When is enough gun actually enough?

Red Leg

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Personally I like where this is going. I prefer using a caliber that I consider commensurate for the game. My preferred caliber for deer & hog sized creatures is the 6.5 x 55 in a Swedish Mauser. Next up is the 35 Whelen. With it I would go up to Elk or Kudu. If I was expecting long range shots I gravitate towards a magnum, i.e.300 WM, 308 Norma, 338 WM. For larger animals and or DG I have number of larger calibers to choose from, like 375 H&H, 404 Jeffery, 416 Remington Mag or a 416 Rigby. The largest animal I've taken so far was a large Eland. My choice for that was a 404 Jeffery. That animal was unable to take a step forward or backward and simply collapsed in place. To the OP's point my original deer rifle was a 30-06, it was my primary rifle for about 15 years. Now I have choices. I kind of shake my head when I see folks hunting way over gunned.
I am exactly in agreement with you. I strongly believe in balancing the rifle to the intended game. For instance, I don't hunt whitetail with a 30-06 - much less a .300 magnum of some persuasion. It is a quarry for which one of my rifles in 6.5x57. .270, or 7x65R seem perfectly balanced. (If nothing else, such a philosophy tends to insure a broader range of choices in the gun room!) ;) Generally, one can easily follow that practice in North America, Europe or Asia where a hunt is typically targeted for a particular game animal for which the hunter can bring a perfectly balanced firearm.

Africa, on the other hand, represents the very definition of compromise. Even if we bring multiple rifles we are all too often confronted with an opportunity for which the other rifle along on the trip would be a better choice. On a pure PG hunt it is hard to beat a .300 - .338 for such a compromise caliber. Where a buffalo or lion may be involved, then the .375 will do it all. And the nice thing about the .375, with a handful of 300 gr solids and softs, it will work on everything from Suni to Cape Buffalo.
 

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It depends on the animal being hunted, the terrain, the competance of the hunter, the situation(first shot or stopping a charge) and very importantly the bullet used, the only part that actually kills the animal.
 

Von Gruff

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For much of this discussion it is the type and range of animals being hunted that will make the choice. For years I played with many different cartridges, often becoming passionate with one or two along the way but the last few years I have excepted that the range of animals available here and in the high country that I now hunt (private locked gate with 30+k acres) so have trimmed the gun safe to the 20VarTarg for rabbits and hares with the 6.5 Grendel-Max for goats, the 6.5x57 for fallow deer and for when there may be a big red etc there is the 303. All custom builds I have kept from the many done over the years, they are exceptionally good at what they do so I am happy to leave the playing try this and try that for those who have yet to find the happy place I and a few others have found
 

Tanks

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I do not think limiting yourself two rifles is a problem, it is a good idea. ...

I am limited to two for my for my upcoming hunt. a Heym 88B in 9.3x74R and a Heym 88B in .500 NE. I think I have just about any game in Zimbabwe covered with those two. ;)

BTW, before anyone comments, I put those rifles in the case for CBP to inspect, I am in the process of cutting foam to form fit the rifles in the case.

1624484522342.png
 

Alistair

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When selecting a cartridge I work on the principle of 'More than enough, but not too much'.

The first part of this selection is dependent on terminal performance. The cartridge should be more than enough to comfortably take any shot offered with confidence.

Taking red stags in Scotland as an example, the cartridge should be 'more than enough' to take shots from 50-300 yds and make kills. For me, that's a heavy for calibre 6.5 or higher. .223 or 243 is enough, but not so much so that I'd not be worrying about a longer range shot or a less than ideal angle (even ignoring the legal issues with selecting the .223.)

The second part of the principle has nothing to do with terminal effect and everything to do with useability.

Again with the red stag example, a 416 is more than enough, but when you're walking quite a long way over rough terrain, taking shots at extended ranges and predominantly shooting from prone, that rifle weight, those ballistics and that recoil is, at least for me, 'too much', hence I wouldn't use the calibre.

The same logic can be applied to any situation. Shooting a buffalo, more than enough is a heavy for calibre .375. A 35, a 9.3 or a 338 is enough, but again, does it provide confidence for a suboptimal shot?

Under those conditions, a 470, whilst a lot of gun, might still not be 'too much'. You might not be carrying it yourself, you might not be shooting far, you'll probably be shooting off sticks. The downsides of the .470 don't massively impact useability, so it'd still be a sensible choice.
 

Skinnersblade

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I think some of this discussion comes down to regions as well, on the east coast of Canada I don’t personally see any use for a magnum .30. Out deer top out about 200lbs for a large buck and a big black bear would go 350lbs either of which is well within what I’d feel comfortable confronting with a .303. The .303 is Canada 30-06 and to be honest I wouldn’t feel terribly under gunned with a .30-30. When you add moose into the equation I don’t feel a magnum .30 is the answer I’d much prefer a .338 or .375.
 

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This is a discussion with a variety of correct answers and opinions. For me "Enough" is a rifle bullet that has enough weight / sectional density and holds together well enough to break the humerus bone of the biggest animal being hunted, while going on to penetrate both lungs and at least reach the skin on the far side.

With a bit of research an appropriate cartridge / bullet combination can be chosen with little risk of failure.

That equation is reasonably easy to figure out on a single species hunt, and more complicated on a multi-species hunt or one with dangerous animals present, even if the dangerous ones are not actually being hunted.

A .243 is certainly "enough" with standard cup and core bullets for a whitetail deer or Impala at reasonable ranges, but only "enough" for bigger game when loaded with a stronger constructed bullet like a bonded jacket or all copper hollow point.

A .243 with bonded or all copper bullets would be adequate for hunting mountain caribou, but the trouble is those caribou live in grizzly bear country. I carried a .35 Whelen or a .30-06 for my caribou hunts. More than enough felt good. I wouldn't carry a .243 for hunting Impala in Lion country.

I once was forced by a malfunctioning main rifle to carry a spare .243 loaded with Nosler partitions while hunting moose. That was a little uncomfortable for me, even though I know the rifle and bullet could do the job, it was just a bit too minimal. I didn't have to worry about bears during the late winter hunt, but confidence is a thing hard to describe. I think you'll know for yourself when you're confident.

The same dilemma exists when hunting plains game where Buffalo and Lions are sharing the hunting grounds. I would feel comfortable while carrying my 9.3x62 loaded with bonded 286 grain bullets when hunting plains game where something big and unexpected might take a notion to bite, stomp or gore me. If i was carrying a reasonably adequate .270? Probably not.

I'm not a big fan of fast light for caliber bullets, or bullets that fragment and "expend all their energy inside" even though others do well with them. And I don't shoot at game so far away that it requires laser rangefinders and twisting turrets. If I was hunting game up to the size of Zebra on a typical South African game farm with no dangerous game present, a .270 would seem OK, in a minimum and "just good enough" kind of way. I'd feel better with a 7x57 with heavy bullets 160-175 grain ( 10,4-11,3G), or a .308 & 165-180 grain (10,5-11,6 G) . Premium bullet construction would be a confidence booster too.

There are tons of articles written on the subject of dangerous game cartridges, and the game laws of various countries pretty much have "enough" defined for hunting dangerous game. With "enough" cartridge determined by law, the only other variable is choosing enough bullet. And "good enough" with dangerous game should really mean the best you can get.
 
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CBH Australia

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@Von Gruff we use rimfires for Hare and Rabbit, I take it yours are at a distance.
I would hazard a guess that .223 and .308 would be among the most common in Australia. .303 was once common as many were sporterised after becoming military surplus in that era.
How much is enough gun? The biggest I owned was .458wm. I almost had it reamed to a Lott because you know what they say about the .458wm.

I reckon the .458 Lott would be on the heavy end for most people but probably meets the " Charge Stopping" criteria for a heavy gun.

I saw a .505 Gibbs case, it's big.

.375 may do most things and be versatile and all most might ever need.

Many of us can probably get away with a rifle somewhere between the .270 to .30-06 range that's including the 7mm range of course.

If you need more grunt it could extend to a .35 Whelen if a .375 is "Too Big".
 

Newboomer

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The right bullet for the caliber and game. I use Hornady 143gr ELD-X in my 6.5CR, Barnes 160gr TSX for my 7RM for pg up to eland. My 375HH gets Barnes 235gr TSX for anything up to eland. Eland and dg get Barnes 350gr TSX. All have proven completely adequate.
 

Von Gruff

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@Von Gruff we use rimfires for Hare and Rabbit, I take it yours are at a distance.
Yes anywhere out to 150yds or so off a Bog Pod and I do have a little 22 but find the 20VT more better. A basic hornet load for these situations with the 35 gn nosler at 2700fps and a 100yd zero but it is also zero'd at 200yds (same setting)for a 34gn berger at 3700fps so a very versatile little cartridge/rifle combnation. Have taken goats with the berger load so a bit of capability that the 2 LR does not have.
The 303 is in the Lee Speed style so nostalgia as well as capability in that one and have some 230 gn South African Game Ranger bullets that takes it up a bit if something more is needed tah the 190gn cast bullet I usually shoot/play with.
 

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Don't think there any such thing as enough gun. I have my collections...Things i will never dream of selling. Then there are guns that i have for shooting, Carrying. I do use these to explore caliber so check for new experience, I buy and sell them and they are some i have grown to love that i would keep for a long time.
 

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I am limited to two for my for my upcoming hunt. a Heym 88B in 9.3x74R and a Heym 88B in .500 NE. I think I have just about any game in Zimbabwe covered with those two. ;)

BTW, before anyone comments, I put those rifles in the case for CBP to inspect, I am in the process of cutting foam to form fit the rifles in the case.

View attachment 408443

What is the weight difference between your rifles? I’ve got similar calibre barrels with 470NE instead of 500NE on one receiver and when ordering the gun was wondering whether to go the two gun or two barrels sets route. In the end I settled on one gun for financial reasons.
 
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As far as people going “too light” I have two thoughts/ideas:

1) Modern premium bullets have allowed lighter calibers to hit harder and more reliably than they used to. This may account for a renewed interest in using them for larger animals (for better or worse).

2) A lot of people on the web spout axioms without regard for what made them axioms. On the one side you get “use the largest you can shoot reliably” and on the opposite “shot placement is all that matters.” I see this in wild pig hunting discussions on other forums where the only suitable cartridges for a feral boar seem to be either .375 or .223 and nothing in between. The poor 30-06 suffers from being too powerful or too weak, depending on which extreme an internet expert sits on, which is, of course, nonsense. :D
@Rocked and Loaded
Both schools of thought are correct use the biggest you can shoot comfortably and shot placement is the thing that matters.
No use putting ANY bullet in the wrong spot but is bigger better. To me yes but just because I like putting big holes in things.
Bob
 

Elton

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@Rocked and Loaded
Both schools of thought are correct use the biggest you can shoot comfortably and shot placement is the thing that matters.
No use putting ANY bullet in the wrong spot but is bigger better. To me yes but just because I like putting big holes in things.
Bob
Bob that thinking reminds me in on one if the hunting reports (can't remember who) where the hunter was looking for a warthog and finally found one with its ass facing him. Then the PH said "you have a 416, shoot him in the ass" . You weren't perhaps the PH on that trip?
 
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When you hit your target animal and have to put the animal back together like a jigsaw puzzle you used too much gun. You need to back'em down a bit !
@Buffalo1
So when I discombooberate a wascly rabbit with my hot 22 should I go to an air wifle.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Bod
 
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Bob that thinking reminds me in on one if the hunting reports (can't remember who) where the hunter was looking for a warthog and finally found one with its ass facing him. Then the PH said "you have a 416, shoot him in the ass" . You weren't perhaps the PH on that trip?
@Elton
No mate but I would have shot it in the arse w ith my Whelen without issues
Bob
 

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Much like the OP I have also noticed this push for bigger than necessary calibres. Take for example my 30.06. It used to be perfectly suitable to take anything from Eland down. Good shot placement and decent bullets and everyone was happy. No we see a large portion of the hunting fraternity saying a 180gn out my 30.06 is "marginal" or they wouldn't attempt it happily.

Now I'm NOT advocating using a 30.06 for jumbo but it has been used (Rhodesian army FN with ball ammo during the war) and it worked. Now all of a sudden a 30.06 is marginal for Eland.....

I get the "use enough gun" mantra but hell's teeth not everything has to be deader than dead.
 

Elton

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Much like the OP I have also noticed this push for bigger than necessary calibres. Take for example my 30.06. It used to be perfectly suitable to take anything from Eland down. Good shot placement and decent bullets and everyone was happy. No we see a large portion of the hunting fraternity saying a 180gn out my 30.06 is "marginal" or they wouldn't attempt it happily.

Now I'm NOT advocating using a 30.06 for jumbo but it has been used (Rhodesian army FN with ball ammo during the war) and it worked. Now all of a sudden a 30.06 is marginal for Eland.....

I get the "use enough gun" mantra but hell's teeth not everything has to be deader than dead.
Well said, i shot my first animal with a 30 06, come to think about it everyone on the trip had a 30 06 with them and all from jackel to zebra was shot. Like you said it was perfectly normal to shoot an Eland with it. Now its as if the 06 is considered a small caliber. Growing up South African kids (yes 4 hear olds) on average learned to shoot with the 30 06. Even before they had BB guns they shot a 06. Needless to say when they were of age the first rifle they got was (drum roll) the 06.

Now i hear my little nephew wanting 375 and bigger. All well and good but the reason us South Africans can shoot so well (yes yes i know) is because we SHOT A LOT. Cost of shooting the 308 /30 06 is relatively cheap. Recoil is not even a factor, so shooting on weekends was the norm. Looking at the modern trend (and keeping this within South Africa where owning a rifle is a headache to achieve. If you were to get the BIG GUNS then they won't be shot as much. Due to cost, recoil. And emphasis isn't being put as much on shot placement because screw it we have a 40 cal.

I honestly fear that the tradition of hunting isn't being carried over to newer generations in the basic form. Yes we teach our kids the basics, but looking in from outside the family, Hunting is being showcased as Shoot big, win big.

On the other end of the spectrum, long range hunting is doing the same. How many "tactical" rifles are being taken on hunts? Ask any 30 year old and younger how to hold over. Use mil dots etc and they will look at you as if you read the news paper. Now a days you get an app for telling you what your scope should be put on. There is no Weapon knowledge. No Tracking knowledge. No basic hunting knowledge???

Ok i feel better after my rant.
 

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This is a discussion that will never stop and why we have such variety of calibers.

My general rule of thumb is the following half taken from Ruark.

"Use enough gun, but make sure you can hit your target!"

It's great if you can handle a .50 Cal and hit dead on but not everybody can do it and handle the recoil.
With todays bullets and calibers you can and are able to get your caliber to punch in a heavier weight class with reloads.

So there is so many variables species to be hunted, area and general shooting distances.

Elton, what you say is true about tradition but its up to us to teach the younger generation even if it hurts their feelings. Hunting is not and instant gratification its an ancient part of life since man sat around fire.
 

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