Monday, 4 May 2009

calibre 2.0

When I'd had that first had the opportunity to hunt a whitetail  I knew it was something I'd want to do again. So on my return to Blighty I started the slow process of learning about Deer Stalking (as deer hunting is called here). Not coming from a shooting family all my limited shooting experience had been with pellet guns in back yards, so it's not been the quickest of process's.

When started thinking about buying a rifle I assumed I'd be buying a .30-06 because that's what everyone on the interweb said they used to shoot whitetails, (the english hadn't really started blogging about deer stalking then). 
I started reading David Petzal and his advice was along the lines of  'decide what you want and buy one calibre smaller' and at the time he was talking up the .270.  For readers not familiar with his writings Mr Petzal would be putting himself out of a job if he just championed one calibre. F&S has to sell next months issue after all so his advice would be someting along the lines of  'buy the biggest cupboard you can and fill it'. For example

Then I met James Marchington who pointed me in the direction of the .308 and its cheaper lower pressured NATO twin, before caveating the choice with 'not legal in France though', but that was in the days before the Great British Rupee, when we could still lord it over our neighbors with our super currency.  I've spent a bit of time in France and at the time rural france was pretty affordable, I've got a connection to get involved in the Battue so I thought it may happen sooner than later. I doubt I'll be going there again in a while. Sadly gordon has blown all our chips making ill advised bets on on people without jobs being able to pay morgages on rabbit hutches. Still at least I'll be able to tell my grand kids something totally unbelievable yet true. I can hear them now

 'Grandpa Bushwacker's confused again mum - he says it was Euros to the Pound!'

It's been a bit of a steep learning curve, but as with most steep learning curves it's also been a lot of fun. Then I threw the question out to you dear readers, the results are in and if I understand you all (please comment if i've got the wrong end of the stick as it won't be the first or last time).

James .308 - accuracy and range

Andy .30-06 - hits 'em harder

Albert .300 win -  hits 'em even harder

Karl 7mm Rem - flatter

Holly .270 - flatter 

Rick 30-30 or whatever's to hand - dead is dead

Chad 6.5x55

Tom .308 for availability - but it should really be a .375!

Bill .270

Mo .30-06

Dennis 6.5x55 or for longer ranges .270

Mdmnm .308 for availability or 7mm-08 Rem for trajectory

Envirocapitalist 30-06 when in north america

Hodgeman .30-06/270/.308 and 6.5x55 - which ever is easist to buy

Clearer now? No me neither.

The Choice seems to come down to:

Do I prefer Flatter and Faster Flying or Bigger and Harder Hitting? 

Yes I realise there isn't a a direct correlation between those criteria - hence a whole internet full of gun nuts arguing the highly subjective personal preference it comes down to.

Then the question becomes, what's Available, Legal, Appropriate and Affordable?

The the hardest question of all - What's your definition of a compromise between the above?

Now to brand and model:I'm looking for ideas at two price points 'money no object' and 'for the price of solving a significant domestic drainage or heating problem'. Remember I'm a Mac user so I will pay for utility and design - but I'm also an honorary Yorkshireman so I'm looking for a bargain. 

Suggestions on the comments page please.


Anonymous said...

Bigger is not always better.

Not trying to mess up your list but, I have a friend who hunts whitetails with nothing but a .243 and I have heard from others that they agree with that caliber.

You might want to look into that as well.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

the list is there for messing with!

it's a very popular round here in the south (deer small ranges 100 yards).

If I were making the choice solely on ammo availability the decision would already be made.


tom said...

I'll still say in the range of calibers you are looking at and leaving the .243 out as it's too small for some things you have mentioned wishing to hunt unless you place shots REALLY well, there's a smaller variation in cartridges you may consider than in bullet construction and performance in your general range of probable calibers and this will depend much on what you intend to be shooting. A .270 with a varminter oriented bullet won't be worth a dang on a Stag compared to a .243 bullet designed for having a go at stags. I'd rather have a .338 TSX than a .458 round lead ball, to put it in terms of extremes.

Therefore, you really have more of a quandary than you imagine and this doesn't even get into handloading for purpose.

Ideal Rifle
Compromise rifle
Rifle Caliber
Bullet Choices
Reloading as a new hobby?

Some calibers (the more popular ones, of course) have a much wider range of projectiles suitable for various usages.

There is no easy answer and one of my best friends growing up took more deer than anybody else in the area and used a .222 for most of the years I knew him. He used his own loads and put the bullets where they mattered with a second hand savage you probably couldn't get $200US for at a gun show today...

If I could only carry one rifle for the rest of my life I'd have a tough time nailing it down. That's why I have so many of them...Make me choose one for the whole world and it would be .458 WinMag or Lott in a double rifle with a range of handloads for different species. .375H&H or .338 Winnie would be close second and likely generally more useful other than stopping a charge dead right there like the Lott does.

If there was an easy solution, people would mostly only have one rifle. I don't know anybody that owns a rifle and only has one of them...except when on active duty in the sandbox right now...but when they rotate home on leave, we go hunting and shooting with their other rifles :-)

Like my friend George said on rotation back from 'stan: "Of course I want to go shooting. These girls haven't had exercise and I was looking forward to shooting stuff I WANT to shoot not that I HAVE to shoot!"

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Excellent response, my education continues!

tom said...

Might add:

The most popular rifles when I was growing from a hatchling for "joe-sixpack's excellent deer hunting adventures" were .30-30, .243, .222, .30-40, .30-06 and .300 Savage (in no particular order) for people that could afford a 99 model.

The reason I own a .300 Savage in an antique 1948 sold model 99 today is because of how much I coveted my friend with the .222's father's .300 Savage. Still got the .300 Savage cartridge with soft point that his dad let me keep to put on my window ledge when I was 7 30+ years later!

If you could lust for a woman like I lusted for that rifle....well, anyway. And it's never failed me on any American game but the time I failed me on misjudging trajectories up-hill.

Reckon I wouldn't be afraid to go anywhere with that 99 of mine either...

R. Gabe Davis said...

I stand by my previous comment on the 30/06. for me the Remington ADL and BDL models are the most accurate and dependably durable guns you can buy for under 500 U.S. dollars. I have had mine for at least 18 years and I got it used. I have tortured the gun in snow storms, canoe trips, hog hunting the cliffs in the Big South Fork and it is still the most accurate gun I have ever owned.
your pal the Evirocapitalist.

Sarah Dohrmann said...


While I don't hunt much in New York City, I do come from a long lineage of Iowan hunters. I grew up around mounts all my life...

And I'm writing, too, to tell you that I've got a new blog. I saw you had commented on my old one that I published through Bad Idea magazine ("Dohrmann In [Between] Morocco") -- my new blog, "Und You Vill Like It" can be found at

Cheers & happy hunting,
Sarah Dohrmann

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


$500! that's more like it

Guns are expensive here

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I loved you're adventures in Morocco.

I've add you to the new 'ex pats' section of my blog roll
hope you post a lot more


tom said...

Saw a clean .30-06 CZ-550 American, very good bore, lightly used, walnut stock. I'd guess less than 100 rounds through it. Factory rings. $525.00US and thought of your dilemma.

I'd have picked it up for ya and mailed it to ya if yer laws were less troublesome. :-)

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

But thanks for thinking of me!

Mike said...

Keep your choices simple. Stick with a 7mm or .30 cal bullet. Tons of variety in bullet weights and type for either caliber. Stick with something that is easy to shoot. Magnums are for guys with small pricks. Work on your woodcraft, and practice getting close. If you can't get a shot, take a picture. I have a Remington model 7 and love it, but Savage may be the best deal going. 7mm-08, .308, 7x57, .30-06, etc.


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Hey mike
welcome to the blog, thanks for taking the trouble to comment.

Remington looks like the clear favorite so far


Helen "Philippines Information Technology" Carry said...

Something's wrong with the list!
But I like it though!
Thank you for sharing!

hodgeman said...

Can you find Kimbers over there?

A Kimber 84M in .308 makes a darn lovely gun for carrying and shooting if the French Battue is off the menu...

No flies on it in other calibers either.

Just buy a Hollands in .275 Rigby (or 7x57 everywhere else..)!

CZ also makes a nice gun for the cash outlay.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Yes i did see an article about a guy who has one.

They look pretty impressive, not a lot heavier than a NULA but about one third the price!

Made me think of that trip down to NZ to hunt giant pigs with mrs BoB (my brothers wife)


Meconopsis said...

Sten get a Rem 7oo stainless synthetic in 30.06. You don't even have to worry about rust !!!!! CZ been there got the T shirt not great !!! remember to get a Swarovski Z6 2x12 scope the best on the market bar none. Above package for less that 2K ( dont buy a cheap scope !)


tom said...


THIS "GUY WITH A SMALL PRICK" (in your esteem) likes to pester things that can and might kill him at times and sometimes need a LONG RANGE cartridge. You might want to rethink your magnum statement.

Different tools for different jobs. Insulting people with different hunting tastes than yourself makes YOU A TOOL.

Your statement makes about as much sense as me saying the 6.5 Swede is for pussies that can't take recoil.

I gunsmith. I've seen good and bad from EVERYBODY on the market. Even cherished Brownings and Westley Richards. I gave a suggestion of something affordable and generally accurate. You are welcome to different opinions.

I think .308, 6 and 6.5mm and such are PISTOL cartridges, so maybe I should call all of you people suggesting using them in rifles "limp wrists"???

I would NEVER do such a thing as there is room for ALL OF US IN THE SPORT/HOBBY. What a person chooses as their primary hunting arm is a very personal choice with many many factors to consider. Nobody can make that choice for them but themselves.

No offense intended to you SBW. Offense intended to the offensive. I was just trying to help you out.

One other thing to consider. Belted magnums, rimmed, and semi-rimmed cartridges have shorter reloading lives even if you do anneal them regularly. Just something to keep in mind if you get into reloading as a hobby too.


tom said...

Oh, one other thing on the "stainless comment" from a smithy person. The words to describe those types of steel are STAIN LESS, not STAIN FREE. You can still rust them. I've seen it done and have pictures to prove it.

Stainless steel parts DO NOT protect you from poor maintenance of a firearm, they just cause the damage to take longer to occur.

Scope choice has to do with what and where you are hunting and the general conditions. I like Swaros. I wouldn't tell anybody what model to buy unless they gave me specifics of what and where they hunt. For some cases a Red dot or a 1-4.5X is a good choice. Sometimes a 32X is a good choice.

Any sweeping statements about "what firearm and related bits a person should own" by any person other than a person well versed in what the client will actually be doing with it is nothing more or less than bigotry of the worst order.

Remember SBW, I come in peace but I don't suffer bigots.


tom said...

I saved some of you the trouble. See if your local college engineering library has a copy of this and get back to me on stainless being a "wonder steel". For the record, as a person who currently mostly fiddles with T/Cs, T/C factory production BLUE steels are stronger and harder than the stainless compositions they use.

All tools and all steels have their places but there's no place for misinformed bigotry in my world view.

Happy Hunting for a rifle,

Phil said...

I was with my Grandfather the day he bought his last deer hunting rifle and he turned to me and said, " When I die, this is going to you".

Eight years after he died and many threats later, I finally pried it out of my uncle's hands, a.243 Winchester.
My uncle was heart broken as he had shot many a white tail with that gun.

The nice thing is, you can still find ammo for it in these extreme times.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Busted Knuckles

1st up thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

Same here .234 is very easy to get your hands on, and due to concerns about the range of rifles in built up areas can often be easier to justify and therefore gain a cert for.


mdmnm said...

SBW- I'd say 7mm-08 to get around restrictions on 308 in France and perhaps a bit less recoil. 308 otherwise. Or 6.5x55, or 7x57. More than .243 if you want to hunt wapiti.

Anonymous said...

Wow Tom, take a breath dude. I stand by my comment. IF you hunt big growly things, great! Good on ya, mate. For the rest of the world that shoots pretty thin skinned animals that don't bite, magnums are overkill, too expensive, and not easy to find in the middle of nowhere at a mom-n-pop gas and ammo.

Super offensive Mike

P.S. Tom, are you really that offended? Are my comments causing you to lose sleep at night? I sure hope not. Either you need to lighten up, or get better at realizing a tongue in cheek comment. Sorry.

tom said...

For what it's worth, I just bought another 7x57 takedown rifle with quick detach scope mounts and express sights from the mostly former Loondun gun trade.

Pictures forthcoming on my site when it arrives. Built by a friend of mine when he was lead smith in Nairobi. Once provided Prince Phillip with 4 impala at one point for a visit banquet.

It's an interesting rifle and federal reserve notes are of shrinking value and the value of the man who built it probably won't be entirely realized until he's passed on in another couple decades.

Chin Chin,

Anonymous said...

When you come to Canada, you'll want the 30-06. It is what Clarence uses for everything (deer, moose, elk, big horned sheep, caribou, and cougar hunting, etc)...finally, you've gotta think bear defense! So, buy once and use it for everything; unless of course you're into collecting!