Thursday, April 9, 2015

Keeping It Simple -- How Much Rifle Do You Need?

By Terry McGahey

It seems to me that in our modern age many hunters believe they need a .300 Winchester Magnum or other high velocity rifle for hunting.

Now don't get me wrong, those rifles are very good pieces of equipment and a personal choice, but in my opinion, for hunting they are not really as necessary as the magazines and gun stores would have people believe. 

It's more about money. Velocity is nice but shot placement is what counts.

Honestly, the old reliable thirty-ought six (.30-06) is more than enough gun to take down anything on the North American continent. 

In fact much of the deer that have been harvested over the past one hundred years were taken with the good old thirty-thirty Winchester. 

Personally, my favorite, is the old .30-40 Krag.

This rifle will also take anything on the North American continent and you can shoot it all day long without getting a sore shoulder. And at my age now, that's a benefit.

Mine, being fitted with a mil-dot scope, hitting the target up to 600 yards is not a problem. While I would not shoot game at 600 yards, because that's long range shooting and really not hunting.

For hunting anything 400 yards and in, I load my own cartridges.

168 grain boat tail 
A-Max bullet
A good deer load for that rifle is a 168 grain boat tail A-Max bullet using 38.5 grains of 4064 Powder.

A good elk load is a 200 grain round nose bullet using 36 grains of 4064 Powder. 

I have found with those two combinations enables my point of aim to be the same for both loads. 

I reload my own because I like better choices than what factory ammo has to offer in .30-40 forty Krag, which is strictly a 180 grain bullet -- even though the rifle originally used a 220 grain bullet.

In 1899, the .30-40 Krag was used to drop the world record Rocky Mountain elk. This record stood firm until the latter half of the 20th century. 

By today's standards the Krag is a slow bullet at around 2000 feet per second but as I stated above, velocity is all well and good but shot placement is everything. 

I hear too much today about hunters and target shooters alike wanting to shoot like a trained sniper, out to one thousand yards or more. 

That's fun to play with, but without the expensive equipment and the correct training the majority of folks will never conquer these shots successfully every time. 

Possibly hitting the target is one thing, but holding a reasonable Minute of Angle (MOA) at that distance is quite another.

The high velocity rifles of today definitely have the capability with the correct scope and the correct training of the shooter. 

Problem is, without the proper training most shooters don't understand things such as spin drift, barometer pressure, wind speeds and crosswinds at different directions for those distances, just to name a few. 

Now I am not putting down these high velocity rifles, no because they are excellent rifles. All I am getting at is for the average shooter and average hunter, you don't need that much rifle.

If you are fairly new to hunting, or the shooting sports, don't listen to the guy in the gun store who is trying to sell you that high dollar rifle. 

The thirty-ought six (.30-06) is still the workhorse of the hunting world in my opinion and all of the rifle you will ever need, not to speak of the money you will save on the weapon itself over the others, as well as the cost and availability of ammunition. 

You can get .30-06 ammo most anywhere at a reasonable cost, but when buying the other ammo it is more costly and during shortages it can be much harder to find.



  1. If I had to pick a rifle in order for hunting or self-defense I'm going old school. And no, I'm not picking out the Red Ryder BB gun just so you pathetic assholes can joke and say I'll shoot my eye out like Ralphie. No, I'm gonna use either a Winchester 1895, a Henry rifle, or a Sharps carbine. I'm pretty sure if I lived in Wyoming, I could bring down a buffalo with a custom made Hawken rifle. But I'd rather use something simple like a Springfield 1903 or something like that. Like I said, I'm going old school. And if you really want me to buy the Red Ryder BB gun for shits and giggles, I'll do it. But you better not joke about me shooting my eye out or I won't do it. Happy now?

  2. If I want a rifle, I'll go with the Winchester or something like that. I wanna actually be able to feel the gun and not have it hurt my shoulder.


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