medium game caliber choice.. please help


February 19, 2009, 11:32 AM
I've got some tax money back, and am trying to decide on what I'm getting.

I already have varmint guns leaking out my ears, and am mostly after something for pig.. and I'm not fond of chasing things.

I'm a southpaw, and want to stick to lever or semi-autos. I like bolts, I own several. But being a southpaw makes quick follow-up shots rather hard without fooling with a special order leftie. And then its still slower than the alternatives. I'm looking to stay within 250 yards regardless.

What I can lay hands on...

7.62x39 AR15
308 marlin-express
444 marlin

I don't want to wreck meat and haven't seen results from the heavier two on the list. Other suggestions would be appreciated.

(I do handload, and I can piece together AR's if you've got other standard-receiver options).


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February 19, 2009, 12:09 PM
how about 7mm08. I load 120 gr sierra prohunters for deer. I have also used 145 gr hotcors and the rifle would go up to 175 gr. This makes it very flexible and usable. 7mm bullets are common this is a short action round, uses about 45 gr of powder. It is a great hunting round. have a look at some of the data.


February 19, 2009, 01:06 PM
Agree on the 7-08 out to 250. That is my go-to short range cal. Dont know if you will find one in the configuration you are looking for (lever/semi). The .308 Marlin will do just fine also. Dont believe the 444 will serve you as well to 250yds.

February 19, 2009, 01:41 PM
A Browning BAR in 7mm-08 would cover all your needs. They are available in a left hand version too.


February 19, 2009, 06:00 PM
I was thinking a Browning BLR in .308.


February 19, 2009, 10:03 PM
Though 7mm-08 seems to be a popular choice and which I agree is a great caliber, it was not a given choice.

Of the choices given, I would lean toward the 308 ME. I have no personal experience with the cartridge, but I have read some rave reviews.

February 19, 2009, 10:36 PM
Just wondering about the lasting power of the 308ME. Lots of cartridges have been flashes in the pan--lots of light, some heat, gone in a second though.

February 19, 2009, 11:37 PM
I would pick the 308 out of the calibers listed. Also an inherently accurate round and readily available at most locations. I second the 7mm-08, but it was not on your list.

February 20, 2009, 01:32 AM
for a lever, and for something a bit different, how about .35 remington? Probably a bit easier on the shoulder than a 45/70...

February 20, 2009, 05:19 AM
The 7.62X39 and 308 ME are similar ballistically; I doubt the 308 ME will last despite "raving reviews" since it really doesn't do anything other .308 caliber cartridges don't do. ALL cartridges, by the way, get raving reviews when they first come out.

In it's original form, the 7.62X39 came with a .311 diameter barrel. Barrels for this cartridge of U.S.A. manufacture may come with a .308 diameter barrel. The obvious advantage with a .308 diameter is a vastly greater selection of bullets to choose from. If your AR has a .308 diameter barrel, I would look no further.

The 444 Marlin and 45-70 would kill very well at 250 yards but the trajectory may leave something to be desired.

What many think is "big gun, big wound." That isn't true. How much meat damage there is has all to do with bullet placement, bullet construction and bullet velocity. I've shot Impala, Warthog and Blesbok with a 375 H&H Magnum and there wasn't much meat damage because the velocity was modest and the bullets were of heavy construction. I even shot an African Wildcat and a Jackal with the 375 using solid bullets and hide damage was minimal.

February 20, 2009, 08:53 AM
Use the 45/70 with cast bullets.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
February 20, 2009, 09:43 AM
Tenn is mostly heavily wooded; few long shots.

Tenn pigs can get both big and mean, in my understanding.

So, .45-70 lever action. :)

February 20, 2009, 09:43 AM
Im also a fan of the 7mm's. 45-70 would be cool or maybe a 50-90 if you could get your hands on it

February 20, 2009, 11:00 AM
Ok, my assessment of responses so far....

TN is mostly wood, but I do expect I'll go further afield for some of the pig hunting. Got a few contacts out towards texas and down in Florida so I wont be hunting just scrub brush and gullies. Then again parts of fl and tx don't look much different than TN.

Fellow with me will most likely be hauling a dpms AP4 or a remington r25 (ar-10, 308). I'm trying to decide on something that'll complement, but still suit me free standing.

7.62x39.. if I went AR, it'd be flattop. I've already got another and a few scopes on QD mounts. The caliber just sucks for distance. And , despite what was said, 308 ME has 4-500 fps over it I think.

444 -- brass is a pain to obtain
45/70 -- can get brass, but it arcs like a freakin moonshot and sheds energy pretty quick
308 ME -- brass is rare. But, seems to duplicate 308win in a lever gun.

30/30 - 35 rem: already have an sks. If it comes down to a used lever gun in one of those, I might as well just haul the sks and eat 100 fps. Not like I'd drop much of anything in accuracy.

7mm~08 is a good caliber. But I'm rebuilding a savage into 6mm BR and gonna pickup a 270 sooner than later. I feel like I'll have the scoped longer-range bolt gun angle pretty well covered.

BAR's.. are unfortunately rare around here. I think I've seen two up for sale in the last decade. As an alternative, I could just nab a garand from the cmp.

I'm inclined to drop the 444 marlin at this point. So I guess I'm down to a garand, a ar in 7.62x39 (for the sake of eeking out 200 some odd yards effective), 45/70, or a BAR in whatever caliber turns up locally.

Any thoughts? Thanks for the help so far guys..

February 20, 2009, 11:05 AM
My favorite medium game cartridge has always been a .270 win. Mine has anchored everything I have ever ask it to.

February 20, 2009, 11:07 AM
The purported velocity advantage in the 308 ME is with factory loads with a proprietary powder not available to handloaders. If you're going to use factory loads then there may be an advantage. If you're going to handload, I believe the velocity advantage will evaporate.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
February 20, 2009, 11:14 AM
45/70 -- can get brass, but it arcs like a freakin moonshot and sheds energy pretty quick

Well yes and no - it's very flat to 125 yards or so. If 125 is longest shot, then it shoots plenty flat enough. If you don't want to screw with holdover, and might shoot at 150 plus, then look at a bottlenecked cartridge. And also, .444 bullets have the same BCs, so it drops equally fast at distance.

I'm not keen on the .308 marlin (even though I like Marlin), since it's just a re-invention of the .307 winchester, which also didn't last.

I'd look at a Remington 7600 pump or maybe a Browning BLR, in the caliber of your choice, if you're going to run with a bottlenecked.

I'd ask yourself first, "Do I really want a manual repeater (7600, 336, 1895, BLR etc.), or do I really want a semi (BAR, AR15, 7400, Garand, etc.)?" Remember, the manual repeater is likely to be more reliable in the field (and on the bench). After that's narrowed down, it'd be an easier choice.

February 20, 2009, 11:59 AM
7.62x39 is exactly what you are looking for. Krochus took a deer with his at 275 yards last year.

February 20, 2009, 12:01 PM
Sounds like a good line Grumulkin, but hodgon has published load data using imr 4895 and varget that appear to duplicate factory performance in a SP.

Yes, I know I can't load a tube full of them. But I could have a SP in the chamber and flats in the tube, or just one SP in the tube.

Data I'm lookin at for 150 gr'ers is showing...
30/30 -- 2390 fps
308ME -- 2600 fps
308 WIN -- 2820 fps

So, just about split the difference between 30/30 and 308 win.

While I might put a peep sight on a lever gun, I won't scope one. I also wouldn't try and scope a garand.

So I guess let me put it on its ear. Does 45/70 have a useful, non-meat annihilating advantage over 30~06/308ME within 150 yards? Or am I already into the gross-overkill levels for 300 lbs of porky?

February 20, 2009, 01:17 PM
Winchester Big Bore 94 in .375Win. is my choice for 200 yards or less. Handy brush rifle, and lethal on hogs. DRT if you do you job.

Ammunition has gotten scarce and pricy, though. Brass can be fire-formed from .30/30. They are offered up pretty regularly through on-line auctions.

The 444 Marlin has it's fans, for good reason, as well.

February 20, 2009, 01:21 PM
if you don't mind the cost the 444 is excellent as is the 45-70 for pigs and deer

February 20, 2009, 02:34 PM
I am a fellow lefty and I found that a Savage 99-E in .308Win works just fine for me. You might want to look for a nice used one or if you have to have a new rifle take a look at the Browning BLR in .308Win. With a good .308Win you can take over 90% of the huntable game on Earth.

I have never understood the .308 Marlin Express. What good is an almost a .308Win when you can have the real thing? Winchester, Savage, Browning and Sako have made/make lever rifles in .308Win. Good luck find .308ME brass and loaded rounds in 5 years. The .308Win is here for the long haul.


February 20, 2009, 03:25 PM
how about not worrying about it and just getting the .270 you are after? There are few better medium game cartridges available to you. or check out the ballistics 7mm08 v .270 and then choose.


February 20, 2009, 05:48 PM
the 270 I was intending to setup as more of a stand gun.

The one I'm trying to figure out here was more for a stalking gun.

Kentucky Windage
February 24, 2009, 03:43 AM
I vote the Browning BAR in 308 (scoped) concept.

February 24, 2009, 11:33 AM
Are you limited to only one gun?

There are some good choices...I think I'm just as puzzled as you are on what would compliment one of those AR-10 platform rifles your buddy will be carrying.

Lever gun is a nice start. Might want to look at a Model 88 Winchester chambered in .308. Older, unique, but those are some good little guns. Nice for stalking, and the lever action can get you out of some tight situations.

These can be picked up for $500-$600 online.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
February 25, 2009, 01:49 PM
the 270 I was intending to setup as more of a stand gun.

The one I'm trying to figure out here was more for a stalking gun.

Well, you could also get two rifles in .270 win, for caliber/life-simplification purposes - a long one (24-26" bbl) for the stand, and a short lighter one (20" bbl) for stalking.

Did you decide for sure on action type yet (semi, pump, lever, turnbolt)?

February 25, 2009, 04:00 PM
lever or turnbolt. Went and handled a BLR today. Nice.

But too expensive. Base model stock is a bit too shiny for my tastes too. I think I'm down to 308 ME or 45/70. and I'm leaning more towards the 45/70.

February 25, 2009, 05:17 PM
I vote the Browning BAR in 308 (scoped) concept.

The above would be a great choice, depending on your budget. Another alternative would be a Remington 7400 in .308. I have one in .270 I really like. It's not a "bolt like, one holer" as far as accuracy is concerned. But I've head shot hogs with mine at 200 yds. I replaced the sear spring with an aftermarket spring and got the trigger pull down to 3lbs. and accuracy increased. I bought mine at Wal-Mart 3 years ago for $299.99 so it didn't break the budget. And it's a fun gun to shoot.

February 25, 2009, 06:04 PM
I like the 45/70 idea, especially since you handload. Gives you some flexibility depending on where you're going to be hunting in your loading. I use a 350g cast bullet at 1725 for a usable trajectory 200 yards and in. Used them on two pigs so far, hard on the pig but easy on the meat damage. For a load where I may need a little more distance and better trajectory but a tough bullet, I've gone with the Speer 300g UCHP. Good bullet, it holds together while expanding. Start mine at 2110 fps for a usable (IMO) trajectory out to 250 yards. The Nosler PP is just as good or better. The plus with the 300 grain loads is you can replace the premium bullets with the much less costly Rem or Hornady 300g HP's and get similar performance for practice. Just don't plan on using them on game at ~1800+ impact velocities, field reports and testing (some of it my own) shows they'll come apart and you're worried about meat damage.

I've been hovering about a 308ME for a while now. With the 338ME coming out this year it looks like these Marlin/Hornady offerings may have some staying power. RCBS has dies out and Hornady has brass in production for sale. Midaway has it backordered at $32/50. Hornady has reloading data out that gets the 150g RN up to 2550 fps, which would fit the range/trajectory niche you're looking to fill.

I figure either one and you'd be able to go hunt, it just depends on how you feel about it. Same goes for the opinions on BLR's, Savage 99's and 270/7mm bolts.

February 25, 2009, 06:39 PM
Your caliber choices aren't ones that I would make for 250 yard shots. Look at the ballistic tables for any of them with a 100 yard zero and then see what they do at 200 or 250 yards. While any of them could/would kill game at that distance, they would not be the choices that I would make. I would stick with higher velocity standards like 30-06, .270, 6.5x55, .308, etc.

Of your choices I would lean towards the 7.62x39.

February 25, 2009, 08:07 PM
how about a 30-06 sprg?

February 26, 2009, 10:32 PM
The .270 is a fine choice for medium game it not one of the best.

February 27, 2009, 04:09 AM
I am in this same position now, except I was torn between the 30-30 and the 45/70. Tonight i go to pick up my new 45/70.:D

February 27, 2009, 06:57 AM
Of the ones you have listed, i would go with the 308 marlin. But honestly, a 30-30 would be a good choice also, and the ammo is cheaper.

February 27, 2009, 06:58 AM
I'm right handed, shoot right handed bolt guns left handed. It might be a little slower, but I just make the first shot count. I'm pretty quick with the bolt, though I have to lose the sight picture.

Ever think of a MODERN lever gun? Friend of mine is same as me, right handed, shoots left. It's an eye dominance thing. He has a Browning BLR that I absolutely love. His is in .308, but they make it in other calibers, even magnum calibers, even made it in one of my favorites, .257 Roberts, for a while. It's an accurate and fast rifle. I've often thought about getting one, but I really prefer bolt guns for hunting and, heck, about half the time I'm in the stand with a handgun and intend to start using my left hand Hawken Hunter Carbine in .50 cal. more in the future. No back up shot with THAT one. :D Neat gun, though, lock on the left, stock cheek piece on the right.

February 27, 2009, 08:17 AM
Remington 7600 pump with a good choice of calibers.

March 6, 2009, 11:24 AM
I shot two deer this past season with a .45-70 and they didn't go farther than they could roll. No real meat damage, although I did butterfly the heart with the .45-70 on the first deer shot.

here it is


March 6, 2009, 03:42 PM
The .308 Marlin will do the job nicely for you.

March 6, 2009, 03:52 PM
None of those are "meat wreckers" unless you get a bad shot and / or have to shoot multiple times to bring them down. I go for neck shots, minimal meat issues, 80% of the time they are dead on the spot.

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