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Best Caliber for Semi-Auto Rifle

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by jasonmha, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. jasonmha

    jasonmha Member

    Any recommendations for the best caliber for a semi-automatic hunting rifle -- the calibers I'm interested in in the .243, .270, .308, .30-06, so please limit any feedback to these calibers. 85% of my hunting time is less than 100 yards, but the remainding 15% may go out to 200 yards. Any help is appreciated.

    I intend on purchasing the caliber in the Remington 750 Woodsmaster, but would consider the Browning Long/Short Trac or Safari; however, I'd like to focus on the caliber rather than the Browning/Remington issue.

    Thanks, Jason
  2. Meatco1

    Meatco1 member


    With the exception of the .308 I have each of the calibers you list. My personal favorite is the .270 in a Browning BAR. It is accurate, deadly, and a sweetheart to shoot.


  3. jasonmha

    jasonmha Member

    I've been hunting with a .270 bolt action, but wasn't sure how it would work in the semi-auto... it had me leaning to the .308 or .30-06
  4. Onmilo

    Onmilo Well-Known Member

    Since you did not specifically mention what game animals you hunt most I have to agree the .270 Winchester may be your best all around rifle choice.

    I own and shoot a Grade ll Browning BAR in .30/06.
    The only advantage a Remington offers over a Browning is a faster exchanging detachable box magazine.
    Browning BARs will normally outshoot Remington semi autos and both are about equal in hunting reliability.
  5. jasonmha

    jasonmha Member

    Sorry, whitetail deer in the south is my hunting focus.
  6. browningguy

    browningguy Well-Known Member

    Any one of those would do, although personally I would limit the .243 to short ranges where I had a near perfect shot. Don't get me wrong, lot's of deer have fallen over when hit with a .243, there are just better choices for deer size game. I have a 6x45 which is a lightweight version of a .243, but only use it for culling does and spikes, headshots at 50-75 yards are the norm.

    I deer hunt with a Gr.IV BAR in .270 and a Gr. III in '06, both will get the job done on just about anything. I occassionally get to hunt larger game (elk etc.) so really for one gun I'd go with an '06, you can hunt anything in North America with it. If I knew I was only hunting deer I might well stick with a .270, it's a great old cartridge also.

    I also have a .308 in a Ruger RSI, for me that's the perfect platform for a .308, a short, light, handy carbine. In a semi-auto though I see no reason not to stick with the '06, it's just a better cartridge when using heavier bullets.
  7. cnyankee

    cnyankee Well-Known Member

    i use 308. its accurate past 300 yards out of my M1A.
    i use 460 out of my S+W revolver
    those 2 only for big game though
  8. robctwo

    robctwo Well-Known Member

    I have the BAR Stalker in .308. I've had it for about three years. Very nice shooter. I reload and find the .308 very versatile. I'm shooting 110 gr Hornady Spire Points right now for black tail or mule deer. 130 gr, 150 gr, 165 gr, and 180 gr all work real well. I printed three rounds touching with the 110 gr last week at 100 yds with a rest.

    I also own the .243 and .270 in the Winchester featherweight, and the 300 WSM BAR Stalker. The 300WSM can also be loaded from 110 gr to 200 gr. It's a bit hotter shooting.
  9. NYHunter

    NYHunter Member

    I've had great luck with the Rem. 742's in .30-06 and .308. This year I'm going to use my new BAR Stalker in .308.

    If your rifle collection will be limited, I'd go with the '06 since it is about the best all around caliber followed by the .308. I'm a big fan of the .30 caliber as you can see.

    A word of advise regarding semi-auto's in general....keep them clean, not just the bore, under the forend as well. When you clean the bore, open the bolt and put a small piece of rag in front of the bolt to absorb the cleaning solvent and keep all that gunk and stuff from getting in around the bolt. I mention this because some guys don't know how to clean a semi-auto. If you keep them clean and NOT heavily oiled you should never have a problem. Let us know what you choose.

    Good luck...NYHunter
  10. rangerruck

    rangerruck Well-Known Member

    remmy or browning in a short action, 243 on up to 308 will fit the bill.
  11. jasonmha

    jasonmha Member

    So, it seems that none of the calibers themselves have any inherent issues with being in a semi-auto (jamming, reliability, accuracy, etc.).

    I've decided against the .243, but still don't know between the .270, .308 and .30-06. I guess what it comes down to is the .270 is "flatter," the .308 is short action, and the .30-06 is the versatile one, but all will more than meet my needs.

    One final question if you don't mind, is there any reason (that I would ever notice) that, if I got the .308, I would want to get the browning shorttrac, v browning safari or remingto 750-- I'm not thinking about looks or browning being more accurate than the rem, just the functioning of the rifle -- I've heard the short track has a shorter action (and the long trac has a long action), but the safari and remington 750 use the .308 in the long action. Does this create a difference, and if so, would I ever notice it?

    My technical language is probably wrong, but I hope my question comes across.

    Thanks again for everybody's help.
  12. rbernie

    rbernie Well-Known Member

    No. Specific brands of rifles have known issues, but none of the chamberings listed themselves contribute to reliability issues. I can tell you that my Remmie 7400 (predecessor to the 750) did NOT like to feed Barnes bullets or any other bullet that did not have a nice pointy tip. It would jam them something fierce, and clearning the jam was always difficult due to the fact that the Remington design uses the magazine follower as the bolt hold open. (Drop the magazine to start the jam clearning process, and the bolt won't stay back any more. It takes three hands to clear a feed jam on the Remington..)

    The jams weren't caused by the chambering - it's the design of the feed ramp of the rifle that's at fault. It simply doesn't elevate the nose of the round high enough to tolerate round nose or hollow point ammo.

    Okey-doke, but FWIW my favorite hunting semi-auto is used out to take deer and hog out to 200 yards and shoots a chambering not in your list. Most any of the chamberings you've listed are very nice but mo' powerful than needed for most deer inside of 200 yards.

    Long actions can theoretically be a bit less rigid than a short action, but I don't think that anyone could notice the difference under hunting conditions. More importantly to me, long actions generally balance a bit differently since they have more metal and it's distributed differently than a short action. Maybe a long action 750 in 308 would feed HP ammo better than 270/30-06 ammo. Dunno.

    Any of these calibers will get the job done, so the real discriminator should be for you to hold a couple of each brand and see what balances and shoulders best for you.
  13. robctwo

    robctwo Well-Known Member

    .243 and .308 are short action in all rifles, because they are shorter than 30-06 and .270, which are long action. Short actions are lighter, marginally, because there is less metal in the gun to handle the length of the cartridge. Short actions are also faster, because there is less distance involved. The overall length of the .243 and .308 runs about 2.6-2.7". The overall length of the .270 and 30-06 runs about 3.2-3.3".

    I'm not sure of the physics, but there is some advantage to the shorter fatter cartridge for efficient burning of powder. That's why the ballistics of the shorter rounds are close to the longer.

    If you want more information, go to the hodgdon site http://www.hodgdon.com/ and look under the data. They have listings for all the major calibers. You can open up windows for the .308 and the 30-06 at the same time and see the differences in powder charge with the same bullets for about the same speeds.

    Same thing with the magnums. I have the Ruger 300 Win Mag, a long action, and the BAR 300 WSM, a short action, and get about the same ballistics.

    I bought the Remington 7400 in 30-06 before getting the BAR in .308. The best I could get the Remington to shoot was about 5" groups at 100 yards. I'm going to try to get better with it this winter with some more reloading, but it will probably get sold one day along with the Ruger.
  14. Magnum Wheel Man

    Magnum Wheel Man Well-Known Member

    Just an FYI... the Rimless 243 / 308 case was designed to be used in auto / semiauto guns, while the rimmed 270 / 30-06 was not...

    I'm quite sure that either rifle you are looking at, would feed the 270 / '06 cartridges with out a problem, in all "normal" hunting situations...

    I'd guess that if you were hunting something at -40* below temps, or other "real" extremes, then I'd want a rimless case in an auto gun, but for hunting non dangerous game in more normal temps, I'd be happy to have either the 270 or '06 on my arm...
  15. rbernie

    rbernie Well-Known Member

    The 270 chambering and it's parent 30-06 (ok, 30-03 but you get the point) are in fact rimless designs, in that their rim is the same diameter as the case head - just like their cousins the 308 and 243.

    Any concerns about using 30-06 in a semi-auto rifle should be dispelled by doing nothing more than examining the success of the M1 Garand rifle, which was chambered in 30-06....
  16. Magnum Wheel Man

    Magnum Wheel Man Well-Known Member

    I stand corrected... guess I need to go shoot some more 30-06...:eek:
  17. Terrierman

    Terrierman Well-Known Member

    How odd that the M-1 Garand was designed around the "rimmed" .30-06 that is not really intended for use in a semi-auto rifle...And the BAR and the Browning Light Machine Guns too, although I guess they are not semi-auto's so maybe they don't count. In reality the .30-06 is NOT a rimmed cartridge, don't know where that one came from.:confused:

    To answer the question for deer hunting in the South, any of the cartridges you mention will be just fine.:D If I were buying a new semi-auto hunting rifle, I would probably go with .308 for cheapest practice ammunition costs. For maximum flexibility though, the .30-06 has a SLIGHT edge.
  18. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Well-Known Member

    BAR Shortrac in .308. 6 lb 10 oz. ugly new forearm and all.
  19. hossdaniels

    hossdaniels Well-Known Member

    you will never have any trouble with any of them in a BAR, remington might be a different story.
  20. vynx

    vynx Well-Known Member

    .308 ammo is cheaper

    also, what barrel length do you want?

    usually the .308 can be had in a shorter carbine barrel 18" while the .30-06 is only available in a longer barrel 22" - at least in the pumps and leveraction choices.

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