Search Me!

Think about it...

Friday, April 10, 2009

HOM: The Rifle

I've mentioned that Dad bought me my first big game rifle, a Winchester model 94 in .30-30. I used it for a couple of years and then got the itch for a more powerful rifle and better sights. Winchester had just been taken over by the bean counters and their ads for the "New, Improved" Winchester Model 70 sucked me in. Yeah, I was naive in those days, I actually believed the advertising. I bought one in .30-06 at Capp's Sporting Goods and mounted a Lyman 4x scope with a four-minute dot in Buehler mounts. ("four minute dot" meant that the aiming point was a small dot in the scope that covered four inches at one hundred yards.) I bought the scope & mounts in Missoula at Bob Ward & Sons. The scope and mounts were a pretty good choice for the hunting I did. The rifle was okay, but the more I used it the less I liked it. The space around the free-floating barrel was wide enough for squirrels to store nuts in and collected snow & crud. The accuracy was only so-so, and I finally decided that it was butt-ugly besides. Yeah, the infatuation was over. When I got out of the Navy and had that last check burning a hole in my pocket I stopped at Ronan Sporting Goods and looked at that new Ruger rifle I had been reading good things about, the model 77RS that came with iron sights and built-in scope mounts. It was true love at first sight! I bought the rifle and a Bushnell 1.5X-4.5X scope with a pop-up post. (For fine shooting it had crosshairs, but in bad light or close quarters you could pop up the easy-to-see post.) It was a .30-06, and the caliber was all it had in common with my Model 70. The rifle's performance lived up to its looks, it was dead accurate. I put a mix of 150 grain, 165 grain and 180 grain handloads & factory loads through it and it put the whole wild mix of bullets into a three inch circle at one hundred yards, and it's quite rare for a rifle to group such different bullet and loads so consistently. I used it for years, sold it when the divorce & its aftermath hit, and then bought it back again some years later. It had been restored to like-new condition and is still that way, retired to a corner of the gun case. This was the rifle I bagged the big buck, the bear, and a lot of other game with. It has a lot of great memories attached. The scope, not so much. That scope came with a twenty-year guarantee, and after five or six years the post stopped working -- instead of popping neatly into place in the middle of the scope it slanted off at a 45 degree angle. I sent it back to Bushnell and in a few weeks it came back in the same condition with a note attached saying they no longer repaired that model. Yeah, I was naive in those days, I actually believed the guarantee! TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)