All Around Caliber for North American Game


Psyco Tyco
August 3, 2009, 06:54 PM
Okay my dad is buying me a new rifle for my 18th birthday price is not really an option as long as i keep it under 1500....but i cannot decide what caliber i want....i already have a .243, and a .30-06

i was considering a .300 win mag, a .300 weatherby magnum, or a .338 win seems like the .300 winmag would have good distance and the .338 would have power and ive never read anything about the weatherby so any input would be great

im really hoping to make this rifle an all around rifle for hunting black bear and elk in new mexico, colorado, and maybe sheep if i can swing a license also will need to be able to take moose, caribou, and other alaskan/canadian game because we are plannin a trip to either alaska or canada next i want a rifle that will provide the best amount of take down along with long range (400+ yards) because thats the kind of hunting we get around these parts

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August 3, 2009, 07:20 PM
Just my opinions:

.300 Weatherby is pretty cool, in that it's mighty fast/flat-shooting. There are some that are faster (.300 Rem Ultra Mag...barely), but it's about the fastest sort of common .308 round. Problem might be that it's only sort of common. If you ever need ammo at a corner sporting goods store, they probably won't have any. If you hand-load that's not your problem. If you plan pretty well ahead and stock up on ammo, that's not too big a problem. And, the other rounds that are around that velocity aren't exactly all that common, either. And they're all going to be pretty expensive (Weatherby, too, of course). I picked up two boxes of .300 Weatherby for a friend recently. Cabela's had 40 rds. on the shelf. That bill came to over $100 with tax. :eek:

.300 Win Mag is a fine round. And at the distances you're talking about, it will shoot flat enough (if you know what you're doing) and hit hard enough. Even though it's a few 100 fps slower than the Weatherby.

But, in my opinion, you've got the '06. Why get another .30 cal? Might as well get the .338 -- or something bigger yet -- and really gain more than a marginal difference in the capability of your arsenal.

For most of the game you've described that you already hunt, at the distances you've mentioned, that '06 will do the job -- if you can. It will take down a black bear, and elk, and certainly flatten sheep. And it will do it out to 400 yds if you know your rifle and have practiced ethically making those shots. (If you don't practice this and can't do it correctly, on command, every time -- it doesn't matter WHAT you're shooting.)

When you talk about stepping up to bigger and meaner game, that's when you'll appreciate having as much gun as you can handle. Those aren't going to be super long range shots (for the most part) either. .338 in any of the common chamberings, .375s, and on up to even the .458 Win Mag, will do stuff that the '06 can't.

I'd pick something that really rounds out my capabilities on the upper end, rather than just improving my mid-range.


Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 3, 2009, 07:28 PM
.280 Remington is THE all-around N.A. cartridge, IMO. But close close honorable mentions to .270 Win and .30-06 Spgfld. There ain't but 2 scrunthairs worth of difference between the 3 of them anyway. There's a good reason why for decades .30-06 has been the most popular centerfire in America, and .270 has been second. And .280 is the best of both worlds, splitting the difference. Best except for the price of ammo, that is.

Pretty much any cartridge though that starts with a .25 on up to .35 will be a decent all-arounder, except for the big magnums which are unnecessary overkill.

August 3, 2009, 07:37 PM
Seems like you already have "needs" covered. I'd go belted magnum since you don't have one. .338, HELL yeah! :D .300 WM ain't enough more than .30-06. You "need" a big bear killer whether you live in Alaska or not. :D

edit.....second thought, if dad really likes ya, ask him for a Heym M88PH in .470 Nitro Express. :D It's in a recent "American Rifleman". That's a gun you can brag about. :D

August 3, 2009, 07:46 PM
Spending the day out at White Sands, I got to talk to several experienced hunters in the area.

One, a professional guide, and the other a meat hunter.

The guide tried to get his customers to use a 308 Winchester. Usually these guys brought super duper magnums, and flinched. When they used the super duper magnums, they often missed, or gut shot the animal. Which would mean hours of tracking. The guide would always get his customers within effective range, and the customer, as awful of shots as they were, seldom flinched badly with a 308. A solid hit with a 308, even on Orxy, anchored the animal.

The meat hunter, he used a 308. His distance limits were based on his ability to hit at distance. He determined that at 300 yards, he could always keep his shots within a pie pan, and that for him was the target zone he had to hit. He wanted meat, not tracking.

Many folks want to hit at 600, 1000 yards, even a 1 mile, but magnums don't make up for poor shooting skills.

August 3, 2009, 07:53 PM
Saying a guy that uses a belted magnum can't shoot is sorta like sayin' a Harley rider can't ride worth a toot. While it might be true a lot of the time, it ain't necessarily so.

August 3, 2009, 07:57 PM
Another 280 vote.

August 3, 2009, 08:12 PM
+1 on slamfires comments. If you do decide you need something that big, look at a rifle without porting. You may be glad you did.

Psyco Tyco
August 3, 2009, 08:14 PM
thanks to all of your for your replies....i think im probably going to wind up going with the .338 win mag becasue if the .300 win mag and weatherby perform only a little better than my 06 then the a step up will be nice....but since i dont plan on alaskan trips often and elk and black bear are the biggest common game ill have i would never want a large caliber magnum....and as for the comment about oryx and white sands i actually drew out on the once in a lifetime two years ago and the bull i took weighed in excess of 500 pounds and took one 06 round in the front chest and when he kept hobbling along after that another through the side chest before he finally went down and that was only at a 200 yard shot so thats why i draw the conclusion ill need larger than an 06 for the elk around here

August 3, 2009, 09:32 PM
A 300 Weatherby mag, 338 Win mag, or 340 Weatherby mag using some good Nosler Partition bullets would be excellent choices. I've used all 3 on game animals such as Moose, Elk and Bears with excellent results.

August 3, 2009, 10:18 PM
30-06 or 8mm Mauser or even 7mm magnum. I can see the lure of a .300 Winchester or .300 H&H, but they are overkill on most game in the lower 48. .300 Win mag is cheaper than .300 H&H or .300 Weatherby, but you get into that kind of stuff you should be reloading.

A buddy of mine did a plains game safari in 2002 using a borrowed 7mm mag (he left his .375 H&H at home too much hassle /red tape post 9/11). He dropped gemsbok, kudu, zebra, wildebeast, warthog, waterbuck and springbok with a 7 mag. I'd say that's pretty telling for versatility.

I still say .30-06 rules the roost. If I need something bigger (Alaska bears, buffalo the odd escaped rhino) I have his .375.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 3, 2009, 10:30 PM
.338 win mag is not a half bad choice, IF you take the time to work up some downloaded loads.

August 3, 2009, 10:36 PM
Id go with the 338 Win Mag id love to have one myself

August 3, 2009, 10:37 PM
Buy the biggest and most expensive and leave the cheap pea shooters for me. Just kidding but you already have the best for all North American game .30-06

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 3, 2009, 10:40 PM
I'm sorry; I missed the part about already having a .243 and .30-06.

In that case, I'd do one of two things: Fill the gap with a .260 rem or 7mm08. OR, go big with a .35 Whelen or 9.3x62 or even a .375 H&H mag or .45-70.

To me, the .30-06 you have overlaps too much with .338 winmag. You can shoot a 220 gr bullet in a .30-06, easily found on the store shelf, for really big stuff.

August 3, 2009, 10:43 PM
If you're serious about sheep you should consider the grand old .270 Winchester.

Can't do better.

August 3, 2009, 10:47 PM
The .300 Weatherby does have some kick to it...

Sighting it in is a PITA.:)

However, it's flat-shooting enough for sheep and powerful enough for the big stuff.

The question for most of these rounds is, "Do you load your own?" Because if you don't, the price of feeding them is non-trivial, and you will want practice with these specific rifles before going on a high-dollar out-of-state hunting jaunt.

August 3, 2009, 11:04 PM
338 Win Mag will do everything you want. Recoil is manageable with out the need for a muzzle brake. Ammo while not cheap is affordable. Spend your Dad's money on the best scope you can afford. Then go out and shoot the thing.

Now if you really want something fun.....try a 375 H&H

Psyco Tyco
August 3, 2009, 11:06 PM
no i dont load my own thats only out of being too busy....the way dad has seen it and the way i have grown up with is that it would be better to work hard when not hunting even if that means paying a bit more for specialty bullets....although i'm gonna talk to him and see if he has a trip to africa planned in the next 5 years and if he does i might just go ahead and ask for the .375 or some larger caliber rifle but if he doesnt then i think the .338 will be more than sufficient for bear and elk all over the country

August 3, 2009, 11:35 PM
30-06 still ranks #1.

August 3, 2009, 11:42 PM
.300 Weatherby Mag, Faster and stronger than the .300 win or H&H mag.

August 3, 2009, 11:56 PM
the way dad has seen it and the way i have grown up with is that it would be better to work hard when not hunting even if that means paying a bit more for specialty bullets

Some pretty hard-working and wealthy hunters still handload. It's really hard to get the same accuracy from a box of ammo, even a $75 box of ammo.

Psyco Tyco
August 4, 2009, 12:19 AM
accuracy from handloading can be a draw to some but to me i am more interested in using a quality gun with a quality scope a bipod for stable sitting shots and making sure i can put 5 store bought shots in a pie pan at 300 and one in a pie pan at important accuracy is in my main hardware and practice once a month

August 4, 2009, 05:17 AM
have you considered a 338 Federal ? What a great all around cart., without near the kick of a mag.
Also, a nice 300wsm, i would think be great, still a mag round, but not a ton of money.

Art Eatman
August 4, 2009, 08:52 AM
For any hunting in the lower 48, the .243 and the '06 already fill the bill just fine. My family's tradition with the '06 has always been, "If it's inside of 500 yards, it belongs to me." The main thing is judging distance--and knowing the trajectory.

The empty slot, seems to me, is in the dedicated varmint rifle arena. .223, .22-250, .220 Swift or the .204 would be good choices. The .223 is easy hitting to 300 yards on prairie dogs, and I'd not hesitate at 200 yards on coyotes. The others basically add a hundred yards to the capability.

Of course, if the big bears are on the agenda, an eargesplitten loudenboomer is indeed a Good Thing.

August 4, 2009, 09:00 AM
If it's too big for a 30-06 I'd rather have a bigger, heavier bullet than the same bullets faster.

If it's too far away for a 30-06 150 grain Light Magnum @ 3100 fps, then it's too far away, period.

So I can't see much point in getting a 30 caliber magnum if you're happy with your 30-06. So either get a 338 WM or a good 22.

August 4, 2009, 09:12 AM
You have the 30-06. Buy a reloading setup if you don't have one already and a raft of components and SHOOT that sucker. You don't NEED anything more...

August 4, 2009, 12:01 PM
For hunting the '06 is plenty. You don't NEED anything bigger. Now if you WANT something bigger for whatever reason, that is different. But you really have hunting needs covered just fine (assuming you can hit what you aim at).

Different way to go would be to get something more on the 'fun' side rather than the hunting side.

August 4, 2009, 12:05 PM
For any hunting in the lower 48, the .243 and the '06 already fill the bill just fine. I'd hate to go moose or elk hunting with you is they ran out of 30-06 bullets at the closest store. I'd especially hate to go buffalo hunting with you.

August 4, 2009, 12:18 PM
I'd hate to go moose or elk hunting with you is they ran out of 30-06 bullets at the closest store. I'd especially hate to go buffalo hunting with you.

I always laugh at the 'local store' argument for whether or not to buy/own a rifle. Seriously, ammo is like #2 on my list right after the rifle itself. Seems a silly argument to me. Plus you are talking '06 ammo. Any store that sells ammo will have 30-06 and .270 in abundance. Most will also have .243 and 7mm mag as well. But '06 and .270 will always be found if you are enough of a moron to forget ammo on a hunting trip.

Uncle Mike
August 4, 2009, 12:29 PM
.300 Remington Ultra Mag-(you can use the factory 'downloaded' ammo and stretch it's versatility)

.338 Winchester Mag.-(don't need to justify this round)

.338 Remington Ultra Mag.-(if you think you might need the extra punch... but man,what an extra punch you get)

August 4, 2009, 12:33 PM
Has no one mentioned the 7mm, or did I miss it.

August 4, 2009, 12:48 PM
The local store argument makes no sense. What serious hunter going on a big elk hunting trip is not going to have their rifle sighted in for a certain ammo and have plenty of it. Also if a local store was to have any ammo at all chances are they would have a common caliber such as 30 06.

I would have to agree with Art, the 30 06 and .243 should be fine with the wide range of different ammo available. Where I see a gap is in the varmint rifle category. I think you need to add a .223, .204 ruger, or a 22-250. To me they are a lot of fun and cheaper to shoot.

I you are not interested in a smaller caliber then I say go all out and get one of the big boys. .375, .416, or 45-70.

August 4, 2009, 02:07 PM
Is the .270 really the second most popular centerfire rifle in America? I have been hunting for nearly 50 years and only have seen about 2 of them.

August 4, 2009, 02:40 PM
Depends on where you live I suspect. I grew up in eastern MT and .270's were plentiful out there. .243, .270, 308, 30-06 were pretty much the norm for deer/antelope.

.270's are popular in SD (where I live now) as well. Good all around caliber for most NA game.

Float Pilot
August 4, 2009, 08:07 PM
Here in Alaska the 338 Winchester Mag and the 30-06 Springfield are the two most popular cartridges for actual hunting. The 375 HH and 45-70 comming along soon thereafter in various polls.

Since you already have a 243 and a 30-06, which meet almost all hunting needs in the lower 48 and most of those up here, anything you get will have to have the Intersting Factor or the filling a gap factor.

So lets look at the filling a gap factor. Between the 243 Win (6mm) and the 30-06, you have some great stanard cartridges like the
257 Roberts,
260 Rem,
6.5x55mm Swede Mauser,
and 7mm Mauser.

If you go bigger than the 30-06 but do not want the annoying recoil of the 338 Win Mag, you have some nice standard cartridges that have some interesting factor.
338 Federal
358 Winchester
35 Whelen

Or if you do not mind loosing magazine capacity something like a 350 Rem Mag or the new Ruger 338 Compact Magnum.

If you go smaller than your 243 Win, you have some interesting varmint cartridges like
22 Swift
and to a lesser degree 223

August 4, 2009, 10:40 PM

August 4, 2009, 11:13 PM
I still like the idea of a 338 Win Mag or even a 340 Weatherby Mag I agree I would'nt get a 300 Mag if I had a 30-06

August 4, 2009, 11:14 PM

August 5, 2009, 12:05 AM
You have the 30-06. Buy a reloading setup if you don't have one already and a raft of components and SHOOT that sucker. You don't NEED anything more...

I hear a lot more talk about bullets than calibers, from serious hunters, including elk hunters. It's not for nothing that they handload.

If you're shooting box ammo, chances are you're not getting the most from your rifles -- not velocity, not accuracy, not terminal performance.

The only problem with handloading is, once you start, you don't look back.

Seriously, if you only practice once a month, handloading isn't too much of a PITA. Half the group size, 100 fps bump in velocity, and high-performance bullets of your choice will get more out of a .30-06, or a .338 WM, or whatever. Sure, you can cross your fingers and hope that the high-end bullets come in a factory load that your rifle shoots worth crap, and maybe you'll get lucky -- or maybe you'll go through a box of a bunch of different ammo and get really frustrated.

That's why it's hard to go back after loading your own.

August 5, 2009, 06:25 AM
You would have all your bases covered if you purchased a .338 Win Mag; 338 would be your caliber for trophy elk, moose and any bear you would ever want to hunt. The 243 is a great varmint/small game round. The 30-06 will cover all deer and cow to smaller bull elk.

August 5, 2009, 08:00 AM
Get your self a 45-70 Guide Gun or Cowboy, $500 worth of leverlutions and watch make those 45 claiber clover leafs knowing you have a compact rifle with hard hitting accuracy. You can probably win some bets with the certain members of the bolt action crowd who think lever guns shoot 6in groups at 100yds.

August 5, 2009, 07:38 PM
I know you asked for an all around cartridge to compliment your existing .243 and 30-06 but you are also looking for a rifle that you will receive on your 18th birthday.

With that in mind, I would suggest that you get something different and special. What come to mind for me are the larger, somewhat exotic calibers like .370 Sako, .376 Steyr, 9.3 Brenneke, 9.3x62, and similar.

There are a lot of calibers you could get to fill the bill and your choices of 300 and 338 Win Mag are great for that, but since this is to mark a special occasion, I would think that something a little more remarkable would be better.

August 5, 2009, 11:02 PM
Given what you already own, I'd go for the .338. Will easily take any game in North America, it's relatively common, and it's a big enough upgrade over the .30-06 to justify getting it.

Honestly though, for most critters in your region the .30-06 should work fine.

August 6, 2009, 12:44 AM
If you pick a great rifle you will have it for the rest of your life, so you want the caliber to match a lifetime of hunting trips.
-Long action
-Good energy at 300 yards

I vote .270 or .300 Weatherby, you can't go wrong with either one. And if a trophy stops in front of you, it will be enough gun.

Now which scope are going to put on top?! :evil:

August 6, 2009, 01:33 AM
Id say .375 H&H for a couple reasons.

A. You said there are possible Africa trips

B. I want one

August 6, 2009, 10:50 AM
Lots of good advice here.

I think the .338 makes the most sense and gives you the most flexibility and value for your money. This if prefaced on the assumption you will not be hunting dangerous game. I used a .340 Weatherby and 30 - 06 on an African Safari and it worked out perfect. BUT, I was only hunting non-dangerous plains game and the guides had .416 Rigbys and .375 H&H's for back-ups.

The minimum caliber for Dangerous Game in Africa is the .375 H&H. This is a strongly enforced rule. I do not know of any minimum caliber rules for Alaskan bear, but common sense would rule a .373 H&H or better.

If there is a good chance you'll hunt bear or dangerous game in Africa, then the .373 H&H would be the best choice in my opinion.

August 6, 2009, 10:58 AM
BUT, I was only hunting non-dangerous plains game

One of the "serious hunters and handloaders" I know and was referring to has a wall covered with African plains game mounts. Took every one of them with a 7x57AI -- the reason I know is because I asked him about calibers, and got his good-natured "pshaw", followed by "See those? Every one of them was shot with a 7x57.":)

Like I said, a conversation with him will end up being about bullets more than likely, and he has literally hundreds of guns, and dies, and can and does shoot whatever he wants from some old .25-20 1892s to big DG double rifles. His take: 7x57mm (the European .30-06:)) and .30-06 will do just about anything you need, other than dangerous game as FSJeeper says.

Caliber? Not that big of a deal. But he's got some pretty strong opinions about what bullets he'll shoot at game.

For the record, he's a business owner who works hard and has a substantial income. He doesn't handload because he can't afford box ammo. Far from it.

Never been to Africa, myself. Getting more and more interested in going, though...:)

August 6, 2009, 03:07 PM
anything above the 300 win mag thru the big magnums will make a bad shooter out of a good shooter, most are way too much for anything in North America, the '06, .308 .270 will do it all and if you prefer a lighter recoil that is just as efficient go to the 6.5 Swede. there are good reasons it has survived as a hunting round for so long in Europe. here in Texas I have taken some humongous hogs with a .22-250. no recoil, the shot goes exactly where I wanted it.

August 6, 2009, 04:19 PM
I vote 30.06 as THE all around cartridge. Not many .270s around here.

August 6, 2009, 04:21 PM
.257 Roberts would be my fav.

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