If you are not going beyond 500, why not shoot the 300wsm? Not that its not capable beyond that but you get perfomance of the 300 with less recoil, still plenty of ammo and lots of choices in rifles. Best of luck.
IHMO, any of the calibers you listed will work well... but the further out you go the more you need to pay attention to what bullet you are using. There are a lot of store bought "hunting ammo" I would not feel comfortable using much past 300 yards in 243, 6.55x55 swede and 308. If you load you own you can better match your ammo for what you are doing or want to do. My 308 load I use, 600 would be as far as I would want to go under ideal conditions and my 243 loading will add other 100 yards to that. Just make sure you have dedicated the trigger time at those distances under field conditions first, before deciding to take deer way out there or you won’t like your results...
And as others have said, the 30-06 is a great round and superior to the 308 when reloaded. Many people have read some old military test results between those two but failed to consider the platforms being used at the time as well as the ammo. If one were to retest them in equally built precision rifles with each cartridge loaded to its full potential the 30-06 will win every time. After all, the 30-06 is just a 308 that can be run another 200 fps faster with today’s powders getting the shooter very near the 300 wichester magnum’s ballistic territory.
Last edited by Niles Coyote; 11-11-2011 at 06:51 AM.
I have an MG arms custom 300wsm built on a M 70, 23" one of their custom stocks, Pac Nor barrel 23", Iam shooting 165 gr Barnes TTSX and it is a death ray on deer. Now i have used the 150 gr BST out of my 300wsm and it is the hammer of thor, they do not take one step afterwards but I was going on an out west hunt and had mule deer, bear, elk, tag so I wanted one gun and the 300wsm is fast becoming the new 3006, faster, flatter and no more recoil than a 3006 with a 180 gr round.
I am dropping back to the 150 gr TTSX for whitetail and mule deer and will be be able to shoot them broadside and if I get that extreme quartering shot like last year it will drive thru the deer and thats that!
Life is Short; Live, love, Hunt
270 Winchester.......Jack had it right
The .30-06 is actually quite accurate, if the rifle and shooter are accurate. It may have too much recoil for some shooters, and that can cause accuracy problems.
The .308 Win and .243 Win are the best choices from your list. The .308 Win is the most versatile if you can handle the recoil. The .243 Win is a top choice for smaller shooters that can't handle 7mm or .308 cal recoil. Mucho choices in factory ammo with those two.
The 7mm-08 and 7x57mm were not mentioned by poster, but probably the most versatile deer/elk combo cartridges that are capable point-blank to 500 yards for both. The 7mm will have a better BC than .308 for the same bullet weight, also a better SD.
Magnums are not a good choice for close range shots.
I will probably catch some flack for this, but out to 250 - 300 yards, I use a .223. I figure if it can kill a man, it can kill a deer. And it has. Every time for me anyway. I have never lost one.
For ranges beyond and out to 500, I would use a .25-06. Or if you want just one rifle, the .25-06. It can be reloaded light or heavy, and has the range you want.
I believe in shot placement. For me, smaller is better as I am out for meat, not trophies. Larger calibers wreck to much meat for my taste. I know there isn't a lot on the ribs, but my father and I have been told we don't leave much on the bones for the cats to live off of. We strip them as clean as we can.
So .223 wrecks little meat and makes them as dead as anything else. .25-06 with at least a 117grn will do the job well out to your 500 yards as well as the near stuff too.
As to reloading, I use all off the shelf stuff. The groupings I get in .223 are great, as are my .25-06 groups. More than sufficient for the ranges I shoot and you are mentioning (about the same yardages).
As mentioned before, pick one. Learn it and become proficient with it. It doesn't matter what you pick if you can't put the bullet where it belongs.
I am with Matt on this one. I have a fast twist .223 Rem CZ 527 in Kevlar that I would prefer at 200 yards or less range. A 75 grain Scirocco II will mushroom to at least .45 cal and pass through a deer, without too much meat damage. Problem is, most of my shots for mule deer will be beyond that range. I would not expect good expansion past 250 yards on a lung shot without bone being hit.
At long range, a soft and heavy-for-caliber bullet has the most reliable expansion and best accuracy. Launching the bullet at moderate speed means moderate speed on target and lower risk of bloodshot meat so I can put the bullet where I need to as the shot presents itself.
I have never owned a magnum rifle except for a .204 Ruger. The moderate speed cartridges are best for meat retrieval and the ability to use lower cost bullets that allow enough target practice to be really good at hitting what you are aiming at. If your rifle has over 20 ft-lbs of recoil, you have a very good chance of developing a flinch, especially if you shoot it a lot. The .308 Win and 7x57mm Mauser are the upper limit of what I want to shoot in long strings of shots when I am practice shooting. There is nothing on earth those two cartridges can't kill with proper shot placement.
Please understand that a hunting cartridge is not a dangerous game stopping cartridge. If I were in big bear territory, I might carry a .375 RCM or 9.3x62mm, as both fit in the .30-06 length action. The .338 Federal is a new cartridge that may prove to be the versatility champ for everything except long range shooting. Would love that cartridge in a Sako 85 Bavarian carbine or Kimber 84M.
If you do a form factor analysis, you will see that the 9.3x62mm is almost exactly a .308 Win that got equally bigger in all dimensions, except it was invented first. Or you could say they are both an adaptation of the .30-06 which came first, which they are, the 9.3x62mm being adapted for African dangerous game and the .308 Win for shorter barrelled automatic military rifles. Just look at the .30-06 and make personal adjustments from there, as it is truly the cartridge that North American hunting revolves around. Since I practice a lot, I can shoot a somewhat weaker cartridge and be just as deadly or moreso than the occasional .30-06 shooter. And the 7x57mm was the inspiration for the .30-06, never forget.