The Technical Rifleman

The Technical Rifleman

The official Gun Digest blog of Wayne van Zwoll, covering all things rifles, optics, ammunition and ballistics.

Bolt head

How Handloading Affects Headspace

  Headspace, measured from the bolt face to the cartridge stop in the chamber, is set during barrel chambering and installation. The barrel nut on Savage 110 rifles is a clever way to make headspacing easier and cheaper. British SMLE rifles have replaceable bolt heads that varied slightly in length, for a quick field...

Headspace gauges

Headspace 101: What Happens Inside Your Rifle’s Chamber

  Headspace is one of the most critical measures in your rifle. A quick definition: the distance from the face of the locked bolt to a datum line or shoulder in the chamber that arrests the forward movement of the cartridge. The term originated when all cartridges had protruding rims, so the measure was...

Custom rifle scope for O’Connor Tribute Rifle

Tips for Custom Rifle Scopes

  Custom rifles have served American shooters since flintlocks were fashioned on home forges. Then each rifle differed from the next. For the most part, rifle-scopes have been mass-produced. While scopes appeared on rifles more than 150 years ago and were even used by Civil War snipers, they didn’t take the hunting field by...

Walnut stock

Read More on Fine Rifle Stocks

When I was a lad, you could buy a fancy American walnut stock blank for $25. I paid $7.50 for the plain but semi-inletted blank that went on my first deer rifle. Now even American walnut has become costly. Black polymer is taking over. The problem with walnut is that you can’t manufacture it....

1/4-minute clicks on scope

Wayne van Zwoll Explains: Minute of Angle and Milliradian (Mil)

Though shooters carry the terms as common coin, not everyone can define “minute of angle” and “mil” (milliradian). Minute of Angle A minute of angle, usually used as a measure of group size or shot dispersion, spans 1.047 inch at 100 yards. Call it an inch. But as it is an angular measurement, its...

A Cooper rifle

Why Some Guns Have Soul and Others Do Not

Opinions are like shopping bags: cheap and ubiquitous. Mine get about as much notice. Most recently, I’ve held forth on Chihuahuas, subsidized soybeans and motorists who drive 55 in the left lane. The soybean has kept its record reasonably clean, so I’ve managed one positive review. Firearms have tripped me up. To report on...

The author killed this gemsbok with a rifle during a

Big Game Rifles: What Happens Between Shot and Down

Big game that drops instantly to a shot is cause for concern. Bullets don’t hurl animals to earth; an immediate collapse usually mean you’ve struck the spine. A severed spinal cord anchors the beast. If your bullet has also sent fragments through the chest or so shattered the forward spine as to deliver fatal...

The 2 3/4x Redfield on this M70 is Wayne’s idea of a fine all-around big game sight. Note low mount.

Wayne van Zwoll: Get the Right Scope for the Right Rifle

A lever-action carbine is as lithe under a scope as a sports car under a roof rack. On a double rifle, optics make no sense at all. While my aging eyes need glass for sharp aim, not all rifles need glass to be useful. Many animals are shot very close to the muzzle. In...

Among svelte .22 rimfire rifles is Browning’s T-Bolt, here in .22 WMR. A 40-grain bullet at 2,000 fps.

Wayne van Zwoll: What You Didn’t Know About the .22

Far from the most powerful, the .22 Long Rifle is arguably the most useful cartridge of all time. It dates to 1857, when Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson came up with a rimfire round while working on a lever-action rifle. That primitive Volcanic rifle would evolve into the Henry, the foundation of Winchester’s 19th...