Some of us lucky ones (usually older) have an enviable problem: deciding what rifle to bring hunting.
Back in the day, it was easy to choose. You used your deer rifle for deer hunting and made it work for elk and bears, too (if fortunate enough to pursue them). Oftentimes you pressed it into service for coyotes, too. Heck, I used to make a Ruger M77 in .270 Win. suffice for prairie dogs and rock chucks by building 90-grain Sierra hollow-point loads for it. Those screamers printed sub-MOA five-shot groups.
These days, my friends and I not only have specific rifles/calibers for deer, elk, moose, coyotes and varmints, but redundant options for each. This is the dilemma. I’m leaving today for a deer hunt that could see me finding a shooting opportunity in everything from thick pine forest to mile-wide wheat fields. Do I take the Mossberg lever-action .30-30 Win.? Or the 7mm Rem. Mag? Or a sweet-shooting Mossberg 4×4 in the classic .270 Win.?
I’ll reject the .30-30 Win. quickly for two reasons: I have to be able to make any shooting opportunity that presents itself because the hunt is being filmed for Winchester World of Whitetail. The .30-30 Win., while a great woods cartridge, sucks gravity beyond 250 yards. In past years, I’ve had to target a number of WOW bucks at 300-400 yards.
So, that leaves the 7mm Rem. Mag. and .270 Win. Some casual shooters assume the 7mm magnum will outshoot the old .270 non-magnum by a significant measure, but that’s false. With 140-grain AccuBonds zeroed at 200 yards, the .270 Win. will impact within an inch of the 7mm at 300 yards and just 3 inches lower at 400 yards. Not a difference worth sweating.
So, how do I choose a rifle? Well, the weather man is calling for some rain and the .270 Win. is dressed in stainless steel and laminated wood, so we’re going hunting.
Sometimes ballistic performance is not the deciding factor.