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What caliber for a sheep rifle?

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Unread 10-20-2006, 03:54 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Burns,Wy
Posts: 565
Re: What caliber for a sheep rifle?

I never thought of the 280 AI. Can you do a 280 in a short action?

Obviously this would be as light a gun as possibly.

You know the reason I am thinking of this is because my 277AM is to heavy. It is by no means a pig to carry but for sheep hunting I would prefer less weight. Although I love the recoil of the 277AM with the 169.5's, incidentally those 195's wake you up a bit more, I thought in a light weight rifle recoil might be more than desired. My thought is to build twins one for me and one for my wife.

Could you or would you go shorter? 22"?

What is an achievable weight? 6 lbs?
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Unread 10-20-2006, 05:32 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The rifle range, or archery range or behind the computer in Alaska
Posts: 3,830
Re: What caliber for a sheep rifle?

Sheep are a life cycle waiting to expire. In other words, they are NOT tough to kill.

A good 308 gets my vote due to its exceptional accuracy and will cleanly harvest a big ram out to 600 yards and beyond with the right bullets, AMAX, ACCUBOND ect....Also the bore life will last you much longer than most other "hotter" mid sized cartridges. The one thing you want to do a lot of when planning a sheep hunt is practice. Sheep opprotunities are hard to come by and/or are very expensive, the last thing you want to do is miss your 1 life long opprotunity. 308's are cost effective (so are others) but the 308 barrel will still shoot more accurate longer so you can really get profficient with your weapon. I dont like long action calibers for sheep because you DONT need that kind of horse power to kill a ram and it adds weight and length to the firearm. A sheep rifle should be at least semi light and semi compact. Dont get me wrong, my sheep rig is almost 13 pounds due to the heavy barrel. My point is you dont want unnessecary weight. A heavy barrel can help you hit a small target at LR in cold weather, a long action wont help you kill any ram any deader. It will just slow you down even more.

Sure, if a 243 or 6.5 or 7-08 tickles your fancy, they will cleanly kill any ram just as good as a 308 out to 600 yards and beyond.

Bottom line, pick the caliber you like best and dont look back. All the medium calibers (308, 243, 6.5x284, 7-08 not neccesarily in that order) are pretty darn accurate. It will be a question of cost, predudeces and barrel life.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (how bad your last shot was, how big the group is going to be, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.
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Unread 10-20-2006, 06:25 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 31
Re: What caliber for a sheep rifle?

Here's what I used for my Grand Slam:

Dall--.30-06, 150 Nosler Partition, one shot, dumped in his tracks.
Stone--7mm Rem Mag, 140 Nosler Parttion, one shot, dumped in his tracks.
Desert Bighorn--25-06, 120 Nosler Partition, one shot, ran 40 yds.
Rocky Mnt Bighorn--.284 Win, 140 Nosler Partition, one shot, did a back flip.

Look in your gun safe.....you already have a sheep rifle. They have no constitution and any whitetail cartridge will work. Only the desert ram was further than 150 yds, 280 yds in this case. Last Sunday, I also shot a trophy elk at 280 yds in Arizona, but with a .338 Win Mag. I wouldn't shoot a sheep with a .22 calibre cartridge, nor a whitetail either. Dave
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Unread 10-20-2006, 06:49 PM
TMR TMR is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Elma, WA
Posts: 555
Re: What caliber for a sheep rifle?

Maybe through the 243AI in there also......with the 105gr Berger it is almost the same energy as the 260 with a 140gr bullet at 500 yds. Sounds like you are wanting to have a short action by the calibers you first listed. In a long action, I would agree with Kirby, the 280AI is hard to beat. In a short action, I would go with the 243AI with a 1-8 twist barrel. Would be low recoil and lightweight. Just another option.
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Unread 10-20-2006, 07:19 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: York, Pa.
Posts: 611
Re: What caliber for a sheep rifle?

1. A .257 Weatherby in the lightwt. Fast, Flat, Kills like lightning. 115 grain bullet.
2 .270 but the Lightweight is lighter.
3. A 7Mag w/140 barnes SS Stalker also fill this ticket.
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Unread 10-20-2006, 09:09 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 47
Re: What caliber for a sheep rifle?

As a former sheep guide I will tell you that way too much emphasis is put on the gun. I guided for dall sheep and I have personally killed 4 rams (with my bow) and they are not tough to kill. THe 3 most important things when hunting sheep are physical fitness, mental fitness and being able to shoot watever weapon you are toting. 6mm on up is fine. Bring which ever gun you can shoot accurately and pack with you for 10 miles a day for 10 days.
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Unread 10-21-2006, 02:40 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 748
Re: What caliber for a sheep rifle?

Hi a good 6.5 or 7mm would be my choice i would use my Model7 SS in 7MM SAUM as it would be awsome but a 6.5SAUM or 7mmSAUM would both be awsome in a short action like a Model7 but in a long action a 6.5-248, 284 or 280AI would all be great choices. My choice would be to have a rifle that shoots 1/2" groups at 100 yards is light enouge to carry i would fir a 2.5-10 Nightforce scope and in a Model7 Magnum with muzzle Break. the Model7 magnums have a 22" barrel so it is still under 24" with break perfect for me.

Cheers Bill
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