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Small Calibers for Big Game. This is Not a New Thing by Tyler Freel

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  • Small Calibers for Big Game. This is Not a New Thing by Tyler Freel

    Tyler Freel at Outdoor Life has an interesting article concerning "Bigger isn't always better for caliber selection (and shot placement trumps all)"
    https://www.outdoorlife.com/small-ca...not-new-thing/

    What are your thoughts on this topic? What is the smallest cartridge / bullet you would use on larger North American game?
    Deer... Elk... Moose... Black Bear... Brown Bear... Feral pigs?

    Also, even if you don't recommend it, what have you used?

  • #2
    There are caveats that I feel are important enough to mention. 1. If you are local(short drive to hunting area), have all season and get resident tags, then you shouldn't view your choices as ideal to someone who pays north of $500 for their tag, has 4days to hunt, and is at the mercy of whatever weather Mother Nature dishes out. Same animal yes, but whole other ball game.
    2. Skill level, especially with regard to knowledge of the terrain can be vastly different than your own.
    ive known people who could probably take on anything in North America with a 22 and come out on top. These men were hunters, literally that was who they were. Husbands, fathers, workers, faith, and even health ALL came in at number 2.

    Comment


    • #3
      PH, I think you have the cart in front of the horse in this matter ! The thought of how small can you go, should not even be discussed as an issue in the taking of an animals life. If this issue is taken too the extreme and made into ‘well, I can do better than that and have killed game with even smaller calibers’ it could become unfair and unethical in the purpose of hunting ! Your question may be one of inquisitiveness, but it should not even be put into the equation as some will take it as a credible endeavor. There may be something said about ‘overkill’, but never about ‘underkill’ ! I am not even a gun hunter, so possibly my input is out of line, but this issue should include all methods of taking game ! I realize this is not your article, but you did bring it up.

      Comment


      • #4
        Today’s bullets do more with less. More killing power with less recoil. It’s a combination of bullet design paired with rifle platforms. Premium heavy for caliber bullets shot from properly twisted rifles are a game changer. It’s the package that matters, not the chambering.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm reminded of the story of Wally Johnson, the last African ivory hunter.
          When he first moved to Africa, he an a friend got a job eradicating lions on a huge cattle operation.
          They did quite well, finally amassing enough to upgrade their "starter" gun, a Win M94 .30-30!

          I've finished deer with a .22LR.
          I've put down injured/sick cows and horses with a .22LR and cleaned out more than one hog trap with a lowly .22LR.

          As for game?
          Only in a state of dire need would I attempt anything larger than say, a coyote, with a .22LR.

          At the height of deer season, my x-b-I-l sent me to check some fence.
          I threw my .22 Hornet on my ATV gun rack.
          I was perusing a corner in pretty poor shape and had been there probably 10 minutes studying what may be needed for repairs. A couple hundred yards away, a doe strolled across a wheat pasture. Suddenly, a really nice buck stepped out of the brush to eye the doe.
          Head in the alert position, ears up, he turned his head to the right, exposing the light spot behind his left ear.
          At about 30 yards, that .224 caliber, 45 grain Sierra Spire Point slipped right into that light spot and bucko hit the ground without so much as a wiggle.

          I won't "hunt" deer with a .22 Hornet.
          Too much can go wrong.

          My go to "deer" rifle these days is an AR15 chambered in 6.8mm Rem SPC and I use Speer 90 gr GoldDot handloads. They don't go far. The deer, not the bullets! LOL!

          Yes, bullet placement far outweighs bullet diameter or muzzle velocity.

          My homespun phrase is, "Bullet diameter does not compensate for bullet placement!".

          I still don't think the 5.56/.223 is "adequate" for deer and the .243 is marginal except in the hands of an experienced shooter.

          I think I could feel comfortable with my 6.8mm on all but the large bears.

          But that's just my opinion!
          Last edited by FirstBubba; 09-07-2019, 12:09 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            😴🤯😴😳😴😥🤔🤪😵

            Geez amflyer! I can't figure out whether my heads blowing up or I just need a nap or what?

            (p.s. - what's a MoFo and is the season open?)

            Comment


            • #7
              Agreed Amflyer. I also realize my lack of patience for typing often leaves my posts open to misinterpretation.

              The main thing is we’ve been in the midst of technological advancement for a couple decades, but it’s been subtle until recently. What’s been going on are improvements in bullet design, powder and case efficiently, optics and rifle platforms. We now have narrow but heavier bullets that take less powder to drive at speeds that deliver flat trajectory, low recoil, outstanding accuracy with reliable terminal performance. Regarding penetration, all I can add is that smaller diameter bullets of the same weight driven at the same speed (ie 150 gr 7mm08 vs150gr .308) the narrower round will (or at least should in theory, never say never!) penetrate further.

              The tried and true got that way for a reason, but it took some lessons to get there. As the technology changes history repeats itself building on those previous lessons.

              Comment


              • #8
                I've shot deer with most cartridges from .223 Rem to a .375 H&H. Within 200 yards, where most deer are taken, the deer die as dead as dead can be with a properly placed shot. Deer aren't too fussy about the composition of the bullet that killed them either. I still shoot the same outstanding bullet in my 25-06 that I used in the late 1960s... the Hornady Interlock. Over the years, some bullets couldn't shoot straight beyond a couple hundred yards or some of them blew an 8" hole upon exit but they all killed deer about the same.

                Of course, we've always had to use a decent hunting bullet. Using a 40g frangible varmint bullet or a full metal jacket bullet on deer seldom works well but I've seen a 55g Nosler Partition penetrate deer as well or better than a 150g .308 bullet... including exploding lots of big bones.

                My personal favorite for deer and antelope sized game is a 25 caliber going FAST. Not that it's required to kill a deer but because it makes shots at running game more predictable than cartridges that go 1000 fps slower. It also makes holdover calculations pretty foolproof because it shoots real flat out to 500 yards.

                Among all the deer/antelope that I've shot, or seen shot, two cartridges made a unique impression on me with regard to instant death on deer... the .257 Weatherby and the 25-06 Ackley Improved. Both move a 100g bullet at about 3600 fps. Within 100 yards or so, deer typically die instantly almost regardless of where they are hit. I shot one 1/4" from the front edge of his neck, barely breaking the skin. His aorta had a 10" rip above the heart and his lungs and liver were completely pulverized like ground hamburger. You never see that with a .30-.30 or a 375 H&H.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dewman View Post
                  There are caveats that I feel are important enough to mention. 1. If you are local(short drive to hunting area), have all season and get resident tags, then you shouldn't view your choices as ideal to someone who pays north of $500 for their tag, has 4days to hunt, and is at the mercy of whatever weather Mother Nature dishes out. Same animal yes, but whole other ball game.
                  2. Skill level, especially with regard to knowledge of the terrain can be vastly different than your own.
                  ive known people who could probably take on anything in North America with a 22 and come out on top. These men were hunters, literally that was who they were. Husbands, fathers, workers, faith, and even health ALL came in at number 2.
                  Good points Dewman. I won't mess around when I go on a pay hunt for whitetail in December. My primary rifle will be the Ruger American in 6.5 CM and my backup will be the Remington 788 in .308 Win.

                  However, most of my other hunting this season will be with an AR in .300 BLK

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bowhunter75richard View Post
                    PH, I think you have the cart in front of the horse in this matter ! The thought of how small can you go, should not even be discussed as an issue in the taking of an animals life. If this issue is taken too the extreme and made into ‘well, I can do better than that and have killed game with even smaller calibers’ it could become unfair and unethical in the purpose of hunting ! Your question may be one of inquisitiveness, but it should not even be put into the equation as some will take it as a credible endeavor. There may be something said about ‘overkill’, but never about ‘underkill’ ! I am not even a gun hunter, so possibly my input is out of line, but this issue should include all methods of taking game ! I realize this is not your article, but you did bring it up.
                    Richard, you hunt deer with a bow! How do you even have a leg to stand on with this topic? Aren't you doing it for the challenge? Wouldn't a .30-06 bolt-action be a more sure weapon to use? Likewise, other hunters do the same. Heck, I know two guys who've killed deer with cap and ball blackpowder revolvers just to push the limits. It's in some people's nature to do similar things.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by fitch270 View Post
                      Today’s bullets do more with less. More killing power with less recoil. It’s a combination of bullet design paired with rifle platforms. Premium heavy for caliber bullets shot from properly twisted rifles are a game changer. It’s the package that matters, not the chambering.
                      Exactly! That's the game changer for me in using the .300 BLK because of innovations in bullets designed specifically for that platform.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by fitch270 View Post

                        The tried and true got that way for a reason, but it took some lessons to get there. As the technology changes history repeats itself building on those previous lessons.
                        Yep, but it's going to be difficult for most Geezers to adapt to new methods and technology. It will mainly be younger hunters leading the way.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DakotaMan View Post
                          I've shot deer with most cartridges from .223 Rem to a .375 H&H. Within 200 yards, where most deer are taken, the deer die as dead as dead can be with a properly placed shot. Deer aren't too fussy about the composition of the bullet that killed them either. I still shoot the same outstanding bullet in my 25-06 that I used in the late 1960s... the Hornady Interlock. Over the years, some bullets couldn't shoot straight beyond a couple hundred yards or some of them blew an 8" hole upon exit but they all killed deer about the same.

                          Of course, we've always had to use a decent hunting bullet. Using a 40g frangible varmint bullet or a full metal jacket bullet on deer seldom works well but I've seen a 55g Nosler Partition penetrate deer as well or better than a 150g .308 bullet... including exploding lots of big bones.

                          My personal favorite for deer and antelope sized game is a 25 caliber going FAST. Not that it's required to kill a deer but because it makes shots at running game more predictable than cartridges that go 1000 fps slower. It also makes holdover calculations pretty foolproof because it shoots real flat out to 500 yards.

                          Among all the deer/antelope that I've shot, or seen shot, two cartridges made a unique impression on me with regard to instant death on deer... the .257 Weatherby and the 25-06 Ackley Improved. Both move a 100g bullet at about 3600 fps. Within 100 yards or so, deer typically die instantly almost regardless of where they are hit. I shot one 1/4" from the front edge of his neck, barely breaking the skin. His aorta had a 10" rip above the heart and his lungs and liver were completely pulverized like ground hamburger. You never see that with a .30-.30 or a 375 H&H.
                          Do you think the hydrodynamic shock has a significant role in what you've seen? Supposedly, pigs are very vulnerable to that. It's been my experience that slow heavy projectiles don't seem to affect pigs the same as deer. I guess that also gets into shot placement as Bubba said
                          "Bullet diameter does not compensate for bullet placement!"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by PigHunter View Post

                            Richard, you hunt deer with a bow! How do you even have a leg to stand on with this topic? Aren't you doing it for the challenge? Wouldn't a .30-06 bolt-action be a more sure weapon to use? Likewise, other hunters do the same. Heck, I know two guys who've killed deer with cap and ball blackpowder revolvers just to push the limits. It's in some people's nature to do similar things.
                            The only ‘leg I have to stand on’ in this matter PH, is the topic itself. That being in essence, how light in caliber can game be taken. Even though I am a bow hunter, there are still boundaries for me to use equipment necessary for a humane kill, such as bow weight of sufficient poundage, broad heads that produce a cutting size for lethal affect, keeping shots in distance of ethical arrow placement, and the most important is limiting shots that provide the best angle of placement. Many of these stipulations coincide directly with the topic of what caliber for what game ! Only thing you have to do is replace ‘caliber’ with my boundaries that I have stated. Exact same thing PH, so I do have a leg to stand on, and it all boils down to ETHICS ! What is ‘best’ not what is the ‘least’ !

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by bowhunter75richard View Post

                              The only ‘leg I have to stand on’ in this matter PH, is the topic itself. That being in essence, how light in caliber can game be taken. Even though I am a bow hunter, there are still boundaries for me to use equipment necessary for a humane kill, such as bow weight of sufficient poundage, broad heads that produce a cutting size for lethal affect, keeping shots in distance of ethical arrow placement, and the most important is limiting shots that provide the best angle of placement. Many of these stipulations coincide directly with the topic of what caliber for what game ! Only thing you have to do is replace ‘caliber’ with my boundaries that I have stated. Exact same thing PH, so I do have a leg to stand on, and it all boils down to ETHICS ! What is ‘best’ not what is the ‘least’ !
                              It’s not just bullet diameter that matters. You need to account for weight, construction, velocity and distance to get a complete scenario.
                              A .22 caliber 60gr Nosler Partition is a whole different animal than a 40gr Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint. Used in the right application the former is fine for deer, the latter not.

                              It’s not a matter of reinventing the wheel, it’s optimizing it.

                              Comment

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