Poll: Rifle Caliber for Western Hunting

Which caliber would you choose for western hunting?

  • 6.5 PRC

    Votes: 26 22.2%
  • .300 WSM

    Votes: 91 77.8%

  • Total voters
    117

Fowl Hunter

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Joined
Jun 13, 2017
Messages
341
Location
Bellevue ID
You need at least two shooters ready to go in case a gun/scope fails.

I have 3 ready and for slightly different situations.

7mm-08 short action - lightest of the 3. Shot my last 2 bulls with it. Easiest to carry. I shoot it well.

270 In between.

300 Win Mag - The cannon.

When I was younger I wanted to have .338. Too much gun now.
 

Lyfter1013

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
491
I picked the .300WSM. I own one in a Kimber Montana. I would love to say my rifle is very accurate but it isn't..My good friend has the same rifle and it is a tack driver. I need to work on some different hand loads or sell it 🤔
What ammo have you tried? I have a Kimber mountain ascent that is about 50/50 on which ammo it likes.. 150g Barnes TTSX and 190g ABLRs will shoot touching 3 shot groups.. same gun will not group 165 TTSX under 3 inches. And 180 e tips about 1.5-2” inch groups. i know Kimbers can be finicky
 

Redman

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Joined
Mar 31, 2017
Messages
1,391
Location
Indiana
What ammo have you tried? I have a Kimber mountain ascent that is about 50/50 on which ammo it likes.. 150g Barnes TTSX and 190g ABLRs will shoot touching 3 shot groups.. same gun will not group 165 TTSX under 3 inches. And 180 e tips about 1.5-2” inch groups. i know Kimbers can be finicky
I have tried Nosler 150gr AB 165gr Nosler BT and 180 gr Barnes TTSX. I am going to try Barnes 150gr TTSX and if that doesn't work Hammers. I slacked off testing loads due to the component issues.
My buddy Dave has 4 Kimbers and they are all shooters but he had to mess with loads for his Montana and Mtn Ascent until he found the one they liked. The Mtn Ascent groups shrank when he put the muzzle break on and I am talking going from over an inch to one ragged hole.
 

Mustangs Rule

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Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
562
What ammo have you tried? I have a Kimber mountain ascent that is about 50/50 on which ammo it likes.. 150g Barnes TTSX and 190g ABLRs will shoot touching 3 shot groups.. same gun will not group 165 TTSX under 3 inches. And 180 e tips about 1.5-2” inch groups. i know Kimbers can be finicky
Barnes makes 4 different bullets in the 165 to 168 grain bullet weight. They are specifically designed for various .30 caliber cartridges from the lower velocity rounds like .308/30-06 up to the big .30 cal magnums.

You need to use the one that matches your caliber. I did not know that until i called Barnes.

Once I matched the bullet in that weight range to the cartridge they were specifically designed for all were very accurate.




Bullet Weight: 165 gr Case Trim Length: 2.840" S.D. 0.248 Bullet Style: TSX BT Primer: Fed GM215M B.C. 0.380 COAL: 3.515" Barrel Length: 24" Case: Winchester Twist Rate: 1:10" Bullet Weight: 165 gr Case Trim Length: 2.840" S.D. 0.248 Bullet Style: MRX BT Primer: Fed GM215M B.C. 0.439 COAL: 2.820" Barrel Length: 24" Case: Winchester Twist Rate: 1:10" Bullet Weight: 165 gr Case Trim Length: 2.840" S.D. 0.248 Bullet Style: Banded Solid Spitzer Primer: Fed GM215M B.C. 0.438 COAL: 3.540" Barrel Length: 24" Case: Winchester Twist Rate: 1:10" Bullet Weight: 168 gr Case Trim Length: 2.840" S.D. 0.253 Bullet Style: TSX BT Primer: Fed GM215M B.C. 0.404 COAL: 3.515" Barrel Length: 24" Case: Winchester Twist Rate: 1:10
 

Mustangs Rule

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
562
What ammo have you tried? I have a Kimber mountain ascent that is about 50/50 on which ammo it likes.. 150g Barnes TTSX and 190g ABLRs will shoot touching 3 shot groups.. same gun will not group 165 TTSX under 3 inches. And 180 e tips about 1.5-2” inch groups. i know Kimbers can be finicky
I also have a Kimber, in a Hunter in 280AI. It has just replaced so many other rifles/calibers. At a mere 5 3/4 pounds with a 24 inch match grade barrel, it heats up and strings very quickly. It is a "three shot" rifle, at most, The first two shots will touch, making a "figure 8".

The third shot makes a little larger group and the 4th shot really opens the group up. It shoots tighter longer in very cold weather.

I could care less. This entire rig meets my hunting needs perfecting. The 280AI is not a powder hog like a 7mm mag or any magnums really. It is not a bully, even in a light rifle when it comes to recoil and noise either. It is so efficient being barely a gnats ass less in velocity than a 7mm mag with maybe 10 grains less powder. It is so much faster than my old 280 and loves heavier bullets than my 270's did. So much flatter than any 30 cal too.

Noisy, short barreled rifles, with so much muzzle blast are not my cup of tea.

When a hunter can use one rifle for all shooting/hunting he has a huge game field utility advantage. "Beware of the man with only one gun., he knows how to use it"

During the off months I shoot other rifles, but a few months before deer/elk or antelope season begins I stick to my 280AI Kimber exclusively. It does take time and use to have my muscle memory adapt to such a light rifle, but that does happen quite well.

For the dark timber I once used a 35 Whelen, now I used my 280AI with super long high BC and SD 160 grain all copper Lapua Naturalis bullets. The 140 grain Barnes TTSX is my deer/antelope "do all", with the 150 grain TTSX for open country elk. I get great velocity from that 24 inch barrel.

For practice i used 120 grain copper core bullets loaded to match the trajectory of my heavier bullets. My scope is either a 2-7 or a 3-9. I have both sighted in and ready to go with Leopold rings.

I actually prefer the 2-7 for the lower 2x power for fast shooting in the thick dark cover.

Western hunting has changed over the past decades. More game animals have been driven into cover from the pressure of long range "shooters". I really saw this starting in Wyoming when I lived there during the gas fracking boom.
Rough-neck drillers making tons of money really started building long range rifles.

That was a big game, game changer. Except for antelope I hunt deep and steep in the darker places now more than ever.

Western hunting has become more eastern. Before i went to all copper bullets and the 280AI, i used 180 grain Barnes originals in my 270.
 

Redman

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 31, 2017
Messages
1,391
Location
Indiana
I also have a Kimber, in a Hunter in 280AI. It has just replaced so many other rifles/calibers. At a mere 5 3/4 pounds with a 24 inch match grade barrel, it heats up and strings very quickly. It is a "three shot" rifle, at most, The first two shots will touch, making a "figure 8".

The third shot makes a little larger group and the 4th shot really opens the group up. It shoots tighter longer in very cold weather.

I could care less. This entire rig meets my hunting needs perfecting. The 280AI is not a powder hog like a 7mm mag or any magnums really. It is not a bully, even in a light rifle when it comes to recoil and noise either. It is so efficient being barely a gnats ass less in velocity than a 7mm mag with maybe 10 grains less powder. It is so much faster than my old 280 and loves heavier bullets than my 270's did. So much flatter than any 30 cal too.

Noisy, short barreled rifles, with so much muzzle blast are not my cup of tea.

When a hunter can use one rifle for all shooting/hunting he has a huge game field utility advantage. "Beware of the man with only one gun., he knows how to use it"

During the off months I shoot other rifles, but a few months before deer/elk or antelope season begins I stick to my 280AI Kimber exclusively. It does take time and use to have my muscle memory adapt to such a light rifle, but that does happen quite well.

For the dark timber I once used a 35 Whelen, now I used my 280AI with super long high BC and SD 160 grain all copper Lapua Naturalis bullets. The 140 grain Barnes TTSX is my deer/antelope "do all", with the 150 grain TTSX for open country elk. I get great velocity from that 24 inch barrel.

For practice i used 120 grain copper core bullets loaded to match the trajectory of my heavier bullets. My scope is either a 2-7 or a 3-9. I have both sighted in and ready to go with Leopold rings.

I actually prefer the 2-7 for the lower 2x power for fast shooting in the thick dark cover.

Western hunting has changed over the past decades. More game animals have been driven into cover from the pressure of long range "shooters". I really saw this starting in Wyoming when I lived there during the gas fracking boom.
Rough-neck drillers making tons of money really started building long range rifles.

That was a big game, game changer. Except for antelope I hunt deep and steep in the darker places now more than ever.

Western hunting has become more eastern. Before i went to all copper bullets and the 280AI, i used 180 grain Barnes originals in my 270.
I have a Hunter in .243 and it is a shooter. I use 90gr Nosler BT and have killed antelope and a pile of deer with it.
 

Lyfter1013

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
491
Barnes makes 4 different bullets in the 165 to 168 grain bullet weight. They are specifically designed for various .30 caliber cartridges from the lower velocity rounds like .308/30-06 up to the big .30 cal magnums.

You need to use the one that matches your caliber. I did not know that until i called Barnes.

Once I matched the bullet in that weight range to the cartridge they were specifically designed for all were very accurate.




Bullet Weight: 165 gr Case Trim Length: 2.840" S.D. 0.248 Bullet Style: TSX BT Primer: Fed GM215M B.C. 0.380 COAL: 3.515" Barrel Length: 24" Case: Winchester Twist Rate: 1:10" Bullet Weight: 165 gr Case Trim Length: 2.840" S.D. 0.248 Bullet Style: MRX BT Primer: Fed GM215M B.C. 0.439 COAL: 2.820" Barrel Length: 24" Case: Winchester Twist Rate: 1:10" Bullet Weight: 165 gr Case Trim Length: 2.840" S.D. 0.248 Bullet Style: Banded Solid Spitzer Primer: Fed GM215M B.C. 0.438 COAL: 3.540" Barrel Length: 24" Case: Winchester Twist Rate: 1:10" Bullet Weight: 168 gr Case Trim Length: 2.840" S.D. 0.253 Bullet Style: TSX BT Primer: Fed GM215M B.C. 0.404 COAL: 3.515" Barrel Length: 24" Case: Winchester Twist Rate: 1:10
I never had heard that before. Thanks for sharing. I should have specified it was factory ammo. Finally getting into reloading because of ammo availability especially being in California I cannot order ammo online makes it even more difficult
 

Lyfter1013

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2020
Messages
491
I have tried Nosler 150gr AB 165gr Nosler BT and 180 gr Barnes TTSX. I am going to try Barnes 150gr TTSX and if that doesn't work Hammers. I slacked off testing loads due to the component issues.
My buddy Dave has 4 Kimbers and they are all shooters but he had to mess with loads for his Montana and Mtn Ascent until he found the one they liked. The Mtn Ascent groups shrank when he put the muzzle break on and I am talking going from over an inch to one ragged hole.
Hopefully you can get a load developed for yours. For the price of the kimbers you’d expect them to be more consistent and not so finicky. I would hate to be one of the unlucky guys that spends nearly $2k on a rifle and struggles to Find a load that shoots.
 

Alpine01

Active member
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
145
Location
Colorado
What ammo have you tried? I have a Kimber mountain ascent that is about 50/50 on which ammo it likes.. 150g Barnes TTSX and 190g ABLRs will shoot touching 3 shot groups.. same gun will not group 165 TTSX under 3 inches. And 180 e tips about 1.5-2” inch groups. i know Kimbers can be finicky
I would agree on Kimber finickiness - I have a 308 Classic Select. I can get 0.75 MOA with Federal Trophy Bonded Tips (165 gr) and 1 MOA with 180 Gr Partitions. It won't shoot any Hornady load less than 2 MOA. I recently tried the Terminal Ascents (175 gr) thinking they were close to the TBTs and could be a good backup. Nope, 1.75 MOA was the best I could get over three, 5-shot groups. And anything at 150 gr or less has been a no go but I have only tried a few options in this range so no where near a complete story.
 

Alpine01

Active member
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
145
Location
Colorado
I also have a Kimber, in a Hunter in 280AI. It has just replaced so many other rifles/calibers. At a mere 5 3/4 pounds with a 24 inch match grade barrel, it heats up and strings very quickly. It is a "three shot" rifle, at most, The first two shots will touch, making a "figure 8".

The third shot makes a little larger group and the 4th shot really opens the group up. It shoots tighter longer in very cold weather.

I could care less. This entire rig meets my hunting needs perfecting. The 280AI is not a powder hog like a 7mm mag or any magnums really. It is not a bully, even in a light rifle when it comes to recoil and noise either. It is so efficient being barely a gnats ass less in velocity than a 7mm mag with maybe 10 grains less powder. It is so much faster than my old 280 and loves heavier bullets than my 270's did. So much flatter than any 30 cal too.

Noisy, short barreled rifles, with so much muzzle blast are not my cup of tea.

When a hunter can use one rifle for all shooting/hunting he has a huge game field utility advantage. "Beware of the man with only one gun., he knows how to use it"

During the off months I shoot other rifles, but a few months before deer/elk or antelope season begins I stick to my 280AI Kimber exclusively. It does take time and use to have my muscle memory adapt to such a light rifle, but that does happen quite well.

For the dark timber I once used a 35 Whelen, now I used my 280AI with super long high BC and SD 160 grain all copper Lapua Naturalis bullets. The 140 grain Barnes TTSX is my deer/antelope "do all", with the 150 grain TTSX for open country elk. I get great velocity from that 24 inch barrel.

For practice i used 120 grain copper core bullets loaded to match the trajectory of my heavier bullets. My scope is either a 2-7 or a 3-9. I have both sighted in and ready to go with Leopold rings.

I actually prefer the 2-7 for the lower 2x power for fast shooting in the thick dark cover.

Western hunting has changed over the past decades. More game animals have been driven into cover from the pressure of long range "shooters". I really saw this starting in Wyoming when I lived there during the gas fracking boom.
Rough-neck drillers making tons of money really started building long range rifles.

That was a big game, game changer. Except for antelope I hunt deep and steep in the darker places now more than ever.

Western hunting has become more eastern. Before i went to all copper bullets and the 280AI, i used 180 grain Barnes originals in my 270.
You describe my Kimber 308 perfectly. First two shots, clover leaf. Third shot deviates a bit if I shoot three in rapid order. After that, just let it cool down. It is slightly heavier than the Ascent but I have found the "light rifle" shooting techniques translate well to my setup.
 

Mustangs Rule

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
562
Hopefully you can get a load developed for yours. For the price of the kimbers you’d expect them to be more consistent and not so finicky. I would hate to be one of the unlucky guys that spends nearly $2k on a rifle and struggles to Find a load that shoots.
i was at the range today, doing load development for my Kimber Hunter in 280AI. Brand new cost two years ago was about $780.

The max velocity for my 140 grain TTSX in the Barnes manual was about 3170'/sec. I was able to get 3182'/sec with the 60.5 grains of powder.

I looked up the fasted load for the 7mm Mag with the same 140 grain TTSX bullet, it was 3199 and it took 77 grains of powder.

From a cold barrel the first two shots were inside a dime off a bench at 100 yards. The third shot took the group to a quarter, the fourth as he barrel heated up took it to a half dollar coin.

I let it cool down and the pattern repeated, first two shots in a dime.

I could care less about how it shoots after it heats up. It is light as a feather at 5 3/4 pounds and if I cannot hit something in the first two or three shots it is my fault.

At 300 yards the first two shots are well under 2 inches.
 

Redside

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Joined
Jul 13, 2016
Messages
336
I voted 300wsm, but wouldn't mind a 6.5prc either. I went the 20" 7SAUM route.

My friend has a 300WSM Christensen Arms with suppressor. It seems like it has 1/2 the recoil my 300WM has. Very nice to shoot suppressed. Seems like you see a lot of guys putting it in a longer action and throating it long for the bigger bullets.
 

ThunderNocked

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 3, 2020
Messages
647
Location
North Pole, Alaska
I think if the biggest thing you are hunting is elk then no problem with the 6.5.
I'm killing Caribou with 140 grain bullets. I'd love to get up into the 150 and 160s but I don't reload yet and my rifle shoots 140's lights out. So I'd go for the 6.5. I'm shooting a .280AI.
 
Last edited:

RaiderRich

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 7, 2020
Messages
389
Location
Nevada
I cast my vote for 6.5 PRC but then I just won an RMEF Weatherby Vanguard in 6.5 PRC so went biased. You can't really lose with either cartridge.
 

jayvav

New member
Joined
Jul 2, 2022
Messages
15
I’ve never shot the 300 wsm but My 6.5 PRC bergara shoots really tiny groups with 156 grain bergers.
 

jayvav

New member
Joined
Jul 2, 2022
Messages
15
I Just looked at gunbroker and you can get Lapua brass in 6.5 prc for about $200 for 100 cases. I think that’s about what I paid for mine new
 

daltrix99

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 16, 2018
Messages
256
Location
Montana
If anyone is still following this thread, I changed things up and went .300 WM. Alamo Precision is building the rifle for me, and the owner Jason helped steer me to WM vs the WSM. Several factors played in, including ammo availability, the sometimes finicky nature of seating WSM loads, and that I could build a WM at the same length and weight I was looking for from a WSM. I will post photos when I have it. Thanks all for the input!
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
16,131
Location
Almost Arkansas…..
I just saw Peterson 300 Win Mag brass for sale recently. Im still holding out for the long brass or I would have bought 100.

Just looked, Unknown Munitions is still showing it in stock.
 
Last edited:

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