Sticker Shock!

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A Savage .308 in a chassis stock topped with a Burris XTR scope is just right if what you
need is a superbly accurate target rifle. But you have to know what you need to get what you want.

Whatever your interest, there are Internet forums and websites with expert enthusiasts. The good part? They’re knowledgeable. The bad part? They’re enthusiasts.

Why Less Is More

Here’s a non-gun case in point: I wanted a reliable, durable chainsaw to clean up trees downed by the wind and turn them into firewood. Most of the trees are softwood with a big one measuring maybe 12″ to 15″ in diameter.

Now in the chainsaw world the term “homeowner chainsaw” is used derisively. Get a pro saw! Bigger, faster, more powerful! Built for years of professional use! Don’t even think about light-duty homeowner saws. But, I thought, I am a homeowner. And the saw I need is definitely for light duty — it’ll probably see 15 or 20 hours of use annually.

Fortunately a local Stihl dealer asked intelligent questions about my needs. He said a 180 series would do everything I wanted, but if I felt the need for a comfortable surplus of power, to try an MS-250. I got the 250 and couldn’t be happier with it. In defense of those chainsaw enthusiasts, let me add I also found much excellent advice on chainsaw care, safety and use.

It was the same when my wife Simone searched for advice on a modest fishing boat — something that’d be easy for a couple of senior citizens with bad knees to launch and load.

I asked a fishing-fanatic friend for advice: “You need speed! Power! Something built to handle big water and rough weather conditions! And don’t even get me started on aluminum versus fiberglass. Do this once and do it right. I’m thinking 22’ fiberglass, 300 HP outboard. Set up right with kicker motor and electronics, you could probably do it for $80,000.”

I could feel my knees buckle. “Eighty thou? Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind?”


Just enough is plenty if it’s what you need. Dave’s Ruger American in 6.5 Creedmoor
with a Lyman 2½X scope was picked up cheap at a gunshow.

Lessons Learned

See, the trouble with enthusiasts is they recommend what they want, not what you need. Thank goodness I know better. A while back, a young fellow asked for advice on his first centerfire rifle.

Wisely, I listened to better understand his needs. Mainly he wanted a rifle to hunt whitetail, occasionally mule deer, thin out the coyotes now and then, and every few years, hunt moose or elk.

“Let’s do this once and do it right. Get a Kimber Montana .243 or 6.5 Creedmoor, or if you want a detachable magazine, a Sako Finnlight .243 or .260 or 6.5×55. But y’know what? You want more power! More speed! A Weatherby Mark V Ultra Lightweight .240 or 6.5-300 Mag. And don’t even get me started on carbon steel versus stainless.

“Then for moose you need a stainless Browning BLR .358. To save money we’ll put Picatinny rails on both rifles so you can use the same scope, a Nightforce NXS 2.5-10×42 on either one. You’ll need safety glasses, earmuffs, slings, soft cases, hard cases, cleaning gear, gun safe, basic gunsmithing tools, complete reloading outfit, components, and a chronograph. We can probably do it all for under $8,000.”

He nearly went into shock: “Eight grand! Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind?”

Postscript: I ran into the fellow after hunting season. He pulled out his smart phone to show photos of the 10-point buck and 50″ moose he’d shot. “Say, I really want to thank you for the great advice. I hadn’t thought of glasses, muffs, cleaning gear, sling and soft case. I got everything together for a great price.”

Proudly I asked, “Which of the rifles I suggested did you get?”

“Well, none. I got a Savage .270, and would you believe the scope came with it! And here’s a good tip for you. You really don’t have to make your own ammo. You can buy it in boxes of 20, already loaded!”


Fortunately, many gunmakers haven’t forgotten the shooter who just needs a reliable,
durable, accurate hunting rifle — which perfectly describes this T/C Compass.

More power! More speed! Start down the “just a bit more” road and this is where you can end up:
Sako TRG-42 .338 Lapua with a Nightforce scope. Six grand well spent in Dave’s book, but hey, he’s an enthusiast.

Roy Weighs In

Stepping out of your comfort zone in terms of things you know about can open you up to some serious sticker shock. This spring we decided to sell our last full-size farm tractor and get something smaller and more nimble for yard and garden use. After much study we figured a 25 HP Kubota would handle our needs. Thinking a little margin of power wouldn’t hurt (shades of my chainsaw purchase!), we debated getting the 33 HP model. I happened to mention our search in an email to Editor Roy.

After a career patrolling the streets and harbor of San Diego, he now seems to have as much fun patrolling his farm. He’s become an expert machinist and a knowledgeable tractor enthusiast. He wrote back:

“Get the 33 HP model. In fact, it’d be better to get 40 HP. More power! More speed! Don’t even get me started on 2WD versus 4WD. Actually, 45 HP wouldn’t be too much. And let’s see, you’ll need a front-end loader, box grader, post-hole auger, post-pounder, tiller, brush hog, finishing mower, backhoe, utility trailer … heck, you might be able to get by for $60,000.”

Stunned, I replied, “Sixty thou? Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind?”

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