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Stirling_Tom

Which Calibre for Long range shooting, UK Reds, Europe and Africa?

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I am looking for an all round gun that I can use predominantly for long range target shooting (or get into it), UK large deer, Europe and Africa plains hunting. The calibres I have in mind are .308, 7mm-08 or .300 win mag. I am looking to invest up to £5k on the gun just want to make sure I get a calibre that I can use for a bit of everything. I do reload my own bullets.

What do you guys recommend?  I am looking at a tactical type build fixed stock heavy barrel large bolt kind of set up.

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Ahh the holy grail of shooting, the all round rifle !! 

There are pro's and cons for all the calibers you have suggested, however I would start by asking what to you mean by longrange target shooting, to some that would be 300yds to others 1000+ yds 

Secondly are you looking to buy factory  ammunition or homeload especially if travelling to Africa 

308 is good all round caliber with good availability of factory ammo and homeload components ranging from 125gr to 220gr weight bullets. This caliber unless using a specific build rifle will struggle at 1000yds 

7-08 again is a good all round caliber with slightly less options than 308 but balistically the 7's will generally out preform the 30 cal 

300win mag is a hard hitting round, with good availability on ammunition, as its 30 cal, liked by PH in Africa. Should be good to 1400yds at a push for long range  shooting but as this is a HME caliber does have restrictions on shooting ranges it can be used on 

you will need to look closely at what you will actually realistically use the rifle for but from the 3 calibers you have indicated the 308 would be the most versatile for your needs 

it would be easy to find another half dozen calibers that will do the jobs required but all will have limitations somewhere, be it availability and suitability of bullet weights, effective range, costs etc etc 

 

does your 5K budget include the scope or is that extra and do you want new or SH 

rifle makes suggested to look at would be Accuracy, TRG, Blazer, maybe Unique Alpine to names a few but there are a lot of Tactical type rifles coming to the market these days so may be worth trying to get to a game fare or shooting show and get hands on some of them and see which fits, feels best 

 

I know i've probably raised more questions than answered but that's what happens when in search of the holy grail 

 

 

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All very good points above by Duey.

I'd also raise a question about weight. Tactical type rifles are usually big heavy buggers, with large thick barrels and heavy chassis/stocks. Plus large high magnification scopes also weigh a fair bit. This does make them quite difficult to lug around on a stalk, especially so in the African plains. Many people here have traded in their Accuracy Int'l AW's, Sako TRGs etc because they are simply too big and bulky for long stalks. They're generally far too heavy for off hand woodland shooting too.

I did read of the Precision Rifle Blog author's experience of shooting African game with a large Sako TRG 42 setup (.338Lapua) - yes it's possible, but is it the best setup for the job? It seems his guide and host were geared up for long range hunts...others may not be.

Just some thoughts to maybe think about.

best of luck to you!

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There isn't one gun or calibre that will do all of that 'well'.  Its a well trod path with no agreed answer. Some thoughts though...

None of the rounds you mention are a good compromise for that list (IMHO, others will differ i am sure). Do some googling and see what the common rounds people use for each of your areas of interest.

Long range target seems to split into a couple of broad groupings - 6.5's for long barrel life or 7mm WSM etc for best performance but high demands on the wallet for replacement barrels. 284 Win somewhere in the middle ?

 300 Win Mag is 'unloved'  (?) with many due to its belt complicating reloading - one of the reasons for WSM's and SAUMS.

Large UK deer. I hump a varmint rifle up the Cairngorms in 308 but my AI would be beyond the pale. Fine off the bonnet or for sitting in a bush though. 

If you are looking at recreational stalking any of your 3 calibres would be fine.

As a minimum IMO you are looking at 2 rifles - target + hunting.  To try and be helpful rather than just being a smart ass, some ideas ->

1. Target - buy an accuracy international AT or similar with a 6.5 barrel for target - cheap to shoot, as good as a custom (arguably better); has quick change barrel so very flexible; the 6.5 will perform well enough but not beat you up.  Its not stupid money and is an excellent product.

2. Hunting - 30-06 minimum; custom (if you want) built along the lines of the Mauser 03 with a semi weight barrel (#5 or so)

 

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Thanks everyone for the input,

The new gun would predominantly be for target shooting with the odd trip to Africa for something like kudu/wildebeest. I quite like the sound of a .284 Winchester, need to look into it a lot more I think .Something like the attached would be what I would be after.

I do already have a lightweight .243 set up that I use for UK stalking but would like a tad more power for the red stags in the rut or the ones that hug my permission boundary.

In regard to budget the £5k was to include a scope, already have my eye on a Meopta ZD so most like £3.5-4k for the rifle. 

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 18.34.38.png

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10 hours ago, Chanonry said:

There isn't one gun or calibre that will do all of that 'well'.  Its a well trod path with no agreed answer. Some thoughts though...

None of the rounds you mention are a good compromise for that list (IMHO, others will differ i am sure).

A straight .284 Winchester shooting Berger 180 VLDH or maybe a 7mm SAUM a touch faster?

Which one of the OPs requirements wont either of these do well?

Both .284 Win and the hotter 7 SAUM with 180s are top choices for 1000yd FClass and .284 is also very effective in 1000yd benchrest. Send a 180 VLDH at 2850-2950fps from either case towards anything on four legs within realistic plains shooting situations and you wont be under gunned either, I have a number of friends who shoot in Africa to silly ranges at typical plains game with 180 VLDH at similar speeds.

As for one gun, I agree that a plains game rifle and a proper FClass/benchrest rifle will look quite different but a tactical style (as show above) could do both well unless the OP is hell bent of competing at the highest levels of FClass or walking the plains all day. As for benchrest, Ive built tactical style rifles for two different customers that hold UK small group records and are currently leading UKBRA championships.

I also agree that none of the initially mentions rounds are a good compromise as you say :)

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7saum. 

Great all rounder.

I will have mine for sale in the Autumn for half your budget. ?

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Still think the 300wm with something around 200-220gr high bc bullet will be put a bigger hole into an animal at distance (vs 6.5-7mm). I had DCR build my 300wm (compromise) rifle with 24" Varmint profile Lothar Walther. Stock is Ultra light carbon and therefore can still be used for hunting. I wanted it to be a lightweight type "sniper rifle".

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edi

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That is one opinion (i think fairly good advice) , the game farm I visited used 243 for anything up to Wildebeest. They said the average shooter can't handle anything bigger.

30-06 is great but actually the same as performance as a 300wm X yards further out.

edi

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Having hunted South Africa many times I'd always recommend a .300win long or short mag. But always coupled with a decent bullet. 

I own an AI, but would never want to carry that in the bush all day for a week. My Africa rifle is a standard T3 Varmint which is heavy enough to be accurate...

If you want one rifle to do everything there's always going to be a compromise.

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3 hours ago, Deeredriver said:

Having hunted South Africa many times I'd always recommend a .300win long or short mag. But always coupled with a decent bullet. 

I own an AI, but would never want to carry that in the bush all day for a week. My Africa rifle is a standard T3 Varmint which is heavy enough to be accurate...

If you want one rifle to do everything there's always going to be a compromise.

A normal rifle, Halleluljah!!!

Let’s all thank the good Lord you mentioned that before we head down the custom build tacticooly stocked mega kilo wundergun route

 

i know nothing about hunting in Africa except from what I’ve picked up on the internet, but do know that in years gone by the average Hunter was a rugged individual who never shirked at anything, was skilled and adept in the art of practical riflery in an era long before ladypods became the norm....and he never put meat on the table or trophies on the wall by shooting off a bench with a rifle you daren’t hardly touch ?

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4 minutes ago, bradders said:

A normal rifle, Halleluljah!!!

Let’s all thank the good Lord you mentioned that before we head down the custom build tacticooly stocked mega kilo wundrfgun route

 

i know nothing about hunting in Africa except from what I’ve picked up on the internet, but do know that in years gone by the average Hunter was a rugged individual who never shirked at anything, was skilled and adept in the art of practical riflery in an era long before ladypods became the norm....and he never put meat on the table or trophies in the wall by shooting off a Ben h with a rifle you daren’t hardly touch ?

I even use a 'normal' rifle in CSR as well? 

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You used rather well this year “Champ” ?

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I was brought up in South Africa in the 60's 70's, hunting was not as pretty as the picture book tries to tell us. Yes wounded game was tracked until found but it was mostly messy with open sighted rifles often shot at longer ranges until the animal stopped. Mostly the magazine was emptied. My father fitted a weaver scope to our 308 Sako which then proved the rifle was not a great shooter, when I got the rifle years later the barrel was changed.

36 years Later I visited the same area again and went along on hunts, much more professional, better gear, more one shot one kill. I would be all for modern equipment but one must figure out what is just "Mickey Mouse" cr ap and what is useful.

edi

 

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I was advised by a South African P.H that .300WM was the best all rounder for plains games , its also great for UK Red`s  and European wild boar ,  ammo is easily available in most places and not too expensive.

Hitting steel plates at over 1500 yards with a .300WM is also quite possible.

Using an unusual or uncommon calibre could leave you empty handed and fed up in some far off country and remember some airlines wont knowingly carry home loaded ammo.

Regarding  the rifle I`d go for or Blaser or a high end Sako , think about the weight if you intend walking in bushveld for hours on end.

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Looking at the objective I’d purchase a Blaser R8 with a couple of barrels in the calibres suitable for the application

308 any uk animal

300 winmag for overseas use (boar or open plains hunting)

 

it may may not be the solution others have in mind but offers something within the budget and is able to swap calibres in a few moments 

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Some friends have just travelled abroad to shoot a match.

The rifles arrived a day late, the ammo never left the UK. They were shooting 6.5 x 47.

Had they been shooting .308, they would have competed.

Not a lot of .284 or 7mm SAUM available in Nairobi....i'll warrant.

Just a thought. ?

The .308 will still flatten plains game. Couple it with a good rangefinder and good drops.

The win mag will give greater margin for error, and smack them like hitting a cow on the arse with a shovel.

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A friend of mine hunts with a .270 in Africa.

I use a Remington 700 in .270 for hunting deer in the UK. I bought it second hand for £500 and it is an older (and possibly better built) model. It has proved very accurate at UK deer hunting (sub 150 yard) distances. I put a Schmidt and Bender 8 x 56 and an Ase Ultra mod on it. A great hunting package for around £1K.

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7 x 64 has taken an awful lot of wildebeeste, kudu and the like. Dunno about a long range target job. Is two stocks the answer maybe? I've lugged some stuff round  in hot sandy conditions and heavy is not really totally desirable. Unless of course you are really good shooting with a sky high pulse rate!

David.

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A mate of mine had the exact same dillemma and ended up buying a .308. He travels to Africa every year and has had no problems dropping medium plains game with the venerable old .308 plus its used for target plinking and large lowland deer in the UK.  Ammo available just about everywhere.  Shot placement and the right bullet see off many arguments about the .308 being under-gunned. Personally, I'd say that the T3x Varmint, S&L Victory  or Blaser R8 would be good off the shelf options.  Slap on a PM2 and you're good to go.  Save the money for beer tokens and ammo.

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