One rifle for North American big game?

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by biggiesmalls, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. mdwest

    mdwest AH Elite

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    I love lever guns...

    But if I were looking at a 1 gun battery for everything, a lever action wouldnt be my first choice..

    lever guns are generally not as accurate as bolt guns.. for the 250 yard shots on deer sized game you mentioned in the OP, a decent bolt gun wins hands down (IMO)..

    lever guns are also more prone to breakage.. they are far more complicated, have more moving parts etc... if you are working a 1 gun battery, you have no back up.. if your gun goes down, you are without a gun until you figure out how to fix it..

    You also have FAR more options if you are talking 308 or 30-06 (or 7x57, 6.5 creed, 270, etc..etc..) to look at for a bolt gun.. very few lever guns are box fed and capable of firing the calibers you have been recommended..

    Any standard long action (and in some cases a short action) bolt gun you will be able to find chambered in any, and possibly all of those calibers.. you'll find options at just about every price point from a couple of hundred bucks to several thousand dollars..

    In lever actions you are going to have far fewer options to consider.. (again, this is taking into consideration your 1 gun battery requirement... if I could have 10 guns I might throw a nice browning BLR in 308 in the mix.. but knowing I get only one boomstick that has to cover me for all contingencies.. for me at least, it doesnt even make the top 25 rifles for consideration..).. .
     

  2. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Take a look at online ballistic tables. The differences between .308Win, .30-06, .300WM, .300WSM, .300RUM, .300Wby is velocity.

    My recommendation was .300WM with 180gr bullets for everything. It will handle elk and quite nicely, it has even handled the big bears in Alaska. But you certainly don't need the big thumper for whitetail in Florida.

    But you also mentioned pronghorn. Pronghorn shots quite often long, the country you hunt them in is open. Sneaking to within 100-200 yards can be virtually impossible. And if you're hunting in lets say Wyoming, where they invented wind and have perfected it over the course of time, a 180gr bullet with a muzzle velocity of 3000fps out of a .300WM has its advantages over a 165gr bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2600fps. Specifically in hitting a fairly small target at a fair distance where you want to hit it. You sure don't need a .308 caliber bullet to take down a pronghorn, but you still need to be able to hit him in very possible tough conditions.

    Regarding scopes and your situation, 3-12 would seem a good choice.
     
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  3. curtism1234

    curtism1234 AH Enthusiast

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    @biggiesmalls

    Regarding lever actions, you have to grip the forearm at all times. If you just lay it on a sandbag or shooting sticks, you probably won't even hit paper at 100 yards. This is due mostly to a heavier trigger pull and the extra length it takes for the hammer to strike the firing pin. As long as you have your hand firmly gripping you are golden. I shoot occasionally from tripod shooting sticks, I just place my hand ( gripping the forearm) in the yoke of the stick. Most of the time for deer or hogs you are either shooting offhand or sitting in a blind where you can easily shoot from sticks in the manner I described.
     

  4. kevin masters

    kevin masters BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    The 338 win mag is a great choice, not a six or seven hundred yard gun but extremely capable out to four. at least thats all Im good for,lol
    I have taken a nearly six hundred pound black bear with mine and it was a great caliber for Africa.
    +1 on the 338wm
     

  5. Divernhunter

    Divernhunter AH Elite

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    The 308w and 30-06 is really a toss up. ALL you NEED is a good 150-165 gr bullet for everything. Years ago that was not the case but with modern bullets you do not need 200-220 or even 180gr bullets. There have been some sensible mag articles written about this. Sadly the old times ways and FUD is still strong. Maybe they still use a rotary dial land line phone for all their calls and I am sometimes surprised they even have internet.

    The 308win was designed to give (almost) the same performance as the 30-06 for the military for use in the M14 and modern machine guns in a shorter cartridge. It does that using about 150gr bullets. The mil round for both was 147grs as I remember for ball ammo.

    With respectable weight bullets(150-165grs) you gain little with the 30-06 over the 308win. If you hand load you can make one do as the other and can get a bit more out of the 30-06. But if you do not handload you can buy 308 mil surplus MUCH easier for fun shooting, practice and plinking and it is cheaper. Both can be found almost everywhere. The 308 can be made into a lighter, handier rifle and has slightly less recoil.

    I am going to flat out say it is stupid to use 200-220gr bullets in either cartridge given the modern bullets we have and they do NOT deflect less when trying to shoot thru brush. Given we have bullets(Barnes and others) that have a 150gr bullets acting like a 195gr bullet in regards to terminal performance you need little else. I have a 300win mag and it has been used. What I shot with it I could have taken with a 308w or 30-06 or any number of other cartridges. Plus it is not pleasant to shoot and ammo(brass) is more costly than the 308/30-06. I actually prefer to shoot my 338win mag to the 300win mag and they are both the same brand/model rifle set up with the same recoil pads.

    If I were elk hunting I would take my 338win mag but could use my 264win mag just as well and I have friends who have taken elk with a 30-06 and even at over 300 yards with one shot. I have taken pronghorn with the only rifle I had at the time which was a 30-06 at over 400 yards when I was younger. Now I have used 7mag, 25-06, 257R, 264win ma, 257W and next tags I get I want to use my 6.5X55 for pronghorn.

    I plan to use my 308w or 6.5X55 for my next bear because I have light handy riles chambered in these. My last bear was a B&C bear and I used a 44mag pistol.

    So the major difference between the 308w and 30-06 is that it is easier to get surplus ammo for the 308win. All other arguments are just swatting skeeter's in the wind.
     

  6. Mekaniks

    Mekaniks GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    If you really want one gun that will do it all in NA under most all conditions that’s easy to clean, disassemble and maintain. Will work big elk in the timber, pronghorn on the prairie, climb a mountian for sheep, whitetail from a tree stand, or rafting for caribou in Alaska....
    http://www.winchesterguns.com/produ...ent-Products/model-70-extreme-weather-ss.html.

    Load it some of these....
    https://fusiontables.googleusercontent.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=CARD&q=select+*+from+1C5o2xk_hWmBsTsTUWwoZ262XZOtOsNloF2QDW28+where+col4+=+25042+order+by+col0+asc&tmplt=1&cpr=1

    IMO you will never look back....

    And who know you may even take it to Africa someday:)
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2018
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  7. 7x57Joe

    7x57Joe AH Veteran

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    Drew, A 2-7 scope will be fine to use and I actually prefer them over the 3-9 because of the terrain I hunt. Probably no one will agree but, don't overlook a good straight 4x scope. The longest shots I've made was with a straight 4x Leupold.
     
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  8. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Another vote(s) for the '06 and the .270. Both have killed everything on the North American continent.
     

  9. jacques smith

    jacques smith AH Fanatic

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    Biggie
    Thanks for the personal responses to everyone’s post
    It’s rather refreshing to know you read them
    U asked why I specified bolt action over lever. I personally believe in the KISS theory and there is just less to go wrong and it’s easier to get to should field surgery become necessary.
    The question of caliber has been kicked around forever and will continue. Opinions are like posteriors. We all get one
    The fit of the gun is critical to shot placement and nothing beats practice cheers jacques
     
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  10. kevin masters

    kevin masters BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    as far as scopes go its hard to beat a Leopold with the cds. I can dial my 338 out to 600 yrds, if only I
    could see that far,lol.
    you send them all your ballistics and bullet info and they laser engrave a cap, simple!:W Sharp Shooter:
     
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  11. Nkawu

    Nkawu AH Veteran

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    Is anyone using a 280 Rem as their go-to rifle?
     

  12. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Chuck,
    Great rifle, I’m buying one in 338 WM to leave in my safe in MT. For some reason all my 338’s are down here in TX. That extreme will be the cats pajamas for the beautiful November weather I hunt in at home.
     
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  13. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    My son does, excellent round!
     
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  14. Beretta391

    Beretta391 AH Veteran

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    My wife’s rifle of choice is a Remington 280 Mtn rifle. Hornady superformance ammo with 139 gr gmx bullets. She has harvested elk, pronghorn antelope, Oryx, whitetails and hogs in the U.S. In Namibia she has harvested kudu, red hartebeast, blue wildebeest , springbok, blesbuck, waterbuck, and zebra. She calls it the “the widow maker “. She’s been using it approximately 28 years and doesn’t want anything else. It shoots 1” groups at 100 yards. She really likes it. She will be taking it on it’s 4 th Safari in feb of 19. Randy
     
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  15. Curious

    Curious AH Member

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    The 30.-06 has 20% more powder capacity than the .308. This means it can power the large bullets (200 and esp. 220 grain) better. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, for example, states on its web site that the lightest rifle they approve of for big bears is a 220 grain bullet in a .30-06.

    You will have very little choice of lever gun in either of these calibers.

    The .308 is packaged (for bolt-action guns) in a standard-length action. The '06 comes in a long action. The .308 will be a slightly shorter and lighter gun, typically. I personally use a 7mm-08 or .30-06 depending on where and what I'm hunting. My .375 H&H gets little use, but when it is needed, then it's off to the range a bit, then hunting. All three are Model 70's with identical stocks and mechanisms, so that switching is primarily a matter of studying the ballistics of load I'll be using.
     

  16. JPbowhunter

    JPbowhunter AH Fanatic

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    This is their wording on that.

    I cant afford nor justify the price of a grizzly hunt but if I did one I'd take my 06 happily. Screenshot_20180723-110117_Chrome.jpeg
     
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  17. Curious

    Curious AH Member

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    It's true that they just suggest that stepping down to a .30-06 with a 200 or 220 grain bullet is OK, that you don't need a big magnum. (Site and text below.)

    I suppose I was recalling AF&G's regulation for Bison, which they figure can probably only be met by a .30-06 with a 200 pr 220 grain bullet, or something heavier. (Site and text below.)

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.firearms
    "If you are going to hunt brown bear on the Alaska Peninsula or Kodiak Island, a .30-06 loaded with 200- or 220-grain Nosler® or similar premium bullet will do the job with good shot placement. Only consider using a .300, .338 or larger magnum if you can shoot it as well as you can the .30-06."

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=deltabison.weaponslegalhunting
    Weapons Legal for Bison Hunting
    "Bison may be shot with any centerfire rifle, handgun, muzzleloading rifle, bow-and-arrow or crossbow that meet the criteria listed below:

    Rifle/handgun: must fire a 200 grain or larger bullet, which retains at least 2000 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards. A .30-06 with a 220 grain bullet is about the minimal weapon that meets this specification."

    Happy hunting.
     

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  18. Papabear55

    Papabear55 AH Veteran

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    7mm rem mag, 45-70, 30-06, 338 wm and 458wm or lott. All depending on what you will hunt more, your hunting style and what youre looking for in a rifle.
     
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  19. Scott CWO

    Scott CWO AH Enthusiast

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    If you choose to only own one rifle, you will obviously have to make compromises. That said, my thoughts are below:

    As a professional guide for 26 years in the Lower 48, Alaska and Mexico, I can tell you that the most common caliber that my hunters have used is a .300 Win Mag. The recoil is not that bad and it is great for mule deer, elk and moose. I have never seen an animal be too dead so it is not really "overkill" for white-tails and pronghorn. This caliber is a bit of a compromise on brown bear. You state that you won't hunt brown bear, grizzly, moose and will only hunt elk once?? Why?? How are you so sure?? Things, jobs and finances can change. You also may not get an elk on only one trip - especially unguided. If you stick to not hunting brown bear/grizzly, the .300 Win Mag is a great all-around choice and you won't feel under-gunned on elk. I have taken 10 bull elk with a .30-06 but always feel a bit limited on shots over 250 yards - which can be common in the high country around and above treeline.

    If you TRULY want a caliber for ALL North American big game and do not want to risk being under-gunned and compromised for brown bear, grizzly and moose, I would choose the .338 Win Mag. It is also great for elk and moose. This is one of the calibers I chose. It is also great for plains game in Africa. It would be a great stopper on black bear and hogs. It is more than you need for deer and pronghorn but so what? Meat waste is not a consideration if you take and make lung shots. Meat waste is over-rated as we hunt for the experience for the most part as it is cheaper to buy meat. Over-gunned is a good problem to have and better than under-gunned. As for comments that I read above about Alaskan guides wanting hunters to bring a .30-06 for brown bear, I disagree. I like my hunters to bring a .338 Win Mag or .375 Mag.

    If you don't take the above advice and will really only hunt elk once (doubtful because elk hunting and the mountains out west are terribly addictive), then the .30-06 would be fine. I would never consider a lever action. The accuracy and trigger pull will not enable enough accuracy for most western hunting, even at medium ranges. Bolt action all the way. Good luck!
     
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  20. cmk

    cmk AH Veteran

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    I would say that the answer to the cartridge question was given 112 years ago.

    As for bullets, you may look at more recent offerings, e.g. A-frame, Accubond, NorthFork, Woodleigh, TBBC, Scirocco, Oryx, Partition or Interbond in the 165-240 gr range depending on distance and animal size. For monometal bullets like TSX, GMX, Naturalis etc, 150-170 grains should do the trick.

    Happy hunting.
     
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