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The Perfect Big - Game Round

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

For several years now, my obsession with ballistics has pushed me to venture into a subject which has been arduously debated within the hunting community since the onset of smokeless powder. It’s the holy grail of campfire conundrums, “What’s the best all-around big-game cartridge?”

In addition to fully striking a chord with my inner nerd, there’s a practical application to spending gobs of time mulling over ballistics charts and online forums. I needed a new rifle, one that’s ideally suited for whitetail deer, pronghorn, and elk. So over the past year, I’ve been on a quest to make it happen.

Budget was the main limiter, and my willing spend in total, was $1,500. It had to be accurate, which to me means 3 shots inside 1.5″ at 100 yards. Other things which were considered: Long action or short? Magnum or standard cartridge? Light and fast, or heavy with more frontal diameter? Everyone knows the 30-06 fits the criteria nicely, then again, so does the .270 – and the 7mm mag, and .300 win mag, and so goes the conversation. Recoil matters greatly, as I must be able to shoot 40 rounds per session comfortably. It must be in a common caliber, offering a variety of bullet options. Ideally, it would weigh around 8 lbs, scoped and slung. The final criteria: it must look good, too.

I’ve already owned a .300 Win Mag, a Ruger 77 with one of those black paddle stocks. It bucked so hard I immediately found a boyd’s replacement stock to add some weight. After glass bedding the action, free floating the barrel and adjusting the trigger pull, I still couldn’t beg that rifle to behave, and 3″ groups were common. It had to be sold. I’ve owned and sold a number of other rifles too, because nothing fit the bill. They either kicked too hard, weighed too much, or showed underwhelming performance on paper. It seemed everyone was talking about the 6.5 Creedmoor, but I eventually landed on 7mm-08, and I’m happy I did.

The decidedly perfect rifle for this cartridge was the Remington 700 Mountain LSS, with a 22″ sporter barrel – It’s rather handy, not too long, and with the right 7mm projectile, should