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Head to Head: Low recoil hunting rifle

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Kachok, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    I have been wanting to do this for quite some time now, so I invested a few hours to create a fair scientific comparison of the best low recoil hunting rifles and compare them head to head. I did NOT include bullets that will not stabalize in standard factory twist rates, bullets that are not intended for big game hunting, or load data off of unknown websites. So this is about as fair as a head to head can be.
    All loads are under 14lbs of recoil in an 8lbs rifles, a good max point for a beginer small framed shooter and a great comfort zone for an experenced shooter. The 7mm-08, 25-06, and the 6.5x55 are all able to make more power then listed here with full power loads but they are above the 14lbs limit.
    All load information comes from Nosler or Lymans and the highest BC bullets for each caliber/weight were chosen (assuming they would stabalize in factory twist). Two popular weight of each caliber are compared to show their strong suits.
    Effective range is where the bullet is still making 1800fps to allow bullet expansion and 1000 ft lbs of kennetic energy, the recomended minimum for an ethical kill. Effective range is rounded to 25 yards.
    MPBR is the maximum point blank range where your bullet will not go above or below 3" with an ideal zero.
    OGW is the optimal game weight. This is a formula to determine what sized game anamals you should be hunting with any given bullet. No it is not perfect but it will give you a good idea. I made the cut off 300 yards as that is likely to be as far as most hunters will shoot.

    Caliber weight speed recoil Effective range MPBR OGW@300yd Bullet BC
    22-250 60gr @3612fps 6.6lbs 175 yards 319yards 70 lbs Partition .228BC
    22-250 53gr @3897fps 6.1lbs 175 yards 331yards 61 lbs Barnes TSX .204BC
    .243-100gr @3144fps 10.8lbs 475 yards 307yards 234 lbs Serria Game king .430BC
    .243 -- 85gr @3308fps 9.7lbs 425 yards 319yards 191 lbs Speer SPBT .404BC
    .257R 115gr @2827fps 10.1lbs 475 yards 281yards 236 lbs Burger hunting .479BC
    .257R 100gr @3120fps 9.3lbs 425 yards 301yards 213 lbs Nosler Ballistic tip .396BC
    .25-06 115gr @3095fps 13.6lbs 600 yards 306yards 317 lbs Burger hunting .479BC
    .25-06 100gr @3352fps 13.0lbs 525 yards 322yards 271 lbs Nosler Ballistic tip .396BC
    260rem 120gr @3049fps 13.8lbs 575 yards 300yards 319 lbs Nosler ballistic tip .458BC
    260rem 130gr @2864fps 13.7lbs 675 yards 289yards 350 lbs Swift Scirocco 2 .571BC
    6.5x55 140gr @2762fps 13.8lbs 700 yards 280yards 370 lbs Burger hunting .595BC
    6.5x55 120gr @3000fps 13.3lbs 575 yards 296yards 303 lbs Nosler Ballistic tip .458BC
    7-08 140gr @2862fps 13.9lbs 625 yards 285yards 368 lbs Burger hunting .486BC
    7-08 120gr @3139fps 13.7lbs 575 yards 305yards 326 lbs Nosler ballistic tip .417BC
    30-30 170gr @2192fps 11.0lbs 125 yards* 206yards 113 lbs Nosler Partition .252BC
    30-30 150gr @2426fps 11.7lbs 150 yards* 214yards 75 lbs Hornady Interlock RNSP.186BC

    *30-30 bullets are designed to expand below the standard 1800fps of spritzer rifle bullets. Real world effective range is about 200 yards max.

    Sorry all of this did not line up perfectly like it did on microsoft word :(
    I was doing this reserch anyway so I figured I would share with my rifle community :) Very good stuff, I did not think the .243 would do that well and the 6.5x55 just blew me away, I have loved it for years but I never thought it could pack ethical deer killing power to 700 YARDS!! If I missed anything would yall please let me know. Thanx
  2. Abel

    Abel Well-Known Member

    I heart the 30-30. :p
  3. sappyg

    sappyg Well-Known Member

    thanks for posting Kachok. nice work.
  4. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Well-Known Member


    Part of the low speed expanding nature of the 30-30 (and other tube fed rounds) is the flat nose, or meplat, which gives that characteristic "thwack" when the round hits and starts the expansion with any reasonable residual speed. It takes away from flight performance, but aids in terminal performance. Reasonable trade off for a light weight rifle and low recoil, if under 150 yds :)
  5. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    Yeah the OGW formula does not take into account the caliber of the bullet which does make a noticable difference IMHO the 30-30 is more effective then it's numbers imply, that is why I added it to the list and made the special note about it's expansion at lower speeds. The 30-30 has the aditional advantage of minimal deflection in thick brush making it an ideal round in close range adverse conditions. The 6.5x55 has an amazing advantage in open feild situations with it's remarkable BC and SD it is suitable for much larger game then the other low recoil calibers.
    I tried to keep the numbers as real world as possable. There are several bullets in some of the calibers listed that also have very good BCs but will not stabalize in factory barrels like the Burger VLD hunting 108gr .243, it requires a 1:9 twist that no major manufacturer makes, otherwise the .243 could hang in there with the 260 and 6.5x55 in long range ballistics.
  6. Abel

    Abel Well-Known Member

    The real beauty of the Model 94 or 336 is not necessarily the actual weight of the rifle, but its thin profile and balance point. My 336's carry 10X better than any of my bolt actions. The low recoil is an added bonus. :D
  7. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    I thought about adding the .308 to the list but with any decent BC bullet it could not make the speed to hang in there with the other low recoil choices. By time you push a 168gr bullet to 260 speeds it it making 16.5lbs+ of recoil. While that is not bad at all it would defeat the purpose of a low recoil comparison.
  8. HKGuns

    HKGuns Well-Known Member

    150 is the typical hunting choice for me in .308....I think 150 would compare favorably.
  9. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    150s lack the BC to compare. The best 150 I could find were around .420 and still could not push the speeds it would need to compete with the 140gr 7-08 and 6.5x55, but give me a minunite and I will post those numbers for you too.
  10. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    If you slow a 150gr 308 down to 2600 fps with 41gr of IMR 3031 you will be under 14lbs of recoil, your max effective range is 400 yards and your MPBR is 257 yards. OGW@300 yards is 277lbs. Like I said kind of poor numbers when you compare with slighlty smaller calibers, though they are alot better then the 22-250 that was a major let down.
  11. Freedom_fighter_in_IL

    Freedom_fighter_in_IL Well-Known Member

    Like I have said before, the 7mm.08 is what the .308 WANTED to be but just didn't quite get there.

    Nice write up Kachok. Very informative. Thank you for taking the time to do that.
  12. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    I have devised a scoreing system of sorts. Giving points based on the percentage of each others stats. Say the 25-06 has 92% of the 22-250s MPBR so it gets 92 points for that......so on so forth.
    -------------------22-250 243 257 25-06 260 6.5x55 7mm-08
    MPBR 331 yards----100 93 84 92 87 85 86
    max range 700 yards-25 68 68 86 96 100 89
    OGW 370lbs----------19 63 64 86 86 100 99
    Total 144 224 216 264 269 285 274

    The very old 6.5x55 shows why it has survived 119 years of new cartrages that have come and gone. The key reason why is the VERY high BC of long 6.5mm bullets. If the 25-06 or 243 had a 1:8 twist with .280SD BTHPs this would be a much closer contest no doubt.
  13. 788Ham

    788Ham Well-Known Member

    Kachok, You did a very good job on here young man! Thanks for taking the time not only to type it out like you did, but also to share it with all of us! No coal in your stocking this year !!:eek:
  14. Freedom_fighter_in_IL

    Freedom_fighter_in_IL Well-Known Member

    Only thing about the swede Kachok is the unavailability of factory ammo. You HAVE to be a reloader to get the real joy from the venerable old round.
  15. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    Well yes and no. MOST factory ammo is loaded to 94 Mauser pressure which is much less then a modern rifle will handle. Norma makes several loads that are closer to full pressure, although you are not likley to find those at your local wal-mart LOL. I handload so that is not an issue for me at all. All of the loads listed here are handloads that are above factory spec, but still under maximum pressure. You can get 2800 fps out of a 140gr 6.5x55, 3000 fps out of a 140gr 7mm-08, and a whopping 3170fps out of a 115gr 25-06, but those are max loads that would put us well over the 14lbs recoil limit of this experement. That said there is no discomfort for me personaly shooting max pressure 6.5x55s all day long even in my featherweight Tikka. My WSM with hotloads is a bit much though :what:
  16. Freedom_fighter_in_IL

    Freedom_fighter_in_IL Well-Known Member

    I load my 7mm.08 just under max and get right at 2950fps with 139gr Hornady SST's out of a 26 inch barrel. I have to admit, the 7mm.08 is my all time favorite white tail cartridge. Light on the shoulder, absolutely deadly out to 400 yards, and never had a deer not end up on my skinning pole from it. I do have to be a bit particular with bullet selection with it though. Close range I had an SST blow all to hell on the shoulder (was 15 yards) but I switched to the Interlocs so I shouldn't have that problem now. Still killed the deer but man was that a mess.
  17. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    Think SSTs are bad my 6.5x55 with 120 ballistic tips @3010fps will blow the whole front half of the deer apart! I have had to throw away both front shoulders from a quarting shot on a 140lbs doe. I won't be doing that again. I have some 140gr interlocks loaded up that I am dying to try out. They group really good too well under an inch at 100 yards every time even with a hot barrel. If I would not have found my 6.5x55 I was going to buy a 7mm-08, heck I still might buy one just to have two perfect deer rifles :) I used to own nothing but magnums but I figured out a while back that 4,000 ft/lbs of energy was just not needed on deer sized game. I have yet to track anything shot with my 6.5.
  18. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Well-Known Member

    Word-insert tables (pick column & row) as required. But then when you paste to the forum it may not work.:what::uhoh:;)
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010
  19. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    Yeah that was the problem, everything was all lined up and pretty but when I pasted it here is was all out of wack :(
    Does anyone else have a favorite low recoil caliber that they would like to see thrown in the mix? I can do popular wildcats as well seeing as one of my reloading manuals usualy has them.
  20. Tirod

    Tirod Well-Known Member

    All the alternative AR calibers could be interesting. Just finding which isn't is something to know.

    5.56, 6, 6.5, 6.8, .300 BLK, and about a dozen more wildcats. Intermediate assault rifle calibers are all about low recoil.

    Quite surprised to see any .30-30, but mine has a steel buttplate. A lot of recoil is perception.

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