One rifle for North American big game?

JimP

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When I talked to one of the top outfitters for brown bears in Alaska a number of years ago and asked him what caliber and cartridge he recommended his response was that he would prefer a hunter who could shoot a 270 Winchester accurately than the hunter who shot a 375 and couldn't.

There are a lot of these bears that have fallen to the old 30-06 shooting 200 to 220 grain bullets. I'd have no qualms going after one with a rifle chambered in any of the 300 magnums
 

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I my humble opinion the 300 WM is the best option caliber out there for North America and plains game in Africa.
 

MS 9x56

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Alright, here are my individual thoughts so far.

First - the .30-06 and 308 are definitely at the top of my list.
I've heard too many stories of 6.5 and 7mm ammo being a bit more difficult to find, and these bullets ruining too much meat. The .300 WM is under consideration, but lower because it seems to be pretty heavy-hitting for some of the species I want to target.
.270 and .280 are on my list, but lower simply because they don't come as highly recommended as the "3" calibers.
.338 WM seems to definitely be overkill - as does a .375.

As far as rifle specs - I'm open to bolt or lever-action so far, I haven't had any reason to choose one over the other yet.
I like the idea of choosing something middle of the road, so not a long barrel or a short barrel, not heavy not light - and so on and so forth.
Scope, a variable starting at 2-3.5x and up to 7-10x.

At this point, my main question is - what are the advantages/disadvantages of a .30-06 versus a .308?
And for those still in support of calibers like the .300 WM/WSM, .338 WM, .270, 7mm, .280, etc - what specifically would make you choose this caliber over a .30-06/.308?

Thank you everybody for your help,
Drew
If you want a 30-06 but favor a lever action I highly recommend a Browning lever action. They are light and very accurate. A 3x9 Bushnell or Lupold scope would be all you need. That and a good sharp knife.
 

MS 9x56

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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..).. .
Only 2 answers in a lever, Winchester 1895 or BLR . Both good answers IMO.
 

MS 9x56

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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.
I myself prefer bigger holes and copious blood trails. My Mannlicher is a 1905 9x56. But you play hell trying to find ammo. Now If 90 % of your usage is deer and hogs in Florida then my 35 affliction would recommend a 35 remington in a Marlin 336 with a 4 power scope. It will handle bears and elk at 200 yards and under too. If you are into hunting and not sniping it will serve you well.
 

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When I talked to one of the top outfitters for brown bears in Alaska a number of years ago and asked him what caliber and cartridge he recommended his response was that he would prefer a hunter who could shoot a 270 Winchester accurately than the hunter who shot a 375 and couldn't.

There are a lot of these bears that have fallen to the old 30-06 shooting 200 to 220 grain bullets. I'd have no qualms going after one with a rifle chambered in any of the 300 magnums

If you are going to go after the big browns with a 300 win mag, highly recommend 220 or 230 grain rounds like those offered by Berger. The 230 grain Bergers will give you 2800 FPS and 4000 energy at the muzzle. You aren’t under gunned as long as you use the right ammo. Those coastal browns are a big, tough and flat mean when pissed off. I didn’t truly realize how big an animal they are till the first time I went to Alaska. TV big is one thing, field big is a whole other reality. Shot placement and good ammo is key for a 300 win mag, or step up to a 338 or 9.3x62 for more weight in your punch. All good choices but, in all candor, I’d grab my 9.3x62 Mauser for that hunt, and that’s coming from a guy who is a big fan of his Merkel 300 win mag.
 

WAB

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When I talked to one of the top outfitters for brown bears in Alaska a number of years ago and asked him what caliber and cartridge he recommended his response was that he would prefer a hunter who could shoot a 270 Winchester accurately than the hunter who shot a 375 and couldn't.

There are a lot of these bears that have fallen to the old 30-06 shooting 200 to 220 grain bullets. I'd have no qualms going after one with a rifle chambered in any of the 300 magnums

I suppose if you’re hunting with a guide and he has a big stick that’s fine. We don’t. I use a .375. The .338 is very popular.
 

MS 9x56

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I suppose if you’re hunting with a guide and he has a big stick that’s fine. We don’t. I use a .375. The .338 is very popular.
If I were going into the alders for brown bear I want something that makes a big hole from a short package. Describes my 9.3x62 CZ550FS perfectly with 5 down and one in the spout.
 

WAB

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My son hit a big brownie perfectly with a 220 gr, .30 cal bullet. The bear woofed, bit the spot and ran for the alders. My .375 cal, 270 grainSwift A-Frame impacted 1 1/2” from my sons shot. The bear, on a dead run, flipped in the air, landed on his back, and didn’t twitch. IMO .30 cal, magnum or otherwise, is marginal for brown bear.
 

MS 9x56

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My son hit a big brownie perfectly with a 220 gr, .30 cal bullet. The bear woofed, bit the spot and ran for the alders. My .375 cal, 270 grainSwift A-Frame impacted 1 1/2” from my sons shot. The bear, on a dead run, flipped in the air, landed on his back, and didn’t twitch. IMO .30 cal, magnum or otherwise, is marginal for brown bear.
I would say that is a pretty good example why.
 
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Fastrig

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My son hit a big brownie perfectly with a 220 gr, .30 cal bullet. The bear woofed, bit the spot and ran for the alders. My .375 cal, 270 grainSwift A-Frame impacted 1 1/2” from my sons shot. The bear, on a dead run, flipped in the air, landed on his back, and didn’t twitch. IMO .30 cal, magnum or otherwise, is marginal for brown bear.

Agree, the .30 cal is marginal for browns, grizzlies, etc. regardless of grain weight. The .338 is a popular choice and the .366/9.3 or .375 calibers are probably ideal. Really not much the .366/9.3's and .375's aren't good for, with good ammo. Well, maybe for prairie dogs and varmints they might be overkill :) Shot a 300 + lbs hog with a 285 grain 9.3 Norma Oryx at about 75 yards, he hit the dirt where he was standing and didn't move an inch. Hit a lot of hogs with a 308 and it drops them pretty good but not normally in their tracks like the 9.3 did.
 

WAB

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IMG_0013.JPG

My son holding a front paw of the bear mentioned above.
 

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Very, very similar question to one rifle/caliber for all PG. Really easy answer until you add in the larger, tougher game. Then a 375 HH or larger is none too big.
 

Fastrig

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Very, very similar question to one rifle/caliber for all PG. Really easy answer until you add in the larger, tougher game. Then a 375 HH or larger is none too big.

500 NE might be a "tad" much for an Impala :)
 

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Great advice and info here - to answer the original question (with an unoriginal answer!) get a .300 WIN MAG. Only if you are comfortable with the recoil and shoot it great. They do have a little punch, and too much for some - if so a .30-06 is reasonable choice.
A big bullet misplaced is a big problem.
I am going to try to post a video of what a .300 win mag does to a very large Brown Bear...
 

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Once I would have automatically said 30'06, but really thinking about it--I vote 35 Rem mag. Ever check it out?
 

Bullet Safaris

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Great advice and info here - to answer the original question (with an unoriginal answer!) get a .300 WIN MAG. Only if you are comfortable with the recoil and shoot it great. They do have a little punch, and too much for some - if so a .30-06 is reasonable choice.
A big bullet misplaced is a big problem.
I am going to try to post a video of what a .300 win mag does to a very large Brown Bear...

the .300 win mag over a 10 day period in North America in 2019.
I wanted to travel with one gun as these trips had me going to several location back to back. I used different bullet of course for the different species (another good reason to have a .30 caliber is lots of bullet choices for different game).
20200512_120349.jpg
IMG_20191108_205524_922.jpg


now, if we are talking one rifle to hunt the world the edge goes to the .375 H&H
if i had to have one rifle for the rest of my life that would be the caliber.
 

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