30 cal Sierra 190 to 220 MK


Well-Known Member
Jul 17, 2001
Walla Walla, WA
I would like to introduce myself and pose a question about bullet selection. My name is Brian Carlson and I live in Walla Walla, WA. I am 37 and am a winemaker. I studied winemaking in college at the Univ. of Cal at Davis. I grew up in Eugene, OR and started hunting ground squirrels at age 5 or 6. Through junior high and high school my oldest brother and my dad and I often went jackrabbit and rockchuck hunting in the eastern Oregon desert and around Bend. I went deer hunting for the first time in 1988 and have been hooked on big game hunting since. I have been fortunate to have gotten my deer most every year I have hunted for them. I have killed 9 deer thus far and 5 elk and 2 black bear. I have not gotten any big racked deer or elk and am not really a "trophy" hunter. I love to hunt and I love the meat. I am more of a trophy hunter for bear than for deer or elk. Do not misunderstand, I would dearly love to take a monster deer or elk but of much more importance and enjoyment for me is just being out hunting and bringing home meat. Not that the hunt is a bust if I come home without meat. In Washington State the bears are generally not too big. Average boar would probably be about 200 # live weight. My first bear was in 1997 and I do not know what it weighed but the four legs without the hide or paws weighed 104#. It was a good sized bear, probably a bit over 300#. The one I shot this spring was huge by Washington State standards. It had a girth of about 50" which according to a couple charts I have would put its live weight at about 375#. Its 4 legs weighed 120# and its hide was 88" from front claw tip to front claw tip and 77" from nose to tail.

The elk I have shot were at shorter ranges of 20 yards to about 150 yards. The deer have ranged from 25 yards with my bow to 508 yards with one at 330 and one at 360 yards as well. My first bear was at about 20 yards and the second was at 150 yards. I am ashamed to admit that I have taken shots at bear at longer ranges and have hit a couple but have not recovered them. I think that with bear one should really limit their shots to much shorter ranges than they would consider for deer or elk or sheep or caribou etc. They do not seem to bleed as much with their hide and hair and fat. In addition they have pads instead of hooves and so do not leave tracks like the deer will. I wonder if you all would agree that bears should not be shot at the same longer ranges as deer species? I have shot many rockchucks at 500 yards and beyond with my longest kill at 639 yards.

I like 30 caliber magnums. I had been using a 300 Win Mag for a few years and then decided to go up a notch and have a premium barrel installed and chambered to 300 Arnold Mag (the 8mm Rem Mag case necked down to 30 cal). That was in December of 1998. 4 barrels later I have never gotten it to shoot accurately. I kept getting fliers. That was on a Winchester Model 70 action (newer with the pre-64 type action). They are now building me a brand new rifle on a Remington action with a Krieger barrel and Rimrock synthetic stock at their expense. Hopefully this one will shoot. The owner is going to work up a load for me, most likely with the Nosler 200 grain Partition which will do the job for probably all circumstances. I say all circumstances because I doubt that I will ever again try shots at big game beyond 500 yards. At that range the 200 partition will still have plenty of remaining velocity to expand. The thinking is that if I can kill little rockchucks at 500+ yards then deer and bigger game should be a cinch. I hate wounding though and there are so many variables that I just do not think that (at this time anyway) I will be trying shots at big game beyond 500 yards. Maybe in the future I will become more confident at competent. I know that there are many who can cleanly kill big game animals well beyond that range but after wounding (probably killed them, just could not find them) a couple bears at long range and after witnessing what the wind did to the bullet on my deer at 508 yards I think I will be more judicious in my shots. The wind was at about 7 mph from my right at about 2 o'clock so I aimed several inches into the wind for the shot on the deer at 508 yards after dialing in 19 clicks of elevation to the scope and took the shot (from prone with bipod and sling). The bullet hit where I was aiming as the wind was from the left at the deer. Fortunately the bullet (a 140 grain Barnes XBT with their blue coating at 3330 fps from a 7mm Rem Mag) hit the deer just in front of the diaphragm and the deer went down right now. I used this same gun and load on my bear this spring and the bullet entered behind the right shoulder as it quartered away and broke its left shoulder and exited. I had to give the bear a finishing shot a 5 feet and that bullet punched clear through both shoulders and exited as well.

If I do find in the future that I can confidently and competently and cleanly kill (and recover) big game at longer ranges then I will probably need a different bullet than the Nosler 200. I would be looking for one with a higher bc to give greater retained velocity for reliable expansion at longer ranges yet would still hold together and penetrate if a short range shot is offered. I have had good luck with the Barnes X and if I am lucky maybe it will shoot in my new 300 Arnold. Other bullets I have considered are the Alaska Bullet Works Kodiak bullet, the GS Custom HV bullet from South Africa and the Lost River J36. I saw that some of you are using the 30 caliber 168 and 190 Sierra Matchking bullet for hunting. As mentioned, I am having a 300 Arnold Magnum built. I was able to get 3350 fps with various 180 grain bullets and 3125 fps with the 200 grain Nosler Partition with the other rifle in that cartridge. I would like to come up with one load that I can use for hunting deer, elk and black bear. Most of my hunting is done in the Blue Mountains east of Walla Walla. Shots can come at any range. I want a bullet that will work at 20 feet and one that will work at my maximum comfortable distance (which at this time is about 500 yards if there is very little breeze). I have never heard that the Sierra Matchking bullet would be a good candidate for busting elk shoulders at close range and high velocity. I would like more info on specifically the use of the Sierra 190 to 220 grain Matchking bullets as an all around big game bullet. Could it really be relied upon to punch through an elk at any angle other than the Texas heart shot?

Thanks for this forum and for your help, Rufous.

[ 07-17-2001: Message edited by: rufous ]
Hey watch the crack! Us Texicans don't take to insultn very well.

Welcome Rufous

I don't have experience with that particular bullet and game combination but others here have. I have been using the 135 MK in 270 cal @3185fps for about three years now and have no complaints. All shots have been within 300 and some really close, the MK has exceeded my expectations. I'll bet the 190 and 220 will do just the same for you.

I showed Dan Lilja (the barrel maker and friend) a picture of a bear we got in Colorado and he said the wound was the worse he had seen on an animal. As a matter of fact, Dan mentioned this kill in his longrange shooting story. The range was 775 yards the caliber was a 30/378 Weatherby with a 37" barrel and the bullet was a 200 Gr Sierra MK. The bear dropped in his tracks.

The elk we have shot have been from 1000 yards out to 2100 yards and the bullets used have all been Sierra Matchkings. The longest shot with the 30/378 was 1360 yards on elk and further on deer. The 200 gr was used on these.
The 338/416 Rigby IMP has killed elk to 2100 and deer to a mile and using the 300 gr MK bullets. Do they kill, yes they do.

Keep in mind, our barrels are 36 to 37" for additional velocity and we don't carry these guns around the mountain with us. They weigh from 50# to 67#.

Sierra MKs do kill and we have not lost an animal yet that had been hit.

Darryl Cassel

[ 07-17-2001: Message edited by: Darryl Cassel ]
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