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Best Way to Select Big Game Cartridge

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Ron AKA, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. Ron AKA

    Ron AKA Suspended

    I see this site gets a lot of questions as to what the best cartridge is for big game hunting in North Amercia. While this always generates a lot of discussion, I wonder if there is some rational way to get to the answer? To that end I went through an analysis of one way it possibly could be done. I will post it for comments and target shooting!!

    Seems first to me that if you want to hunt moose/bear you need the energy to get it done. While there are some technical ways to do this, lets for sake of argument say that a 308 Winchester with a 180 gr. bullet does the job up to 300 yards. If that is the case, then is this the best bullet size and and caliber? Using the Remington factory load data, this cartridge gives 1557 ft-lbs of energy at 300 yards. So that leads to what other cartridges can deliver that energy at 300 yards, and for sake of error, lets say what can deliver between 1550 and 1750 ft-lbs at 300 yards. To take more would seem to suggest unnecessary punishment for the shooter. Then given that there is sufficient energy, then the next priority to optimize the chance of a good shot, is that the bullet have a flat trajectory. This is purely based on time of flight or velocity at impact (as a proxy). To that end I went through the Remington factory loads, and came up with the following short list. It is sorted by the highest velocity first (flattest trajectory). So here is the list of ideal cartridges for North American game listed in decending order. Except for the .308 which was used to set the "peg in the sand", I just picked the best available cartridge of the other calibers that met the criteria.

    Cartridge, Bullet Wt, 300 Yd Vel, Muzzle Eng, 300 Yd Eng
    270 WSM , 130, 2444, 3114, 1724
    270 Win, 130, 2442, 2702, 1721
    260 Rem, 120, 2334, 2392, 1560
    264 WM, 140, 2326, 2854, 1682
    7mm-08, 140, 2314, 2542, 1664
    280 Rem, 140, 2309, 2797, 1657
    300 RUM, 150, 2270, 2820, 1716
    30-06, 150, 2270, 2820, 1716
    308 Win., 150, 2219, 2648, 1640
    7mm RM, 160, 2212, 2987, 1739
    308 Win., 180, 1974, 2743, 1557
    350 RM, 200, 1921, 3419, 1639

    Note that the originally picked 308 load came almost last and behind a ligher bullet 308, and also in general the advantage of the ligher bullets!

    Source of ballistic data:

    Ok fire away..


  2. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

    Well, I started hunting Bears and Moose with a 30/06...
    All my buddies here had Magnums...After My first moose took more than 5 rounds to kill it at less than 100 Yards, I researched the trajectory and Bullet selection for the 7MM Mag, the 300 H&H, The 300 Win Mag, the .338 Mag and the 375 H&H Mag...Ammo availability as well... I went with the .300 Win Mag as it was the best ballistics and the most versatile as far as bullet selection and ammo is available everywhere, and recoil that was very tolerable when target shooting, and as I have stated before...YOU NEVER FEEL recoil when shooting an animal because of Adrenaline....
    .300 Win Mag is My choice for BIG Game Hands Down!
    IT just Kills em Right Now !!!
  3. 357maxm

    357maxm Suspended

    .308 is enough


    As I have preached for years -"accuracy is the key". You DO NOT need any caliber bigger than a .308 to take game in North America. There are "professionals" (I smile when I use that word to describe some want-to-be's) who would argue with my statement but they have the "bigger is better" disease.

    I use a ruger redhawk .44 mag pistol to hunt elk and bear and a ruger .357 to hunt deer. It is funny how energy recommended to hunt deer/elk/bear with a pistol is 550fpe at 50 yds BUT 800 fpe for deer & 1200 fpe for elk at point of impact.

    YES, most "professionals" say 2000 fpe for elk. Can someone say "OVERKILL!"? 1500fpe at 300yds is more than enough for every mammal in North America.

    Mooseman, It could of been your grain of bullet and as I state "accuracy" (no disrespect). There was no need for a magnum rifle. If you did have a problem with the 30-06 you should of gone to a 357 whelen. It is a 30-06 with a .357 round. If that didn't do it - a .338 win mag is the best all-around round for every big game animal in the world.

    So, .223 -> 6mm spc/.243 -> .308/7mm-08 -> 30-06/.270 -> .357 whelen -> .338 win mag. That is the proper steps up in my opinion.

    P.S. - I do have a Ruger .308 compact (w/a 16.5 barrel, I hate carrying alot of weight) and use a 165 gr. spbt round to hunt Moose/Buffalo and never had a problem. It is the perfect all-around round. A 150 gr. is a little light at greater distances for me. Remember, army & marine snipers use the .308 w/a 168 gr. round out to 880 meters all the time to do the deed.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2008
  4. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

    I was using 180 grain 75 yards that Moose refused to Die !(And He was broadside and took 3 in the Heart Lungs, then 3 in the neck, then 2 in the head, didnt hurt any meat!)
    And you Can't hunt Buffalo in Alaska with less than a Magnum Rifle...Its the Law, and they dont care how good a Shot you are !
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2008
  5. 357maxm

    357maxm Suspended

    i once had a cat ....

    I once had a cat that took 5 doses of "effusination" before it died and then it took 10 minutes. That was enough to kill a small horse. The vet was very surprised never saw anything like it. He wanted to die at home. So I took him home and he died when I turn into the drive.

    Maybe you had a super moose like my super cat

    I have a indian friend in wyoming who hunts elk with a .223 and he told me he killed a big bull one year with a .22wmr. Many of his other friends use a .22-250 for elk. I killed a bear with my .357 pistol last year (one shot) plus at least a dozen deer over the years. I also killed a 6 pt whitetail 3 years ago while I was squirrel hunting with a .22lr. (one shot )
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2008
  6. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

    No, he was just Horny...following a Cow Moose !:09:
  7. ArkansasHunter

    ArkansasHunter G&G Newbie

    Let me add my 2 cents.

    Theres many calibers that can do the same thing with some doing it better.

    Personaly if I was going Moose hunting I would want a cartridge bigger than a 308.

    Why is that ? Though I have NO dought that a 308 will kill a Moose but some factors come into play wouldn't they ?

    Such as mass may be and possible mass and distance. I've got a Moose 100 yards to my right and laying beside me is a 308 and a 300 mag rifles.

    My hunting buddy looking over my shoulder says A.H I'll give you $ 100.00 if you can kill that Moose with one shot.

    I take the bet, now which rifle do you think I'm going to pick up to shoot that Moose with ?

    I hope you said the 300 win mag because thats the one I would of choosen and how many other members here would of did the same thing ?

    Like I said above...Theres many calibers that can do the same thing with some doing it better.

    I relize everyone has there reasons and this is one of mine use the best or right tool for the job.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2008
  8. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

    Just how big are them Mouses ???LOL
  9. Lng Rng

    Lng Rng G&G Newbie

    If you need a .308 for the mice in Arkansas, you will need at least a 300 mag for the mice in Texas. Another thing for Billy to worry about! The invasion of the giant mice!
  10. ArkansasHunter

    ArkansasHunter G&G Newbie

    I for got to correct that LOL I shouldn't even respond to these kind of Threads or Posts because some folks have to make do with what they've got when they go hunting.
    I wonder how many White Tail Deer though have been lost after being shot with a 223.

    Each to there own thinking but damage, wound cannel size, bleeding out should be a consideration plus Sportsmanship and fair chase.

    I'll go correct the mouse to mouse LOL.

    OPPS I did it again !!! mouse to moose LMAO
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2008
  11. Lng Rng

    Lng Rng G&G Newbie

    I'll go correct the mouse to mouse LOL.[/quote]

    So, AH, you were talking about mice all along. At least they don't suffer.:09:

    Is that why you got that nice new hawkeye? For all of the mice?
  12. ArkansasHunter

    ArkansasHunter G&G Newbie

    Leave me alone !!! LOL It's late and I should go to bed, but this is more fun :bigeyes:

    P.S. I fixed both of the mouse's to moose's I think...........
  13. Mooseman684

    Mooseman684 G&G Newbie

    I promise to only get mad if you call me Mouseman !!!LOL
  14. ArkansasHunter

    ArkansasHunter G&G Newbie

    I laughed so hard at this I hit my monitor dead center with a Lunger !!! Gross !
  15. rasterman77

    rasterman77 G&G Newbie

    Last edited: Jan 17, 2008
  16. ArkansasHunter

    ArkansasHunter G&G Newbie

  17. Ron AKA

    Ron AKA Suspended

    For those that like a little bit more "kick" (for those moose or mice!), I did do a short list of the group of cartridges that have the next step higher of energy at 300 yards. Instead of setting the energy window at 1550 to 1750, it was increased to 1750 to 1950. All other selection criteria remained the same. Here is the second short list (from best to not so best):

    Cartridge, Bullet Wt, 300 yd vel, muzzle vel, 300 yd vel
    7mm RM, 140, 2490, 3133, 1927
    7mm RSAUM, 140, 2490, 3133, 1927
    7mm STW, 140, 2467, 3436, 1892
    280 Rem, 140, 2437, 2797, 1846
    300 WM, 150, 2384, 3605, 1893
    300 WSM, 150, 2364, 3671, 1861
    300 RSAUM, 150, 2359, 3410, 1854
    30-06, 150, 2298, 2820, 1758
    35 Whelen, 250, 1823, 3197, 1844
    375 H&H Mag, 270, 1780, 4338, 1900

    There were some casualties from the first list including the .270, my favorite the .264 WM, and the good old .308. What impresses me is the Remington .280. This should have been a great cartridge, but from what I gather Remington were slow off the mark compared to Winchester with the 270, and never really got their act together. Assuming it was available in the gun I was interested in, this cartridge would be a prime consideration. I'm a handloader however, and that makes a difference.

    Interesting that the 30 caliber cartridges still do not do well. I think this and the previous exercise suggests the average hunter still thinks "size matters" and buys guns with too big of a hole in the end!

    Fire away..
  18. okole

    okole Suspended

    Very few people can even hit a game animal at 300 yds. ( most hunters yards are 12-14" long. :)
  19. rasterman77

    rasterman77 G&G Newbie

    I'm in Alberta, right now, visiting an old friend and showing my wife my old stompin' grounds. Trust me, you can practically see the curvature of the earth it's so big and flat here, if you can't make a 250+ yard shot the animal is long gone.
    I know what you mean though, my B.C. hunter friends don't often shoot even a hundred yards but when you get that "long" shot it feels like 300yds.
  20. bored2bhere

    bored2bhere G&G Newbie

    to me personally the best cartridge is in the gun you can shoot most accurate with
    just saying
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