Cartridges Under .30 for Plains Game

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by Saul, May 24, 2014.

  1. Saul

    Saul AH Veteran

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    I have been researching a lot on African plains game cartridges and everyone seems to say that you should shoot the cartridge you shoot best, regardless of size, yet everyone also seems to recommend .30 cartridges or up, including super magnums like the RUM or .338 Lapua, which generate ridiculous amounts of recoil. The benefit of shooting smaller diameter bullets is that they are usually very accurate with low recoil. I am interested to know what small diameter calibers (under .30) are not just acceptable, but downright excellent choices for medium to large plains game (impala to eland), while remaining low recoil. Some cartridges I was considering are:
    -.257 Roberts
    -.257 Weatherby
    -.270 Win
    -.270 Weatherby
    -6.5x47 Lapua
    -.280 Remington
    -.7mm rem mag
    -7mm Weatherby
    -7mm LRM
    The reason why I chose these specific cartridges to name is because they all have a reputation for extreme accuracy and low recoil. I would like to know if you would recommend any of these cartridges (or others) OVER a .30 for African plains game, and if so, why. Thanks for humoring me in another of my ridiculous questions. I just don't think I've seen a discussion on this topic here before.
     
  2. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    the only one of these flavours that ive actually fired is a 7mm rem mag ,
    and id use it on pretty much any plains game .
    don't know about low recoil though
    last year my wife bought a Thompson centre 7 mm and it boots ,weve sikaflexed 3 ,4oz lead sinkers into the stock to tame it down for her .
    and its bloody loud .
    its a accurate calibre ,no worries there.
    the other one that id like to play with is the .257 weatherby .
    purely because ive read some great stuff about it on here .
    but I will be taking a 30 cal. over with us in july
     
  3. Paw Print

    Paw Print SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    The .270 wn and 7x57 are both very popular calibers over here. Once again shot placement will always be the main factor.
     
  4. Code4

    Code4 AH Enthusiast

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    I group plains game into 3 classes.

    One. The 'tiny ten' size of animal up to deer in size (which provide great hunting). eg Steinbok up to Springbok and Impala in size. Your .257's would suit them.

    My group Two includes the Kudu and Zebra size animals. Your .270 and 7mm's are adequate and a .30 more of a good thing.

    Group three is the Eland and Giraffe.

    The problem is, the often legal requirements for a minimum cartridge imposed on hunters. The .270/7mm seems to be the entry level for some countries and private reserves. Including Eland on your list is a game changer due to their size.

    Being gun and hunting enthusiasts it is de rigueur to mull endlessly over cartridge choice. Common sense dictates that the cartridge you take should be adequate for the largest animal you are likely to shoot. This usually ends up with the .30 plus's. The endless advice that is given, is to bring your favourite deer rifle. This also influences calibre choice. It is commonly acknowledged that time allocated for pay for hunting, seems to be getting shorter. Taking multiple animals in a day seems to be more common. In situations like these, the recommendation and choice needs to include a cartridge that will 'perform' in less than perfect shot presentations.

    The .270 is quite popular in South Africa and I've seen great success with the .243 on plains game up to deer size. As for the cartridges you list, if you were happy and capable of legally taking a similar size animal with your choice in your home country, do so in Africa.

    If you were happy to use a .257 on moose, do so on Eland. If the 6.5x47 will do for Elk, bring it to Africa. I wouldn't. I sold my .416 Rigby and 9.3x62 and have only a 7x57 left. It will do me if I take my time.
     
  5. Johnny7604

    Johnny7604 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    I would throw two more cartridges into the mix, the 6.5 x .284 and the .260 Remington. I have two .260 remingtons, one for my daughter and one for my fiance. Both are low recoiling and very accurate. From what I saw when I was over there I would be comfortable using it on anything up to and including Kudu as long as I had a premium bullet like a Barnes or Accubond. The 260 has ballistics very close to the 6.5 x55 Swede which has been knocking moose down in Europe for over a century. If you are willing to tolerate a little more recoil the 6.5 x 284 is a hell of a round.

    Like others have said shot placement is key but the 6.5 mm cartridges are great hunting rounds. That being said I have only been ove there once and am no expert on African game so I will differ to the veterens on this one.

    Cheers,

    John
     
  6. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    Good advice so far. Lots of folks want to use a .30 caliber just to make more sure they aren't paying a trophy fee for a lost animal. I had talked to a guide a yr ago about a 6.5-06 for Sable/Kudu. He was OK with it. A while back one of the gun writers used .26 caliber in Africa. Seems like it was a .260 and a eland taken. Of your list the 7mm mag stands out. I used one on my last trip to africa and it gave me no worries. My son took his .243, so he borrowed my 7mm one day to hunt Kudu. I used the .243 for a 1 shot kill on my Nyala. If you want less recoil the 7mm-08 would be stellar with a good premium bullet. Run a 160-168 gr bullet and use it on most any plains animal. Perhaps a little light for eland, but it will do the job. The .270 is often overlooked. A friend of mine has killed over 100 elk in his long life with a .270 and 130 gr partitions. All he uses. If it will kill an elk it will kill a Kudu. Most of my 30 plus elk have been w/ the .27 caliber too. I usually use a 140 or 150 gr bullet though.
    The point is bullet placement is key. Then a well constructed bullet. A well constructed bullet through the lungs is a dead animal. The argument you will get is what about borderline shots. Those where the animal isn't turned at the best angle. The answer is don't take the shot until you can place it properly.
    On your list any of the 7mm's are probably the "most suitable" for most plains game. A 30-06 is going to have about the same recoil so it could easily be considered. I would have no qualms about shooting a eland with a 7mm of some flavor. I'd just wait for a broadside shot or not take a shot. My opinion. Bruce
     
  7. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I used the 270 Win on a Zebra with 130 grain TTSX. A 100 yard broadside shot was a clean pass through in the "sergeants stripes".

    I would imagine the same thing on an Eland, IF it were the same shot.
    I have not done it though.

    Hope others can help you with information on the other "small" calibers.
     
  8. 35bore

    35bore AH Elite

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    As it has been previously stated, I think most of the above calibers would work with a well constructed bullet placed in the heart or lungs. I also feel that if you and your PH are comfortable with your choice of caliber, then what the hell, hunt with it. Just be prepared for the disappointment and the ramifications of a lost animal because you chose to go under gunned. I personally don't like the idea/concept of ever being under gunned, just doesn't make sense to me. If you think there is even a possibility you might choose something in Africa that is "not on your list" but larger than what you are gunned for, I am sure the PH would gladly rent you a rifle for the harvest.

    There are quite a few plains game species I would confidently hunt with my 6mm Rem, but there are also a few that I wouldn't. You know what your rifle is capable of doing, better than anyone on this forum, because it's your rifle. It either gives you confidence or it doesn't. When in doubt, OVERKILL...... 2 cents
     
  9. rnovi

    rnovi AH Veteran

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    This thread is filled with so much common sense and realism, well, I just can't quite believe I'm actually reading it.

    My short answer: based on your requirements I'd go with a 7x57.

    My longer answer: I made the personal decision of a 7mm Rem Mag...and for my wife a 7x57r. Both in Merkel K1/3's. What I really wanted was a .270w but that wasn't available when I bought my rifles. So 7mm it became. For me and my hunting it was all about the availability of ammo - I wanted a common cartridge for my hunting and the 7mm Rem Mag is about as common as any of them.

    I also wanted a round that met the legal minimum for any PG in Africa. The 7mm RMag gets that nod, though for Giraffe I'd really want to push a .375 or such.

    As previously stated, shot placement and a well constructed bullet that will get through the vitals is really the key.

    PS: a 150gr. bullet at 3000 fps in a 6.5# scoped rifle is still darn stout in recoil...7mm Rem Mag or not.
     
  10. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Veteran

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    The 257Roberts with 120gr Swift A-Frames worked excellent for my daughter last year from 135 to 400 yards on a number of animals. She took Kudu, Red Hartebeest, Zebra, Impala(2), Warthog(5) all one shot no tracking kills. I may be forgetting an animal or two. It also has been a one shot killer on deer and wild boar here at home.
    The 257Weatherby with the same bullets would be excellent also----even better if that is possible.
    A 260Rem, 6.5X55, or 264Win mag would be excellent also. I have the 6.5X55 and 264Win mag. If I get back to Africa the 264 with be with my 338Win mag in my rifle case. The 264 would have 140gr Swift A-Frames. The 6.5X55 would have 120 or 140 Swift A-Frames.
    I have a 7Rem mag and I do not consider them to be low recoil.
    I am not a fan of the 270 but it is a personal thing.
    Shot placement is most important with whatever cartridge you use. Aim to break a shoulder as our PH said. Makes tracking easier if needed. I used a 338Win Mag and placed the first shot too high on my Gemsbuck. A quick 2nd and 3rd shot meant not loosing or tracking it. The 3rd shot was not required but the lost dollars were rolling around my head. I am sure if my daughter had been the shooter it would have been a one shot kill with the 257Roberts. That was the only animal I needed more than one shot for and it was due to shot placement.

    120grs thru the heart is better than 225grs thru the stomach or over the spine
     
  11. Steve Steyr

    Steve Steyr AH Member

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    1st choice: 7x57 Mauser.
    2nd choice 7x64 Brenneke.
    or
    3rd choice 280 Renington.

    Forget the AI thought.

    Skip the Magnum bid'ness.

    Just put it out of your head.

    Premium bullets.

    You work out the reloading details on your own.

    Hint: Start with 150 or 160 grain bullets.

    Low recoil = lots of practice time = confidence = successful hunt.

    This formula has worked since 1892. It never grows obsolete. No need to pursue this any further.

    You're welcome.
     
  12. Stocky

    Stocky AH Veteran

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    I'd contend that a .270 with a good bullet will outperform a .30 with a bad one, even on eland. The diameter of the bullet has little to do with penetration, that's a function of its sectional density and construction.

    If you blow out the heart or both lungs with any bullet you have a dead critter, eventually. If it creates an exit would you'll have at least twice as much blood to follow, but if expansion isn't adequate where it counts, the bigger the animal, the longer the eventual result is postponed.

    If the bullet blows up on bone and penetration stops before the vitals, you have a wounded animal to chase with any bullet. If you try to angle the bullet into the vitals through the paunch and the bullet blows up before reaching them, you have a wounded animal regardless of caliber.

    So what's all this mean? It means we should select the largest diameter bullet we can confidently use to place it properly, especially on large animals. Heavy, long-for-caliber bullets will always penetrate deeper than lighter, faster counterparts given identical bullet construction, but they won't expand as fast. This is why .308 150 gr. pills generally kill deer better than 220's, but I wouldn't use them on a moose if I had a choice. Same goes in Africa.

    The advent of modern, controlled expanding bullets has to some extent rewritten the rules of shooting heavy animals. Today's best bullets expand well and hold about 2/3 of their weight for penetration, making them more than adequate for larger game under most circumstances. Just bear in mind an eland or especially a big giraffe bull has a hellava lot of blood, the bigger the hole you punch in him the faster he tends to expire, so I tend to draw the line on this reasoning at about 1000 pounds. No way I'm tackling a 3000 lb giraffe with anything less than a .375, though culling young males or females using a .30'06 with 180 Barnes bullets may be alright if one is careful to place the first shot right.

    By the way, I've shot two eland with the .375 and even with the 300 Barnes I had to shoot the Livingstone three times thru the lungs before he dropped. I take that back, he stumbled and fell at the second shot and got back up! They are one tough animal to kill cleanly. Not a single shot was a pass-thru, collected all three bullets under the off-hide. I'll stay with big guns for eland, thanks.

    So the argument for 90% of African game becomes not so much over the caliber or how much powder it burns, but one of shot placement with a good, heavy-for-caliber bullet. The smaller the caliber the more important bullet selection becomes. The smaller calibers do however hold the edge on shot placement especially with their flatter trajectories, so I've settled on the .280 up to about 500 lbs and the .375 for anything bigger. If I happened to stumble across the right kudu when toting the .280, because I use a good bullet I'd have a go if the range was on the closer side, but I'd pass if the range was long or he didn't present a perfect broadside shot.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  13. Norwegianwoods

    Norwegianwoods SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    People handle recoil differently.
    Some can take recoil very well and have a very high threshold for when their accuracy starts to deteriorate.
    Others have a very much lower threshold for when this happens. Even if they practice a lot.

    I have a friend that is a very good shot and he shoots lots of competitions that he do well in, but his recoil threshold for when his accuracy starts to deteriorate, is with a .308 win.
    He shoots light bullets in .308 win very well, but as soon as he shoots heavy bullets at max speeds, his accuracy starts to suffer.

    For him it is clearly much better to use a 6.5x55 and similar cartridges with high quality bullets on a PG hunt than a 30-06 with heavy bullets.

    I have never used a .257 myself, so I can't comment on that.
    But I have used 6.5x55 and 6.5-06 very much and I would feel totally confident on using any of them with good bullets on any PG but Giraffe.
    On Giraffe I would prefer a 9.3x62 or bigger.
    The 6.5x55 might not be the perfect Eland cartridge, specially for a novice hunter, but it will do the job with a well placed high quality bullet.
     
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  14. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH Fanatic

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    Hello Saul,

    I do not care for hunting of large animals by means of small bore rifles.

    It is not that I dislike smaller rifles because I do like them but only for the size animals they were intended to be used on.

    With today's bullets we are told that we can use smaller calibers and get results formerly only to be expected from larger calibers.

    It is probably at least somewhat true, if not entirely true.

    However, I have had such perfect results in using larger calibers on larger animals that, I am quite stubborn on that subject, (but only for my own personal use....It is not my business if others want to do otherwise).

    For instance, I would not want to shoot an eland with anything less than a .33 diameter / 250 grain bullet @ about 2400 fps.

    However, I must say that a PH I have met in South Africa swears by his Brno ZKK Mauser in 7x64 Brenneke caliber, with Barnes X-Type (expanding) mono-metal bullets (I do not remember which version exactly but, it doesn't matter because Barnes keeps changing them often anyway...new and improved versions, etc).

    He is the only African PH I have spoken to in person that likes Barnes X-Type bullets but I totally respect his opinion because, likely each time I have shot another animal in my hunting adventures, he has shot hundreds before and after that.

    I think he used 175 gr but I cannot guarantee that, because it may have been 160 grain.

    At any rate, he used it on all PG except possibly giraffe, most of his life so far.

    I do definitely remember that he showed me two bullets recovered from eland so, obviously he uses it for that large antelope.

    My point is (finally!) that if I were wanting something less than .30 for PG, I would have a very close look at the 7x64 or, perhaps it's ballistic twin, the .280 Remington.

    Regards,
    Velo Dog.
     
  15. bassasdaindia

    bassasdaindia AH Enthusiast

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    "for medium to large plains game (impala to eland) "

    I personally am not comfortable using a smaller caliber or caliber under .30 on PG like : BWB, Gemsbok or Eland.
     
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  16. bassasdaindia

    bassasdaindia AH Enthusiast

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    agreed !
     
  17. Bert the Turtle

    Bert the Turtle AH Enthusiast

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    The deep penetrating premium bullets mean small rifles work better than they did on medium- large plains game 50 years ago. Legal considerations aside, if you have the self control to hold off on taking anything other than optimal shots and the skill to make them, a 243 is plenty to cleanly take most if not all plains game. But it probably isn't getting well into the chest if you hit heavy bone first on a broadside shot or try to put it through from a deep quartering angle.

    If you are looking at a "once in a lifetime" trip, better to take more gun because you will either take shots you are not equipped for or will curse yourself for taking too small a rifle. The small rifle is well suited to the locals who are meat hunting and have little to no time pressure. It is an excellent choice for a person who is not limited to one trip and is happy to pass up shots. It is good for stand hunting on a first trip where all shots will be from a rest, at close range on a mixed bag of representative species and there is time to wait for the animal to end up in good position. It is not the best choice for a person looking to take a particular species of particular or better size in a limited time frame.
     
  18. ActionBob

    ActionBob AH Enthusiast

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    As long as your asking, I took along a 6.5 Creedmoor just because I wanted to use it on Springbuck. Had my 375 H & H for Eland and my wife used her 30-06 for all her hunting... Indecently, I had top quality 180 grain ammo and a couple boxes of 150 grain GMX Hornady's... As soon as the PH saw whe had the GMX's he said to try those. They shot right on in the gun and that is what she used exclusively including on a very large Zebra one shot kill.

    For the 6.5 Creedmoor all I had was 129 grain Interbond Superformance. Shot a Red Hartebeest with it and blew though both shoulders and dropped it. The PH had guided people from Hornady and was expierinced with the Creedmoor. He had no issue taking it for Kudu but I used the 375. However a second Kudu was not off limits and when he would tell me to bring the Creedmoor on a walk and if I asked "what if we come across a Kudu or a Gemsbok", he said "shoot it with the Creedmoor and if we see an Eland we'll shoot that with it as well".

    He had a lot of faith in the caliber and the bullet.

    Like others have said, hard to beet a 7 mmm for capability and flat shooting, and pretty common over there, if you want under 30 cal... My sister in law shoots one and is deadly with it. And if you want something smaller AND common, 270 is a good choice as is 7x57.

    However if you want low recoil but deadly and flat shooting with long range punch, check out the 6.5 Creedmoor. check out the ballistic charts. I would certainly take it before something like a 260 rem.
     
  19. Jumbo

    Jumbo AH Veteran

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    My Only experience is with the 7mm Rem Mag, which I own. I have confidently hunted plains game up to Kudu with it and with the right bullet will have no problem hunting Eland. I do agree that a slower heavier bullet in the .30 class (or a nice 375H&H) would be preferable for Eland, but I have NO DOUBT that my 7mm Rem Mag will get the job done.

    There are some calibres you mention which I would love to try out, but havent had the chance!
     
  20. blackdog001blackdog001

    blackdog001blackdog001 AH Member

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    I have a 7mm Weatherby that Weatherby customized for me 20 years ago. I shoot 150 and 140 grain handloaded Nosler Ballistic Tips and solid base bullets at arund 3050 fps. It is a very accurate gun, albeit a bit heavy with the 26 " barrel (which is needed to get all the "oomph" out of the cartridge).

    I would have no hesitation using it on any plains game. As others have so aptly stated, it comes down to shot placement. I just returned from a PG safari in Namibia - two other hunters were using a 243 on Kudu and some smaller PG. All one shot kills. I'd not recommend a 243 for bigger PG, but for Springbok, Impala, etc., it would be fine, again assuming good shot placement.
     

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