If hunters couldn’t kibitz about pet cartridges, what would they talk about around the campfire?
I am between deer camps – one here in the West for mule deer and the other in Wisconsin for whitetails. I chose caliber .30 for both.
In the recent deer camp, we were sitting around, chatting about rifles, cartridges etc. Normal discourse in camp, to be sure.
CALIBER .30 CARTRIDGES get the job done. Here, from left, are the .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Winchester Magnum. They all shoot the same diameter bullets and the same bullet weights. Main difference is powder charge – bigger means more powder, which means more velocity for the same bullet weight.
Different folks had different ideas about what is best. When asked, I replied that for most hunting anymore, I use rifles chambered for the various .30 caliber rounds. Simplifies life.
On the mule deer hunt, I packed an HS Precision rig chambered for .300 Winchester Magnum, topped with a 6-24x Swarovski scope with TDS reticle. It’s a long-range rig, pure and simple. That’s because I was hunting canyons and open areas where longish shots are common.
That is the real reason for having a .300 mag – distance. Without getting into terribly detailed ballistics, the .300 mag gives a hunter a solid 100 yards more in usable distance when compared to the .30-06 Springfield, for example.
I rarely shoot long on game, but there are times when it is really handy to be able to do it with confidence. So, that’s why I was using a rig that delivers quarter to third-inch groups at 100 yards, and which shoots flat enough to go beyond the effective hunting distance of 400 yards for the ’06 and its .270 Winchester sibling.
For the whitetail hunt in Wisconsin, I am taking a new Ultra Light Arms rig in .308 Winchester, topped with a Leupold 2.5-8x36mm scope. NULA proprietor Melvin Forbes made up the rig for me, and it overlaps bullet holes at 100 yards.
Since I do not need the distance offered by the .300 mag on the farm in Wisconsin, where the longest shot possible is 200 yards, a handy, light little .308 makes total sense. Easier to take up and down from tree stands and easy to use, once in the confines of a tree stand, where sometimes it is handy to shoot from the opposite shoulder, etc.
The last time I hunted in Wisconsin, I used a .30-06 rig. Worked great. And for practical purposes, there is no effective difference on a hunt between an ’06 and .308.
Over the years, I have gone through caliber “phases.” Started out with .31 and .30, went to 7mm, then to .270 and now, back to .30. They all work fine.
It is heartening to see the .308/7.62 NATO make a significant market comeback as a result of the Modern Sporting Rifle ethic. I find myself using it more and more as the years pass. With today’s high tech bullets, it can do just about anything needed between varmints and big dangerous game.
One of these years, it may be the only cartridge family I still use for most hunts –.308 Winchester, .243 Winchester, .260 Remington or 7mm-08 Remington. All fine, short cartridges that fit nicely into light, handy rifles.
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Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a former WON Guns and Hunting Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at scomus@cox. net.