Q: What is the most demanding game animal for a rifleman?
–Cole Karsins, Pine Bluff, Arkansas
A: Your question is vague and imprecise. You need to focus. In terms of which North American big-game animal have I seen the most lead flung at in vain, it’s the antelope. That’s because they’re small, and always in the open, and people think you have to shoot at them from a long way off. The highest number of consecutive misses at one goat that I know of is 19, at a yearling buck that was 100 yards away.
Q: What would you suggest for a newbie looking to reload? I’m leaning toward a setup from Hornady, but it’s a pretty intimidating step.
-Creek Chub, from the Gun Nuts blog
A: All the equipment out there is good. What you need to do first is find an experienced handloader who will answer the hundred and one questions that will come up the first day, and thereafter. Find someone who has all 10 fingers and is willing to share his knowledge.
Q: I don’t know what to get my wife for our anniversary, a .280 Remington or a cedar chest. Your choice?
–Jesse Bratton, Ephraim, Utah
A: On one hand, it’s tough to fold up blankets and store them in a .280 Remington. On the other, the effective range of a cedar chest is what, across the room? I vote for the .280.
Q: Why do hunters care about the sectional density of a bullet, which relates to its ability to penetrate only if the bullet remains cylindrical? Because rifle bullets mushroom on impact, isn’t sectional density irrelevant?
–Bammer, from the Gun Nuts blog
A: Hunters need to care about something, just as baseball fans need to care about batting averages, or football fanatics about quarterback efficiency ratings. Sectional density is as silly and worthless a concern as any I can think of, so it does very nicely. Personally, I don’t pay any attention to it.
Q: What do you think of hearing enhancers? My hearing aids are not made for the subtle sounds of game animals.
–Leon Cox, Madison, Ohio
A: I have lots of experience here. What you don’t want is the kind of hearing enhancers you get for $40 over the counter. What you do want is the kind you get at an audiologist, who will make a mold of your ear so the things fit your ear canal, and therefore work. Mine are made by Magnum Ear. I think they cost around $1,000 when I got them, and I could not hunt without them. They let you hear all the little noises but block out rifle noise.
Q: Is there any reason to choose a standard .270 over a .270 WSM? What are the best barrel lengths for each?
–Ryan Peterson, Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada
A: I can think of one reason to choose the latter over the former–200 fps more velocity. I can think of the following reasons to go with a standard .270: a cheaper and far wider selection of ammo, longer barrel life, less kick, less muzzle blast, and the final one, the fact that a standard .270 does just fine with a 22-inch barrel, but a .270 WSM needs 2 inches more tube to make any sense.
From the May, 2013 issue of Field & Stream