Caliber Selection - Factors you consider

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Marine24, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Marine24

    Marine24 Well-Known Member

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    Discussions on the merits of one caliber versus another are throughout this forum and I've learned a lot reading other member's input, but I'm trying to boil it down to the factors folks typically consider when selecting a caliber.

    Based on my reading so far, here is the list I've come up with:

    Purpose - hunting or paper punching
    Target - paper or animal
    BC - bigger is better?
    Velocity - faster is better?
    ME/KE at the target
    Reloader or not
    Recoil sensitivity

    I realize there are trade offs but want to understand the why behind caliber selection to help me decide on my next LRH build
     
  2. HARPERC

    HARPERC Well-Known Member

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    You have most of it...A couple more come to my mind is it a specialty or general use rifle. Is it one of several you own or is it this one does it all. Barrel life vs useage will you burn it up in one match or hunt with it for years. Experience. Local conditions, or will it have to travel from the Black Rock Desert to the tundra and back. Social to a degree what's usual in the group you hang with (smith included).
     

  3. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

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    Good list so far but I'd modify it a bit.

    Start off with Toughest Game + Maximim Range, then work backwards through all other considerations.

    You can get to one mile with a .300 Rum but it won't have enough energy left to reliably kill Elk.

    You can kill a priarie dog at 400 yds with a .338 Lapua but it's a hell of a lot more gun than necessary.
     
  4. Marine24

    Marine24 Well-Known Member

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    Good point on toughest game since most of have rifles pulling double and triple duty.

    Purposely left out range and figured to back in to that based on desired ME/KE desired but how much is enough is another debate so range makes sense.
     
  5. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

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    It just makes the most sense to me to start with the major limiting factors and work backwards.
     
  6. Nimrod

    Nimrod Well-Known Member

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    That makes a lot of sense to me too!

    When I started on my quest I wanted a purpose built rifle for pronghorns that wouldn't be too heavy to pack and still have a lot of reach. I just tried to keep this goal in mind as I went, I'm still going at this point.

    Bob
     
  7. RDM416

    RDM416 Well-Known Member

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    Wildrose makes a great point about toughest game and longest range, then working backwards from there.

    Many shooters only have one or two centerfire rifles for various reasons from personal preference to finances. If you have several it is easy to fine tune the caliber to the game or activity, if you have only one it is all about trade offs.

    I must admit I like big caliber rifles for long range hunting, 338 cal and up. Here is why.....

    Lets pick a 6.5/284 and a 338 Lapua for example:

    Will the 6.5 kill an antelope at 500 yards, yep. Will the 338 kill an antelope at 500 yards, yep.

    Will the 6.5 kill an elk at 1000 yards, maybe, but very marginal. Will the 338 kill an elk at 1000 yards, yep, with authority.

    Obviously two simple examples, but you get the point. The arguments against the larger calibers go like this. They are overkill for smaller game at short ranges. So what? Dead is dead. Unless you are talking about .50 BMGs the meat damage from the larger calibers is comparable to the smaller calibers.

    Weight. Big caliber rifles weigh too much. You can build a 338 at the same weight or very close to the same as a 6.5, and you can build both so light that most people cannot shoot them accurately in the field.

    Recoil. You got me there. The big boys kick more unless you use a good brake (I always do) then recoil is quite mild even with the big 300 grainers.

    Reloading expense. Yep, the big boys cost more to reload but unless you are using some kind of premium bullet, not much more than the smaller calibers. Unless you are burning thousands of rounds a year, the extra loading cost is minimal compared to everything else you spend on hunting. You will probably spend more on gas driving out west for an elk than you will spend on reloading supplies for the year.

    All that to say this: If you are going to go long, go big. :D
     
  8. budlight

    budlight Well-Known Member

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    No such thing as one gun fits all. I would add these to consider for a paper puncher

    Avg. cost per shot and you need to add in barrel changes for the burners?

    What rounds are winning in F class.?

    What weight and length of barrel are you willing to pack around?


    I came to the conclusion that 6mm xtc is a paper and varmint winner. Then I tried these big guns for hunting .277 AI, 7mm STW, 30 cal W30-378, 338 LP, 416 rem 458 win

    Each of the big guns I shot thousands of rounds and each one had a place in my hunting adventures

    Every magnum gun I own has big long heavy barrels to maximize their potential Like 26 - 34 inch barrels I hump mountains with a 20 pound rifle just to get the perfect shot
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  9. Marine24

    Marine24 Well-Known Member

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    Does terminal momentum at the target factor in to this?

    Not sure if there is a minimum like some have recommended for muzzle energy (1000 ft/lbs) for deer sized game but may be useful in comparing loads.
     
  10. ken snyder

    ken snyder Well-Known Member

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    #1 - I consider the animal
    #2 - Terrain: Brush, open, long shots, short shots
    #3 - Feeds and safeties
    #4 - weight
    #5 - weather
    I always choose a rifle that meets or exceeds all five requirements. To follow these rules requires more than 1 rifle, caliber and cartridge!
     
  11. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

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    I want in every case to have enough energy on target for my bullet to make a complete pass thruogh.

    Especially at long range where often velocities are so low that you don't get full expansion having a nice sized exit along with the entrance for the animal to bleen from helps a great deal with recovery.

    No matter how good we think we are, it's simply not possible to gurantee accurate enough bullet placement consistently to count on breaking both shoulders or interrupting the CNS.

    Two holes means more blood on the ground to track them and of course it helps them bleed out quicker and expire.
     
  12. No Fear in Accuracy

    No Fear in Accuracy Well-Known Member

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    This method works for me.
    How often do I go hunting? One week hunting then wait for a year?
    Do I use it for hunting and/or rock shooting for fun?

    I prefer two rifles for two different purposes. (eg. 6.5x284 and 338 L Imp.)
     
  13. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    I'm with RDM416 and Wildrose.

    I try to think worst case scenario...on game and environmental conditions. Then cost, which is usually the limiting factor for most of us.
    The same way I choose the bullet.
     
  14. elkaholic

    elkaholic Well-Known Member

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    Pretty good list. You mention velocity and b.c. as being major which is true for long range hunting. Since you are on this forum, I assume that is your goal. One thing that I haven't yet seen mentioned is bullet selection available for the caliber you chose. This can sometimes be a major factor although because the long range crowd is growing, manufacturers are starting to step up. I too like what Wildrose said about getting enough gun and working backwards. With this in mind, it might behoove you to pick something that can be effective with reduced loads. Remington has realized this with there 300 RUM.
    Maybe the best thing of all about "one gun doesn't fit all " is it allows us to have lots of rifles! I tell my wife this all the time:D.......Rich