I'm sure that this subject has been hashed to death in many people's minds, but I would like to throw my two cents in on an aspect that I think many people tend to overlook. Efficiency. In this sport of long range shooting, I think everyone is in agreement on the idea that practice is the key element to connecting on a target that is "way out there". Therefore, it stands to reason that efficient cartridges should be the ultimate plan for a long range arsenal. While it is fun to have a safe full of flame throwing dragons that shoot mach 4 and scare the pants off your buddies, a more sensible approach may lend itself to more time practicing, and less time rebarreling. I am as guilty as the next guy of being dazzled by the sizzlers (especially in my early varmint hunting days) but nowadays I find myself contemplating and striving for cartridges that give adequate velocity to high ballistic co-efficient bullets. It has been documented quite well that it takes a considerable amount of velocity (upwards of 300-400 fps) to gain you any noticable difference in trajectory. But, by increasing your bullets b.c., radical gains can be seen in the distance you are able to shoot. Combine that high b.c. with a cartridge that is accurate, efficient, and easy on barrels and you have a long range poker that will hang with all the fire breathing monsters at long range, but will outlast them in accuracy life of the barrels. My uncle and I often talk about this "ultimate" arsenal on hunting trips. A gun for every range that burns the minimal amount of powder but that will still get the job done. It would also be accurate, and work well with many different loads. The cartridge must also have an expected barrel life of at least 1500 rounds with 2000-2500 being even better so that you could practice without fear of losing your throat. All this taken into consideration, we have put together a theoretical "ultimate" arsenal to cover all ranges. This is just our opinions based on our experiences with standard and wildcat cartridges we have used over the years. It by no means limits the truly great cartridges to this list only. There are bound to be wildcats out there that were designed by individuals that would easily work in these categories that we just haven't heard of yet. There also will be new discoveries in the future that might re-write our definitions of ultimate cartridges just as the PPC cartridges did in the late seventies and early eighties. But for now, this is a pretty good line up of players: 0-50 yards/ .22 lr / This one is obvious. It's accurate and cheap to practice with. 50-150 yards/ .17 HMR/ This cartridge is truly amazing for what it is. Accurate, flat, and it's just satisfying to hit stuff at 200 yards with a puny little rimfire! 150-300 yards/ .221 fireball, .222 rem, and 6ppc/ This range has three top choices that all work great. The fireball only burns 15-19 grains of powder and really uses all of that to get amazing velocities and accuracy. Barrel life on all of these cases is in the 3000-4500 round range which gives you plenty of practice for the dollar. The .222 rem has pretty well been eclipsed by the PPC, but remains an efficient, easy to load tack driver. The PPC is so stinking accurate that in the hands of the right shooter, it can stretch its range well beyond 300 yards, but it is designed to reign supreme at 100 and 200 yards. 300-650 yards/ .22 br and 6 br slow twists/ These cartridges burn less powder than .22-.250 but get similair velocities with way better consistent accuracy. Again, these cartridges possess abilities well beyond the sum of their parts. I have yet to witness another cartridge that can shoot consistent 1/4 moa groups at 600 yards with only burning 35 grains of powder! All the while getting unparalleled barrel life that the .243 win can only dream about. 650-1000 yards/ 22 dasher fast twist, 6 dasher fast twist, 22-250 AI fast twist, 260 rem, 6.5-.284, .30-.284/ Of course there are other big boomers which are flatter to 1000 yards, but they have considerably more recoil and fuss, and they don't get much more than 1000 rounds of throat life which is bad unless your wealthy enough to own lots of stock in steel production. The current record for a 10 shot group at 1000 yards was set with a 6br fast twist. It measured just a tad over 4 inches and was shot when the barrel had approximately 1500 rounds down it!! 1000-1500/ 6.5-.284, 7 WSM, .25-06 fast twist, 6 rem AI fast twist, .30-.338/ Again, there are bigger cases, but these listed ones get the job done in great manner and with wonderful accuracy because they are not causing the gun to move dramaticly under recoil before the bullet exits the barrel. Of course, when you get to this range, very low drag bullets are the norm, and they are getting better all the time. Several years ago, a .25 caliber vld was basically unheard of, but now Berger has a 115 vld that turns the 25-06 into a seriously efficient long range contender. 1500-2000 yards/.338 Lapua AI, .340 Weatherby, .338 Ultra, .300 Ultra/ When you get into these huge cases, powder columns get long and fat, but there really is no way around that because the bullet they shoot is long and fat. I am of course talking about the .308 240 grain MK and the .338 300 grain MK. These bad boys have 70-85% of the ballistics of a 50 BMG with half the cost, recoil, and powder usage. That makes them efficient comparatively. 2000-2500/ same as above/ In the hands of the PRACTICED shooter, the above cartridges can and do get used at the 2500 yard mark with surprising accuracy. 2500-3000+ yards/ .408 Chey Tac, Chey Tac AI, 50 BMG, 50 BMG AI / For these extreme ranges, bullets must be hovering around 1.00 bc to consistently be accurate, and even then the going gets tuff. My gunsmiths .408 Chey Tac Improved spits a 419 grain bullet with a bc of .940 at 3400 fps and he has used it at the 2 mile mark with pretty good results. He probably won't get 1000 rounds of barrel life, but maybe. For this range, you really don't have any other way to go. The great 50 might just give you the best barrel life for a gun to be used at this range, but the ammo is so expensive that you really couldn't practice unless you are filthy rich! 4 to 5 bucks per shot is out of my league, but it is a cool long range gun anyway. That wraps it up. OK OK, So it was more than two cents. But I couldn't sleep and it was fun writing!