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Old January 5, 2014, 09:03 PM   #1
hopeisnotastrategy
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Best 2nd Rifle?

I'm a relatively new hunter and I'm slowly building my stable of hunting weapons. I started with a .270 Sako that I absolutely love! So far I've only taken whitetail deer with it but I have a javelina and cous deer hunt planned this year. I also purchased a Beretta A400 Xtreme Unico that I've taken pheasant, dove, chukar, and a turkey with.

I see my 270 as ideal for all deer, sheep, pronghorn, etc. I see this as my "go to" rifle for pretty much anything in North America.

I want to add another rifle that would be a versatile step up. I will definitely be doing an elk hunt this year as well as potentially going to Africa for a plains game hunt.

I had originally considered my 270 great for hunting elk, but I'm beginning to rethink that. 200 yards and under I think I'm fine, but I'll be in Montana and Colorado where the shots could be longer so I'm thinking I need an option with more energy at longer ranges.

I'm considering the 7mm, 300 win mag, and 338 win mag as the step up.

I see pros and cons to each.

What would you consider the best "2nd gun" for my stable?
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Old January 5, 2014, 09:12 PM   #2
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Your 270 is a 400-500 yard elk gun. The 7mm and 300 mags kick a lot harder and add 50-100 yards of effective range. At ranges of 400 yards of less no elk will ever know the difference. I'm not against magnum rounds, but unless you have the skills to shoot out to 600+ yards you will be just as well served with a 270, 280, 30-06, 308, 7-08 or many other similar rounds.

I'd keep the 270 as my big gun and buy a 243 for deer. With todays better bullets there is not much reason to go bigger than 30-06 unless you are talking about truly large 1200-1400 lb bear. The 270 is so close to 30-06 with modern loadings that there is no reason to own both.

The biggest problem with buying either a 270 or 30-06 is that you will spend the rest of your life going crazy trying to find something better.
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Old January 5, 2014, 09:21 PM   #3
AllenJ
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First, I believe the 270 Winchester is a fine elk rifle when the shooter does his part and you use good bullets. I would not have hesitated to use it on any of the elk I've killed over the last 20 plus years except for one.

Now for your question: It really depends on how well you handle recoil. I shot a Browning A-Bolt in 300 Win Mag for many of those elk, and some deer, and last year I sold it. I was just tired of my shoulder killing me after only 3 or 4 shots at the range. If you don't mind recoil it is a fine round in my opinion. The .338 Win Mag is a gun I've gotten to shoot a little over the years and I liked everything about it except the recoil. It shoots a heavy bullet pretty fast, and elk that I've seen shot with them we never recovered a bullet from due to complete penetration. The 7mm Rem Mag would be my choice of those you list. Recoil is very managable, it is flat shooting, and you have a good choice of bullet weights to choose from.
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Old January 5, 2014, 09:50 PM   #4
JD0x0
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The .270 Winchester is an Elk gun far past 500 yards IMO. A member here posted a video of an Elk taken at 688 yards with .243 Winchester.
If the .243 is capable at that range, you can bet you butt that the .270 will do it with the right load. This is assuming that the shooter is doing his/her part. The .270 is also fairly low recoiling making it easier to shoot. Something like 300win mag may be difficult to shoot without flinching, for some people, depending on the rifle's weight.

On paper, the .270 has enough energy (1000ft-lbs energy) to ethically kill a deer past 900 yards with a 150 grain bullet such as the Nosler Accubond 'Long range' with a rather 'stout' handload.

With long range shooting you want retained energy. This generally means you want a high BC bullet to reduce wind drift, and retain as much velocity as possible. High BC bullets tend to be heavy for caliber, which means the larger the caliber the higher the weight you need to achieve an equal or better BC than a similar shaped, smaller diameter bullet.
For example... The Berger 130 grain match grade classic hunter bullet in .277 has a listed BC of .497
In .308 cal you need their 168 grain match grade classic hunter bullet to get a similar BC at .496
In order to drive the 168 grain bullet as fast as the 130 you need the case capacity of the 300win mag. Since both have fairly similar BC's both will lose velocity at similar rates with the .277 slowing down marginally slower due to it's marginally higher BC. The .270 should be generating significantly less recoil though.
As JMR40 has said. You're pretty much on level ground with the .30-06, 280rem and .270 win. All 3 of these cartridges, with the right load are pretty much capable of taking any living game on this planet. Up to elephants, really. The 180 grain bullets in .277 which are meant for HEAVY game have superior sectional density over a 220 grain .308 cal bullet and a 250 grain .338 cal bullet. Even a 400 grain .416 cal bullet is trailing behind the .277's 180 grain SD of .335

IMO the .270 is an all in one caliber. It will do everything the .30-06 will do but flatter, with less recoil. The .308 does have an advantage on bullet selection and match bullets. But honestly do you really need more than what the .277 cal offers? Everything from 75 grain armor piercing... To light 80,83,85,90,100,110 grain varmint bullets. 120's, 125, 130, 140, 150, 160 for some of the bigger stuff. And bullets as heavy as 180 grains, and in rare cases 200 grains, for the dangerous game. Unless you're trying to stop a charge, from dangerous game, there's not many cartridges that will do 'better.'

I even know of people who have brought their .270's to the African plains, and use them reliably for large cats such a Jaguar.
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Old January 5, 2014, 10:00 PM   #5
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My 12 year old killed an elk at 350 yards with a .308 last week. My Dad did not recover an elk shot at 225 with a .270 in the center of the chest. Sure, the .270 is adequate, but NO WAY it is an ethical 400+ yard elk gun. Elk are much tougher than most people give them credit for. Sure, I have seen the marketing videos of the new girl hunter killing an elk at 1000+ with a .243...yes, I think that was unethical, and lucky. Hitting the target is not enough, you have the have the energy left to kill it now. The only elk I have ever had to track (5 in 33 years and over 100 head of elk) were shot by 7mm Mags and .270s. Never had to track one shot with a .30 caliber or larger. I saw three blood trails of un-recovered elk this year and 2 were out of state hunters with .270s. Also saw three carcasses in the woods, shot by something, but obviously not recovered. Don't be that guy regardless of what some people recommend. I applaud your restraint in your OP and I am just reinforcing that. On to your Q.

My favorite is the .338-06. Much less recoil than the .338 WM, but a step up from the .30-06. There are several 33s that are not belted magnums, and one of those would be my suggestion. There are a few .35s and then the .375 H&H. A .300 magnum of some flavor would also be worth a look. If you do not reload, pick a popular one, if you do reload, look hard at the 33s and 35s that push 200 to 250s at 2600 to 2900 fps. That seems to be the sweet spot for elk. No too much to punch through with no expansion at 30 yards, and enough clean kills out to 350 or more depending on the choice.
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Old January 5, 2014, 10:28 PM   #6
JD0x0
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Sure, the .270 is adequate, but NO WAY it is an ethical 400+ yard elk gun.
Could you elaborate? A few experiences doesn't mean much to me. Especially when I wasn't there to see where and at what angle the Elk were shot at and with what bullet were used. You can lose an Elk with .308 just as easily as you can with the .270 IMO. And IME the .270 actually turns out being more powerful than the .308, in most cases.

Lets look at some data.
A 130 grain .277 bullet has an SD of .242
A 150 grain .308 bullet has an SD of .226 (You need a 161 grain bullet in .308 to match the 130's SD in .277 FWIW)

A 150 grain bullet out of a 24'' .308 leaves at about 2820-2850fps give or take.
A 130 grain bullet out of 270 win leaves at about 3050fps-3200fps (both factory and hand loads have proven these velocities and realistically obtainable)

@ 300 yards
.277 the 130 grain should be traveling around 2618fps with 1979ft-lbs energy using Berger's BC. Also note worthy is 18.17'' drop and 5.56'' of wind drift in a 10mph 90 degree crosswind.

.308 with a 150 should be traveling about 2277fps with 1727ft-lbs energy. (This was with an optimistic MV of 2900fps) Drop is 22.67'' and drift is 7.31''

Now, I'm not arguing which is better or not, but I fail to see how a 270 Winchester is less adequate than the .308 as you claim.
When at 300 yards, the .270 not only has more velocity and energy carried to the target, but also less drop and drift with a projectile that has a higher Sectional density.
Load a boat tailed 150 in the .277 and you've got even more lethality. Not only will a 150 in .277 have significantly higher SD and BC's than the same weight in .308 but MV in the .270 is at least equal, if not faster, with equal weight bullets.
I see loads generating from 2825-3050fps with 150 grain projectiles in .270 Winchester. With an SD of .279 which is superior to a 180 grain .308 bullet, with an SD of .271 and NO WAY are you going to be able to push a 180 in .308 even close to the velocities you'll be getting from a 150 grain in .270 win.
I just can't believe that having a bullet that is .031'' larger in diameter will magically have this killing power that supersedes the .270's generally superior ballistics. With the correctly constructed projectiles, and the hunter doing their part, either cartridge should be capable of harvesting Elk well past 350 yards.

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Old January 5, 2014, 11:01 PM   #7
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The .270 Winchester will kill anything you might want to hunt in North America.

Big gun = big recoil.

The 7MM Rem Mag is the biggest gun I want to shoot.

No animal is going to live with with its heart and/or lungs destroyed. What destroys these organs is immaterial. That they are destroyed is.

A .243 Win in the boiler room is a whole lot better than an '06 to the guts.
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Old January 5, 2014, 11:47 PM   #8
hopeisnotastrategy
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JD0x0 - Thanks for the information. Super informative. As a follow-up, I currently shoot a 130 grain Barnes TTSX bullet with my 270 which has a B.C. of .392. Would you suggest that I use a heavier 270 bullet for Elk?

For clarification to all who might read my initial post...

1) I am extremely confident in shooting my 270. I'm a US Army vet so I'm not new to shooting, and I've spent plenty of time on the range. I can put a group inside 3" at 200 yards.

2) I use Barnes bullets so I am not concerned about the bullet not doing it's job.

3) I wouldn't shoot at anything past 500 yards. For one, I like the challenge of having to get closer. But also, I am not confident enough in my skills to ensure a clean ethical kill.

Hope that helps.
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Old January 6, 2014, 12:21 AM   #9
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270

270 is awesome and you made a good choice.
A better choice is the .280 but that is not what you asked.
The .338 would be my next choice for your stable.
I would use the .270 for anything that could not kill me and the .338 for everything else.
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Old January 6, 2014, 12:33 AM   #10
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Use the gun you're most comfortable with for North American game - the 270 is an excellent choice.

For Africa, plains animals don't have thicker skin than anything here, so the 270 still works, but if you're going for anything bigger than elk-sized game, I'd go with a 375 H&H.
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Old January 6, 2014, 01:07 AM   #11
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In .277 130-150's should be fine for Elk. 140-150 grains is well into CXP3 game territory so Moose, Elk, Kudu, stag, should all be harvestable, with bullets in that weight range. Bullet construction is just as important as weight and from what I understand, the TTSX is a heavily constructed bullet which doesn't expand much considering it's weight and velocity. This can be positive or negative depending on which way you look at it and what you're hunting. I've gotten reports that the 130 TTSX is too heavily constructed for deer, and doesn't expand enough so it passes through and through without dumping a large percentage of it's energy in the target, or at least, not what a lighter constructed bullet may do, while still penetrating enough to cause exit wounds. For deer this is potentially bad, and I've heard that the lighter 110 grain TTSX works better on small deer. OTOH, I've heard that it's a great Elk bullet for this very reason. It's tough enough to get through the hard stuff and offers decent expansion, yet should still create consistent exit wounds. From what someone else had told me, If you're using the TTSX you can use a lower bullet weight by 10-20 grains because they're so heavily constructed. (I'm guessing that's why they don't make a 140 or 150ttsx because it'd likely be too tough to use on most game, especially at long ranges, when velocity drops off)

If I was consistently shooting long range, I'd probably want 150's just to have the higher BC bullets even though there are certainly 130's and 140's capable of harvesting Elk. If I had reloading equipment I'd probably use something like Hornady's 150 grain SST or Nosler Accubond 'Long range' 150 grain, under a max load, if I was consistently shooting over 400 yards.
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Old January 6, 2014, 03:17 AM   #12
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Oh, you crazy guys... not realizing you're trying to talk someone OUT of buying another rifle.


I'm a big fan of the .270 Win, as well, and I regularly take it on Elk hunts. But... there's always more room in the stable.


Out of what you have listed, I'd step up to .338 Win Mag. Skip the 7mm hype, mosey on by the .300s, and park yourself next to a .338. I, personally, have no desire to own one. But, if you want a 'magnum', it's one of the most under-rated but best all-around performers.
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Old January 6, 2014, 04:24 AM   #13
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That old saying Beware of the man who shoots one rifle.
Well your there with your choice already. If you intend to buy a Mag something. I would suggest getting something custom built for those high powered calibers if so desired. Or perhaps something light weight to carry afield would come in handy.
Instead of buying one of those in-the-box take home rifles you'll hardly ever use. This would be a good opportunity to buy a custom built rifle. A rifle your anxious to take afield.
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Old January 6, 2014, 04:33 AM   #14
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I've owned and shot a lot of .270's over the years, and have a lot of respect for it...within reasonable limitations. I believe in using the right tool for the job and an elk just deserves a better chance of a clean kill. Bigger heavier bullets just are more suited for the job of killing elk with no need to experiment trying to use smaller calibers.
I have owned a BAR in .338 and found it to be a very accurate rifle that was not punishing to shoot. If I were in the mood to go after larger animals like you are contemplating, that would be my choice again.
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Old January 6, 2014, 08:48 AM   #15
hopeisnotastrategy
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Quote:
I have owned a BAR in .338 and found it to be a very accurate rifle that was not punishing to shoot.
Old Stoney, it's funny you mention the BAR. I had considered the 338 as potentially the next logical step up and was looking specifically at the BAR with the thought that the semi-automatic action could reduce felt recoil. Has that been your experience? What would you compare the recoil to in a bolt gun? How has the accuracy been?
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Old January 6, 2014, 09:56 AM   #16
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How about a lever action 45-70. A great brush gun that will stop a thing in its tracks inside 100 yards. You already have a suitable flat shooting rifle. I would add a quicker handling lever action like a 45-70 or possibly a 30-30 but you seem to want to go bigger. Marlins are easily scoped and as good as any lever action rifle.

I personally love Ruger #1 in 45-70.
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Old January 6, 2014, 10:38 AM   #17
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Could you elaborate? A few experiences doesn't mean much to me.
Could, but it is off-topic and you have already made up your mind looking at "paper." I made that mistake early on, but after about 200 elk shot by myself and others right in front of me, the performance tells the tale.
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Old January 6, 2014, 12:14 PM   #18
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You can talk about paper ballistics if you want, but 270's have ethically been taking elk at 400-500 yards for near 90 years now. It is one of the most proven combos out there and modern bullets and loads have only made it better. I'd say it has cleanly taken more elk, moose, and African plains game than all of the 33's and 35's combined by a factor of several hundred to 1. The 270 and 30-06 didn't become the standard by which all others are judged because they didn't work. I'll throw the 7X57 in as well, it has traditionally been a favorite in Africa. Americans aren't the only hunters who hunt there.

If you insist on going larger the 375 is the next logical step up. Anything in between is a marginal improvement at best. It is bigger than needed for anything you plan on hunting, but is the next step up that would be an improvement if you became the hunted instead of the hunter in Africa.

Just a few more thoughts. Elk are hunted in some pretty rugged country, in thin air and often in bad weather. I wouldn't be lugging around a heavy, complicated autoloader in elk county. And I wouldn't be shooting a heavy recoiling caliber from a light rifle. Stick with a bolt rifle for the simplicity and reliability. Depending on the caliber you do decide on it can be kept lighter, or heavier depending on what you want or need.
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Old January 6, 2014, 01:32 PM   #19
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hopeisnotastrategy....
The BAR in .338 I had didn't seem to recoil much more than the .270 in a bolt gun. I have a lot of respect for the .270 and in fact killed my first deer over 50 yrs. ago with a model 70 in that caliber, and many since that time as well. My point with the .338 is using enough caliber/bullet weight to humanely do the job. The BAR seems to soak up a lot of recoil as far as I am concerned and I could routinely shoot it comfortably off of a bench. I could routinely shoot groups of 1 to 1/4 inches with the Browning.
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Old January 6, 2014, 01:56 PM   #20
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To cover every base I believe you need 4 rifles.

My choices are 22LR, 222 or 223 Remington, 270 Winchester and 375H&H.

The 22 Rim Fire is the go-to gun for fun shooting, plinking and pest control around the farm.
The 222 or 223 is the all around coyote and fox gun, Rock Chuck gun, and in a pinch can be used with a proper bullet on deer.
The 270 is the back bone of the battery for big game up to elk and even moose in the timber.
The 375 is the heavy hitter, good for hunting elk where Grizzlies are around, good for moose and bison, big bears, and a trip to Australia or Africa.

There are many calibers that cover the same bases as the 223, 270 and 375. They are just the ones I choose.
I think in all around utility the 22 Rim Fire stands alone as the best all around little gun ever made

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Old January 6, 2014, 02:09 PM   #21
buck460XVR
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Quote:
Originally posted by jmr40:

The biggest problem with buying either a 270 or 30-06 is that you will spend the rest of your life going crazy trying to find something better.
...and for the majority of folks that is completely in vain, cause either does most everything asked of it quite well. If I knew in advance of buying my first rifle I was going to Africa and hunting Elk, I may have started with the ought-six just because it handles the larger animals better as well as handling the smaller ones listed by the OP. But that is entirely my opinion. If Dangerous Game was on my list then maybe a .375, otherwise the '06 would be all I would need. The next rifle would be for hunting other game than listed. Would I hunt 'yotes? Prairie dogs? Squirrels? Am I going to reload or always shoot factory? Will I ever get into handgun hunting? If so, would I like a carbine in the same caliber? Or maybe just a hunting revolver that costs as much as a rifle. I tend to go to extremes when my collection is limited. Going one way or the other in small increments until one has broadened the spectrum seems counter-productive to me.
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Old January 6, 2014, 06:49 PM   #22
MarkCO
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but 270's have ethically been taking elk at 400-500 yards for near 90 years now.
Says a guy from Georgia...yeah right.

More like sometimes wounding and sometimes killing at those distances. Hang out with a DOW officer in CO for a season, vast majority of wounded animals, multiple shots into herds, etc. are with the vaunted .270s of the out of state hunters from the South that "know it is more than enough." 6 elk were wounded and or killed by a hunter from Georgia in Colorado about 15 years ago, with a 270, at distances of 400 to 450 yards...know that guy? DOW officers tracked down 3 or 4 of them that had chest cavity hits and finished them off.

Sure the .270 is enough gun within some limitations (as are all calibers), but a new elk hunter with a .270 at 400+ is NOT ethical. Sorry, just is. A Top Gun pilot I used to hunt with called anything under .35 a "needle caliber"...just enough to needle them into running away. A bit extreme, sure. The stats indicate that the vast majority of elk are killed inside 200 yards anyway, and a .270 should be fine at that distance.

I have no doubt that an elk could be killed at 200 yards with a .22RF, but it would not be repeatable and it would be unethical to try unless you were starving. If a guy wants to hunt with a .243, sure, fine, but the limit has to be closer than most would like. The VAST majority of hunters can not hold an 8" pie plate at 100 yards under hunting conditions, now you want to set them free with a .270 at 500 yards. That sir IS unethical. If YOU can use a .270 to hit the heart and lungs every time at 500 yards with a .270 and kill elk, then that is great for you, but you would be rare and expounding that to the general hunter would be foolish advice, not wise counsel.

Apologies to the OP.
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Old January 6, 2014, 11:36 PM   #23
Major Dave (retired)
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Need more than a 270 Win?

How about 270 Win Short Mag?

Makes a 150 grain .277 pill as fast as a 130 grain 270 Win. Can handload heavier pills to almost 130 grain velocities achieved by 270 Win.

A little more recoil, sure, but not like 7mm mag, 300 Win Mag, or 338 Win mag.

I'm just saying.
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Old January 6, 2014, 11:49 PM   #24
hopeisnotastrategy
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Quote:
How about 270 Win Short Mag?
Major Dave - I LOVE the ballistics of the 270 WSM. I just didn't know if it was the most sensible "next step" considering how close it is to the 270. I don't see that there's much I could do with a 270 WSM that I couldn't do with a 270 within 500 yards.

But I'm open.
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Old January 7, 2014, 12:07 AM   #25
armsmaster270
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My main go to rif;e os a rem 740 30-06 topped by a Lyman All American 4X Scope, my secondary to reach out there is a Browning A-Bolt in 7mmWSM topped by a Simmonds target variable riflescope in 4.5X15X40.

Also my Aunt bagged a 2nd place Boone & Crockett Mountain Carobou in the 50's with the 270 winchester. Dorothy Kean check it out.
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