One rifle for North American big game?

crs

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Since you are to be hunting in North America, lets keep the cartridges American and none of that funny metric stuff. I agree that a .308 or .30-06 will do it all and ammo can usually be found in remote hunting areas. Elk are just big deer and a double lung shot is a big and deadly target.
I have taken elk with .308 and .338 and my .308 would have done it all, as would have a 30-06. Anything bigger is just more weight and recoil. Your ammo is important and my Pre 64 M70 .308 prefers Hornady Superperformance 165 grain ammo. Accurate and deadly, even on a 600 pound hog a few years back.
Bullet placement rules! You and your rifle must become best friends so all goes well in the field.
 

fourfive8

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"Is this guy looking for a brown bear gun?"

And it really has nothing to do with requiring a guide or not....

Nah, the OP was mainly interested in opinions for a "do it all" for North American big game (like whitetails, feral pigs, elk, black bears, mule deer and pronghorns all out to 250 yds +/-) rifle/cartridge- which the 30-06 (and other similar calibers) would cover nicely.... except. It's the except part that is the segue. That then opens the door for the ONE rifle/cartridge that will completely cover all North American game which is something like the 375 HH. Which in turn requires the explanation as to why. Because there are those who will argue that some 7mm or 30 cal sumthin-r-other will do fine for the big bears because, after all, the big bears have been killed by sumthin-r-other smaller calibers since there were calibers to shoot them with. Which in turn requires the details as to how really large and tenacious the one exception, the grizzly/brown bear, really may be and so on.... After all what else is there to do but exchange ideas while our liberties are being sapped from use living among and in the age of a perpetual covid driven, masked up, compliant, chicken little, paranoid, sheeple culture society. :)
 

Bert the Turtle

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I was going to say this question was answered in 1906, but I actually agree with the above. I've shot a hell of a lot of animals with my '06, including bison and eland. It kills the big ones just fine. But it doesn't have the same impact effect as something heavier. A zebra hit with an '06 jumps a little, hauls ass, then drops dead. Hit with a 404, it stands there for a second or two trying to figure out what just happened, walks off and drops dead. If I were shooting a big bear, I'd use a big gun. Won't be any more dead, but if will get there quicker.

PS: a 308 can replicate what an '06 could do 100 years ago even though it cannot quite do what an '06 can do today. But my father's generation won the war carrying an '06 and when I was a kid, that is what a grownup shot so that is what I shoot now that I'm grown up. Good enough is good enough- I've got not problem with people who want to find the absolute optimal for any given job. I've been there myself, but I find myself happier these days being content rather than chasing the cutting edge. Feel free to enter the second half of the 20th century if you are so inclined.
 

Ravensview

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"Is this guy looking for a brown bear gun?"

And it really has nothing to do with requiring a guide or not....
The only reason I mentioned that is because on the chance that he was going to hunt a brown bear, he could with the 30-06 and if it became a cluster f____, he would have somebody backing him up with something with a little more oomph...
 

CBH Australia

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I read and understood the opening post, the target species and the proposed distance.
I’ve never been to America but I’m fascinated with Bear and I read a lot.
Plus one for what @Red Leg said, he might well be one of the most experienced hunters here from the stats I can see.

As an Aussie sitting on the other side of the world I thought Americans only have one rifle. The ThirtyOught Six.

In Australia the year used military surplus .303 extensively for years with civilians adopting the .308 after our military went 7.62x51Nato. Every shooter has a .223 and .308 in Australia, or you would be excused for thinking that .

I really like my 7mm-08 but owned several .308 prior to finally getting the 7mm-08 that I longed for. I like the performance. I still have a .308 and Will have one as long as I can. So either could do what you want.

Why not have a .30-06, just a little more sting and your mate Will have ammo if you forget yours. Or the other hunter in the car park or some guy down the road.

I hired a 7mmRM in South Africa, great performance, owned by my outfitter of course but the freelance PH said you would not go wrong with a .300wm, something I have also had 2 of.

Don’t carry a 6.5 creedmore if you are in the woods. Bears shit in the woods and I’m thinking .30 is a minimum to be comfortable.

My ideal or my perception of what a Bear rifle is is a all weather .338wm. I have a Timber stocked .375H&H but I don’t wanna take that in a wet climate and I don’t have a .338.

But if I won a trip tomorrow I might take the .300, but the .308 and ‘06 are capable. Use quality projectiles and proper shot placement. And you can buy reasonably priced practice ammo,
 
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I read and understood the opening post, the target species and the proposed distance.
I’ve never been to America but I’m fascinated with Bear and I read a lot.
Plus one for what @Red Leg said, he might well be one of the most experienced hunters here from the stats I can see.

As an Aussie sitting on the other side of the world I thought Americans only have one rifle. The ThirtyOught Six.

In Australia the year used military surplus .303 extensively for years with civilians adopting the .308 after our military went 7.62x51Nato. Every shooter has a .223 and .308 in Australia, or you would be excused for thinking that .

I really like my 7mm-08 but owned several .308 prior to finally getting the 7mm-08 that I longed for. I like the performance. I still have a .308 and Will have one as long as I can. So either could do what you want.

Why not have a .30-06, just a little more sting and your mate Will have ammo if you forget yours. Or the other hunter in the car park or some guy down the road.

I hired a 7mmRM in South Africa, great performance, owned by my outfitter of course but the freelance PH said you would not go wrong with a .300wm, something I have also had 2 of.

Don’t carry a 6.5 creedmore if you are in the woods. Bears shit in the woods and I’m thinking .30 is a minimum to be comfortable.

My ideal or my perception of what a Bear rifle is is a all weather .338wm. I have a Timber stocked .375H&H but I don’t wanna take that in a wet climate and I don’t have a .338.


@CBH
Chris not all o f us in Australia use a 223 or 308.
Some of us have been educated over the years and use real calibers like a good 25 and a do it all in both OZ and the U.S. the 35 Whelen
 
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I read and understood the opening post, the target species and the proposed distance.
I’ve never been to America but I’m fascinated with Bear and I read a lot.
Plus one for what @Red Leg said, he might well be one of the most experienced hunters here from the stats I can see.

As an Aussie sitting on the other side of the world I thought Americans only have one rifle. The ThirtyOught Six.

In Australia the year used military surplus .303 extensively for years with civilians adopting the .308 after our military went 7.62x51Nato. Every shooter has a .223 and .308 in Australia, or you would be excused for thinking that .

I really like my 7mm-08 but owned several .308 prior to finally getting the 7mm-08 that I longed for. I like the performance. I still have a .308 and Will have one as long as I can. So either could do what you want.

Why not have a .30-06, just a little more sting and your mate Will have ammo if you forget yours. Or the other hunter in the car park or some guy down the road.

I hired a 7mmRM in South Africa, great performance, owned by my outfitter of course but the freelance PH said you would not go wrong with a .300wm, something I have also had 2 of.

Don’t carry a 6.5 creedmore if you are in the woods. Bears shit in the woods and I’m thinking .30 is a minimum to be comfortable.

My ideal or my perception of what a Bear rifle is is a all weather .338wm. I have a Timber stocked .375H&H but I don’t wanna take that in a wet climate and I don’t have a .338.

But if I won a trip tomorrow I might take the .300, but the .308 and ‘06 are capable. Use quality projectiles and proper shot placement. And you can buy reasonably priced practice ammo,
@CBH
Chris not all Aussies have a 223 or 308. Some of the more astute people have come to realize you only need a good 25 cal and a do it all in OZ and the USA the good ol 35 Whelen.
Couldn't resist mate ha ha ha
Bob
 

Timbo

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30-06. It has a phenomenal bullet range to choose from (110gr to 220gr) so you can load up or down depending on the game and conditions. My 30-06 has shot a lot of game, including PG (up to kudu at 250yds) and NT water buffalo with no problems at all. It's a very versatile calibre and as the game hasn't changed, it'll still knock them over with no sweat.
 

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@CBH
Chris not all Aussies have a 223 or 308. Some of the more astute people have come to realize you only need a good 25 cal and a do it all in OZ and the USA the good ol 35 Whelen.
Couldn't resist mate ha ha ha
Bob
Bob, I was thinking as I wrote it. But, your son settled on a .308 for probably the same reason us commoners do, it works. All over Australia and if fuel stops still sold ammo they would no doubt carry .308 among others.
A pro Buff hunter made a living head shooting NT Buff at Bullman camp years ago. Some use it on Sambar even. My mate is slowly warming up to it as the .325wsm collects dust only seeing daylight if the borders open to Victoria for Sambar. He reckons the Hells Canyon Speed is fast becoming his go t to rifle.
You know, the .35 Whelen may do OK on a bear, maybe a .35Whelen AI just for that little more oomph.
 

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.270 Winchester or 7 mag work wonderfully on all NA game. I like that they shoot flatter than a .30-06.
If a bear hunt is part of the plan, you owe it to the hunting economy to buy a bigger gun. I doubt that a single North America person on this forum owns only one rifle. Isn’t part of the fun of hunting the planning and testing of equipment in a never ending process! Even if you don’t buy a second rifle and hunt a lot, someone will end up giving you another rifle. Hunting rifles for an avid hunter are like unsupervised rabbits, they just keep making more.
A real question for those posting on this forum would be what calibers have you given away to people (Family/Kids/close friends) who hunt with you?
 
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Bob, I was thinking as I wrote it. But, your son settled on a .308 for probably the same reason us commoners do, it works. All over Australia and if fuel stops still sold ammo they would no doubt carry .308 among others.
A pro Buff hunter made a living head shooting NT Buff at Bullman camp years ago. Some use it on Sambar even. My mate is slowly warming up to it as the .325wsm collects dust only seeing daylight if the borders open to Victoria for Sambar. He reckons the Hells Canyon Speed is fast becoming his go t to rifle.
You know, the .35 Whelen may do OK on a bear, maybe a .35Whelen AI just for that little more oomph.
@CBH
Chris my son is still educated on his other rifle as he still loves his 25 as well
Bob
 

Dwight Beagle

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The way I look at it if I’d have one rifle for everything in North America, it would be for everything but brown bear. If I were to hunt them it would be with a guide and I’d use it as an excuse to purchase a .300 H&H or I’d use my VERY seldom used 30-06. For everything else including elk and moose I’d use my .270. The .270 has been fine on several Nilgai and my one elk. My elk was shot in the early 80’s before I knew a .270 was totally inadequate for them. Didn’t find that out until I started reading hunting forums.
 
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colorado

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Agree our (I gave it to my youngest son) late 60's vintage BDL in 270 Win has accounted for over 2 dozen elk (none went more than 50 yards), 9 black bears, finished off 2 grizzlies up close and personal (as a guide in the late 60s) and more deer and javelina than I can remember. A 270 Win shooting a 150g Partition at 3000 fps is quite a caliber.
 

Art Lambart II

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The easy answer to your question id the 30-06 but the correct answer is the 35 Whelen. The 35 Whelen is a 30-06 case necked up to 35 caliber it works in a standard length action keeping the weigt and over all length of the rifle down to a managable level. The velocity of a standard factory 180 grain load for the 06 in 2700 fps, the whelen on the other hand move a 180 grain bullet at 2900 fps. If you want to step up to a heavier bullet the Whelen pushes a 225 grain bullet at 2700 fps and a 250 grain projectile at 2550 fps. Factory ammo is avaiable in the whelen from 180 thru 310 grains and will cover any big game animal in North America
 
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The easy answer to your question id the 30-06 but the correct answer is the 35 Whelen. The 35 Whelen is a 30-06 case necked up to 35 caliber it works in a standard length action keeping the weigt and over all length of the rifle down to a managable level. The velocity of a standard factory 180 grain load for the 06 in 2700 fps, the whelen on the other hand move a 180 grain bullet at 2900 fps. If you want to step up to a heavier bullet the Whelen pushes a 225 grain bullet at 2700 fps and a 250 grain projectile at 2550 fps. Factory ammo is avaiable in the whelen from 180 thru 310 grains and will cover any big game animal in North America
@Shootist43
Art I knew you would see the light on the Whelen. Don't forget the Barnes 2225 gn ttsx at 2,700 fps or the the Hornaday superformance load of a 200 grain @ 2,900 fps not to mention what it can be handloads to do.
Bob
 

Art Lambart II

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@Bob Nelson 35Whelen
As you well know my favorite caliber of all time is the 35 Whelen, my father @Shootist43 prefers the 6.5x55 Sweede for most of his hunting unless its in Africa the he uses his 35 Whelen.
 
 

 

 

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