Caliber choice above .308?


February 7, 2012, 03:09 PM
I'm itching for a new bolt-action (or lever) above .308. That is the highest rifle caliber I own at the moment. This is a "would like to have" gun. I have no illusions about going to Africa or Alaska, but it would be nice to be able to take down dangerous game if I decide to change my mind. Maybe something that can handle a Grizzly? This will probably be the only gun I buy that hits harder than a .308.

I don't plan on shooting long range, so I don't believe a Magnum is required unless that ends up being the better caliber choice for other reasons too. I figure 300-400 yards would be max for this rifle, if that. Penetration > range.

I really like the looks of the .375 Ruger but I don't know if factory ammo is plentiful and cheap. The 9.3x62 or .375H&H come up a lot in my research. Any others worth looking into?

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February 7, 2012, 03:14 PM
300-400 yards isn't long range?

That rules out all of the big bore levergun rounds I can think of. A 45/70 would still be plenty lethal at that distance, but working with it's trajectory would be a trick.

Maybe one of the .338 magnums?

February 7, 2012, 03:14 PM
I dig Marlin guide guns, trappers, etc. .44 Mag, .45-70, etc. Big wood for ammo though. Probably a tweener ammo I constantly overlook.

February 7, 2012, 03:17 PM
Eh, lets make it 150-250 yards or so. I think my local range has a 300 yarder, and that's where I'd shoot it initially.

Sorry, I always think of 400-1000 yards as long range, but yah, for something that hits hard at 400 yards, I probably wouldn't be able to take it.

February 7, 2012, 03:25 PM

February 7, 2012, 03:39 PM
Second, somewhat related question.

Is there any particular game, dangerous or otherwise, that is best served by a bullet between 160-250 grains, vs either of those extremes?

February 7, 2012, 03:40 PM
I think the .338 WInchester is the perfect intro into larger cartridges, and with it you can feel good about hunting anything anywhere in the world.

February 7, 2012, 04:01 PM
Are you talking belted or none belted? For a step up from 308. I like my 35Whelen. For something belted the 338Win Mag is sweet.

February 7, 2012, 04:09 PM
The .357 H&H is probably the classic choice for dangerous game anywhere in the world. It would probably be my first choice for a "wanna have" gun based on your criteria. If you think that's a bit much, my second choice would probably be the .338 Winchester Magnum. Another fine cartridge suitable for most anything in North America.

February 7, 2012, 04:14 PM
I have fallen in lust with the .338federal. It's ideal for anything that walks. It has speed as well as size. I am not that familiar with African game laws, but I have heard that they are starting to allow it's use for dangerous game with proper bullet weights and penetration. I most certainly would not feel undergunned with it out hunting for Brown Bear.

February 7, 2012, 05:03 PM
My dangerous game gun is a 375H&H. That said I wouldn't mind a 35 Whelen at all and it will handle most anything in NA and most of Africa. FRJ

February 7, 2012, 05:26 PM
Can you tell me the advantage or disadvantage of a belted caliber?

The .35 Whelen sounds good too....

February 7, 2012, 05:30 PM
45/70, 7mm rem mag, 300 win mag, 300wsm, heck 270 wsm, 8mm mauser, 35 whelen, 338 federal, 338 win mag. These will all handle grizzlies, the rest is up to you.

February 7, 2012, 05:59 PM
A BLR in .450 Marlin might fit your needs. Also, a Ruger #1 in 45/70 could fire handloads at velocities to make medium range shooting a practical possibility.

February 7, 2012, 06:37 PM
Fist thing that come to mind. COST
All belted brass (if you reload) cost more
I find the belted magnums are not as easy to reload.

35Whelen is easy and fun to reload. Also if you want a light load for just fun shooting and small game. The 35Whelen can be reloaded with 357 handgun caliber bullets. So you are covered from bunnies to brown bears and all African plains critters.

bullet weights from 110gr +or- all the way up to 350 solids.
I too like my 45.70 and belted magnums. I just hunt more with the 35Whelen.
Can you tell me the advantage or disadvantage of a belted caliber?

The .35 Whelen sounds good too....

February 7, 2012, 06:40 PM
I went through a similar thing last year and settled on a 45-70. It doesn't meet you range specification and I'm not sure what I'd choose if that were a critical criteria.

February 7, 2012, 06:51 PM
A .40+ caliber in a rifle certainly intrigues me, but I don't think I could handle the recoil unless it was a very slow bullet, like the .45-70. I have nothing against the .338 (Mag) per se, it just doesn't seem like that much of an improvement over a .308 or .30-06. The .35 Whelen and 9.2x62 are now on my short list. I don't reload, so I might be edged towards the 9.2x62 for cheap factory ammo, but I could go either way.

I believe I have all the info I need to decide my next toy. Thanks everyone.

February 7, 2012, 06:58 PM
I very much prefer commonality of ammunition. Around here... and covering much of this country, plus taking a good leap beyond .308 Win, that means .375 H&H Mag. I see quite a bit about .338 Mag and .35 Whelen among others but .375 H&H Mag seems to be more common which means it's probably going to be easier to find ammo for even during an ammo shortage... meaning you may be able to barter for it from an individual.

February 7, 2012, 07:04 PM
A .I have nothing against the .338 (Mag) per se, it just doesn't seem like that much of an improvement over a .308 or .30-06.

The .338 win mag is a huge step up from the .30-06. Over a thousand ft. lb. of muzzle energy. Just sayin.

February 7, 2012, 07:12 PM
If i did not reload i could not afford to shoot my 338Win or my 375H&H. The last time i checked, off the shelf price, for my 375H&H and the 338Win at Sportsman it was close to $95.00 per box of 20. Price may be up or down now. I stopped looking and started reloading.

February 7, 2012, 07:29 PM
Can you tell me the advantage or disadvantage of a belted caliber?

Advantages? If the case has a shoulder, none.

Disadvantages? Really, none.

In the accuracy game, the cartridges headspacing on the belt instead of the shoulder causes a new or full-length resized case to lay against the bottom of the chamber, affecting accuracy. Of course, anyone who is serious about group size neck-sizes brass anyway, so it's kind of a moot point.

The belt originated on the .375 H&H because it didn't have much of a shoulder for headspacing. It simply got carried over as cartridges wildcatted from .375 H&H brass became commercialized.

Art Eatman
February 7, 2012, 07:30 PM
If a fella handloads, with the .375 H&H there's no reason not to tailor loads for deer on up. And it has a whole bunch of "neat" factor, to me.

Lordy! Load up some. Watch some show on TV about hunting in Africa, fondling a round and sorta dreaming.

Hey, what are banks for, anyhow? They loan money, right? Go to Africa, young man, go to Africa. Don't get to 80, wishing you had...

February 7, 2012, 07:37 PM
Above .308win., .375 H&H is also my most favorite as well. :D

February 7, 2012, 07:56 PM
first belted rounds are no different to load for, seconddo you reload? third, if you do reload then go 300. either win mag or WSM, SAUM. you already have the bullets to use. brass is more expensive for the 300 mag but not cause its belted, just cause its abigger round. my on the list to build is a 300HH mag and a 308 Norma Mag.

February 9, 2012, 10:26 AM
The 45/70 can be loaded hot enough to rip your lips off!!! I have a load with a 525 gr bullet that goes out at 1625fps in my Marlin 1895 and it is painful even with a Past pad on. Shooting it from the bench to sight it in is a task that is not looked foreward to!! I also have loads that shoot like a 22. Its very flexible just not a 300 yard proposition. FRJ

February 9, 2012, 12:36 PM
Shooting it from the bench to sight it in is a task that is not looked foreward to!!

Get a Caldwell lead sled. Your shoulder and retinas will thank you.

I use mine for sighting my 8mm mag and .375 Ultra, both of which are rather brutal from the bench.

February 9, 2012, 02:50 PM
I am a really big fan of the .375 H&H,if I were to only have one rifle it would be my Mod.70 .375 H&H.
Having said that it is not perfect, the rifles chambered for the round tend to get a bit heavy after a day roaming through the hills.
In addition to this weight thing the only way to fully appreciate the cartridge is to reload for it, I do not really see this as a big problem as reloading is a neat hobby in its own.

February 9, 2012, 11:25 PM
The 9.362 Mauser great round............

February 10, 2012, 12:35 AM
That Ruger .375 wouldn't be too outlandish at all, do you reload? If so, there are a plethora of bullets out there to be had in the .200 gr. range. Also mentioned is the .35 Whelen, another superb round, especially if you're planning bigger game to knock down.

February 10, 2012, 05:41 AM
I just discovered the .358 Winchester now too. How did I miss that one?! Considering I have a .308 it might be the ticket. It's rare though, so I'd probably have to reload for it, but at least I'd be keeping it in the .308 family. I don't own a .30-06 (for Whelen).

I like the idea of having a rifle that can take anything in North America, even if I don't intend on doing so.

February 10, 2012, 07:54 AM
35 Whelen is a good choice.


February 10, 2012, 09:58 AM
I think the OP needs to think a little more about what he really wants or we have misunderstood what he meant in his post.

The .338WM isn't much of a step up from .308 but the .35 Whelen or .358win is? The .338WM will take anything in NA within 400yds. The .35 whelen, not so much. The .358win, certainly not.

Now, if you are just looking for a cool cartridge that is larger diameter than .308, then a BLR in .358win might be just what you are looking for. You would have to reload, but you have the .308 brass.

February 12, 2012, 10:50 AM
How about the 300 Win Mag. It's very hard hitting and there is a large selection of heads available. Most that I have had experience with have been very accurate also.

Another good option would be the 300wsm or if you are looking for something larger, maybe the 325wsm. All ammo or components with the exception of the 325 should be readily available almost anywhere you may go

February 12, 2012, 07:57 PM
I just bought my son a Ruger M77 Hawkeye All Weather in .338 Federal. It shoots MOA with Federal Fusion 200 gr SP's running at about 2630 fps 10 feet from the muzzle. Recoil is similar to a 30-06 with 180 gr bullets. Out to 300 yards or so, it should be quite effective on game from moose on down. We plan to work up some loads with 180 gr Nosler Accubonds to see if we can get 2700 fps + with decent accuracy. I was pleasantly surprised with its accuracy with factory ammo. I understand it is very easy to neck up .308 Win brass, so it should remain viable even if at some point Federal stops making the ammo for it.

February 12, 2012, 08:09 PM
Either a .338 Win Mag or a .375 H&H Mag. Do not under-estimate the fast punch that the .338 delivers. Be sure it is equipped with a Decelerator recoil pad. The .375 is more of a hard push.

Have you seen Winchester new Alaskan?

Or the Safari:

:) Geno

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