Best Caliber for sheep hunting

Mekaniks

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Magnum no, flat shooting yes. I hunted with Jack Oconnors favorite .270 win for years before finding my ideal .257 WBY. Flat shooting, lightweight, minimal recoil and powerful enough for any sheep or goats or similar size critters.



How often have you fired more than 2 at gameé I seldom fire more than 1. 3+1 is more than enough for every animal I have ever shot by a wide margin.

Not very often for sure. But I want enough rounds in my gun to be able to hit a critter a couple of times and even if I miss once or twice (yes it happens occasionally even at close ranges) I still have a couple in my gun for the hike down and I don't have to carry extra rounds in my pocket. I suppose it's personal preference more than anything.
 

Mekaniks

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So this brings up a great point... A hunt I have been thinking of is for a goat in an area where it is possible to add a grizzly bear if opportunity comes up.

So how small one go and still be ok taking a bear?

You won't find me walking around where there is a good chance of taking a grizzly/brown bear with anything less than .270 with good bullets as a personal minimum. I know it's been done and I am sure there are people that do it all the time. But not me...
 

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So this brings up a great point... A hunt I have been thinking of is for a goat in an area where it is possible to add a grizzly bear if opportunity comes up.

So how small one go and still be ok taking a bear?
That's a great question Bob. I think I would be leaning towards one of the .30 cal Magnums on a hunt like you are talking about.
That really opens a can of worms. For me it would depend on a lot of the other factors that come into play. If the hunt is seriously on the physical side, then lighter gun/caliber might be the right choice. Probably nothing smaller than .280 and I would still be feeling a little skittish. If a larger caliber, heavier rifle will not be a major hindrance I might go with something like a .338 Win Mag. Still going to be in a relatively light rifle.
 

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Having done a few sheep and goat hunts in AK. I found that every ounce you can save can and does make a world of difference. My first trip after sheep I was totin' a M70 in 270 wearing a Burris 3-9x40. No complaints but I had to have a reason to buy another gun so...Picked up a Win.M70 Extreme Weather in 300 Win and took it to Wild West Guns in Anchorage. Had a Bansner Stock put on her, action shaves, bolt & trigger guard skeletonized and a WWG brake installed. She weighs under 7lbs with a Leup VX-3 4.5-14x40 CDS scope. It is like night and day when compared to the rifles I used to carry.
As far as the caliber, Dall, Stones, Rocky, Fannin & Deserts are not small bodied critters by no means and although a pile have been taken with 257 Roberts and above, I still like something which tosses a bit more lead.
Goats on the other hand dont really care what you shoot, they absord lead from anything....
 

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270, 280, 308, 30.06, 300, 338 take your pick, Personally, (I've taken two Dall Sheep) is a sako customized 7mm Rem Mag.
Military used 308s for years for snipers and had no problems hitting at 500 +
It's more knowing the weapon and round and doping the wind
 

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I'm a total bonafide gun nut with a few dozen different rifles all set up that will do the trick but my choice for my Bezoar Ibex hunt in Turkey 4 weeks from now pretty much tells you what my choice would be.

It's a Remington model 700 Alaskan Titanium in 7mm Rem Mag topped with a Leupold 4.5-14x40 LR 30 mm with the Varmint Hunter reticle. With a Hornady Superformance 139 gr SST leaving the muzzle at about 3250 fps, I can zero at 200 or 300 yards and each holdover crossbar adds another 100 yards just about exactly.

This exact combination (formerly Hornady Heavy Mag ammo) has worked very well for me for a decade now on many 500 yard +or- one shot kills and I have the utmost confidence in it, especially when the rifle shoots tiny little groups at my normal 300 yard test grouping range.

Confidence is Key.
 

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Royal27

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Great thread...

So what about the scope and further opinions on power. For MOST sheep hunting do you really need more than 10x? I get there are always exceptions.

My next rifle will be a mountain rifle as I'm getting tired of lugging my M70 after elk at 9.5k. I would also want to use it for a sheep hunt someday while I still can. So I guess my question is what is the best sheep scope?
 

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Great thread...

So what about the scope and further opinions on power. For MOST sheep hunting do you really need more than 10x? I get there are always exceptions.

My next rifle will be a mountain rifle as I'm getting tired of lugging my M70 after elk at 9.5k. I would also want to use it for a sheep hunt someday while I still can. So I guess my question is what is the best sheep scope?

I think the saying "eye of the beholder" holds true when it comes to guns, optics ect ect. I have been along with a good friend that hunted with a 280 Rem topped with a Simmons 3-9x40 and he has whacked more sheep an goats then I ever will. That being said, I would never trade my4.5-14 for anything less when out judging legal rams and goat gender. Most of the time we have a spotter with but not always at spike camp and as of yet there is no one producing a 3 person eyepiece.;)
I have a few Nikon 3-9's that work just perfect and for the money are as bright as I need them to be. Then far on the other side I have a Swaro that for the money I think should have came with a "hunting caddy". The Swaro is by far IMO a better glass but like I said it comes at a price and they make some high mag scopes that I believe would be great for sheep hunting.
Sky is the limit when talking optics and only limited by personal preference and your pocket book.

Just for the record my buddy's 280 Rem was a M70....Didn't want to give the notion I hunt with just anyone:whistle:
 

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I like the point you make about judging and using the extra magnification for that. I have always been a low powered scope guy (my 375 stays on 3 almost always). So in my mind I wonder my I need something more than a 9x even for a 400 yard shot. That helps to answer it.
 

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For MOST sheep hunting do you really need more than 10x? I get there are always exceptions.
So I guess my question is what is the best sheep scope?
My opinion, 10x is usually plenty for most any big game hunting including sheep. Unless you are setting out with the specific intent of shooting beyond 400 yards, 10x will do the job. Might you wish for more sometimes? Yes, especially if you are trying to judge a Ram through your rifle scope, but if that is the case he is probably at some distance and you are going to want a spotting scope on a sheep hunt anyway just for that purpose. Judging sheep is a WHOLE other conversation ;)
Best Sheep scope? OK, now you are just trying to start a fight! :D
I would say the best sheep scope must be durable. It is probably going to take some punishment, so good solid mounting system as well. Weight is always a consideration. It's got to have top quality glass for optical clarity, light gathering properties and glare resistance. Anything from a 2.5x-8x up through a 4.5x-14x would be pretty hard to find fault with, but I would lean toward the 4.5-14.
Just a personal preference here, but I would probably not have a scope with parallax adjustment on my sheep rifle. Or a general purpose hunting rifle for that matter. I do have hunting rifles with higher power scopes that have parallax adjustment, but they are more geared to varmint hunting or long range shooting. Not general purpose hunting.
I really like Leupold's Varmint Hunter reticle, but other manufacturers have similar distance/wind compensating reticles that are good as well. I like the Varmint Hunter because it gives you what you need without a bunch of clutter.
If I'm spending the money for all of the above I may get an illuminated reticle too, but most definitely not a requirement.
The free advice above may be worth exactly what you paid for it ;)
 

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Just for the record my buddy's 280 Rem was a M70....Didn't want to give the notion I hunt with just anyone:whistle:
I like the way you roll (y):D
 

thi9elsp

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I bought a Browning stainless stalker in 7mm-08 for mountain goat and put a Swaro z3 3x9 on it. Nice a light weight. Unfortunately, the guy I was going to hunt with sold is area in SE Alaska. I've not tried to book with someone else yet.

Since that time (a couple years ago) I've purchased a Leupold VX6 3-18x44 for my Les Baer 223. Wow, what a piece of glass - most I've ever paid for a scope and well worth it. It might just have to go on the 7mm-08 or I might need to trade the Swaro in towards another Leupold.
 

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My choice of scope is as stated a Leupold 4-12x 40 for the following reasons.
1) I haven't found a scope that will hold its zero better, even while being jarred by hours of horseback travel daily.
2) The distance from the crosshair to the duplex is 3 minutes at 12 power. This puts it at 12 inches at 400 and 15 inches at 500. My .257 WBY drops about 17 inches at 500 yards at 6500 feet sighted 1.5 inches high at 100 (optimal for 6 inch point blank). Simple reference for holdover and windage.
3) Light gathering, long range sighting and weight are well balanced and a good compromise.
4) As stated it slips easily in and out of a saddle scabbard.
 

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Best Sheep scope? OK, now you are just trying to start a fight! :D

who??? ME??? :A Stirring:

In all seriousness, all of the scope responses were helpful and sum up what I already kinda thought.

since my "light rifle" will really probably end up being my eljk rifle, with hope of sheep someday, I will probably stay with something in the 9-10x range at the max end.

The only 500 yard shot I've ever personally taken was at a steel plate! The wind would have to be pretty much dead for me to even consider that length of shot at an animal. I just don't do it enough and know my limitations.
 

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So guys I'm pretty wimpy about altitude so to consider a high altitude hunt, I'm thinking I will spend the money to save ounces..... I know it would be a lot cheaper to shed the ounces off ME, but trying to be realistic as to what will happen vs. what should;)

So to tap into your experience, What I was leaning towards was the Kimber Adirondack or Mountain Accent, I like the color of the Adirondack better (18" barrel) but the longer scalloped barrel (22") of the Mountain Accent seems a better choice. In short action they weight the same 4 pounds 13 ounces... The long action is a few ounces more. I like the 6.5 Creedmoor but now I'm thinking the 280 Ack Imp. Never researched that caliber before and leaned towards the Creedmoor because I have one and have ammo on hand anyway (also have 308 and 30-06, of course!). I do not have any 7mm guns right now nor any 300 magnums. (all my Magnums are true big bores!) As for the 6.5 Creedmoor, it is small but goes up to 140 grains, I know it kills well in the 129 grain interbond, and it was developed for long range shooting. However I am also a big fan of cartridges based off the eternal old 30-06 as well... And even might just consider this gun chambered in the old '06?

The Moutain Accent is available in short action 308 and long action 270, 280 Ack Imp, and 30-06. The Adirondack is available in 7mm-08, 308, 6.5 Creedmoor and 300 AAC Blackout (the latter I do not understand?)

I do think it is a lot more likely I would do a goat hunt than North American Sheep and am thinking that goat could have a possibility of an add on Grizzly... Assuming for a bear, the 30-06 might be the best option, but also realizing it a secondary animal and might long shot to get a chance on one, Perhaps it is best to NOT get to hung up on this? This gun will also be used for Ibex and other high altitude European/Asian/and NZ species. Might even want to use it for a one gun trip to NZ so Red Stag?.... Actually might have to take at least a 375 along and swing over to Austrailia for water buffalo anyway?

When I go specifically for Brown Bear, I will take a 375 and this will likely happen before a sheep or goat hunt.

So what is the consensus of you experienced mountain hunters? I want one good mountain rifle and scope combo.

On one hand the scope that gets my attention is that light weight Swarovski Z3 3-9x36. On the other hand, Kimber is selling the Zeiss HD5 in 2-10 and 3-15 in matching camo! So Tempted but not sure the Z3 would look all that bad in the lower cost black rings either. And then I have a Z5 in 3.5-18 with the ballistic turret and that cool #4 type reticle with the windage lines, love that scope! It is on my Ruger Predator but I could move it over.

I'm not going to spend real big money on a customized gun, but budget is not a concern within these options that will total up under about $3000 (well the Z5 scope would push it over, but already have that). Even the right sling is a consideration I would love advice on... And do I need a bipod on this gun?

Or is there another light weight gun I should look at? I know there are other good choices for less money, but again, the cost of the Kimber and good glass fits so if I went another way, it would be for a better option, not necessarily cheaper.

Maybe we can get also get a couple of our ballistics experts opinions as well? @Matt @Velo Dog
 
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My favorite sheep rifle is my .257 AI in a Mauser Mark X under a Leupold 6x scope. Shooting it with Sierra 117 grain GameKing handloads I've killed 4 Montana Bighorn rams (all DIY hunts in the Unlimited tag units) and one Canadian Dall ram. All were one shot kills, and the longest shot was 206 yards at the Dall ram.

The only other sheep that I've killed was an Aoudad in West Texas that I shot with a 168 grain TSX bullet from my .300 Weatherby that wears a Leupold 4-12x40 scope.

I think that a sheep rifle should be flat shooting, fairly lightweight (both of my rifles above are on the heavy side at just under 10 lbs), have good glass in the 4 to 12 power range, and be able to propel a .24-.30 caliber bullet at 2900 plus fps.

The two most important things in sheep hunting are that the hunter is in top physical shape, and that he is totally familiar and confident with his rifle.

The hardest thing in sheep hunting is getting the tag.
 

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Come to think of it, getting the wife to agree to let you pay for it can be pretty tough too. :D
 

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...So to tap into your experience, What I was leaning towards was the Kimber Adirondack or Mountain Accent, I like the color of the Adirondack better (18" barrel) but the longer scalloped barrel (22") of the Mountain Accent seems a better choice.

Whatever you do make sure you don't scrimp too much on the bbl length, you can turn a 300 win mag into a very hard kicking 30-06 real easily. Long range and short bbls presents the problem of lowered velocity, I would rather use a slightly whippier BBl and flute it to reduce weight further than to short change myself or better yet choose a flat shooting standard caliber that does well with a short bbl.

The .270 Win is a good compromise, It loses little when the bbl is shortened to 20", shoots flat and will be fine for elk. My longest shot ever was on a Mountain goat at 569yds with a .270, good gun.

As far a bipod, I use the B-square roto tilt bipod for its extreme light weight and packability. I can loosen the nut by hand and slip the bipod in my pack and the gun fits easily in a scabbard with the mounting stud attached. The downfall of it is that it is a short bipod, while ideal for open country doesn't help much in tall grass and brush that you are more likely to face when elk hunting, I use a taller (and way heavier) harris s I can shoot from a siting position for that.
 

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