A Couple Thoughts And Observations On Caliber And Cartridge Effectiveness


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member

Tom was over last night and over coffee we got to talking about next year and a combo mule deer and elk hunt hes planning, he brought over a 270 win BAR rifle he has used for at least 30 years ,and wanted to know if I wanted to buy it or knew anyone that might as he wants to buy a 300 win mag, because he was under the absurd impression a 270 win he has used for decades would not effectively kill elk?
( I don't know if I convinced him but a 270 win , loaded with a decent 150 grain bullet,
will certainly be more than effective if he shoots accurately)
he brought up the fact that I generally used a 340 wby, and asked me why?
I explained I really trust that rifle, after using it for 40 plus years,
but its certainly not the only good choice,

Id previously used a 30/06 and it was 100% effective and lethal,
but it had not nearly the same immediate effect,
there has been a noticeably more impressive reaction when you hit elk with a 340 wby
,and I've had excellent results so I stick to using it or the similar 375 H&H.
that I did not see with similar hits using a 30/06,
on my first two successful hunts using that 30/06 with 220 grain bullets,
that the guys mentoring me swore were ideal.
(keep in mind the area they/we hunt shots over 125 yards are rare!)




both rifles and cartridges were lethal with one shot.
but in my experience, you don't get the same reaction to nearly identical hits
while I fully agree its consistent and accurate shot placement,
not power that will be far more important to being successful.

but as always hitting the games vitals consistently from field positions with your rifle of choice,
and knowing the games anatomy is critical to getting good results

over 5 decades I've generally taken the effort to to spend at least a couple days and most years several weeks making out of state hunts,
I really prefer hunting elk in COLORADO, but many years , available time, previous obligations,
and lately the cost, and difficulty in getting a license in an area I prefer to hunt have limited that option.

So I have on some years been restricted to hunting mule deer in , CALIFORNIA, IDAHO, WYOMING, or whitetail deer , in FLORIDA, ALABAMA, GEORGIA, TEXAS.
generally made these hunts with two to three other guys that split the transportation costs involved as we drive out in one or two trucks from FLORIDA where I live, and yeah its about a 42-47 hour drive from FLORIDA to COLORADO and a bit longer to WYOMING depends on weather, traffic , road construction, etc, and what vehicles we take, the guys driving etc.
we generally camp in tents for the 7-9 day season time frame we have available.
over the decades I've seen a rather wide selection of rifles and cartridges being used, and I can assure anyone reading this that ,
I have been paying a good deal of attention during the hunts and resulting field dressing
procedure's, I've seen several elk killed with a 257 Roberts and 100 grain speer hot core and 120 grain grand slam bullets ,
and 6.5mm Swedish Mausers with Hornady 140 grain interlocks
(hardly magnum cartridges)
and I've seen plenty of big game killed with a 270 win, 30/06 and 308 win, so you certainly don't need a magnum to be successful.
one guy I hunted with for 20 plus years used a marlin 45/70 ,using handloads,
cast bullets that weight 350 grains and moving at only about 1700 fps
and had zero issues putting game in the freezer.
I've generally used a 340 wby and 250 grain HORNADY bullets or a 375 H&H with 270 grain HORNADY bullets
my late hunting partner used a Browning BLR in 358 win for decades loaded with a 250 grain hot core, speer bullet,
and one of the most popular cartridges and rifles, used by the guys I hunt with is,
is the 7600 remington in caliber 35 whelen, using the same 250 grain speer bullet.
if your worried about the rifle you have, DON,T be,

as long as you can learn and practice being able to consistently place your shots in about a 3" circle,
shooting from a field position at 100 yards ,
you'll generally do OK if you spend enough time actually hunting vs sitting around camp.

don,t worry about needing a long range flat trajectory, while thats great,
if you have that rifle and useful , its not generally required as most of the big game has been shot at well under 250 yards,
its the skill, knowledge , and experience in the field,
and persistence of the guy holding the rifle,

more than the cartridge selected that maters

heres a brief bit of info on a past hunt.

one old geezer that taught me to hunt , back in the early 1970s,
used a 257 Roberts in a pre 1964 Winchester, for decades.
he used to constantly joke about my 340 wby,
and how I used to have to carry several extra pounds of rifle weight,
when his Winchester was all that was needed.
he killed more than his share of deer and occasionally an elk.
I helped him drag or pack out several, over several decades.
on one occasion we were sitting on the edge of a clear-cut,
that had started to re-grow and there were lots of 3-5 foot tree-lings,
over several acres.
a legal 4x4 elk slowly entered the area we watched over,
the old geezer only had a deer license that year.
so I was sitting with my 340 wby using the bi-pod on a large fallen log,
with the crosshairs held on the area higher than, but just over the bull's heart,
and a bit behind his shoulder, I waited as he slowly advanced,
when it became obvious he was the only legal bull elk we had seen in days.
I estimated the range at about 170 yards.
when I fired, the elk dropped like a demolition on an older building.
he just dropped in place,
the older guy looked at me and said...
..damn , that was impressive
..I've never seen any elk convinced so fast that he was dead before.
most elk I shoot want to consider the matter,
think it over ...... maybe cover 40-50 yards.!
then conclude I was right!
kid that was impressive!
" that made my day "

read these links






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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
well I spent an hour or so at the local rifle range helping TOM right in his browning BLR , with one of the hand loaded ammo, combos I've used for decades in my BAR.
I used speer 150 grain bullets over 52 grains of WW760 and a 215 fed primer, as thats a combo thats been very well documented to be consistently accurate in several browning BARS.

now TOM has not been overly impressed with his BARS accuracy so before we went to the local range I had him clean his rifle,
I watched him and it was all too obvious he is clueless about proper cleaning, his existing buffer was well past its useful life and there was no surface lube in the gas system under the fore-
arm the action was filthy, the bore was filthy but I think that was mostly due to his admitting it was several years since he used the rifle or cleaned it other than an occasional bore and action soak in WD40
I replaced the buffer shock absorber plate.,
a good cleaning with a tooth brush and solvent and some moly spray lube on the internal action components and 45 minutes of a nylon bore brush and 40 plus linen patches soaked in hoppes copper solvent




worked rather well on the bore condition
the result was 1.5" 3 shot 100 yard bench rest groups rather than the previous 3"-3.5" groups



The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member


these nylon recoil buffer inserts for the browning BAR hunting rifle ,
are a wear item like fan belts and brakes on a car,
I generally keep a handful on hand
numerich gun parts, and midsouth and midway and my local gunsmith are currently out,
or on back order and Id like to purchase a few
but the only ones I currently find are listed for $27 EACH vs the typical $5 each they normally sell for

your correct that they usually don,t need to be replaced ,
but they are a potential wear item so about every two years I replace them,
just as I disassemble and clean and lubricate all the moving parts
and I darn sure inspect them after and before every hunt or trip to the range.
I also replace springs and small parts at the first sign of wear

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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
I just got back from a trip to the local; outdoor 100 yard rifle range, where I sighted in a couple of my "go-too", hunting rifles
I checked the zero on my browning BLR in caliber 450 marlin with its preferred load of a remington 405 grain bullet over 50 grains of IMR 3031,
and my ruger #1 in caliber 270 win with its speer 150 grain, over 53 grains of WW760 , both loads, use a federal 215 primer.
both rifles are sighted in to impact 3.5" high at 100 yards over a center hold on a 1/2" orange paste on dot,
this allows a very useful center of chest hold on any game out to about 250 yards without having to calculate anything,
and its very useful as I rarely have the opportunity or need to shoot at ranges exceeding 200 yards in the areas I hunt.
after using the bench and sandbags to verify the rifles zero was dead on, I spent a great deal of time and effort ,
carefully placing shots from a siting position with the sling resting my elbows inside my knees, as you might on a hunt.
sometimes with my harris bi-pod and at times without the 13.5"-27" bi-pod
Harris S-25C Bipod Sling Swivel Stud Mount 13-1/2 to 27 Kryptek (midwayusa.com)

the range officer stopped to chat, and he mentioned how rare it was to see anyone not using the bench to sight in his rifle.
I mentioned the extreme lack of concrete benches in the correct location when they are required in the field while hunting and we both had too laugh\
because most of the guys shooting those bragging size groups off the bench would be seriously challenged to hit a 6" orange dot at 100 yards.
if they were shooting from a rapidly acquired field position.
yeah, its rather interesting to see how much the group size increases once the bench is no longer used or available to steady the rifle,


in fact the guy on the next bench over though I was wrong, so I challenged him to a friendly bet,
of $5 that on the next relay ID place a 3" orange dot on the target backer, at 100 yards range,
and if he could hit it on his first shot using his rifle from a sitting position,
he had won, $5 from me, if not I won $5 from him
he was close but the sticky dot remained pristine and I got $5, so I purchased us three, people, (he, the range officer and I ) a couple cokes, out of the vending machine


Prior to an African hunt I was loading for both the 375 Improved’s and the 470 nitro doubles my son in law and I were taking. Knowing we would likely have to shoot our game using shooting sticks I fashioned a pair and used them exclusively. It took a bit of practice, and the 470’s with the 500 grain Barnes and 108 grains of IMR4831 beat me up a bit, but you gotta do what you gotta do.


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
I got asked if I carry a handgun to "finish off deer/elk"
yeah I generally carry a handgun in a shoulder holster, but Ive never needed it to finish off game!
maybe I've just been luck, for nearly 57 years , but I can't remember ever having to "finish off" a deer or elk,
almost all were dead before I reached them, the few that were not died within a few seconds.
yeah, Ive helped finish off a few friends deer, but that was inevitably linked to less than ideal shot placement.
that may have something to do with waiting for a good shot opportunity at the games vitals and generally
using a heavy for caliber bullet and knowing the games anatomy.
and waiting until I was certain of shot placement,
and yes that generally required, use of a bi-pod or decent tree branch or a rifle over a back-pack,
and generally ranges under 350 yards for rifles, 120 max yards, for handguns and 40 yards max for archery
it has little to do with caliber, power or cartridge as I've used many firearms, and even archery equipment,
I've killed elk and deer regularly.
like I've used a 44 mag revolver , 257 roberts,30/06 ,300 wby, 340 wby, 450 marlin and 458 lott,
they all worked with one shot kills, yes I've passed on making a great many shots.
yes I practice shooting targets out at 500 yards, but Ive rarely taken shots over 350 yards even when I was rather sure I could do so!
know your weapons limitations, a 257 roberts does not have the punch of a 375 H&H,
thus you limit the range and shot angles you'll accept. and wait for a better opportunity.
cartridges like a 458 lott or 450 marlin may have the power to reach out, but limits of flat trajectory suggest limiting shots to maybe 175-200 yards


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
Hello Grumpy, This is my first year hunting and I was lucky enough to shoot my first buck yesterday morning, a 4 pointer. I was on a field side in a blind and he was below me in the field. I could not believe it when I shot him, a feeling I’ve never experienced! Unfortunately, I spent the next 8 hours tracking him down and never found him. Strangely enough, towards the end of the day before it became dark our, the deer stopped bleeding. At first the blood trail was strong.I figured that would mean I’d walk up on him down quickly but that never happened. When I took the shot I was aiming for his vitals, his heart behind the shoulder. I was exited before I made the shot so it’s possible I could have moved slightly before taking the shot. I just feel real terrible about not being able to find the deer. An almost sick feeling. Is there any advice anyone could offer me or any suggestions on how to improve for next time so my chances of this happening again are low? And why in the 8 hours he never dropped and seemed to stop bleeding? I really appreciate any feedback. Thank you in advance

too many people miss simply because they spend most of their time shooting off a bench rest, not from field positions, in practice, Id certainly suggest you spend a great deal more time using a sling and shooting at 50 yard targets off hand


if you have the option ,its generally rather helpful to learn to shoot SKEET, as it helps you gain the rapid hand/eye coordination required to use a shoulder fired weapon on moving targets, now obviously use of a shotgun on Arial clay birds is not the same as shooting at a rapidly departing white tail deer's heart/lung area, but if you can consistently hit 20 plus skeet targets with a scatter gun, you'll have very little difficulty using an accurate rifle to drop a running deer at under 50 yards or so.
and used with a sling, if you take a second or two longer, with a decent optic (low power scope)
(hitting a 6" orange dot target at 100 yards in under 5 seconds,
with a first or second shot is a skill that's fairly easy to acquire with enough repeated practice)
now a lot of guys might suggest you select a lever action, pump or semi auto, so you have nearly instant repeat shot capability,(which certainly might be helpful) but its that first well placed shot that's much more critical to upping your odds of success, than laying in a hail of projectiles on a bouncing white tail deer,
as it rapidly seeks to put a great deal of distance between you and his current location.
BTW, a good bolt action, with a fast 60-72 degree bolt lift, like a, tika, browning or Weatherby can with practice allow a well practiced rifleman to put down a very rapid follow up shot should it be required , and yeah, if you select a lever action, pump or semi auto, you can get off a second shot rapidly, but again the goal is a well placed first shot, and a 150-165 grain bullet in your 308 win is certainly a lethal combo in your current rifle IF you place it correctly.
theres no need for you to change weapons, but I'd strongly suggest you practice shooting off hand rapidly from a standing position.
the fact that your deer was not mortally wounded and did not drop within 20-50 yards of bullet impact is almost certainly the result of less than ideal shot placement (it happens, ) the lesson learned should be... your not just trying to shoot faster, your trying to be certain that any shot you fire hits exactly where you intended it to, and that requires practice in shooting from standing field positions, and a good sling and a decent scope certainly aids in precise shot placement!

your certainly not alone, anyone with much experience has either missed a shot or had it hit in a place it was not intended
and I can tell you most of the guys Ive hunted with can shoot 1"-2" 100 yard bench rested groups easily, but damn few could could consistently and rapidly hit a 5"-6" orange dot at 100 yards shooting off hand until they put in a great deal of practice, and everyone of them became much more consistently successful once they acquired that skill level,
and yeah, if you have the option of leaning against a tree or dropping to a sitting position obviously its to your advantage to do so, so you do that!



solid fixture here in the forum
I was talking to a friend the other day and told him that I was getting stuff ready for buck season and he said that he would like to go shoot one and I got to talking with him and offered a rifle to use and he started like he would walk 5 steps into the woods and watch the buck parade pick one he wanted (A trophy) and pull the trigger and the buck would walk to his truck then jump in back of it to die LOL. I broke it to him that it was a little more work in the real world so he says well how do you get one almost every year and I let him know that the first 20 years or so I never got one it wasn't til I found a sweet spot and bought a tree stand worked for 2 years cleaning the brush away and cutting trees so I can brush hog my area and keep everything in order its easy to shoot one but you have to see it first