Long-range antelope rifle?


Jul 20, 2001
Central Arizona
I was talking with a friend this morning who finally drew his coveted Arizona antelope tag. He's an experienced hunter, has superior optics, and hopes to kill a mid- to upper-80s buck. He has stated he wants to take a rifle that will do the job out to 500 yards (5-in. group). I'd like your informed advice---

His current arsenal: 6mm, 30/06, 7mm Rem.Mag., 300 Win.Mag.
NOTE: He's thinking of getting a Rem. 300 UltraMag. in time for this hunt.

I realize he already has rifles that will do the job. Of what he NOW owns, what is his best choice, and what bullet weight and bullet type?

Next question: how about the 300 Ultra for his antelope? Bullet weight and bullet type?

That's as much info I've got to give you; I hope you can give me the scoop ...

P.S. He'll also be returning every year or two to Alaska and big bear country.

Thanks! --- Lv2hnt

P.S. As you can see, we're not in the long-range fraternity, but I'd like to take advantage of your experience ...

[ 07-20-2001: Message edited by: Lv2hnt ]

The key is accuracy not energy. Any of the rifles you mentioned would be fine, the 6mm might be on the bottom end depending on the twist.
He needs to pick the rifle that he can shoot the best groups with. Animal are not impressed by ballistic trajectories and remaining energy, they must be struck by the bullet to make any impression.

Contrary to the standard hunting crowd, many of us here shoot match bullets for hunting. If you're uncomfortable with that then select from the fine longrange hunting bullets, Lost River Ballistics has the J36, Nosler Ballistic Tips.

500 yards isn't a difficult shot, it's just a shot that seems difficult until you've practiced a while.

For what it's worth, I'd probably pick the 30-06 and buy a few boxes of Federal Gold Medal Match for practice. Once some confidence has been achieved with the rifle and the shooters' ability to hit the kill zone at 500 yards then I'd venture into bullet selection. He'll need to practice at ranges other than the straight 500 to get a 'drop chart' as it may be difficult to get a critter to stand still on the 500 yard line.

If he wants to shoot the 7mm Mag or 300 RUM, that's fine too. Just find a bullet the rifles likes and practice. (Don't practice bad, flinching ruins everything.)
I have hunted and killed antelope in New Mexico with everything from a .243, 6/284, 280AI, 300 jarrett, and 308 Baer. The shots are generally 250-450 yards. First off, antelope are not very sturdy, so they are easy to kill, even with a slightly misplaced shot. The .243 bullets will do the job up close, but I would not want to bet on them out to 500 yards. I would pick which ever of the 7 or 300's is the most accurate and you are most comfortable shooting with. Remember too, the bigger you go, the more recoil there will be. When shooting at this distance, chances are you could be firing your gun alot . I would also pick a lighter bullet to reduce recoil. I also found that a Harris bipod and/or shooting sticks are a must on these hunts.
Good luck
I also forgot to say, I know Dave says that they use match bullets for hunting, but...I have shot game with Sierra MK bullets before but on one antelope hunt, I was using 168gr Sierra MK's in my 308 Baer. I shot at this one antelope at about 250 yards broadside and nothing happened. I knew I could not have missed so I shot again. This time it knocked him down but he got right back up. I then walked up on him to under 100 yards and shot him a third time which did drop him for the last time. While skinning him, I found all three bullet entry wounds and found the first two bullets which never had penetrated. I called Sierra and they said never use their MK's for hunting.
I also hate to disagree with Dave again but... I tried the Lost River Ballistic tips (140 gr .284's) last year deer hunting and they were a disaster. I dug one bullet out of the shoulder of a deer. It had never penetrated nor had it expanded at all. I sent a picture of it to Lost River and they said that it must have been a bad batch of bullets (so much for quality control).

At the range you shot the antelope with a full load of powder in a 308 Baer case ( I have had three or four 308 Baers over the years) the bullet was too light for the velocity and was probably blowing up on contact and not penetrating very far.
How much of each MK did you find?

If you would have used a 200 or 220 gr MK at the range you shot, in the 308 Baer I'm confident the results would have been different.

At extreme range the MKs hold together very well and will expand the way a bullet is supposed to.

I report to Rich Marholtz at Sierra after every hunt and he knows what we do with MK bullets. Of course Sierra will say don't use MKs for hunting for the reasons that you encountered. To Light of a bullet for the extreme speed you were running it. It's amazing the bullet held together getting to the game. I have seen 168 gr bullets blow at 1000 yd matches because of the speed they were being driven with the big wildcat magnums such as a Bear, Goodling or RDP case.

Try at least the 200 Gr (220 is better) next time and see what happens to the antelope.
He won't get up after being hit.

Darryl Cassel
Thanks Darryl, you are correct (and is what Sierra said) the bullet basically desinegated on contact.

If the .300 Winchester is accurate while shooting the 168 Sierra MatchKings, and your friend is competant with it, then take it a go kill an antelope!!!

Kirk Kelso
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