The Perfect Caliber and Weight?
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The Perfect Caliber and Weight?


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Old 12-29-2014, 01:48 AM   #1
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Default The Perfect Caliber and Weight?

I started to put this in the hunting section but this applies to a lot of things including self defense so I decided to post it here. The other night a long time hunting buddy and I were discussing what makes the perfect deer hunting caliber and bullet. My buddy and I have both killed a lot of deer over the years (I mean whole lot) and we both have taken different approaches. I've always believed in slow and heavy bullets and he has always went for fast and light. My buddy started with a .243 and killed many deer with it. He then went to a .270 and got rid of it quickly. He discovered what another friend and my father both discovered at the same time which is you will lose deer with a .270 if you use the wrong bullet. He went back to the .243 again with no problems and then to a 7mm mag with ballistic tips. The 7mag worked well all though he did loose a couple of deer with it including the biggest deer he had ever shot.

Now he's using a .308 shooting 165gr Gamekings and he lost a deer this year and has come close to loosing a couple more in the past. He's just not getting good blood trails and he's not getting the shock he's used to with really fast bullets.

I can't count the deer I killed with a Lee-Enfield .303 British using 180gr bullets. That is a slow and heavy bullet and every deer I shot with round nose bullets dropped in it's tracks, but I never got an exit wound with round nose bullets. I then went to a 30-06 trying to get a flatter trajectory and more range. I was using 165gr premium bullets in it years ago and the bullets were blowing through and not doing much damage (same problem with wrong bullets in .270). I shot one deer on a power line and a few minutes later another deer came out in the exact same spot going in the same direction and I shot it and dropped it. I walked up thinking I had 2 deer and when I looked down the deer had 2 holes in it 1" apart (perfect lung shot). It was the same deer and it had literal circled back around and came back to see what that was. It made me so mad I sold that gun that week (which I regret now). For the last couple of years I've been using a .308 with 180gr Gamekings and it has worked well.

Unlike my buddy shooting the same bullet in 165gr I'm getting good blood trails. And neither of us have had deer go very far. The thing I don't like is that neither of us are dropping any deer in their tracks and I'm not getting a lot of shock out of mine. My deer run off like they haven't even been hit even though they don't go far and I get blood.

What got us into this discussion is I'm trying to work up a load for my 7mm Mauser and it seems to be right in the middle of everything. It's not slow and heavy nor is it fast and light. Plus my buddy is looking for another bullet to try.

The one thing we both agree on is that there should be a perfect weight and speed bullet out there for the perfect caliber? But I'm not sure what it is. I know slow and heavy works and fast and light works but both have draw backs as well. Too fast and it can blow right through and not do much damage and you loose deer. Plus lighter bullets are affected more by wind and you don't get good penetration on quartering shots. Heavy and slow limits range and too slow and you won't get a pass trough and blood trail. Plus you loose the shock you get from a fast bullet. It just seems like there should be a perfect combination of weight, diameter, and speed?

I know this is one of those age old topics but it would be interesting to hear some different opinions and observations. So what are some thoughts on this????
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Old 12-29-2014, 02:14 AM   #2
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my opinion, laugh if you want, but i have never lost a deer or had move more than one leap.

458 winmag 350grain round nose softpoint at 2600fps. i am thinking about switching to a 200 yard zero. this will make 3 inches high at 100 and 14 low at 300.


shooting broadside into the chest liquifies the heart and lungs... all of it, instantly. all you lose is a bit of rib on both sides nice neat halfish inch hole on entry sometimes a 3/4 inch on exit. this leaves the backstraps and all four quarters untouched

ive piddled around with 30-06 and 308 and havent been happy. i always go back to my model 70 in 458.

a close second and third would be a 45-70 or 458 socom but the drops are harsher. ive got both and used both. but the 458 is a clear winner.

just how far out do you need to pop a whitetail?? i prefer under 250 to be sure i hit EXACTLY the spot i want.

i despise tracking deer. i despise dragging deer through brush after it runs off. im too old and my knees hurt to bad nowadays for that foolishness. ive had people laugh at my choice but im not the one tracking deer and wading through brush and mud and snakes. i also get all my deer meat
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Old 12-29-2014, 02:27 AM   #3
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You're in SC so I'm assuming whitetails, in my experience 270 Win. I use 130 gr. Sierra bullets in .308 & 30-06 (my personal choice) 150 gr, Sierra bullets because I don't like tracking or chasing. The problem you describe sounds more like a bullet placement issue to me. I like to spend some off season time on the running deer target range, paper doesn't lie or tell tall tails.
I have never had to track or chase a deer solidly hit with either of the above mentioned calibers.
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Old 12-29-2014, 02:30 AM   #4
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JonM .458 should do it! Kind of like a 12 lb. axe swung by a seven foot Swede!
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Old 12-29-2014, 02:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasquanel View Post
JonM .458 should do it! Kind of like a 12 lb. axe swung by a seven foot Swede!
damn straight.

there is no such thing as negative dead...

i dont shoot moving deer. i would prefer a prize deer depart unhurt than risk wounding one. deer shot with something like a 458 when they die instantly taste better than deer that have spent the last 5-20 minutes of life with adrenaline coursing through every cell of every muscle.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:57 AM   #6
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Thirty Caliber & 165 Grain Sierra Game King Hollow Points !...................
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Old 12-29-2014, 05:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasquanel View Post
The problem you describe sounds more like a bullet placement issue to me.
Shot placement is important and must be adjusted to the bullet. Slow and heavy bullets do well in soft tissue behind the shoulder. Fast bullets do well in the solid bone of the shoulder because it slows them down and gives them time to expand and transfer energy. The deer I shot twice with a 30-06 was behind the shoulder. That same deer shot in the same spot with a .303 British round nose would have never left the power line. And that same deer shot in the shoulder with the 30-06 would never have made it back to see what that was. It took me a few years to figure that out. My buddy is having trouble with both places right now and my 180gr is working in either, but still not hitting them like I want.

Jon I have no doubt about the 458 putting them down! It is in the slow and heavy catagory even though 2600 f/s isn't slow. But it is still going to loose velocity pretty quick and start falling like a rock. And I doubt I would want to pull the trigger on one more than once?

It seems like all of the calibers on the extreme of heavy and slow or light and fast work really well. A 30-30 is a great example of slow and heavy and has killed many deer. A .243 is light and fast and is also a great deer caliber. Both are extreme examples, both are deer slayers, and both suffer from being at the extreme end of the spectrum. Range is limited with a 30-30 and the .243 is affected a lot more by wind and has much less penetration for quartering shots. You could go with a .270 or 7mag and push a heavier bullet fast but then you run into the problem of the bullet just blowing through and doing hardly any damage. That's why almost everyone I know that shoots a 7mag or .270 use ballistics tips, which are just hollow points with plastic inserts to make them more aerodynamic than a standard hollow point. But they still get the rapid expansion of a hollow point. The down side to that is everyone that I know that uses ballistic tips will loose a few deer and it always seems to be a big one (someone explained that in another thread).

It just seems like there would be something in the middle of the two extremes that would be the perfect caliber? Not to fast to blow right through but still fast enough to shoot fairly flat and create enough shock to stun the deer. And heavy enough to provide good penetration even if the deer is quartering.

And 303tom, my buddy is going to go with silver tip ballistic tips in his next load for his .308. I'm sticking with the regular 180gr Gamekings in my .308 for now because it is getting the job done just not quite as well as I want (I'm being really picky here). And I'm just going to have to experiment with my 7x57 Mauser.

Keep in mind all this applies to so many other things in shooting.... .45 ACP vs 9mm for SD or .223 vs .308 for the military. It just seems like there would be the perfect combination to get the best of both extremes for whatever task.
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Old 12-29-2014, 05:50 AM   #8
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With a 270 win there is no thinking, you shoot a 130gr bullet. I have shot deer well over 200 yards away with plain old soft point ammo. The bullet always passed through the deer and left a large exit wound. I even killed a large elk with a 130gr bullet. I shot the elk about 175 yards away. The bullet passed through the elk and the elk went down within 100 feet. I had a full load 270 cartridge that had 3,200 fps velocity.

I have killed a lot of deer with a 303 british (enfield) the bullet always passed through the deer. In fact, the deer just flopped like they do when I shoot them with a 7.62x54, 30/06 or a 270.

I hunted with one club that only had one rifle. Whoever was watching a field used the rifle, everyone else used a shotgun and buckshot. There was about 10 of us that hunted daily. The one rifle we had was a 303. We all blasted deer with that rifle. The bullet always passed through the deer. We used plain old winchester 180gr soft point ammo. We had more hunters and rifles on weekends.

I shot a hole in dumpster so full of water that it couldn't be moved with a 303. We aren't talking about a little dumpster in an apartment building. This was a large dumpster on a construction site. You cannot knock a hole in a deer? There is something wrong with this picture.

The 7mm mauser is a lot like a 30/30. Under 100 yards it will slam any critter in the woods. Much further and the bullet peters out real quick. If you are going to use one gun for everything a 30/06 or a 300 win mag are your best choices. The 308 is versatile but it struggles with bullets larger than 165gr. Both the 30/06 and the 300 win mag handle 200gr bullets with authority.

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Old 12-29-2014, 11:18 AM   #9
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TLuker My early days rifle hunting in the mid '70's was with a 308 and a 150gr gameking. It always work well but early on the man that taught me to hunt impressed in that bullet placement was key not so much the bullet type so long as it was a hunting bullet. I had a learning curve like your buddy seems to still be going thru. Heart lung area not try for one or the other , no shoulder shoots and only a base of neck if deer walks at you, I did change to 150gr nosler ballistic tips in the 308 and added a 7mm rem mag to my mix and that is with the 139gr sst. Never had a deer take more than a few steps and never lost sight of where they dropped. I will wait for a better shoot and have let some walk on at times. 350 yard max for the 308 and 425 so far for the 7mm.

I traveling to hunt elk , moose or larger deer I have switched to a heavier 7mm barnex X or today the TSX. Nothing better is made for destroying tissue and punching thru a shoulder and exiting a hip 50" away . But still bullet placement is key .

One older man now gone used one cartridge for hunting in florida of 50 years . A 22 hornet. He killed deer ,yes not very large , 150lb would be a LARGE deer but bear and hogs up up into the 400lb range was possible for him on the larger end . He never fired more than one shoot and followed the game before firing for minutes before touching the trigger. Bullet placement is the key along with patience. There NO best cartridge or bullet type .

Last edited by hardluk1; 12-29-2014 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 12-29-2014, 01:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TLuker View Post
Shot placement is important and must be adjusted to the bullet. Slow and heavy bullets do well in soft tissue behind the shoulder. Fast bullets do well in the solid bone of the shoulder because it slows them down and gives them time to expand and transfer energy. The deer I shot twice with a 30-06 was behind the shoulder. That same deer shot in the same spot with a .303 British round nose would have never left the power line. And that same deer shot in the shoulder with the 30-06 would never have made it back to see what that was. It took me a few years to figure that out. My buddy is having trouble with both places right now and my 180gr is working in either, but still not hitting them like I want.

Jon I have no doubt about the 458 putting them down! It is in the slow and heavy catagory even though 2600 f/s isn't slow. But it is still going to loose velocity pretty quick and start falling like a rock. And I doubt I would want to pull the trigger on one more than once?

It seems like all of the calibers on the extreme of heavy and slow or light and fast work really well. A 30-30 is a great example of slow and heavy and has killed many deer. A .243 is light and fast and is also a great deer caliber. Both are extreme examples, both are deer slayers, and both suffer from being at the extreme end of the spectrum. Range is limited with a 30-30 and the .243 is affected a lot more by wind and has much less penetration for quartering shots. You could go with a .270 or 7mag and push a heavier bullet fast but then you run into the problem of the bullet just blowing through and doing hardly any damage. That's why almost everyone I know that shoots a 7mag or .270 use ballistics tips, which are just hollow points with plastic inserts to make them more aerodynamic than a standard hollow point. But they still get the rapid expansion of a hollow point. The down side to that is everyone that I know that uses ballistic tips will loose a few deer and it always seems to be a big one (someone explained that in another thread).

It just seems like there would be something in the middle of the two extremes that would be the perfect caliber? Not to fast to blow right through but still fast enough to shoot fairly flat and create enough shock to stun the deer. And heavy enough to provide good penetration even if the deer is quartering.

And 303tom, my buddy is going to go with silver tip ballistic tips in his next load for his .308. I'm sticking with the regular 180gr Gamekings in my .308 for now because it is getting the job done just not quite as well as I want (I'm being really picky here). And I'm just going to have to experiment with my 7x57 Mauser.

Keep in mind all this applies to so many other things in shooting.... .45 ACP vs 9mm for SD or .223 vs .308 for the military. It just seems like there would be the perfect combination to get the best of both extremes for whatever task.

If you can handle a 3" 12ga slug you can handle a 458 with that load. But you would have to handload.

Barring that then a 458socom or 45-70 is far better than any other deer caliber
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