Ask the experts

Our team of experts solves five more of your burning questions, from calibres to cleaning.

Got a question? Then Contact: or post your question to: Sporting Rifle, Future Publishing Ltd, Units 1-3, Sugarbrook Court, Aston Road, Bromsgrove B60 3EX.


Q: Does the weather affect foxing at all? Obviously we humans prefer if it’s dry, but in terms of actual fox behaviour, does it get easier or harder depending on the weather?

Mike says: In truth most animals are affected by the weather as much as we are.

When I was young and shot foxes for a living we would be out almost every night in the winter no matter what the conditions were. We had to! We soon came to expect that in wet conditions, we would see far fewer foxes on the open land we covered.

Wind certainly has a detrimental effect on animals, too, particularly prey species. Deer certainly don’t like being far from cover when there’s a gale blowing. They can’t hear the approach of predators and high winds disperse scent. On the other side of the coin, foxes can’t hear in high winds as well or pick up scent.

Lamping on a miserable night – but you don’t get any foxes by sitting at home

Under adverse conditions foxes stay close to or in cover, and hunt on the lee side of hedges. Probably the best conditions are mild damp nights with just a hint of wind when scent is strong and sounds can be heard.

Strangely, the one prey species that weather doesn’t seem to bother too much is the rabbit, which seems oblivious to almost anything.


Q: How and how often do you clean your rifle barrel?

Mark says: My advice would be to clean it after each time you use it, whether you’ve fired one round or been shooting all day.

My preferred method is to only use a carbon remover such as KG1. I would normally soak a nylon brush in this before running it back and forth through the barrel to work the cleaner in and remover some heavy fouling.

I would then push a dry patch through before soaking another patch in carbon remover and passing it through the barrel before again passing one or two dry patches through. This can be repeated until the dry patches come out clean.

Regular use of the pull-through reaps rewards.
(Photo: Byron Pace)

I would also use a .410 wool mop (for .308 size case) inside the chamber to remover any debris and be sure to use a rag soaked in KG1 in a small area to rub around the muzzle and crown of the barrel to remove any carbon here too. 

I also usually have an oily rag handy to wipe down the rifle itself. Cleaning the rifle is also a good time to check it over for damage and to check all scope screws etc are tight.


Q: Do you change the camo you wear in summer as autumn and winter arrive?

Mike says: I know today there is a tremendous quantity of very good camo clothing on the market. You only have to visit your local shooting shop or a game fair to be a bit bewildered as to the choice to suit your requirements.

As far as I’m concerned, when I’m out after foxes I have yet to be convinced that choice of clothing is that important. I hark back to the days when we didn’t have camo clothing at all, but still managed to shoot plenty of deer and foxes.

Then ex-WD gear started appearing followed fairly quickly by such firms as Realtree, who for the first time used modern techniques to produce very realistic-looking clothing patterns. 

Mike opts for a realistic camo pattern on a night-time thermal recce

Personally, I think that provided you are wearing something drab like olive or some shade of brown, you will not be seen. However, there is one thing that will give you away no matter what, and that’s movement.

All animals, even humans, will very quickly spot movements if we ourselves are stationary. By all means get some camo gear if it makes you feel more inconspicuous, but as for choice I don’t think it’s that important.


Q: How high will a bullet travel if it’s fired directly up into the air?

Mark says: Firstly, don’t try it! In overseas countries the practice of firing guns into the air during celebrations is common yet not without consequences particularly in urban areas.

There are various reports of injuries and fatalities caused by falling lead, including a tragic case of a four-year-old boy killed at his parents’ feet by a bullet dropping through the roof of a church two miles from where it had been fired. 

In answer to your question, based on a 150gn 7.62 bullet, the height could be up to 10,000 feet if fired vertically. Many variables will affect exact figures, but it will take between 20 and 90 seconds to come down, travelling at around 150 mph.

No, we’re not pointing any rifles up in the air, even for a demo photo!

Despite only retaining around 1 per cent of its initial muzzle energy, it will fall with the equivalent force of a house brick dropped from a 30-storey building and all focused on a very small surface area, so it’s no surprise it can still be lethal.

If a bullet is fired perfectly vertically, it will be affected by the wind on both its rise and fall as well as the rotation of the earth and the bullet’s natural spin, meaning it could land miles from where it was fired. 


Q: As a registered firearms dealer (RFD) I have been informed that some new regulations recently came into force that require me to provide further information to my local police authority as part of my application and ongoing renewal.

I confess I am a bit in the dark about this new disclosure. Can you please explain what this is all about, and what I need to do to make sure I don’t fall foul of the law?

Stuart says: Yes, you are right. The Firearms (Amendment) Rules 2019 came into force on 10 June 2019 and contain some key changes to the application and renewal process for all RFDs.

All applications now require the completion of a medical declaration which requests disclosure of any physical or mental health conditions which the applicant has either been diagnosed with or has received treatment for in the past.

The intention is to bring the process in line with the application processes for firearms/shotgun certificates although if the RFD applicant already holds either of these it is sufficient to provide details of those existing certificates rather than provide all the same information twice.

It is also a requirement of an RFD applicant to supply details of their ‘servants’ who work at the RFD’s place(s) of business. While the term ‘servant’ is not defined, it will definitely include employees of the RFD, though it is unlikely to include those to whom work is outsourced (an external self-employed gunsmith for example) and who would normally require possession of their own RFD licence.

A new written condition specifying an ongoing obligation to notify the police of ‘servants’ is likely to be attached to the RFD licence. The purpose is to enable the police to undertake background checks.

The information to be supplied includes the full name, date of birth and address of the individual and so you will need to be sure that the need to supply this information is also made a condition of any contract of employment.


Q: I’ve seen a lot of photos of Highland stalkers using a draw scope for glassing on the hill. Is this just tradition or is there any practical advantage to using one over my trusted pair of binos?

Chris says: Two features mainly spring to mind about a draw scope. The first is that it is fundamentally an older style of optic where physical spacing was needed between objective and ocular lenses to create a magnified image with the technology and manufacturing precision of the time.

Secondly, the overall length of a draw scope does allow the capability of better support across knees and even feet for longer-range glassing of wide-ranging terrain for clearer identification of quarry at higher magnification when seated or laid back into the ground.

The big drawback, even with modern equivalents, is that draw scopes cannot be fully sealed against water ingress as extending the telescopic body creates a vacuum within that will always draw external air, with all its impurities, past seals that fundamentally cannot be airtight. 

Binoculars are great as a constant companion and I would never be without them, but there are still some who find the draw scope a useful accessory as it suits their style for hill stalking, with higher magnification but realistic limitation on size and support styles.

Borrow one and try one is my best suggestion – you may or may not appreciate the advantages and drawbacks in situations where a modern prismatic spotting scope is likely to require a tripod.

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