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Old September 22, 2013, 11:17 PM   #1
NEO Hunter
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Best all around rifle caliber advice

I am looking for a good and affordable all around rifle caliber. I am trying to go with one rifle for multiple purposes for budget reasons. The smallest and most common thing I want to use it for is coyote calling. Pelt damage isn't a big deal because I do it mostly for fun and population control. I am in North East Ohio so shots typically will be 100-150 yards or less probably. I would like to have the opportunity to deer hunt out of state and maybe even elk and antelope hunt some day. I won't get a chance to shoot anything bigger than my 17 HMR or .22s very often for lack of a good outdoor shooting range so cartridge cost isn't a big deciding factor. Recoil isn't a huge deal but I don't want to go any bigger than needed to get the job done. Cartridge availability is a factor.I have narrowed my choices down to 25-06, 30-06, and .270 so far. Thanks for the advice.
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Old September 23, 2013, 01:22 AM   #2
Bake
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Only cartridge I would add to your list would the 243 Win.
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Old September 23, 2013, 01:46 AM   #3
NWPilgrim
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Best all around rifle caliber advice

It seems the .243, .257 Roberts, .25-06 would be perfect for this role. With ammo being in short supply you might want to get the rifle for which you can readily find suitable ammo in stock.
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Old September 23, 2013, 06:06 AM   #4
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Around here, 30-06 is plentiful, other calibers not so much. I do see quite a bit of 7mm mag also but that isn't on your list.

243 would probably be a good choice also. The local Wal Marts have it on the shelf although not as many boxes as .06.
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Old September 23, 2013, 06:19 AM   #5
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243 would be great. Of your choices you have listed-25-06. That is one sweet shooting rifle for sure. 308 is also a great choice.
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Old September 23, 2013, 06:29 AM   #6
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243 for elk? 30-06 is the best all around, most available ammo, rifle in the US. Not so good for squirrel hunting but is good for most other applications.
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Old September 23, 2013, 06:41 AM   #7
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Hodoka- Im with ya the elk thing,but he mentioned 100 to 150 yards. A 243 will work on elk at that range.
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Old September 23, 2013, 06:43 AM   #8
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I'd add 7mm Rem mag to the list of possibles.
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Old September 23, 2013, 06:43 AM   #9
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+1 .30-06
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Old September 23, 2013, 07:22 AM   #10
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.270 Win is about as perfect as it comes for deer and pronghorn, and very capable of taking elk. If the majority of what you'll be hunting with it is deer out of State then there really isn't any need for anything larger than a .270 slinging a 130 grain bullets. Now if you're going to start pursuing elk on a regular basis then I'd opt for the bullet options available to the .30-06.

I like the .243 recommendation until it comes to elk sized game, while capable of killing elk there are better cartridge choices for that work. For deer and coyotes it is hard to beat the .243 for an all around rifle. So if it is a few years until an elk hunt comes up then maybe a .243 Win might be a better fit and buy a larger caliber rifle for when the elk hunt comes around.
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Old September 23, 2013, 07:31 AM   #11
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30-06 or 270 are the default answers, never found anything a 25-06 could do that a 243 wouldn't do just as well. I've used a 30-06 for 40 years, but find myself taking the 308 out of the safe more lately. The 30-06 has been killing everything on the planet for over 100 years. It, and the 308 are overkill for varmits, but they do make ammo for either that would be satisfactory.

I've come to prefer the 308 for several reasons. Modern 308 loads are 200 fps faster than the 30-06 loads used in WW-1. They are 100 fps faster than 30-06 ammo used during WW-2, and only 50-100 fps slower than modern 30-06 hunting loads. If a 1940's 30-06 was capable, the same bullet 100 fps faster from a 308 in 2013 certainly is.

I've also found my 308's to be more accurate. The 308's are also much lighter and with less recoil.

If you want the smallest gun to get the job done look at the 243. It is darn near perfect for varmit and deer, which in reality what you will hunt 99.9% of the time. It is about the minimum caliber I'd hunt elk with, and elk are as big as I'd go.

Don't let anyone tell you a 243 isn't an elk round.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hY0w1c-gf18
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Old September 23, 2013, 07:32 AM   #12
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243 for the light side will work or 270 on the heavy side will work. The 30-06 and the 270 will do anything on the heavy game side equally but I have found the 30-06 doesn't shoot its lighter weight bullets that accurate as the 270 will for coyote. The 270 is and has been a great elk caliber sinse its conception. It has regularly been used on moose but not ideal. Jack O'Connor took alot of moose, grizzly bear with it and that was with older bullets. Bullet sectional density and Balistic coefficient will be better with the 270 over the 30-06.

Here is how fast a 270 will dump a big bull elk.. Go to 2:15
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DQsRIfuLp7c
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Last edited by Mystro; September 23, 2013 at 07:42 AM.
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Old September 23, 2013, 07:34 AM   #13
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I'd vote for a 30-06, as that offers the most power, while still being affordable.

But I'd also look at .308 too.

.308 is about as powerful as a .30-06 but you can get cheapo plinking much easier than for a .30-06. For instance Walmart has cheap .308 ammo, but all they'll have for .30-06 is expensive hunting ammo. On the other hand, you'll have to go online for .30-06 plinking ammo.
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Old September 23, 2013, 07:37 AM   #14
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Lot's of rifle to rifle variations with light bullets. I have a Ruger #1 in 30-06 that shoots 5 110 Sierra's into one big hole at 100.
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Old September 23, 2013, 07:45 AM   #15
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Hodaka, if you found a 30-06 rifle that will shoot light bullets accurate, you are the exception to my family's experience. Out of four rifles none will really shoot what I would call a accurate lightweight bullet good enough for predator hunting.
150 grain is as light as they all shoot accurately. They still kill the predators just fine.

To the OP:
Its obvious the 3 recommended calibers are going to be 243, 270, 30-06. I would price and see the availability of each caliber and try to shoot all three if you can. I know your area and size of game, the 243 is what you want for your home hunting needs and that's probably the most important game addressed for now.
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Last edited by Mystro; September 23, 2013 at 07:57 AM.
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Old September 23, 2013, 08:01 AM   #16
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If elk are on the menu I would not consider the .243. The .270 is a good choice, but 30-06 better for all around use.
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Old September 23, 2013, 08:17 AM   #17
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I like the .270WIN, and shoot everything from grass rats to big deer (and will do elk someday) but that said, with modern bullets and a handloading set-up, the caliber chosen is so much less important than choosing to handload in the first place.

If you are on a budget, handload for whatever used medium bored centerfire bolt action of reasonably common caliber you can get a good deal on. Then wear it out in an attempt to "shoot up to it"- get good enough that you can shoot it from field positions, under time pressure, as well as you can shoot it from a bench.

The only guns to avoid on the used market would be those in varmint calibers- those may have been shot quite a lot, even if they look brand new on the outside.

Most hunting rifles get carried and shot very little, even at the range.
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Old September 23, 2013, 08:41 AM   #18
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Jimbob86 is right on the money. It is one of the reasons I went from shooting magnum calibers back to the time proven 270 Winchester. I like to shoot and the cost of ammo and excessive recoil wasn't worth it with the magnums. Plus most all the deer and bear I shoot are under 150 yards. I still wanted a 400 yard gun just in case and the 270 is it. A little reality check can be very sobering yet rewarding.
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Old September 23, 2013, 01:32 PM   #19
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.270 Winchster is IMO his best option... I sure do love mine.
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Old September 23, 2013, 02:31 PM   #20
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I just want to re-iterate that I like the .270WIN, BUT that is not necessarily his best option.

Folks get so attached to their calibers ......

The important part of my post was this:

Quote:
....... with modern bullets and a handloading set-up, the caliber chosen is so much less important than choosing to handload in the first place.

If you are on a budget, handload for whatever used medium bored centerfire bolt action of reasonably common caliber you can get a good deal on. Then wear it out in an attempt to "shoot up to it"- get good enough that you can shoot it from field positions, under time pressure, as well as you can shoot it from a bench.
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Old September 23, 2013, 03:32 PM   #21
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IMO the 3 most versatile cartridges are the 6.5-06, .270 win, and .280 rem. with the parent, the .30-06 following closely.
They can all pretty much do exactly what the 30-06 does but faster and flatter. The .308 cal has more bullet choices, but I find the 06' to be rather uninspiring. You generally need bullets 200grain+ to get high BC for long range, and with that amount of weight the 30-06 is a bit 'slow' compared to the 280 or .270 with heavy for caliber bullets.
The .270 has been proven capable of harvesting any game on the planet. So why would you want the extra projectile weight, extra recoil, and less flat trajectory of the 06' when the .270 can do it just fine? And the .270 is more forgiving, if your range estimation, is slightly off.
Also, I find the .270 to be better for varminting, with light weight bullets. You can load light bullets, up to and around 4000fps. These light bullets (80-90grains) generally can be fired at similar velocities to the .204 ruger, and 22-250, with bullets, that have similar Ballistic Coefficients. The only difference is the .270 is firing a projectile with roughly twice the mass as the .204 and .22-250
Just my opinion.

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Old September 23, 2013, 03:46 PM   #22
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I will repeat what I wrote on an earlier thread:

You overlooked the beloved .264 caliber. This would be the 260 Remington or 6.5 Creedmoor in short action, or the classic 6.5x55 Swede in long action. You also have the option in the long action of the 6.5x284 Norma or .264 Winchester Magnum. In the 140 to 160 grain bullet there are few calibers that can compare. They are long for caliber bullets with high BC (ballistic coefficient) and high SD (Sectional Density). Scandinavian's have been using the 6.5x55 SE with 160 grain bullets to kill European Moose (roughly the size of Roosevelt Elk) for decades.
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Old September 23, 2013, 04:00 PM   #23
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Yes, I love the 6.5 series and have several myself but don't try to find ammo at the local Walmart. Ammo availability was one of his primary goals.
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Old September 23, 2013, 04:27 PM   #24
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I've never heard of anyone taking a lion, hippo, cape buffalo or elephant with a .270. Does anyone have information to validate this statement?
I'm not trying to be contentious, just curious about caliber capabilities.
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Old September 23, 2013, 05:40 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodaka
Yes, I love the 6.5 series and have several myself but don't try to find ammo at the local Walmart. Ammo availability was one of his primary goals.
I am surprised one cannot find 6.5x55 SE @ WalMart. I thought it would be universal enough to be stocked by them.
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