Rifle choice

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by sixgunner455, Nov 14, 2020.

  1. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    I drew out for a tag in Arizona’s lottery system this year. My deer season starts in two weeks.

    Last year, my shooting shoulder started hurting off and on, and while I haven’t been formally diagnosed or xrayed or anything, my sports medicine doc cousin thinks I probably need a surgical intervention - probably some damage to the tissue around the joint that needs to be cleaned up.

    Some activities hurt - some weight lifting moves (I’ve cut way back on lifting) too much tennis, too many pistol draws, too much of anything.

    I gave myself a new rifle last year, as well, but didn’t shoot it till this summer: a Winchester M70 FWT .270. It is such a nice rifle, and weighs a pound less than my older rifle, a Savage 11 .243. I have to go mountaineering to hunt here, and have killed our little Coues bucks out at ranges from 100-300 yards - sometimes cross-Canyon shots - with that .243. A pound less rifle weight while ridge running is a good thing.

    But. The reality is, the M70 is chambered in a heavier cartridge in a lighter rifle. Factory 130gr ammunition is very painful to shoot from the bench, even though it has a nice recoil pad. If my shooting position is perfect and all my chest and shoulder muscles are at maximum flex tension - perfect form in all respects - it is tolerable for a few shots. This was with a padded hunting jacket, without which it was worse, or with more relaxed shooting form. Tears were blinked back a few times.

    I really want to hunt with this rifle this year. It’s lighter, it’s nicer looking, and it’s the new hotness. Lighter handloads fired with a PAST recoil shield are much more tolerable. I hope I can make it work with them.

    Opportunities on deer here are limited, and usually at ranges measured in hundreds of yards. Part of the point to getting the .270 was to add confidence at those longer ranges - more bullet weight and diameter, better wind resistance, all of those things. But the .243 doesn’t hurt to shoot, even with the hottest loads I dare run in it.

    One or two shots is all I’ve ever had to get through on the mountain.
  2. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    You can likely save weight elsewhere in your equipment, or just get a lightweight 6.5 CM.


    horsey300, Bfh_auto and LoonWulf like this.
  3. LoonWulf
    • Contributing Member

    LoonWulf Contributing Member

    Jul 3, 2010
    Live fire practice with the .243, hunt and diligent dry fire practice with the .270, and the transition won't be difficult.

    I shoot a bunch of different guns, and what I usually do when I notice one hasn't been used in a while is leave it leaning somewhere I'll walk by it regularly.
    Then pick it up, check for clear, shoulder, sight and dryfire in a safe direction every once in a while when I pass it....which is is exactly what I'd do if grabbing a rifle I've left leaning against a tree or rock (except that checking clear will be to make sure I got a round out of the mag, as I don't leave one in the chamber when not actively hunting). I often drop into field positions or use improvised rests to practice with as well.
    This builds muscle memory of getting the gun in your hands on target and to the break, IMO far better than just banging away from the bench with live ammo.

    All common sense and safety rules MUST be applied at all times. While I enjoy, and feel this is beneficial practice, Ive been around for the aftermath of dry fire practice being done wrong, so can't stress enough the need to be aware and careful.

    One thing I like to keep as close as possible is the trigger break on my rifles, everything else can be learned and usually carry over. Trigger FEEL tho I'm particular about, as I want/need to know when the trigger will break.
    WisBorn and sixgunner455 like this.
  4. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

    Feb 13, 2007
    Buckeye Country
    Hello fellow Arizonan!

    I literally just got my new AZ driver's license and updated my plates to here today, after moving from Ohio less than a month ago.

    I'm no stranger to shoulder pain either. I've had orthoscopic surgery on both of mine, and could use a touch up on my non-dominate arm probably.

    Getting as big and soft of a recoil pad on your rifle as possible will help. Most factory pads are OK at best. Some like the steel plate on my 44mag '92, are only good for inflicting pain.

    Ensuring the LOP on your rifle is perfect will also help. A bigger softer recoil pad might help with that as well. Maybe you need to shorten the stock some? Depends on your build and technique.

    What shooting positions do you shoot from? Off a bench seated will have me wincing in short order. Laying prone off a bipod isn't great for me either. A rear bag seems to help me some. But seated, using a sling for support and having the butt maybe a little more onto my chest than normal is the most comfortable.

    A muzzle break can help soften it up some without adding weight, or reducing ballistics as well. Just BE SURE you have your muffs on when cracking off a shot.
    sixgunner455 likes this.
  5. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    My grandfather had his 270 ported after surviving throat cancer.
    It was loud. But it got him elk and mule deer until he was well into his 70s.
  6. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

    May 26, 2007
    I think a 243 with proper bullets is enough gun for deer at any reasonable range. And 300 is reasonable. There are guys who have taken elk at nearly 1/2 mile with 243's. I can't say that I approve of the practice, but knowing it worked gives me confidence that a deer at 300-400 yards isn't asking too much of a 243. With the season starting in 2 weeks I'd not buy a new rifle now. My advice is hunt with the 243.

    If you decide to add another rifle for future use the 6.5 CM really is a good choice. It shoots 120 to 150 gr bullets about 200 fps slower at the muzzle than 270 shoots the same bullet weights. At ranges inside 200 yards that extra speed isn't a factor, and the better aerodynamics of the 6.5 mm bullets mean they come very close to catching up to 270 speeds at around 250-300 yards. At some point beyond 300 yards the 6.5 bullets will be faster than the 270 bullets. And the 6.5 does it with recoil much closer to 243 than 270.
  7. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

    Dec 1, 2005
    Central Ohio
    I don't know what is legal for deer hunting in AZ but if legal, a 22-250 would give you all the range you need with less recoil. The longest range I've taken a deer at was about 360 yards with a Speer 70 grain Semi Spitzer out of a 22-250. If you reload, that's the bullet I would choose. It was one shot and DRT. I recently took two at much closer range using that cartridge and 55 grain Varminter bullets.
    Bfh_auto likes this.
  8. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

    Aug 3, 2020
    Several thoughts, ever think of shooting with the opposite shoulder? Also you could wear a magnum shoulder pad under your coat. You can try a Limb Saver pad on your rifle.(They say the rubber is like a breast implant). Or reduce down your loads. I believe Hodgdens has teenager load recipes at their web-site; and Remington and Hornady both sell youth reduced recoil ammo in .270 among other calibers.
    sixgunner455 likes this.
  9. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Thank you all.

    It may be that the .243 does the hunting this year. I have been successful with it in the past out to 300. The last season I got a tag, I didn’t see anything that close, though.

    If I see as many deer during the season this year as I did today, then it won’t matter what rifle I’m carrying: I’ll only see turkeys! :)

    I am a hand loader, so I can load for lower recoil in the .270. I may go that route. The Winchester has a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad, the .243 came with a super squishy sorbothane recoil pad, and I have a PAST shield now.

    I would not buy a new rifle now unless I didn’t have one. Since I have two (three, really, but I don’t like hunting with an AR - I have a 6.8 upper), I really just need to pick one, load some ammo, and go hunting.
    Loyalist Dave and LoonWulf like this.
  10. stillquietvoice

    stillquietvoice Member

    Feb 25, 2016
    Upstate ny
    I have had surgery on both of my shoulders. Last summer I shot a 308 win, similar recoil to 270, with a break on it, from the bench, felt recoil was closer to 243 win level. You might try a mercury recoil reducers that inserts in the but stock of a rifle. Brownels has several types listed. I've wanted to try them out but haven't pulled the trigger yet. Right now the biggest center fire rifles I shoot is a rem 700 in 7mm08. Would like to get back to shooting 06 or 7mm mag again, but probably not going to happen, but I'd like to try.
    sixgunner455 likes this.
  11. mlankton

    mlankton Member

    Jul 27, 2020
    I think you can make the 270 work for you. If it was me and I was starting from scratch instead of already trying to make a gun I had work, I think I'd be looking at 6.5x55. Plenty of power for North American game and less recoil than 270, and I'd feel more confident taking larger game with that 6.5mm bullet than I would with a 25-06 or 243.
    Loyalist Dave and sixgunner455 like this.
  12. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

    May 5, 2006
    People's Republic of Maryland
    It seems like you have answers already to your problem.

    I agree with the comment above that the .243 Winchester has been good in the past and should still work for you.

    I also don't see a huge problem, especially since you handload, so you can step down the .270 to help mitigate recoil to a point, and perhaps get a bit slower burning powder to reduce perceived recoil on your shoulder from a sharp slap to more of a strong push. You may need to, as suggested, get the barrel ported, or get a really good muzzle brake installed. My dad destroyed his rotator cuff in his shooting shoulder, and I got him a .30-06 with a ported barrel. He took an antelope with it the following year, so proper porting does work. (The only reloading caveat would be if you found that you had to reduce the .270 load so much, that the only advantage downrange from the .270 vs the .243 was the mass of the bullet.)

  13. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

    May 1, 2019
    Last year I bought a single shot H&R with a 243 and a 308 barrel for deer hunting. I put good scopes on both barrels and got them dighted in. I used the 243 last year and shot five deer with it.
    Hardly any recoil and my nine year old grandson shoots it really well.
    horsey300 and sixgunner455 like this.
  14. Paul7

    Paul7 Member

    Apr 3, 2008
    New Mexico
    How about 6.5x55? Hits like a .308, kicks like a .243.
  15. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    I am not opposed to considering a move to another rifle or caliber in the future, but I’m not going to make a move like that at this point, since I need to spend my time scouting and glassing, hiking, conforming zero, and practicing field shooting positions in preparation for an opening day on Friday.
  16. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

    Oct 2, 2016
    Must be the day for it. I just gave this same exact advice to someone on a different forum an hour ago:

    243 is, in my opinion, king of the hill. Light recoil makes it easy to shoot accurately, which makes shot placement that much easier. You say you've already had success out to 300 yrds-I would stick with that. I've taken 4 caribou (200-250 lbs each) in the past 4 years at 312, 175, 120, and 104 yards. Given your current physical issues, I would absolutely run with the 243. I also am a firm believer in the Barnes X projectiles. I've been shooting the 85 grn TSX and am well pleased thus far.

    As other have said, you can drop weight elsewhere. In fact, if you are, as you put it, "mountaineering" on your coming hunt, there is a LOT of places you can be trimming weight. (That's a whole other discussion, but I weigh every single item in my pack and am constantly looking for lighter options-and I hunt from a side by side, lol.)
    stillquietvoice likes this.
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