Best Caliber for sheep hunting

gillettehunter

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You have gotten some great advice. With the calibers your looking at in the Kimber I would likely get the .280 AI. Would work on a griz if that became part of the equation. Lots of very good bullets to choose from. I suspect it would be accurate and do a great job for you. Bruce
 

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I'm a big fan of the 280 Ackley Improved cartridge as well. If you handload, you can load it up to velocities that are right on the heels of a 7mm Remington Magnum, but in a standard length action and bolt face diameter. The thing I've found is that for that cartridge, the 140 - 150 grain weight VLD style bullets (Berger VLDs, Nosler Accubond LR) seem to be best.....at least in my rifle. If you want to shoot heavy for caliber 0.284 bullets, it's probably best to go with a 7mm Rem Mag, 7mm STW, 7mm RUM, etc., but then you start adding weight with a longer barrel to wring out the potential of those calibers, and those start to get in the overbore category. Another advantage of the 280 AI is that you can shoot 280 Remington cartridges out of it in a pinch. The one thing that can be problematic in the 280 AI cartridge is feeding. The sharp shoulder angle that the AI family of cartridges employ, can make it easier to lock the rifle up if you don't purposely bring the bolt back and push the next cartridge in like you mean it. My gunsmith, who's built several rifles in this caliber told me this, and I've read it on other forums as well.

I had a rifle built specifically for sheep/goats/alpine hunting. It's based on a Remington clone action (Stiller Predator) with an emphasis on lightweight. It's topped with a Swarovski Z5 (1 inch tube) for weight savings as well. In that vein, the rifle weighs around 7.5 pounds with scope.

I'm going on my first Dall sheep hunt in AK in August and I'll be using it then. Having never sheep hunted before, the advice I've gotten consistently by those who have is that every ounce counts. Also make sure you have damn good boots, and be in the best shape you can possibly be. A friend of mine who hunted the Chugach Mtns of AK several years ago for his first sheep hunt said by the middle of the hunt he was literally taking bolts, and straps off his frame pack in an effort to save weight. That's how obsessed you can become with weight savings when you're busting your hump up and down the mountain from sun-up to sun-down every day looking for a legal ram I guess.
 

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Bob, I really like Creedmoor too, although I have a 6.5x47 Lapua. The Creedmoor with Nosler's newest addition to the Accubond LR line, a 142gr 6.5mm bullet with a BC of .719!, would make a dandy sheep cartridge I believe. Chambered in the Kimber Adirondack that would come pretty close to being a perfect sheep rig. It would also be a blast on stuff from Pronghorn to Prarie Dogs. Hang a suppressor on the end and I'm pretty sure I would be putting a new barrel on the dang thing every year or two. If you get one of those you better plan on setting up a progressive reloader 'cuz you're going to be shooting it ALOT :D
The only hang up I would have with it would be in the Goat/Griz scenario you mentioned before. Just not enough gun in my opinion. The Mountain Ascent in .280 AI would be the better choice although still on the light side.
The .30-'06 isn't a bad choice either, but the .280 AI is a much flatter shooting cartridge. An '06 with heavy bullets would be a whole lot better on big bears, but then you've given up that flat trajectory...
Decisions, decisions (n)
Do me a favor though and hold off for a while. If you get one, them I'm going think I have to get one and I am already broke from my last purchase! You're not helping me pay for my trip to Africa at all! :X3: :mad:
 

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Personally, I would go with something like a .300 Magnum. It really throws that 180gr bullet our there.
 

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Personally, I would go with something like a .300 Magnum. It really throws that 180gr bullet our there.

I think this is where I will end up going Marius, and I can always use 150 grain if I want something even flatter shooting. Again though, my rig will likely be more for elk at elevation than a true sheep gun. and maybe the occasional African animal.... :)
 

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Royal,
Just keep in mind that the whole idea of going with the .300Mag is to have a cartridge with some legs. At these longer ranges, the 180gr bullet will give you a higher BC with more momentum, thus a flatter trajectory as well as higher velocity at the longer ranges. At lets say 400-500yds, the 150gr projectile will actually have less velocity and a bigger drop in trajectory than the 180, due to the lack of momentum and less BC. If you're only going to be shooting 200yds, the difference between the 150 and 180 won't make a difference. It's from the men's tee-off box where you'll see the difference. 400-500yds is a loooong way for us regular hunters.
 

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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
I had a buddy of mine buy the 270 mountain ascent and he really likes shooting it. Sharp looking rifle also. I picked the wby 280 cause I can put a little larger factory bullet in it for those rare encounters with big brown and black furries. The scope I chose was mostly due to weight although the 2-8x leupold performs well for me. I use a spotting scope exclusively for determining game features so I don't need anything that high powered on my rifle but that may be just me. I also am not shooting anything over 400 yards so don't need the magnification to see beyond that.
 

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I'm going on my first Dall sheep hunt in AK in August and I'll be using it then. Having never sheep hunted before, the advice I've gotten consistently by those who have is that every ounce counts. Also make sure you have damn good boots, and be in the best shape you can possibly be. A friend of mine who hunted the Chugach Mtns of AK several years ago for his first sheep hunt said by the middle of the hunt he was literally taking bolts, and straps off his frame pack in an effort to save weight. That's how obsessed you can become with weight savings when you're busting your hump up and down the mountain from sun-up to sun-down every day looking for a legal ram I guess.
Shave evry ounce that you can. I try and shoot for getting my pack to around 35 pounds for a solo 10 day hunt. Although as I stated I "shoot" for that but invariably end up somewhere around 40 pounds loaded without the rifle. The pack is key though as having a pack that can handle the loads and transfer the weight to where you want it instead of where it has to be. I have carried two of my goats out with my pack reading 125# and 120# on the scale without my rifle when I got back to civilization. The pack has to be able to reliably hold serious amounts of weight. I know of guys that cut their toothbrush down, count sheets of tp, and remove excess strings and tie downs for clothes. There are guys out there that use just a rain fly or tarp for their sleeping quarters. Everything and anything to save some weight. Good luck on your hunt.
 

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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


Hello ActionBob,

More than likely, I am not yet up to the rank of Expert on anything but I appreciate the compliment anyway.
Likely as not my credentials should read "Shade Tree Expert".
Also, regarding sheep cartridges, I have only taken one sheep and it was only at a bit over 6,000 ft above sea level.
It was on the west slope of Mauna Loa, Big Island, Hawaii, looking down at the clouds sometimes but, as casual as that sounds, it was on open range/not fenced and I was gasping for air several times while trying to get above those sure footed furballs.

The rifle I used was a Remington 700, in .243 Winchester/100 grain "Power Point" bullets, factory loaded live ammunition.
The scope was a Leupold 4x with standard duplex.
The initial shot was about 150 yds from standing/over sticks as the ram was walking right to left across a high mountain meadow.
The bullet struck exactly where I was intending (just behind the left shoulder) and it exited with about a golfball or small tangerine size hole.
He ran.
I swung with him, (very slight leading sight picture) shot him again, the 2nd bullet struck almost touching the first entrance hole.
This 2nd shot was probably 160 to 170 yds.

The guide said stop, stop, stop, you killed him on the first shot !
So, I quit shooting and about then down went the ram.
There are two of these Hawaiian black faced sheep in my "Safari Bar" photos.
The one that is only a euro-scull mount is the one form my long boring narrative above.
The shoulder mount (hair/glass eyeballs, etc.), belongs to one of my friends who's wife told him "Get that thing out of MY house!".
Fortunately, my wife likes to have mementos of hunts-gone-well displayed throughout our humble shack.

Likewise, I have taken one goat (Spanish variety, also on the Big Island of Hawaii), under similar circumstances and also with a Model 700 Remington and low magnification Leupold scope but in .270 Winchester / 150 grain Sierra bullet) also, the goat was much closer to sea level (Parker Ranch, near Wiamea), much to my aging lung's and bum knee's delight.
This goat went down on my first shot (also about 150 yds but over a rock with my hat placed on it, as a rifle rest and I was seated for this first shot.
The billy got back up and ran quartering away from me, so, I shot him in the back of the neck with a 2nd 150 grainer and he was done.
His Euro-mount scull is also shown in my "Safari Bar" photos.

There you have it, my complete sum total of shade-tree expertise on sheep/goat hunting and sheep/goat cartridges.

On the other hand, here in Alaska, many other people are true experts on such things.
For Dall sheep and mountain goat, many locals tend to favor the same cartridges as other AH Members in this post have mentioned, and some similar ones they have not mentioned.
Some main-stream Alaskan sheep and goat favorites are the 6.5x55, 6.5x284 Norma, .270 Winchester, 7-08 Remington, 7x57, .280 Remington, 7 MM magnum, .308, .30-06, the various and assorted .300 magnums, and the .338 Winchester with lighter bullets are all fairly popular for sheep and goat here, (the .300's and .338 are popular for these due to the fact that grizzlies also seem to enjoy sheep and goat hunting).
Most locals carry a couple extra rounds on their person with the heaviest premium bullets available for whatever caliber they use for sheep and goat, just in case they encounter a grumpy bear.

One fellow I know very well (Ed Marsters) has a little Ruger 77 built up to his specifications, in super light weight form, chambered in .260 Remington, specifically for sheep hunting here in AK but he admits it's a bit light in the event he becomes cornered by some bear.
But, the whole rifle and scope fits completely inside his backpack (He's well over 6 feet tall and his custom pack is thereby longer than "normal") and he can close the weather flap over everything when it's raining and snowing on him.
He told me he figures the 140 gr Barnes "Triple Shock" will have to do in that event ( I hope he never has to find out, because he is a good friend and I'd hate to see the State Troopers bring him home in a little zip-lock plastic bag).

I'm too old and too broke to become a serious world sheep / goat hunter but, if I was, I think I would have a look at the .280 Remington/7x64 Brenneke, 7mm magnum, .30-06 and .300 H&H.
IMO, all those are a bit light for Grizzly, in a close range charge situation but, with proper bullets and straight shooting, they supposedly will work (I've never shot a grizzly, not even a calm one).

As for scopes, I do not think I would go for anything with a forward lens over about 36MM so as to help keep the weight down.
I like Austro-German optics the best but I also like the old Leupold 6 power (36 MM front lense, not the 42 MM version for a light weight "mountain rifle").

Help, I'm typing and I can't stop,
Velo Dog.
 
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shuter

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I haven't read through all the replies, but I can't see why a nice lightweight .270 Winchester loaded perhaps with a 140 grain Accubond, or maybe a 130 grain Barnes TTSX, wouldn't make as fine a sheep rig as anything in the world.
 

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Looking at ballistics, it is easy to see how the 270 has been a real favorite of riflemen for so long. And I would think it might be only second to the 375 H & H and 30-06 for ammo availability World wide in a pinch... Probably on par with the 300 win mag and 7mm mag? The 6.5 Creedmoor and 280 Ack Imp are both great new cartriges and I am leaning towards those, but I'm sure the ammo is more rare than hens teeth in many places.

As for the Kimber mountain guns, a long action (270, 280 AI, 30-06) is a half pound heavier than medium action (6.5 Creedmoor, 7 mm-08, 308)
 

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Velo Dog, I knew we would get at least a good story! Thanks.

Of the calibers you mention, on the small to medium sized ones, the 6.5 Creedmoor should be right close if not superior to the small end (and with very low recoil) and the 280 Ack Imp should fit right in with and hold it's own or better with all the rest except for the 300 and 338 magnums.

If I read this correctly, your trying to say you like the Swarovski Z3 3-9 x 36 scope... Without actually admitting you could approve of a scope that is not fixed power? ;)

I have a couple years of other things on my agenda before this becomes important so even though I am drooling over these new guns, I'll likely wait at least a year to see what else comes out before "pulling the trigger" on one.

A footnote, that Fargo Scheels has one of these light weight Kimber's in stock (or did).. .So If I make it up there for the Loodt party, I'll be able to drool on it a bit more.. .but it is chambered in 7mm-08. They are opening a new store in Rochester MN and I met the soon to be new young Gun Manager down there so might have a chance to negotiate a deal off the new kid for his open house!
 

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I'd probably use my 7mm Rem Mag in Win Model or my 325 WSM in a Browning A-bolt both have 40mm Leupolds on them. The #1 thing I'd be worried about is being in sheep shape because the mountains can humble any man really easy.
 

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Velo Dog, I knew we would get at least a good story! Thanks.

Of the calibers you mention, on the small to medium sized ones, the 6.5 Creedmoor should be right close if not superior to the small end (and with very low recoil) and the 280 Ack Imp should fit right in with and hold it's own or better with all the rest except for the 300 and 338 magnums.

If I read this correctly, your trying to say you like the Swarovski Z3 3-9 x 36 scope... Without actually admitting you could approve of a scope that is not fixed power? ;)

I have a couple years of other things on my agenda before this becomes important so even though I am drooling over these new guns, I'll likely wait at least a year to see what else comes out before "pulling the trigger" on one.

A footnote, that Fargo Scheels has one of these light weight Kimber's in stock (or did).. .So If I make it up there for the Loodt party, I'll be able to drool on it a bit more.. .but it is chambered in 7mm-08. They are opening a new store in Rochester MN and I met the soon to be new young Gun Manager down there so might have a chance to negotiate a deal off the new kid for his open house!

Hi again ActionBob,

Thanks and I apologize for getting on my long rants a bit too often (but here is another one anyway, heh heh).

Not being familiar with the 6.5 Creedmore, I cannot comment on it.
My amigo Ed Marsters has to hand-load for his .260 Remington now as factory live ammunition for the .260 is not easy to get with his favorite Barnes 140 gr bullet.
Presumably, the Creedmore version would have the same ammunition availability issues.
But, so does the .300 H&H with any bullet (one of my very favorite long range cartridges).

Another friend, Jeff Loffert has outfitted his hunting wife with a splendid little Kimber (walnut stock version) in 7mm-08 and she is very happy with it, having taken multiple PG species with same on two safaris now.
She is a very straight shooter but she is from Alaska and her husband is an excellent rifle instructor as well.
Such is the recipe for a one shot Huntress every time.

I believe they still have a Zeiss 4x on it these days, because it simply works and "if it works, why fix it."
Seems like by simply switching out with a super light weight stock, this would be a fine sheep rig however, as for .284 bore long range calibers, I would prefer the .280/7x64 cartridge for my taste in sheep cartridges.
Fact is, I see no real reason for the 7-08 to exist, since we already have the 7x57 but, that is just me.

As for variable power scopes, I know they are fine instruments these days but my constantly distracted weirdo brain does not do well when confronted with having extra moving parts on my equipment.
So I will always prefer fixed power scopes.
That being said, even for those hunters who can actually remember to keep their variable power scopes always turned to the appropriate setting for whatever they are up to at all times, I nonetheless cannot imagine how a variable power scope could be anything except extra/unwelcome weight on a sheep rifle.

Cheerio,
Velo Dog.
 
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Velo Dog

I agree with you on the scope issue and am tending back to fixed power myself, for pure hunting purposes. Vari-power sighting telescopes are, in my experience, most useful for hunting /match purposes, e.g. :

2-7x (nominal) for .22lr offhand/kneeling shots out to 30m on low power, and four position (4P) target shooting out to 50m on 6x;

3-10x (actual- Weaver Grand Slam) for same hunting and 4P target shooting out to 75m and 100m;

3-9x or 3-10x for centrefire dual purpose up to 200m.

NB I have used higher power scopes for target shooting but the main reason for using such optics is often so that the shooter can turn up the power beyond the tested twilight setting (brightest image) to the point where the target appears glare free, on a bright sunny day. Modern coating efficiency can actually be a nuisance on good Wx days!

P.S. I do have a brand new VX3 1.5-5x replacement scope from Leupold but that is a pure hunting scope.
 
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I haven't read through all the replies, but I can't see why a nice lightweight .270 Winchester loaded perhaps with a 140 grain Accubond, or maybe a 130 grain Barnes TTSX, wouldn't make as fine a sheep rig as anything in the world.
Because my current fixation is for a .280ai and it will be my first say less common chambering but I’ve spent so much time finding information to convince me it’s the right decision that I do not want Tom entertain the idea of a .270, you are just adding to the confusion, pleas reassure m that a .280ai is the right choice.

Yes another old thread being resurrected but it’s been a good read.
 

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I've hunted out of a pack a lot just not for sheep.

I'd suggest dialing in your backpacking gear first. You can save a lot of weight if you get it right. A lighter sleeping bag or tent might equal the weight savings of a lighter rifle and for less cost (of course making everything lighter is good if you can afford it).

I would highly suggest any prospective sheep or goat hunter go on a shakedown backpacking trip with their gear. It took me a season or two to dial in my system for carrying stuff comfortablely and keeping it accessible. Fortunately it was weekend hunts near home not an expensive once in a lifetime hunt. There is a whole skill set to backpacking efficiently that you can develop outside of hunting season. It's fun and you'll be glad you did if you go on a big once in a lifetime trip. And as others have said get in shape.

As far as grizzly stopping goes I'd say "it depends." If you are with a guide or friend(s) the chance of a problem is much lower. If I didn't plan on actually hunting bears I'd probably carry whatever rifle I liked. I'd rely on numbers and bear spray if there was a bear encounter. Up high you can usually spot bears far off and avoid problems anyway.

If there was a chance of actually chasing a grizzly I might go bigger. I have a friend who dropped a grizzly with a 308 and another who used a 30-30. But my experience is that a 375 Ruger with 260 gr Partitions is enough but definitely not to much. That 260 grain Partition plowed through a 350 pound caribou like it was nothing. But on a 6.5 foot grizzly the Partition stopped under the skin on the far side. The bear died but not instantly. It was enough but I don't think I'd want to get a lot smaller.
 

Witold Krzyżanowski

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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
I think that 275Rigby with bullet 10,5g/162gr would be enough.
 

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