Accuracy can trump power
There is probably no need for a new cartridge in the hunting realm, since the lineup on the market today offers accuracy, speed and power to handle any hunting or shooting situation.
Still, the tinkering mind of man never quits.
Lately, a new lineup of short action magnum big game cartridges appeared. As usual, many big game hunters deserted their 30-06s and 270 Winchesters to opt for one of the new magnums.
While it’s true the new magnums offer more speed and power (kinetic energy), it’s just as true that the extra speed and power are really not needed for black bear and white-tail deer.
Last year, I wrote about my friend, Fred Anderson, of Kane, killing 23 moose, 40 Pennsylvania bucks and 30 Pennsylvania antlerless deer with a 30-06 Model 721 Remington. That’s 93 pieces of big game with the 30-06.
The famous gun writer Jack O’Connor proved the .270 Winchester was adequate for many types of big game. Coming right down to brass tacks, there is little need for super magnum cartridges for most types of big game, and that’s doubly true for Pennsylvania white-tail deer and black bear.
My old hunting partner, the late Bill Nichols, used a 257 Roberts for many years. All these people I have mentioned were not only good big game hunters, but also precision shooters. To them, bullet placement was the answer.
I have no proof, but it appears the new short magnums aren’t as popular as they once were, and the reason is fairly simple. The powerful cartridges produce unpleasant recoil, and they aren’t much fun to shoot for practice.
Although I have always been a fan of the old 30-06, I used a Remington Model SEVEN chamber for the Remington 7mm-08 cartridge. This particular rifle fit me perfectly. It was pleasant to shoot during range practice, and with proper bullet placement, it was more than adequate for deer and black bear. When I sold it several years ago, it was like parting with an old friend. The Remington 7mm-08 is truly a fine big game cartridge.
Several new “combination” cartridges should be getting some special attention from big game hunters who dislike heavy recoil. One is the 6.5 x 47 Lapua. With a 123-grain 6.5 bullet, it has literally the same ballistic potential as the Remington 25-06. Muzzle velocity with the 123-grain bullet is just under 2,900 fps. It’s a Finnish cartridge, and I’m not certain any U.S. rifle manufacturer is chambering for it just yet.
The 6.5 x 47 Lapua is not only a top medium size big game cartridge, it’s just as much at home in the varmint realm. I don’t have any chronograph test for lighter weight bullets in the 6.5 x 47, but I have a feeling, muzzle velocities will exceed 3,000 fps. At the moment, I think the lightest bullet weight for 6.5 bullets if 100-grains, but I have hopes some bullet maker will produce weights below 90-grains.
Another new cartridge that isn’t on the market yet is the 6.5 Creedmoor. Hornady is coming with it. I’m waiting on reamer specifications and test ammo for the 6.5 Creedmoor. I think it may be tops for Pennsylvania deer and bear hunting.
It is not necessarily the caliber or the size of the cartridge that makes it effective in the big game woods. The most important aspect is bullet placement. A deer shot through the rib cage might not drop in its tracks, but it won’t go far. The idea that super magnum cartridges kill game instantly is false. Your best approach is to use a cartridge that you enjoy shooting and strive to be as accurate as possible. You’ll get just as many deer as those who advocate and magnums.