Flat shooting medium caliber?


January 9, 2010, 09:12 AM
I'm looking for a flat shooting gun for long range mule deer? I already have a 30-06, which I love, but want another caliber to experiment with since I love to reload. Is there something out there that will shoot 400 yards and not drain the wallet too bad?

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January 9, 2010, 09:19 AM
270, 300wm, 300wsm, 7mm08, 7mm mag. Once you get into the reloading, it isn't too bad. The rifles can be had for a few hundred, but should be compairable. The 300's will use the same projectiles as your '06, and shoot flatter.

January 9, 2010, 09:20 AM
220 Swift.


January 9, 2010, 09:24 AM
Flyfrod, where are you hunting? Local laws will possibly help narrow down your ammo choices a little.

January 9, 2010, 09:28 AM
I live in PA and do most of my hunting there. I'm planning a trip to SD for pheasants and deer. What's the feeling on 264WM or 25-06?

January 9, 2010, 09:29 AM
It doesn't matter

really it doesn't

Inside the range you stipulate the differences in most contemporary HIGH VEL medium bore cartridges in terms of "flatness" is actually quite minuscule

for example---based on my software these are the numbers from a 200yd zero to 400yds for your 30-06 vs 264wm for the flatest shooting factory loads

30-06 150g Hornady LT mag 150grn SST @3100fps -18.6"
264wm 100g nosler partition @ 3500fps -16.6"
25-06rem 100g Nosler b-tip @ 3220fps -17.3"

yep all within a whopping 2" at 400yds

I compare factory loads because A its eaiser and B any of these numbers can be bettered by handloading

22-250 and 220swift would be in the -16" range firing 55g bullets

you'll be money and skill ahead if rather than buying a new gun you instead invest in a top notch optic and lots of components for your 06spring.

January 9, 2010, 09:36 AM
220 Swift.

Different kind of mule deer.

The mule deer in the Southwest are small, and I have in all seriousness briefly mistaken a large jackrabbit for a deer jumping into the brush, when scouting down near the Mexican border. I'm not sure how many of them even hit 100 lbs.

The mule deer up north, OTOH, are huge, and the first time I drove by and saw a herd up close in an abandoned melon field, I pulled over just to stare. There had to be several in that (well-fed) herd topping 400 lbs.

January 9, 2010, 09:37 AM
I consider any .22 a small caliber, and you asked about a medium caliber. The 7mm to me is to close to being a .30 caliber which I consider a large caliber. My choice for a medium caliber would be the .25-06 Rem. Can't believe no one has suggested it yet. I've owned one for 30+ years. Flat shooting? The .25-06 is very capable of a flat trajectory to 500 yards. Also, the recoil is nowhere near objectionable.

This cartridge can be used for varmints with the 87 gr bullets or hunting larger game with the 100 to 120 gr bullets. It is a great all around cartridge. I used mine for groundhogs in the summer and deer during the season. I even took it hunting bear in Canada.

Another benefit, if you reload is you can use the same shell holder. This cartridge uses many of the same powders as the .30-06, so you wouldn't need additional powders on hand. If need be you can use the .30-06 brass and run it through the sizer converting it to .25-06. You could even use the same primers as you use in the .30-06.

January 9, 2010, 09:41 AM
This one's easy: 25-06. Been shooting/loading this one for over 30 years, no other choice for me.


January 9, 2010, 09:48 AM
25-06 numbers added to the above post

January 9, 2010, 09:55 AM
Sounds like the 30-06 will do. As others point out - about as flat as the 'faster' cartridges, and it'll do a whole lot more damage when it gets there.

January 9, 2010, 09:59 AM
The .270 Win is what you're lookin for----flat shooting--plenty of power---and doesn't come close to the beating(recoil) the '06 dishes out.

Art Eatman
January 9, 2010, 10:07 AM
Comparative recoil for equal-weight rifles: Add the powder charge weight to the bullet weight and then multiply by the muzzle velocity. If you do that for a .270 and an '06, you'll see that there's not enough difference to matter.

A 150-grain bullet from an '06 will work to 500 yards on any deer in North America. The trouble is knowing that it's 500 yards, doping the wind, and knowing your hold-over. IOW, it ain't the gun, it's the shooter. Back around 300 yards, it's mostly "Point it and pull, Hell ain't half-full."

January 9, 2010, 10:18 AM
Sounds like the 30-06 will do.

Guess what my Idaho rifles are, with mule deer about in the middle of game size and weight.:)

doesn't come close to the beating(recoil) the '06 dishes out.

An odd but persistent myth (tied with others that also suggest that .270 Winchester somehow defies all known natural laws).:)

A quick look at reloading charts shows that, for a given bullet weight, you typically use a few more grains of powder for .30-06 -- but you get a good deal more velocity from the .30-06. If you load them both to the same numbers, I don't think anyone could tell the difference between them.

Obviously, a 180 grain .30-06 load going 2750 fps at the muzzle will kick a bit harder than a 150 grain .270 load going 2750 fps at the muzzle -- but that's apples to oranges, and the difference still isn't that much.

January 9, 2010, 10:26 AM
Nothing wrong with the 6.5 x 55. It'll work on anything in the SD.

January 9, 2010, 10:29 AM
If you want to experiment, get a 7x57mm Ackley Improved.:)

January 9, 2010, 10:34 AM
When I read "medium" caliber, I thought the poster was referring to something .375 and down.:o my bad.
I'd take a 270 with 140gr handloads over any 30cal for deer. Any deer. 'cept South Texas - 22 hornet then:neener: ROLL TIDE!!
I've always used a 270 - and have never had any trouble. Currently use a 7mm Remington, just so I can have bullet weight for those 35mph windy days in SW Oklahoma.
Ammo availability appears to be tough for anybody at this time, I'd stay away from any caliber choice not in stock at the local store.
243 ( It worked for my 2 boys for mule deer )
I wish the 6.5mm stuff was more available, I really want a 6.5mm Remington chambered 700.

January 9, 2010, 10:48 AM
I mainly shoot a 7mm mag or an 870 slug gun for deer, but when I went shopping for a new, lighter rifle I made a spreadsheet that averaged out velocities, energy, and trajectory for common calibers from 22-250 thru 7mm rem mag. I looked at the numbers for factory loads of a specific types (ie. ballistic tips, bondeds, pointed soft points, etc. of all grains from all mfrs) and averaged across all factory ammo brands and picked the flattest-shooting, highest energy rounds. The top choices were:

1st 7mm Rem Mag
2nd .270 Winchester
3rd 30-06 Springfield
4th .308 Winchester
5th 25-06

Already having a 7mm Mag and a hunting equipped AK (Yes, I have taken deer with an AKM), the .270 also fit perfectly in the stable, filling a gap. Even if I didn't have the 7mm already the .270 might have been the choice. Of course, the 30-06 is the most flexible round there is, as far as weights and speeds available with factory ammo. So, the numbers say that you already own what is just about the perfect all around hunting caliber out to 300 yards: 30-06. It seems you'd want to go bigger, up to 300 Win Mag (flat shooting hard hitting round with monster recoil and price), or go smaller with a flat-shooting, accurate, enough-for-mule-deer 25-06, which is also pricey. For cost, a .308 can't be beat and it's just about as flexible as the 30-06, and even better if you handload (so I've read).

But these guys have way more hunting experience than I do. So take my engineering study with a grain of salt. The real world is quite different than a spreadsheet.

January 9, 2010, 11:13 AM
6.5x55 Swede is tough to beat!

January 9, 2010, 11:18 AM
.243 Winchester, flat shooting enough, low recoil.

January 9, 2010, 11:22 AM
257 Weatherby Magnum

January 9, 2010, 11:22 AM
So you all have given me a lot to look at. So lets narrow this down a bit. Should I go 25-06 or 7mm-08? Take into consideration that my son might someday be hunting with this gun( he's only 7months old but time flies right.)

January 9, 2010, 11:39 AM
7mm-08, because you can get a new Model 70 Featherweight in that caliber.:) There's no .25-06 (at least not yet).

In all seriousness, if you're looking at a production rifle, availability can influence caliber choice. If you look at the numbers, you can use any of these out to 400 yards with only minimal differences unless you step up to one of the magnums. So, a rifle I like (e.g. the Featherweight in a short action) can help make the decision.

Al LaVodka
January 9, 2010, 11:46 AM
It is clear to me you need an excuse, um, reason to buy a new gun and I support you in this wholly. If starting from scratch I'd have thought about a .243, bought a .270, and used one of my .308 Magnums...

...that'd be a .30-06 with a 400 Yd. load.

Wanna go wild, literally? Since you reload, have one of your guns reamed to a .30-06 Ackley Improved. If you're using the slower-half of the powder spectrum you'll get 100 fps. more out of the gun and it can always continue to be used safely with factory .30-06 cartridges! Then you'll REALLY have a .308 Magnum.


January 9, 2010, 11:57 AM
After everything I have read this morning I think I will go with the 7mm-08. Now Remington Model 7 or winchester model 70 featherweight?

January 9, 2010, 12:03 PM
Easy choice for me between the 7mm-08 and .25-06. The 06 will be flatter shooting and more versatile. When I bought my Rem 700 it was the first year offered in 7mm-08. I passed on the 7mm because several of us were big on varmint hunting during the summer. I wanted the flattest shooting cartridge I could get that could still be used for deer. And this is where the 25-06 really shines.

I live in OH though and my opinion is based on that. I use my 06 for varmint hunting in the summer. With light 87 gr bullets it is a very devastating round. The light bullets fragment on impact meaning little chance of a richochet.

We can't use rifle for deer hunting in OH. If we could it would be a simple matter of going to a 100 or 120 gr bullet and continue for another season.

I won't say the 06 doesn't have recoil. It's just a lot more tolerable then any .30 cal I've shot.

The 7mm-08 is a good round too. I just don't think it's as versatile as the 06 is.

As your son gets older he could shoot the 06 with no problems. I took my wife's brother out for his first hunt using the 06. I believe he was 16 at the time.

January 9, 2010, 12:05 PM
Model 70 Featherweight, hands down. This would be rare usually, but it wins on features, fit and finish, and price, all at the same time.

Accuracy of both guns is good. I haven't felt the newest Remington triggers, but the Winchester's is truly excellent. I haven't even been tempted to adjust mine.

January 9, 2010, 12:10 PM
Not that I care much about recoil but I did shoot my fathers win 70 featherweight carbine 06 and hated it for bench shooting but loved the weight and size for carrying all day in the woods. Can I expect the same with the 08?

January 9, 2010, 12:13 PM
The new ones have nicer pads on them.:)

The 7mm-08 will have less recoil, on average, than a .30-06. Less powder, lighter bullet, similar velocity.

I have a 7 1/2 lb. Model 70 EWSS (including scope and rings) in .30-06, and it's no sweat to shoot it off the bench. :)

The Model 7 is about the same weight, anyway, though it has a shorter barrel, so between the two, felt recoil would be about the same, if that's what you're trying to determine.

January 9, 2010, 12:16 PM
I am of course a predjudiced Model 70 fan but if I was looking for a good long range rifle, a pre-64 Model 70 in 300 H&H Magnum would be my choice.
I talked an affluent friend into this rifle many moons ago and he has been VERY successful in the Elk, Sheep, Mule Deer, Caribou ventures that he takes yearly.
His rifle by the way, with reloads and a Leoupold scope, shoots just over minute of angle.

James T Thomas
January 9, 2010, 12:18 PM
This may be not as flat shooting as some of the other suggestions,
but it does fit the medium caliber.

The 358 Winchester.

The trajectories given by Crochus reveal the beginning of the increasing drop at further ranges for even the high velocity rounds.

Given the greater weight available with the 358; even though the velocity is less, it carries on at those ranges, and has the weight to penetrate behind it.

Mild recoil, mom and pop store stocked.

I would also suggest the 375 H&H -"seriously," but it is expensive. Your handloading could help with that though.

See what you think.

January 9, 2010, 12:25 PM
I wish the 6.5mm stuff was more available, I really want a 6.5mm Remington chambered 700

Since you already have a .30-06, how about the 6.8SPC?

January 9, 2010, 12:30 PM
Not familiar with the 6.8spc. where can I find it?

January 9, 2010, 12:42 PM
Since you already have a .30-06, how about the 6.8SPC?
6.8 is a lot of things.......

but compared to the cartridges being discussed in this thread flat shooting isn't one of them.

January 9, 2010, 12:44 PM
The 6.8 SPC is not in the same league as the other rounds you've looked at. It's basically a .270 that fits in a .223 action, for use in the AR platform (it was tested by the military as a possible new M16 caliber, and rejected). As you might imagine, there's not enough powder behind it to really make it move, since the case isn't big enough.

Uncle Mike
January 9, 2010, 12:48 PM
+1 Krochus...

At the ranges you fathom....look at the 338 Federal, 338-06, 300 Win Mag.

The 338 Federal and the 338-06 are nearly identical with the nudge going to the 338-06.

The 300 Mag's ...any will do, hey a 30 caliber bullet is a 30 caliber bullet.

Remember...."Speed Kills"!

January 9, 2010, 12:52 PM
Wow, a .300 H&H Mag, rare that anyone brings this cartridge up. My second rifle after owning the .25-06 is a Remington 700 Classic in .300 H&H mag. I bought this one to cover what the 06 couldn't. I liked the .300 so much I sold off my 7mm Rem Mag in a Win 70. And I like model 70's every bit as much as Remington 700's.

The only reason I managed to get this rifle was the guy that owned it had the Remington and a Win 70 pre 64. He decided to keep the Win 70.

It's a real gem but recoil is brutal if you try to shoot it from a bench.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
January 9, 2010, 12:56 PM
Depends. What's a "medium" caliber? But for a gapper, look at 6.5x55mm swedish, .260 Rem, .257 Roberts, or .25-'06.

6.5x55mm is really the perfect gapper, to my way of thinking, in that situation.

January 9, 2010, 01:06 PM
Not to nitpick, but when I opened this thread, I expected to be discussing cartridges the merits of cartridges like the .338 WM, .338 Ultra, etc. I consider all of the cartridges being discussed here to be small bore, except for the mention of .338's.

I'm sure some will disagree with me, but IMO there are 4 classifications for caliber:

.12, .14, .17, .20 are sub-caliber

.22, .24, .25, .26, .27, .28, .30 are small bore

.323, .338, .358, .375 are medium calibers

.408, .416, .458, .50 are big bore.

All of the metric stuff pretty well fits into the same categories.

Just my thoughts.

As to the original query of a good medium game getter that doesn't hit you like the '06, others have given some good suggestions. The best combination of flat shooting and light recoiling with enough oomph to kill small deer at 400+ yards is gonna be the .25-06 with a good boattail bullet. The .264, .270 and .280, etc. can get the same kind of flat trajectories, but are gonna be closer to the .30-06 in recoil to do so. There's a reason that quarterbore has had such a devout following for 3/4 of a century.

January 9, 2010, 01:18 PM
You already have the rifle.
A laser is a must when things start getting over 300 yards and good glass. I would put money into these before a new rifle. Also, a bedding job and trigger work could be looked at for your 30-06. The little things become big things when things get long.

Good luck.

January 9, 2010, 01:29 PM
I guess I should have stated under .30 cal

January 9, 2010, 01:51 PM
Flatest most versatile and less recoil would be the 270WSM @ 400 yards no problem can be loaded down to 90gr and up to 160gr which dropped my elk @ 250yd last year. HTH

January 9, 2010, 01:58 PM
If you look at the Remington M-Seven, check it out in .260 Rem. too.

January 9, 2010, 02:17 PM

25-06 is not a medium it is a small bore just like the 30-06 is.

The 323 (8mm) and 338 pretty much top out the small bore genre though some consider the 358 to be the top end of small bore. At least this is what a lot of professional hunters, guides and writers say. They get paid for their expertise so I guess they at least should know what they are talking about.

The 375 is kind of alone in the medium class with the big bores starting in the 400's.

There are wildcats that will also fit in these different categories so maybe the 375 isn't so lonely anymore.

I understand that 25 cal may seem medium to some but it is what it is in the world of rifle calibers.

January 9, 2010, 02:22 PM
Here's a good article on the 6.8SPC - everything you want to know. I think Remington and Ruger make a bolt action model. Some of the AR makers offer it (RRA, DPMS, Bushmaster, and others).


Comparison to other military calibers
Cartridge Muzzle velocity 200 yards drop 200 yards velocity 400 yards drop 400 yards velocity
.223 55gr M193 3070 fps 2.2 inches 2353 fps 27.8 inches 1743 fps
.223 77gr OTM 2679 fps 3.3 inches 2216 fps 32.7 inches 1810 fps
6.8 SPC 115gr SMK 2650 fps 3.5 inches 2143 fps 35.4 inches 1677 fps
6.8 SPC 110gr V-MAX 2650 fps 3.3 inches 2208 fps 31.1 inches 1811 fps
7.62x39mm 2300 fps 3.3 inches 1787 fps 53.8 inches 1324 fps
.308 168gr SMK 2600 fps 3.4 inches 2235 fps 32.3 inches 1891 fps

January 9, 2010, 02:28 PM
That's what I mean: 115 grains at 2650 fps.

The 7mm-08 launches a 115 grain bullet at 3200 with appropriate powder, or 160 grains if you're satisfied with 2650. Totally different class of cartridge.

January 9, 2010, 02:44 PM
O.K. then let's talk about the . 270 !!
It is a fantastic cartridge touted by the late great ,and I do mean great, Jack O'conner.
Jack was really not impressed by super duper Magnum stuff but SHOT PLACEMENT was his ideal.
The flat shooting/ available bullet weight combo in the .270 appealed to Jack and he, years ago, labeled the cartridge the "poor man's magnum".
I do not own a "Magnum" but yearly I take a deer or two in the Maryland bean feilds with Ruger #1's in both .25/06 and .270 calibers, some shots in the 250 yds. plus range.
In short, if you cannot shoot, a Sooper Dooper Hot Shot Magnum will not be a help to you.

Uncle Mike
January 9, 2010, 03:14 PM
Mule deer...under 30 caliber.

7mm Ultra Mag-
7mm Rem.Mag-
7mm SAUM-
7mm Weatherby-
280 Remington-
270 WSM-

My opinion only, but....
I hold the 270's 'marginal' for animals of the size you mention at the ranges you stipulate.

The 7mm-08, while a phenomenal cartridge is marginal for large deer at 400y.

Forget the 6.8SPC, a purpose designed cartridge it launches a 115gr bullet at 2600FPS Muzzle Velocity or there about, generating only 1750FT/LB Energy at the Muzzle...not much thump, huh?

The 260, as far as energy is concerned is even LESS than the 7mm-08.

Al LaVodka
January 9, 2010, 03:32 PM
Interesting to see all .30's simply categorized as a small-bore. Odd even.

Here, it seems an attempt to marginalize, if not outright dismiss, this by-far-most-popular-bore to me. OK, so, a couple would apparently argue an old express caliber is "medium bore," and so obviously better-by-default than a fast .30-06 for a 400 yard Muley (or even the comparatively recent .300 Win. Mag. which is a standard for our military to take down its "medium game" at longer ranges). This is even odder, and misguided. But I'll stay inside the lines you've drawn...

...use a powerful and accurate "small-bore" on your "medium" game. That was the intent of the original poster in any case, play on words intended. Like maybe a 165 gr. BT SP Ackley Improved .30-06 "smallbore" at 2,940 fps.



PS: the 6.8SPC is the baliistics experts and practical shooters group-designed cartridge intended to optimize the best attributes of the .223 and bigger main-battle-rifle cartridges in a, sorry, Assault Weapon sized gun/cartridge combo. Probably replace the .223 in the military if the littler cartridge is truly determined to be ineffective, and we have more money than we know what to do with, which are doubtful in our lifetime given the current Administration. Also, s/be a fine round for closer-range Southern whitetails, but...

January 9, 2010, 03:52 PM
I would like to suggest that you at least look at the Marlin XL7 in 25 06. Why? Well I used to shoot 7mm Rem mag for long shts, 6mm for does up close, 308 for sentimental reasons {dads favorite hes been gone 10 years now}, 260 Remington{sorriest round I ever had the misspleasure of owning} or the venerable 270. 25 06 has become go to rifle, and have not looked back. First one was a Remington Sendero, loved the caliber just hated totin the heavy thing. Also bought 308 Marlin Express{WOW NASTY ROUND} but thats another post. Good Luck and God Bless

January 9, 2010, 04:29 PM
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the 260 Remington.

January 9, 2010, 04:55 PM
One more vote for the 25/06! I've been shooting one since Remington turned it into a commercial round in 1969. I believe I got mine in late '69 or early '70. It's been a deer and hog killer for me. I normally shoot 115-120 gr. bullets in it and have a measured 400 yd. shot on a large Whitetail down a gas pipeline. I know Mule deer are larger than WT deer, but we have some good sized corn and soybean fed deer here. I've never shot a mule deer, but if I were going to, I would chose the 115-120 gr.. The Sierra 117 SPBT Gameking works well for me.
.257 Sierra GameKing 117 gr. .410 BC @ 3100 FPS
4" Radius Vital Zone
Zeroed @ 286
Point Blank Range 335 Yds. with 1428.7 Ft.-lbs energy
Bullet never Is over 4" above line of sight nor lower than 4" ...0 to 335 yards

Jimmy K

January 9, 2010, 05:22 PM

Is the go to round for me now. With 115 grain Combined Technologies Ballistic Tip. i don't think there is a deer or elk around that would live through it. That bullets is great for all situations. Also it is the most accurate rifle caliber I have ever shot. Yep! .25-06 is my $.02.

January 9, 2010, 05:25 PM
I'm finding it interesting what some views on small, medium and big calibers are. More then anything I think it matters where you are in the world. Someone from Africa may consider a .30 small. In the Continental US I consider a .30 as large, .25 as medium and .22 as small. These are just my views, YMMV.

January 9, 2010, 05:32 PM
Excerpt from an evaluation article of the 6.8SPC:

"Most civilian shooters won't be doing urban CQB or 600 yard engagements in the Afghan mountains, however the 6.8 SPC is perfectly suited to more mundane uses. Intermediate-power cartridges like .257 Roberts, .250/3000, .300 Savage and most notably .30-30 have been used for over a hundred years to harvest deer and other North-American game. The 6.8 SPC fits right in with these venerable choices. While an anti-personnel round should have dramatic fragmentation and 12-inch minimum penetration, most big-game hunters want a bullet which will penetrate the muscle and bone of a deer's shoulder and still produce an exit wound for tracking. This suggests that a good choice for deer would be a stoutly-constructed bullet, such as the new 110-grain Barnes TSX, made entirely of a copper alloy."

January 9, 2010, 06:54 PM
It does fit right in with all those obsolete cartridges, which work fine for small deer in the woods (not muleys at 400 yards), and none of which are "flat-shooting" or "medium" by modern standards. That's exactly my point. It's not anywhere near the same league as a 7mm-08, to say nothing of a 7mm RemMag.

most big-game hunters want a bullet which will penetrate the muscle and bone of a deer's shoulder and still produce an exit wound for tracking

Most modern hunters want a cartridge that will minimize the need for tracking, hence the decline in popularity of the cartridges listed...

Seriously, mule deer are big, and at 400 yards, a 6.8 has even less left in it than it did at the muzzle, which isn't much. 115 grains going 1600 fps is hardly muley worthy.

January 9, 2010, 06:59 PM
shhH! Armedbear they don't like it when you question the SPC koolaid

Uncle Mike
January 10, 2010, 01:44 AM
they don't like it when you question the SPC koolaid

Some people still believe in the Easter Bunny too!

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
January 10, 2010, 09:18 AM
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the 260 Remington.

I did in post 38. :)

SPC koolaid -mmm, mmm, good! :p

January 10, 2010, 09:25 AM
Uncle Mike, of course the easter bunny was real. He fried up nicely :)

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