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May 21, 2007

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Quote of the Day

In summing up the reasons why the magnum cartridges are the best choice with the right load for shooting all classes of North American big game under varied hunting conditions…the answer is quite simple: If you need the extra velocity they afford for longer sure hit ranges, you have it, or the extra punch they pack for heavy animals, you have it; if you don’t need it no harm is done. I have always been highly skeptical of the word overkill." –Bob Hagel, Game Loads and Practical Ballistics for the North American Hunter.


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Amen brother Bob.....

Ralph the Rifleman

Ahh..yes, Mr.Hagel was a loyal follower of magnum loads at a time when the "magnum was THE most powerful" loads at the time. I wonder what he would say about the "short and fatty" cartidges of today?


Hey Dave,
Just read your column in the new F&S. You say to use Birdhwood -Casey gun scrubber on the trigger when you clean your rifle ??? I thought you were supposed to only use lighter fluid on a trigger to clean it???

Dave Petzal

To Skunk: Either one works. Some people object to buying both lighter fluid and B-C GUn Scrubber.


Has magnumitis infected hunters to the point that real hunting skills (eg. spotting, stalking, woodsmanship, etc.) suffer?

Steve C

"I have always been highly skeptical of the word overkill."

The depth of nonsense behind this comment gives you some idea of infinity.


I forget who said it....it may have been that other guy from that other magazine that I also subscribe too, but...."There are no varying degrees of dead".....still holds true wether it's bashed with a magnum or sniped with a "lesser" caliber.


Hey KJ,
Some of us get old and injured and can't make our bodies work like they used to; so we need longer reach. Also I am hunting bean fields and like the extra Ump. I have used a '06 and 308 most of my life and love them, but; I just felt like a 325 WSM might work a little better in the situation I am in. Never shot a magnum in around 40 or more years of hunting. Didn't feel the need...

Now Dave; there are Marine Corps Di's rising from the grave over the lighter fluid thingy and Mr Jarrett is gonna spank you.......


Dead is dead. Shoot what you can shoot well, not because it makes a loud bang!

DB Cooper

Funny, Bob Hagel does not factor recoil into his thinking. Kick and blast are the main reasons I don't own anything magnum.

Do magnums detract from fieldcraft? I doubt it matters much. Most shots are still taken inside a football field or two. If anything, magnum shooters require a steady hand and mind-over-matter unflinchingness.

Dr. Ralph

I would argue the point that "if you don't need it no harm is done." Heavy hitting heavy kicking cartridges have caused more than a few shooters to develop that fatal flinch. Not as in fatal to the quarry but as in fatal to the success of the hunt... Also Mr. Hagel has obviously never leaned around a tree while in a stand and had the rifle hit him in the face while firing. This is the very reason I began to look at other chamberings besides the beloved '06. I have also seen quite a few bloody scope ring wounds at the range. No harm done?


Dave: Having killed a zillion (well, maybe not quite a zillion) animals over a lifetime of hunting, I find myself firmly in the "If some is good, more is better" school. If I ever went on another elk hunt, I'd carry a .30-.378 or even a .40 cal., not because a good hunter can't kill an elk with a .270, but I have a mental picture of myself, on the last day of a 10-day, $9500 hunt, with the trophy of a lifetime just vanishing into the timber, with only a one-second exposure left, and that only of the off flank of the critter. That's when I'd appreciate all the energy and velocity and bullet weight and penetration I can get. If the cost is the spoilage of a little meat, I'm not squeamish. Hagel is dead right.


Hey skunk, shoot what you want. I have no quibble with magnums. I prefer overkill to underkill. I do have a huge problem with those who feel that having the firearm that will kill a deer at a quarter mile justifies shooting at a deer a quarter mile away. At some distance the activity ceases to be "hunting" and becomes "shooting," something better reserved for paper targets than a living creature.


The idiot that posted the comment just before this one is not much of a sportsman or anything else . Anyone who beleives a bigger caliber will kill an elk if you shoot it in the flank is stupid. It dosn't matter if your shooting a 600.Nitro you still must make a shot to the vitals. Some of the people on this blog are just stupid. Now I feel awful I've offended gays and Chuckb in the same day.

Ralph the Rifleman

I wouldn't want to nail an elk in the flank either, but if you could anchor it for a follow-up kill shot I could see how to justify it.
What do you think Dave? Have you ever come across this while hunting big game?


If you don't have a clean shot, don't take it. Magnums may, marginally, make up for poor placement, but they don't make the day. Nobody posting on this Internet is going to starve if they let "the trophy of a lifetime" walk rather than risking a raking shot across the stern. Let the damned animal walk, and hope for a better shot next time.

Geezus folks... whatever happened to sportsmanship?


Hi Guys,

Sorry for the generalization and as always this one is wrong as well. But to shoot animal through the flank, just to take it at any cost, is simply unhumane and has nothing to with hunting. I am coming from a European hunting school -which you may happily call gay- but my mentors would have taken my gun away forever if the idea of a shot through the flanks on an otherwise healthy -unwounded- animal ever crossed my mind. In Europe these kind of shots are called "Texan heart shot"... not necessarly a complimenting expression...


But what about the proper bullet; if it's too powerful, is there not the danger that it will not expand in a smaller animal, and therefore you may lose the animals?


Magnum cartridges do not compensate for poor shooting skills or bad target angles. Every year I find rotting unrecovered deer and elk with gunshot wounds indicating poor shot placement. Yes, hitting them almost anywhere will eventually kill them, but in which county and what day? One of my hunts ended with tracking a nice bull elk over 2 miles and not recovering him after what I thought was a good shot to the vitals at 230 yards. After my shot, I stood there waiting for him to drop as he trotted up the hill. Why I didn't shoot again before he got out of range is beyond me. At the time, I was sure that I hit him well. Now, if he is still standing, I am still shooting.

I like the previous poster's idea of the .325 Win Mag. Not too over the top, but surely adequate for all big game. Although, I don't think it will do anything that a non-magnum .35 Whelen or .30-06 won't do with the right load. Better go prepay that shoulder and neck surgery for that 30-378 or 340 Weatherby shooting. You should be able to find a good used one with only a few rounds through it at a gun shop. Don't forget to take time to follow proper barrel break-in. I'll bet the previous owner didn't.

Clay Cooper

Reminds me of a hunter in knew in Alaska.
He had to have a 375H&H. He handled it like a 4-year-old kid with a garden hose. Wounded a nice Bull Caribou and ran off the mountain never to bee seen again. O’Ya He knocked down three Cow Caribou with the same one shot. Fortunate for him he hauled the cows out to Tok to turn himself in. The Game Warden asked to see his harvest tag. It wasn’t punched. A kill is a kill the Warden said. Because he saved the meat (a fine next to the death sentence) the judge gave him a break. 100 dollars and suspended hunting license for the rest of the hunting season.

Man, where in the gods little green apples did all this, you got to have a magnum come from. With 27 years of shooting experience at that time (June1986) and start spending 4 years running one of the busiest rifle ranges in Alaska, what I believed in was proven true. Shooters were flinching so bad, they would miss a pie plate at 100 yards on the bench, blame the gun and ask me to sight that, ear splitting, sinus snot dislodging, shoulder dislocating magnum in for them. Of course those entire line of magnums shot less than a 3-inch group at 200, but it’s just too much gun for the average shooter. 200 to 300 fps additional velocity at close range will cause the bullet to blowup easier, because you’re at or over the maximum performance design. If you take two identical 30-06 with 150 grain full metal jacket, shoot one at 25 yards and one at 200 yards into wooden boards stacked back to back, you will find that the bullet at 200 yards will penetrated three times deeper despite the loss of velocity. The bullet at 25 yards will penetrate approximately 10 inches as to the bullet at 200 yards 30 inches. The reason is the bullet at 25 yards didn’t have time to stabilize and started to tumble on impact and the bullet at 200 yards, you can hold a yardstick showing a straight line of travel. Reference: Colonel Hatchers Note Book. The God Father of Ballistics! I’ve witnessed much cleaner kills of hunters shooting a 30-06 on moose than using a 300 Win Mag. I used a 338 Win Mag with a 225-grain Hornady loaded at 3000 fps and shot Caribou as far as 700 yards with it. My 30-06 would have done just as well and less waste of rib and shoulder meat. My hunting partner did the same and just as dead with his 270 Winchester with a 130-grain bullet. Why did I carry a 338 Win Mag you ask? I was asked by many hunters to be there backup on hunts and ran across those hunters in the field with wounded bears they were tracking. I can shoot fast and accurate with my 338 Win Mag. Never did the hunters that I backed up ever have any problems. I made sure that the rifle they carried, they can hit a pie plate kneeling at 200 yards and used the bullet for that particular game and a 30-06 fit there needs like a glove! No matter what cartridge you have, the question is? Can you hit your mark? As said earlier, It’s not the arrow….It’s the INDIAN! And why does my 28 inch Carbon Express arrow with a 100 grain three bladed muzzy at 300 fps at 6 feet across the chronograph, is just as deadly as your magnum at 55 yards! The fact is, majority of your shots will be less than 200 yards and anything farther than 300 yards will rainbow regardless! That’s why my next rifle will be a 264 Win Mag. One of the flattest shooting cartridges on the market with plenty of steam and doesn’t kill on both ends. YA! YAA! I know! You got some 50 BMG necked down to 30 caliber or something like that. Go ahead and carry that howitzer all day and see how you feel at bedtime, yet alone hit with it. I traded my 300 Win Mag for a 25-06 and never regretted it. Don’t get me wrong, magnums are great for the application they are being used for and in competent hands of a shooter that can hit with it.

The bottom line is this.
I want performance!
Not revamped and face lifted options of something I already have or tried!
$27.00 box of shells?


Clay, I would suggest that the lack of penitration at close range has to do more with bullet upset i.e. more expansion or the frontal area at close range. Longer range, slower bullet speed, less upset, more penitration. The Bullet should be stable when it leaves the muzzel or you have other problems i.e. bad crown or wrong twist/bullet.


You do not need a big cal rifle to kill an elk, griz, moose,or even a bison. I was on a bear hunt last year and there was a guy that was hunting with a 30-06 and with a shot to the head the hole that went in about the size of a dime and blew out a hole the size of a half dollar. You could see straight through the head.


You do not need a big cal rifle to kill an elk, griz, moose,or even a bison. I was on a bear hunt last year and there was a guy that was hunting with a 30-06 and with a shot to the head the hole that went in about the size of a dime and blew out a hole the size of a half dollar. You could see straight through the head.

Dr. Ralph

About that .264 Win Mag... can't understand why it never sold. About twenty years ago I moved in next door to this three tour of duty 'Nam vet and he had more pre '64 model 70's than you could shake a stick at! His favorite? You guessed it, the little Win Mag that could. Sold me my M1 carbine too... he carried an M2 through all three tours and came home. Said the M16 was a piece of crap that jammed way too much for his liking.

Clay Cooper


Your somewhat close on what you said.
I suggest reading, Colonel Hatchers Note Book. The Godfather of ballistics.

To close, the bullet will not have time to stabilize, period. It’s not the slower bullet penetrating deeper or the faster, it’s the stabilization, construction and velocity of it, that gives it the penetration factor.

The key here is
Distance to stabilize + Caliber + weight + Twist + Velocity + Construction of the bullet. Etc.

When a football is thrown it takes time to stabilize. Reminds me of the M-16, 55 grain FMJ the Military used in Vietnam. M-16. It had a 1-14 twist, just barely able to stabilize the bullet to achieve accuracy until it hits the target with its deadly affect. Today, for the 223, a 1-9 is more desirable. Regardless, it needs the correct twist and it to needs time to stabilize the bullet. It takes distance. Too much twist and the bullet will just blow up do too much rpm such as a grinding wheel or a tire on a racecar. Even a 50 BMG with a 750-grain bullet at close range at 50 yards will upset just clipping a small tree limb.

For a hunting rifle, I find that good cartridges for game fall in three categories. I can name more but I’m going to just list three.

Category 1:
Small caliber at high velocity.
Cartridges like 22-250, 25-06 and 270 Winchester are examples. Although the wound channel is not large, it’s the “HIDROSTATIC SHOCK” that does the destruction of tissue. Take a lung shot and turns it into liquid.

Category 2:
Large caliber at low velocity.
Muzzle loaders and rounds like the 45-70. Although they lack the “HIDROSTATIC SHOCK”, they leave a large wound channel that is devastating.

Category 3:
The combination of Categories 1 and 2.
Large caliber and high velocity.
I call it the NUKE STIKE! For short.

The real story is this. You must take in all the variables of a given cartridge loading and barrel specs.

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