Caliber thoughts?

MarkD

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So guys I'm looking for advice and opinions. I've been an archery hunter for over 20 yrs but I'm wanting to get a nice medium range hunting rifle. While I was hunting this year in Africa I wasn't able to just use my bow and used my PH's 308 on my Kudu and Impala and it worked great. I'm wanting to build a rifle that can take deer and antelope out to 500-600yds. Don't worry I know that'll take a ton of practice on my end. The 2 calibers I'm looking at is the 308 and the 257 weatherby. I'd love for my wife to shoot this rifle as well. She's not terribly recoil sensitive but no reason to beat her up with it either. I know the ammo on the weatherby is crazy expensive but def not a deal breaker. What's the thought of bullet energy of both calibers say at 600yds on deer size animals.
 

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If I were seriously looking for a 500+ yard gun, I'd be looking for something with more legs on it than .308 ... you can make .308 work at that range if you've built the right platform... but your average off the shelf hunting rifle isn't optimum at those distances in .308 in my opinion..

257 weatherby is probably the better option if you believe most of your hunting is going to be done at those distances...
 

colorado

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I know you asked an either/or question, but I'd go with a 270 Winchester. With 130g bullets at 3100 fps the recoil is slightly less than the 257 Weatherby. It's more than capable of killing deer out to 600 yards. It's available in a lot of rifles and ammo is everywhere. Just a thought.
 

curtism1234

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I don't know very much about the long range cartridges the bench rest guys use.

As far as the more traditional rounds, I was thinking a 270 too. A 25-06 is suitable as well. I don't particular like the 130gr bullets for the 270 but antelope are small.

At the distances you're talking about, the 257 weatherby is still going to hold a major trajectory advantage.
 

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I will make a couple of suggestions. First of all the .308 can do a very good job of what you are suggesting. If you want to get into that 4-600 yard range then you should consider some of the heavier bullets for it. The further you shoot the more important wind deflection becomes. So you should consider the bullet that you want to use as well as the caliber. The .308 has a huge selection of great bullets.
The .270 is a great caliber for deer/antelope and will do great up to a point. For whatever reason the .27 caliber doesn't have the bullet selection available that many others have. I have a .270 and have killed dozens of animals with it. Have not used it in the last 6 yrs. I have started exploring the long range shooting rifles. So I have bought and had built probably 7-8 rifles in that time frame. Here is what I would suggest.
For deer/antelope the sweet spot in bullet weight is 100-160 grains, in my opinion. The calibers that move that bullet size well would be the .26 caliber (6.5's). 6.5 Creedmore has become incredibly popular as well as the .260 Rem. They can move a 140 gr bullet along at about 2850 fps. Great sectional density as well as very high ballistic coeffecient. So the bullets penetrate well and also don't deflect much from the wind. For a little longer range and higher velocity look at the 6.5-06 or .264 mag. For a little more velocity look at the 6.5 SAUM. That cartridge will move a 140 grain bullet at over 3100 FPS. Some are using a 150 gr bullet at about 3000 fps. Thats a little faster than what most run the 150 gr in a .270 with better section density and BC both.
If an elk might be in the mix then a jump to the .28 caliber with its heavier bullets could be in order. I run a 180 gr at 2900 fps out of a 7 SAUM. I took 2 deer and 1 antelope with it up to 325 yds. 2 of the animals never twitched. The other made it 20 yds.... Would not hesitate to use it on elk. Took it to Africa and took like 10 animals with it using 160 gr AB's at 3000 FPS. That load is great for shorter to medium ranges.
For your stated purposes the 6.5 appears to be the sweet spot. There are lots to choose from. I have a 6.5X47 that shoots bugholes. In the 6.5 look at bullets in the 130-150 gr weight. They will give you the BC and knockdown that you will want. They also will buck the wind very well. I don't have the time to run the ballistics and drop charts for you. There are free on-line calculators that you can use. With an accurate BC you can quickly see what bullets will work best for your purposes. Unfortunately some manuf. inflate their bullet BC's. Good luck. Bruce
 

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Of the choices, I'd say .308. I would also suggest looking at a .270 wsm, .270, or .280
 

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I would tell you do the 257 weatherby and enjoy. The one we have shooting a 100 grain barnes ttsx or 100 grain A-frame has been deadly on all animals we have used it for so far. Have not take a shot over 350 yd yet but no animals has made it past 40 yds after the shot. Must have dropped in there track including cape kudu, cape bushbuck , black wildebeest, red hartebeest , springbucks and impala. One zebra made it 25 yards and the animal that made it 40 yds was a steenbuck of all animals and that was because of my shooting not the gun.

If your staying 600yds or under I think it is one of the best calibers out there. It is just one of the most flat shooting calibers out there. You can get some 120 grain bullets also if you feel the need for a heavier bullet.

We have the 257 in a model 700 Remington with a 3.5 x18x44 swaro. Gun does not kick to bad at all and was not crazy priced at 849.00.
 

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And then there's the good old 7mm mag to consider. When your wife wants to shoot it, put the suppressor on it and she's good to go. My daughter and I both shot a Sako in 7mm mag with a suppressor on it while in the Eastern Cape and loved it. About half the recoil and report.

If the mag is too much, go with a 7mm-08.
 

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Lots of options out there to pick from, I'm fast becoming a fan of the 7mm-08 but don't see how you can go wrong with the 257 or the 7mm rem mag
 

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Lots of very good advise here. For what it is worth if I were shooting out that far I would want a 30 cal. bullet , so I am thinking 30-06 with 150 grn bullet would shoot flatter than 180 grn. Also you may want to consider 300 Win Mag very flat and delivers good down range energy. If your wife wants to shoot it have a moderater fitted.
Markcz
 

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I'm hesitant to "rain on your parade" but a new shooter talking about making a 600 yard shot at a relatively small animal just doesn't sit right. If after shooting at more reasonable distances i.e. under 200 yards for a couple of years and a couple of thousand rounds you wanted to try your luck at 600 yards I say go for it. But until then I think you should reconsider your goals. There are a number of calibers other than the ones you mentioned that would be more suited to the task.
 

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The 257W is your best choice.
It was posted that a 270 has less recoil.---That is wrong. Actually the 257W has 1 pound less recoil.
Also my daughter shoots a 257Roberts and has taken quite a number of animals both here(USA) and in Africa out to 400+ laser ranged yards. All were one shot kills including Kudu and Red Hartebeest. The 257W will just do so also but with a flatter trajectory.
Stick 120gr Swift A-Frames and take on whatever you like. Barnes TTSX and Swift Siroccos or 100gr A-Frames or Nosler Partitions also work. I have a 257W and speak from experience. I also have the 257R, 25-06 and a 308Win. I prefer the 257W and recoil is mild.

I also have 6.5X55 and 264win mag rifles and really like them also. But you asked about the 257W and 308win so I told you my choice for those two.
 

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Hi, the only reason I recommended 130g bullets for the 270 was because of less recoil (compared to shooting a 150g bullet out of a 270) and they have killed a lot of elk, never mind deer and antelope. I've been shooting 150g Partitions at 3000 fps (a tad hot) out of our 270 for four decades. A bit more recoil but definitely hits harder. The 257 Weatherby is a great round and with A-Frames, Partitions, Barnes bullets, etc is fine for elk as well. A better choice in my opinion than the 308
 

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I'm hesitant to "rain on your parade" but a new shooter talking about making a 600 yard shot at a relatively small animal just doesn't sit right. If after shooting at more reasonable distances i.e. under 200 yards for a couple of years and a couple of thousand rounds you wanted to try your luck at 600 yards I say go for it. But until then I think you should reconsider your goals. There are a number of calibers other than the ones you mentioned that would be more suited to the task.
I wouldn't say I'm a novice at shooting by any means. I'm very comfortable with my 300 win out to 450yds but I'm wanting a rifle the wife will enjoy as well. Believe me I'm not gonna buy it and just start flinging lead at animals. There will be tons of practice first
 

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So guys I'm looking for advice and opinions. I've been an archery hunter for over 20 yrs but I'm wanting to get a nice medium range hunting rifle. While I was hunting this year in Africa I wasn't able to just use my bow and used my PH's 308 on my Kudu and Impala and it worked great. I'm wanting to build a rifle that can take deer and antelope out to 500-600yds. Don't worry I know that'll take a ton of practice on my end. The 2 calibers I'm looking at is the 308 and the 257 weatherby. I'd love for my wife to shoot this rifle as well. She's not terribly recoil sensitive but no reason to beat her up with it either. I know the ammo on the weatherby is crazy expensive but def not a deal breaker. What's the thought of bullet energy of both calibers say at 600yds on deer size animals.


Hello MarkD,

Welcome to the best forum in the world.

You mentioned wanting a "nice medium range hunting rifle" ...... "that can take deer and antelope out to 500-600 yds".
Those two specifications almost contradict each other, (except that the .308 is very capable of both).
To your credit you also posted that your are prepared to invest "a ton of practice" and I definitely salute you for it.
Practicing with your rifle is more important than which specific caliber you choose.

Living close enough to a rifle range to "hear the music" from my porch, I'm able to train quite often, just as you plan to do.
Nonetheless, I've always declined to fire at any animal much beyond about 400, and definitely NEVER from 500 yds / mtrs, (even though I do consistently hit targets at 500 with certain rifles of mine).
Fact is, even after you have put many long hours (years perhaps) into proper training with the rifle, out of respect for the animals, your personal limit for shooting at them from field positions, should be much less than 500 to 600 yds.
No decent person can sleep peacefully, for quite a long time, if they have wounded and lost an animal to suffering and slow death.

Furthermore, just spotting game in the first place at 500 yds is not so easy, except on very flat, bush-free conditions, (much less accurately delivering your all important first shot at such distance, under field conditions.)
In my personal experiences, animals occasionally start to move one or two steps, AFTER the sear slips, primer is struck, powder burns, and the bullet travels to where my animal had been standing at the moment I pressed the trigger.

This can happen at 200 yds, and multiply the odds of only wounding animals when this happens, the more distant your quarry is.
About 400 is my personal limit on animals, primarily because of this potential "suddenly begins walking" situation.
And truly it is only under very unusual circumstances that I will choose to shoot game at that distance, because of same.
Incidentally, according to what I've read about most of Sub-Saharan Africa plus, the comparatively small part of Africa I myself have hunted in 3 out of 4 safaris so far, seems to indicate that most shots will be only about 50 to 100 paces, with 200 being a very "long shot" in most of the commonly hunted areas on that continent.
Even in the few parts of Africa that longer shots are possible (The Eastern Cape of South Africa and most of Namibia come to mind), most PH's simply will not "set the sticks" for you on a 500 yd distant animal, and of course not to mention 600.
They will insist you join them in stalking closer before shooting.

(If I seem arrogant or smug, I apologize, as that is definitely not my intent here.)

Specific Calibers:
In Africa, not all but quite a few PH's / Safari Companies list a minimum caliber for certain categories of game, as described within their web sites.
Not in each and every PH's preference but very commonly, either the .270 Winchester or the 7mm is the accepted minimum for so called "Plains Game" (antelope, zebra, warthog and such).
When they list the 7mm, they often are referring to the 7x57 and / or the 7mm-08 cartridges.
For this reason, if your wife might hunt in Africa one day, I would not recommend investing in that .257 Weatherby, which you had mentioned.
If she's not planning any African hunts, only N. American deer and pronghorn, then perhaps the .257 Wby could be her huckleberry.
Better yet the .25-06, due to ammunition costs and availability.
Better yet the 6.5x55, but don't get me started - LOL.

You are considering the .308
There is not a thing wrong with this cartridge for many species throughout Africa (many species world wide for that matter), and likewise with this cartridge you are on the right track for keeping recoil down a bit.
Another fine cartridge for your wife would be the 7x57 but, from my own experiences with both, I am not convinced it has any particular advantage over the .308 cartridge, nor visa-versa either, except that live .308 cartridges are usually easier to find in remote places than 7x57 cartridges are, where the only ammunition retailer within a few hours drive might be the village fuel station.
Anyway, there are cartridges that definitely deliver a bit more effectiveness than cartridges like the .308 and 7x57 , both at close range and longer ranges but recoil quickly goes upward accordingly.
If it were my wife, I would not waste any time worrying about comparing muzzle energy and such, between this cartridge and that cartridge.
Personally, I would just buy her something that will not bash her about, that cartridges are not silly expensive and she likes the looks of whatever rifle it is chambered in.

You mentioned in a subsequent post that you already own and are proficient with the .300 Winchester cartridge.
That one is a very flat shooter for sure.
You are smart to not introduce your wife to rifles by means of such a snappy recoiler.
Again, I suggest you have a look at .308 caliber or 7x57 caliber rifles for her.

Cheers,
Velo Dog.
 

Buckdog

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1st off i agree with Velo dog, you better do some serious practice at 500-600 yds before shooting a game at that distance it is not easy at all to put the first rd from a cold barrel on target first trigger pull at 600yds no matter what stupid tv shows say! very few can do it lots, bs they can in my opinion.
Next 308 and 257 are not enough gun to use at those ranges especially a 308 not enough horse power down range. Jump up to a 30 cal mag (300 win mag) and put a brake/surpressor on it for the Mrs. A 300 win mag will def get er done at 600yds. Next you will need a very good rifle and scope and handloaded rds. But I say go for it practice is fun as is working up loads getting a new toy for xmas aka rifle is super great!(y)
 

Divernhunter

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^^^^ Maybe you should have been with us to tell all the dead animals that we were not using enough gun to do the job.
I do not say that 500+ yard shots are what I like all the time but I have made my share of them (and then some) and have not had one wounded animal or animal that got away.
Our PH in Africa was impressed with our shooting and extended the ranges for our shot to--in his words-- make it a challenge. But in Africa the longest shot was 480 yards with a number of them at about 400 yards. No tracking was required. This was with a 338win mag and my daughter using a 257Roberts.

I prefer not to take very long shots but sometimes it was needed--especially with pronghorns and then at 600 yards the 257W/25-06/7rem mag/30-06 have all done well. With the 257W being the best choice.

I practice a lot or I would not take long shots. You need to respect the animal and only take shots you are capable of and with cartridges that will do the job. I would never hunt big game with a 223 or 6mm/243 as I have seen the results. I have also seen what the .257 caliber cartridges will do as will the 6.5mm cartridges. I own a 300win mag and have taken game. My 264win mag does just as well and does not beat me up as much. Same can be said for the 257W and I see little difference in recoil between the 257W and the 25-06. Thus I now select the 257W more often than the 25-06.

Each of us has our own opinion and these are mine. For someone to state than a certain cartridge will not work and you need a but kicking/ear shattering 30cal(or any other) braked rifle is just nonsense.

Roy Weatherby liked the 257Weatherby cartridges best of all he made. He also took all sorts of animals with it including ones that most of use would think/say were too big/tough for the 257. That may or may not speak well for the 257W.

When I return to Africa I will have my trusty 338win mag with 225gr Swift A-Frames and this time my 264win mag with 120 or 140gr A-Frames. I will hunt plains game again. If I could have 3 rifles then the 257W would be going and leave the 300win mag and others at home.
 

Ray B

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I had a 257Wby built several years ago with 28" barrel and minimum leade. I handloaded for it and used 264 Win Mag brass, resized to 257. the first firing put the full shoulder and taper in it. So it wasn't any more expensive to load than any other medium capacity cartridge. With the long barrel and keeping the pressure behind the bullet resulted in getting 3400 fps with a 120 gr bullet using a "starting" load from reloading manuals. I didn't fire any factory loads in it, but \I suspect the pressure would be pretty high.

the 257 Wby is as good as it gets for deer size game at 5-600 yards.
 

IvW

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600 yards is a awful long way on deer sized animals.

Rather look at getting a 7x57mm, 6.5x55 Swede, 7mm-08, 280 Rem or 308 Win if you have to and then work on your stalking skills and get closer to your target animal.

The 7x57mm(my son has been using one since he was 7 he is now 12 and he loves it) and the 6.5 x 55 have enviable reputations, mild recoil and kill much better than their ballistics would suggest.
 

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