Best caliber for Moose


August 6, 2008, 10:22 PM
A good friend of mine has a 19 year old daughter who has drawn a moose tag for Colorado. She is about 5'2" tall and 95lbs. very slight build. My buddy wants her to shoot her 270 WSM. 160 gr. bullet as he thinks anything larger is going to be to much for her to handle. I think that's to light except for a very close shot. What do you think? Is a bigger hammer in order?

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August 6, 2008, 10:32 PM
Ooh, boy. You're gonna get 1000 opinions on this one!

Probably the most common cartridge for moose in North America is the .30-06 with 180 grain bullet. At 100 yards it has 2658 ft-lb energy. Your 270WSM with 150 grain bullet has 2850 ft-lb energy, almost 10% more. In terms of energy, the 270WSM is good enough.

But the most important thing is to choose the right bullet, for thick skinned big game with lots bone. Get a bullet that doesn't expand too quickly, and doesn't break into little pieces. Pick the right bullet and you can use any centerfire from 270 to 338 caliber. I've seen an excellent discussion of bullet types on the Hornady and Sierra web sites.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 6, 2008, 10:38 PM
My buddy wants her to shoot her 270 WSM. 160 gr. bullet as he thinks anything larger is going to be to much for her to handle. I think that's to light except for a very close shot. What do you think? Is a bigger hammer in order?

No, I think your buddy is exactly right on - good choice - a heavy 160 in .277 is a looooong bullet. If it's fairly to moderately heavily constructed, it'll penetrate and do the job with a good hit. I say that's an excellent compromise of recoil to performance - the recoil will still be a little stout for her, in all likelihood - a good recoil pad is in order. And it's a good short range and long range performer. In fact, it may just perform better at long ranges (at lower vels) than at short ranges, depending on exact bullet construction chosen.

P.S. Don't listen to me - What the heck do I know - never shot a moose - but I do do a lot of reading. :)

August 6, 2008, 10:48 PM
Should be more than sufficient. I've seen them dropped with a 7.62x39. They've got great big lungs and a huge heart, which makes for a really nice broadside target. Killing them rarely presents much trouble. Butchering, skinning, and packing them out... THAT is another story. There's a whole lot to those animals.

August 6, 2008, 11:08 PM
Depends on the distance. Under a 150yds, .243 winchester with a premium bullet would do it.

August 6, 2008, 11:22 PM
35 Whelen

August 6, 2008, 11:22 PM
I'm not a moose hunter - but - that seems like a reasonable choice. Remember, 6.5mm Swedish is used for Moose hunting and has been for 100 years.

Again, I'm not a moose hunter, but what I hear is that the challenge is not killing them, but killing them before they make it to water and drown instead.... which may be less of an issue in Colorado than in Alaska.

August 6, 2008, 11:32 PM
the .270wsm will be fine as long as she actually gets a good shot. Tracking a moose all over the place would really suck not to mention finally having to hump that out of where ever it finally went down. Moose are big critters...and have nasty tempers from what I understand.

August 7, 2008, 04:17 AM
.243 Winchester won't cut the mustard in most cases.

The average adult male moose probably weighs in at around half a ton, with specimens close to 1200 lbs. not being uncommon. Some are even heavier than that, though not common.

The .243 is inconsistent at bagging even male mule deer, which usually don't get much larger than 300 lbs.

The .270 is the minimum I would recommend for moose, and the .308 would be my personal choice.

August 7, 2008, 05:02 AM
The Europeans reportedly think very highly of the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser.

Moose are thicker, heavy creatures, but not that difficult to kill. They usually don't exhibit the tenacity of say, an elk. Usually.

The trick is finding a load that will penetrate deep enough to reach the vitals. Long, heavy for caliber bullets with high sectional densities at modest velocities do this very well. The 6.5 and 7mm projectiles meet these requirements to a "T." The "Swede" is one example of a low recoiling round that is proven to get the job done. In the US, it might be a little easier to find .260 Remington.

The .270 WSM would work, but there might be lower recoiling options available if needed.

August 7, 2008, 07:17 AM
If that little girl can shoot the 270wsm accurately, it will be more than enough for the job. Many Canadian moose are dropped with 30-30 or lesser calibers. As always, proper bullet selection and placement are the keys to a successful hunt, if your lucky enough to find a moose.


August 7, 2008, 07:36 AM
I think a 7mm-08 would do the job. It's also pretty light on recoil.

August 7, 2008, 08:42 AM
Given a load of 105gr bullet, launched at 3000fps, the .243 has more energy at 300yds than a .44 mag does at the muzzle. I'm sure it would be adequete for close range shots. As for those mule deer, I imagine thats more due to the shooter than the shooting iron.

Steven Proshop
August 7, 2008, 10:07 AM
i think a 160 gr. 270 WSM is a good choice given the parameters.

August 7, 2008, 10:09 AM
6.5x55 swede, proven moose round (see popularity in Finland) and very light recoil.

August 7, 2008, 10:32 AM
A moose is a big animal and unless hit perfectly deserves to be hit hard enough to be humane. If you were picking the best round for moose you would pick the .338 mag. But someone that small will flinch with that much recoil, if not be thrown to the ground, and a lesser round well-placed is better than a .338 2 or three feet off target. So by all means she should stick with what she is comfortable with, practice shooting before the hunt, and only take shots of 100 yds or so and under.

August 7, 2008, 10:41 AM
The question is what does she already shoot and handle well?

Meese don't need mangalum calibers to drop dead. They need shot placement. A Shiras moose isn't nearly as large as an Alaska-Yukon or Canadian moose.

A 7mm-08 will work just fine. Alaska bushkins tend to use .30-06 and under.

August 7, 2008, 10:52 AM
It will work just fine as will the 6.5x55, which has very mild recoil. Just pick a good bullet to get the job done.

August 7, 2008, 11:36 AM
The 270 with heavy bullets is FINE. So's the WSM version. Pick a heavy partition, bonded, or other tough bullet that will hold together and penetrate.

As others mentioned, put the bullet in the right place and the moose will fall down. This is way more important that whether you're shooting a 6.5, 7mm, 270 or whatever.

She should practice with whatever she selects and be completely comfortable with the rifle. If there's any question about recoil sensitivity, it would be a good idea for her to practice (a lot) with somewhat reduced loads.

She won't feel the recoil when she shoots the moose, and she won't worry about it if she hasn't been beaten up at the range by the rifle. This will make it easier to take the shot precisely when it counts.

August 7, 2008, 12:07 PM
The .243 is inconsistent at bagging even male mule deer, which usually don't get much larger than 300 lbs.

Bah! Not sure where you got this, but .243 is plenty for ANY deer. Moose, probably not. Elk, no.

Master of Arms
August 7, 2008, 12:11 PM
Isn`t this the same thread as the one in the "hunting" section??
This is a good question. While just curiously checking in to some outfitters in the Northwest, I found a few of them that had a "minimum caliber allowed rule". It`s been a few years but I remember talking it over with a buddy of mine because he uses a 25-06 alot. I don`t remember what the minimum caliber allowed was but I know that I was surprised. I know that neither a 25-06 or a 7mm were allowed because that`s what we were using at the time.

If the outfitter allows a smaller caliber, Regolith had the answer. Get as close as possible and hit the sweet spot.

August 7, 2008, 02:22 PM
Bullet placement first. Bullet construction next. The caliber is fine out to reasonable hunting distances if she can put it where it needs to be. Good luck!

August 7, 2008, 02:23 PM
This subject is discussed over and over and it's as if there are two conversations going on at once. Yes a .243 can drop a moose or nearly anything with a well-placed shot. The question becomes what happens with a less than well-placed shot and how fair is it to the game? If you make a not so great shot on a moose with a .338 mag, he won't go far or long. Not so with a .243, or a 6.5. So the question isn't what load is right for the animal. but are "you" good enough to make the marginally better shot required by the lesser caliber and/or sporting enough to pass it up if you aren't?

PS - Please don't someone tell me I'm advocating the use of more gun to justify less skill - I am not!

August 7, 2008, 02:26 PM
I second the 7MM-08.

August 7, 2008, 02:31 PM
Been moose hunting, never shot one. I took a Remington 7mm Mag with 175gr partitions. I lived in Alaska and had several taken by friends and family.

Moose 1: 458 Win Mag 500gr bullet taken by high school girlfiend's dad. Not recommended.

Moose 2: 375H&H with 300gr partition taken by my Dad. 5'7" and 170lbs. Not recommended.

Moose 3:338 Win Mag(very pop. in Alaska) taken by friend of Dad, Jake. Not recommended.

Moose 4: 308 Win taken by coworker of my dad's. Recommended.

I would stay away from magnum anything unless there is massive recoil brake, heavy rifle, and 2-3 dead mules in the stock. Wouldn't be fun for her to carry such a beast.

Moose are pretty docile, except when they are pissed because you almost run them over with your snowmobile. We had them in our yard in Anchorage. Of course, the bastards disappear come hunting season.

338-06 and 405 Win are pretty popular guns with soft recoil compared to bullet weight. A semi-auto might help, like a BAR in 270Win or 308 Win.

The hunting we did for moose was pretty much less than 150 yards. Everyone recommended shooting one next to the river. :)

August 7, 2008, 02:48 PM
"The controversy over whether or not the 243 Winchester is an adequate round for Deer has been an ongoing one since the round was first introduced. Honestly, I don't expect to settle it here, I'm just hoping to shed some light on the round and what it is, and is not, capable of.

In the right hands, the 243 is well capable of taking Deer sized game...Still, this round is not a beginners rifle. A marginal hit from the 243 can leave wounded game in the field. The 243 Winchester really shines in the hands of a competent rifleman or riflewoman. Many beginners lack the experience to control the "shakes" and wait patiently for the right time to place the first shot where it belongs.

For beginners, there are better light recoiling calibers available that should be considered. Rounds such as the 257 Roberts, 260 Remington and 7mm-08 Remington are all great Deer rounds. Not only that, they are light recoiling and do far more damage than the 243 in case of a marginal hit.

So before you run out and buy a beginning Deer hunter a 243 Winchester, stop and think and then move on up in caliber size. Let the new hunter get some experience under their belts before handing them this little Deer round."

Rio Laxas
August 7, 2008, 02:49 PM
I have a friend that has a lightweight Browning A-Bolt in .270 WSM. We shot it side by side with my Ruger No. 1 in .375 H&H. The recoil difference was not that substantial. The .270 WSM was sharper, and it packed a lot more recoil than I thought it would. Granted it was a very light rifle, but do you think she can handle the recoil of a 270 WSM?

August 7, 2008, 02:57 PM
A marginal shot from a 458 Lott won't take down a swallow.


What about a 7x57 Mauser or 7-08?

August 7, 2008, 03:23 PM
Moose 4: 308 Win taken by coworker of my dad's. Recommended.

I would tend to agree - lots of young kids shoot medium weight .308 loads all the time with little difficulty. When I was young I started with 12 gauge slugs LOL - not recommended! The heavier weight .308 (180 and 200gr) shouldnt be necessary for this situation.

August 7, 2008, 03:55 PM
+1 on the .308 with medium loads.

Very common cartridge that is available in a wide variety of different loads, at a price that isn't outrageous.

With medium loads, proper instruction and some quality practice sessions, even a small-framed woman can capably handle it.

General Geoff
August 7, 2008, 04:56 PM
95lbs is still 10 times heavier than a hefty hunting rifle. With the proper stance and grip, and holding the rifle firmly against the shoulder, I have no doubt she could shoot any caliber rifle she wanted. :)

August 7, 2008, 06:01 PM
Another caliber that is pretty mild on the recoil end but still effective for large game:

7x57 Mauser

August 7, 2008, 06:11 PM
7mm-08 would be great for this... 150gr Nosler Partitions or Barnes Triple Shocks...

August 7, 2008, 06:19 PM
"...picking the best round for moose you would pick the .338 mag..." Nonsense. You don't need any magnum for any of the deer family. However, the .243 is too light for moose with any bullet.
Bullwinkle isn't hard to kill(think close to the logging road). Her .270 WSM with good 130 or 140 grain bullets will do nicely(the .270 Win has being doing it for eons). Shot placement is critical with any bullet.

August 7, 2008, 06:36 PM
Posted by Sunray:
However, the .243 is too light for moose with any bullet.

Amen to that!

.270 is good and .308 is best, IMHO.

August 7, 2008, 08:29 PM
I was raised in Canada. Moose were fairly common and in some cases a bit of a nuisance. Someone within my extended family would always draw a moose tag. My admittedly foggy memory allows me to remember lots of 303s and 30-30s and the occaisional "new" rounds (270, 308, and 30-06) for younger fools like me. Now I know better and stick with the enfields and winnies when I get the incredibly rare urge to go hunting for biggish things.

One of my inlaws dropped a moose with a single shot .410. He doesn't brag about it. He was working in the woods and his young family needed the meat. Its all he had so he took the shot and ended up finishing the downed animal by beating it over the head with the barrel of that shotgun.

I've been in a successful moose-hunting foursome once. That was enough for me. Moose are fairly stupid swamp cows. They are not difficult to drop -- at least not in proportion to their size. They are, however, huge. About half way though the gutting and quartering, and certainly by the time you are trying to pack it out, I think you may lose the desire to repeat the event. If you are doing the whole guided "hunt" thing with 4-wheelers and other people to attend to the "details", like I read about in the magazines, then I don't know why you'd bother hunting. Drive the sports-team-emblazoned escalade down to the Loblaws for some t-bones and light beer like a good 'merican consumer.

Although I have no experience with it, I would have reservations about using a 243. Not sure why though. Probably just old fashioned. If she shoots it well and can make that heart-lung shot then so be it. I will recommend staying near at least logging roads. After the moose drops, the hunting gets a whole lot less fun. And don't go looking for a trophy. The old ones are incredibly tough and gamey. Almost everything needs to be stewwed with lots of spices.

Good luck on the hunt.

August 7, 2008, 09:13 PM
About half way though the gutting and quartering, and certainly by the time you are trying to pack it out, I think you may lose the desire to repeat the event.

LOL, yup. About the time you're trying to remove a mass of guts that's bigger than you are while the glob flies get in your mouth and various things are biting you. Smart shoppers around these parts come prepared to stow some of it for multiple trips and even bring a large axe to take out major bones and allow the animal to be broken into more easily managed pieces. I know a guy who uses a chainsaw with olive oil for lube! Anything to reduce the enormous effort involed in moving that much meat out of whatever dark, dank hole it died in.

August 7, 2008, 10:09 PM
Virtually every caliber mentioned in this thread can potentially take a moose. I've seen it done with a .22-250, to each their own. Contrary to what some would have you believe there is no best round and the moose doesn't care what you kill it with. If I were hunting moose I would take a .300 Win. Mag with a 180 grain bullet. Easy to find, relatively inexpensive when compared to other big game cartridges, significant but not devastating recoil and very capable when talking about elk or moose. It's more than you need for deer.

August 9, 2008, 03:19 AM
Well technically .243 is legal in Colorado if you have a heavy enought bullet, that being said what "PremiumSauces" has already said I believe is good sound advice. Bigger is not always better when it starts affecting accuracy, so you may start with a lighter bullet/load and help her to feel confident in her accuracy with the rifle, then start to increase the load until accuracy is comprimised. Shot placement is key. Also the technology in bullets nowadays are very impressive and will allow for some tradeoffs in bullet weight and velocity. I am still building points for my Colorado Moose, and hope to draw one in a few years. Have fun.
Good Luck and Be Safe!

November 8, 2010, 10:55 PM
i guess when hunting one isnt always aware of the condition or distance the prey may be in....if the .3-- magnum calibers can provide the extra energy and range for quick kills on 800+ pound animals in various terrains they would seem the best choice.

shooting whilst hunting isnt range practice. maybe a few shots and its over. recoil wouldnt seem to be a big issue unless one has an injury.

November 8, 2010, 11:24 PM
i am not sure but if trying to simplify the number of rifles maybe a .308 semi-auto would be beneficial for getting faster follow up shots with lower power.

November 9, 2010, 12:07 AM
Bigger hammer is not in order. 130 grain .270 Win is historically fine for moose, as is .308, .30-06, and even .30-30. Go to a heavier 150 grain bullet and you're good to go.

November 9, 2010, 05:57 AM
The question is what does she already shoot and handle well?

Meese don't need mangalum calibers to drop dead. They need shot placement.

^What he said!

I'd rather see any hunter using a less powerful cartridge with which they could deliver a precise shot, as opposed to a magnum that they couldn't shoot better than minute-of-barn door.

November 9, 2010, 07:50 AM
An experienced Moose Guide in Quebec Province, Jean Luc, advised me that he prefers the 25-06, this way he can have 600 yards of flat shooting on a powerline (300 yards in each direction). His son then sits 600 yards from him and covers the same distance, together the two of them cover 1200 yards of Moose crossing territory. They're easy to rangefind because of their size, and the 25-06 will do its job at 300 yards with a nosler partition.

November 9, 2010, 07:59 AM
Magnums are for city folk who can't shoot well. The vast majority of moose are taken at short range. I've been on guided and un-guided moose hunts and have never had to take a shot over 150yds, most were under 100. I no longer hunt them for reasons stated by a poster above... the meat just ain't that good and I have no more room for trophies.

Elk can be another matter depending on the terrain you're hunting. If it's open country then you "can" have shots of 400yds. But that's only if you want to take that shot. You can almost always get into position to take a much shorter shot.

That's what I love about the hunting shows that show some guy taking a 350-400yd shot.... look at the terrain... that shot wasn't really necessary. There's almost always "cover" available much closer to the herd.

That shot was taken for either the sponsor's benefit or the ego of the hunter.

Over my 40yrs of hunting I've own many a magnum and never enjoyed any of them. All my moose and elk have been taken with either a 7mm-08 or 30-06 and none have had to be tracked. Moose usually fall dead right there and Elk usually stumble 25-30yds and fall down. I had one Elk RUN about 60yds before piling up.... upon field dressing we found the heart was exploded and blood shot throughout... Elk are high strung and I guess sometimes it takes them a few seconds to realize they're dead.

When my son was 12 he took his first Elk at 125yds with a .243 (100gr partition) clean lung / heart shot. that one made it maybe 40yds. That was a 650lb bull and we never recovered the bullet.

I don't recommend a .243 for Elk but it was the only rifle he shot accurately with any consistency.

November 9, 2010, 08:50 AM
It isn't the caliber that kills. It is the properly constructed bullet put in the right place. A 160gr out of a 270 will work fine if it goes into the lungs. Europeans have killed moose with the old 6.5 Swede for decades.

Arkansas Paul
November 9, 2010, 01:39 PM
If she can shoot the .270 WSM accurately, there's certainly nothing wrong with it. There have been many moose killed with the .270 Win, and the WSM is more of the same thing. Bullet construction is key. I wouldn't use the standard soft points normally used for whitetails. I'd go with a Nosler partition, Swift A-frame, or Barnes TSX. Something along those lines.

Just my 0.02

Float Pilot
November 9, 2010, 02:15 PM
Here in Alaska, moose are the most common game animal for filling the freezer. It is also the most easy animal to harvest with proper shot placement.

30-30s and 300 Savage's have taken thousands of Alaskan moose. Particularly out in the villages were money is tight (at least in the old days) and where many of the folks are of smaller stature.

I grew up in what was then a Homesteading area, so nobody had any cash... thus cut-down military surplus 7x57mm Mausers and 30-06 Springfields were the most common rifles , followed by Winchester 94s and Savage 99s.
The biggest Mose I ever shot was with a 30-30... The longest shot I ever made on a Moose was with a 7x57mm. ( a great all around cartridge)

6.5x55 Swede Mauser, 308 Win and 7x57mm Mauser have accounted for lots and lots of moose.

Too bad they are not in my neck of the woods, I have a Model-70 featherweight in 6.5x55mm that is a perfect ladies rifle.

November 9, 2010, 03:34 PM
My dad and I are headed to Canada next Nov. for a guided moose hunt (not many in Iowa and he never could afford to hunt when he lived in Alaska). At 63 with two bad shoulders he's taking a .300 Win. Mag. ala T/C Encore with a break installed. He can shoot 50 round sessions with ease now and has verified zero loss of velocity. Finding a nice .308 Win. that some "sniper" has given up on and adding a break should make for a perfect combo. Otherwise consider a break for that .270 and get her plugs and earmuffs for the range.

My 6 year old couldn't shoot .357 Mag. until the noise went away.

November 9, 2010, 04:14 PM
Magnums are for city folk who can't shoot well...
Over my 40yrs of hunting I've own many a magnum and never enjoyed any of them.

You don't enjoy magnums therefore magnum shooters can't shoot well. That's some impeccable logic right there. :rolleyes:

November 9, 2010, 05:24 PM
You are not going to get a "shock kill" on somthing as large as a Moose. So Magnum speeds are not really that important, Just use a high SD controled expansion bullet and put it right through the bioler room. If I were trying to stay low recoil a 6.5x55 loaded with a 156 or 160 gr bullet would easly top the list, it's 260 cousin does not have a fast enough twist to stabalize those monsters. 7mm Mauser/7mm-08 would be my second choice with a 160 gr bullet, and a 308 with a 180 or 200 gr would be the hardest kicking rifle I would recomend. The 6.5x55 is a very low recoil round that has taken every big game species this planet has to offer. it's 160 gr rounds will penatrate an elephants skull so the vitals of a moose are not even a challenge on an off angled shot. My 6.5 won't shoot as far or as flat as my 270 WMS but within realistic ranges it is my go to gun for big game, and it has never let me down.

Jonny V
November 9, 2010, 05:49 PM
Before we Americans got caught up in the 'bigger is always better' craze, the 30-06 was being written off by the gun writers of the day as being far too powerful for North American game animals. When the 270 appeared a few years later, people went to it because of its' flat shooting, and the lighter bullet didn't smash through and destroy every bit of meat on the animal like (they claimed) the '06 did. Now, everyone is in a huge rush to get a belted magnum.

The 270 Win is perfectly adequate for moose (and elk). With a quality bullet like the Nosler Partition or the Barnes, and good shot placement, the animal will drop like a stone.

Don't fall for the belted magnum trick. Unless you step WAY UP to something like a 30-378 Weatherby, you're not going to notice any appreciable difference in shooting or killing ability. On top of that, our shooter here is sub-100 pounds (overpowering reason to disregard magnums).

Go and get her a 270 (or 306 or 30-06) that she will be far more comfortable shooting. Then you can go tag and bag that moose, and have some good BBQ when you get home :).

November 9, 2010, 05:59 PM
You don't enjoy magnums therefore magnum shooters can't shoot well. That's some impeccable logic right there

Just another bozo who has trouble with reading comprehension.

You have anything better to do than take two unrelated comments and try to imagine some meaning in it?

There are certainly some fine marksmen who prefer magnums. Most people that I know who hunt with them are not fine marksmen by any stretch.

Many guides will tell you the same about their clientele. I had one tell me that if he has two customers, one with a 06-270 etc and the other with the magnum du jour he already knows which one is the marksman.

More power is a poor excuse for bad shot placement.

Every game animal on this planet was being cleanly harvested well before the first "magnum" was invented.

In fact the two most notorious elephant poaching cartridges are the 7x57 and 303 brit. Real power houses both.

But then again most hunters had some skill back then.

November 9, 2010, 07:21 PM
Intresting fact. All expanding bullets penatrate deeper at lower speeds. This means that a 300 Ultra mag shooting a 180 gr core lock will not penatrate nealy as far as a 308 shooting the same 180 gr bullet. This is because higher impact speeds mean faster expansion and in turn more mass lost which we all know drasticly reduces penatration. I have read several studies on this matter. Kenetic energy dump is not the key to a clean kill, shot placement and adaquate penatration are by far the two most important factors involved. A 30-30 can quickly kill a bull elk, not by liquifying his entire chest cavity like a 378 Wby mag, but by making a nice half inch wide hole all the way through his vital organs. Does this mean that magnums are useless.....No way, but that extra energy should be used as it was intended, to carry the ideal amount of energy to longer ranges, or to throw a heavier higher SD projectile on closer shots. KE dump advocates forget that that energy can be dumped into tissues other then the vital organs which does nothing for a clean kill. Remember the world record Polar Bear (2500lbs!) was killed with a single a low velosity handgun bullet while an ultra mag with ballistic tips would never reach his vitals:)

Art Eatman
November 9, 2010, 08:13 PM
Odds are that the girl might well have killed her moose, two years ago.

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