Help me figure out a rifle

I appreciate everyone’s thoughts! Y’all have given me more to think about this evening. I will be sure to revisit this thread and show everyone what rifle I end up with. I didn’t really think about ammo availability and now I’m gonna be searching the world for ammo and that may end up being the decision maker. But then again who knows I may just see what rifle presents itself.
 
I appreciate everyone’s thoughts! Y’all have given me more to think about this evening. I will be sure to revisit this thread and show everyone what rifle I end up with. I didn’t really think about ammo availability and now I’m gonna be searching the world for ammo and that may end up being the decision maker. But then again who knows I may just see what rifle presents itself.
Do you reload?
 
I didn't read the 4 pages of responses, so I'm sure I'm repeating several others here...

.308 is probably best for lighter recoil and plenty of ammo options in a wide variety of sizes and function. And even to get components for reloading.

.30-06 or 7mm Rem Mag a little more power, with the 06 having just as much availability as .308 would.

MANY other options certainly exist, most popularly between .270 - .358 or 7mm - 9mm. A lot of personal preference can come into play with such a wide range.
 
7x57mm is my personal favorite.
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.30-06 Springfield is also excellent (with a wider selection of factory loaded cartridges available off-the-shelf).
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I’ve successfully used both calibers to make one shot kills on plains game as large as bull eland. But the .30-06 Springfield with 220Gr bullets is preferable for bull eland, compared to the 7x57mm Mauser.
Hard to argue with your experience and results!!!
 
I have had my shoulder joint replaced, plus 2 additional shoulder surgeries, so I am a bit recoil sensitive, having said that, my rifle of choice for plains game is my Kimber .308, Mountain Ascent, moss green color. Last year I took 5 blue wildebeests and 5 zebras using my .308, 168 grain Maker tipped bullets. 4 of the 5 zebras literally spun around once and fell over dead.
 
Not as of now, but I am looking into it. I’ve never reloaded rifle rounds but I have shotgun shells.
As the guy above said, .308, 7mm-08, 280AI, 30-06 are all very dependable choices.

If not reloading, 308, 30-06, or *280AI if you can buy up enough ammo.
If reloading then your options open up tremendously.

There are no flys on that load in my opinion. Expensive, but you get Peterson brass & top quality components.

It all comes down to your use, your recoil tolerances, & your intended range.

If going non-magnum those above will be hard to beat- if going Magnum, the 7 PRC is going to be tough to beat.
 

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I'll give you the elk in the States. How much "fair chase" is involved at a fenced game farm at RSA where one is guided by a PH and tracker(s)?

Also, the shot depends on the terrain. Below is a picture of my free range red stag at Argentina where we stalked 800 meters crouched down and another 50 meters of crawling. The shot was still over 400 meters. As you can see from the background it was really flat (also got wet after as the guide forgot where he had parked the truck as we had walked so much). It was a "fair chase" hunt as it was not a high fence area and took a fair amount of physical effort. That being said it was still a guided hunt not like an elk hunt where the hunter himself is the one that is bugling, tracking etc.. BTW, this was not a shot I could have made or even taken with a loaner rifle. Taking my R8 in .300RUM with a Swarovski Z6i 2.5-15 BT scope was the right decision, I dialed in the distance on the ballistic turret and took the shot.

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As far as the OP is concerned, I'd recommend whichever cartridge is best for his shoulder. Also, one other thing is that he could add a mercury recoil dampener on the buttstock of whichever firearm he chooses.
I now hunt fenced property almost exclusively in Montana ... but all are publicly accessible. Anyway, elk and deer don't care about fences. And neither do some African species (e.g. kudu). I never bugled any of the thirteen elk I harvested. Never called a moose either. I have personal ethic issues with that.

During 59 years hunting I have made a couple of shots past 200 yards. Missed a total of two shots at that distance, one being last fall. Too windy. Shouldn't have attempted it. Glad I missed. Even old guys sometimes do dumb things ... albeit rarely. Back in the early eighties I shot a spike bull elk at about 320 yards. I finally finished him later in the day. About lost a horse and my brother getting it out. We both lost a day of holiday pay at the plant. Young and foolish.

2021 I shot a black wildebeest at 370 yards and a kudu at 440 yards. The wildebeest, like your stag, involved a long stalk with little cover. Also, very windy. "That is an EXCELLENT bull! You should take him." My Springield won't reach that far. "But my gun will." Really? "This 270 WSM will reach and you can shoot. I know you can do it. Just be aware the trigger is light." He popped out the bipod, set it up on the edge of the dry wash we were crawling in, and I shot the bull just behind the ear.
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Two days later as we were putting the sneak on a waterbuck, a nice kudu bull was spotted on the opposite ridge. Glen ranged it at 440 yards. Too far! "My gun will do it and we know you can do it. You've only got a day of hunting left and you wanted another kudu. There he is." We traded guns, I unfolded the bipod, laid down, got the gun on the kudu, he dialed in the scope, and I shot the bull. Later it got back up when we approached but I killed it a half hour later. First shot was a little low but would have been fatal. PH later claimed he dialed it wrong (but probably not ;) ).
kudu on the ground.JPG

Okay, I CAN make long shots, but the two impala I culled the next day up close and personal with a 30-06 involved more skill and satisfaction. Oh ... and I had never shot my PH's rifle or caliber before ... or since. Shooting it well at those distances was not rocket science ... because his rifle is rocket science. Very expensive rocket science. Similarly, last year I shot a Karoo landowner's very fancy 300 PRC at his range and nearly hit the bullseye ... at 1,000 meters! Never shot it before or after. I submit just about anyone on here could have shot it just as well ... well okay, almost as well. :D

As you know, hunting with a guide is the only way it's done in South Africa. The farms are fenced, some high and some not so much. The places I hunt there are generally much larger than any of the ranches I hunt in Montana. The above kudu was shot on a farm of 167K acres, with less than half accessible. The rest had no maintained tracks. Mandatory hunting with a guide is fairly common. It's the only way nonresidents can hunt big game in Ontario (or with relatives).
 
Everybody has an opinion on this. I like the '06 and it can be pretty tame yet capable with lighter loads. The .308 has a bit less recoil than the '06, at least to me, so I assume the 7mm-08 will have less recoil than the 7 mag or perhaps even the 7x57, although I've been told the latter is a "soft shooter" by some who own one.
 
Everybody has an opinion on this. I like the '06 and it can be pretty tame yet capable with lighter loads. The .308 has a bit less recoil than the '06, at least to me, so I assume the 7mm-08 will have less recoil than the 7 mag or perhaps even the 7x57, although I've been told the latter is a "soft shooter" by some who own one
Another round that has a reputation for capable performance without unbearable recoil is the 6.5x55 Swedish.
 
My kids and I have shot a lot of TX deer, a few elk, red deer and several black bears with 308Win and 7 MM RM. I think either would be great choices for your rifle and if necessary you can cut down the recoil with a muzzle break or a silencer. They have the advantage of assured ammo availability both here and in Africa and will cleanly take any plains game species or deer and elk.
 
If you're severely recoil adverse, consider a can. I would never put one on my gun but I don't have issues with recoil and my hearing is already kaput. My PH's 270 WSM wore a can and it was like shooting a cap gun.
 
Everybody has an opinion on this. I like the '06 and it can be pretty tame yet capable with lighter loads. The .308 has a bit less recoil than the '06, at least to me, so I assume the 7mm-08 will have less recoil than the 7 mag or perhaps even the 7x57, although I've been told the latter is a "soft shooter" by some who own one.

The 7x57 and 7mm-08 are indistinguishable with the same bullet and rifle weight. They are all but ballistic twins. 7x57 is intermediate and 7mm-08 is short action. 7x57 holds 4 grains more, but has a lower pressure limit. 51k vs 62k.
 
The 7x57 and 7mm-08 are indistinguishable with the same bullet and rifle weight. They are all but ballistic twins. 7x57 is intermediate and 7mm-08 is short action. 7x57 holds 4 grains more, but has a lower pressure limit. 51k vs 62k.

I have 40+ years experience with the 7x57 and none with the 7mm-08. That said, I have always had the impression, perhaps wrong, that the 7x57 was a better fit for the heavier bullets (175 gr), due to c.o.l. limitations with the 7mm-08.
 
I have 40+ years experience with the 7x57 and none with the 7mm-08. That said, I have always had the impression, perhaps wrong, that the 7x57 was a better fit for the heavier bullets (175 gr), due to c.o.l. limitations with the 7mm-08.

True. Partially because of COAL, but also due to hand loading being able to reach modern pressures. My two (rechamber) 7x57s I quickly realized didn't have the twist rate for "high BC" bullets (and not really more boiler room). If your just running old school heavies, However, original 7x57s were a very high twist rate of like 1.8.5 and could handle up to 220s. I think that mattered a great deal when the 7x57 was born. Now, because of premium bullets, I think that advantage shrunk a bit. I think driving a premium 140 or 160 out of either puts you ahead of old cup and core or solid anyway. But, that last part is just one guys opinion.
 
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True. Partially because of COAL, but also due to hand loading being able to reach modern pressures. My two 7x57s I quickly realized didn't have the twist rate for "high BC" bullets (and not really more boiler room), but if your just running old school heavies, I think that mattered a great deal when the 7x57 was born. Now, because of premium bullets, I think that advantage shrunk a bit. I think driving a premium 140 or 160 out of either puts you ahead of old cup and core or solid anyway. But, that last part is just one guys opinion.

I’ve used 175 gr A-Frames in my 7x57’s to great effect in Africa. It is a combo that is extremely well suited to the bush. I load 160 gr A-Frames and Speer HotCors for deer in the US. Thinking about your comment, it would seem that the two cartridges would be on an equal footing in NA for deer sized critters. On larger PG in Africa the 7x57 probably has the advantage.
 
I’ve used 175 gr A-Frames in my 7x57’s to great effect in Africa. It is a combo that is extremely well suited to the bush. I load 160 gr A-Frames and Speer HotCors for deer in the US. Thinking about your comment, it would seem that the two cartridges would be on an equal footing in NA for deer sized critters. On larger PG in Africa the 7x57 probably has the advantage.
That sounds like a very fair characterization, except I'd argue it goes above deer and into elk and moose without concern. In bear country, I'll stick with 338s/375s, but moose and caribou don't need such horsepower. No larger 7 will make up a 3/4 rear or ass shot over a 7x57/7mm-08 anyway.

Although, a 200/220gr from a 7x57 may have better penetration over a big 7 just due to twist (Usually 1/10 or 1/9.5 for mag 7s) I'd have to shoot the wet newspapers to convince myself, but the math is there.
 
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As recoil is one of your main considerations, here’s some data I pulled a while back comparing rifle cartridges. There are multiple opinions on energy requirements for bullet expansion and penetration - I used 1,300 ft lbs for this. For most hunting scenarios of shots under 400 yards all of these will get it done - find the rifle that fits you the best and is in the budget - that’s an entirely different argument with plenty of opinions :)

7x57. 12 lbs of recoil with 139 grain bullet. 1774 ft lbs at 200 yards.
Max effective range 400 yards - 1314 ft/lbs energy.

7mm-08. 13lbs recoil with 139 grain bullet. 2042 ft lbs at 200 yards.
Max effective range 500 yards with 1311 Ft/lbs energy

6.5CM. 13 lbs recoil with 140 grain bullet. 1773 ft lbs at 200 yards. Max effective range 400 yards - 1379 ft/lbs energy

308 Win. 16 lbs recoil with 150 grain bullet. 2176 ft/lbs at 200.
Max effective range >400 (1543 ft/lbs at 400 drops to 1287 at 500).

.270 win. 17 lbs recoil with 140 grain bullet. 2042 Ft/lbs energy at 200 yards.
Max effective range 500 yards - 1310 ft/lbs energy

280 Rem. 17 lbs recoil with 139 grain bullet. 2250 ft lbs at 200 yards. Max effective range >500 - (1459 ft/lbs @500)
I reckon that hits the nail on the head- i find faster rounds have more felt recoil. I would go with 308 or 30-06 because felt recoil is low and ammo is everywhere. 7x 57 is probably easier on the shoulder but less common. We all have our pet rounds but those 3 calibres have been getting the job done for years.
 

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