New hunting rifle. what caliber?


musky hunter
May 14, 2003, 09:45 AM
Hi, just passed the hunting course. Still got to buy my small game and fishing licnece this year. I might buy my deer as well, they are so plentiful in southern ontario.

If i were to buy a new NA game rifle, the largest animal i would hunt would be blackbear and moose. What caliber is good. I read a book that recommends a list of LB Enegy for different game. Here is what is recommended. The listings are in Lb.Ft.

Deer, sheep, sheep, goat. Min 900 adeq. 1200 pref. 1500
Elk, bear up to 600 lb. Min 1500 adeq. 2000 pref. 2500
Large bear and moose Min 2100 adeq. 2800 pref. 3500

I have the Winchester ammunition catalogue and the best caliber to meet all these recommended are 300 Win. Mag, 300 WSM, and 338 Win Mag. Which caliber would you purchase. I dont mind recoil at all. Cost of shooting is a factor though. I dont reload.

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Art Eatman
May 14, 2003, 10:46 AM
Personally, I'd go with the venerable '06. Lots of meese have been killed with them, using the heavier bullets. (My armchair understanding is that most of the time a shot at a moose is at relatively close range.)

I wouldn't choose the '06 for grizzly or Kodiak bears. For all the other stuff, it'll do just fine.

Military-style ammo for practice and plinking is at least reasonable if not cheap. Its recoil and trajectory won't be much different from regular hunting ammo.


May 14, 2003, 10:51 AM
hard to beat the '06 as stated by Art. Ammo is everywhere and in variety of loadings. Check the ammo manuf., they know what bullet combo's work on a particular class of animal. Happy hunting! peace,

May 14, 2003, 12:44 PM
Ft. lbs. really only tells you the potential power--not what the bullet will be able to do with that power. You have to look for the right combination of bullet type and sectional density. Chuck Hawks' site is probably the most informative source I've found, and he has recommendations for an all-around cartridge:

May 14, 2003, 01:36 PM
.30-06 or .338 Win Mag would work great.

May 14, 2003, 02:45 PM
Yeah, I wouldn't personally get too hung up on exact ft/lb rating equaling game-taking abilities. Most important is putting the bullet where it will kill and second most important is enough penetration to get to an organ that will result in death. If you're hunting elk and you have a 338 Win Mag or a 6.5x55 with heavy bullets and you tear through the heart and one lung, it's gonna die even though there is a large discrepancy between the energy and velocity between the rounds.

Keeping in mind I've never hunted anything larger than Michigan deer, I'd personally suggest that anthing with a full length (30-06) case with a bore of .277" or .284" or up will be adequate for deer, sheep, goat and most elk with the right bullets. 30-06 comes into it's own at the elk and larger game and as Art suggested, I've heard it's not too difficult to get pretty close to moose so as long as you use a tough bullet, the 30-06 and 7mm Mag and up will probably do just fine. But... if I were to go specifically looking 'large bear' as you put it, I'd want something larger... 338 Win Mag, 35 Whelen or 350 Remington Magnum... something like that. Of course, a 45-70 and a variety of bullets will take care of everything you list if your shots are at about 200 yards or less or if you are good at judging distance and know your trajectory.

In addition to what I've read, I'm good friends with a fellow that hunts moose and elk all the time and my suggestions reflect what he's told me and agree with what I've read. For the large bears, I've been told that you may do fine to go out with a 30-06 or 300 Win Mag looking for a 200 yard shot but the first time you stumble upon a Kodiak and you get within, say, 20 yards of it and it stands up to it's full 10 or 12 feet, you'll think a 460 Weatherby is a bit little for such hunting. ;)

In my opinion, you're asking one rifle to do two rifles jobs, esp not being a hand loader. Something like a 270 or 308 or 7mm-08 is more than ideal for deer, goat and sheep and smaller elk. And for hunting 'large moose' and 'large bear' I'd wanting something in a 35 caliber. 270 is pretty much out for large bear and 350 Rem Mag is way overkill for any deer I've ever seen. You could split the difference and get the 30-06 which is versatile, esp for a handloader, and has served many very well for many years, but it's still more than you need for deer and less than you should probably have for large bear.

Edit - I just re-read your post and for whatever reason, I get the idea you may not have shot a lot of rifles in your time. One thing to keep in mind when comparing some of these cartridges, is recoil can go from 'no problem' to 'whoa, Nelly!' just with the ones in my post. Different people react to recoil in different manners... some folks, it never bothers, others think the 270 is almost punishing. Personally, I'm OK with a standard, non light, weight 300 Win Mag and the 375 H&H is a bit of an eye opener. Never shot a 338 or 35 Whelen but they should be closer to the 300 than the 375.

Just something else to think about. if there's any way you could shoot, say a 30-06 and a 338 Win Mag prior to buying, I might suggest that.

And 30-06 should be adequate for black bear (most that I've ever seen... maybe they grow them bigger up in Canada) but maybe not so much for grizzly.

May 14, 2003, 07:09 PM
Great advice, and I don't really have much to add except .30-06 would be a good choice if you were to get just one gun. If you are eventually interested in getting more, then you could match your gun to what and where you will be hunting. Most of my deer hunting (in northern MI) is done from a blind and involves shots under 100 yds. My favorite is a Rem Model 7 in 7mm-08. It has a short barrel and it easy to move in a blind and is good for deer sized game. I picked up a .338 win mag for caribou. The guide said that (based on where we would be) shots could be up to 300 yds. I also wanted a gun that could be used for bear and Alaskan moose.

Cratz2, my father in law has used a .350 rem mag for MI deer for the last 25 years. While I would agree that it is not necessary, it seems to be a good choice. The meat, surprisingly, isn't mangled.


May 14, 2003, 07:34 PM
I would also give some consideration to .375 H&H. If you can handle the recoil of the .338, then the .375 gives you the added bang if you happen to trip across a griz.

I myself use a 7m magnum, and have take all the game species you outline. I chose the 7 due to its flat shooting and ballistic coef. I would certainly look at both of these.

For what its worth!!!

Welcome to the wonderful world of hunting.

May 14, 2003, 07:49 PM
If you've never fired a high powered rifle the 30-06 can be a real kicker, but assuming you have, the 30-06 is one of the best all around North American cartridges you can use. Loaded with 150 gr bullets you are optimum for white tail or antelope, with 165-180 you are good for black bear or elk, and with a 220 gr roundnose you could even swat a moose, though I think the 06 might be a tad light for moose. (given what a moose hunt costs in Colorado, I'd likely buy a .375)

However, even for a seasoned shooter the .375 packs a hell of a kick.

The 270 is a 30-06 necked down to 27 caliber, and it seems to kick a little less than the 06 and is still a hell of a game cartridge.

Better to be accurate than bruised.

Bragging rights come from putting game on the table, not from "my rifle is bigger than yours"

Just my 2ยข

May 14, 2003, 07:59 PM
Like Art said, '06 is great for lots. If I could only have one caliber hunting rifle, that would be it. Sounds like you have a lot of "big" big game in mind though- in your case, I might try the .300 WSM. Same power as .300 WM, but less recoil and you can get it in a short-action. Theoretical accuracy advantage, but you'd probably have to be shooting extremely well to see it.

(truth is, I think you really want two rifles- a "plains game" [7mm mag? .270?] and a "heavy" [.338/.35 Whelen, etc].)

May 14, 2003, 11:29 PM
It really is a shame they (either SIG or a competitor) doesn't make make a more economical version of the switch-barrel Blazer rifle. Maybe something in the $800 range (street price) with a black textured wood stock and matte blue metal. With extra barrels being about $300 (plus another scope) more. Then they could offer a $50 incentive to get another barrel up front.

With just the standard (30-06) length action, you could have, 25-06, 270, 30-06, 338-06 and 35 Whelen. A 270 and a 35 Whelen would be a great combo that would cover anything in North America.

Should be doable and would make a lot of folks happy. But... I guess that's why I'm a dreamer and not a CEO. :(

Mike Irwin
May 15, 2003, 12:54 AM
My first choice would be either a 7mm Remington or Weatherby Magnum.

There are a lot of excellent bullets out there that would work on the large bears, such as Hornady's Partition or the Swift A-Frame.

May 15, 2003, 12:30 PM

I agree, and have been dreaming 'bout it for years. Picture:
Type 25: .22-250 and .250 Savage
Type 6: .25-06 and .35 Whelen
Type 7: 6mm Remington and 7x57mm
and many more beautiful combos...

May 15, 2003, 12:55 PM
308, 30'06, or 338/06.

I stick with the 308. One caliber, several rifles, plenty of cheap surplus ammo for practice. If you use premium bullets designed for the task at hand, place the bullet properly, and limit yourself to a reasonable range - we're not snipers, we're hunters - any of these will fill your tag each and every time.

You do not need the fuss, blast, recoil, and expensive of a magnum cartridge.

May 15, 2003, 01:29 PM
If he doesn't reload, he doesn't need the 'fuss, hassle & expense' of the .338/06, either... ;)
Is the .338/06 available commercially loaded? If so, it'd be GREAT choice!

The 7mm Rem.Mag. is MY favorite.
I don't reload yet.
It doesn't bother me to shoot it.
It IS a good cartridge for most all the hunting we can do in the Lower 48.

Still, the .308 would be adequate to purchase cheaper practice ammo.
In a bolt-action rifle, the .308 can be used with the 'enhanced power' ammunition to achieve almost .30-06 power levels.
Were you to purchase a 'Precision Rifle' in .308, it could be used for target/pleasure shooting, as well as hunting from a static position if you're willing to hike in with a 10-12 lb. rifle.

The .30-06 is 'ubiquitous' and therefore a tad bit 'boring' in that way.
The extra power ammo in this cartridge gives almost .300 Win.Mag. level performance.
Sounds like the .30-06 might be a sound choice strictly for hunting purposes. :D

What an excellent problem to have!

May 15, 2003, 01:34 PM
I was going to say pretty much the same thing as MolonLabe416, but he beat me to it. I hunt with 2 calibers: .45/70 loaded with black powder and .308.

The .308 will take anything short of brown bear, and the reduced recoil will help you place your shot accurately enough to maximize the bullets' performance.

May 15, 2003, 03:23 PM
You still around musky?

How big do the bears get around your neck of the woods?

musky hunter
May 15, 2003, 04:15 PM
The black bears are not as large as the one's out west, but they are around 400-600lbs. The moose get over 1000 pounds here. The deer are around 100 - 200lb. The largest are around 300 lbs.

May 15, 2003, 04:27 PM
Weatherby is selling several versions of the MkV in .338/06. They are also selling the Ammo, under the label of .338/06 A-Square.

I just recently built one and am still breaking it in and working up the loads. The Factory load is a good one, a 210gr Nosler Part. at 2750 fps. Based on my load development, its a very realistic figure, as I'm getting over 2800fps with 200gr and 215gr bullets. It is definitely more gun than the .30/06 (owned two '06 before converting one to .338/06). Weatherby says that the .338 is adequate for all N. American game. Only draw back is expense of ammo, my guess is about $35.00 a box Canadian. All you need to load the .338/06 is a Lee press, set of dies, a pound of H414, some primers, bullets, and some empty .30/06 brass. All will put you back less than 5 boxes of factory ammo.
See for all but powder and primers.

My choice of a factory .338/06 would be the MkV SuperLight in Stainless steel with a Leupold 2.5-8x glass.

My 28yrs of experience with the .30/06 teaches me that it is excessive on deer, but adequate for rest of N.America except for Grizzly and Brown Bear. That's why I built the .338..... and to have something different. A .257 Robt., a .30/06, a .338/06, and a "Black Gun in .223 with two tops; seems I've about got it covered now!

May 16, 2003, 09:14 AM
The .30-06 can do anything that needs doing in North America. Ammo is available everywhere and probably has the most variety of commercial loads available.
Need more oomf and you don't reload? Don't worry. Federal's High-Energy and Hornady's Light Mangalums got you covered. Best of all they use premium bullets. Available in weights from 150 to 180 grains. Federal uses Trophy Bonded Bear Claws, Nosler Partitions, Hornady uses their own Inter-Locks and SSTs. Plus, Federal's Premium line also include the above bullets in their standard loads and Nosler Ballistic Tips in lighter weights and velocities.

May 17, 2003, 10:08 PM
Musky Hunter,

If cost is an important factor in determining which caliber to choose, then try the .308 Win. It will be the cheapest to shoot, which should allow you to shoot often enough to develop your skills. The large bores won't.

I'm not the great white hunter, more like the bumbling fool. But I think the .308 should be great for deer sized animals, just marginal for Elk and Moose, and you'd be under gunned for Brown bear (or so I READ).

Get a .308, get proficient, and if you ever hunt the Brown bear get a cannon.


May 17, 2003, 10:23 PM
My remington mod 700 30.06 is my primary deer gun using 150 gr Federal classic high shock rounds.
Some of the big game you are looking for I think I would use my Sako chambered in 300 UM.

May 18, 2003, 01:00 AM
Why not .600 Nitro Express? It's sure to do the job. :)

May 18, 2003, 02:05 AM
Yeah, but how do you get the game to shoot it? :D

May 18, 2003, 02:55 AM
If he doesn't reload, he doesn't need the 'fuss, hassle & expense' of the .338/06, either...
Is the .338/06 available commercially loaded? If so, it'd be GREAT choice!Oh... if the reference to the .338-06 was meant for me... I certainly never recommended it. I just meant it would be a nice option in the as-yet-non-invented $800 SIG Blazer. :p

And I have no idea what sort of factory ammo is offered but Weatherby does build factory rifles so chambered and I believe they offer loaded ammo (at outrageous prices no doubt) and it was adopted as the 338 A-Square so it technically is a factory cartridge, not a wild cat but then so is the .307 Winchester... when's the last time you could select between two different loads at a non-specialty sporting goods store? :p

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