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View Poll Results: Which would be your primary deer-hunting caliber?
.243 Winchester 6 5.88%
.270 Winchester 30 29.41%
30-30 Winchester 3 2.94%
30-06 Springfield 10 9.80%
.308 Winchester 13 12.75%
7mm-08 Remington 12 11.76%
7mm Remington Magnum 12 11.76%
.338 Lapua Magnum 2 1.96%
.280 Remington 2 1.96%
None of the above 12 11.76%
Voters: 102. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 11-04-2008, 01:04 AM
Brad09 Brad09 is offline
 
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Default Best caliber for deer

Okay, you guys are probably sick of hearing from me by now, but I've still got nagging questions. Firstly, I work in a sporting goods dept. of a Can. Tire, so I see quite a few hunters coming and going, especially during this season. And since the bug bit me about 2 weeks ago, and I've decided to give it a go, I've picked the brain of every hunter that comes in. Right now, I haven't asked about techniques and great areas for a couple of reasons. Seems to me that I actually need to go out hunting to fully appreciate the best techniques, and that nobody wants to give up their prized spot lest I go out there and (doubtful though it may be) steal their buck. Therefore, I've been keeping to questions about rifles.

Now, when I ask what the best all-round caliber is for North American hunting(no trips to Africa in my next 10 years), ninety-nine percent of guys tell me that a 30-06 Springfield is good from everything from white-tails and mules all the way up to monster moose. However, when I ask what the best caliber for deer is, I get a few different responses. Lots of people seem to say that .270 Winchester is a safe caliber, and good for pretty long ranges and up close. However, I had a pair of guys in the other day, older guys and clearly grizzled veterans, and they told me that they wouldn't even think of shooting a deer with anything less than a 7mm Remington Magnum. Now, a friend of mine told me that a 7mm Mag kicks like a mule. When I told these guys this, both of them smirked, and one of them looked at me and said, "You're a big boy, you can handle it." And another guy I know, an Army vet and a former hunter, was telling me that a 7mm Mag was a good way to wreck the meat and rip a perfectly good Bambi to ribbons.

Now, for some reason, speaking to these 2 guys has stuck in my mind. So, there are two questions that come to mind. Firstly, myself, at a tender 22 years of age and perhaps having put 20-30 rounds through the barrel of a .22in my life, wonders what the kick of a 7mm Mag is like. And secondly, I'm curious to know what everyone here prefers for white-tailed and mule deer. When I look at hunting elk and pronghorn later on down the road, I'll look at buying a gun specifically for shooting them.

In reading several forums similar to this conversation, I seem to hear a lot of comments to the effect of, "it doesn't matter what caliber you shoot, it matters how you shoot it." And really, it makes perfect sense to me. But at this point, I need a starting point. I'm wondering if perhaps it's more about your personality, and that guys that grow up firing big Magnum calibers are more apt to shoot them successfully on all game, or if it's a general consensus that when you shoot little Bambi with a Magnum cannon that you're asking for confetti no matter what, and some guys just get lucky. I guess it boils down to whether or not specific calibers are meant for specific game, or if it's all just guesswork and opinions, and when you get good at shooting a specific caliber, you should just stick with it no matter what you hunt(as long as you don't chase moose with a .243).

Please offer your opinions.

Brad
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  #2  
Old 11-04-2008, 01:21 AM
jasonburrows jasonburrows is offline
 
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Doesnt matter what you shoot, if you make a proper broadside shot through the lungs you're only gonna wreck a few ribs, if you make a bad shot and hit the animal in the front or hind quarters with a magnum rifle youre gonna make hamburger, stick with the 270 winchester its a good first gun especially since you dont have any experience shooting you want to practice shooting and not be afraid of recoil,
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  #3  
Old 11-04-2008, 04:09 AM
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Jason Balesdent Jason Balesdent is offline
 
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Caliber only really comes into question when you start after much larger game. The best rifle / caliber you can hunt deer with is the rifle that fits you well and the caliber you can shoot accurately over and over again. For whitetail anything from the .243 and up is enough as long as you put the shot where it needs to be. Try to find someone who owns a few different calibers that will go to the range with you for a day, try out a few and see what you can shoot comfortably and go from there.
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Old 11-04-2008, 05:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Balesdent View Post
Caliber only really comes into question when you start after much larger game. The best rifle / caliber you can hunt deer with is the rifle that fits you well and the caliber you can shoot accurately over and over again. For whitetail anything from the .243 and up is enough as long as you put the shot where it needs to be. Try to find someone who owns a few different calibers that will go to the range with you for a day, try out a few and see what you can shoot comfortably and go from there.
2X have to agree well said when i started i had a 303 cal first 5 years then a 7mm next 3year's ,308cal the next 5years i now shoot a 270 cal for the last 14 years will never need another gun ever.Hope you find what you are looking for . ps.as for tearing up meat with different cals that will vary from one hunter to the next.
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  #5  
Old 11-04-2008, 05:50 AM
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I had a pair of guys in the other day, older guys and clearly grizzled veterans, and they told me that they wouldn't even think of shooting a deer with anything less than a 7mm Remington Magnum.
..............veterans with no brains. A .25-06, .308, .30-.30, 270 are all calibers i have seen absolutley level good sized deer. A 7mm rem mag as a minimum???? Ha ha thats alot of needless powder for a friggen deer.
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  #6  
Old 11-04-2008, 06:07 AM
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Depends.

What style of hunting do for see your self doing?
close cover hunting will move you towards light handy carbine type rifles in calibers which produce moderate muzzle velocities, with mid to heavy weight bullets.

Open country will move one towards longer barrels and faster velocity cartridges with lighter weight bullets.

Now if you are like 90% of all the Alberta hunters out there, your primary quary will be deer, with and elk or a moose thrown in on a 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 year rotation.

If you hunt a mixed bag of style, sometimes skulking through the alders, while other times over looking long cutlines, or hay fields, certain options for calibers really stand out in my mind.

A classic 270Win rifle wilth a 22" bbl.
A 7mm-08 rifle with a 22" bbl.
A 308Win rifle with a 22" bbl, or maybe even a 20-18.5" bbl.
Go with a varible power scope like a 2.5-10, 2-7, easing away from a 3-9 if tight quarter stuff is too often attempted.

All the hype about 30 cal and larger is exactly that hype, a well constructed 130 or 140gr bullet of 0.277" to 0.284" placed where it belongs will put any moose or elk on the deck if broadside shots are maintained, and sub 300yd ranges observed.


There is no need for a long barreled magnum especially for a beginner.

Good luck.
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  #7  
Old 11-04-2008, 07:16 AM
Leverboy Leverboy is offline
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My Savage in .30-06 for open country and my .30-.30 Trapper with a 16" barrell for close cover is all the battery i need. Two good rifles that cover whatever situation from deer to moose. A 7mm Remn mag as a minimum for deer is the stupidest thing i have heard today.

.................I wouldn't argue with Dick's assesment. Those are great picks as good all around guns and calibers no matter the terrain. The 7mm-08 is a sweet round with hardly any recoil and a decent flat shooter as well.

Last edited by Leverboy; 11-04-2008 at 07:31 AM.
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  #8  
Old 11-04-2008, 07:20 AM
raised by wolves raised by wolves is offline
 
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There are so many to choose from.

My advice to a buddy of mine, also new to hunting was to pick from 270Win, 30-06, or 308Win. I suggested these 3 only because they are all very popular and probably account for half or maybe as much as two thirds of the rifles used for hunting. Another reason for suggesting these 3 cartridges was the availability of ammo at any sporting goods retailoers or other shops like CDN Tire, Wal Mart, some hardware shops, and even gas stations located in hunting country.

All 3 will knock down any animal on the continent and have done so for many years.

30-06 - A classic. Wide variety of bullet weights to choose from. Probably the most popular of the 3. Some models may give a bit of kick but even this is relatively minor compared to some of the popular magnums out there. I shoot a lightweight 30-06 that does not seem to have any recoil.

270 Win - Always mentioned after someone suggests the 30-06. A bit lighter recoil. Flat shooter, great for open country. Of the 3 choices, this is my personal favourite for deer and the occassional elk. Limited only be the selection and availability of bullet weight.

308 Win - Low recoil and a good game stopper. One of the most popular for long range shooting. Fits into a short action receiver so the overall weight of the rifle can be reduced.

There are many great cartridges/rifle combinations.
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  #9  
Old 11-04-2008, 07:21 AM
jasonburrows jasonburrows is offline
 
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Default 7mm mag

I'm sure the old farts were just teasing him
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  #10  
Old 11-04-2008, 07:45 AM
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Quote:
I'm sure the old farts were just teasing him
I sure hope so!!!!!!
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  #11  
Old 11-04-2008, 09:01 AM
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Today's bullets make shooting almost anything within reason affective on all but the largest of North America's big game animals. I've used magnum 375's, 338's, 300's, 7MM's and don't have a single "magnum" in the safe today. My all time favorite big game round is the 280 rem, but I have taken a bunch with the 308 and 30-06. I now shoot the 280 AI almost exclusively for big game. I've also found that my longer range open country rifles work just as well in close.

For your situation I'd look no further than a Remington LH SPS youth in 7mm-08 with eigther a Leupold VX III 3.5-10X40 or Leupold FX II 6X36 in Talley LW rings. The above combination will last a lifetime, is easily upgradeable, and with good bullets will kill everything you wish to hunt with it here in Alberta.

Chuck
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  #12  
Old 11-04-2008, 10:05 AM
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Deer are NOT hard to kill.

Get a rifle you can shoot well. Practice until you know exactly where the bullet will be at any reasonable distance. Go get 'em.

I got a .308. If I was only hunting deer I might look at a 7mm-08 or a 270. But I don't really think the deer would be able to tell the difference. I Like the .308 alot. Lots of punch for deer (can even handle moose at "normal" ranges). Cheap to shoot. Easy on the shoulder. Not going to win any popularity contests (especially with those who are *ahem* compensating for something). I'd love to have one of my .338 win mags back (sold them), I'd love to have a .375H&H ruger MK2 (heck, I'd looove to have the same in .416 rigby). Those would be for thrills. Totally unnecessary and I can think of much better places to waste my money.

Seriously, don't get too hung up on the gear.



p.s.
You'd probably be surprised how many people will be willing to give you good locations to hunt.
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  #13  
Old 11-04-2008, 10:12 AM
Leverboy Leverboy is offline
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One thing about the internet and all these discussion forums, is it has made it harder for the rookie to make a decision as there is just too much discussion and it clouds everything. Like the last poster said, don't get too hung up on the gear. A bullet in the heart is a bullet in the heart. Buy a rifle and caliber that will enable you to confidentally shoot it and place that pill in the vitals everytime under any condition.
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  #14  
Old 11-04-2008, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick284 View Post
All the hype about 30 cal and larger is exactly that hype, a well constructed 130 or 140gr bullet of 0.277" to 0.284" placed where it belongs will put any moose or elk on the deck if broadside shots are maintained, and sub 300yd ranges observed.
Except when the angle is not perfectly broadside and/or the animal is farther than 300 yards ?

For example, I had a small window of opportunity at my 2008 bull elk at 380+ yards, quartering and moving away. I had all the confidence in my 300 RUM to make 3 quick shots, hitting him on the 2nd and 3rd shot. With a 270, 7-08, etc. I would have passed the shot opportunity for sure. Instead I have a freezer full of meat and my best bull elk to-date on my wall. No hype, just the utility of a magnum in the real world of hunting.
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Old 11-04-2008, 02:37 PM
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But I do agree on the point that there is no need for a long barreled magnum for a beginner, especially if only deer is on the menu.
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Old 11-04-2008, 02:40 PM
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.172" - .17 HMR
.223" - .22 Short, Long, Long Rifle
.224" - .22 WMR, .222 Remington, .223 Remington, .22-250 Varminter, .223 WSSM
.243" - .243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, .243 WSSM, .240 Wby. Mag.
.257" - .25-06, .257 Wby. Mag.
.264" - 6.5x55, .260 Remington, .264 Win. Mag.
.277" - .270 Winchester, .270 WSM, .270 Wby. Mag.
.284" - 7mm-08 Remington, 7x57 Mauser, .280 Remington, 7mm Mag. (all)
.308" - .30 Carbine, .30-30, .300 Savage, .308 Winchester, .30-06, .300 Mag. (all)
.311" - 7.62x39 Soviet, .303 British
.321" - .32 Winchester Special
.323" - 8x57JS Mauser
.338" - .338-57 O'Connor, .338 Mag. (all), .340 Wby. Mag.
.358" - .357 Magnum, .35 Remington, .35 Whelen, .350 Rem. Mag.
.375" - .375 Mag. (all), .378 Wby. Mag.
.416" - .416 Rigby, .416 Rem. Mag., .416 Wby. Mag.
.429" - .44 Rem. Mag., .444 Marlin
.458" - .45-70, .450 Marlin, .458 Win. Mag., .460 Wby. Mag.


What I gather from these measurements is that 7mm is actually a smaller bullet then what most on here seem to impart. The 7mm is actually a smaller projectile then lets say the famed 30-06 or 30-30 that lots on here recommend.

The 7mm gets a poor rating because fewer use the rifle, not because they hate it. Because they grew up on the 30-30 or 30-06.

A 7 mm in the same grain will do the same or less damage then a 30-06 or a 30-30 in the same grain.

They all make small entry holes and then bigger exit holes then mess things up inside, how big of an entry and how big of an exit hole along with internal damge depends on the bullet type itself. (fast, slow, expanding)
Biggest thing you want to do is try and find some one with each of the rifles you like the look of, and in the calibers you like. Then go out and shoot the different calibers and see which one suits you better. Also take a look at the price of the ammunition, 30-30 and 30-06 is generally cheaper then 7mm is.
Because they are more popular.

Working at CT gives you a chance maybe to examine the different types of rifles you sell and see which ones are more popular. Chatting with your customers can result in mmany different results but at the end of the day whcih ever one is most popular is probelly a safe bet.

Good luck
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  #17  
Old 11-04-2008, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Copidosoma View Post
Deer are NOT hard to kill.

Get a rifle you can shoot well. Practice until you know exactly where the bullet will be at any reasonable distance. Go get 'em.




.
Deer aren't hard to kill? Not sure how many deer you have shot, but come on. Hit any animal with a small caliber rifle in the heart or lungs and yeah, they die easy. If you have made shots like this on all the animals you have taken, then good on ya for making clean shots everytime, but unfortunately this isn't a perfect world and the odd bad shot is made, and when one is made, deer don't die easy. Nor do elk, mooose, ect.... I very much agree that a small caliber gun is a more accurate gun in many hands as some can't handle the heavier recoil, and if you are one that can't handle the recoil then it is best to shoot something you can handle. If you are capable of shooting a magnum....why not. Sounds like most here only take broadside shots at 200 yds or so, and make a heart shot every time, but in the off chance you don't make that "perfect" shot a heavier chunk of lead at high velocities is gonna be far more beneficial.
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Old 11-04-2008, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by depopulator View Post
Except when the angle is not perfectly broadside and/or the animal is farther than 300 yards ?

For example, I had a small window of opportunity at my 2008 bull elk at 380+ yards, quartering and moving away. I had all the confidence in my 300 RUM to make 3 quick shots, hitting him on the 2nd and 3rd shot. With a 270, 7-08, etc. I would have passed the shot opportunity for sure. Instead I have a freezer full of meat and my best bull elk to-date on my wall. No hype, just the utility of a magnum in the real world of hunting.
So explain all the moose elk and deer killed with 130gr. Partitions in a 270Win?(ask Rugersingle)

Also explain how I dumped a moose at spot on 300yds quartering away breaking the off side shoulder, with nothing more than a 25'06 and a 100gr. Partition.(tipped over on the spot)

Explain how I broke both front shoulders at 255yds on a bull elk with the same load in a 25'06

Perhaps the choice of bullets plays a very large part in providing penetration, on poor angle shots.

Perhaps taking low percentage shots for a neophyte is not a thing to advocate.

Perhaps allowing a neophyte shooter to become proficent enough of a shot without worrying about excessive recoil is a more prudent course of action to take.
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Old 11-04-2008, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick284 View Post
So explain all the moose elk and deer killed with 130gr. Partitions in a 270Win?(ask Rugersingle)

Also explain how I dumped a moose at spot on 300yds quartering away breaking the off side shoulder, with nothing more than a 25'06 and a 100gr. Partition.(tipped over on the spot)

Explain how I broke both front shoulders at 255yds on a bull elk with the same load in a 25'06

Perhaps the choice of bullets plays a very large part in providing penetration, on poor angle shots.

Perhaps taking low percentage shots for a neophyte is not a thing to advocate.

Perhaps allowing a neophyte shooter to become proficent enough of a shot without worrying about excessive recoil is a more prudent course of action to take.
No need to explain - they work. I could also give you just as many examples where standard cartridges failed and magnums got the job done, but I digress. I only intended to provide a real world scenario where a mag was more practical and appropriate than "hype", as you put it.

As far as "taking a low percentage shot.." I suppose that really depends on what your shooting

And like I said, a mag is probably not the right choice for a beginner.
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Last edited by depopulator; 11-04-2008 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 11-04-2008, 04:50 PM
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Reading all of these responses, being a beginer myself, i can see how he is confused. Lots to choose from. And all these responses are not making me feel to good about using my 243 I've been told by lots of guys i know that the 243 is a real good deer only gun. Just what Brad is looking for, a good deer gun. Why hasn't anyone brought up the 243? Is it only good at long distances and crap close ranges?
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Old 11-04-2008, 04:55 PM
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If I'm hunting deer in the open prairie I'll use my 7mm and if I'm in the bush I'll use my marlin 30-30. I love my 7mm but I'm sure I've never used it in a situation that a 25-06 or a 270 wouldn't have done the job. Ballistically the 7mm is better that the other calibers I've mentioned but the 25-06 or the 270 will take deer out to 250yds fine. So will dozens of other cartridges. It's personal preference!

Good luck you can't hardly go wrong with anything from the 243 to the 30-06 and anything in between. They will all take at least deer size game with proper bullet placement.
let us know what you decide.
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Old 11-04-2008, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by depopulator View Post
Except when the angle is not perfectly broadside and/or the animal is farther than 300 yards ?

For example, I had a small window of opportunity at my 2008 bull elk at 380+ yards, quartering and moving away. I had all the confidence in my 300 RUM to make 3 quick shots, hitting him on the 2nd and 3rd shot. With a 270, 7-08, etc. I would have passed the shot opportunity for sure. Instead I have a freezer full of meat and my best bull elk to-date on my wall. No hype, just the utility of a magnum in the real world of hunting.
With today's selection of bullets shot angle is relatively moot. With most any chambering.
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Old 11-04-2008, 06:08 PM
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I have used the 6mm ,.243,270,308,and everything has died that I have shot with them . Currently I am working with a 300 wm which seems to much for my blood. Shot placement is critical , which also ties into your ability to handle recoil .Now what I mean by that is if your afraid of the recoil you will never be accurate. Now that being said my father has used a 6mm to kill everything from bears to moose . Currently in other provinces 223 is being used to kill deer and bears . I believe it is more about where you put the bullet then what the bullet was shot from. Dead is dead . I personally prefer the 308 over everything .
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Old 11-04-2008, 06:26 PM
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Any cartridge with a .284 bore is the best for deer.

OK, you can shut this thread down now
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Old 11-04-2008, 06:37 PM
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For hunting whitetails in open country, nothing beats a .338-378 WBY. A great combination of knock-down power, and flat trajectory.

For 'bush' hunting, I'd personally go with a .458 Win Mag and 900g solids, since they will shoot right through a tree, and still kill a deer standing behind it.

Pick up some 5" magnum shotshells (for your 10 gauge) loaded with #4 Buck (steel) and you're good to go for ducks and grouse, too.

Seriously, good deer guns start with the 6mm's and peak around the 7mm-08 and .270 Winchester. Nothing wrong with a .308 or .30-06 either.
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Old 11-05-2008, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MountainTi View Post
Deer aren't hard to kill? Not sure how many deer you have shot, but come on. Hit any animal with a small caliber rifle in the heart or lungs and yeah, they die easy. If you have made shots like this on all the animals you have taken, then good on ya for making clean shots everytime, but unfortunately this isn't a perfect world and the odd bad shot is made, and when one is made, deer don't die easy. Nor do elk, mooose, ect.... I very much agree that a small caliber gun is a more accurate gun in many hands as some can't handle the heavier recoil, and if you are one that can't handle the recoil then it is best to shoot something you can handle. If you are capable of shooting a magnum....why not. Sounds like most here only take broadside shots at 200 yds or so, and make a heart shot every time, but in the off chance you don't make that "perfect" shot a heavier chunk of lead at high velocities is gonna be far more beneficial.
I personally haven't shot alot of deer but I'll stand by my comment. Shoot a deer in the back leg with a .458 win mag and it isn't going to die quickly either. I think that alot of people buy a magnum with the idea that they can shoot through an animal from any angle, bashing through bone, muscle, everything to hit the vitals. I suspect that these are the same people who are overconfident with their shots (too far away or too much mass in the way of the vitals) and end up botching shots. I'll take a lower powered rifle that I can shoot well and know exactly where the bullet is going to hit (as far as is possible) with the self imposed restriction that I have to have a clear shot at the vitals than a howitzer that is going to wreck a huge pile of meat in the process.

A "beginner" should be a bit modest until he/she knows what is reasonable IMO. No need to get magnumitis as a crutch for a lack of attention to other aspects of hunting.

7mm-08 or something in that range will keep you perfectly happy for deer.
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Old 11-05-2008, 09:15 AM
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personally i use a .270, and i wouldnt be too worried about the recoil on the 7mm, my dads sako 7mm has almost the same as my .270 he says because it is a heavier gun. a couple guys i know also swear by the 6mm, not a big caliber but will do the trick for deer as stated if you hit the right spot.
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Old 11-05-2008, 10:02 AM
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new this year, I went with the 30-06. Will take down anything in Canada. Decent kick but not to bad that you are afraid to shoot it.
Good luck on your choice, these fellows here know what they are talking about.
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Old 11-05-2008, 11:00 AM
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Why hasn't anyone brought up the 243? Is it only good at long distances and crap close ranges?
Actually its because a .243 being a small .24 cal bullet, lends itself to being best used by experienced riflemen. There is no room for error with such a small bullet and should be used in the hands of experienced rifleman. My father in law shoots all the mags and various other .30 cal rifles. When deer hunting he reaches for his tiny 6mm which for all intensive purposes is the same as the .243 Winchester with a bit more case capacity. He picks his shots with experienced precision. He loves the tiny handy Remington Mohawk this caliber comes in as well as the low report.

Last edited by Leverboy; 11-05-2008 at 11:07 AM. Reason: grammer
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Old 11-05-2008, 02:58 PM
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Okotokian Okotokian is offline
 
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Originally Posted by depopulator View Post

As far as "taking a low percentage shot.." I suppose that really depends on what your shooting

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That is what makes me wonder. Is there any shot you wouldn't take with a .270 in your hands that you would if you were holding a .300 WM or something even larger? Odd angle at 350 yards or something? If the answer is yes, then I'd rather have the larger caliber gun IF (and I mean IF) I could comfortably handle the recoil. I bought a .270 because I was a new shooter worried about recoil. But I found it was (to me, at 6'3" and 220 lbs) negligible. I can shoot that thing 50+ shots at the range with no discomfort. I believe I could handle something heavier, and with that realization, would probably have gotten a 30-06, .308, or something heavier to increase the versatility.
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