One rifle for North American big game?

cmnhunt

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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
Sorry I'm late to the conversation. .300 Win mag, Remington 700 action stainless, stainless kreiger barrel with 1-10 twist, timney calvin elite trigger at 1.5lbs pressure, bell carlson elitist stock, cerakote the finish, than use leupold 6.5-20 variable scope or nightforce equivalant. For ammo, use barnes 180gr TTSX. With that set up I have shot eland to whitetail and Black bear to elk. Some hogs and pronghorn.
 

One Day...

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Interesting posts. Out of curiosity I just went through my trophy room to see what I had harvested the NA animals with. For context I have lived and hunted in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Wyoming, Kansas, Alaska and now Alabama. I have done all of my hunting without a guide. The big bears were shot with my .375 H&H, one elk was shot with a .300 H&H, and everything else was shot with a 7x57 (including the other elk). I have a lot of rifles but when things get serious I always seem to grab a 7x57.

I have a particular fondness myself for my 1903 Mannlicher Schoenauer in 6.5x54, and its incredibly long pencil-like 159 gr bullet, which, like the 7x57, has a long history of killing anything that walks the earth; and, like you do your 7x57, I trust for anything. But I reckon that it takes a bit of experience to use it well, so I would probably advise a new hunter to use something a little flatter-shooting for most western hunts, and a little harder-hitting for most bigger animals, although it has done and will still do fine for anything anywhere in the proper hands.
 

cmnhunt

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Sorry I'm late to the conversation. .300 Win mag, Remington 700 action stainless, stainless kreiger barrel with 1-10 twist, timney calvin elite trigger at 1.5lbs pressure, bell carlson elitist stock, cerakote the finish, than use leupold 6.5-20 variable scope or nightforce equivalant. For ammo, use barnes 180gr TTSX. With that set up I have shot eland to whitetail and Black bear to elk. Some hogs and pronghorn.
Sorry I forgot 24 inch Magnum contour, about 7-9lbs total with scope. Too long a barrel and you can have acoustic problems.
 

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I have a particular fondness myself for my 1903 Mannlicher Schoenauer in 6.5x54, and its incredibly long pencil-like 159 gr bullet, which, like the 7x57, has a long history of killing anything that walks the earth; and, like you do your 7x57, I trust for anything. But I reckon that it takes a bit of experience to use it well, so I would probably advise a new hunter to use something a little flatter-shooting for most western hunts, and a little harder-hitting for most bigger animals, although it has done and will still do fine for anything anywhere in the proper hands.

Likely both fine in the caliber range but obviously not what I would recommend based on ammo alone.
 

WAB

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Likely both fine in the caliber range but obviously not what I would recommend based on ammo alone.

Fair point, I reload for everything except my Lott, so I don’t worry much about it.
 

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375 ruger alaskan
For whitetail as a main diet?? Biggest animal an elk? Now that is a waste of powder. Maybe a 35 Whelen, or .338 Federal if you want a larger bore.
 

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Whitetail/mule deer and under - .270 Winchester. Elk and up outside of Grizzly country - 300 Win Mag. I’ve never hunted in Wyoming/Montana/Alaska but if I were headed that way I’d use it as an excuse to pick up a .338 Win Mag or take my .375 H&H.
 

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Fair point, I reload for everything except my Lott, so I don’t worry much about it.

Yeah, if you reload no worries but really hard to find stock ammo.
 

WAB

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Yeah, if you reload no worries but really hard to find stock ammo.

Agreed, and commercial 7x57 Ammo tends to be loaded way below its capability due to concerns over older rifles.
 

Nature Boy

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Whitetail/mule deer and under - .270 Winchester. Elk and up outside of Grizzly country - 300 Win Mag. I’ve never hunted in Wyoming/Montana/Alaska but if I were headed that way I’d use it as an excuse to pick up a .338 Win Mag or take my .375 H&H.

The only thing you need a .338 or larger for in those states is a Grizzly. I highly doubt out Florida friend is going to spend 20K on a Grizzly hunt and if so he can afford 1 more gun. He stated he's primarily going to hunt deer and hogs in Florida.
 

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Per previous post:

"Is it One rifle for North American big game? or is it one rifle for "whitetail deer and wild hogs in Florida ... west for pronghorn, elk, and mule deer - as well as black bear" ???
Because these are two different propositions altogether...
Last I checked, North American Game also includes moose and grizzly, in which case even the .300 is on the light side (although it can do the job with 200 gr slugs) and the .338 makes a lot more sense (although the .375 is not out of line on brown bear).
I would suggest, 3 answers actually:
#1 deer/antelope/pig/black bear/caribou/ etc.: .260 .270 .280 . 30 (.308 .30-06) etc.
#2 deer/antelope/pig/black bear/caribou/etc. + elk: .300 etc.
#3 deer/antelope/pig/black bear/caribou/etc. + elk + moose & brown bear: .338 etc."


As to why up-gunning from .30 (.308 / 30-06) to .300 (Win, WSM, Wby, etc.) when adding elk to the mix, it is because in most places elk are hunted (I live in Arizona), it is a rare shot that is taken at less than 200 yd, especially by new elk hunters who may not have aquired yet the skills to get closer. Without kidding oneself about the '850 yd TV guys' (I agree with your inference ;-) there are factually - right, wrong, or indifferent - a lot more shots taken at 300+ yd, and .30 trajectory and energy drop fast at these ranges. It is not entirely at random that the US military is transitioning its sniper rifles from .308 to .300 Win Mag (never mind .338 or .50) ...........

In so many words, the questions "one for all in America?" or "one for pigs & deer in Florida?" are not the same question. This is a bit of a silly exercise, like asking: "what is the best single car to race both Indy 500, Nascar, and Baja?" The short answer is: it does not exist...
You ain't gonna be happy shooting Grizzly with a deer gun, or deer with a Griz gun; but push comes to shove, one would rather have to shoot deer with a Griz gun, than Griz with a deer gun...
So, objectively, the answers in the post are not totally "crazy" although I agree that they may appear so.
Etc. etc. etc.

I live in Colorado and hunt elk so I have and recommend .300. Mine is a Browning xbolt in .300 WSM. But that said our Florida friend said one gun and he primarily hunts whitetail and hogs in FLA. He doesn't need that for a lot of reasons imo, the least of which are recoil and cost. The 30.06 would do fine out to 300 yards for Elk and as I said earlier if he was a new elk hunter imo he generally shouldn't or need to take shots over 200. Personally, I think the long range rage is BS, it's irresponsible more often than not and takes the hunt out of hunting. If you can't get within 300 yards of an elk (generally speaking) you shouldn't be shooting at one. I agree in specialized situations/areas it's fine to take some longer shots (provided you have practiced sufficiently (few do) and can make clean kills. Like I said, I asked these LR TV guys point blank what thier success rate is, answer was 10-15%. These are pros with the best equipment. I'll go Wayne Van Zoll style and stalk to within 100 yards if possible.
 

Art Lambart II

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From 60 pound pigs in Florida to Moose and bear in Alaska, one rifle to hunt all of North America. That’s a tall order, small bore calibers say from .30 down are perfect for game 300lbs and under and with heavy bullets can be used for larger game within range and shot presentation limits. Big bore calibers 375 and up are great for the big stuff but they are over kill for the smaller game in North America and heavy recoil may be an issue for some. What you need is a medium bore that’s larger than .30 but smaller than .375. The 338 Win Mag is a fine choice for the bigger stuff but it produces more recoil than many people can handle and there are no light weight factory loads available for use on smaller game. The 9.3x62 is a great round but the ammo is very hard to find in the US and there are no light weight factory loads. Several 8mm rounds come to mind but when was the last time you saw 8mm ammo in the store. What you really need is a .35 caliber rifle that uses factory ammo from 180 thru 310 grain bullets at velocities between 2300 and 2900 fps and is accurate at 400 yards. The answer is simple what you need is a 35 Whelen. The 35 Whelen is simply a 30-06 case necked up to 35 caliber but in reality it’s so much more. A standard 180 grain 30-06 load clocks in at 2700 fps, a standard 225 grain 35 Whelen load clocks in at 2750 fps, more velocity and more weight equals more foot pounds of energy on target. I will admit that the Whelen does produce more recoil than the 30-06, it compares to a 300 Win Mag in that respect but is more of a firm push compared to the Win Mags sharper punch. I will also admit that most of the rounds mentioned by the other poster will be a better choice than the Whelen in certain circumstances, but for an all-around North American hunting cartridge the 35 Whelen stand alone as king of the hill.

Here is one more reason why the 35 Whelen is a better choice. In many southern states primitive firearm season requires a single shot or muzzle loaded firearm of 35 caliber or larger. That means that a 35 Whelen in a CVA Handi rifle or a T/C Encore is a legal primitive firearm. So now not only is the 35 Whelen the best all-around cartridge for North America it’s also the best all-around cartridge for every firearm season.

The 308, 30-06, 300 WM and the 338 WM are all great rounds but for an all-around North America hunting cartridge the 35 Whelen beats them all, its King of the Hill, Head of the Pack, A-#1.
 

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hmmmm,

i have been debating with myself if i should even bother answering such a nebulous, difficult to answer question.

i agree with the camp that states it would be a shame to have to stop at owning/using only one rifle. i think there are a couple choices that would work, but as stated before they would be compromises.

the 30-06 shoots light bullets (130 gr at 3200 fps) to a 22o gr that would certainly allow one to kill any animal in america assuming that you would be willing to shoot at a reasonable range.

a 300 mag would do the same obviously

i prefer a 338 win mag over a 35 whelen (sorry Art) i think the sectional density of the bullets are a touch better for 338 bullets. a 338 would also be a decent all around rifle. a bit heavier than needed for smaller stuff, but big enough for the rest.

i live in alaska and carried a 338 win for years with barnes 225 gr x bullets. when i hunted kodiak or afognak, i shot the smallish black tailed deer with my 338, and it did a fine job on them, it did not blow them up. also, i felt that i could manage a bear confrontation if required. i also shot lots of caribou, more moose and a few grizzly/brown bears with it. works fine if the bullets are well placed.

now i used a 7mm rem mag for my first few years of hunting up here and killed everything but grizzly with one. with careful shot placement, it will work fine on a grizzly too. but, when i started using a 338 i noticed the quicker kills, drop to shot performance from my 338, which i much preferred.

a guy could shoot pronghorn out to 400 yards, and bears at 30 feet and be well armed with a 338.

i am not a guy that likes a lot of recoil, but managed to shoot the 338 well.

BUT, what a shame to have to be limited to only one rifle!!! my 2 cents.
 

Art Lambart II

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@1dirthawker, I too like the 225 Barnes, according to Buffalo Bore the 35 Whelen moves the 225 grain Barnes at 2800 fps, oddly enough that's the same speed produced by the 338. Unfortunately Buffalo Bore is not currently producing this load, I know they use to because I bought the last box Midway had, my dad was able to closely reproduce the Buffalo Barnes load, his loads clock at 2730fps, I guess his barrel is to short to reach the advertised 2800fps.

This 35 caliber 225 grain Barnes was recovered from the Sable I took in July. A 200 yard frontal Chest shot, the Sable dropped in it's tracks and never moved.

20180730_050658.jpg
20180730_050722.jpg
 

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Any thing the 338 can do the 34o can do better.
Use enough gun has been written and recited [xxx and x] times.
Why do most people want to go with the least instead of the most, nothing wrong with overkill. Dead is dead and dead right now is the way .
 

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Any thing the 338 can do the 34o can do better.
Use enough gun has been written and recited [xxx and x] times.
Why do most people want to go with the least instead of the most, nothing wrong with overkill. Dead is dead and dead right now is the way .

Easy answer, they can't shoot them accurately, at all. Plus, ammo cost.
 

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From 60 pound pigs in Florida to Moose and bear in Alaska, one rifle to hunt all of North America. That’s a tall order, small bore calibers say from .30 down are perfect for game 300lbs and under and with heavy bullets can be used for larger game within range and shot presentation limits. Big bore calibers 375 and up are great for the big stuff but they are over kill for the smaller game in North America and heavy recoil may be an issue for some. What you need is a medium bore that’s larger than .30 but smaller than .375. The 338 Win Mag is a fine choice for the bigger stuff but it produces more recoil than many people can handle and there are no light weight factory loads available for use on smaller game. The 9.3x62 is a great round but the ammo is very hard to find in the US and there are no light weight factory loads. Several 8mm rounds come to mind but when was the last time you saw 8mm ammo in the store. What you really need is a .35 caliber rifle that uses factory ammo from 180 thru 310 grain bullets at velocities between 2300 and 2900 fps and is accurate at 400 yards. The answer is simple what you need is a 35 Whelen. The 35 Whelen is simply a 30-06 case necked up to 35 caliber but in reality it’s so much more. A standard 180 grain 30-06 load clocks in at 2700 fps, a standard 225 grain 35 Whelen load clocks in at 2750 fps, more velocity and more weight equals more foot pounds of energy on target. I will admit that the Whelen does produce more recoil than the 30-06, it compares to a 300 Win Mag in that respect but is more of a firm push compared to the Win Mags sharper punch. I will also admit that most of the rounds mentioned by the other poster will be a better choice than the Whelen in certain circumstances, but for an all-around North American hunting cartridge the 35 Whelen stand alone as king of the hill.

Here is one more reason why the 35 Whelen is a better choice. In many southern states primitive firearm season requires a single shot or muzzle loaded firearm of 35 caliber or larger. That means that a 35 Whelen in a CVA Handi rifle or a T/C Encore is a legal primitive firearm. So now not only is the 35 Whelen the best all-around cartridge for North America it’s also the best all-around cartridge for every firearm season.

The 308, 30-06, 300 WM and the 338 WM are all great rounds but for an all-around North America hunting cartridge the 35 Whelen beats them all, its King of the Hill, Head of the Pack, A-#1.

This was the poster's original comment:

"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. "

Lol, so again, I really appreciate all you alaskans and Grizz hunters but he never mentioned them and outside of Grizzlys you in no way need a .338 or a .35 whelen, etc. It's way overkill, costly, etc. Biggest thing he has is elk and a 30.06 likely has killed more elk than every other rd combined. Nuff said. He doesn't need to be blowing up whitetails and pigs with a .225 grain Barnes (best bullets imo BTW). :)
 

Witold Krzyżanowski

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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.
Your grandfather was a wise man.
 

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This is a hard one as it requires great asceticism on my part.

My go-to hunting cartridge is the 6.5 Creedmoor. Powerful enough for most game, flat-shooting enough for just about any distance, and light-recoiling enough for just about any rifle weight. While I love the Creedmoor, it is not ideal for bigger game, at which point I would turn to the .280 AI as it has all of the same benefits of the Creedmoor just with more power.

Even though I would go with the .280 AI, I think that the best all-round cartridge for NA big game is either the .30-06 or the .300 Wby. I have never managed to like the .300 win mag, probably because my first .30 magnum was the Wby. For most hunters, a big game cartridge should begin with a .3

I have always been interested in the big bore low velocity cartridges like the .338 win mag, although my experience with them has been limited to a few shots at the range with a friend's gun.
 

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Agreed, and commercial 7x57 Ammo tends to be loaded way below its capability due to concerns over older rifles.

Reload it or simply buy CIP proofed european ammunition.

HWL
 

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