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October 10, 2007

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Guns for Goats (Antelope, to you Easterners)

Periodically, I get a letter that reads: "Dear Dave: I am going antelope hunting for the first time and need a rifle that can take them at 1,322.5 yards. What cartridge do you recommend?"

Well, I went antelope hunting this past week and took along a 6.5 Swede which fired a 130-grain Swift Scirocco handloaded to 2,750 fps. With this clearly inadequate rifle, I killed a nice buck at 170 yards and a
doe at 130. A friend who was with me also tallied two animals at about the same ranges using a woefully lacking .308 and 150-grain Winchester factory ammo.

That is more or less typical antelope hunting. If there is something the matter with you and you want to blaze away from an adjoining county, you are welcome to, but the fact is that the antelope is not the brightest creature God put on earth, and they can almost always be stalked to within a couple of hundred yards and, in many cases, a lot less.

What our ballistically underprivileged rifles did not do was tear huge hunks of meat and bone out of the goats or pulverize them into soup. I've had this experience with high-velocity cartridges, and that is why I use the Swede. Even if you do get a 300-yarder, the little round will hack it. That Swift bullet is very long and very streamlined, and while it doesn't start out with gobs of fps, it holds on to the ones it has very nicely.


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Venison. Not bone meal!


Steve C

Gotta love the Swede. If someone held a gun to my head and said I could only own one rifle it would be a Ruger #1 in 6.5.

I like surgical strikes instead of WMDs.


I have had similar conversations about appropriate shot size and load for Canada geese. Conversation ended with the question: "Well, do you want to hunt geese, or do you want to explode them?"


My friend in KY had a .25-06, I think?I do remember if you could see a groundhog you could kill it.Would this caliber do for pronghorns? 20 dollars a ground hog and we were happy kids with 1 or 2. Hey Bubba take a look at my last comment on the grizzly bear article. I think you ,Matt and Tommy will get a kick out of it.

Mike Diehl

.243 with a 100grain round will do the job very precisely.

Brian T

Jack: We use a Benelli Nova with 1550fps BBB steel loads for pass-shooting Canada geese. When you let the air out of a goose with a few of those pellets, they fold up like origami paper sculpture and coast to a sudden landing.


Jack: I use no. 2 steel on the geese but my shootin is very close for canadas,for pass shootin snow geese we us bb or bbb some longer shot required. someone tell me about the .25-06 or does it even exist? It was about 25 years ago so Im not sure. Now I have a powerful curious on. Somebody help me out or Ill waste my whole day researchin!


gotta agree with Mike. .243 with factory 100 grain has always been adequate for the three antelope i shoot annually.


I moved to ND a year ago and decided it was time for a rifle to hunt large game with (use to use a shotgun). I did a bit of research and talked to a few ppl. I came up with the .25-06. For me in ND it will handle antelope, deer, coyotes, and targets. I not sure if I will use it on elk or not, haven't had to make that decision yet.

Chad Love

Proud member of the 6.5 cult...keep up the drumbeat, and maybe in the future we'll have a little better selection for 6.5x55 factory rifles and loads in this country, but right now it's slim pickings. I think Ruger just dropped the 6.5 from the MK11 77 line, I'm not sure Howa offers them any more which leaves CZ, Sako and Tikka (any others?).
I had planned on a semi-custom 6.5 on a 700 action, but after the frustration of trying to find a reasonable left-hand stainless 700 action I gave up and decided to go with a left-hand Tikka T3 stainless in 6.5. Yeah, right. It appears that virtually no one can even order one.
What's a lefty metric lover to do? That NULA is looking better and better. If I sell every other 6.5 in my cabinet plus sell a couple gallons of plasma I might be able to swing it...



I was looking at new .22s and a problem arose: what exactly is a lefty like myself suppose to do? Suck it up and buy a RH bolt, get a lever or an automatic, or just buy one of the few LH models available (I think Savage, Anschutz, and CZ are the only ones). I only ask as I cannot afford a model from Cooper or NULA and thus will probably never be happy in life.

Oh and do my eyes deceive me or are you present in Hornady's .375 Ruger commercial?


Thanks Rookie, good to know my memory is intact. That .25-06 would shoot flat for what seemed like forever. Think I also remember it being a fairly small round? Not one we would use on whitetails, not that it woulnt do the job.


25-06 all the way. Fast and flat, usually hyper accurate, little to no recoil. My dad and brother both have 25's and have shot everything from prairie dogs to elk with them. 117 grain Nosler partition is good elk medicine in the lungs under 250 yards. Kills whitetail like lightning. 85 grain ballistic tips literally detonate p dogs and make coyotes wish they'd never been born.

Chad Love


I'm very, very close to pulling the trigger (figuratively) on a LH CZ 452 American 22LR. With the exception of that hideous trigger guard (which is endemic to all rimfire CZs) the CZ is a really nice gun for the price, and there's always a chance you'll get some knockout wood on it. I've got a CZ 550 with nice wood that is a tiny hole shooter, and I bought my little brother a $600 CZ O/U last year that had much nicer wood than any of my Berettas.
I don't know about the Savages, but they're so damn ugly I can't stand to look at them


Im boring I like a 30/06 with a good 165 grain bullet. Thats all you need



The CZ seems like the best bet aside from holding out for a LH T-Bolt that I won't be able to afford when I do find it.


Well..... I wasn't gonna touch the Pronghorn question as I know nothing about hunting them.

Canada Geese; we have a lot of Canada Geese here in the east! Monday ended the first portion of our split New Hampshire season; Monday saw geese flying so high they were in the traffic pattern for Logan Airport (40 miles away). Tuesday I was out for pheasant and a skien of 11 flew over my head so close I could have probably hit them with the gun let alone the #6's in the chamber! Goes to show that sometimes you really do need some 'Reach out and Touch' power but at other times you can save meat and your shoulder by going with lighter loads. I bet Pronghorn hunting is similar.

Ralph the Rifleman

When I lived out in ND, I used a 7mm Rem Mag, primarily hand loads,to hunt deer and antelopes.
My gun liked the Nosler-140 Grain BTSP that seemed to only take 1 shot to drop them just as long as I placed the shot right. Now, I have added a .270 win to my collection, so I can't justify getting a 6.5 since I trust the .270 can handle anything the 6.5 will.
Does ya fellow shooters agree?

Black Rifle Addict

Do you see many Black rifles being used for antelopes?
I would stick to my .308, as well.


Re the .25-06: See Dave's post on August 29, 2006 for some good info/comments on the .25-06. An unbeatable deer/antelope/coyote round.


Thanks all, your info om the .25-06 was greatly appreciated.

Knew a fellow that took a .338 Win Mag to Casper hunting prairie goats. "They buck the wind better."
Hand loaded some 110 Sierra's for my .270 and went up the next year.
No tracking job required!!!

P.S. been many, many moons ago!!!



.25-06 is nuthin but a .270 or .30-'06 case necked down to .257!!
Everything I can think of built off that case has done well.
.30-'06 / .270 Win / .25-06 / .243 Win / .308 Win
It's just got what it takes!!
AND, the .25-06 is killer-diller for "speed goats"!!


Clay Cooper

I remember when I was 13 years old at a turkey shoot in Tucson Az shooting a Carl Gustaf Stads Gevarsfaktori 6.5x55 Swedish Serial # 12XXX with a 16 inch barrel, 140 grain Spear spbt with 44 grains of IMR 4350 closed the show! I just loaded 100 rounds of 140 grain Hornady SST for that 6.5, O’So SWEAT! Anyone who needs a nuke strike on an Antelope is nutz. A 22-250 55 grain bullet works fantastic. 243 & 257 100 grain, 6.5/264 129 grain, 284/7mm 120 grain and 308 I would use a 130 grain Hornady. Best load for a 30-06 for Antelope and Mule deer is a 130. If your shooting past 300 yards in Antelope country wind, mirage and light conditions will play havoc with you. For a 1,322.5 yard shot? I like to see that! I’ve pushed the 600 yard to 700 yard limit at times only if the conditions favor it. Antelope country? GOOD LUCK! Even a 50 cal BMG would have problems in that environment.

Dave Petzal

To Matt WV: I would opt for the Anschutz, which despite its heart-stopping ugliness is a very good gun (even if you can't reach the safety with your thumb, unless your thumb is 8 inches long.) It shoots.

I don't think I'm appearing in a Ruger ad. I don't know why anyone would run me in an ad unless they wanted to frighten small children for some reason.

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