• The notorious "What cartridge do I need?" question

    If you want to start a pissing match on any firearm related forum, simply ask a question about what's the best cartridge for hunting a particular animal or shooting in a particular style of competition. The truth is there's no definitive answer...if there were then we wouldn't have so many cartridges to choose from.

    Here are some general recommendations for select game types and shooting formats...

    Small Game & Varmints: Anything from .17cal up to 6mm is ideal for small game and varmints. .224cal and 6mm are by far the most popular and offer the broadest bullet selection.

    Medium Sized Game: Most anything in 6mm to .30cal will be sufficient for any medium sized game animals. This includes whitetail and mule deer, antelope, black bear, etc. Many in the southern part of the U.S. like .224cal as well, but with such a small bullet shot placement and bullet selection becomes vital. As such the general consensus is to stick with a 6mm or larger cartridge.

    Large Game: For larger game animals such as elk, bison, etc. you're better off sticking to cartridges in the 7mm to .35cal range. These animals generally have a little thicker hide and more fat that the bullet has to punch through to get to the vitals, so the additional energy of a larger, heavier bullet comes in handy. Smaller calibers have been proven effective at times, but again we're getting into that area where bullet selection and shot placement becomes critical.

    African & Dangerous Game: For such animals most recommend .375cal cartridges and up, with the only limit being how much recoil energy you can tolerate.

    Benchrest: For the most part, the BR and PPC cartridges have dominated the short range benchrest scene for a good number of years, and still do. There are other cartridges that are more than suitable, but for the most part these are the mainstays. The .224 and 6mm variants seem to be the most dominant, though the .30BR has become popular well.

    Long Range Benchrest: This format seems to favor the larger calibers such as 6.5mm, .30cal and 7mm. I'm not real familiar with this format, but from what I've seen and read it seems cartridges such as the 6.5-284 Norma, 6.5x55 Swed, .300 WSM, 7mm WSM, and .300 Win Mag seem to be favored.

    F-Class: F-Class has been called "belly benchrest" by some and much of the same gear and cartridges can be used by both sports. F-Class is usually fired at distances of 600 yards (mid-range) and 1000 yards (long range). You also have to fire 20 rounds plus sighters in a 20 minute time period. Most F-Class shooters use calibers between 6.5mm and .30 caliber, however .35 caliber is the US-NRA limit. The more common cartridges used are the .260 Rem, 6.5-284 Norma, .280 Rem, .308 Win, and .300WM. The WSM's are on the rise as well.

    High Power: NRA Highpower is dominated by AR-15's. This is due mainly because of the service rifle category. Service rifle requires a US military (or equivelent clone) rifle in as issue configuration. Since the M-16 (AR-15) is chambered for 5.56mm NATO, the closest civilian cartridge to that is the .223 Rem. The other category is match rifle. Not being limited to military chamberings, it has several cartridges in .224 and 6mm calibers.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. flatshooter's Avatar
      flatshooter -
      "The truth is there's no definitive answer...if there were then we wouldn't have so many cartridges to choose from."

      Wow... some people just don't know what the buisness world is all about anymore. And some people don't know what works, because they never tried it or they are bought and sold based upon what there told they have to use verses what works.

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