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May 30, 2008

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Two Cases Where Bigger Isn't Better

As the nature of my curious profession requires me to use as many cartridges as possible, I did a lot of hunting with the 7mm Remington Magnum and the .300 Winchester Magnum, and tried very hard to like them. But it didn't work out. Both have the same virtue and the same fault. The virtue is that they are somewhat more powerful than standard cartridges of the same caliber, and their fault is that they are somewhat more powerful than standard cartridges of the same caliber.

The 7mm Remington was probably inspired by the Mashburn 7mm Magnum, which Warren Page brought to fame over his 25 years as shooting editor of Field & Stream -- except the Mashburn was a lot more powerful than the Remington round. Warren pushed a 175-grain bullet at just over 3,000 fps from his rifle, which the Remington will not do in any way, shape, or form. The .300 Winchester had to follow in the giant footsteps of the .300 Weatherby, which is much longer, and does everything in a much bigger way.

The 7mm Remington kicks considerably more than a .270 or a .280, and has a bit more effective range, but not much. Similarly, the .300 Win Mag has bigger numbers than a .30/06, but not much. But it kicks noticeably harder. I had several rifles in both calibers in the 1970s and 1980s, and used them hard, but I finally gave up on them and went to non-magnum rounds instead. My shoulder is happier, the animals fall down just as fast, and I do not miss these rifles at all.

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Comments

Bernie Kuntz

The discussion was supposed to be about magnums that are really, what shall we say, not what they should be? We are not discussing lesser cartridges, which I whole-heartly agree are more than ample for 90 percent of big game hunting.

Dave's point, I believe, is that the 7mm Rem. Mag. and the .300 Win. Mag. didn't accomplish enough ballistically to justify their existence. That is why I own a 7mm Weatherby Magnum and a .300 Weatherby Magnum. I believe both cartridges exemplify the 7mm caliber and the .300 calibers. Any more powder capacity in either cartridge is extreme and approaches insanity.

ishawooa

Without reading any posts but Dave's I will add my biased and no doubt misguided opinion. I agree concerning the 7mm Rem (I have visited the ranch where Mike Walker and Les Bowman developed loads for the .284 RCBS or .284 Bowman, or .284 Rem Mag or as it was finally marketed the 7 mm Rem Mag and routinely hunt in the mountains where it was baptized, not that this means a damn thing, just thought I would throw it in). As some of you might remember I presently possess or have owned a considerable number of rifles in many calibers and cases. All were used for their intended purpose, some a lot. I now find myself shooting the 7 mm-08 for deer and antelope. The .338 Win Mag has never failed me on elk or moose. I have been trying to kill a black bear with it but for years never see the bear when I have the .338 with me. Today my best foxtrotter gelding somehow got into the fence wire for the first time in his 15 years so unless I take my second rate horses the hunt is off for the weekend. The vet bill will equal a Weatherby in value I am figuring. Anyway I recently added one more rifle that does meet the standards of outperforming a 7 mm anything and that is my new custom 7 mm x 404. 160 gr. Berger VLD at 3420. Long and heavy but that is the horse's problem not mine to any great extent. I can hit a 18 inch circle consistently at 1000 yards. And yes in my part of Wyoming sometimes you either shoot at 500 to 1000 yards or go home and boil your tag. Actually around here 500 yard shots are commonplace. Folks make the kill using '06's and .270's in front of my eyes at that range. Consequently I once had a friend drop a decent mulie at about 525 and we watched its clone walk out of the woods to closely examine its fallen brother. I shot it with a 7 mm Rem and 160 Nosler. It dropped but no better than the .270 hit buck. They were less than 10 yards apart. Love or hate the 7 mm x 404 (near clone of 7 mm Rem Ultra) it is an outstanding performer so far. Give me a .22-.250, a .270 Win., a .338 Win., and a .458 Lott and I am happy. Then why do I have all these other rifles? Some are loaners, some are pretty, some are unique, but mostly they are wants and not needs. Fortunately I have been financially able to acquire them although my fortunes in other areas of life have turned out to be less than I had hoped for...

ishawooa

By the way my neighbor got back from Alaska last night with his Brown bear. His wife told me that it is huge but she does not know what it squared yet. I am heading over to look at it and will report back. I figure it is at least B & C since that is all he will shoot. I on the other hand, well that's another story.

Del in KS

Robert Sprague,

In '73 I bought my first bolt gun a M700 Rem in 7mm rem mag. It had the hideous impressed checkering and looked worse than Hillary's buns. The very first load tried out of the Speer manual was 115 gr Speer HP bullet with IMR4350 powder. An Army gunsmith did a trigger job on it and it put 5 into one hole the first time I shot it. It would outshoot his Rem 40XB. I sold the gun to a guy that looked at the groups and had to have it. He gave me $30 more (1974 dollars) than I paid for it. Little did I know that after all these years and many guns there has never been another that would shoot like that one.

Bubba,

You left out my all time favorite the 25-06. It has light recoil and shoots 100gr Barnes XXX bullets an honest 3300 fps. It's also deadly as 10,000 volts.

Del in KS

Ishawooa,

I'll bet your neighbor got his bear either on the Alaskan Peninsula or Kodiak Island If it squares 10 ft or more.

Jack Ryan

I own a 30-06. I remember reading some where it's the "yard stick" all other caliburs are measured by and looking through a few reloading manuals and this column of comments I tend to agree. Seems it would kill about any thing that walks.

Still I just don't get all this "I'll never...", the hissing, brandishing cross's, and tossing of holy water at various cartridges just because they happen to include the word "magnum".

The first thing any rifle/cartridge combo has to accomplish is to make a hole where you point it. Once that's accomplished, any time you can do it faster, bigger, or harder and still put the hole where you want it then how could it possibly not be better?

Is it something in the lead that makes hunters get all puffed up and start spouting rhetoric and proclimations that just don't make any sense? Faster, harder, bigger all equal making that hole farther away just as big as slower, lighter, smaller makes it up closer. Any time you push something one way it pushes back with an equal force. It's just physics regardless of the eloquent romaticisms of the writer and the only question is do you want faster, bigger, harder, and further away bad enough to put up with the "push back" the cartridge is going to give you. It doesn't make you a hero to take a pounding killing a white tail deer 70 yards away nor does it make you a fool if you'd rather whack one from a nice dry hill side than belly crawl through the mud trying to sneak with in range with a hundred year old cartridge in a lever action.

One shot, one kill, and you can't do better than that. Use the tool giving you the best chance of getting the job done. The game you pursue desearves nothing less.

Bubba

Black Rifle Addict:
I don't have a problem with the 7mm Rem Mag, or the .300 Win Mag. Except, I don't like the recoil and my .270 Win will hand load to near 7mm Rem Mag performance with less powder and recoil. Some folks can handle recoil, I just happen to be one of those "can't" folks! Had an old gunsmith tell me once, the only reason they built 3" shotguns was so the Cajuns in south Louisiana could hear racket and feel pain when they pulled the trigger! (I shoot 2 3/4", even on turkey!)

Del in KS:
I can't think of a round that was developed off the .30-'06 case that isn't a jim dandy performer and pleasant to shoot!
A couple more rounds we forgot: the .300 Savage and the .250 Savage, or .250-3000 as it was originally called. Both sweet rounds and pleasant to shoot!

Jack Ryan:
Yep, I'll spout rhetoric all day long about my .270 Win and how I can hand load it to near 7mm Rem Mag factory specs. But, (there's that but {butt!?} again!) if Joe Bob wants to perforate his deer with a .460 Wby necked down to shoot phonograph needles, sobeit! It's his deer, his venison, his shoulder! I want a .277 inch entry wound. Less damage, less recoil, but the deer ain't any "less" dead!

Bubba

First trog

I own a .300 win mag and a .270 win. and don't feel that either one kicks the poo out of me. I've killed many deer with my .270 and love it's performance. Most were shot at less than 100 yds. The longest approx.400 yds. I bought the .300 to hunt elk and moose to date I've only been on one elk hunt and still have my tag. I've shot two deer with the .300 mag. One at approx. 100 yds., heart shot,one at approx. 25 yds. neck shot. The meat was not blown apart I think the .270 does more damage to meat. Now that my son hunts with me he uses the .300 it fits him better and he is about 4 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier. He thinks the .270 kicks harder. Point being it's personal choice both very good rounds and round for round no punishing recoil or noticable muzzle blast.

JDD

The most accurate gun in my safe is a Remington 7 mag. It is tricked out by Shilen and wears a 4X12X50 Swarovski AV with Talley mounts and a custom stock. I don't load it to max and the 140's are clocking 3000 fps. Yea I know the 270 will do the same thing and I own one but the 7 mag shoots like a house on fire. The 270 will shoot an honest 1" group sometime's but not always. The 7 mag will shoot 3/8" groups all day as long as I do my part. I don't own a 300 win mag but I do have a 338-06 and it is the cats meow for elk and BIG Texas hogs. My fun guns consist of a Cooper Western Classic in 25-06, an Ackley 280 I ordered from Nosler and a Weatherby XII long rifle. No I am not a fat cat, I just simply rat hole every penny I can even if it takes 3 or 4 years saving up to buy what I want.


A while back Dave said he sold his 280 Ackley because it keep blowing primers. I had the same problem with Federal primers. I changed to CCI primers and use Nosler brass, backed off my load a tad and problem went away. I can get 3150 fps with 140 grain Nosler BT's real easy with the 280 Ackley. That is more than enough to do what I want, in fact 3150 fps seems to be a magic number with the 25-06 and the 280 Ackley (and little bit with the 270 using 110 grain bullets).


A friend of mine told how he solved his problem with loose primer pockets. He tapes scotch tape over the primer pocket before seating the primer. He said it also increased accuracy. Not sure how it increased accuracy but I tried it with my 308 and it works. Another friend that really lives on the edge with his 270 loads gave me some brass with loose pockets. I am going to try using scotch tape with my 270 and see how that goes. Before you say I may be creating hotter primer fire and increasing pressure, I may be, but I don't hot rod my reloads the way he does.

Ralph the Rifleman

My first bolt gun was a 7MM Rem mag that I purchased because it was a cheaply priced(Savage)rifle I bought while in active military service. Young family, and low wages, caused me to be practicle and this gun got the job done!
I started hand loading for it back then, as well, and I felt that helped me become a better shooter. Recoil is relative to the person receiving it, while I don't own that rifle any more, I do own "standard" rifle rounds that when loaded to "similar" speeds of the 7MM Remington has similar recoil! So, I guess what I am saying is if you want better preformance, man up, take some recoil and buy a magnum.
ps-I also have a .270 Win, love the gun, but if I can load a 7MM bullet in a 160 grain wt, having better ballistics then a .270 bullet, I would prefer to carry that 7MM round on say a mixed deer/black bear/or moose hunt then the .270.

Thos. Fowler

What a discussion this idea generates...everywhere. It is not just about recoil, but about 'enough'...and what constitutes that? This extends to other facets of our lives, like SUV's and the size of our...lawnmowers.

One of the charms few seem to remember is the blessing of the round ball muzzle-loader in the deer woods. Modern day versions have changed the equation, so that recoil comes back into the picture.

Then, there is the joy and flexibility of reloading. My Dad's wildcat 7mmMag succumbed to the Remington version, and I handloaded nice, light loads for shooting offhand in local fun competitions. Currently, it is sighted in for Elk with 175 gr. Sierras. It is a custom rifle...it fits...it is extremely versatile. Groundhogs and many deer have fallen to it, and it began life as a WWI Mauser.

Dave Petzal is the King of the Campfire discussions. Thanks, Dave. Enjoyed it.

Tom Fowler

Bubba

Thos. Fowler,

You make a good point.

There is a gentleman in my home town that is about 5'6" or so and would probably have to jump up and down on a scale to make it go past 150 lbs! Ronnie shoots a M77 Ruger in .458 Win Mag! BUT, he's a handloader and loads it down to about an above average .45-70 Gov't!
If you hand load and don't like recoil, you can shoot a heavier caliber loaded down for white tail, and load up for larger game such as elk and moose!
Yes, the massive case capacity magnums have some advantages, but I'll still stick by my ol' .270!

Bubba

wolfjaw

I use a Winchester Model 70 in .270 caliber for deer and deer size critters; a .204 Ruger for 'chucks....and assorted calibers and gauges in between for giggles and snickers as my mood dictates. Someday (soon I hope) I will retire and satisfy a hankering for moose meat. Methinks a 150 grain .270 bullet for Moose is not the best tool for the job and I am leaning toward acquiring a rifle in either .350 Rem Mag or a .338 Federal. Those calibers can get the job done, but I have no experience with either. I'm not a long range assassin and would rather pass on shoulder busting recoil. Opinions???

Dave Petzal

To Beekeeper: You will never offend me by mentioning Jim Carmichel on this blog; the man has been like a father to me. Anyway, since 1985 I've kept records of everything I've chronographed, and filled up an entire steno pad plus part of another. I call them "The Books of Sorrow."

Zermoid

Hehe, you mentioned Groundhogs, several years ago I had a Winchester 94 in 30-30 Win that I used for poping groundhogs around the house (we lived in the middle of several acres of corn and soybean fields) using 110 gr Speer Varminter bullets. Don't know why but that gun wouldn't shoot 150 or heavier bullets (Tried several as well as several powders, primers etc) but those 110's would shoot 1 ragged hole benched or a cloverleaf shooting offhand at 100yds assuming I did my part right.
The local farmer who owned the fields never had much of a groundhog problem within 200 yds of my place.

Lance

I can't believe you guys talking about kick like this. My 12ga. with a 2 3/4 slug, out kicks my 7 Rem. Mag. any day of the week. The 7 is 9 1/2 pounds with the scope, but the 12ga. is about 7 pounds.

duff

Bubba you mention a round that's one of my favorites...Savage 250-3000. That's my whitetail go-to guy. Mine's a '50's version in stainless with nice walnut stock and custom cheek and a Leupold 3x9. The reason to describe it is that my son took a deer this past fall with it. As mentioned in many of the other posts, there's a big gun phenom that really biases new gun sales, particularly the younger set. My son was under a lot of pressure to go 7mm or 300mag, just to have a bigger bulge so to speak. When he showed up with the 250, it's so nice a gun to shoot and look at, let alone performance (great range of bullet weights as well) that his most influential buddies actually started talking lower calibers. Go figure. My biggest fear is he'll talk me out of the gun...not!
I shoot a custom .270, and my issued 7.62's, but not much and only for longer range game-elk, muley. In reading some of the guys notes on moving to fast and powerful for moose I'm a bit puzzled. Where I hunt moose, all over Canada (not Alaska yet) the cover is heavy and the shots are short. I've always used a Savage 99 in .358 Winchester and a Winchester 71 in .348 Winchester for moose and bear. The fun of the 71 is getting hit in the face with cartridges due to the top eject. Good ol' boys that still work great.
Thanks.

Jason N.

I wonder how many of you out there bashing the magnums handload your .270s and 30-06 etc.. to max loads.

Jason N.

Besides wasn't the purpose of wildcatting to get more fps and energy out of existing load even if there wasn't significant gain.

T.W. Davidson

Greetings, Everyone . . .

The blog comments about Magnums vs. standard caliber cartridges have been very interesting, as have some of the handloading ideas. Although I've handloaded probably 4000-5000 rounds in various calibers over the last couple of years, I admit it has never occurred to me to put tape over a loose primer pocket, seat a new primer in that pocket, load the case anew, then shoot it. Meaning no disrespect to those who have tried the scotch tape/loose primer pocket fixit idea, I admit I am not going to do so. I have a feeling it wouldn't work too well for me.

When I first started handloading, I was very gung-ho, thought velocity was a god to worship, and that the major reloading manuals were too conservative and were written by desk-sitters and paper-pushers rather than by real shooters.

But I learned. I blew primers. I froze bolts. I saw (and felt) things go BANG in bad ways. I had to replace a destroyed Model 700 action because of stupidity on my part and the significant probability of great carelessness or negligence on the part of a certain unnamed someone else. These days, I try very hard to avoid handloads that produce loose primer pockets, and if and when such a thing happens, I take very detailed notes about the handload and its characteristics and what went too far, then throw the brass away. And while I still find that some of the major reloading manuals are still very conservative, others yield higher performance but are, nonetheless, perfectly safe. For example, the published loads for the 257 Ackley Improved in the Accurate Smokeless Powder Loading Guide (Number Two edition, available online) are far hotter than those listed in the Nosler or Barnes or Hornady manuals, but are perfectly safe and shoot like a dream. And the published loads I found for the 257 AI in a circa-1970s Speer manual (using Norma 205 powder, which is no longer made)are as hot or hotter than the Accurate loads, yet are also perfectly safe in every modern bolt action rifle I've tested the loads in. The loads I've developed for my own various 257 AIs over the last couple of years are in the same vicinity and performance levels as the Accurate and old Speers loads. All shoot accurately, with high velocity, and no pressure-related issues at all.

I am primarily a shooter, not a hunter. I spend a lot of time developing loads for my rifles and testing them for accuracy and velocity at my local range. I use a chronograph. I am very careful. I take detailed notes.

I am sensitive to recoil and, although I am a very good shot, I have spent years
teaching myself not to flinch. I am very much into the Zen of accurate shooting, the extreme self-imposed physical and mental discipline required to shoot very tiny groups in far-away targets.

For those of you out there who share my sentiments that recoil and muzzle blast are unpleasant things to be avoided, I offer the following cartridges, all of which have very light to moderate recoil, minimal muzzle blast in barrels 22" or longer in length, are a joy to shoot, and can be handloaded to shoot very accurately.

22-250--My 5'5" athletic 13-year-old daughter shoots handloads in her Browning A-bolt in this caliber with accuracy and confidence out to about 500 yards. Sixteen-ounce plastic coke bottles filled with water don't stand a chance. She doesn't notice the recoil, and can usually see the plastic bottles blow up through her scope.

257 Roberts--My daughter's beautifully stocked absolutely gorgeous Winchester Model 70 in this caliber is, quite frankly, far too pretty to take out in the field and shoot. (We both feel this way.) But on the rare occasion we take her rifle to the range, it is easy to get 75-grain Hornady V-maxes out the muzzle around 3500 fps with minimal recoil (and sub-moa accuracy), and 100-grain spitzers out the barrel at around 3200 fps (and also sub-moa accuracy), none with enough recoil to bother us, even after 40+ rounds are sent downrange. The 257 Roberts is a great and yet oft-ignored cartridge, which is really a shame for the millions of shooters in America who don't like recoil or muzzle blast, and yet want and need a relatively high performance cartridge, which the 257 Roberts is when it's loaded properly. Ancient SAMMI standards for it need to be dumped and replaced with modern rifle higher pressure standards (as in, around 60,000 psi chamber pressure). And, according to Hodgdon's website in its data section, Hodgdon's new H-100V powder in 257 Roberts is pushing 100 grain bullets out the barrel at 3205 fps and 115-grain bullets out the barrel at 3049 fps--we are deep in the heart of 25-06 territory here, with less powder, little kick, and more shooting comfort-- which are terrific loads for almost all hoof-clad animals in this country. If only the major ammunition producers would offer 257 Roberts loads of this performance, the cartridge, and rifles chambered in it, would sell like hot pancakes and sausage at a Sunday Church breakfast.

257 Ackley Improved--My customized Model 700 action in a HS-Precision stock and 24" barrel weighs about 8 1/2lbs with its Nikon 6-18x scope onboard. Handloads with 75-grain V-maxes are a joy to shoot all day long, even from the bench. Nosler 100-grain Ballistic Tips (safely out the barrel at 3400 fps with some old but pristine Norma 205 powder I found sitting lonely and abandoned on a back shelf in a very eclectic gunshop)kick a bit, and I wouldn't want to shoot them all day long, but test-firing 30-40 rounds in an afternoon session doesn't leave my head ringing nor my shoulder hurting. (And the rounds shoot sub-MOA.) My 257 AI is one of my two favorite rifles. It is very nearly a perfect rifle for me.

7x57 Mauser and 7x57 Ackley--

I use handloads shooting 120 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips, 130 grain Sierra MatchKings, and 140-grain Nosler Ballistic Tips or Combined Technology Ballistic Tips. I fireform 7x57 Mauser handloads into 7x57 Ackley cases, losing about 200-250 fps muzzle velocity from the "expected" velocity of the Mauser handloads when I do so, but I still get very respectable performance from the Mauser handloads and wonderful performance from my very carefully developed Ackley handloads.

(For those who are curious, the Ackley 120-grain loads will go out my 24" barrel up to around 3300 fps using 49-50 grains of Varget. The Ackley 130-grain loads will go out the barrel around 3200 fps in fireformed Winchester or Remington brass, or up to around 3225-3250 fps in fireformed Hornady Light Magnum brass, using 51-52 grains of VVN 550. The 7x57 Ackley 140-grain loads will go out the barrel at 3100 fps or just slightly faster, using 55 grains of H-4350 and newly fireformed Hornady Light Magnum brass. I am still developing loads for this cartridge and have a long ways to go before I fully understand its performance capabilities.)

My 7x57 Ackley is in a Remington 700 action, with a heavy sporter Leija 24" barrel, the action glass-bedded into a Hogue all weather stock, with a Shepherd scope onboard. The rifle weighes considerably more than I had planned when I first started putting all the pieces together--it's about 10 1/2lbs--but shoots like a dream and, regardless of how hot I load it, has never kicked me significantly at all. I think part of this, of course, is due to the weight of the rifle, but part of it is also due to the supreme efficiency of the cartridge. The 7x57 Mauser and its offspring, the 257 Roberts, 257 AI, and 7x57 AI, just don't need a whole lot of powder in their respective cartridges in order to produce excellent performance results.

(I would love to see a credible modern-day scientific analysis of case design, powder burn, and powder burn/gas efficiency/bore ratios in various cases and calibers. I believe the 257 AI and 7x57 AI cartridges are likely the two most efficient sub-.30 caliber cartridges anywhere, followed closely by the 257 Roberts and 7x57 Mauser.)

270 Winchester--I have a beaten-with-an-ugly-stick outhouse-nasty Savage Model 114 in cheap plastic factory issue stock and Nikon 3x9 ProStaff scope that, all together, doesn't seem to weigh even 8lbs. The rifle always feels very light. And while the rifle always shoots good handloads (and Hornady Light Magnum Loads) at MOA or even smaller, it kicks. It kicks hard. It hurts. Testing loads at the range requires that I wear a recoil-absorption pad on my shoulder. Sometimes I'll even put a washcloth beneath the absorption pad. I'll even cheat and stack sandbags around the rifle and try to weigh it down. (On the other hand, that rifle has turned me into an excellent off-hand shot at metal plate targets out to 300 yards, since shooting it off-hand is almost bearable compared to shooting it from the bench.) I've owned and fired several other 270s that didn't kick like this one does, hence my recommendation of the caliber if not a plastic-stocked Savage 114 in that caliber. The right rifle in that caliber is not unpleasant or uncomfortable to shoot at all.

Good shooting, everyone.

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX

Randy Free

You guys think what you want, but I have two sons that will argue with you on which gun kicks the most. They will take the 7mag any day over the .270 As to which gun is the best? Well thats like trying to choose between women. Its all in the eye of the beholder. I love the .270, grew up on it, but when I take to the field my 7mag will be there.

james t

i have a .300 weatherby mag, a .270 weatherby mag and a .338 browning mag and would never part with any of them. if recoil is too much for you try shooting them more and get to know the rifle. you can't shoot once or twice a year and expect recoil to just get easier. it isn't the caliber but the shooter. these are all very good calibers that i enjoy seeing come into my shop, which isn't very often.

ishawooa

Del in Ks:
Neighbor was not home last night but his wife told me that he went to Canada for the brown bear as she was mistaken and previously told me Alaska. Alaska is next year. He used to guide for bears in that state. Maybe I can see his bear tomorrow as tonight I have to attend my daughter's ballet recital (so things dads just have to do).
Bernie Kuntz:
I forget did you draw a Wyoming license for sheep? No luck here.
Everyone else: Why don't we argue which is best .30-30 or .32 Win. Spl., revisit .270 vs .280, or discuss short fat mags rather than standard length versions? Just kidding since conversations are either worthless or redundant. All the aforementioned cartridges have advantages and all have shortcomings. I love my 7 mm Rem Mag and my 300 Win Mag but also have other rifles that are better in some ways. Pick what you like, shoot it often, use properly constructed bullets, attach the best scope you can afford if appropriate, and to hell with what anyone else thinks.

Jim in Mo.

Harold,
Did you load compressed handloads for your 7x57? Is it AI? Thats quite some velocity. Surely your friend downloaded his 7mag. Just wondering.

sarg

I still like the word "overkill" I hunt whitetail at 50-75 yds, shoot a Rem.700 in .308. Don't need to go bigger. should really look at something smaller.




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