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Old July 7, 2008, 09:17 AM   #1
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What cartridge would you choose for long range big game hunting?

So I have been running over this question, and would like to hear opinions of some of the people on the board. So if you could choose whatever cartridge you wanted, what would you choose? I’d like a round capable of taking deer and elk out to approximately 500 yards, but I’d also like to keep the recoil to a minimum. This theoretical rifle would be a custom and I reload, so any caliber is OK, wildcats included. The majority of shooting is going to be done at the range, but I’d like the ability to take large game as well. This being the case, things like a 6mm PPC and such are out. While it is a fine long range cartridge, it doesn’t have the downrange energy to take out large game, not in my opinion at least. At the other end of the spectrum things like the 338-378 Weatherby are out too. They are fine downrange, but there is just too much recoil to sit and shoot regularly. I’d rather not have a muzzle break, just for the sake of my ears (when hunting) and the other people at the range.

What I am thinking is something in the 30-06 range plus or minus a little bit. I have no problem sitting and shooting a 30-06 all day, and I also think that out to around 400-500 yards, you’d probably still be fine, borderline maybe, but fine with a good bullet I think.

Rounds I have considered are .284 Winchester, 7mm mag, 30-06, 30-06AI, 338-06, 338-06AI, 300 mag, etceteras. Things in that range anyway.

What do you guys think?
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Old July 7, 2008, 11:05 AM   #2
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oh no, not again!!!

30-06 will do it if you can do it.

Other option is get closer than 500 yds. If you can't get closer than that to an elk, there's a problem.
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Old July 7, 2008, 11:18 AM   #3
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Living on the plains of SE CO " long " shots are not uncommon . The 30-06 or .308 will easily stretch out to 600 yards or so if the rifleman does his part ( few can under field conditions regardless of caliber tho IMHO ) . While ill plink at a coyote or a prarie dog way the heck out beyond fort mudge on occasion 1/4 mile is a long ways out there to attempt to cleanly take a game animal . I dont mind driving over to finish off a coyote but i dont want that much adrenalin pumped into meat i am going to eat. I shoot at 400 and out quite a bit but honestly normally will pass shots on game much further out than 200 .

Rather than getting any kind of " belted big boomer " I would suggest you pick up a standard .30 or similar and find a place to practice . IMHO your groups at 400+ yards will encourage you to sharpen your hunting/stalking skills far more than worrying about a " long range hunting cartrage " .

I am not anti magnum , or anti long range shots with the cravat that If a hunter wants to use such a tool and take such shots they must put in the time and money ( ammo even reloaded is not cheap, nor are burned out barrels which must be replaced ) to build the skills to hit game at extended ranges which means hitting good groups without sandbags or a bench . I dont care how you can shoot from a bench , how can you shoot leaned up against a rickety fence post , prone using a prarie dog mound as your rest , or even slung up sitting . Remember shooting is a perishable skill , a box before deer season may get it in areas where cover is heavy and range is close but its not going to get it out here on the plains or shooting across a canyon at an elk . If you lay off shooting for a couple of months your groups will go to he11 off a bench , and much more so under field conditions .

Buy what you will but please take the above as " food for thought " . As if your rifleman enough to take the shot the " unsexy " standard .30s will do it about as far as you can honestly justify shooting . If your not then a dedicated " long range " such as the 7mm or .300 mag will kick more , cost more , and be louder . All of which will tend to stop much needed practice with your rifle , and if you have to ask what might be a good caliber there is no doubt in MY mind you will need the practice LOL .
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Old July 7, 2008, 11:21 AM   #4
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I have an old M44 that shoots 7.62X54 that would take down most anything too big for me to carry with no problem. Assuming a good shot of course...
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Old July 7, 2008, 12:15 PM   #5
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I'd like to stay away from the moral discussion on whether or not anybody should try to shoot anything this far away. I will also preface by saying that using the rifle to shoot at anything living from that far away will be very rarely, if ever done, and only under ideal conditions. I wan't the capability to be there though. Like I said, most of the shooting would be at paper, out to however far.

It would also be fun to have a rifle that uses a less than common cartridge. The 30-06 is a great cartridge, I have one, and so does almost everybody else. If I were to buy a custom rifle, I think I'd have to get something that was a little more unusual, just on principle. At least go to 30-06AI or something, just to say that I have the extra oomph!

I realize that you can buy ammo for the 30-06 cheap and everywhere, and those are deffinatly pluses. I am just looking for something else.
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Old July 7, 2008, 12:41 PM   #6
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I use a .300 Win Mag as my long range hunting cartridge. I handload for it and have used it for everything from woodchucks, to coyotes, to deer and it has performed fantastically.
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Old July 7, 2008, 01:14 PM   #7
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I use both a 270 Weatherby Mag and a 300 Weatherby Mag. I use the 270 mostly as I hunt mule deer and antelope, but I have taken elk with it as well. Some of my antelope kills have been ranged in at over 560 yards. I use the 300 on money hunts for big animals, eg buffalo and the like. I am also not a die hard Weatherby guy (although it may look as such) as the 270 is made by Winchester and was the first gun my father bought me to hunt with. The 300 Weatherby is a Mark V that had 5 rounds down the tube, the gentleman said it kicked to much for him. Boy must it, with scope 3 boxes of ammo and sling I paid $850 dollars. I still thank him whenever I see him!
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Old July 7, 2008, 01:37 PM   #8
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there is nothing on this earth that a Wby .300 Mag can not cleanly take care of. so don't buy anything larger than that.
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Old July 7, 2008, 01:51 PM   #9
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For 500 yds on big game from a 30-06 class cartridge, I would say 280 Remington or (of course) 30-06. Tolerable recoil and enough OOMPH! to do the job well and kill cleanly.

For "unusual", you can go with 240 Weatherby, 6mm-06, 7X57mm, 7X64mm Brenneke, 7mm STW, 7X68mm, 30 Gibbs, 30-378, or any one of dozens of wildcat or proprietary chamberings (my favorites are Lazzeroni or Hawk).

In magnum chamberings, 7mm RemMag/7mm WSM, 300 WinMag/300 WSM. Or, if you like really loud and lots of recoil, 300 Weatherby/300 RUM (virtually indistinguishable from one another, performance-wise).

In big bores, 338 WinMag. Few other big bores can do it without punishing you. If pain is desirable, you really can't beat a 378 Weatherby for killing out there and maiming right here.
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Old July 7, 2008, 02:31 PM   #10
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Go with the 8x68S - it certainly meets your "unusual" criteria. It will also meet your performance guide-lines. Reloading is a HUGE plus for this cartridge but Norma is introducing an 8x68S factory load this fall that uses the 200-gr. Swift A-Frame at around 2950 FPS.
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Old July 7, 2008, 03:05 PM   #11
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.300 Weatherby mag.
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Old July 7, 2008, 03:24 PM   #12
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If barrel life is not a big concern of yours, and you want to shoot game to 500 yards ( if YOU can do it) and paper to 1,000 yards--.284 or 6.5/.284.
You did say custom rifle---there are a few smiths that have this cartridge down pat and can recommend actions, barrel make and twist, bullets, loads and everything else --it's a darn good cartridge---and you can be up and running with very little effort.

If you are concerned about barrel life---game to 500 yards/paper to 600 yards and beyond---.308, 7MM-08 etc.

A lot of calibers CAN take game @ 500 yards---A lot of hunters/shooters can't and shouldn't try.

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Old July 7, 2008, 04:18 PM   #13
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I'd like to stay away from the moral discussion on whether or not anybody should try to shoot anything this far away. I will also preface by saying that using the rifle to shoot at anything living from that far away will be very rarely, if ever done, and only under ideal conditions. I wan't the capability to be there though. Like I said, most of the shooting would be at paper, out to however far.
allrighty we wont discuss what happens when most folks decide they are " long range hunters " You by your words are different ( in spite of asking about long range hunting rounds you will seldom if ever use a rifle for that ) . You seem not to like my ideas on the " capability " of shooting long range also . I also am sorry but if you cannot stand the " moral " discussion of taking a shot ( no matter the range ) then you are not a hunter , and in fact you are not a gun owner i would choose to know . Every round you loose be it at people , paper or game comes with a " moral " tag on it . You must insure the round does what you intend , no more , and in cases no less . When you pull the trigger you are shooting something either intentionally or accidentally . none the less every round has a price tag . In hunting a clean miss is often a lessor price tag than a gut shot , or less game that is never recovered and left to die from your actions .

You go ahead and discuss this as if it involves paper ( which you could have stated to start with ) . I have said my piece and now sir know you for what you are .
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Old July 7, 2008, 06:32 PM   #14
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I don't have any problem discussing the moral imlecations of taking a shot at a game animal at long ranges. I'd just assume keep it to a different thread. There are plenty of them on TheFiringLine if that is what you want to discuss. Right now I would feel pretty comfortable shooting at game out to around 350-400 yards or so under ideal conditions. Maybe someday that will be further, I don't really know. That is not what this thread is about though. This thread is about what cartridge people feel would be ideal for hunting at this range and further out, and I'd like to keep it limited to that.

Now, back on topic, I have considered the .284 as somebody suggested, but I wonder if one of the 7mm short mags wouldn't be just as good or better? I haven't heard that barrel life is all that bad on the .284 (unlike the 6.5-284). From what I have read it should be good for a couple thousand round at least, which I think is probably all I would expect from any of the fast 7's.
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Old July 7, 2008, 06:37 PM   #15
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Only you can determine your recoil tolerance. The higher velocity magnums are more forgiving from yardage mis-calculations. But, that is no advantage if you flinch.
My logic tells me to shoot the flattest thing you can stand to shoot. I think many overestimate what that is.
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Old July 7, 2008, 06:45 PM   #16
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What I am thinking is something in the 30-06 range plus or minus a little bit.
In that class I really like the 7 mm Rem Mag and the 7 mm diameter in general. Great ballistic coefficients and weight selection.

I've never owned one of the new short magnum 7 mms, but they look good on paper.
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Old July 7, 2008, 06:47 PM   #17
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Ever consider a .308?
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Old July 7, 2008, 06:48 PM   #18
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My choices would probably fall to one of these cartridges:

.275 Rigby, .270 Win, 30-06 Spr, 8mm Rem Mag, 8x68mm, 325 WSM, and .338 Win Mag.

I hate short-fats (only one listed), I like the .323" bore, I prefer traditional cartridges, and magnumitis makes me laugh.

Pick any respectable cartridge you like. Use controlled-expansion bullets. It's all about personal preference, shooting technique, and reloading skill.
Feel free to disagree with my opinion. -I do it all the time.
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Old July 7, 2008, 08:32 PM   #19
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Go with a Rem model 7 in .308 pushing Barnes TSX's........cant get much better than that.
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Old July 7, 2008, 09:09 PM   #20
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my recommendation is play some golf and get used to what real yardages are.
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Old July 7, 2008, 09:37 PM   #21
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375 Weatherby, or 375 H&H. or 30-06, or .308, or 7.62 x 54R.
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Old July 7, 2008, 11:19 PM   #22
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I'd just pull the Winchester Model 70, 7mmWSM out of the gunsafe and take care of business. That being said there are many great long range cartridges out there that will do the job if you can. Myself I can't see me feeling comfortable taking a shot much over 250 yards or so. Under hunting conditions, IMHO, that is a long shot. I know others can do it but I don't consider myself part of that group. I also have a 300WinMag but the extra recoil would be more than most can tolerate. The 7mmWSM has about the same recoil as the 30-06 and can still get the job done for you.
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Old July 8, 2008, 06:48 AM   #23
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It's the rifle that you can shoot best at those extreme distances. I find that the 308 works for me. A couple of mates swear by their 30-06's. We tend to limit our shots at deer to 300 yards. Hogs & goats however have been exterminated at extreme ranges & drop easily with these calibers. I met a South African guy that had a custom 338 magnum built specifically for hunting plains game at distance. Even with this custom rig he would limit his shots to under 400 yards at game. I saw him shooting "clover leafs" sighting in at 100 yards just using "shooting sticks" for a rest.
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Old July 8, 2008, 06:59 AM   #24
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As mentioned, any thing in the 30.06 class will do. Here's my list but if I had to pick one, I'd go 7mm Rem Mag followed by the .308.

7mm Rem Mag
300 Win Mag
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Old July 8, 2008, 07:51 AM   #25
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my recommendation is play some golf and get used to what real yardages are.
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