(Last Updated: December 2014)
My Opinions on rifle calibres - December 2014
Previously in 2013 I argued the pairing of what I thought was a good combination of medium bore rifle calibres. Here in this post I challenge myself on that argument and using reason and logic (at least my reason and logic) to look at what would be better choices. In this article I use the term calibre, but cartridge would probably be a better or more accurate term to use. One cannot consider the calibre alone without considering the cartridges and without considering the rifles chambered for those cartridges and their limitations. For this reason I will refer to the cartridges instead.
If you think about it, there are no one perfect medium rifle cartridge for doing it all. A lot of people will argue about this and would mention the popular cartridges: in South Africa people would mention the .30-06 Springfield or the 7x57 Mauser or the .270 Winchester, in the United States of America people might argue the .308 or the .30-06, in Europe people might argue the 7x64 Brenecke in Norway or Swede people would argue the 6.5x55, in Japan it might be the 8mm Mauser. Change the scene from hunting to target shooting and cartridges of a different type would get mentioned like 6.5 Creedmore or the 6mmBR or the .338 Magnum. Talk about varmint and people will start to change there minds and mention the .223 and the .22-250 or the .243 or the .222 Swift. But a game ranger might argue the .375 H&H or the 9.3x62 some would say a .30-30 would be fine and others might want a .400 Jefrey.
The pattern that emerges from the previous paragraph is that pairing medium bore rifle cartridges, according to me, is all relevant to what you aim to do. The second thing we can see is that it is not practical to have only one rifle in one cartridge.
Also, ask yourself this question, why do I only want one rifle cartridge to do everything if 20 rifles could be better?
Well, this is a reasonable question and everyone's answer will differ.
Not everyone have space for 20 rifles.
Not everyone have the money to afford 20 proper rifles.
Some countries have limitations on the amount of rifles, i.e. a normal person in South Africa at the moment can only have two rifles if he/she already have a self defence weapon and a shotgun. Or 4 rifles if he/she does not have any other firearms. Except when he/she is a dedicated hunter or dedicated sports shooter or collector.
I think the sensible thing to do before buying a rifle would be asking yourself these questions:
1. What will I use the rifle for?Some considerations may be:
- Do I want the rifle to serve a dual purpose or single purpose?
- Will you use the rifle as a dual purpose and say for 30% hunting and 70% Target shooting?
- Will it be a dedicated hunting rifle.
- Do I want a accurate tack driver.
- What type of target shooting will I do?
2. What distances do I plan on shooting?Do I want to kill a Eland bull at 300 meters? Do I want to hunt Steenbok at 75 meters? Do I want to shoot a Jackal at 300 meters?
3. What size animals do I plan on shooting if I am to shoot animals?
- Will I be shooting varmint for pest control?
- Will I be hunting deer or antelope and what size?
- Will I be defending people on a safari from dangerous African wild?
4. What will the shooting circumstances be?
- Will I be hunting in open plains or bush or hills?
- Will I be shooting from a bench?
- Will I be waiting for the animal to hunt or will I walk and stalk the animal?
5. What Ammunition will I be shooting?
- Will I shoot standard factory ammunition?
- Will I reload my own ammunition?
- How available are the ammunition I intend to use?
6. What will my budget be?
- Planning on shooting targets all day? Don't mind the cash, cause you have plenty, then shoot a 6mmBR or .260 Remington.
- You only want to do target shooting and you want to reload but want to do it efficiently and not rob a bank, get yourself a 6.5 Creedmore.
- Consider the barrel life of the specific cartridge to be used.
7. What is the minimum requirements and rules for doing the shooting I want to?You will find it is not wise to try and hunt an elephant with a .22LR, from this alone we can see there must be limitations to doing certain kinds of shooting. Where do we draw the line? Each kind of shooting have rules and limitations, make sure you consider that.
8. What are the laws of the country where the shooting is to take place?
9. Why do I want a specific rifle cartridge?Some people would want to use a .303 British or a 7x57 Mauser or a .30-30 Lever Action because it has a military heritage or some sort of historical reference.
10. It is not the cartridge alone that needs to be considered, consider the rifle and accessories.What rifles do I get in the cartridge I want? Are these rifles accurate.
11. Exceptions and other things to consider
Some people only care about one type of shooting for example someone might only be interested in Bisley and nothing else, this situation would only require one rifle in one cartridge. There might be more than one cartridge to choose from, but that person would only need one. In this case you may say that there are a perfect cartridge for yourself, still not one cartridge since someone else might chose a different cartridge. When you start using a rifle as a dual purpose, it will have trade offs in both purposes. (with exceptions) For instance if you want to hunt medium sized game and do target shooting you might consider a .308 cartridge and it would be sufficient for both. But the recoil is more than say a .243 if you only used it for target shooting or your hunting will be limited over distances of 300 meters for certain game comparing to lets say a .300 WM.
- In general, no one rifle can be perfectly used for all your shooting, you will need more than one rifle. Except if you only do one kind of shooting.
- Pairing Medium Bore Rifle cartridges are all dependent on what you want to use the rifle for.
- Before buying a rifle in a specific cartridge, do a lot of reading about all cartridges, decide what you want to do and find the suitable cartridges for the purpose.
- Rather not be underpowered for the situation.
So what would my combination be at the moment?At the moment the things to consider would be:
- The law in my country limit me to have 3 to 4 rifles in my situation.
- I would like to do the following: Target shoot bench rest, maybe also field. Pest Control of smaller animals. Hunting medium game and deer in the bush and in open plains. Maybe in Future Hunt a big deer or antelope.
- I do not like recoil.
- I would reload but only settle on one bullet load per rifle, this I believe would help me learn the rifle behaviour better than jumping around between loads.
- I want it to be efficient and not cost me a lot to shoot, thus burn less powder and have long barrel life.
From this I would settle on 3 rifles:
- Target Shoot and pest control short to long range: .22-250 (or .243 or 6Rem)
- Target Shoot and medium Game rifle can also do pest control short to long range: 6.5x55SE (or 6.5Creedmore or .270Win)
- Medium to Big game hunting short to medium distances: .375 H&H (or .375Ruger or 9.3x62)