Is there a perfect plains game calibre?

njc110381

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Hi all.

After a lot of talk about the .458 Lott I've ordered being a fairly hopeless choice for plains game, what would most people here consider to be a good calibre for that task? I recently got rid of a .338 Win Mag as it didn't fit me well, but I still have a 7 STW.

The plan for the STW was to rebarrel in .338 at some point but I actually quite like it as it is. It's a Sako 75 synthetic stainless which is a rifle that fits me extremely well and I am familiar with. I bought the gun because it was a magnum actioned gun that I know will work for me, totally ignoring the calibre as it's easier to change that than find one in the calibre I wanted!

There are a lot of rounds in the light magnum category. 7mm of various forms, .30, 8mm (the 8mm Rem Mag that the STW is based upon looks interesting), and then of course there are the .338's and .35 calibres. I'm just wondering what the more experienced hunters here think regarding the best choice?
 

bruce moulds

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njc
i like your posts, as you are always probing things with an open mind.
i also have an stw, and they grow on you for what they are.
i am considering an 8mm rem mag for camels with heavy swift bullets when reach is required, but a 338 on the same case is also of interest.
if the stw with 175 swift and the 8mm mag would suit, then that would have to include a big 30.
it is a bit like having to choose between a number of beautiful girls when you are a teenager, knowing that any one of them will say "yes".
the ultimate thing is to test the lot.
bruce.
 

flat8

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I hunted all PG when I was there with a .30-06 except for one fallow deer that I took with a borrowed .300 H&H. The Super-Thirty is one beautiful, elegant round.
 

Adrian

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30-06 or 300WinMag.

Boringly efficient and deadly on all plains game, I would say all PHs are familiar with them and likely to have a few rounds in camp should you need them.

I firmly believe that if you're travelling to Africa and spending your hard earned cash for the privilege, keep it simple.

Go for tried and tested and eliminate as many potential problems as you can.

Going all that way with a good but rare or exotic calibre is all well and good but if you arrive without a component ie; rifle or ammunition due to logistics, you are borrowing camp rifles and/or ammunition.

At least if you take something common, you can either use your rifle and borrow ammunition or use your ammunition in a borrowed rifle.
 

BeeMaa

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I've read that you have used a 375H&H on deer and that it nearly cut it in half.
Deer are not PG and a 375 (H&H or Ruger, take your pick) would still be my recommendation.
However, if you want a more versatile caliber to be used in the US I would say 300WM or 338WM.
 

njc110381

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I've read that you have used a 375H&H on deer and that it nearly cut it in half.
Deer are not PG and a 375 (H&H or Ruger, take your pick) would still be my recommendation.
However, if you want a more versatile caliber to be used in the US I would say 300WM or 338WM.

I suspect the bullet had a lot to answer for in that instance. After a few more years of shooting deer compared to back then I've come to the conclusion that it probably broke up on impact, and had it been a better bullet it probably would have been much cleaner. I was using cheap Remington ammunition, the only thing I could find when I got to Canada.

Having a common round is something I would always aim to do when travelling. Sadly, common is something the STW is not!
 

Bert the Turtle

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Bruce is right, it is like women (or men as the case may be).
There's not one that's perfect.
There are plenty that have virtues.
All have downsides.

You need to decide what is important to you, what you can let go either way, and what is non-negotiably a deal breaker for you.

After that (and the analogy continues) it all comes down to the effort you are willing to put into it. I've killed plenty of plains game with a 30-06 and it never disappointed me. I've had great results on plains game with my 404. And my 375 worked great as well, although I cleanly missed once when I guesstimated range and trajectory on a long shot. I asked to rifle to do something that I wasn't sure about and I didn't check with it first. The result was predictable. Know your rifle and your own limitations and you will have satisfactory, sometimes spectacular results.

My son has put plenty of animals in the salt with a 243. The lesson there is if you are going to use something small, you better hit exactly the right spot.
 

perttime

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Many will work perfectly well, but not be ideal for a particular situation that you might end up in. Apparently, 7mm might not be quite enough bullet for some animals in some situations. Or, so some say.
 

Hogpatrol

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Another option would be to rebarrel the 7STW to .300 WM and load for short and long ranges.
 

Ridgewalker

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JMO, but I, like others recommend a common caliber. I took a 300WM my first trip when nothing but PG were planned. Since then, only my 375 H&H with a mix of appropriate ammo. You just never know what might show up, ie, Cape buffalo to duiker. It has worked for me.
 

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I would suspect, were one to do a poll, that at,least 75% of the rental/loaner PG rifles available for clients from outfitters are chambered in .300 Win Mag. I would suspect 75% of them will be launching a 180 gr bullet, and the remainder one in 200 gr. It works.

I have used a .375 in recent years, not because it is better, but because my last four trips have also entailed buffalo. Also, when hunting a wilderness area, I prefer enough gun to deal with whatever fauna-based issues may arise.

However, neither of those reasons are really relevant on a typical PG hunt in South Africa or Namibia. There, a 30 caliber is an outstanding choice.

All that said, my own personal favorite pure PG caliber is the .338 WM. It hits with nearly the same sort of authority as a .375, and has the reach of a .300. I am sure I am at least partially influenced by having a lovely custom Mauser so chambered that I have used on two PG safaris in Namibia. I also cleanly took a leopard with it.
 

Bert the Turtle

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"It hits with nearly the same sort of authority as a .375, and has the reach of a .300."

For all I have said over the years about the smaller calibers doing a perfectly fine job of killing plains game, I 100% agree that game reacts differently to a heavier caliber.

Assuming appropriate bullets are used, a perfectly placed top of the heart shot with a 30-06 will generally result in the animal immediately taking off as fast as he can then slowing down and dropping dead 100 or so yards away. Same shot with a 404, he will stagger a bit, look around with a "WTF just happened?" look on his face, and trot off to die much closer.

Dead is dead, and I'll never say a 30-06 isn't enough gun. But, if you can hit with it, bigger bores make recovering the animal easier.
 

Buckdog

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300Win mag with 200gr premium bullets in the hands of a skilled shooter will one shot kill all the plains game easily from duiker to eland.
BUT as Von S. said its all about the shooters skill. Your 7stw will work just fine if you do your part and put the bullets in the right place! that my friends is the key (y)
 

TOBY458

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The PH I hunted with in 2018 told me he owns nothing but a 458 Lott and a 308 Win for big game hunting. When I asked him why he doesn't own a 375, he replied, because I have a 308. Lol! He told me they routinely kill the largest PG with 243 on up to 375, and he sees no real difference in performance as long as shot placement is correct, and the right bullet is used. That said, I used a 375 H&H on 7 head of PG on that hunt with no problems. The 300 grain Swift A Frame bullets were a bit too tough in my opinion. I feel you would get a little faster killing effect with a lighter bullet at faster velocities, but it worked out ok as it was. If I were strictly going after PG and had no thoughts of a buffalo, I would use a 30/06 or 300 mag with a good bullet, and never look back.
 

Art Lambart II

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Their is a perfect PG round and it's the 35 Whelen. A 35 Whelen moves a 225 grain bullet at 2700 fps, 2700 fps is a standard 180 grain bullet for the 06 and a 200 grain bullet for the 300 WM. The Whelen uses a heavier bullet with a larger frontal diameter at the same velocity as the 06 and the 300 WM equals more energy on target and a greater killing effect. Out to 300 yards the Whelen is the best PG round you can use.
 

Pheroze

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Their is a perfect PG round and it's the 35 Whelen. A 35 Whelen moves a 225 grain bullet at 2700 fps, 2700 fps is a standard 180 grain bullet for the 06 and a 200 grain bullet for the 300 WM. The Whelen uses a heavier bullet with a larger frontal diameter at the same velocity as the 06 and the 300 WM equals more energy on target and a greater killing effect. Out to 300 yards the Whelen is the best PG round you can use.
:unsure: the 225 grain bullet has a sectional density of 251. The 180 in an '06 is 271. The 200 is 301. Also, the BC for the .308 is better with the 200gr being about .45!

So, I would think that longer pokes or shots at larger animals favour the .308 in either configuration :):A Stirring:

Now, perhaps the 358 Norma Mag could be the ticket;)
 

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