Caliber Comparison

libertarian

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Based on some research I did to find the 'ideal' calibers for plains game as well as dangerous game, I did some analysis around the 'effective' power of various calibers.

Based on the assumption that lower recoil = more practice = better accuracy, I wanted to find the combination of caliber / weight that offered the 'sweet spot' in terms of killing power per foot-lb of recoil.

Then I added in a 'cost effectiveness' factor for the best combination of killing power per dollar to factor in ammunition costs.

To standardize "killing power" I used the Taylor KO score as it's easy to calculate, and then divided it by 100 so it would graph with the other values - they use the undivided score, for those of you who care about such things. The graph is sorted by bullet diameter.

I thought some of you might enjoy this, so I decided to share it with you folks. A few findings from my research:



Best "Killing power per ft/lb of recoil" calibers:
  1. 404 Jeffries
  2. 9.3x62
  3. 458 Win Mag
  4. 375 H&H
  5. 416 Rem

Best "Killing power per dollar" calibers:
  1. 338 Win Mag
  2. 375 H&H
  3. 458 Win Mag
  4. 404 Jeffries
  5. 30.06 Springfield

The full data (and complete graph with mouseover values) is available here, as embedding the graph hides some of the legends: Google Spreadsheet Link

Enjoy!

Disclaimers: This is from an American perspective so I picked calibers that are readily available here; sorry if I left out your favorite. Prices are based on Internet pricing I found as of today (but are subject to change). Data is collected from publically available sources around the Internet including Chuckhawks.com and Wikipedia.
 

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Wolverine67

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Hi
Since we talk about plainsgame and not dangerous game, I miss some of the smaller calibers. My favorite is 7mm Rem Mag, how will that one be in this setting? When you talk about Taylor KO score is the bullet sectional value included, since that is essential to the penetration capability, bullet toughness and overall killing power. Its no use for a high impact power when the bullet stops flat on the shoulder bone. I guess most of this calibers have enough power to go trough most of the plains game, so what is the need for a caliber like 458Rem, 458 Lott and 470 NE on plainsgame? To me that is calibers for dangerous game. And when I look at the cost effective power/recoil, I cant see that there is any difference in this calibers at an overall angel of wiew. I guess my conclusion will be to go for the 3006 :)

Edit: Sorry I didnt see that you included dangerous game in your research. When you include those I will tend to agree with you. :cool:
 

James.Grage

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Explain this like information i was in the second grade and a slow learner?

I am confused on what you are trying to prove...

What degree of dead is dead? are you pushing large bore rifles for gophers and jack rabbits...

So what is your Caliber break-down for plains game and dangerous game?...what are your top 5 for each group?

What Bullet manufacture are you using...Remington, Federal, Winchester, Nosler, Hornady?...to determine your cost per bullet?....

wolverine i guess we were on this at the same time...
 
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libertarian

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Most of your questions are answered by the actual data; the bullets used were 'heavy for caliber premium hunting factory loads' - Nosler Partitions, Trophy Bonded Bear Claws, or Hornady DGX, depending on what was available in that caliber as a factory load.

If you're not familiar with the Taylor KO value, have a read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_KO_Factor

But I'm not trying to 'prove' anything, or tell anyone what the 'best' caliber for them is... And if you wanted to shoot gophers with a 470NE, I won't stop you, and you'll probably have a lot of fun. :) It's just data. But it's useful data.

For example, let's say you're trying to decide between a 416 Remington, Rigby, or Weatherby. Using this data you can see that the 416 Remington is the most cost effective, and the softest-recoiling for the equivalent stopping power. Does that mean you should ignore the Rigby? Heck no, if you handload it's probably a better choice, and that's not reflected here.. but it's still useful information to help your decision.

I was looking for 'sweet spots' where there was a lot of killing power for the equivalent recoil, and it was cost-effective to practice with.

For what it's worth, I ended up with a 30.06 (Tikka T3 Lite using 180 grain Barnes MRX) and a .375 H&H (Sako 85 Kodiak using 300 grain Swift A-Frames and 270 grain Interlocks) as my loadout for my trip, but looking at this data, a 404 Jeffries would have been a great choice too, it was just more power (and cost) than I really needed. Since a DG trip might be in my future, I took the table all the way out to the 470NE and 460Wby just for fun.

I'll throw a couple more PG calibers in the table for fun, 270, 308, and 7mm mag for comparison's sake.

If you're mathematically minded like I am, perhaps this is interesting and useful data for you, and if not, well the picture is pretty. :D
 

James.Grage

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from time in budget you are able to make the data say anything you want it to say...to justify your end results...

So the Bottom Line is for the patrons on the site it is take and use what rifle and calibers you are comfortable with...

However thank you for your graph
 

libertarian

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Also, since you asked.. Remember this doesn't reflect actual effectiveness in the field, and it doesn't account for shooter accuracy which is arguably the biggest factor. Also, some of these (like the 30-30) are a little weak for the larger plains game. Always consult your PH for advice on appropriate calibers if you're not sure. :)

No surprise how popular the 375 is, it's in the top 5 in virtually every category.. But I'd still want something larger if I was going after bull elephant. Your mileage may vary, as they say here. :)

Most 'efficient' plains game calibers (<= 375 H&H)
  1. .30-30 Winchester
  2. 9.3x62
  3. 308 Win
  4. 375 H&H
  5. 30.06

Most 'cost effective' plains game calibers
  1. 338 win mag
  2. 375 H&H
  3. 308 win
  4. 30-30 win
  5. 30.06

Most 'efficient' large/dangerous game calibers (>=9.3x62)
  1. 404 Jeffries
  2. 9.3x62
  3. 458 Win Mag
  4. 375 H&H
  5. 416 Rem

Most 'cost effective' large/dangerous game calibers
  1. 375 H&H
  2. 458 Win Mag
  3. 404 Jeffries
  4. 460 weatherby
  5. 458 lott
 

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Well now, as one who stares at these long mathematical comparisons on a daily basis let me digress just for a moment.

Irrespective of the valid and valuable presentation of the initiating author, when the smoke finally clears ( no pun intended but still acknowledged) I believe we are left with something of a subjective decision to make.

While charts and graphs can be, in fact, most impressive and if you are in the sales game, a most useful tool, life often boils down to this singular query:

What has worked, or for that matter proven effective, in the past?

In that I offer as follows:

PG:
.275 Rigby 1892
.30/06 Springfield 1906

Medium (can go both ways)
.375 Holland 1912
9.3 x 62 mm 1906

DG
.416 Rigby 1911
450/400 N.E. 1896
.470 N.E. 1900

My subjective assumption then is essentially this:

While there have been many many improvements in firearms the fact that these cartridges have (a) proven to be exceptional performers for over 100 years, and (b) many rifles, of all grades, are still chambered for them, and (c) the ammunition is still readily available for all, and (d) and these are, by far and away, the principal calibers used to engage game in Southern Africa, seem to indicate to me that, if we refuse to allow ourselves to be caught up in the latest "whizz-bang" trend, the selection for Africa is pretty academic.

Pick one from each column and go.

And now, that this has been said, it must amaze some how we continue to discuss something that has already been decided.


[I will now move to a comfortable chair and await the bombs to start falling .... and laughing all the while!]
 

enysse

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Can't disagree with your post.

I like the 404 Jeffrey. But I would probably buy a 450/400 NE if I went bigger than a 375 H&H.
 

libertarian

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Can't disagree with your post.

I like the 404 Jeffrey. But I would probably buy a 450/400 NE if I went bigger than a 375 H&H.

There's definitely the 'too close together' factor.. If you already have a 375 H&H, a 404 probably isn't a big enough 'step up' to be worth it unless you're just collecting rifles...
 

sestoppelman

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enysse,,

The .404 Jeff and the .450-400 (aka 400 Jeffery) are two peas in a pod ballistically. Only real difference is the .404 has a larger bullet diameter, .423 compared to .411-412 for the NE and the NE is rimmed. You must be thinking of a true .450 round.
 

enysse

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Hi, I have shot the 416 Rigby with hot loads and have no desire to shoot anything like that on a regular basis. I always wanted to get a double...that would be in 450/400 NE 3" and if I didn't and got a nice bolt action it would be a 404 Jeffrey. I thought years ago I'd get a 416...but decided..."no" too much power.
 

sestoppelman

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As to libertarian's point about the .404 not being a big enough jump over the .375, this too is not really the case so to speak. Loaded to max the .404 can equal the .416 Rigby factory ballistics. Both loaded to max the .416 cannot be equaled by the .404 but its close. The .375 is top loaded with a 300 gr bullet at about 2600 fps for some 4500 ft/lbs of energy. Top loads for the .404 drive a 400gr., .423 cal bullet to over 2500 fps for around 5600 ft/lbs. Thats quite a lot more power and its all about powder room and bullet weight.

Now an example of the "too close" loads is as I saw in Africa where the hunter following me showed up for a pg and buffalo hunt armed with a .375 H&H and a .458 Win mag. For the pg and buffalo the .375 is perfectly adequate (what I used) and he could have as easily left the .458 home, or bought a smaller caliber for pg, like an '06 or .300 mag to pair with his .458. Now if collecting guns.. well we need no excuse really to buy another!
 

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Some of this comparison can be too much charting. A lot of people think the 270 Win is fine...but the 7mm Rem Mag is too much for deer hunting. Then others compare the 30 calibers too much. Yes, I think the 300 Win Mag is a lot more than the 308. To me the 300 grain 375 H&H and 404 Jeffrey in a 400 grain bullet is quite a difference.
 

davidarizpe

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I find this information very usefull, regardless.....
 

AlSpaeth

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Second Wind - Interesting selection. I like the .275 which is the famous 7X57 Mauser - unknown to most in the USA and not impressive on paper. Not only PG, but "Karamojo" Bell shot over a thousand elephant - most with the 7X57.
"The 7X57mm can offer very good penetrating ability due to a fast twist rate that enables it to fire long, heavy bullets with a high sectional density." "Eleanor O'Connor accompanied her husband on multiple hunting expeditions all over the world, killing small and large game with the 7X57mm." To me, proof that "use enough gun" is no substitute for shooting confidence and bullet placement.
I would probably add 300H&H mag to your Medium group.
Now for the real debate "DG". When you hunt in Africa you are likely to encounter several species and don't have time to change rifles/ammo. .375H&H and 9.3X62 are both proven "big game" calibers (I have both). The advantage over your list of 400's is flatter shooting and less recoil improving the chances of better bullet placement - and why Bell chose the 7X57. So I would move 375 to DG.
DG requires a backup shooter and if wounded, a 375 is a little light for close range stopping power, so I would move the 400's to a new category called "Backup" and probably add the .458 Win mag due to it's popularity today. Elephant may be an exception but even a 600 NE can wound one if slightly off target.
"Like everyone, WDM Bell was a product of his times and to hunt the dangerous big game of Africa with such light caliber rifles would be illegal today. The legacy that WDM Bell leaves us is that perfect shot placement, coupled with proper bullet construction, trumps caliber every time. The best thing you can do to increase your hunting success is to understand the anatomy of your quarry and practice with your rifle until you can put your first shot exactly where it should go."



That's my 2 cents worth.
 

Redhawk45

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The idea to me is finding a "anything I run into" rifle. I like three of the medium bores mentioned for this function, the 338 Win Mag, 9.3x62mm and .375 H&H. I would throw an American cartridge into the mix, the 35 Whelen. I've never hunted Africa but Alaska and parts of the western US have brown bears. Lots of Alaska natives carry high capacity semiauto small bores like the .223, 7.62x39, etc or .30-06 or larger bolt actions if actually hunting. I took a 416 Taylor for brown bear but stepped down to a .338 Win Mag for moose because I wanted to be able to shoot any moose I saw that was legal at any range within my abilities to make the shot. The 450/400 NE 3" has had my attention since reading Elmer Keith (brown bears in the alders) and John Taylor on its use for heavy plains game/dangerous game. The price of a double rifle is scary and they aren't really long range and variable reload friendly. I put together my 416 Taylor for $750 after waiting over a decade to use the commercial large ring Mauser action setting in the original wrapping paper. The only way to make a big bore efficient is to reload a substitute, cheaper bullet that shoots to the same point of aim and trajectory as your premium hunting bullet. A $5 round of premium ammunition on a $20,000 hunting trip is cheap insurance! Of course cast bullets make big bore bolt actions into soft shooting, cheap plinkers. Efficiency and cost effective are relative but fun to play with. I like the thought I can reload a box of custom handloads for one quarter the price of high end factory ammo, plus the creation satisfaction.
 

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If my memory serves correctly, I thought I read somewhere in Tony Sanchez-Areno's excellent book; "Elephant Hunters" (Safari Press Publishing) that WMD "Karamojo" Bell had ordered and taken delivery of not one but two .416 caliber Mausers from J. Rigby.
This was along with 1,000 rounds of live ammunition for same, loaded with "solids" and sealed in tropical tins, during his years on the commercial ivory trail.
Now it is my humble opinion that anyone who touts the 7x57 for elephants and such nonsense needs to remember that Bell wrote his own books about himself and his native crew who carried his rifles and ammunition did not likely read any of those books.
So there was nobody to call BS back when the books were being released.
I need to read "Elephant Hunters" again one of these days to be sure but I do think it is in there.
 

LRich

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Hi
Since we talk about plainsgame and not dangerous game, I miss some of the smaller calibers. My favorite is 7mm Rem Mag, how will that one be in this setting? When you talk about Taylor KO score is the bullet sectional value included, since that is essential to the penetration capability, bullet toughness and overall killing power. Its no use for a high impact power when the bullet stops flat on the shoulder bone. I guess most of this calibers have enough power to go trough most of the plains game, so what is the need for a caliber like 458Rem, 458 Lott and 470 NE on plainsgame? To me that is calibers for dangerous game. And when I look at the cost effective power/recoil, I cant see that there is any difference in this calibers at an overall angel of wiew. I guess my conclusion will be to go for the 3006 :)

Edit: Sorry I didnt see that you included dangerous game in your research. When you include those I will tend to agree with you. :cool:


What bullet/bullet weight do you like in the 7 mag for plains game?
 

enysse

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What bullet/bullet weight do you like in the 7 mag for plains game?
I used Swift A Frame last year in RSA, 160 grain bullets and they are absolutely devastating on anything small. But I think they are effective for kudu, wildebeest, and even sable. I think TSX and TTSX would be even better.
 

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