled fine detail from both sun and shade, and delivered a clean, immersive picture. Another open-bridge model with a soft rubber coating, it too feels good in the hand. The focus wheel is big and smooth, and the diopter adjustment locks. The Endeavor did fall slightly behind the other top contenders for design and build and finished in the middle of the pack for weather resistance, but at this price, it’s a versatile, quality hunting tool and a standout value.

4. Meopta MeoPro HD

Score: 85 • $1,035 • • Specs: 8×52 • 7×5.6″ • 38.8 oz. • 18.5mm eye relief • 7mm exit pupil • 315′ FOV • 7.2′ closefocus

Lowdown: This is a gorgeous binocular. The only model to notch perfect scores in design and build, low-light performance, and ergonomics, the MeoPro HD narrowly missed the top pick for perceived image quality, too. Everything on this binocular, from the rubber finish to the ultrasmooth adjustments, has the feel of quality and precision workmanship. So why is it fourth? First, the MeoPro did not resolve detail quite as well as some others, but mainly its greater size and weight hampers versatility and may well confine it to the truck for many hunters. And its price may put it out of reach. Ultimately, the MeoPro may not be the best all

[caption id="attachment_4334" align="alignleft" width="547"]Leupold BX-3 Mohave Pro Guide Leupold BX-3 Mohave Pro Guide[/caption]

-around option on this list, but if you’re after a great low-light binocular for the truck or blind, and you don’t mind paying extra for gear that will last for decades, this one’s for you.

5. Leupold BX-3 Mohave Pro Guide

Score: 84.9 • $599 (as shown) • • Specs: 10×50 • 6.6×5.1″ • 29 oz. • 18.8mm eye relief • 4.9mm exit pupil • 283′ FOV • 10′ close focus

Lowdown: The Mohave scored 10s in resolution and build. In terms of detail in the middle of the image—say, for counting tines or duck ID—no model here did better. A tight FOV and some visual artifacts hurt, as did so-so low-light performance. We loved the ergonomics and the Kryptic finish.

6. Steiner HX

Score: 82.4 • $1,000 • • Specs: 10×42 • 5.8×5″ • 28.5 oz. • 16.5mm eye relief • 4.2mm exit pupil • 326′ FOV • 8′ close focus

Lowdown: The HX is a precision-built tool that will handle bad weather and shine at dusk and dawn. Resolution and image quality were not quite as good as the top models. And it’s pricey. We can’t rank by reputation, but Steiner does have a name for making glass that lasts, which may help justify the cost.

7. Minox BL 10×44 HD

Score: 82.3 • $579 • • Specs: 10×44 • 5.7×4.9″ • 26.7 oz. • 17mm eye relief • 4.4mm exit pupil • 345′ FOV • 8.2′ close focus

Lowdown: Hold the Minox BL in your hands, and you want to own it. It’s compact, comfortable, and the adjustments are positive and smooth. Resolution, image quality, and build weren’t quite equal to the ergonomics, though. Weather resistance was so-so, but low-light performance was very good.

8. Vortex Diamondback

[caption id="attachment_4337" align="alignright" width="549"]Nikon Prostaff 3S Nikon Prostaff 3S[/caption]

Score: 78.5 • $189 • • Specs: 10×42 • 5.9×5.1″ • 21.8 oz. • 16mm eye relief • 4.2mm exit pupil • 345′ FOV • 5′ close focus

Lowdown: The inexpensive Diamondback comes with a significant drop in resolution, and it scored last in weather resistance. Still, despite noticeable field curvature, testers judged image quality higher than the other sub-$200 models, and build proved as good as some costing much more

9. KILLER DEAL: Nikon Prostaff 3S

Score: 75.4 • $129 • • Specs: 10×42 • 5.9×4.9″ • 20.4 oz. • 15.7mm eye relief • 4.2mm exit pupil • 367′ FOV • 9.8′ close focus

Lowdown: In terms of resolving detail, the ProStaff 3S performed with the very best. It showed significant chromatic aberration, though, and image quality wasn’t great. Neither was build or low-light performance. But there’s no cheaper binocular better at counting far-off kickers in decent light.

10. Bushnell Trophy Xtreme

Score: 70 • $180 • • Specs: 10×50 • 6.4×5.4″ • 32 oz. • 17mm eye relief • 5mm exit pupil • 315′ FOV • 10′ close focus

[caption id="attachment_4338" align="alignleft" width="461"]Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Bushnell Trophy Xtreme[/caption]

Lowdown: If the light is low, the Trophy Xtreme will let you see deer after the Nikon Prostaff 3S has gone dark. You’ll give up detail during the rest of the day, but image quality is about the same. The binocular feels bulky, and it finished last in build quality. But with its smooth adjustments, it’s a good value.


After weighing and measuring the binoculars, we evaluated them in the following eight categories: Resolution Zavislan set up two poster boards, one in the sun and another in deep shade, each with 1951 USAF Resolution Test Charts in varying contrasts, as well as two color artifact tests. From 100 yards away, testers recorded values corresponding to detail resolved and color shift perceived. Perceived Image Quality Testers judged each model’s image for ease of use, feeling of immersion, clarity, and visual artifacts, including stray light and apparent field curvature (or blurring at the edges). Low-Light Performance This category aggregated exit pupil, deep-shade resolution, and light transmission, as measured by Zavislan. Design & Build Zavislan evaluated features and subjected each unit to a drop test; he also measured collimation and focus backlash and wander. Weather Resistance We submersed each binocular in a 5-gallon bucket, and then froze them for an hour, rating the effects each time on image and functionality. Ergonomics We judged overall feel in the hand, as well as the quality, feel, and functionality of the focus wheel, eyepieces, diopter adjustment, and lens covers. Handling The lighter and more compact, the better. Value Performance divided by price. We scored each binocular on a 1 to 10 scale for every category, and then doubled the key ones of resolution and image quality for a total possible score of 100.—D.H.


5 Steps to Long-Range Rifle Accuracy

It seems like every rifle shooter suddenly wants to be an “American Sniper.” We used to think we were real riflemen when younger, taking the occasional mule deer or pronghorn at 400-plus yards. Though we practiced obsessively, we really were stretching things with the light rounds we were shooting then. But modern technology has made longer shots feasible, and by this I also mean more ethical. But there’s more to long-range shooting than simply taking longer shots.

Proper equipment and preparation is paramount.

If you want to join the long-range crowd, you have some work to do to get ready.

Long-Range Prerequisites
First let’s review a couple inconvenient realities. “Long range” is relative. For some, this might mean 400 to 500 yards. Make no mistake, that’s a long poke by any measure. For others going long means much longer shots. Ultimately, how far really depends on invested practice, and being realistic about every shot. Wind drift is very real and an important factor when ranges stretch. While we don’t have the space here to delve into particulars, it’s a subject well worth studying if long-range shooting is your goal.

Long-range shooting also places a premium on proper shooting fundamentals. If you’re a mediocre to average shot at 100 to 200 yards, adding many hundreds of yards will only make matters worse. Shooting sub-1-inch/100-yard groups off the bench is only a start. Seek assistance from an experienced shooter if needed, and keep in mind these five things.

1. The Rifle0244
Cartridge choice really depends on what game is targeted and how far you hope to push things. Long shots on groundhogs become 400 yards when shooting a .223 Remington, and 500-plus-yard shots at coyotes when using something in the .22-250 Remington class. For lighter big game at less than 550 yards, hotter .257s (.25-’06 or .257 Weatherby), .264/6.5mms (6.5 Creedmoor or 260 Remington), .277s (.270 Winchester), .284/7mms (.284 Winchester or 7mm Remington Magnum) or standard .308s (.308 Winchester or .30-’06 Springfield) are well suited. When ranges stretch beyond 500 yards — on any sized game — and especially on elk-sized animals, the hottest 30-calibers (300 Ultra Mag, for example) and .338s (up to the Lapua) are indicated. Those 1,000-yard shots many consider the Holy Grail of shooting demand the most powerful cartridges available, the .338 Lapua representing a minimum. It’s important to understand that bullet energy bleeds off quickly past 500 or 600 yards. For example, t 1,000 yards, the .300 Winchester Magnum shooting 180-grain bullets carries the muzzle energy of .38 Special shooting a 140-grain round nose. Give that a moment to sink in. There’s no such thing as overkill, so the biggest cartridges used on smaller big game isn’t verboten.

The long-range rifle should have fast (1:7 to 1:9) rifling twist and an adjustable trigger. Standard production rifling is generally 1:10 to 1:12 to handle light- to standard-weight bullets. When addressing distant targets, you want long, heavy-for-caliber bullets to assure maximum ballistic coefficients and retained downrange energy. Such pills require faster twist rates to assure stability and reliable accuracy. Savage Arms, for instance, offers such rifling in top-end Varmint and Specialty Series rifles. Or, have a gunsmith install an aftermarket barrel on your favorite rifle, normally for less than $500, all in.

A crisp, clean trigger breaking at around 2½ to 3½ pounds also contributes to long-range accuracy. Adjustable triggers are the most common avenue. Savage’s better rifles come with an awesome AccuTrigger. Drop-in aftermarket models like those from Timney Triggers are another obvious solution, normally for less than $250, including instillation.

2. Better Ammo
Long-range shooting naturally leads to reloading. Factory ammo has become awesomely accurate, but only relatively, and only in the right firearm. Reloading allows you to find the precise load your rifle prefers, turning 1-inch groups into ½-inch groups. This may seem like hair splitting, but compound that ½-inch by many hundreds of yards and the difference becomes significant. Reloading also allows you to invest in the volume shooting necessary to become lo0206ng-range proficient, without breaking the bank. The big cartridges, in particular, can ring up at $3.50 to $4 a shot with premium factory rounds, while reloading can reduce costs to a buck a pull.

Reloading also allows you to choose heavier, long-for-caliber bullets (hence the rifling-twist caveat) including higher ballistic coefficients resulting in flatter trajectories, better wind-bucking abilities (judging range is easier than wind drift) and weight to deliver knock-out punches after bleeding half of its velocity. Long-range shooters once relied on match bullets for such work; bullets not designed for big game. Today, manufacturers offer long-range hunting bullets made to cleanly dispatch big game. Hornady’s ELD-X, Barnes LRX or Berger Hunting bullets are prime examples.
3. Long-Range Glass
To make all of this come together you must absolutely know the range. Purchase the best laser rangefinder you can afford, while understanding advertised ranging capabilities are only viable on highly-reflective objects — billboards, metal buildings or maybe a vertical cliff. Whatever the stated capabilities of a given unit, you’ll likely lose at least 50 percent in the real world. My best advice: Invest in a quality pair of range-finding binoculars. They provide more precise aiming via increased magnification, include higher-quality micro processors and are easier to hold steady (the slightest tremor causes returning laser bounces to miss the receiving mechanism). Bushnell’s Fusion 1 Mile binoculars are my choice, and the most affordable rangefinder/ binocular around.

I once scoffed at scopes greater than 6X for big game. For 95 percent of the shooting “average” riflemen do, I’ll stand by that. When ranges stretch (especially on small varmints), you’ll want more magnification, and exposed windage and elevation turrets. How much power you need obviously hinges on target size and how far you’ll be shooting. You can’t aim confidently if you can’t see your target clearly. Crosshairs that obscure more target than necessary should be avoided.

There’s a world of options, but some of the scopes sitting atop my favorite varmint rifles serve as illustration. Vortex’s Viper PST 6-24X50mm with EBR-1 crosshairs offers ultra-fine crosshairs (illuminated when needed), MOA internal hash marks and precise ¼-click external turrets. This is a scope precise enough I once shot a tiny ground squirrel at 468 yards — with a .17 Hornet. Bushnell’s Elite 6500 4.5-30x50mm with Mil-Dot crosshairs graces my custom .22-250 Remington. This scope includes precise crosshairs and turrets, and allows me to pull off 400- to 450-yard shots on ground squirrels with relative ease. Finally, Trijicon’s AccuPoint 5-20x50mm Mil-Dot is bulletproof, precise as a Swiss watch and the naturally-illuminated aiming point is a plus while concentrating on difficult shots. All include 30mm tubes, which provide additional travel for longer shots — and retail for around $1,000.0319

I anchor scopes to zero MOA bases. When going extra long (those 1,000-yard shots), 20 to 40 MOA bases (tilting the barrel slightly skyward for added range capabilities) and 32mm tubes provide greater range potential.

4. Rest Assured
All of this precision amounts to nothing without a proper rest. While shooting the smallest varmints, I prefer adjustable rifle cradles. I’ve shot a tractor-trailer load of long-range varmints using MTM Case-Gard’s Predator and K-Zone Shooting Rests. They’re length adjustable and include screw-adjustable front cradles for quick elevation adjustments. When I get really serious, I set these rests across a Big Game Swivel Action Shooting Bench (available through Cabela’s). The swiveling seat/table allows quick response to sudden shot opportunities, and scanning for targets while glued to the scope.
In big-game hunting fields such convenience obviously isn’t practical. Shooting sticks, even bipods, just don’t provide the degree of steadiness needed for the longest shots. You need an unmovable object (stump, rock, etc.) and something forgiving to place beneath your rifle stock (daypack, rolled jacket, hiking boot in a pinch). No shot should even be considered until you’ve located and created a steady rest. In long-range shooting situations, you normally have plenty of time.

5. Gaining Confidence
Shooting long comes with greater responsibilities. Gaining confidence is vital to successful long-range big-game shooting. This starts with practice. Start at the shooting range, banging the 500-yard ram until it becomes effortless. Shoot in the field, on breezy days, across canyons, filling discarded jugs with water to make shooting more exciting. Still, the best quality practice comes through small varmint shooting. While young eastern New Mexico jackrabbits are what made me a deadly big-game shot, today, high-volume ground squirrel and prairie dog shooting has become a means to an end. Believe me; a bevy of 500-round days sniping these diminutive non-game pests hones your shooting skills like nothing else. It also goes a long way toward establishing realistic and responsible maximum effective ranges to be applied to big-game hunting situations.


Older posts