cj1 - December 8, 2004 06:46 PM (GMT)

Over the years, our best selling center fire whitetail deer hunting calibers, in order of when they were introduced to the market, are:
1) 30-30
2) 30-06
3) 270
4) 308
5) 223
Three are military rounds, the 30-06, 308 and 223 so are pretty obvious as popular choices based on the numbers of those who have formally trained with them and the availability of relatively inexpensive military surplus ammunition to shoot them. The other two, 30-30 and 270, got there purely on their merits or, as some call it, bringing home the meat.

If we throw in the 243, which is also very popular, we will have included most of the more popular whitetail deer hunting calibers. In fact, any caliber that performs similar to those already mentioned could be included if we but changed the name of this post to "Most Popular" caliber or "Favorite" caliber. However, reality is what actually sells. All others are just that: Most popular with someone or the favorite of someone. In other words personal opinions. Just to be clear, there is a difference between what actually sells and what some folks think is most popular or what is their particular favorite. One is called, again, reality. The others are called personal preference. The two should not be confused. Opinions are fine so long as they are not confused with reality and here our reality, in this post, is what folks are willing to, in large numbers, over time, actually plunk their money down and buy. The key to this is: Large numbers. Over time. Buy.

No one on these caliber's kills deer, especially whitetail deer, any better than another. Dead is dead and you can't make any living thing any deader than dead. Killing is directly related to bullet construction, bullet placement and the resulting penetration of that bullet, via fpe delivered to poi, in a vital to life area.

There are no big shooting secrets. If you:
1) Buy any of the best selling or popular deer hunting caliber's.
2) Learn the anatomy of what you are trying to kill. Deer or otherwise.
3) Buy bullets constructed appropriate to the task, the shot you will be attempting to make. For example:
a) Heart and lung shots are mostly hide and tissue shots that require a fairly quick expanding bullet. For these types of shots I prefer bullets like the Sierra PSP.
b) Central nervous system, shoulder and hip shots require a bullet that is going to break bones. For these types of shots I prefer bullets like the Nosler Partition.
4) Practice enough so that you can place your bullet in a vital to life area.
5) You will be amazed at how well all of these calibers work and what you can do with them.

For example: If you learn to use your sighting system, lethal killing range can be greatly extended no matter the caliber or feet per second of your bullet. A bullet need not shoot flat to kill. None of them shoot flat anyway. All drop. Some drop less than others. But, at longer range, if you know how to use elevation, vertical hold, again, flat does not matter. If you know your range, bullets feet per second and ballistic coefficient you can use a drop table, available in most reloading books, to learn how much your bullet is going to drop and thus adjust your point of aim accordingly. Some hunters carry these drop tables along with them. I've even seen some taped to a rifle stock. The further you shoot, the more the ballistic coefficient of the bullet fired enters into this particular picture. Then, if you can learn how to read the wind, well, this is how the great shots are made. By knowing your bullets flight path and adjusting for the effect of wind. Makes no difference if you are using:
1) Open sights: v or peep.
2) Scope.

Note: We have not yet even mentioned magnum calibers. Heck, we are only talking whitetail deer type game here. Magnums may be used to kill whitetail deer, again, personal preference, but are far from necessary, regardless of range. If you doubt that last statement, look to the Wimbledon 1000 yard match winners. Non magnums win there just like the magnums do and a win is a win no matter where you hold for elevation. As to foot pounds energy at point of impact, well, I've killed deer with as little as 105 foot pounds energy. Key is to get that 105 foot pounds energy to the right spot. A vital to life area. In my case, it was a bullet shot into a mule deer's eye cavity, thereby gaining entry into the central nervous system. Result: A one shot kill.

There is nothing magic about using a magnum caliber for, in truth, way too many folks who own magnum caliber's are afraid of them and, as a result, flinch when pulling the trigger due to their fear of recoil and or noise. This is an involuntary reaction learned over time and, sadly, a shooting habit that is very difficult to break. As someone once said: You got to hit it to kill it. And many a magnum shooter misses or wounds because of their flinching. The message is clear, the rifle you buy has to:
1) Fit you, period. Way too many folks are trying to hunt and shoot with rifles that are either too long or too heavy for them.
2) Be fun to shoot for that is the best way to be able to practice and build good shooting habits.

Better to hit a vital to life area with a well constructed:
1) Smaller, slower bullet at shorter range
2) Than miss or wound with a larger, faster bullet at longer range.

Key is to hunt and shoot within your personal capabilities:
1) If you do, you will have some fun plus make quick humane kills.
2) If you don't, you will have less fun because you will be missing or wounding what you are trying to shoot.

Life, just like shooting and hunting, is full of choices. Some are better than others. And it is up to us to gather sufficient data so as to make the choices that are best for us as individuals. This is not a situation where one size fits all. Too many young folks and women are victims, yes, victims, of hand me down rifles, shotguns and handguns that:
1) Don't fit them. There is no such thing as growing into a rifle, shotgun or handgun. It fits or it don't, period.
2) Scare them. Best way I know to run off someone new to the shooting sports is to scare them with recoil and or noise.

This is such a simple concept:
1) If you make shooting fun, those new to the sport will probably continue to shoot. Eventually, we hope, becoming not only participants but supporters of the shooting sports. Folks who will then vote and serve on juries as pro as opposed to anti gun enthusiasts.
2) If it isn't fun, they won't, period.
This is human nature at its most basic in terms of how the approach/avoidance, as well as pleasure/pain, principle works.

Yet, in spite of this reality, which is abundantly clear to any and all who bother to think it through, how many of you fathers, husbands and mentors have tried or are trying to make do by saving a few bucks while, at the same time, perhaps, driving your kids or wife or friends not only away from participation in the shooting sports but, maybe, even, into the anti gun camp?

Food for thought.


cj1 - May 6, 2005 06:29 AM (GMT)
More on the medium bores, along with one small bore.


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