Best Caliber for sheep hunting

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by Harrison E, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Harrison E

    Harrison E AH Member

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    i am looking at buying a new rifle which will mainly used for hunting sheep. i want the rifle to be light and to be really flat shooting since i may have to take shots out to 500 yards also if you have hunted sheep wat rifle did you use and why
    thanks
     

  2. gizmo

    gizmo AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Ambassador

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    Ive got to where anymore I use a Ruger 243. Its got a weaver scope, bipod, and raised cheek piece. Most of my shots are inside 250 yards. Its a little different here in Texas shooting them than up in the mountains. 123.JPG
    124.JPG
    I pile up sheep at those ranges all day long. If I was shooting mountains with 500 yard shots I'd probably opt for my 300 win mag, Its got a 6-24 scope and bipod. Id shoot a handload 165 grain Spire point boat tail. Sheep will hump up and die pretty easy if you hit them well.
     

  3. ActionBob

    ActionBob AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I'm no expert and will be watching this thread as a sheep and goat gun is in my future as well... But to throw something new and different out here.. I've been drooling over the Kimber Adirondack in a 6.5 Creedmoor... Just wish it had a couple more inches of barrel length. What I really want is for them to wake up and chamber the Mountain Ascent in the Creedmoor, same weight and a 22" barrel vs. the 18" on Adirondack. I'll give em a year and see what comes. I would love to put the sleek and light weight Z3 3-9 x 36 scope on it but for 500 yards I would go with a Z5 3.5-18 or the Zeiss 3-15 that Kimber sells with matching camo. Thinking I'd also drop the bucks for the one piece aluminum Talley rings.

    The Creedmoor is a legit 500 yard caliber with recoil akin to a 243. At 500 yards it delivers 1200 Foot Pounds at still over 2000 fps, that should take down a sheep cleanly and not hurt to bad to shoot in the lightest weight production bolt gun available.

    But I have never hunted sheep nor high mountains... I just know that at altitude those ounces can feel like pounds so I want a light weight gun that can do the job. I'm sure there are many other great options with marginally more weight and much more power.
     
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  4. gizmo

    gizmo AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Ambassador

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    Bob that would be a sweet rifle with the Z5 and one piece rings. Stick a bipod on it and that would be a shooter for sure.
     

  5. gizmo

    gizmo AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Ambassador

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    None the less you really cant go wrong with a tricked out 270 either.
     
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  6. Patrick R

    Patrick R AH Fanatic

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    ;) yes!
     
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  7. ActionBob

    ActionBob AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    270 in a Tikka T3 lite? Or even a 300 Win Mag or 7mm Mag?
     

  8. gizmo

    gizmo AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Ambassador

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    If you really wanna use a 270 and put a wallop on one a 270 wsm is a sure bet. We have a tikka t3 in 270 wsm. It's a great gun and I love to shoot it. I'm just a sucker for the good old standard 270. I've gotta ruger 270 that's tricked out. I'm taking it to Africa this summer for the kids to shoot pg with. Guess I'm just old fashioned.
     
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  9. IdaRam

    IdaRam BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Hi Harrison E,
    Prepare to become addicted ;) I just assume you are planning your first sheep hunt. If so, I would focus on most of the other gear more than I would on my choice of rifle. That and serious year-round physical training.
    I thought I was in great shape before I hunted Rocky Mountain Big Horn in 2013. I am convinced "Sheep Shape" is almost unattainable unless you are climbing around the nastiest mountains you can find most of the year. Probably depends on where you will be hunting, but if your quest for sheep takes you to the Rocky Mountains of the US and Canada, or to Alaska, the primary limiting factor to success will be how good your physical condition is and how good your gear is.
    I know you asked specifically about rifle and cartridge selection. Sorry to dodge the question :) I'll hit that in a moment ;)
    Seriously, I think the best advice I can offer is this; be in great shape! When you think you are in the best shape of your life you're halfway there. Redouble your efforts and train harder!
    Other gear - make certain you have the best boots money can buy. I really like Kennetrek's. Well broken in of course. I also like a merino wool or synthetic liner sock under a top quality wool or synthetic heavy boot sock. Make sure you have the best binoculars and spotting scope you can afford. Also, I have the KUIU bino harness that is the best I've tried so far. Very worth the $80 I paid for it.
    Make sure your clothing is lightweight layerable all weather synthetics. Alot of sheep hunts take place in locations and time of year where you may have to adapt between temps of 60 degrees and sunny to blizzard and sub-zero. Top quality, lightweight gear is essential, not only for comfort but in some cases survival.
    Okay, I hope that doesn't sound like a lecture. Not meant to be. If you got all that covered, perfect! You are way ahead of the game.
    On choice of rifle and cartridge, I use a stainless Ruger Hawkeye with a Hogue stock. Not fancy or expensive, but very accurate and fairly lightweight. I pack it all day no problem. It is chambered in .280 Rem which in my opinion is almost perfect for sheep. Sheep are not especially tough animals to kill. Not as tough as a mule deer. A high BC bullet around 150 grains is good sheep medicine out of a 7mm. Another great choice would be a 6.5/284 with around a 130 grain bullet. Any of the WSM's from .270 thru .300 would be great too, although a .300 WSM is more gun than you need. For 500 yard shots you may be glad of the extra punch. The challenge there will be that the wind always seems to be blowing in sheep country and 500 yards is a pretty good poke at a sheep when the wind is blowing. I personally would not plan to shoot that far, but that's just me.
    I really like Kimber rifles and if I were buying a brand new sheep rifle and money was not too much of an obstacle I would buy their Mountain Ascent in .280 Ackley Improved. That in my opinion would be about as perfect a sheep rifle as you could get.

    http://www.kimberamerica.com/rifles/model-84m/mountain-ascent-1

    Topped with something like a Leupold VX-6 3-18 would make one hell of a sheep rifle!
    Regardless of rifle, you will have the experience of a lifetime (y)
    Let us know what you decide and I hope to read a successful hunt report from you in the future.
    My best
     
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  10. stug

    stug AH Fanatic

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    My go to mountian rifle down here in NZ is a Remington Model 7 in 7 SAUM. I have fluted the barrel and bolt replaced the stock with a light weight carbon fibre one, all up with scope the weight is 6lb 10oz, bare rifle is 5lb 3oz. Longest shot so far is 594yds. I use the 162 hornady a-max projectile.
     
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  11. ZG47

    ZG47 AH Enthusiast

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    Harrison

    How often do you shoot competitively at 500 yards and beyond?

    I ask this because (with all due respect) the only people I know who possess the competency to shoot game at 500 yards are regular NZNRA competitors at ranges of 500 to 1,000 yards. Some of them do the occasional shoot at 1,200 yards and also do a bit of Service Rifle Shooting at 100 to 200 yards.

    My military AWQ shoots were held at 50 to 300m and I have also shot at 500 yards on several occasions but putting 70 to 80 rounds down range at 500 yards is just enough to develop respect for serious long range competitive shooters. NB These people consider a 300 yard shoot with their prone rifles to be equivalent to a 25 yard sight-in shoot with their hunting rifles.

    I suggest that you spend some time on a nice windy range with some experienced F Class shooters, if you are not doing so already. Best of luck with your sheep hunting plans!
     
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  12. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    There are a lot of good answere's to your question. Like was mentioned sheep are not especially hard to kill. The BUT to that is wind as has also been mentioned. Whatever caliber you should probably consider a Berger bullet in a heavy for caliber size. In the .26 caliber use a 140 gr bullet. .28 caliber at least a 168 gr. ect. For light weight the the tikka t-3's are great. I had one in the .270 WSM and still have one in a .300 wsm. The suggestion for the 7 SAUM is a very good one. I have had several and they all shoot well. The model 7 is a good platform. Using. A 168 or 180 gr bullet they buck the wind well. Whatever you choose get lots of practice. The guys that I know that shoot long range are practicing every 2 weeks or so to keep sharp. Get familiar with your rifle and scope. Bruce
     
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  13. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I live for hunting sheep! A season without a sheep hunt is like one without whitetails. I have shot several caliber and hunted with people who have brought just about anything under the sun.

    My choice is a WBY Ultra light weight chambered in .257WBY topped with a Leupold 4-12x40 and a B-square bipod. Lightweight and accurate do not go hand in hand, the Ultra light weight (actually more of a medium light weight) is both. I have killed Ibex, whitetail and muley at well over 500yds with it cleanly using 100gr TSX. I have watched people lug heavy guns along claiming "its just a couple extra pounds, my jacket weighs more than that" these people go on to curse the heavy rifle sooner than later.

    The .257 WBY with 100gr TSX is the flattest production caliber available, matched only by the much heavier 30/378 WBY. The only way to get flatter to 500yds is with a semi custom like a Lazeroni or a wildcat and usually at the expense of rifle weight.

    The B-Square roto tilt bipod is the lightest and most versatile I have found plus it detaches in seconds and stows compact in your pack allowing you to easily carry your rifle in a saddle scabbard.

    Practice shooting in odd laying positions using the bipod as a front rest and improvising different combinations of your off hand and different objects to steady the rear of the rifle. (don't worry about controlling the jump with your off hand, this woman and childrens caliber will not try to bite you in the eye). Use rocks gear etc under your off hand and your thumb on d forefinger to form a notch on the rear of the stock and you will find this position as steady as a benchrest. The lower you can lay the more easitly you will be able to hold steady.

    Good luck with your sheep hunting, like Africa, it is very addictive!! :D
     
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  14. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Almost forgot. Limit your bbl length to 26", Longer bbls do not fit in saddle scabbards and are more of a hindrance than an asset.
     
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  15. billc

    billc AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    One of the best guides and outfitter I know in new mexico swears by a 257 wby for sheep. I have never hunted sheep with it but my son used it last year on kudu,springbuck,bushbucks and some other stuff and must animals never took a step after the shot. It is one flat shooting gun.

    We have a z-5 3.5 to 16 on his and love it. I would say any good quality scope 3 x12 x50 would work well for sheep..
     

  16. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Kind of makes a difference which "sheep" you are after really.


    marcoPoloSheep.jpg

    4horn-main1.jpg


    bhorn.jpg
     

  17. billc

    billc AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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  18. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Only issue I have is that many 50mm scopes can be a hard fit in a saddle scabbard. It would be the extremely rare circumstance that any more light gathering than a 40mm provides would be needed in sheep hunting since it is usually an all day endeavor rather than dusk/dawn and you seldom have the deep shadows of timber to contend with as you would in most hunting.

    Before any comments about 50mm scopes people have used in saddle scabbards, my issue is not getting them in but rather getting them out in a hurry, they tend to wedge in real good, especially if they have an adjustable objective. ;)
     
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  19. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Agreed, the .243 or 240 WBY although capable are marginal IMO especially at the ranges mentioned. Neither will handle a large bone at 500yds while the .257 with TSX has no issue. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
     

  20. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    They'll all die if hit right with a .17 caliber. Won't recommend it though.

    Mine is a simple clarification of the OP's question.
    I would not use the same caliber on a thin skinned sheep in a pen as I would for a 300 pound BigHorn or Marco Polo Ram. Nor would I carry the same rifle at 14000+ feet ASL as I would at 6000 feet ASL. If I had a choice. I assume the OP is about to make that choice. So, what is he hunting?

    Derek designed his baby, and like me loves to sheep hunt, and does it EVERY year. When you cruise the rocks at 6000 to 9000 feet with that weight on your back you soon realize just how heavy 1 pound is.
    Plinking a sheep in a pen is not the same.

    After getting sick at 14,000 feet Derek will probably also have a new respect for Altitude, never mind the weight. :)
     
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