One rifle for North American big game?

biggiesmalls

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Hello,

Wondering if any North American hunters can help me out.
I am wondering if anyone could suggest a rifle to sort of "do it all" for North American big game.

The main things I will hunt with it are Whitetail Deer and Wild Hogs in Florida.
However, there are other hunts I plan to do with this ride - out in the west for pronghorn, elk, and mule deer - as well as black bear somewhere further north.

First of all, what caliber would be suggested to take all these species? On average they will be 100-200 pound animals, so it needs to b comfortable to us for that - while still having the power to handle a 500+ pound elk.

As far as rifle action, weight, barrel length, and scope variation - what would you suggest? It's got to be comfortable in denser cover for hunting Florida, but still able to take game to 250+ yards for pronghorn and mule deer.

Can't wait to hear your suggestions.
Drew
 

inkedspot

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For 90% of your list a 6.5 Creedmoor/7mm-08 would do well. The 6.5 will have better ballistics so would do well at longer ranges. The 143gr ELD-X shoots reasonable well and is very effective on thin skinned game. If you are planning on taking longer range shots on larger animals like elk with any regularity you could consider 300 Win Mag/7 Rem Mag. They will normally have a longer barrel for full powder burn so they seem to not as in tune with the dense cover in Florida theme, but they are solid cartridges.

The 308/30-06/270 cover most of your list as well. It starts to become dependent upon distance you plan on shooting.

Also do you reload, are you planning on hunting trips where you might forget your ammunition and need to buy emergency ammunition factors into the decision process. I have a 300 SAUM that I love, but you are not going into Walmart to buy ammo if you forget to pack it. I don't normally use store bought ammunition so I quadruple check before I get on the road that I didn't forget my ammo. I pack some in the rifle case and some in my clothes bag.
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Hello,

Wondering if any North American hunters can help me out.
I am wondering if anyone could suggest a rifle to sort of "do it all" for North American big game.

The main things I will hunt with it are Whitetail Deer and Wild Hogs in Florida.
However, there are other hunts I plan to do with this ride - out in the west for pronghorn, elk, and mule deer - as well as black bear somewhere further north.

First of all, what caliber would be suggested to take all these species? On average they will be 100-200 pound animals, so it needs to b comfortable to us for that - while still having the power to handle a 500+ pound elk.

As far as rifle action, weight, barrel length, and scope variation - what would you suggest? It's got to be comfortable in denser cover for hunting Florida, but still able to take game to 250+ yards for pronghorn and mule deer.

Can't wait to hear your suggestions.
Drew
I look at your question here and look for the "worst" case scenario. The worst case would be elk at long distance in my opinion. For that I'd prefer my .300 Win Mag loaded with 180gr projectiles. The bullets need to be strong bullets that won't break up on that little whitetail taken up close in Florida. I'd put the 7mm Remington Mag as another alternative.

Having said that, if you're recoil intolerant, moving down to a .30-06 or .270 will work too.
 

mdwest

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Personally I'd go 308 or 30-06.. It will do everything you describe that you might need... and wont be overkill on a whitetail at normal florida shooting distances.. or underkill on an elk or black bear at 250 yards..

both have manageable recoil.. both have an incredibly wide range of ammo options.. ammo for either can be found in every small town, every walmart, etc.. anywhere in North America.. ammo is also affordable for both..

For a platform, I'd recommend a bolt action with a reasonable variable powered optic suitable for both close range and distance shots out to the 250 yard range you describe.. I think either a 2-7 or a 3-9 would work fine (your preference.. look at a few and figure out which works best for you)..

Regarding weight, barrel length, etc.. I'd shoot for "middle ground" on all things considered with the rifle you end up choosing.. If all you were going to do is sit in a tree stand in Florida and wait on whitetail to walk by, weight wouldnt be a worry.. if youre talking about taking the same rifle up to 11,000+ elevation in the colorado rockies to do spot and stalk hunting, weight becomes a factor most people think about.. same thing with barrel lengths, etc..

If youre truly looking for a 1 gun battery that can be used to solve all problems, I believe your best bet is to go "average" on everything (no short barrel.. no long barrel.. no super light stock and barrel profile.. and no heavyweight barrel profile and heavy stock.. etc..etc..)
 

Royal27

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The .30/06 is the .375 H&H of NA as an all around rifle.

My grandfather told my father to get me a .30/06 in the early 1980s for that reason. It was good advice then and it's good advice now.
 

Bullthrower338

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338 WM, 180’s for the smaller critters and 210’s or 225’s for elk. Gives you the option of having plenty of gun for Moose and Brown bear if you decide to head further north than the lower 48. You will find meat damage minimal shooting a well built bullet from the 338.
I’ve seen many elk fall to the 243 Win, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an elk rifle. I have shot Coues deer with the 338 and never felt overgunned nor have I felt undergunned in griz country with the 338. IMO the do all NA cartridge.
 

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I’ve had numerous calibers, but if I could only have one for everything in NA but big bears (brownies) a 30-06 would be my choice. If you are a hand loader or plan to, it only gets better. I’ve taken everything from grouse to elk with it and it always performed well with the right bullets put in the right place.
As someone has already stated you can find ammo almost anywhere. Even the most expensive brands are nearly half of what the magnums cost and you can get plenty of low cost as in $12/box practice ammo. Lots and lots of brands if you don’t reload to find one that shoots well and is appropriate to the game you’re hunting.
All that said, it’s pretty boring with all the fancy new cartridges coming and going.
Best of luck in your decision! It’s always a tough one for someone just getting started.
 

Red Leg

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A rifle that might be used for an elk is in my mind different than an elk rifle that might be used for everything else. That would eliminate the .338 WM to my way of thinking. We would likely laugh you off the ranch around here. The 30 - 06 would be my recommendation for someone not very interested in rifles (I mean who wants just one for North American game!?!) The .300 WM as a statistically better choice, but makes more sense for someone really into the various loads and options (which means they are likely already hunting deer with something else). :Facepalm:
 

Royal27

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338 WM, 180’s for the smaller critters and 210’s or 225’s for elk. Gives you the option of having plenty of gun for Moose and Brown bear if you decide to head further north than the lower 48. You will find meat damage minimal shooting a well built bullet from the 338.
I’ve seen many elk fall to the 243 Win, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an elk rifle. I have shot Coues deer with the 338 and never felt overgunned nor have I felt undergunned in griz country with the 338. IMO the do all NA cartridge.
You just don't want to change your user name to Bullthrower3006. :p
 

Mekaniks

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338 WM, 180’s for the smaller critters and 210’s or 225’s for elk. Gives you the option of having plenty of gun for Moose and Brown bear if you decide to head further north than the lower 48. You will find meat damage minimal shooting a well built bullet from the 338.
I’ve seen many elk fall to the 243 Win, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an elk rifle. I have shot Coues deer with the 338 and never felt overgunned nor have I felt undergunned in griz country with the 338. IMO the do all NA cartridge.
What he said^^^^^
 

Divernhunter

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308win or 30-06 will take care of everything you want.
Yes a 257R, 25-06, 257W, 6.5Creedmoor, 6.5X55, 264win mag, 26 05 28Nosler, 6.5X300Weatherby, Any of the 7mm cartridges from 7-08up, any of the 30cal mags, 338win mag and I am sure there are others that will work. I own quite a number of these and have hunted deer/hogs/pronghorns/large and small African plains game with them taking many animals without having to track them.
Shot placement is really one of the most important things next to a properly constructed bullet for the game you are hunting.
Bullet selection is important for many of them depending on the game.
However a 308win or 30-06 with a 150gr bullet will take anything. With some animals(honestly most) a cheaper cup-n-core bullets will be fine and for some(especially larger) animals a more complex and expensive bullet is what I would use. Remember a Barnes TTSX 150gr bullets has terminal performance like a 195gr lead core bullet and works well on larger stuff. The Nosler 150gr Partition is a good one for everything.

The 30-06(or 308win) is just a plain jane cartridge that has been getting it done for sooooooo many years without excessive recoil and fanfare. Hard to go wrong with it.
 

meigsbucks

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Inkedspot and Divernhunter covered it. For the game you mentioned the .270, 7mm/08, .280, .308 and .30/06 would all do a good job. If you're anticipating longer ranges or doing a fair amount of elk hunting, you may want to look at the .300 or 7mm magnums. Use good bullets and put them where they count.
 

Desert Dog

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I say 30-06 for all of it; with loads down to 140gr for the probghorn up to 200gr for the bears. If you load your own, 30-06 is the Swiss army knife of all medium bore cartridges.

But, I feel much more comfortable taking ethical shots on the bigger stuff with a 30 cal magnum, especially in places where you can't really sneak up on the elk. And if you throw in other NA species that you didn't mention like sheep/goats/moose, a magnum makes even more sense.
 

Bullthrower338

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75AC36BA-173D-4E6B-B66E-57C02DB641B6.jpeg

Guess I’d subscribe more to the Keith way of thinking
 

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I would stick to common calibers like 270, 30-06 or 300 WM. In desperate times ammo can be found in every gas station, sporting goods store or hunting camp. If those sources fail you can beg, borrow and steal from other hunters. 6.5 Creedmore and 7x57, not so much.
 
 

 

 

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