Many years ago, some rifle shooters adopted a game that we now know as Metallic Silhouette shooting where they shot at steel targets at varying ranges. They shot this game off their hind legs, so the choice of rifle became critical, as did the choice of cartridge. It wasn't enough to stricke the 500 meter ram target, you had to knock it down, so the satisfying clang of a bullet on target counted for naught if the target didn't fall over. Too light a cartridge and the target doesn't fall over.
Jeff Cooper, when trying to define his Scout Rifle, demanded a caliber with sufficient power to do the job.
capable of striking a single decisive blow, on a live target of up to 200 kilos in weight, at any distance at which the operator can shoot with the precision necessary to place a shot in a vital area of the target".Note that we're not talking about Scout rifles, but a mythical practical rifle, so we might amend the caliber designation to read something like this:
The cartridge must be capable of striking a single decisive blow on the target likely to be encountered at a distance where the operator is capable of placing the bullet in the vital area of the targetSo, whether we're talking about metallic silhouette or the game fields, or even a battle rifle, we need a cartridge capable of doing the job we intend, at the range we might encounter. That gives us room to start to personalize our practical rifle for the game and the terrain. There is a vast difference between knocking over a whitetail deer in the thickets of central Louisiana, and taking an elk across a valley in Idaho. Ideally, the practical rifle might be capable of both jobs, but what may practical in one place may not be practical in another.
So, we amend the definition of a practical rifle to the following.
1. magazine fed repeating rifle
2. weighing between 2.5 and 5 kilos
3.The cartridge must be capable of striking a single decisive blow on the target likely to be encountered at a distance where the operator is capable of placing the bullet in the vital area of the target.
There is still a lot to talk about, and we're soon going to be dealing with the stickiest parts of this mental exercise.