Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thinking About Rifles -VI

As we consider this mythical practical rifle, we've already talked about bore diameter, but I think it's important to consider the cartridge.  They are two entirely different things.  We all know, for example that the diminutive 7mm TCU is the same bore diameter as the 7mm Weatherby Magnum, but the two cartridges are vastly different.  If the purpose of a rifle is to place a bullet on a target then we must consider the target.

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 target
So, 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.


Old NFO said...

I'd say .270 is the minimum sized round. Although you 'can' take an elk with a .243 if placement is perfect.

Retired Spook said...

Have a former service buddy who has taken a metric buttload of elk with a Winchester M-70 Featherweight in .257 Roberts. He says "I know it's too small for elk, but the elk around here don't know that."

Ed Jones said...

7mm-08 in a remington #7 works for me.

Anonymous said...

I would hunt elk with my 257 roberts but not at the same range I would with my 30-06. And I have been told some outfitters require at least a 300 win mag for elk probably because they want you to take that 400 yard shot they find for you. Good discussion by PawPaw.

Anonymous said...

Anon, if I hire a guide for $3K-$5K, one of my conditions for that guide is that he/she DOES NOT tell me to take 400-yard shots. I'm capable of getting that close to an elk by myself. I want that guide to get me inside of 200 yards. At that range, either of my Savage Model 99 rifles, one is 300 Savage and the other is 308 Winchester, will take that elk with factory 180-grain soft point ammo.


Old NFO said...

Good point Rivrdog!

Anonymous said...

Exactly Rivrdog. The topic came up when I was buying a new rifle because I could and the salesman told me most elk outfitters would not allow me to hunt with the 30-06 I wanted and bought. Was what he said true? No idea and it matters less since I would not book with an outfitter who told me that if I was considering one.


Windy Wilson said...

Old NFO, as you imply, "Perfect" being the controlling concept there.

Rvrdog, I was thinking that I, city boy extrordinaire could fine an elk at 400 yards. What I'd be paying the guide the big bucks for is to have somebody local who knows the terrain and the game, so we can find an elk at 200 yards.