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Old December 22, 2022, 10:12 AM   #1
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Which Rifle to Take

I'm heading on a OIL backpack sheep hunt this August and am trying to figure out which rifle to take. Here are my options I'm currently considering:

1. 270 Win - Browning Stalker w Boss 18" barrel. Sub MOA @ 2641 fps with 130 gr Nosler Ballistic Tips. Weighs 8# 13oz with scope.

2. 300 Win Mag - Cooper 52 26" barrel. Sub 1/2 MOA @ 2900 fps with 165 gr Speer SP Boat Tails. Weighs 9# 11oz with scope.

3. 7mm-08 Rem - Christensen Arms FFT Ridgeline 20" barrel. Sub 1/2 MOA @ 2554 fps with 140 gr Nosler Ballistic Tips. Weighs 6# 15oz with scope.

4. Buy a 280 AI or 7mm Rem in the Christensen FFT Mesa so I can keep the low weight, but get my velocity up in case I need to reach out to 600.

I tried combos of RL15 and RL19 to find a hotter load for the 7mm-08 and 140 BT, but accuracy falls off when I get into the higher loads. It does like a 120gr Barnes TTSX recipe with 42.5 gr of RL15, but that bullet worries me for expansion beyond 300 yards, as well as wind drift.

There are some intangible qualities of a couple of these rifles, but I wanted to keep the specs as objective as possible.

Thanks for any advice/feedback
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Old December 22, 2022, 12:14 PM   #2
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I don't know what your terrain will be like, but I'd expect it to be steep/rocky. If I expected shots at 450+ yards, I'd lug that 300 Mag. If I could get within 350 that Ridgeline would definitely go for the ride.
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Old December 22, 2022, 12:26 PM   #3
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What does OIL mean?
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Old December 22, 2022, 12:33 PM   #4
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Of what you listed, the .270Win would be my choice. Obviously a good pack is important. I backpack hunt with a Bergara (light) or a Vorn (heavier).

I have always been a big fan of the .280AI. I just finally got mine together. A Defiance Action, KRG stock and Burris XTRIII scope in Hawkins Hybrids. So I'd be remiss if I did not say get a new rifle if it is not a cramp to your budget. Best luck on the prep.
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Old December 29, 2022, 05:49 PM   #5
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Out of those I'd do the .300 win Mag but load up something in the 185-195gr weight for higher BC to reach out better.
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Old December 31, 2022, 04:18 PM   #6
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[QUOTEWhat does OIL mean?][/QUOTE]

Once in a Lifetime? I assume.

You don't want a 9 lb rifle in sheep country unless someone else is carrying it. I'd be rifle shopping, but August is cutting it close to get a new rifle and get in enough shooting to get comfortable with it.

There are lots of good choices in cartridges. I'd keep the rifle/scope combo as close to 7 lbs as possible
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Old December 31, 2022, 04:47 PM   #7
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No doubt about it, I'd go for the Christensen Arms Mesa in 280. Lighter to pack (and at 7,000 feet you will notice that), flatter shooting than the 270 or 7-08, less recoil and less weight than the 300 Win Mag. You're going to be taking shots out to 600-ish yards but might have one stand up right in front of you. And a 280, whether regular or AI, will keep up with a 7mm mag with less recoil.

I built myself a lightweight rifle just 3 years ago, a 308 that weighs right at 6 lbs with a scope, because when you're climbing mountains every ounce will hammer you down.
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Old December 31, 2022, 05:07 PM   #8
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If your prepared to rough it and climb up to them, and get among them etc. The 18" .270 could make all that a tad easier. And a "Tad" is what its going to take.
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Old January 1, 2023, 11:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tawaliga
7mm-08 Rem - Christensen Arms FFT Ridgeline 20" barrel. Sub 1/2 MOA @ 2554 fps with 140 gr Nosler Ballistic Tips. Weighs 6# 15oz with scope.
This is the one I'd start with first. I'd then move onto confirming the rifles true capabilities. Shoot it as much as possible to confirm velocites and group sizes. I guarantee some days you and your rifle aren't going to be sub ½ MOA.

Then move on to shooting how you're going to in the field. Are you going to use an improvised rest (pack, off rocks, etc.), bipod, tripod, or sticks? Shoot at varying ranges and positions to know what will give you the most confidence for making a shot. It'll also give you an idea of what you and your rifle are truly capable of.

What you're trying to do is build confidence in you and your system. So that when it comes down to the shot, you've removed doubt in your capabilities. That will allow you to be more patient, and say "I got this" when the time comes to squeeze the trigger.
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Old January 2, 2023, 11:05 AM   #10
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Print Taylorce1 comments for regular review and follow them to the letter. A hunt of a lifetime should not hinge on your ability to range and precisely place the first shot.
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Old January 4, 2023, 07:27 PM   #11
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300 win-mag all day for those very long shots. If you don't have one yet get a sling for it.
Always looking for a good hunt!
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Old January 7, 2023, 05:39 PM   #12
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3. 7mm-08 Rem - Christensen Arms FFT Ridgeline 20" barrel. Sub 1/2 MOA @ 2554 fps with 140 gr Nosler Ballistic Tips. Weighs 6# 15oz with scope.

That would be my choice. The only change would be the bullet. I'd look at a 140 gr. Accubond if Nosler makes one or the good old Nosler Partition. However, my preference would be for a 150 gr. Accubond or Partition. The ABLR might also work if your rifle likes that bullet. Unfortunately, none of my 7MM rifles like that bullet.

I'm not sure why your rifle loses accuracy when you try for more velocity, Have you tried playing with seating depth? Maybe try a different brand of bullet. The Hornadys are supposed to be pretty decent on game and I've had good results with some of the Speer Hot Cores, mainly in 30 caliber though.

I don't own a 7-08, at least not yet, but I do run a 7x57 using 7-08 data and RL17 powder. Truth be told I worked it up long before I saw published date at that level. The rifle is an M70 Featherweight and that would be the very heaviest rifle I would take on a sheep hunt. I actually have a couple of .308s that weigh less and probably would choose one of those over the M70.

I don't know and what MSL level you'll be hunt at but believe me, high altitude and steep mountains can do a hurt on you real quick. Every ounce of rifle weight you lose will make a difference. Just ask me how I know.
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Old January 8, 2023, 10:08 PM   #13
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Hiking in the mountains at 1,000s of feet higher elevation than you're used to is no joke.
Weight matters.
If I had a 7lb gun, I wouldn't be carrying a 10 pound one, I can tell you that.
A theoretical shot that a 7-08 "can't" make doesn't matter if you're so tired that you never make the climb to know the shot exists.

Of course, I don't know what your home altitude is, where you are hunting, nor your age or physical condition so I'm just speculating.

140gr TTSX from a 7-08 should expand reliably out to 450 or so.

But I mean... hey, if a new Christensen in 7mm Mag is in the cards... who doesn't "need" a new gun? Right?

Those would be my choices.
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Old January 9, 2023, 06:29 AM   #14
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Its cheap and easy for me to have opinions with your money!!

I'm a little concerned with the velocity price you pay for the short barrels in what might otherwise be ideal rifles.

I suggest you start with what bullet you might use. Find out the manufacturers
minimum impact velocity for good expansion/terminal effect. Thats often just under 2000 fps. Also get the BC for that bullet.

Plug your muzzle velocity and hunt altitude into a ballistic program and run the numbers. A guideline for your for your maximum effective range will emerge. At what range do you still have 2000 fps? (for example)
You can compensate for trajectory but not bullet performance. I myself would allow some reserve velocity for a sure kill. This stuff is not precise black and white but it helps for decision making.

I was listening to Greshams radio show and he is pondering a new rifle for a high country hunt. He was sharing the virtues of the 7mm PRC .

IMO,either a 6.5 or 7mm PRC would be worthy of consideration, at least on paper. I have no experience with them myself.

No belt .Quick twists standard for long bullets. 2900+ fps. Generally,lessons learned for "accuracy cartridges" applied. (At least per Gresham's comments)

You might get lighter weight and lower recoil (better shooter performance) with the 6.5.

I'd use a foam core /glass/kevlar lightweight stock. I don't know what is available now, I've used 20 oz HiTec Specialties for example.

Of the commonly used receivers, per Bart the Win M-70 is most rigid. I don't know anything about the exotics,titanium.etc.

I have no experience with graphite barrels. They can save weight and shoot good I have been told. I've used from Douglas Premium FWT to Lilja #3 contour for hunting weight rifles with good result. YMMV.

IMO.don't over scope it. A massive 50 mm+ astronomical telescope is out of place on a mountain rifle. You do you, but I would not exceed 10X and 42 mm. Leupold CDS knobs might be an option.

Good Luck!!

Last edited by HiBC; January 9, 2023 at 06:37 AM.
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Old January 9, 2023, 11:18 AM   #15
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I don't know why everyone is trying to reinvent the wheel? The OP has a rifle that's perfectly capable of taking sheep, and is of a very packable weight. He's shooting a bullet with appropriate mass and velocity to work at 600+ yards. He doesn't need a new rifle, he has that covered in spades.

I'd focus more on the shooting, being physically fit, and in the correct headspace. That way if it is truly a once in a lifetime hunt, he's truly prepared. We often think what we chose to shoot is the most important thing, but it is actually pretty far down the list. Most hunts don't hinge on your cartridge/rifle choice.
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Old January 10, 2023, 01:50 PM   #16
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Yes, I'd say I have 3 perfectly capable of taking a sheep. I already took the 300 on a dall sheep hunt a few years ago, and while it was heavy and sometimes annoying to get in and out of the tent, the weight and balance of the longer barrel probably helped to keep me on target while resting on my guides pack (still had mine on when I shot) after sprinting across snow covered boulders around the side of a mountain in order to get a shot before the band of rams disappeared. Part of me feels, why mess with a good thing.....and when we had a few run ins with grizzlies, the 300 was nice to have in hand....this will be in grizzly country as well (this history with the rifle was one of those intangibles I left out in the original post)

The .270 was given to me when I was 15 years old as a Christmas present from my Dad

I have no sentimental ties to the 7mm-08, no history with it like the above....but I did buy it specifically for this hunt (due to its lighter weight and shorter barrel)....before I realized I could not take a suppressor to Canada.
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Old January 10, 2023, 03:17 PM   #17
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Do whatever makes you happy!
From the numbers provided by the OP, I took a quick look on my Nosler load manual.
The .270 was 2641 fps with a 130 gr Nos BT. (Advertised BC of .
435 at sea level)
Giving some allowance for altitude, I arbitrarily chose the .480-.490 data.

I'll fudge the velocity up to 2700 and subtract 60 fps later.The table shows 2009 fps at 400 yds. Subtract the 60 fps from rounding to 2700 and we have 1940 fps at 400 yds.

Probably,most of the time 1940 fps will make the Ballistic Tip perform.

I'd say that establishes 400 yds as max effective range (approx) for that .270 and load.

At 600 yds the impact velocity would be approx 1640 .

The BC altitude adjustment was "seat of the pants". I just turned the page and went from .435 to ".480 to .489" . Thats likely off some.

My point is simply data can help make the choice. If the 600 yd criteria is important, that 270 may come up short. With a new 24 in + barrel, the .270 might be great!!. A new barrel on the 270 just for this hunt might make sense.

Nosler calls H-4831sc "the most accurate powder tested" A 59 gr max load is 3124 fps from a 24 in Shilen 1 in 10 barrel. Listed accuracy load is 55 gr for 2909 fps.

A 24 in rebarrel should provide adequate velocity for 600 yd bullet performance.

But do whatever makes you happy. Not my hunt,not my rifle, not my wallet.

Remember the OP asked for our (my) opinions on just this.
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Old January 10, 2023, 04:24 PM   #18
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I have just ordered a new barrel from Midwest Gunworks for the 270. It's a 280 Rem barrel with a 22" barrel. Local gunsmith said he will fit it for me for $150 so that sounds good. Have always wanted a 280...Will have to see how this experiment goes

Thanks for all the replies and advice. Hunt is not until August so I have time to get this figured out.
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Old January 10, 2023, 09:16 PM   #19
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No way would I ever rebarrel a .270 my Dad gave at me to anything else but a .270 Win.
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Old January 11, 2023, 09:02 AM   #20
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There is a reason why I picked the 280, and it involves a memorable experience and conversation I had with my Dad (after he gave me the 270) that I don't feel the need to provide to you.
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Old January 11, 2023, 02:26 PM   #21
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because when you're climbing mountains every ounce will hammer you down.
Agree! As someone who has climbed the mountains in central northern NV years ago, boots get the highest priority followed by the weight of the gear. If you're a flatlander and you'll be climbing above 9000, you need to allow time to get acclimated to avoid altitude sickness. Loose shale-like terrain is brutal going up AND down, especially if you are toting your trophy. I would opt for the lightest rifle that will do the job, and if possible, do a lot of scouting beforehand.
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Old January 11, 2023, 06:47 PM   #22
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You ordered your barrel. This comment may be moot,but just for fun,lets talk about the 7-08 Christiansen Ridgeline.
Its Lightweight and you have it. You might ask your outfitter what he thinks.

I have a few points to offer.

1) Unclenick is a Man to pay attention to. I have no idea how many rounds you fire to determine "Its a 1/2 MOA rifle" Unclenick has models that show we can get nice 3 shot or 5 shot groups that can mislead us. Our magic :OOOO AHHH 1/2 MOA load is likely a nice random cluster. Same load,same rifle,same day shoot a 20 round group and you will get other nice little clusters in slightly different locations. Sample size.
2)Call me a heretic but up to a point,group size isn't everything. Lets talk about the difference between 1/2 MOA and 1 1/2 MOA . The 1/2 MOA on theory will place its POI within 1/4 in of POA (point of aim.) The 1 1/2 MOA rifle will be within 3/4 in. Difference? 1/2 in at 100 yds. Or,in theory 3 inches at 600 yds. Many other factors can make that much difference.
Yes! You need enough accuracy . But 1 lb rifle weight or 150 fps velocity might be a fair trade for a suspected 1/2 MOA accuracy.
My Nosler book shows RE=15 and RE=19 performing well with 140 gr BTs

But Varget,IMR 4350, IMR 4895,and others approach or exceed 2850 fps with the 26 in test barrel . The 25 fps per inch rule of thumb would suggest a 150 fps loss for a 20 in barrel. That MAY indicate near 2700 is a reasonable goal.(Or not!)

Its a boost from 2550. You can gain SOME and retain "pretty darn good" Accuracy.

3) We tend to focus on the 1% or 5% shot. The 600 yd shot. It may be your only shot! True. Talk to your outfitter. I used to think in terms of the 600 yd rifle. I built a 30-338 around the idea, 2900 fps with a 200 gr Accubond, Then with my 257 AI I made about a 450 yd shot on a Pronghorn. DRT. Neck shot. But I was aiming heart/lung. Some mystery thread of wind. No bragging shot. Ot was humbling.
I know, We have a lot of long range experts here. I had a lasered 1100 yd spot on the ranch I used to shoot. No bench,but a bipod . I shot a fair number of targets there. It was not unusual to place 5 that could all hit a gallon jug. (Win Model 70 Classic Laredo 7mm Rem, Leupold 4,5 to 14 Long Range) But IMO,thats not the same as hunting.

Ask your outfitter . Is a 600 yd rifle worth 2 or 3 lbs weight over a 450 yd rifle? I can't tell you. I bet the outfitters nightmare is a botched 600 yd shot.

You could work up a hi-vel accurate 7-08 load and take a back up rifle.

Last edited by HiBC; January 11, 2023 at 06:54 PM.
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Old January 13, 2023, 02:43 AM   #23
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Might I offer an alternative suggestion. ; )

Full disclosure, I don't hunt anymore, but I do work on hunting rifles for friends that are very active hunters that hunt everything from small game all the up to the big 5 (they supply ammo and I get to shoot all kinds of rifles I would otherwise never have a chance to, so it's a good deal for me). I keep track of who tags what when they come back from a hunt and what it was shot with. The one "do-it-all" chambering that almost never fails to fill the tag is the 300 weatherby magnum. Long range--check. Tremendous kinetic energy-check. Flat trajectory with huge point-blank zero window--check. High probability of "DRT" and reduced probability of run-off or lost game--check. I recently shot one of their new lightweight Mk 5's in 300wbym--while I wasn't crazy about the psychedelic use of dippy paints and cerokoting everything metal; that seems to be the unstoppable trend in ultralight hunting rifles--I was pleasantly surprised at how well it shot and I did not notice any increased felt recoil compared to older/heavier Mk 5's.

We could go on all day discussing accuracy--but as Carlos Hathcock would say--only one shot really counts, the first and only cold-bore shot.
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Last edited by stagpanther; January 13, 2023 at 02:55 AM.
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