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Medium-bore for light game?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by labnoti, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    Light game -- as in lightweight, CXP2, medium-sized game, like small deer, goats, sheep, pigs, antelope, light black bears, under 300 pounds.

    I think medium bore rifle cartridges like the .338 Winchester Magnum, .35 Whelen and .375 H&H Magnum are most commonly associated with heavier big game like moose, elk, caribou, the great bears, and African plains game, and subsequently, the cartridges are most often loaded with heavy bullets of sturdy construction.

    But medium-bore rifles could offer excellent performance on lightweight medium game if the bullets were appropriate. Compared to big-bore light game cartridges like .450 Bushmaster, .444 Marlin, .45-70, .460 S&W Magnum and many of the big-bore handgun cartridges, a medium-bore rifle cartridge offers a better trajectory and greater reach due to higher velocities and greater ballistic coefficients.

    There are some old medium-bore lever-action cartridges that I do not think offer these advantages like the 35 Remington, which produces low-velocity and is typically loaded with heavy bullets with a poor ballistic coefficient due to the tubular magazines.

    So, are the bullets out there to load medium bore cartrdiges like .338 Federal, .358 Winchester, or .375 H&H for game as light as pronghorn?
     
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  2. ExAgoradzo

    ExAgoradzo Member

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    I think most people don't use the calibers because of the expense in terms of weight, recoil, powder, and cash far outweighs the benefits in killing game. Could you use a 375 HH to kill a blacktail deer? Certainly. But why? Get yourself a Swede or a Roberts...

    Greg
     
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  3. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    This isn't about the .375 H&H Magnum per se, but about medium-bore rifles for light game like that blacktail deer. People use small-bore, like the Roberts you mentioned. They also use big-bore like .450 Bushmaster or .444 Marlin. But medium-bore has an advantage over both. The advantage over large bore is very straightforward. The trajectory and effective range are better. The advantage over small-bores is perhaps more contentious. But how is it that there is an abundance of big-bore and small-bore cartridges for light game, but the medium-bores remain relatively scarce, almost entirely consigned to the biggest game? If they were relegated to large game merely by their larger bore diameter, then .45-70 would likewise be only for heavy game, and also .44 Magnum for that matter.

    Killing light game is not particularly difficult, but killing it well is a challenge. With small-bore cartridges, fast killing is often achieved with shock induced by the bullet impacting at high velocity (over 2600fps at the target). If the bullet impacts much slower than this, the result is a small wound and slow death. To stay intact and not explode against the resistance of surface tension, the bullet impacting at high-velocity must be sturdy, and there is some upper limit to velocity because of the practicality of making a small projectile stay intact through the target. A very high-velocity projectile will maintain sufficient impact velocity at long range, but may explode on targets at very close range. We need extremely sturdy bullets for the highest velocity impacts at close range, but softer bullets at the lower velocities of long-range impacts. In order to maintain more consistent small-bore projectile velocities throughout different ranges, we're seeing a trend of extremely low drag bullet designs. Are ultra low-drag bullets the fastest killers?

    Medium and large bore projectiles have been shown to produce coma in game at lower impact velocities. I've already described what I think the weakness of the big-bores is: the high drag requires an extreme level of power to maintain velocity and trajectory at longer ranges. Medium-bores like .358 and .375 give us useable trajectories out to long hunting ranges. The weaker medium-bore cartridges like 35 Remington typically do not have good long-range trajectories, and the impact velocities at distance are insufficient. Cartridges like .375 H&H or .35 Whelen can deliver a good trajectory out to long-range with a soft bullet that will still kill fast at the lower impact velocities of those ranges. From the same cartridge, that soft bullet won't explode on game at 30 yards because it's not going 3200 fps, or even 3000 fps. Those impact velocities would require a hard bullet. That hard bullet won't work for a quick kill at long range where the velocity is lower. So I think the medium-bore has great value, even on light game from close range out to quite some distance -- just how far depends on the bullet construction.

    The problem with .375 bore, for example, is that most of the bullets available are very sturdy, hard, for penetrating massive game. Those bullets are not soft enough for light game at greater distances because they are intended to maintain momentum through a much more massive carcass. If there were an alternative, it could offer knockout performance on light game.

    I'm not convinced the weight or the recoil of the rifle rules it out. A lot of people are happy to shoot ultra magnum small-bore cartridges because they believe it will drop an Elk at 800 yards. There are even more people who hunt from blinds or stands that don't carry their rifle farther than they shoot it. More importantly, there are people to whom consistent, knockout, DRT kills are worth carrying a 10 or 12 pound rifle for. I believe the medium-bore is one way to increase fast kill performance, but only if the bullet is suitable to the game weight.
     
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  4. js8588

    js8588 Member

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    9.3x62, please.
     
  5. Jessesky

    Jessesky Member

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    I think it’s peoples obsession with ballistics and seeking the highest BC possible.

    With big bores it’s (generally) accepted the BC will be low and it is a close range rifle for whatever game you are hunting.

    With medium bores they offer a lot! decent trajectory , and the ability to take most any game still. But to push a bullet with a BC competitive to smallbores, you need a very large case to push a long heavy bullet.

    Smallbores are good for most any American game, and have the ability to advertise these slippery long range bullets which is what the market loves right now. There used to be more medium bores, but I think they have fallen off in the market for this very reason
     
  6. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    The 9.3x62 is a great medium-bore, but the bullets tend to start at something like a 250 grain banded solid and they just go up from there in weight and toughness. To say that's not optimal for whitetail is an understatement.

    I agree a lighter (shorter), softer .366 or .375 bullet is not going to have those slippery BC's that sell more Creedmoors. But for more DRT's, I bet on the medium-bore, even out to 300 yards.

    At 300 yards, even an ELD-X in 6.5mm with a .625 G1 BC from a Creedmoor has dropped to 2200 fps, which is too low for a small bore bullet to rapidly incapacitate even light game with shock. It will kill with blood loss, but the game will run until it has finished. A .375 H&H with a paltry .424 G1 BC will be going about the same speed at 300 yards -- but will more certainly knock the consciousness out of a whitetail upon impact. If the bullet is also soft, it will do enough damage to kill the deer before it regains consciousness. But if it's a hard moose bullet, it's less likely to do so. The smallbore, on the other hand, at only 2200 fps is almost certain to send the deer on a dead run, unless the shoulder bone is broken.
     
  7. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    Speer 270btsp are explosive at 2800fps+ and very satisfactory at 2600. Good bc as well.

    I shoot a .375 Ruger, as well as a number of small bores, for stuff from 60lbs goats n sheep, to 100-200lb axis, as well as 600+ feral bulls.
    In my experience, if velocity is constant (I like 28-3k fps), a bigger round simply allows you to blow a bigger hole in a bigger critter, it doesn't necessarily improve performance over a smaller round on a little critter.
    This is considering similar SD, BC and velocity.

    The bigger rounds also don't blow up smaller critters like some folks think they do.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
  8. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    I always thought the idea of a 358win would be a great deer cartridge for how I hunt, but we're a straight wall only state.
     
  9. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    6.5x55-7x57-7.62x51 rifles will all shoot 140-150 gr bullets at 2700-2800 fps in modern rifles and they will shoot pretty flat to 300 + yards. i prefer not to over think the problem.
     
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  10. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    But those three cartridges will not impact at even 2600 fps. Even at 200 yards, they'll be down closer to 2200 fps. The small caliber at those impact velocities won't consistently knock game unconscious for a DRT kill. A 30 caliber at 2200 fps impact velocity will not shock game the same way a 35 or 37 caliber will at that same velocity. What's more, the wounding that ultimately kills the game will be only a little larger than the caliber. So what we have are a lot of cartridge options and rifles chambered for them where the velocity is 400 to 500 fps faster, like all the smallbore magnums. Some people argue that the deer won't be any deader, but I'm convinced that striking with a hard bullet at higher velocity (~2700 at impact), or with a soft bullet of larger caliber at the lower velocity (~2300 at impact) will result in quicker incapacitation, stopping, and death.
     
  11. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]
    6.5cm, 140eld-m launch velocity 2800, range 250-275yds

    That's about the same size hole my .375 opens with 270s at 2840, I forgot to get a picture of the last sheep I shot, and there were no exits in the two deer from last year.
     
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  12. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    I like medium bores for deer size game, they kill fast but are pretty meat friendly. The 35 rem is a proof, it looks weak on paper but kills better then most think. I've shot a few deer with 375 h&h and was very happy how they did. Plus used some European medium bores like 9x57 9.3x62. I don't think a softer bullets is needed.
     
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  13. ExAgoradzo

    ExAgoradzo Member

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    Don’t get me wrong: med bores or the 45-70/44RM he mentioned are ‘good enough’. And, I don’t think those two I mentioned are in the same class as the med bore the OP listed. Neither is the 35Rem, 338Fed, and others. It is the med bore mags that I pass over for black tails, not the stalwart med bore nonmags. Go for it. Be different. And enjoy shooting. I like my Swede.

    Greg
     
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  14. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    the 6.5x55-7x57-7.62x51 with those bullets are still carrying 1000 fpe or close to it at 500 yards. hit them where you should and they will die pretty quick. larger calibers will not make up for a bad shot.
     
  15. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I will plump for the venerable 35 rem.

    If you wanted to try something like the 375 h&h on light game, handloading with cast would likely do a good job. Otherwise I think a magnum medium bore is overkill and probably unnecessarily destructive.

    I also think that this sort of thought process is behind the 350 legend rollout.

    As for instantaneous killing of light game, is that more than a dream? Deer aren't all that hard to kill, but bang, flop on a consistent basis appears unlikely. Consistent clean kills with proper bullet placement seems like a more realistic expectation.
     
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  16. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    The answer to your question is quite simple. When you have bullet diameter you don’t need rapid expansion to quickly kill light game with a medium bore. This is proven on a daily basis in Africa where guys are carrying a .375, 416, 9.3 etc etc and using them to kill anything from an elephant to a dikker. I’ve killed plenty of impala sized critters with a .375 H&H and a solid non expanding bullet. Trust me when I say it does just fine!

    A 270 gr X, TSX, LRX bullet out of a ,375 H&H expands and kills light game with authority. I’ve killed deer, coyotes, impala, springbok, sized critters with that combo and it’s just not a problem and it does minimal meat damage.

    If you want a softer bullet look to the Sierra game kings or the Hornady Inter Locks find a 250 gr or so bullet push it at 2800 FPS and get all the rapid expansion you could ever ask for on light game.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  17. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    I just printed a couple ~1" groups @100 yards with first starting loads under a GC'd 285gr cast bullet in my 375H&H this weekend. Recoil and blast was more of a 'whump'.

    Think of it as a pre-expanded 6.5 Lazermore . . It'll never compete at mid+ range, but up close it's fun.
     
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  18. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    With a spitzer style bullet of like BC a 375 H&H has an identical trajectory to a .30-06. It’s got much more range potential than the uneducated give it credit for.
     
  19. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Yes, with full-power loads. I'm still working on that.

    These were 285gr cast bullets trundling along at 1700ish. POI was 14" below the full-power POI at 100 yards.
     
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  20. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I shot a doe last year with a 205 grain cast bullet out of my 3006, was doing about 1900 fps at the muzzle. The bullet had a big meplat for caliber around .19". I shot a doe this year with a 230 grain 54 round ball out of a muzzleloader, probably about the same muzzle velocity. Neither deer went very far and both were dead within a minute or two of pulling the trigger. Modest velocities and good sized striking surface kill very well.
     
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  21. Ironhand54

    Ironhand54 Member

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    I have shot deer with 357Max, 358 win, and 35 Whelen. Decisive stops without excess damage. From experience I prefer the 35 cal.

    IronHand
     
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  22. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    A .25 caliber expands to .35

    A .35 starts there
     
  23. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    +1
    For years, I used 225gr Hornady InterLocks at 2,800fps for mule deer in my own 338 Win Mag. I don't know whether or not the bullets "expanded" well. They always went all the way through, so I never recovered any of them. The deer always died quickly though, sometimes DRT - or whatever the letters are for dropping where they stood. And as far as meat damage goes - a 225gr 338 bullet at 2,800 fps doesn't tear up any more meat than a 165gr 30-06 bullet at 2,800fps, maybe less.
    Now a 165gr bullet at nearly 3,200fps from my 308 Norma Mag or the likes, well, shot placement means a lot when it comes to how much bloodshot meat a hunter has to deal with.
    At any rate, I got myself a 338 Win Mag back in the '80s. I had a couple of hunting buddies back then that used 338 Win Mags with 250gr Hornady InterLocks for everything from pronghorns to moose. After seeing their successes, I decided a 338 Win Mag would be perfect for the one-rifle hunter in the western US, including Alaska. I've since changed my mind, and now think the 375 H&H might be better for that. But I've also realized I don't need an all-purpose, all-around medium and big game rifle. I can afford more than one rifle, and unlike having a wife, I'm allowed to have more.:D
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
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  24. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    After having shot quite a few Axis deer and other stuff, I've come to expect a bang/flop from any of my larger faster small bores. True, it doesn't always happen, and I'm always ready for a second shot if it looks like it's necessary, but 90%+ nothing gets back up, unless the hit was bad.....even then they usually don't move real fast.
    I also chose bullets and loads to specifically do a lot of damage and leave big holes.
    Same goes for my .375 loads, those 270btsp expand plenty fast enough for anything I shoot. The Axis buck i shot longwise showed about 1.5' of penetration before the bullet came completely apart. It did go thru a hip on the way in tho.

    now that I've shot up all my Speers I'm going to try the 260 ABs, might go back to the Speers we'll see.
     
  25. Ryden

    Ryden Member

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    Norma has the Oryx and Vulkan in 232 gr, and a better caliber for the intended game would be 9.3x57.
    It's also easier ro reform 8x57 brass than trying to make a 62 from 30-06
     
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