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Location: Denver, Colorado
Joined: 03/07/2004
Posts: 57
Large game rifle

I am looking to pick up a new rifle for large game. I currently have a .270 win so I would use that for all game deer size and smaller. Since I already have the .270 I feel that getting a 30-06 would not be the best choice because it is not that much of a step up in size and ballistics. I am a pretty big guy so weight of the rifle and recoil arent a giant factor, meaning I would be willing to sacrifice those for a rifle that will suit all of my needs. The biggest factor for me is effectiveness, accuracy, and reliability. I want a rifle that is a tack driver, that will shoot well out to 350 plus yards.

I am about to graduate from dental school so my opportunities to hunt and travel will be opening up in a few years. I want a rifle that will be able to handle all N. American and some african big game elk size and larger. My primary use for this rifle will be elk, but I plan within the next 6 or 7 years to hunt caribou, moose, brown bear, bighorn sheep, (I would also like to take a trip to africa and take a cape buffalo and a maybe some of the other african game that I am not yet familiar with).

Am I asking to much from one rifle? My wife says I already have enough guns, so I would like to find ONE that will do it all with accuracy and reliability. I am open to any suggestions. This is not a purchase I plan on making today, next week or even next month, but I will be getting this rifle before next years rifle elk season. I know that there are many options out there, and I am not familiar with all of them, If you have any personal opinions I would greatly appreciate it.

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Location: Nova Scotia
Joined: 08/17/2002
Posts: 1762
Large game rifle

I would look at the 338 winchester magnum. It comes in a variety of bullet sizes and should fill most of your hunting needs.

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Location: Southeast Washington State
Joined: 09/28/2004
Posts: 117
Large game rifle

338 win mag is my first recommendation. Some places in Africa restrict minimum cartridge to 375 H&H, which I also highly recommend as a classic heavy game gun. Another fine, yet often overlooked cartridge is the 8mm Rem Mag. The 416 and bigger class are really more safari grade, and while quite effective for elk and caribou, are probably too much to manage for the average shooter. The other 338s (Lapua, Lazzeroni, Dakota, Weatherby) are likewise too much oomph for me to take.

The nice thing about the 338 win mag is it can be used for deer sized game on up to alaskan browns (bullet weights from 160 grains up to 325 grains, what a spread!!). You get over two tons of energy at the muzzle, and over a ton still left at 400 yards. That is excellent.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2003
Posts: 394
Large game rifle

Here's a third vote for the .338 mag. It's a big step up from the .270 (in recoil as well as in power, so you'll have to get used to that). It's plenty big enough for elk and moose, and I would consider it adequate for grizzlies. I'm not sure if it's enough for polar bear, but since a polar bear hunt costs in the neighborhood of $15,000+ buying one more rifle for that shouldn't be a hardship by the time you can afford to hunt polar bear.

That covers North America. For African hunting, I'm not sure. I'm sure it would work on the largest ungulates that Africa has to offer. Some guides might call it on the small end for buffalo, but I don't know. Here again, by the time you can afford a full-up African hunt you'll probably have no problem springing for another rifle just for that.

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Location: SW Washington
Joined: 06/24/2004
Posts: 38
Large game rifle

Finn Agaard, the late professional hunter and writer summed up his ideal battery for North America:

A .270 Winchester and a .338 Winchester Magnum. I agree with him even in these days of short mags and super whammy bang bang shoulder cannons.

In case you are interested, he rounded out his ideal short list with a .220 Swift for the small stuff and a .375 H & H or .40 caliber or larger for the dark continent.

Lee

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Location: SW Washington
Joined: 06/24/2004
Posts: 38
Large game rifle
benjammin wrote:
The nice thing about the 338 win mag is it can be used for deer sized game on up to alaskan browns (bullet weights from 160 grains up to 325 grains, what a spread!!). You get over two tons of energy at the muzzle, and over a ton still left at 400 yards. That is excellent.

It's also know for its accuracy. It was used for some time in 1000 yard long range competition to good effect. The newer very low drag bullet designs now available caused the competitor to shift to smaller diameters for competition, but they do not have to worry about terminal effects as a hunter does.

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Location: Denver, Colorado
Joined: 03/07/2004
Posts: 57
Large game rifle

Thank you all for the quick response and feed back. After these suggestions and doing some research it seems like the .338 is the way to go. Seems like by the time I have the $$ to go to the dark continent I will be able to pony up the dough for another bigger caliber rifle. As for now the .338 win mag seems like the direction I will be going.

Any suggestions of rifle brands? I have been looking at remington and weatherby, but am open to ANY sugestion.

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Location: Southeast Washington State
Joined: 09/28/2004
Posts: 117
Large game rifle

I've been partial to Browning Stainless. It does cost more, but they sure are sweet shooters. The BOSS compensator does help tame the recoil on that round a little. The Ruger 77 in 338 win mag is another good shooter.

I put a Leupold Vari X II in 3-9x40 on top of my Brownings and I've never shot another rifle/scope combo that felt as clean and natural to point and shoot well as this does.

Of course, the price tag is about $1,300 or so paying full retail, but it is worth every penny.

There's not much you can fault on any of the other big name brands; Remington, Winchester, Savage, even Weatherby. But I think if when you take a Browning A-Bolt in your hands, stroke the bolt open and shut, click the safety on and off again, then look down that barrel with your cheek resting on the comb... well, it feels like you're climbing in the seat of a Ferrari to me, and I've only ever done that once and I'll never forget the feeling, but I digress...

Next time you go to look at rifles, if they have a Browning there, take it out for a little test drive, and see what you think. When I pull one of the Browning Stainless Stalkers out of the gun case in hunter ed class, it's pretty obvious where all the eyes in class are looking (that includes all those hunting dads sitting behind their sons/daughters). It turns heads. No, I don't think Brownings are overrated.

Can you tell?

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Location: centennial, co
Joined: 03/24/2003
Posts: 59
Large game rifle

I'd have to go with Remington on this one. I've got a model 700 in .300 win. mag. and absolutely love it. Yes, Weatherby makes a very nice gun, but I think there's a point of diminishing return where spending close to twice as much as you would on a Remington, Browning, Winchester, etc., won't get you much more. Save your money and get great optics.

I had to laugh this week when I was talking to my brother. He's got a Weatherby Mark V w/ a Nikon Titanium scope on it. It's close to a $2,000 +/- set-up. He hasn't shot it since the last time he came out to visit me 3 years ago. And to be honest, I'd put my Remington up against his Weatherby any day.

Hell, I'm just jeasous that you get to buy a new toy. Have fun!!

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Location: Denver, Colorado
Joined: 03/07/2004
Posts: 57
Large game rifle

I have it narrowed down to the browning A-bolt. I was looking at the weatherby line for a while, but I feel that the browning is a better fit for me. I just need to decide on synthetic (a-bolt stainless stalker) or wood (a-bolt medallion) either way, thanks for the input. I will post some pictures when I make my purchase. If anyone has any experience with either the wood or the synthetic, I am open to suggestions.
Also, does anyone have any experience with the Boss system on these brownings? do I really need a muzzle brake on the 338 win mag? I am a pretty big stout guy, I feel like I can handle a big recoil.

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Location: Southeast Washington State
Joined: 09/28/2004
Posts: 117
Large game rifle

Okay, both my Browning A-bolts are stainless stalkers, with synthetic stock and BOSS compensator. Here's what I can tell you.

I am 6'6" and weigh 260+ lbs. I'd say that my 338 win mag loses 15-20% of it's recoil when I use the BOSS. My 7mm mag loses about 15% of it's recoil with the BOSS. It is more noticable with the 338, especially with the heavier bullets. If you are as big as me, you will still appreciate the recoil reduction, although the compensator does produces a significant amount of slap out of the 7mm with the higher velocity loads. No one will want to stand next to you, even with good ear muffs on, when the compression wave comes out of that BOSS.

Here's the real reason for the BOSS. For any given load, I can tune the barrel in with the BOSS on it and reduce my groups by 50%. That is a big enough deal to me to keep it on, even when hunting.

I got the stainless because I expose them to the elements quite a bit, and they are working guns, and I don't want to worry about harming the finish on them. My friend has a medallion in 30-06, and it seldom leaves the case he keeps it in, but it looks gorgeous. Mine have seen some rough duty, and they are holding up fine. Consider putting that Leupold scope on top of it and you will have an excellent big game rifle combo.

The way I look at it, if you don't want to use the BOSS, just take it off. It is still a great firearm without it, and you can judge for yourself whether the compensator is worth it or not.

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