View Full Version : Best medium game cartridge

Dave Honiball
February 9, 2001, 05:19 AM
Buying my first hunting rifle (only been hunting for a year). Ive got the idea of buying a 308 or a 7x57. Most of the shooting Im doing is medium game and sometimes up to ranges of 300 meters. I will be shooting on plains as well as bushveld (can be dense).

I dont like the 30-06 (cant give any reason not even a bad one) but am told this is a more versatile cartridge than either of the above. Although everyone seems to admit that the 7x57 and 308 are inherently more accurate.

Choice is not easy. Magnum cartridges tend to damgage the meat more unless head shots are made and I,m not that confident at the moment to try a head shot at 200m plus.

Appreciate all comments as I dont want to make a mistake. the rifles concerned are a CZ (Bruno) 7x57 and a Ruger M77 308

Al Thompson
February 9, 2001, 09:15 AM
Welcome to TFL!

Truthfully, I don't see much ballistic difference from .270 to .300 Win Mag, as long as the sectional density of the bullet is the same.

The 7mm measures .28, the .308, well, .30. I don't think that .02 makes much difference.

You may want to consider ammo availability. I would think that .308 may be more common (military ball) and eaiser to practice with.

Not sure what you mean about magnums being more destructive. At close range, yes, but 200m? The .308 can launch a 180 grain bullet at about 2700 fps, the .300 Weatherby, 3100 fps. IIRC, the .300 hits 2700 fps at about 200m. So, it's only 400 fps faster and hits at 200m like a .308 at the muzzle. Not much difference, somewhat flatter trajectory. The .300 hits 2.3 inchs higher at 300m, with both sighted at 200m. ~ shrug ~

The accuracy difference is small and vanishes under field conditions. The benchrest folks have pretty much proven that shorter and fatter equals better accuracy - but it's a very thin edge. IMHO, utterly useless for hunters to worry about.

BTW, I like the CZ better for the action, but wouldn't turn either down.

Art and I share a couple of things - one of which is that we both despise head shots. Way too easy to wound a animal and not recover him. If you have to do it, it's a very close range proposition.


February 9, 2001, 10:09 AM
You could search forever and not find a better setup than a Ruger or CZ bolt action in 308 for your first hunting rifle. The only advantage the 7mm has over the 308 is less recoil.

February 9, 2001, 10:44 AM
I have and shoot both.

Depending on where you live or hunt, you mentioned bushveld, I would go with what Gizmo99 stated about availability of ammo.

Either is a fine and accurate cartridge although the accuracy edge would go to the .308 while the reduced recoil edge goes to the 7x57.

In my experience, the less the recoil the greater the accuracy, all things being equal.

While I shoot mostly single shots, either CZ or Ruger, aside from Bill Ruger's politics, is an excellent choice. I have a Ruger Mark I in 7x57 that I like very much. It is the claw extracter and controlled round feed Mauser type (with the tang safety) that Winchester so highly advertises and Ruger doesn't.

Choose the one that FITS YOU and fits the way you hunt and you can't go wrong.

Do not only train, also teach.

Art Eatman
February 10, 2001, 01:19 AM
Sitting at a benchrest, almost any mid-range rifle has a certain amount of noticeable recoil. Conversely, I've never noticed recoil at all when actually shooting at a game animal. Don't even hear the noise, really...

To me, adequate hunting accuracy is anything inside of 1-1/2 MOA, or around 3 inches at 200 meters. Even then, if the first three shots are in that vicinity, plenty good; I don't worry about five-shot groups *for hunting*.

From the standpoint of brand of rifle, I tend to go for the one which feels best, points most naturally just seems easiest to shoot.

Comparing the .308 and the 7x57, I guess my comment is that I'd pick whichever is the least costly to do a lot of practice shooting. The ballistics aren't all that different.

But I'd do some checking with local hunters before laying the money down.


February 11, 2001, 09:40 AM
I would have to vote for the 308 for game up to the size of a horse (zebra, eland, wildebeaste,etc)...

I have used both my Remington bolt action 788 and my H&K 91 to take white tail deer at ranges up to 350 yards (using rest for anything over about 150 yards). In fact last season, I took a buck, field dressing at 160 pounds, with a single off hand shot paced out to 110 yards that passed completely through the chest from side to side.

Practice ammo is relativly cheap buying mil surplus(a lot of my purchases have been South African in origin which I rank as only slightly below West German for consitancy but a lot cheaper) plus I get a kick out of tracer ammo at night.

I would caution against using the 308 for large dangerous game (cape buffalo, rhino, hippo, elephant) although it should have no problem with any of the big cats (lion, leopard,etc).

I dropped a feral hog that dress out to 350 pounds with a single broadside shot once, but I always use the H&K for hog hunting for the large mag capacity and rapid semiauto fire as East Texas hogs run in packs and are relativly aggressive.

February 11, 2001, 11:30 AM
I'll agree with Art on this one. Whichever one you are most comfortable with, get it. Try shouldering both and make a decision then.

I have to take exception with Jeremae and his advice on the .308 for "horse" size game. He stated that he's used it on deer, but wildebeast, zebra and eland are a heckuva (read 2-5 times) lot bigger than a Texas whitetail. Yes, any well placed bullet delivered from any gun CAN lead to death, so in theory he is correct. However, in Africa, you wound it, you bought it. I'm not willing to risk $1000 or more trophy fee on a "marginal" cartridge.

Also, you may want to research more about the comment related to the big cats. In "most" of Africa, there are minimum requirements for shooting the "Big 5", of which lion and leopard are part, and that minimum is .375 H&H. If these animals "might" be in your future, I'd put the money aside to buy another rifle.


February 11, 2001, 03:55 PM
I recently went through similar motions and opted for a Ruger M77 II chambered in 30-06. I have yet to find anyone who thinks I chose poorly.

I imagine that nobody worth listening too would criticize either rifle or cartridge combinations that you have listed.

That said I would opt for the CZ in .308.

Let us know what you decide on, either way. :)

February 12, 2001, 04:07 PM
The marginality of the 308 cartridge is often overstated. My example of the buck from last season was to illustrate the through and through wound even with apparent full open of the 165gr Core-Lokt Sierra Boattail federal premium round at over 100 yards.

I have dropped wild range cattle in place at 100 yards with a single shot placed in the Kill Spot (center of mass behind front shoulder). My grandfather only owned 2 rifles, a Marlin lever action 30/30, the only rifle he used on Deer in upstate NY, and a bolt action 308 he used to hunt Moose in Maine and Elk in Wyoming, both in the upper range of game size.

Yes most professional hunting guides prefer their clients to use a bigger gun for elk and moose like the 300 mag or 45/70 but that is primarily due to the generally poor shooting skills of their clients. According to what I have read, the same is true in Africa where the standard runs more towards the 375 H&H, 400 Nitro etc for the same reason.

My comment on the big cats was more in line of effectiveness of the round and I am totally ignorant of any government regs in respect to the Big 5 as I personally have no interest in hunting predators/dangerous game except to control their population as needed to protect people/livestock.

All of the 30 calibers (270, 280, 308, 7mm, 30-06) are basically the same with very similar ballistics and all use the same projectiles. The advantages of the 308 are a slightly better accuracy and cheap source of practice ammo as the 308 is primary cartridges for US M-60, NATO G3, etc.

When you ask "What is the BEST Gun/Cartridge?", the advice you get back(including from me) is mostly personal opinion/preference.

I also agree that the primary concern is how "good" the gun feels to the shooter and regular practice. If you are confident and familiar with your weapon, know and respect your prey, you will be successful no matter what any expert will tell you.

February 12, 2001, 04:19 PM
Why not split the difference and get a 7mm-08? :)

Al Thompson
February 12, 2001, 04:53 PM
Which means that he may not have as much choice in calibers as we do. When I was there ten years ago, the .308 was head and shoulders above anything else - you could get less expensive ammo for it.

Not sure what's changed, but it's probably not for the better. :(


February 12, 2001, 09:21 PM
All of the 30 calibers (270, 280, 308, 7mm, 30-06) are basically the same with very similar ballistics and all use the same projectiles.

...but, only two of the five cartridges you list are 30 calibers. They DO NOT all use the same projectiles.

As to the original question. I like the .308. They will both do the same job, but the .308 will do it for less money.


February 12, 2001, 09:32 PM
Dave, don't know how much help any of this has been to you, other than to perhaps add to the confussion. Either cartridge should serve you fine on most plains game and I couldn't say that either would be a mistake, so long as you know your limitations and that of you rifle/ammo.

Since you stated you may also be hunting in the bush, you might want to consider topping whichever gun you get with a variable power scope. That way you have the option of low power in the thornbush hunting bushbuck/kudu/nyala and higher power for shooting across the plains at blesbok/springbok.


February 14, 2001, 02:17 PM
I'll second the comment about the 7mm-08. Basically a 7x57 with a bit more horsepower, but still less rocoil than the .308.

Ammo choices and cheap practice rounds favor the .308, but 7mm-08 has a ballistic edge over 308 and can use a wide range of bullet weights effectively.

I have a CZ heavy barrel in 308 that is an absolute tack driver, .65" groups with some factory loads. But my cheap little "scout" rifle in 7mm-08 averages 1" groups all day long. Many of the long range sihloutte shooters switched to 7mm-08 because it offered better ballistics and accuracy while still retaining enough power to topple sihlouttes from great distances. I don't recall if CZ chambers a rifle in 7mm-08, but that would certainly be my first choice, followed by a CZ in 7x57, then a CZ in 308. I think my next rifle will be a CZ 550 in 7x57 with a Mannlicher stock.

A day at the range with a lightweight 308 can wear you out. I haven't experienced that problem with my 7mm-08.

Good luck.

February 14, 2001, 02:23 PM
BTW. I forgot to mention that the CZ's have a factory standard set trigger that is most excellent. You will not be disappointed.

February 18, 2001, 09:43 PM
.308 is more than fine but the 7mm-08 is, IMO, better than the 7x57 if you are looking for a smaller bore with lighter bullets and less recoil.

For deer, I do not think a better cartridge can be found than the .25-06, especially in the open expanses. But that's a longer action and perhaps not what you are looking for.

Paul B.
February 19, 2001, 03:33 PM
Lot's of good advice here. I shoot both cartridges quite a bit, and my choice would probably be the .308. First off, cheap practice ammo. I know of very little surplus 7X57 ammo still available. Second, at least here in the U.S., 7X57MM is underloaded quite a bit, due to all those 93, and 95 Mausers still floating around, not to mention old Remington Rolling Block rifle, most of which have a bad headspace problem as well.
If you can reload where you live, you can bring the 7X57 up to par with the 7MM-08. You may even have access to European 7X57, like Norma and RWS which are loaded to modern specs.
I shoot both rounds, and I reload. I have no qualms about using either on game up to and including elk sized game.
Good luck on whichever you choose.
Paul B.

February 19, 2001, 07:41 PM
If medium game means anything including and smaller than whitetail-mulies did anyone consider the 25-06? I positively love the cartridge myself.

February 25, 2001, 06:45 PM
Southla1 : Roger that!

February 27, 2001, 04:59 PM
how about the 280 Rem.? I got ahold of one a few years ago and have been very satisfied.

Keith Rogan
February 28, 2001, 02:21 PM
>>>>I'll second the comment about the 7mm-08. Basically a 7x57 with a bit more horsepower, but still less rocoil than the .308.<<<<<

Actually, the 7mm-08 has LESS horsepower than the 7x57 - if both are loaded to their full potential. In reality, I don't think there's any difference.

February 28, 2001, 07:40 PM
7MM-08 in a light weight rifle......nice

Dave Honiball
March 10, 2001, 05:17 AM
Sorry, Been away for quite a few weeks with motorcycle injuries. Went against everything that i asked andbought a .270Win Mag from a buddy.

Rifle is a Wilsons Barrel with a Mauser K98 action and hand made stock. Full of lovely engravings to. Not to mention an execellent scope. Rifle fits and points like a dream and the cartridge will do the job on the plains although some farmers do not let you shoot this calibre in the bushveld due to the velocity, as they reckon the grass and branches will deflect the shot and you end up with a wounded animal, which will have to be searched for and if you dont find it you pay but who cares as the injuries mentioned above have sort of put me out of bushveldt hunting as the walking is a problem (knees collapsed). Some of the farmers here even charge R50 (suppose u can say $50 although the exchange rate is R7.70 to a $1) per shot including the kill.

The farmers where I live are prepared to take me out in thier 4x4's and distance shooting will have to be done. About 150meters plus with nothing in the way to deflect the bullet.

Know the man well and know his rifles. at the end i think I bought and excellent rifle for a excellent price. I just hope with our new firearm laws i get a licsence (have four pin shooting guns a .22 Silouhette rifle and we are only allowed 4, unles you are a bona fide sportsman or hunter). As was mentioned the 7mm 08 is not available here.Quite a few of the hunters here have swithced to .270 and 243 so its quite popular and ammo is quite cheap and I am kitted out to reload

After chatting with a lot of hunters and doing some reading. Both the 308 and 7x57 had a good reception and come well recommended with people using particularly 7x57 on cape buffalo and elan. Although as mentioned shot placement was emphasised (who wants to caught in the bush with a wounded Cape Buffalo certainly not me).

Thanks guys, for the advice it was well recieved and I,m deffinately buying a 308 next year when I recieve my bona fide sportsman. The Ruger fits and points extremely well and I cant get it out of my mind. So heres hoping.

March 10, 2001, 07:48 AM
Glad you were able to find a gun that you are happy with and good luck with obtaining your sportsman. The exchange rate almost makes me wish I was coming there this May as opposed to next.


Dave Honiball
March 10, 2001, 08:11 AM
If u come over let me know maybe we can do a hunt together

Art Eatman
March 10, 2001, 01:13 PM
The .270 is for sure a great cartridge. If there is any truth to what I've read about the greater toughness and vitality of African plains animals compared to our U.S. deer, I'd suggest controlled-expansion bullets such as the Nosler...

Good hunting!


March 10, 2001, 07:07 PM
7x57 on Cape Buff! Egad! I plan on using my .45-70, when I finally make it over the big pond...

From what I've read, African game is typically tougher. If ammo were available, I think I might've gone for an 8mm Rem Mag, or one of the 9.3mm's...

Art Eatman
March 10, 2001, 07:46 PM
Spectre, whatcha do is, ya sneak up reeaaallly close and stick the muzzle in the ear. Of the buffalo. If ya goof, the buffalo sticks it...Oh, well.

:), Art

March 11, 2001, 02:18 PM
I recall Capstick writing of a lady who used a 7x57, but he said she was a crack shot. I think Cappy usually went with a .375 (which is fur piece from a .308!).

I recall Rich saying that he had decided that a .308 was too light for even African Plains game. Also, Eric Ching wrote that he had trouble cleanly taking game with even his .350 Rem Mag (almost the ballistic twin of the .35 Whelen).

[Edited by Spectre on 03-13-2001 at 04:56 PM]

Art Eatman
March 11, 2001, 09:14 PM
Spectre, after reading well over 20 or 30 books on African hunting, my guess is that it's the same old deal: Placement, placement, placement. I say this in part because I've read comments from apparently-experienced locals about the wonders of the .243 on plains game. "Dropped like a rock", on 150-lb to 350-lb critters.

Apparently some of these great hunters just weren't as good at shooting as they were at writing about hunting. Kinda like my car racing daze: "Okay, guy. Let's see if you can drive as fast as you can talk!"

:), Art

Dave Honiball
March 12, 2001, 09:15 AM
well said Art

March 13, 2001, 05:07 PM

Those who can, do. Those who can't- critique!

Anyway, while definitely a valid point, I recall that Grant's zebras go up to 600 lbs. I also recall that the only animal Eric shot with his .308 was a little impala that he plugged in both lungs. It went down, then bounced back up, and ran for a little longer. I personally think through the lungs is a decent, if not exceptional shot.

Art Eatman
March 13, 2001, 07:24 PM
I guess a half-dozen whitetails I've shot in the lungs--guessing I missed the heart an inch or three--instantly went down and then got up and ran for maybe 50 yards or so before going down for good. IIRC, this included .270, '06 and .243. Maybe two on each, I ain't fer sure. But I've never had a good, solid forward body shot where the deer went far enough to worry about.

On stuff like the African buffalo, his running 50 yards when you start out 40 yards from him can be--troublesome?

:), Art