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Discussion Starter #1
I started to reply to a post and it got so long, I'm just making a new topic.

Trying new cartridges is one of the most interesting aspects of shooting. Most every cartridge has its application or "place". It seems many are confused when it comes to selecting a cartridge and caliber. Questions like "what's the best caliber?" are very common around here. No one likes to have their questons answered by another question ("what are you using it for?") but, there is no best caliber or cartridge. Application is the key. Here's how I decide what caliber I want next (I say "next" because given enough time I'd no doubt have them all :D). I'm lucky enough to be able to reload my own ammo, If you can't, the following doesn't strictly apply.

Step 1) select a bullet.
I'd first decide how heavy a bullet you want to shoot, for vital shots on Elk 1200ft/lbs of engergy would be nice. 600ft/lbs is a good minimum for deer. A ballistic calculator can give you a good idea of the engergy available at a given distance. If you're just punching paper this isn't a factor. For long range, BC is paramount. For example if you want a 130gr bullet it would be foolish to use a 7mm .395 BC, when a 130 gr 6.5mm has a BC of .595. If these were fired at the same MV the 6.5mm would have greater energy at long range (not to mention superior ballistics and wind bucking ability). For my personal use I go with the following:

6mm up to 115gr
6.5mm from 120gr to 140gr
7mm 140gr up to 180gr
7.62mm 175gr up to 240gr
8.58mm (.338") from 250gr to 300gr

Step 2) select a cartridge
You should now decide the ballistics/energy required for your application. Cartridge selection should be based on speed, and bullet BC's, . If you're only shooting out to 500yds speed will often be equally important as BC. At 1000yds BC is extremely critical and one may be well suited to choose a higer BC even if it requires you to sacrafice some speed. Spend time checking the possiblities with a ballistic caluclator.

Step 3) Compromise :wink:
Now that you've found the "perfect" cartridge/caliber for your application (no doubt a super magnum) you need to compromise with...
1) Expected barrel life
2) Recoil you're willing to tollerate
3) Weight (large magnums reqire long barrels to explot their potential, and subject you to carrying heavier ammo).
4) Novelty factor (there are many ways to get a desired result; in reality the 338 RUM gives up little compared with a 338 Lapua magnum. It's the novelty of the Lapua that makes it desirable.
5) Cost (100gr of powder per shot down range will empty your savings quick if you do much shooting. Let me know if you find a good deal on .338" 300gr SMK's :D).

Other things to keep in mind...
Make sure your barrel has a fast enough twist to stablize the bullets you plan to shoot. This is often the limiting factor in factory rifles for long range use. If you're building a custom rifle you can really exploit a caliber's long range potential by getting the proper twist. In my experience some bullet makers don't recomend a fast enough twist. Check what others are using to stablize specific bullets.

Things will change. New bullets and cartridges are become available all the time. Recently the 6.8mm (.277") has recieved a boost due to high BC bullets available from Berger. Previously there was little intrest in this caliber for long range use, due specifically to bullet selection.

I'm not claiming this is the only or best way to go about cartridge selection, but hopefully it helps some of the newer members. I hope some of you guys can let the rest of us know how you go about caliber/cartridge selection. I know there's some serious cartridge schollars around here. Please add your knowlege, I'm sure I missed a few key points.
 

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A good post. I think you're on to something. I always go the path of least resistance, and use the KISS method. What is popular is also the most thought out and has the most manufacturer's following, giving you the widest variety of types per caliber. Stay away from wildcat rounds unless you are an experienced handloader with some mechanical background.
My 2 cents.

Jeff
 

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+1 Luke! Far too many beginers select a caliber for the cool factor. Punching paper is one thing, but you don't need a 338 LM if you're only "reaching out" to 100 yards :roll: . On another note, if a person is serious about long range shooting they better be ready to be serious about reloading also. I had a guy try to tell me winchester brass was junk because after firing it the neck was loose and the bullets would fall into the case! Natural selection comes to mind here. I was nice and gave him some much needed information on reloading and offered to help him out, but he decided it was too much work :roll: !

Around here, 30-06 and 7mm Mags tend to be king of the castle. I shoot a 308 because it gets the same job done with less powder and recoil, allowing me more practice. Shoot what you can easily afford to feed on a regular basis. You wouldn't want to skip lunch for a week just to fill the mag in your Barret..... would you? Shut up, that was rhetorical!
 

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very good post landcbeitner.....

and excellent additions gentlemen. Newbies would do well too heed this advice, especially the reloading of the big wildcats. Expensive, expensive, and OH SO ADDICTIVE!!


archdlx
 

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It is an excellent post hitting the highlights of what really matters when you pick a rifle. I'm limited in distance to 300 yards locally, as a result, I'm likely going to build a 30BR based rifle. It'll do everything I want, with great barrel life. Its not going to do well at 1000 yards, but I don't have access to a 1000 yard range. And I own no mag rifles (yet...).

Btw, I would love to see this be a sticky. It answers lots of questions and its well written.
 

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Newbies should definitely read this thread!

Maybe then we wouldn't get dopes asking about getting their hands on .338 or Cheytac blah blah when they don't even know how to spell AR. :wink:

A lot of the newbies seem to think bigger is better, and that the .177 or .22 is somehow "not manly enough" for them. :wink:

Yeah...I want a .50 cal....yeah...I just want to do some 50yd paper punching.....is the BSA going to be any good on that....way cool....anyone here got an airsoft?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It's funny you mention the 50 Ravenblack, a guy I know through work (he's a plumbing inspector and I'm a plumber) was in a gun shop I go to, asking about getting a 50BMG. He wanted it for shooting 100yds! I told him it would be a waste of powder at 100yds when a 22lr could can punch through paper at that distance with authority :lol: . He simply couldn't understand how it would be a waste. I told him if he did get one, he could come out with me and test it at long range. Not supprisingly, he was uninterested.

The only reason I didn't mention the 22 cal in the origional post is that in my state it's not legal for big game hunting (although a 223 or 22-250 could take a deer without a problem). If you're building a target/varmint rifle the 22 cal should not be overlooked, even for long range. For accuracy low recoil is a virtue! It would take a serious cartridge to outperform a 22-250 shooting a 90gr bullet (.517 BC) at 2900fps!
 

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Oddly enough, in Northern Tier New York it's legal to hunt with any centerfire. You coulld legally hunt with a .22 Hornet, although I wouldn't condone it.
The Southern Tier is shotgun in most places.

Jeff
 

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Ravenblack said:
Newbies should definitely read this thread!

Maybe then we wouldn't get dopes asking about getting their hands on .338 or Cheytac blah blah when they don't even know how to spell AR. :wink:

A lot of the newbies seem to think bigger is better, and that the .177 or .22 is somehow "not manly enough" for them. :wink:

Yeah...I want a .50 cal....yeah...I just want to do some 50yd paper punching.....is the BSA going to be any good on that....way cool....anyone here got an airsoft?
So, you're saying a 338 Lapua AI is a bit much for plinking pop cans in my backyard?

:lol:
 

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The "cool" factor seems to be all that matters for new shooters, and hopefully this thread will knock some sense into a few.

+1 to STICKY!
 

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Sticky it would help new people. I cant believe you would want a 50 for 100 yards shooting paper. I hope the .277 bullets expand and come back to life. It would help me with my 270 win. I would like to use it as a paper puncher if the ammo was better, like its getting better right now.

Erik
 

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By popular demand - and in the hope that it will stop some of the lazy newbies from asking the same darn questions......

Stickied.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
E.Precision said:
I hope the .277 bullets expand and come back to life. It would help me with my 270 win. I would like to use it as a paper puncher if the ammo was better, like its getting better right now.

Erik
I'll be looking forward to hearing your results Eric. I expect to see the 270 and 270wsm get more popular for long range. They are very popular hunting cartridges because of folks like Jack O'Conner (probably misspelled his name) singing the praises of the 270 win. Hunters blindly immagined that there was something magical about the cartridge that would bring animals down with unmatched performance (the 270 is a great cartridge I have one myself and have taken a nice buck with it at 500yds). I'm sure it's been done already but if one used these new bullets a 6.8-308 and 6.8-284 would make nice cartridges although I wouldn't recomend it due to having to spec out a reamer and have dies specially made. If more bullet makers get on board (especially Sierra) these cartridges would really take off! My grandpa gave me my 270, I was origionally going to have it re-barreled in another caliber once the barrel is shot out, now I'd have to really consider the 270 as a viable long range option. Imagine the response you'd get bringing a 270 to a match (there's something to be said for going down the path "less traveled by".
 

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.270 vs. .308

I have the Stevens 200 in .270 while my brother has the Rem. varmiter in .308. My gun shoots just as well or better at 300 yrds. I know this is not shotting out there but we haven't found anywhere to shoot farther.

He is shooting a 168 gr. while I use 130 gr. with a wind I use the 150 gr. I don't know if he uses a heavier gr. or not in the wind.

I am surprised how well a $300 gun shoots compared to his $500+ gun. It was told to me that Savage spends more on accuracy than looks of the gun than most manufactures. May not be true, don't know.

I was also looking into buying a Savage 12fv in .243. My brother told me to get either the .308 of 22-250 for long range. After looking up some info on the net he told me the .243 would be a good choice. I don't need the .308 because of having the .270. Balistics are to similar for me to spend the money on a .308.

Am I wrong on any of this or am I going in the right direction?
 

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I can personally vouch for the .270 Winchester in long range/tactical shooting. I have a Remington 700 SPS (camo'd) chambered in .270 crowned with a Badger Ordance 20MOA Riser and Leupold 3.5-10x40mm M3/Mildot with Kenton Industries load/elevation specific M3 Turrets.

My load is quite simply the Sierra 5th Gen Handbook Accuracy Load for the 135gr HPBT MatchKing. Federal 210M primers, Winchester Brass, RE-22 powder and all precision, mic'd reloading equipment. I have personally connected grouping at 600yds and pulled sub-MOA at 1000yds. Prone, Sandbags. Even had the chance to test custom Turrets in 10mph full value cross wind. Those suckers just dialed right in. I use a Bushnell 1500 Elite for rangefinding and have a 98$ handheld weather reader (wind). If either of these loose their batts, I have a MilDot master for doing things the ole' fashioned way. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Another fellow on this site that I had extensive PM conversations with was getting arround 1/2 MOA from his 270 at 800yds with factory ammo! There's no doubt the 270 can hold its own. I've thought about trying the 135gr SMK's but haven't had the time (too many other projects).

I was also looking into buying a Savage 12fv in .243. My brother told me to get either the .308 of 22-250 for long range. After looking up some info on the net he told me the .243 would be a good choice. I don't need the .308 because of having the .270. Balistics are to similar for me to spend the money on a .308.
I would definately consider the 243! You may be better off building one yourself so you can get a fast enough twist to use the excellent selection of long range 6mm bullets. I'll be testing a couple loads for my 243 tommarow.
 

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Sorry for the late post but just read it as a new member to this site. Here is my take on choosing a round for a rifle. In my case I am looking to build a custom rifle. I don't even have a particular use for it (no competitions for now, no sniping idiots in middle east) just want a tack driver. Something I have always wanted to do. You all know what I am talking about. But if i am going to spend the money on custom stuff it might as well be bad***. I don't want to built another one later because I decide I want to build something bigger. I may not shoot 2000 yds often, but what if your out in the dessert with your buds and the situation arises? Be cool to dump that coyote at such a distance.

Some rounds may be overkill but they shouldn't hurt at closer distances as long as rounds are affordable for that person. If someone wants to shoot a .50 BMG at 100 yds, then at least maybe he/she has a bad*** rifle of his/her dreams. The "cool" factor isn't too bad of a reasoning. :) Shooting is supposed to be fun, so buy a bigger round if it is more fun to shoot.

But I do understand what is being said in general. Especially when you're talking about the right round for particular game animals.

Shoot safe
 

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Caliber Choice_

Yes I know that over there in The States you can have as many mutifarious Calibre choices as you wish but, the word is sometimes 'sort of compromise,' I shoot .308 and, depending on the purpose can vary the Round from 102 Grain Sako on up to 220 Grain. For Match I use Hornady Match 168Gr.HPBT, or else Lapua 167Gr. Scenar. Hunting I use Hornady 150Gr.Soft Point SST. For practise, plinking & Rabbits it's the 102Gr.Sakos (@ 3087.5 Fps);for Varminting the 123Gr.Gamehead or Speedhead do really well.
All this and more from the Steyr Scout with a Shepherd P2 Scope on.
Could one ask for anything more?
 
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