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" How-To Series Of North American Big-Game Hunting "  

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 Cartridges Contents
 1. Introduction
 2. Practical Considerations
 3. Recoil
 4. Cartridge Design
 5. Cartridge Selection
 6. Ballistic Tables
 7. Big Game Weight Calculations
 8. Conclusion
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Chapter 5. – Cartridge Selection

In This Chapter
- .243 Winchester, .25/06 Remington, .270 Winchester,
7mm Remington Magnum, .30/30 Winchester, .308 Winchester,
.30/06 Springfield, .338 Winchester Magnum

.243 Winchester (.243" bullet diameter)

The commercial version of this round was introduced by Winchester in 1955 for it's Model 70 bolt action and Model 88 lever action rifles. In its class, this 6 mm cartridge is unsurpassed. An extremely accurate cartridge, the .243 Winchester is based on a .308 case necked down to take a .243 inch diameter bullet. With 100-grain bullets, the .243 Winchester is ideal for taking deer and antelope -- this bullet is constructed to give good penetration and controlled expansion.

One reason for the successful reception of the .243 is the greater sectional density of the lighter weight bullets, which mean you have better remaining velocities for long range shooting. The light recoil, even with the heavier bullets, make the .243 an ideal first gun or for recoil sensitive hunters. It is the smallest caliber suitable for big game and is an exceptional choice for varmints.

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.25/06 Remington (.257" bullet diameter)

This cartridge was around for many years as a wildcat. Never an outstanding performer, the .25/06 only came into it's own with the development of very slow burning powders -- velocity improvement then became significant. In 1969, Remington offered their Model 700 rifle chambered for a standardized .25/06. Today, all major rifle manufacturers offer bolt actions in this caliber.

This is a very fine extra-long-range cartridge and is well suited for open country, as it is fast shooting with a flat-trajectory. With the very large case capacity in relation to the bullet diameter, the noise levels and muzzle blast is quite high. Recoil is moderate, but be sure you can handle the noise. The .25/06 is a .30/06 cartridge necked down to accept a .257 inch diameter bullet. With ample power at 300 and 400 yards, the 117 and 120-grain bullets are the correct choices for deer sized game.

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.270 Winchester (.277" bullet diameter)

Introduced by Winchester in 1925, the .270 is one of the most commonly used big game cartridges. The .270 was developed from the .30/06 cartridge with a slightly longer neck. Necked down to accept .277 inch bullets, it is a high velocity, long range, flat shooting cartridge, originally designed for use in the Winchester Model 54 bolt action rifle. There is no doubt the .270 has and continues to do its job well -- this cartridge has far more fans than detractors.

The .270 has noticeably less recoil than the .30/06 and is at least as accurate. The 130-grain bullet is the most popular weight and its effectiveness on light and medium game is well known. Another solid performer in the .270 offering is the 150-grain bullet. The trajectory is almost as good as the 130-grain bullet, but it provides higher energy and better penetration on larger animals. This is one of the better so-called all around cartridges and will be with us for a long time to come.

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7mm Remington Magnum (.284" bullet diameter)

Introduced in 1962, at the same time as the Remington Model 700 bolt action rifle, the 7 mm Remington Magnum has become a classic of modern cartridges. It is based on a shortened, necked-down, 300 H&H belted magnum case and delivers less recoil than comparable .30 caliber magnums. The bullet is .284 inches in diameter and is commonly available in weights from 120 to 175-grains. It has been said that 7 mm is the optimum diameter for a hunting bullet when recoil, bullet weight and the ballistic coefficients are taken into consideration.

The 7 mm is capable of extremely fine accuracy and is easier on barrels than other caliber's that are considered hot. Loaded with a 175-grain bullet, this is an outstanding performer on larger species, although it should be considered the minimum for heavy game. In recent years, the 165-grain bullet has gained popularity due to its superior ballistics. The 7 mm is a potent big-game round and rifles chambered for it are available from all the large gun makers.

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.30/30 Winchester (.308" bullet diameter)

The .30/30 Winchester was introduced in 1895 and initially offered in the Winchester Model 94. The designation .30/30 was derived from the fact that this cartridge had a 30 caliber bullet and 30-grains of smokeless powder. This is still one of the most favored deer and black bear cartridges, although it now seems to be falling from its position of immense popularity. Limited only by its velocity; shots at game should not be taken at over 150 yards.

This cartridge is generally offered in a lever action rifle, but we mention it here due to its popularity. With the tubular feeding found in most rifles chambered for this round, flat-nosed 170-grain bullets are the best choice. Again, stay within the constraints of accuracy, range and game size.

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.308 Winchester (.308" bullet diameter)

Developed for the military during the late 1940's, the 7.62 NATO was adopted by NATO nations as a standard military cartridge. Winchester was the first to realize the potential of this round for commercial manufacture and introduced it as the .308 Winchester in 1952 for their Model 70 bolt action and Model 88 lever action rifles. Available in most popular makes of rifles, this cartridge easily places in the top ten list of all time. The short case also adds appeal, as a short action can be utilized in the lighter and more compact rifles that are very much in demand today.

The .308 is capable of tremendous accuracy and has now become the standard of most match shooting. In the field, this cartridge performs just as well. Shorter than the .30/06 cartridge, the .308 comes very close to its performance - within 100 to 200 feet per second. Even so, because of its slightly inferior ballistics as compared to the .30/06, it really should not be considered for heavy or large game. One hundred and fifty grain and 165-grain bullets perform well on all light and medium sized game, but 200-grain bullets are not recommended for hunting. They simply cannot be driven fast enough to make them effective.

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.30/06 Springfield (.308" bullet diameter)

This is probably the most popular centerfire cartridge ever developed. Originally developed in 1903 for use by the military, an improved round was made available in 1906, designated the "Ball Cartridge," caliber .30, Model 1906. The name was eventually shortened to .30/06. Over the years, this cartridge has become the one all others are compared to. Another testimony to its popularity is the availability of firearms in .30/06 -- almost all rifle manufacturers chamber for this round.

One big advantage of the .30/06 is that there has always been a wide choice of bullet weights and styles available in .30 caliber. One hundred and fifty grain bullets are ideal for deer, antelope and sheep, while the 180-grain bullet will take care of elk, moose and bear. The 165-grain is probably one of the best all round bullets for all North American thin-skinned game. If you are going to select a single rifle for all your hunting, the .30/06 will probably serve you best.

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.338 Winchester Magnum (.338" bullet diameter)

This cartridge is potent, accurate and is an exceptional performer on big game at long range. The .338 Winchester Magnum was introduced in 1958 and originally chambered for the Winchester Model 70. It is based on the .458 Winchester Magnum case, necked down and designed to be no longer than a standard .30/06 case. This allows the .338 to be worked through a standard length action. In the West, ammunition is widely available and you have a large selection of rifles to choose from. All major rifle manufacturers now offer at least one model in .338.

The .338 is a premier elk, moose and bear cartridge, developing a muzzle energy of nearly 4000 foot-pounds. A powerful, flat-shooting cartridge, the .338 Winchester Magnum is the most popular big-bore magnum in North America. This is probably the largest caliber where felt recoil is within acceptable limits for hunters. Recoil and noise can be distracting, but it is the smallest of the true heavy cartridges. Two hundred to 250 grain bullets are all available and all will deliver outstanding performance.

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... on to Chapter 6 - Ballistic Tables

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