Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cost Effective Medium Game Cartridges

Cost Effective Rifle Cartridges Part 6: Medium Game Cartridges

The Medium Game category is the most varied of all categories - ranging through the 6mm and the 7mm ranges. At the low end, it gathers rounds like the 243 which can also be used for varmint, while, at the high end, rounds like the 270 can go all the way up to elk and caribou. This category generated its share of contradictions in our surveys.

As expected, the most available rounds in the category are the 243, the 270, beloved of Jack O'Connor, and the 7mm Rem Mag. Interestingly, none of these cartridges are really inexpensive, the lowest priced being the 270 at $18 per box, followed by the 243 at $23 and the 7mm Rem Mag at $27 (the most popular and the least expensive of all the magnums).

The first surprise of the category is that, after the 270, the most inexpensive cartridge is the spottily available 6.8mm SPC (probably due to the small brass/ powder size). However, at this time, because of the lack of reliable availability we do not recommend the 6.8mm SPC as a general medium game hunting cartridge. Because of it compact size and potential accuracy, we would love to see it show up with good availability in the future.

The second surprise of the category is that the top three cartridges are not followed by the great old classics, i.e. the excellent 257 Roberts, 6.5x55 Swede, and 7x57 Mauser, all of which are either in low or spotty availability (or both), and with fairly high prices to boot. What a pity! These are excellent common sense cartridges, with a great track record, and available internationally in the case of the 6.5x55 and the 7x57. The next cartridges rated by availability (excluding those with spotty or low availability), are the 25-06 and the 7mm-08, both with good availability but non-negligible costs (respectively $28 and $36).  The 25-06, derived from the 30-06 case, packs a lot of powder, and can go up to CXP3 game in good hands, while kicking significantly less than the 270 (although as noisy). The 7mm-08 is an excellent and understated cartridge, with moderate recoil, less noisy than the 25-06 and more capable with large. Both are good choices for low recoil "all-around" rifles, begin very capable with deer-size game, the 25-06 being preferred on varmint and the 7mm-08 on larger game, as long as you can provide very good bullet placement.

The third surprise of the category is that the third tier of cartridges with good availability is composed of silent non-entities, the 270 WSSM, the 7mm WSM and the 280 Rem, decent in their own right but certainly not carrying any special charisma. The other cartridges in the category are not recommended due to low or spotty availability: 6mm Remington, 257 Weatherby Magnum (an excellent long range cartridge with very tolerable recoil), 260 Remington, 264 Winchester Mag, 270 Weatherby Magnum, and the 7mm Weatherby Magnum.

  • Best medium game cartridges: 270 Win, 243 Win
  • Also recommended despite price: 7mm Mag, 25-06, 7mm-08
  • Best low recoil: 243 Win, 7mm-08
  • What a pity: 257 Roberts, 6.5x55, 7x57 (7mm Mauser)

Next we review the famous, exciting, and ordinary .30 caliber rounds... So come back soon!

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