Tag Archives: long range

The Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter

From Gunmade.com


Mossberg has been well-known for making firearms for over a hundred years. My first Mossberg experience was a shotgun my brother got decades ago. Since, Mossberg has recently joined the rifle market with several models, and today we are taking a look at one of them: The Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter chambered in 6.5 PRC.

I’ve been around the precision rifle block a few times, so I thought it was time to see what these new Mossberg rifles were all about. The Patriot line of rifles has something for everyone, with too many different models to mention and chambered in almost every popular caliber.

With all these different models, you should be able to find something in your budget. They can be pretty affordable, with models priced as low as $380. Besides being a good buy, they also have a list of features that will get many excited. Features like detachable box magazines and factory-threaded barrels make these rifles popular with the American hunting public.

mossberg patriot lr hunter review
The Patriot LR with a Patriot Valley Arms Muzzle Brake is an excellent combination

Unboxing the Patriot

I was eager to see how the Patriot compared to similar rifles I’d played with in the past. I enjoy rifles of all types, so this one surely fits right in. The Patriot LR model is at the higher end of the Patriot price line, so I expected it to have the best Patriot features.

I opened the box to find the gray synthetic stock under plastic. As I pulled the Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter from its protective bag, I was impressed with the attractive finish. The helically fluted bolt came in its own little baggy, and I quickly installed it, completing the rifle.

I was thrilled that Mossberg had fluted and threaded the barrel from the factory. The fluting helps reduce weight, while the threaded barrel allows you to install various muzzle accouterments, such as recoil-reducing muzzle brakes or suppressors.

I inspected the rifle to see what else there was, such as the blade safety on the trigger, something I’m not a huge fan of, but it’s also not a big deal.

mossberg patriot lr hunter review with hornady match ammo
The rifle all set up and ready to shoot

The Patriot uses a detachable box magazine made from polymer and allows four 6.5 PRC cartridgesto be carried inside. A two-position safety sits on the right side of the bolt-shroud.

Features like these make the Patriot LR suitable for aspiring long-range shooters and hunters. According to Mossberg, with modern manufacturing techniques, shooters will get performance far above the price point of the Patriot LR.


Caliber 6.5 PRC
Capacity 4+1
Barrel Length 24 inches
Twist 1:8
Trigger LBA Adjustable (2-7 pounds)
Stock Monte Carlo Hunting Stock
Length 44.25 inches
Weight 7.25 ounces


  • Affordably priced
  • Great shooting performance (accurate and reliable)
  • Threaded barrel
  • Adjustable trigger
  • Fluted barrel & bolt
  • Detachable box magazine
  • Includes Picatinny scope base
  • Dual sling studs
  • Has a slightly “cheaper” look to it
  • The magazine feels kind of cheap


To get a good feel for the Patriot, and its intended purpose, I took the rifle and some ammo into the Rocky Mountains nearby. I figured nothing would be a better test for a hunting rifle than to conquer the distances and conditions of the mountains where we hunt big game.

I mounted a Riton 3 Primal 3-18X44 rifle scope via Warne 30mm rings. With the rifle boresighted, I set up a target at a hundred yards, confirmed by my laser rangefinder.

I had only brought one type of ammunition because it was all I could find at the local shop. Shooting the Hornady Match load with 147 ELDM bullets would prove to be a great combination with the Patriot.

After a couple of correcting shots, I shot the first five-shot group at one hundred yards. The first five-shot group rendered just over 1 MOA, but it also showed that the rifle was undoubtedly capable of even better accuracy.

Much of the testing was done shooting from the prone position at 100 yards. This was for the initial testing, but there was plenty of additional shooting from improvised positions, much like those that hunters would use during their engagements.

mossberg patriot lr hunter review with hornady match ammo field test
The 6.5 PRC is an excellent choice for these big Rocky Mountain spaces

Shooting all Day

We spent the afternoon shooting several boxes of ammunition across the sunny canyons where we often hunt deer and elk. Hitting deer vital-sized targets at distances as far as 800 yards proved very doable.

The majority of our shooting was hiking around from one place to another to get shots at different targets from different angles and wind deflections.

mossberg patriot lr hunter
Out for a hike with the Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter
Shop Mossberg firearms at Brownells
Firearms Depot also has Mossberg firearms
Sportsman’s Guide is another good source for Mossberg


Accuracy testing was done with a suppressor installed, as was most of our shooting. I mean, how rude is it to shoot unsuppressed?

We also shot the rifle using a Patriot Valley Arms Jet Blast muzzle brake during our testing. It calmed the rifle down to very modest recoil, as did adding a suppressor. Thank goodness for threaded muzzles!

Shooting the rifle became familiar and comfortable, and it didn’t take long to get used to the trigger safety or the clunk of the bolt closing. The four-round detachable box magazine was effortless to load, though it did feel a little cheap for my taste.

Running the rifle’s bolt was smooth and easy, but it seemed just a little unrefined and loose. Regardless, it worked flawlessly throughout my testing.


I experienced no failures or malfunctions while shooting the Patriot LR.

The simplicity of bolt action rifles means they should work every time. The closest thing to a malfunction we had was when the mag dropped out at one point. It’s likely the magazine simply wasn’t seated fully, so we can chalk it up to shooter error.

magazine 6.5 PRC cartridges
The Patriot’s detachable box magazine


The only ammunition I had available was the Hornady Match 147 grain ammunition. It performed as well as I had hoped, and I’m not worried about other ammo types. We shoot Hornady around here, and I won’t apologize for it.

mossberg patriot lr hunter with riton 3 primal optic mounted
The Hornady Match ammunition shot fantastic from the rifle


For a rifle at this price, I think the Patriot shot exceptionally well. I’ve tested far more expensive rifles that didn’t shoot this well. One MOA is acceptable for most rifles.

I think that the Patriot will shoot even better with a small amount of work on the handloading bench. Furthermore, it would probably shoot better still with some cleaning up of the trigger and some work with the stock.

mossberg patriot lr hunter test groupings
A typical five-shot group from the Patriot


The rifle felt just fine. I have almost no complaints other than those I’ve mentioned already. For the most part, I think the average American hunter would be more than happy with the rifle.



It’s about time manufacturers get on this train; Fuddery needs to become extinct. Many people now use suppressors, muzzle brakes, and other devices.

I love seeing rifles come with threaded muzzles. It allows you to customize the rifle to your shooting activities.

The â…ť-24 threads were a perfect fit for my muzzle devices, and they were protected by a knurled thread protector when bare.

 threaded muzzle device
The threaded muzzle allows for easy installation of your favorite muzzle devices


The Patriot LR’s trigger is adjustable from 2-7 pounds, which is not a bad spread. I prefer the lighter pull weights; it’s an easy crutch for shooting a little better. Even though I’m not a big fan of trigger safeties, this one was no better or worse than any of the others I have used.  I wish manufacturers would quit adding them, though.

 trigger close up
If only that trigger safety was removed!


The Monte Carlo stock fit me well and didn’t require anything special to shoot comfortably. The stock felt like it didn’t contribute significantly to the rifle’s overall weight, which is nice.

The aluminum bedding pillars are part of what helps the Patriot perform well, mating the action properly to the stock. The addition of double front sling studs was also a nice touch, allowing you to use a Harris bipod without losing your slingplacement.


The handsome fluting of the bolt doesn’t just look good, it also provides some benefits while running the bolt. Reduced friction and debris clearing are also potential benefits of the design.

I do feel like there was missed an opportunity to make it even better by improving the bolt-knob and finish.

mossberg patriot lr hunter bolt action controls
The fluted bolt of the Patriot LR, notice extractor and ejector details

Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter Report CARD


No malfunctions were experienced during testing.


It feels just like it looks in the pictures if that makes sense to you. It has a good grip angle, proper cheek-weld, wide front grip area, etc. Nothing out of this world, but everything you need.


Being its own design, it may take a little time for the aftermarket to come up with as many accessories as other rifle models I enjoy. To be fair, the Patriot seems pretty good, just the way it came.


There was only one thing I would have liked to improve on if given the chance; I would have finished the bolt handle the same as everything else. It looked odd for the whole barreled action to have a satin-like finish, and the bolt handle and knob looked like some other flat finish.

VALUE (8.5/10)

I think the accuracy and performance of the Mossberg Patriot put it at a solid 8.5. It has good accuracy, comfortable ergos, and almost everything a long-range hunter on a budget would need.


mossberg patriot lr hunter scoped in
With a good scope, the Patriot LR will be a fantastic long-range hunting rifle

Conclusion on the Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter

I liked the Mossberg PatriotLR more than I thought I would. I was concerned that the accuracy wouldn’t meet my expectations, but the Patriot liberated my mind from such concerns. The Patriot brings some pretty great features at an affordable price, and it looks good enough for people to take pride in.

The Patriot LR would make an excellent entry-level long-range rifle, particularly for hunting. Most hunters would welcome its lightweight and comfortable stock, and with things like a detachable box mag and a threaded muzzle, there is some added value from Mossberg.

The Patriot would be a cost-effective place to start your search if you are looking for a new hunting rifle, particularly for long-range shooting.


Read more rifle reviews here



As so many new optics companies flood the market with rifle scopes, it’s a great time for shooting nerds like me to get their hands full of options.

One of the more recent companies to arrive on the scene is Maven Optics, and today I will be inspecting one of their long-range riflescopes, the Maven RS.3 is a 5-30X50mm rifle scope. It promises to deliver high-quality images combined with the ballistic tools needed to give hunters and shooters an elite performance at any range.

I’ve been like a tick on the ass of the precision rifle community for a couple of decades now, and it has been incredible to see the changes achieved in this space. I remember when I first got into precision rifle shooting, and the options were very limited.

It was a different landscape than what we have today, where there are incredibly high-functioning options that are surprisingly inexpensive. This is no doubt attributable to imported products from all over, but mainly Asia.

The Maven RS.3 is made from Japanese components, which in my experience, has proven to be both affordable and optically sound. I’ve been able to use and test a great many of the options on the market today, so I look forward to sharing what I’ve found with today’s subject.

After a concise introduction to the scope, I already have a pretty good feeling about it.


The RS.3 is Maven’s premium option, and it comes full of features that shooters once dreamed about. It’s quality optics and desirable features come at a price that would surprise some of the other old-timers like myself.

The sport of precision rifle shooting has grown exponentially over the last twenty years, and growing right alongside it has been long-range hunting.

Both practices rely heavily on the ability to hit an often small target at ranges that, until recently, were quite inconceivable. After a short overindulgence in Maven’s marketing material, I get the feeling that they wish to supply both of these types of shooters.

Not that your traditional hunter/shooter wouldn’t benefit from such a rifle scope, but it may be more money than you need to spend if you are the type of shooter who rarely reaches beyond conventional distances.

Long-range rifle scopes like the RS.3 are optimized for tactical-style shooting and long-range hunting. These activities require correction for varying ballistic performances of the cartridges they are mated to.

So with that in mind, it’s important to consider the rifle and cartridge and the intended purpose to ensure you get the best tool for the job.

maven RS.3 5-30X50 mounted on tikka t3 long range test
The Maven Scope performed well on my Tikka 25 Creedmoor


Magnification 5x to 30x
Tube Diameter 30mm
Objective Lens 50mm
Weight 26.9 ounces
Focal Plane First
Length 13.03 inches
Turret Values 1/10 MRAD
Reticle SHR-MIL
Warranty Lifetime


  • High quality optical performance
  • Front focal plane
  • Compact size
  • Milling reticle
  • Smooth controls
  • Zero-stop
  • Six MRAD turrets
  • Loses brightness at 30x


As I lifted the Maven from its curious egg-carton-like box my curiosity had peaked. I had seen Maven scopes for years, on other’s rifles and in countless pictures.

I hadn’t really formed an opinion yet, but based on what I had vaguely seen and heard, people were happy with them. I inspected the RS.3, and gave the controls a cursory twist to see that everything had arrived intact.

From there, I went outside to have a look at the world around me, as presented by Maven. The image I saw was actually better than I might have expected. Very little aberration around the edges and a pleasantly bright picture that felt great to my eyes. I played with the focus a bit to see how clear I could get the picture at these neighborhood ranges.

Like a true reticle geek, I was immediately enticed by the many subtensions that adorned the posts. There were half MIL and whole MIL marks, out to five, where it turned to more course measurements. The open center housed a tiny dot that, even at 30X, seemed quite fine, and would work great for very precise shot placement.

But it was time to get this little scope ringed up and on a rifle. I mounted it in a 20 MOA canted AADland Engineering cantilever mount, with the plan to mount the scope to one of my favorite rifles, a Tikka T3 chambered in 25 Creedmoor.

I was a bit worried about how it would all line up, but as it turns out, everything was a pretty close fit.

As I set the rifle up to boresight the combination, I noticed a condition that would perhaps aid in shooting with the scope further than anticipated. I’d forgotten that the Tikka already had a 20MOA scope base installed, so the total cant on the scope was 40MOA.

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to zero it at my desired range, but as it happens, it worked out perfectly zeroed near the bottom of the scopes erector travel. This would allow me to use the full elevation capabilities of the RS.3. So, with plans to get way out there, I headed up into the Rocky Mountains to test this scope in the very country it was designed for.

It only took a few shots to get into a groove with the Maven. I really liked the bright image in the morning sun.

Using the tiny point at the center of the crosshair, I was able to adjust my zero till it was as good as it was going to get. The various holdover and windage points would come in very handy for holding wind and measuring corrections.

Many folks use the reticle sub tensions for various purposes, but for me, the main purpose is measuring where I hit compared to where I aimed. This allows for rapid corrections, which are very necessary in the field, particularly when hunting.

maven RS.3 5-30X50 mounted on tikka t3 long range test jeff wood
My Cole-TAC suppressor cover kept mirage down

With the sun shining, I shot several targets across a great spectrum of distances from one-hundred-fifty yards all the way out to one-thousand yards.

This is where I confirmed one of my suspicions that I’ve seen plenty of times before. Every scope I have ever used has a reduced image quality at maximum power. The disparity is often more obvious with optics that are lower priced. This is why you get what you pay for is even more true with glass.

I’ve found that at the highest 5-10% of magnification, most scopes become dark, and details become less obvious. The Maven was certainly not immune to this phenomenon; I found that at its highest ranges of power, it was darker and harder to make out the finer details.

But as I mentioned, I have seen this with nearly every scope out there, and the Maven was no worse than most scopes I’ve used before. In fact, being a 5-30 magnification scope means that at 25x it looks outstanding, whereas comparable 5-25 scopes will likely not look as good when viewed at 25x.

The six-MIL turrets are certainly serviceable, though I am a bigger fan of ten or higher MIL per revolution of the turret. This becomes more of an issue the further you shoot; if the distance you are shooting requires multiple revolutions of the turret to get the corrective elevation, the likelihood of losing track of which turn you are on increases.

maven rs.3 hunting
The rifle and scope combination made an excellent choice for my favorite hunt

It is for this purpose that some use indicators to show which revolution you are on, or another alternative is a zero-stop.

The folks at Maven chose to go the zero-stop route, which is not a bad idea as it is probably the simpler and more affordable way to go. The zero-stop allows you to set a hard zero for your elevation turret. This is very handy as you don’t even have to look while you turn the elevation turret down until it stops. And once there, you know the scope is back at its zero range setting.

There are many different ways to put a zero-stop on an elevation turret, and the design Maven uses isn’t a bad option. It allowed me to have a hard zero that is easily changed using only a small screwdriver tool included with the scope.

The parallax/side focus of the RS.3 was very functional, and I was surprised at how close it would function. What I mean by that is most precision rifle scopes tend to keep their range in the fifty-yard range out to infinity.

The Maven RS.3 can be focused as near as twenty yards, and removing parallax on targets that close would make it a good choice for those fancy new air rifles.

maven RS.3 5-30X50 mounted on tikka t3 profile photo
This combination would be an excellent long range Rocky Mountain hunting rifle


During the course of testing out the Maven RS.3, I experienced no issues with its functions. All the controls are easy to operate and with just the right amount of resistance. While I suppose I could have given it a beating with a larger caliber rifle, I have no reason to expect it would have any problems doing so.

As we have become accustomed to the modern optics market, Maven offers a lifetime warranty. So it is good to know that should you experience an issue, they promise to stand behind it.


I was quite happy with the performance of the RS.3 as far as precision is concerned. The measurements input on the turrets were accurate and commensurate to the values in the reticle.

Being a 6X zoom, I was a little worried that the reticle would become too thick at maximum power, but it was still fine enough for accurate use.


The Maven felt great in both my hands and on my rifle. Comparably priced scopes and including the RS.3 can often have a cheap feel, by which I mean you feel like it could be broken by using too much force on the controls and such.

I certainly don’t recommend abusing your rifle scope in such a way, but I do have and have had scopes that I never felt like I could damage by forcing the controls. And even dropping a fifteen-pound rifle on concrete didn’t ruin the turrets.

That said, I do not expect the Maven or comparably priced scope to endure such torture. Such a performance is more appropriate for scopes costing two and three times what the RS.3 costs.

For the asking price of the RS.3, I think the scope feels great. There are few things more that I could ask of it without adding significantly to its market cost.

maven RS.3 5-30X50 mounted on tikka t3 profile photo


maven RS.3 5-30X50 reticle view


The SHR-MIL front focal plane reticle was a good combination of adequate subtentions without getting too busy.

I like that they numbered many of the reticle points, as it can often get confusing when you are shooting quickly. I suppose there are some folks in the PRS community that may find the reticle a little simplistic for their purpose, which is certainly subjective.

For me, it was fine, and for my favorite activity which is hunting I find it to be ideal.

This is the first scope of its kind that I have reviewed that didn’t feature an illuminated reticle. Some may find this to be a downside. In my opinion, it’s not a big deal. I can count on my hand the times I needed an illuminated reticle over the last twenty years.

maven RS.3 5-30X50 zero stop


The zero-stop, as I mentioned above, is a very handy feature to ensure you know when your scope is set at its original zero POI. The zero-stop functions by having a lockable ring threaded below the turret.

Once the rifle is zeroed, you turn the ring up to the bottom of the turret as a hard stop. The ring can be secured using a screw to tighten it down to prevent movement.

The typical set screws that secure the turret to the erector screw underneath have been cunningly replaced by using a toolless cap on the turrets. You can’t even see it, but the top of each turret’s textured grip area is the caps that can be removed by gripping the turret and loosening the top of it (lefty loosey), once removed you can lift the turret off and set it where you want it before resecuring it with the thumb-screw at the top of the turret.

maven RS.3 5-30X50 30mm tube


The 30mm tube has become pretty standard among long-range scopes and is quickly being replaced by the 34mm tube.

The 30mm tube used in the Maven RS.3 allows for greater internal travel than the traditional one-inch tubes your Dad used. This gives the Maven RS.3 a 23MRAD total travel, which is pretty good.



I had no problems with the Maven RS.3 while shooting with it. All the controls worked great. The only thing I would have preferred would have been 10MIL turrets and perhaps a tiny bit more resistance on the turrets. During a hike, the rifle slung over my pack caused my windage to move a couple of clicks.


Ergos were great with this scope, easily gripped surfaces, and intuitive operation was great.


Maven does offer custom options for the scope, which is pretty cool. You can add custom colors to various controls as well as custom engraving.


It is a great-looking little scope! The finish and quality are great for the price.

VALUE (9/10)

The RS.3 offers just about everything an aspiring long-range shooter needs. And with an MSRP of $1200, it is hard to beat. I remember twenty years ago. I would save up that much money to buy a scope with lesser features.

Click here for more information, comparisons and accessories

maven RS.3 5-30X50 hands on test


The steady flooding of the optics market has raised many brands to notoriety. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised that the Maven RS.3 fit right into my collection.

I have seen and heard about them for years. The shooting public has been spoiled with so many good options. This scope is a great buy, and its features are ideal for someone looking to get in on long-range hunting or shooting on a tight budget. Sure, there are higher-quality scopes out there, and if you have the money to get one, I would suggest spending what you can afford.

But if you are looking at scopes in this price range, I think you would do fine using the Maven RS.3. I won’t be selling off any of my high-end scopes to buy more of these, but I certainly don’t feel inadequately outfitted with the Maven on my rifle.


Top Five Cartridges For Long-Range Shooting

Top five you say? What kind of maniac could narrow it down to just five of the best cartridges? I mean the world is littered with spent casings from countless different cartridges that offered something that another didn’t. So to avoid being labeled as that guy, I am instead going to go over the process by which anyone can select their top performers as it applies to their shooting. And how I did it for myself. Today we will discuss my top five cartridges for long-range shooting.

The first step in this process would be to know and set your limits. Unless you’re Elon Musk you probably can’t afford or build a rail gun for your weekend shooting exchanges, so obviously there is a budget to keep. And if you live in flat country where the furthest you can see on a clear day is five-hundred yards. You will have very different needs than someone who lives in mountains ranges where one-thousand yards is just to the next turn in the trail. Another important consideration is the target. Hitting paper or steel is much different than meat and bone. So it’s very important to define your needs properly, both ballistically and financially.

Extremist Need Apply

If your goal is extreme distance competitions like King of 2 Miles, then you are going to want something big. My experience here is minimal. However there are many marksman shooting these distances with a cartridge I am quite fond of and my choice for extreme distance. The 375 Chey-tac, or something similar to it. The cartridge is perhaps the most common in big-bore ELR shooting, as the ammunition and components are plentiful. Not only that, it is an outstanding performer.
With high performance bullets like the Cutting Edge MTAC or the Warner Tool Flat-line, you can shoot distances that most people have never considered possible. Of course all this comes with significant cost. And perhaps an above average level of dedication, but how else could you call yourself an extreme shooter?


Okay, Maybe not that extreme

If your goals are perhaps a little more mainstream, and you don’t feel like spending $10-$20 every time you pull the trigger. Let’s talk about a better fit for you. Shooting a mile or less is much more common than it was even ten years ago. One of the reasons it has become so commonplace is the proliferation of the venerable 338 Lapua to so many affordable rifle platforms. But that’s not the cartridge I was about to recommend, I was about to say the 300 Norma Magnum. Why the 300 over the 338 you might ask? I’ll explain.

Click here to see the 300 Norma in elk hunting action

300 Norma ballistics when using high ballistic coefficient like those available today, will rival those of the 338 Lapua. There are pros and cons either way between the two, as far as barrel life, recoil, and even suppressors if that’s your thing. High quality bullets loaded in the 300 Norma make it a devastating long-range performer. Whether you are shooting targets, big-game hunting, or anything else. I prefer the more slender and faster fired bullets in the thirty-caliber as compared to the heavier and a bit slower thirty-three caliber bullets of the 338LM.

The 300 Norma will easily shoot to a mile and beyond, handily take down any North American animal. Additionally it has a huge selection of bullets and ammunition selections of the highest quality.

A Poor-Man’s 338 Lapua

Many years ago, before I had experienced both the 338 LM and 300 NM, I found myself in quite a quagmire. I wanted a new barrel for my Desert Tech SRS that would allow me to shoot comparable ranges to those cartridges (1700-2000 yards) , but I was but a common man.

I had nowhere near the money to feed a Lapua or a Norma, which is no small cost. Buying a barrel is one thing. But coming up with all the ammunition components needed to become proficient and shoot as frequently as I do is another entirely.  So I began a study to find a suitable replacement, a champaign cartridge on a beer cartridge budget so to speak. 

What precipitated from my numbers evaluation, was this; a very high BC bullet in the 7mm (.284) caliber is comparable to the BC of the bullets commonly loaded in the 338LM. So if I could get them up to comparable or better speeds, I would find myself shooting Lapua distances on  Remington resources. 

The 7mm SAUM

After some careful market evaluation, I was quoted a build for a 24″ 1-8 twist barrel chambered in the mighty 7mm Short Action Ultra Magnum (7SAUM). And before I knew it, my poor-man’s Lapua was in my hands.  I had done all my prep work before-hand, and I had loading components ready to go.

I ended up shooting the Sierra Bullets 183 Match King, which has a very high BC. My new barrel would launch them at a magnificent 3050 feet per second (FPS).  After spending a few seasons hunting with the 7SAUM, I was completely convinced I had made a good choice for the times. My SAUM shooting the 183’s actually shot flatter than the mighty 338 out to around a mile. The energy on impact wasn’t as high obviously but I wasn’t planning on hitting anything besides steel at those ranges. Even so, the SAUM retained more than enough energy to take down an animal as far away as 1000 yards, so I was certainly in good company.

Two elk taken down by a single shot from the 7SAUM, at 900 and 500 yards respectively

Lets get common

Nothing I’ve mentioned above is particularly common, or very cost effective for your average shooter. Sharp marksmen have been shooting significant distances for a very long time with everyday cartridges like the .308 and 30 06. And with proper bullet selection and load development, you could certainly continue on that fine tradition. Or you could embrace something more contemporary.

Go ahead and light your torches, sharpen the pitchforks, and prepare your best effeminate insults because we’re about to use the “C” word. Just prior to the current ammo crisis, the 6.5 Creedmoor has infiltrated nearly every little ammo shelf across the country. And for good reason.

The 6.5 Creedmoor

The 6.5 CM offers 300WM ballistics with recoil and cost subordinate to even the 308 Winchester. There is an extremely high-quality components and ammunition selection for the 6.5, and its easy to load and shoot. There is so much to like about the cartridge, it begs the question why it is the subject of every sophomoric and unsophisticated insult the internet has to offer.

Personally I believe it to be its own worst enemy, unfledged shooters are easily tired of hearing how great the Creedmoor is. Especially since what they choose to shoot is obviously better because they chose it, at least thats how they feel.
Do not discount the Creedmoor, it is what it was built to be; a great shooting cartridge for those first thousand yards. A great deer hunting cartridge, and anything similar to those two disciplines. It can be found nearly anywhere ammunition is sold, making it a strong contender on this list.

Out of left field

My tastes have changed, and my budgets matured, so I’d be remiss to omit my latest favorite. I wasn’t sure whether to put it in my list or not, due to the obscurity, but this is my list so I’ll do it my way.

Wildcats are a little different, like fingerless gloves at the range, or guys who wear fedoras. Wildcats if you didn’t know, are illegitimate children of the cartridge world, derived from other cartridges. They are either “necked up” or “necked down” and usually “blown out” to create a whole new cartridge. Many of our best cartridges were born this way, and to that list I add this one of my personal favorites.

The 257 Blackjack

The 257 Blackjack is a cartridge formed by shortening the SAUM case. Changing the shoulder geometry, and necking it down to twenty-five caliber. Simple enough, but the crown jewel of the cartridge is another very high BC bullet built by Blackjack Bullets (designer of the cartridge). The 131 grain bullet has a .340 BC, which is nearly untouchable by anything comparable in size and price. Nearly none of the 6.5 and 6mm bullets that would give the Blackjack a run for the money can. Especially when shot from the 257 Blackjack cartridge.

From my 24” barrel the muzzle velocity is 3270 FPS, and with that impressive .340 BC you can imagine the extremely flat trajectory. There are also other high BC bullets available from Berger that have a predictably outstanding performance.

This little short action cartridge will reach a thousand yards with less than 5 MRAD of elevation. And when it gets there it will still be packing well over a thousand pounds of energy and more than 2200 fps. It doesn’t go subsonic till well beyond two-thousand yards. Making it very competitive in the same ranges as the 338LM and 300 NM mentioned above.

Would I recommend the 257 Blackjack for long-range shooting? Not at the moment. The tediousness and dedication it takes to run a wildcat cartridge like this is probably more than most would care for. But should factory made brass become available, this would be a shoe-in for anyone interested. It is truly an amazing little cartridge.


So there you have it, my list of my top five long range shooting cartridges. You may take them or leave them, and you wont get any argument from me. Every shooter can decide what works best for his/her needs, and create their own top five.
The good news is that there are so many great choices. Despite my little list of cartridges, I could probably make due for the rest of my life with just a plain jane 308.


Long-Range shooting with Short Barrels

One of my all-time favorite rifles is the Desert Tech SRS, the Covert model of the SRS made an already short precision rifle into a ridiculously shorter rifle on par with some SBR’s. The popularity of the SRS Covert speaks volumes about the utility of a short-barreled precision rifle.

Don’t miss the video below!

Why so Short?

Why would anybody want a short-barreled precision rifle in the first place? Like everything else in shooting, your setup depends greatly on the intended purpose. If you plan on shooting from a bench all day, then having a twenty-pound rifle that’s forty-inches long won’t matter.

But if you’re planning on deploying from a vehicle, or maneuvering through any kind of obstacles then a shorter rifle is much more practical. And even if you’re aren’t confined to small spaces, a shorter rifle is still just handy to operate.

Small pistol caliber and rifle carbines are used almost exclusively for shooting scenarios that require hasty movement through obstacles and barricades, the size makes them ideal.

Having a precision rifle of the same size gives all the same benefits, with the added one of precision shot placement. Law enforcement snipers have embraced this trend in rifles as it suits many of their operational needs. The typical distance used in LE shooting engagements is pretty short, which leads into our next subject.

But the Velocity!!

All else being equal, a short barrel will provide less velocity than an equivalent barrel of longer length. As the propellant burns inside the barrel, the bullet is accelerated towards the muzzle, and almost always it reaches a higher velocity as you extend the barrel. This gives more time for the pressure to accelerate the bullet.

So short barrels are slower, but for many marksmen, it is an irrelevant point. For example, if you’re the police marksman trying to engage a target from across the street, the ignoble target in the window opposite wont know the difference between 2600 feet per second, and 2400 feet per second.

And though he wont give the velocity any thought it will likely blow his mind anyways. Many barrel cut-down tests have been shown on the reduced velocity of shorter barrels, the results are interesting. On average, a 308 will lose around 250 feet per second when going from twenty-six inches down to sixteen inches.

That is certainly not insignificant, but can you shoot accurately with only 2400 feet per second? And furthermore, can you shoot accurately at long-range?

Other cartridges are similarly affected with barrel length, some more than others. But some would be surprised by what you can do even with these reduced velocity rifles. Looking into ballistic calculation, a thirty caliber 175 grain bullet fired at 2650 feet per second has already dropped to a velocity of 2415 feet per second by the time it reaches one hundred yards.

So if your starting out at basically that velocity you’ve only lost about that distance in your overall range capacity. Going sub-sonic is typically where things go amiss, so we’ll call that the end of the line. The above data reduces your effective range from just over nine-hundred down to eight hundred yards, this only matters if you’re shooting that far, and what you intend on doing with the bullet when it gets there. If you are just trying to hit a target, then you’re fine, but if you’re trying to kill something then you may need something a little more portly.

Shooting Long-Range

Shooting long-range with shorter barreled rifles is not as hard as some would make you believe, and much of the shortcomings can be made up with better calibers, bullets, better propellants and so on. Despite the sixteen-inch 308’s reduced muzzle velocity, I’ve still been able to stretch it out to over twelve-hundred yards in good conditions.

But if you want a better option there are plenty of them, an 18 inch 300 WM is another one I’ve shot quite a bit. And it is perfectly suitable for crushing targets out to 1400 yards and more, hitting close to a mile is certainly doable, it just depends on your energy requirements. I also have a sixteen-inch .260 Remington, and an eighteen-inch 6.5 Creedmoor, and they are both very useful inside a kilometer.

My SRS Covert with the eighteen-inch 6.5 Creedmoor barrel installed.

A longer barrel with more velocity will have some advantages, but so does the shorter barrel. Shorter barrels will be stiffer than a longer barrel, which will result in less barrel whip. Many people are of the opinion that shorter, stiffer barrels are more accurate than their longer counterparts, and that the benefits of stiffer and more consistent barrel harmonics outweigh the loss in velocity. In the end, you have to dance with who brought you, so make your choice accordingly.


The purpose here today was not to convince you to chop down your barrel, there are pros and cons to both long and short barrels. But I hope we put a seed in your mind, that longer isn’t always better, faster isn’t always best. As you put together your next rifle project in your mind, consider the possibility that going short might be a great option you’ll appreciate later.


The Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor


The Ruger Precision rifle 6.5 Creedmoor took the precision rifle world for quite a ride when it first came out. Ruger made an excellent move by introducing an affordable rifle into an arena that was dominated by expensive custom-built rifles and actual sniper rifles. And in another stroke of genius they managed to make a rifle that appealed to the AR-15 crowd at the same time, which brought even more customers into their fold.
Ruger Precision rifle 6.5 creedmoor


The Ruger Precision Rifle utilizes a bolt action receiver that is built into a chassis. It is fed by SR-25 pattern 308 sized P-mags for the 308, 6mm, and 6.5 chambered rifles. This rifle seems to almost clone the aesthetics of the extremely popular AR 15. Using the same pistol grip, and similar operation for the safety. Today’s test model also includes a folding butt stock for shortening the footprint of the rifle when transporting.

A twenty-four inch hammer forged barrel uses 5R rifling which if you ask the internet is the only good kind of rifling.  Long-range shooters prefer things like the one-in-eight twist barrel as it is ideal for launching the heavy for caliber bullets.  Weighing in at ten and a half pounds, the rifle is about forty-five inches long unless you fold it, in which case it is thirty-five inches long.

Check out my review of the Ruger RPR .22LR as well

Try It

Having been one of those in the community with a preference for the custom built rifle, it took me some time to actually give the Ruger a try. To be honest I did look down at it a bit, perhaps like many others I was angry that it shot just as good as rifles that cost twice as much or more.

But it didn’t take long for the RPR to prove its worth to those in the community, and now a days its common to see them shooting at top PRS events. I shot in the Hornady Precision Rifle Challenge this past summer. There we saw several RPR’s including Doug Koenig who did extremely well shooting with significantly more expensive competitors, taking home the top Production Rifle trophy.
Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor
After all this time I figured it was time for me to open up to the Ruger, so I took the opportunity when it came. Opening up the box, I found the all black rifle complete with a magazine, bipod and a few other items. It took a few minutes to familiarize myself with the rifle, and get a feel for the controls and such. For me there are couple things that stand out when first handling a rifle, the first one is throwing the bolt. Quickly I shouldered the rifle and ran the bolt a few times, you can tell a lot about a rifle by the feel of the bolt-throw.

More Ruger Precision Rifle features

Bolt manipulation of the Ruger Precision Rifle was smooth and had a positive lockup feel when closed into battery. You could also feel a metal on plastic sensation a little bit which I assumed to be the piece at the rear of the bolt. Not that there was anything negative about it, as plastic on metal frequently gives a low-friction feeling which I do like. Bolt lift was not bad, but did take a little bit of getting used to. Not bad, obviously not as good as some of the other rifle actions frequently used today.

Among the features that seal the deal for me is the trigger pull. While I don’t consider myself a trigger snob, I do enjoy a perfect trigger whenever I can. Ruger’s trigger on the RPR was a good one, clean and without the abrasive skipping often felt on triggers of lower tiered firearms. I’ve never been a big fan of blade safeties. When they first came out many years ago, the first thing I did was figure out how to remove them. That being said I wasn’t so hateful of this one to look for a way to remove it.

Shop ruger Precision Rifles here

The main safety was in the same place your traditional AR style rifle safety goes, which made it very convenient and familiar to use. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if they put it on both sides like AR’s often do, but certainly not a deal breaker.

This RPR runs on 308 sized P-Mags, and it came with a ten-round magazine. After some range time I would try the twenty-round ones as well, just in case you ever needed to do some long strings of fire.
Including a folding buttstock of the rifle made it much shorter for transportation, and doubled as a quick way to remove the bolt for inspection, lube, or cleaning. Up front we had the hammer-forged twenty-four inch barrel inside a free-floated handguard. Cut into the muzzle of the barrel are 5/8-24 threads. Which was great because I planned on mounting some stuff there.

The handguard on my particular rifle uses KeyMod for accessory attachment. But they are also available in the more modern and useful M-Lok. I secured the Atlas bipod to the pic rail underneath, and then I was ready to mount up a riflescope. Continue Reading Here…

A good rifle deserves an even better scope, like the US Optics FDN17x


Running the bolt forward on a cartridge felt smooth and controlled. I could often feel the slightest bind as the bolt closed the last few degrees. Almost like the extractor was having trouble snapping over the cartridge rims. As I brought the reticle to rest on my point of aim, I took up the slack in the trigger and gave it a steady press.

Repeating the process another four times and made a nice little vertically strung group. I have noticed this tendency during this cold time of year. Particularly when both rifle and ammo are below freezing temperatures.

As the bore warms and each round is chambered into a progressively warmer chamber. Velocity increases slightly and brings the point of impact up a touch with each shot. Horizontal dispersion was minimal, and the overall group size was just under an inch.

That’s not too shabby using what most would consider plinking ammo, and the results were even better when shooting 140-grain match ammunition. I pushed the RPR out to half a mile to see how it performed. As I suspected, it was easy impacts. Recoil on the rifle wasn’t terrible, allowing me to spot my impacts at those extended ranges.

federal 6.5 creedmoor ammunition american eagle
Even the inexpensive American Eagle 120 grain ammo shot well


Shooting this rifle go without seeing how it does with a suppressor wasn’t an option to me. To that end, I pulled out my Yankee Hill Machine Nitro N20 suppressor. During my range time I noticed only a small change in point of impact. Likely due to the light weight of the Nitro.

It was beautiful to shoot in the open country of the mountains and listen to the long journey of the bullets. They hissed through the sky before they thumped into the target. I think the RPR deserves a good suppressor, it makes a great little rifle even better.


At first, I wondered why they made it a 24-inch barrel versus a 26-inch barrel. After running around with this thing, I understand why.  If I had the ability to order the RPR from the factory, I would have done so with a shorter barrel length that was more like 20 inches.

Ruger Precision rifle 6.5 Creedmoor
rifle details; notice QD sling cup behind the grip, and locking mechanism for folding stock just above it

Adding a folding stock is great for reducing the length of the rifle, at least when you are trying to transport it. But another one of my complaints has to do with the folding mechanism, mainly that it only locks in the shooting position.

While it’s not a deal-breaker for me,  it would be really easy to get something pinched in the pivot point. Especially when the stock inevitably comes swinging back as you try and maneuver it.

The magazine release was also a touch tough for my taste. It was easy to falsely engage the magazine on this rifle to where it looked like it was in. Making you think it was secure, but was not really secured.

Ruger’s magazine release also seemed to require a touch more force than I would expect for such a simple and common motion. This is likely something that can be adjusted or corrected by the user, so don’t worry too much about it.


As I suspected, the Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor is just what I thought it would be – a great-shooting production rifle with an entry-level price tag but professional results. Sure, it’s not as nice as the custom precision rifles out there.

And you can feel that it has been mass-produced. But nonetheless, the rifle performs very well in its capacity. It gives the user accurate shots, a familiar manual of arms, and pleasing aesthetics.

Above and beyond that, there are countless ways to customize and improve the rifle with excellent aftermarket support. I have some nice rifles in my safe. I wouldn’t trade any of them for a Ruger RPR, but I wouldn’t mind having a couple RPRs in the safe to give them company.


Ruger RPR 6.5
The Atlas bipod makes an excellent addition to the rifle

Impact Velocity, and its effects.

Don’t miss the video at the end of this article

With modern rifles and bullets, the distances we shoot at animals keeps creeping further and further out. But as bullets travel further away, they lose more and more velocity. How much they lose, and how fast they impact is a very important subject when it comes to cleanly killing an animal. We’ve killed many animals over the years, and its an interesting and important subject. And one particular instance is one I’d like to discuss today.

Last fall, a friend of mine shot a small deer at 900 yards with a 6.5 Creedmoor using a 143 ELDX. This was certainly towards the end of the envelope of energy and velocity for that combo, but it did the job as good as one could hope. The deer took a single shot quartering away, the impact hit just behind the rib cage and passed completely through the animal, exiting through the front of the chest. The heart was punctured, and the deer made it about forty yards before tumbling down the hillside. Everything looked textbook as far as killing it cleanly and quickly. The impact velocity was right around 1800 FPS which according to Hornady should have been enough to open the bullet.

After much hiking to get to the deer, we found a massive blood trail and a perfectly perforated buck. We retraced his steps, as well as the video we recorded looking to see all the details. I was absolutely amazed when as we stood there recounting the events, I looked down to see the bullet laying there in the dirt, not far from where the deer lay dead. The bright copper shown against the damp hillside. Even though the bullet had hit a rock after exiting the deer, it had come to rest nearby. Our immediate impression was “that doesn’t look right”. The bullet had barely opened at all, it had only lost its plastic tip, and bent the front of the bullet off to one side. On further inspection back at the house, the bullet weighed 142.3 grains. Probably just the weight of the lost plastic tip.

The recovered 143 ELDX weighed 142.3 grains

Despite the bullet not opening as best we could tell, it still did plenty of damage. But it seems the 1800 FPS in this instance wasn’t enough to cause sufficient deformation of the bullet. This is one of the reasons I like to use “softer” bullets when shooting long-range, they are much easier to rupture.

Note the hole through the heart of the deer mentioned

Impact velocity greatly effects the bullets ability to do damage. I have found several bullets in elk over the years, that obviously didn’t do the job. Whoever shot those bullets may still be scratching their head wondering what happened. Bullets can fail to perform just like anything else, which is one reason why I stress shot placement so often. This event is a perfect example why, even though the bullet did not rupture as designed, it still made a hole through the most vital of organs, causing a quick death for the animal in question.

Distance to the target, and the impact velocity of any given bullet is just one of the many things marksmen need to take into account when evaluating a firing solution. Another anecdote featuring the same bullet; a friend of mine shot a cow elk at approximately 600 yards, the bullet impacted broadside passing through both lungs and stopping in the offside shoulder. Again this one had lost its tip, and barely opened. The cow made it into the trees a few dozen yards, where it lay down and expired. In this case one would surely expect the bullet to have opened, as the impact was likely in the 2200 FPS range. And again, due to good shot placement, it worked despite the bullet not opening.

These are of course a couple of anecdotal examples, and surely not a full representation of this particular bullets performance. But it is certainly food for thought, and something to keep in mind. I have gone into much more detail on the subject in this article about shot placement, I’d invite you to read that one as well, and we can carry on the discussion.
I hope these discussions are helpful, the game we hunt deserve the best skillset we can prepare to avoid undue suffering.


High Tech Hunting

Has technology pushed back the goal posts in hunting?

I can remember, not too long ago, when shooting a deer from a distance like 600yds or more would get you raked over the coals by the general hunting public. I remember telling my own Father about my aspirations of hitting targets at 1000 yards, and hearing his skepticism. I remember a well known gunsmith telling me that it was silly to twist a .223 Remington barrel for 75 grain bullets and higher. “Everything else peeters out past six or seven hundred yards” I told him. Again, came the refrain; “you cant shoot that far.” 
Like Ralphie, in the famous Christmas Story, I felt like nobody understood my dream. Nobody could see what I saw in my mind. But there was a wave coming, and it was fueled by science, technology, and at least in my case, a quest for ballistic perfection.

Don’t get me wrong here, its not that I simply wanted to kill something from as far away as possible, that could be borderline recklessness. What I wanted was something more, I wanted to build a rifle or rifles that would make me unstoppable at hitting small targets at distances like half a mile or more. And to that end the ability, if needed, to take my game wherever it presented itself be it near or far. It’s easy now, to see my former folly. I had focused so hard on equipment, and failed to see my part as a marksman that is equally important. Thankfully, these Rocky Mountains are a great educator. In today’s hardware driven market, it is hard not to fall for the sales pitch of this rifle will make you a sniper. Many of the best manufactures sell more than just hardware, they sell you training to go with it. Dont be a fool thinking that your wallet will make up for your aspirations.

You can buy accuracy to a degree, but you cant buy skill.

A young buck being surveilled

There is so much more to making a good shot, than just the hardware. Skill is equally important, perhaps more so. “Its the Indian, not the arrow” many people say. You can put a good rifle in the hands of a skilled marksman, and he will deal deadly force against anything within range. But even the finest precision rifle in the unwashed hands of a novice may be useless beyond its point blank aiming radius.

I should move on from the generalizations and get down to real information we can use. The foundations of a good shot are anchored firmly on several things, I dont claim any kind of authority or prestige, so I’ll just throw em out there in the order I see em.

  • A properly built and accurate rifle, capable of  Minute of Angle (MOA) accuracy
  • A properly trained marksman, who can yield at least MOA accuracy in expected conditions
  • Ammunition matched to the rifle providing at least MOA accuracy

MOA is a good start, but ideally you should strive for much better

If you cover those three basic pillars, you are well on your way. But all three of them have been around for at least half a century, so why has it taken so long to break these time cemented barriers that I mentioned above? I think part of it is human nature, and conservative thinking.
If you cover these bases, all it takes is a little pinch of science and a dash of high tech equipment to shatter the barriers that once congested both minds and ranges.

Now lets talk a little bit about hunting. As I outlined in my last piece, killing an animal, is about placing enough energy in the right spot. To me, that is what accuracy is all about, being able to hit my target exactly where I want to. The capacity to place a shot accurately should be the main determining factor in a hunter’s killing radius. If two hundred yards is as far as you can shoot accurately, then you would be imprudent to shoot beyond that.
Now we have come back to my original point, which was people looking down their noses at long range shooting, and long range hunting in particular. Shooting animals at long range distances is a taboo subject, mainly because people have either shot beyond their accuracy envelope, or watched someone else do it, and experienced poor results (wounded/unrecovered animals). Nobody likes seeing things like that happen, so most will shy away from questionable shots, which is a safe and conservative choice.

And so it was for the better part of the twentieth century, few dared to push the limits, mostly those in competition or LE/Mil circles. But to the average shooter, and particularly the hunter, the subject remained taboo and legend.
The advent of technology has brought a miriad of supplies to the industry, this has allowed everyone, even rednecks like me the ability to crash through the taboo with impressive impacts.
Some of these technological advances are worth pointing out, in no particular order:

  • Better bullets with higher Ballistic Coefficients allowing the bullets to cheat wind and resistance, keeping them on track further.
  • Better propellants, giving higher velocities, more stable and efficient burns.
  • Compact, accurate, and affordable laser rangefinders, allowing marksmen to extract the data they require to make proper predictions.
  • Precise and accurate telescopic sights, to adjust their shots according to data with exactness.
  • Reticles that allow precise measurements and wind holds.
  • Chronographs, Doppler radar, and other bullet flight testing equipment.
  • Ballistic computers, inexpensive and incredibly valuable for predictions.
  • Handheld Weather Stations, giving exact local atmospheric data.

New tools like the Kestrel are available to hunters can increase your odds of success

All of these tools, as well as others have not only become available to the average shooter, but they are affordable, and fit in a pocket. The science of shooting has also progressed greatly, even in the short time I have been following it. And again, it is all available right at your fingertips.
So it seems no small wonder then, that what once seemed nearly impossible, is now commonplace. Even as little as twenty years ago, who would shoot at something so far away that a guess could be off by hundreds of yards? And the target could barely be made out in your 3X9 scope? And even if you doped the wind right, and managed the correct holdover, your bullet may have run completely out of energy before it gets there.
These high tech gadgets have given us the tools to cross all those T’s and dot all the i’s. Now you hear about it at every end of the internet, on hunting forums and Facebook pages.
Which begs the question; Are we now living in a post short-range world? And is taking those long shots any more irresponsible with the help of today’s technology? I guess that depends on how you look at it. I have heard both sides of the argument for some time, and I have yet to find a compelling argument against this new anomaly as long as one does his due diligence. For starters, anybody can make a poor shot on an animal. If you hunt long enough, you will eventually make a bad shot, we’ve all seen it. Whether its caused by buck fever, lack of experience, weather conditions, equipment failure, or any one of a million other things that people can blame it on rightly or wrongfully. I’m not making an excuse for it, nor am I defending it, it just happens. I would go as far as to say that more animals are wounded and go unrecovered at close range, than at long range. Simply due to the numbers, the majority of hunters probably never shoot beyond 400 yards. Hitch that to their hit a paper plate at 100yds mindset, and you can count on some animals going unrecovered or lost.

We’ve seen people miss easy and simple shots, as well as make incredible and amazing shots. I’ve said it before, a good shot should be no surprise to a marksman, it should be expected after much practice and experience making same or similar shots in the same conditions and circumstances regardless of range.
We know what it takes to make a good shot, we outlined that above. Making a good shot is the same whether you are shooting 200 yards or 800 yards, the difference of course is the variables that come into play. For example, the wind at 200 yards is much less a factor than it is at 800 yards. What might only blow your bullet off course by an inch or so up close, may blow you completely off target at the further distance. Also, at 800 yards, one MOA is eight plus inches, which is why sub MOA is a much better goal.

As long as one considers all the additional variables and their consequence, they can be mitigated and overcome.
Unless they cant be, what I mean by that is the further away your target the more downrange forces that simply cannot be anticipated unless you have forward observers or other assistance. And the further out the target, the more of these variables you have to worry about. Perhaps someday soon, technology will cover that as well.
Conditions will always dictate what you can and cant do, if it is a dead calm morning, you might be able to pull off something incredible. But if it is a switch wind breezy afternoon for example, it would be a wise choice to keep within your known envelope. A wise shooter, will always keep within his known realm of proficiency. But an even wiser shooter will recognize that his realm changes with atmosphere and weather. Keeping your finger in the air like a weak a politician, and paying close attention to what is happening around you, will go a long way towards letting you know when to shoot, or more importantly when not to shoot.

The ethics of long range hunting will be debated forever. There are those who think taking long shots will always be reckless, and there are those who are willing to take a long hard look at the data, make their calculations, and either take the shot, or choose another course of action.

Those who claim moral high ground, saying long range shots are unethical will always abound. But the truth is this; Not taking long range shots does not necessarily make you an ethical hunter, but staying inside your limits does. For some people, that limit may be four hundred yards, for others it might be twelve hundred yards. It is up to each individual to figure that out, and prove it to themselves repeatedly long before an animal falls in their crosshair.

I don’t hold anything against those who dislike long range shots, they are entitled to their opinion. But the irritating part of the debate comes when someone tells me (or anyone else) that you shouldn’t do that, simply because they cant do it. They love to make insults like; that’s not really hunting, or real hunters get closer. And it occasionally comes from people who hunt from a shoot house, with a Keurig and heater, overlooking senderos strewn with corn feeders on land so flat you cant see more than a hundred yards without jackin up the shoot house. Its really an ignorant position to take, particularly when you don’t know someone else’s skill-set or practices.
Just because a person can make a long shot, doesn’t mean they cant stalk into arrow range of an animal. There was a time where big bore muskets were used to shoot deer at what we today would consider archery range, should we go back in the name of purity? Would our ancestors look down their noses at our modern equipment thinking there is no challenge? It was the push for innovation that took us from those ancient smooth bores and stick bows to the rifle and/or bow you hunt with today.

Another problem with this way of thinking is that it is a never ending slippery slope. Long range hunting < spot and stalking < archery stalking < spear hunting < knife hunting < teeth and hands < etc. < etc. Where does it end? Are we so dedicated to our own ideal of hunting that we would deny another’s? Surely if a stalk into bow range is your thing, with wooden arrows and handmade broadheads, who am I to stop you? Despite having seen many wounded animals with arrows still in them, I wouldn’t argue that archery is unethical, nor would I want to keep people from doing it.
That leads me to my last point.
The worst thing that we hunters can do as a group, is to fracture off into different tribes pitted against each other. The anti hunting movement is growing wildly, everywhere you look there are people trying to take away our ability to hunt and fish the way we enjoy. We as a group need to stand together more than ever, for divided we will surely lose.
I used to be infuriated by the mass hordes of hunters that would flood my favorite hunting spots. It drove me nuts that they didn’t understand my plan, and walked right through my hunt. As years have passed, and age has toned my opinions, I have changed my attitude. Those hordes have just as much right to be there as I do, and I would rather it be other hunters interfering in my hunt than protesters.

Instead, I have evolved as a hunter. I now welcome these large groups of bush beaters, and like the predator that I am, I simply await the inevitable, like a hawk kiting in the sky. Instead of trying to beat them through the forest, and beat them to the stalk, I await the escaping game from a position where my skill allows me an advantage over the hordes. An advantage I intend to keep.

Technology and necessity have indeed pushed back the goal posts in todays hunt. I see nothing wrong with it, provided marksmen respect their prey enough to become swift and lethal, and stay within their known limits.