After a great deal of humming and ha-ing, I’ve taken the dramatic step of trading in my rifle and getting a new one. At least, it’s dramatic as far as I’m concerned. The Ruger No.1 rsi in .243 has been the mainstay of my armoury for the past two years of fox control on the Chayne, but it has recently been letting me down and I’ve lost all confidence in it. Loud enough to deafen a stadium of football fans and with a kick like a Galloway bullock, I used to love the Ruger for its sheer power and fury. The little 22″ barrel made the rifle feel like a carbine, and the safety mechanism was precisely like that on a shotgun – all pleasing and familiar characteristics, but fatally flawed by the single shot mechanism.
I’m not the best shot in the world, and I’ll freely admit that I have missed one or two foxes over the past two years, but when your shot drops low and a fox looks up in confusion, you sometimes have a second chance to bowl him over. Not so with a single shot underlever. You find yourself scrabbling in your pocket for the next bullet, or trying to loosen one out of the butt sleeve as the moment slips away and the old familiar spark of eyes vanishes into the darkness. This summer, I have missed the chance at several cubs purely because the loading mechanism has been so slow, so while one fox hits the deck and the others look around in confusion, I’m cursing the underlever which I once imagined made me look like a defender of Rorke’s Drift.
The kick is excessive, and it is amplified by the fact that the gun is so light and so short. More than once I’ve found myself wincing as I squeeze the trigger, and that’s surely not on. The decision was taken to downsize the .243 this morning, and I came at length to the confusing question of what to replace it with. The keeper on the neighbour’s ground swears by a .22-250, but I have had plenty of luck with a .223. Kitted up with a sound moderator, some of these smaller calibres jump about as much as a .22 rimfire, and being able to send the bullet on its way without a shocking boom will put me ahead of the game. In theory.
Although long ranges are the order of the day up on the Chayne, I have shot foxes out to 220 yards with a .222, and I suppose that if the devil is further away than that, then it’s my job to close the gap, not the rifle’s. Having applied for a variation on my Firearms Certificate which will allow me to but a .222, I now just have to decide how much money I’m willing or able to spend. As usual, I’ll have to admit that the answer is not alot.
Watch this space.