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Thread: Calibers for Alaska

  1. #1

    Default Calibers for Alaska

    I know this is a broad topic, but I am moving to Alaska and would like to hunt with one rifle. I am currently having a .375 H&H Built on a mauser action for this purpose but would like some feedback. Here in Idaho, I completed my Idaho slam with .270 but just don't feel that will work in Alaska. Any thoughts.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    If you plan on hunting big bears, or hunting where there are big bears, the .375 H&H is a great choice.

    I happen to spend 90% of my hunting time in areas where I'm not too worried about bears and I happen to love my good old 30-06. I am going goat hunting on Kodiak this fall and I still will be carrying my 30-06.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    The difficulty in finding a single caliber for Alaska is picking the right balance between velocity, bullet size, rifle weight, and recoil. This has been discussed before, and typically the most common responses are these:

    338 WinMag - Fast, capable of shooting heavy bullets, often a little on the heavy size

    300 WinMag - See above. Bullets a little smaller, but a little faster (I think?).

    30-06 - No magnum velocities, but rifles generally weigh less. HUGE range of bullet sizes, has been used to take everything in Alaska, but sometimes considered a bit on the light size for large game such as brown bear and bison.

    I used a 30-06 as my do-everything gun for a long time, but now I typically use a 7mm-mag for smaller game and a 338 WinMag for the big stuff. If I had to pick a single gun, I'd go with the 338.

  4. #4

    Default Dude, You're Set....

    Idaho,

    If you have a .270 (sounds like you shoot it well) and are building a .375, you're good to go. Use the .270 for the smaller stuff and long-range (sheep, caribou, goats), and the .375 for bears and moose, or when you're hunting in big bear country and want the comfort of the big gun.

    You could even use the .270 for moose, but if you've got a .375, gotta let that puppy out to hunt sometimes.

  5. #5

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    Rifles are like Lays potato chips......you can have just one. I love my 270 for sheep, caribou, goat, and black bear and my model 70 375 H&H is my go to gun for moose. I just aquired a Marlin XLR in 45-70 that will be my go to brown/grizz rifle. If I HAD to choose 1 rifle for everything, I would choose a 300 Win Mag.....luckily I don't have to choose just 1!

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    Member REMF's Avatar
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    Agree with mdhunter,

    If you already have a .270, and you are building a .375 it sounds like you have all the bases covered.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the advice. I think I am trying to be overgunned. My trusty 270 has accounted for all idaho game and has only needed more than one shot on a couple of big elk and a wise old mountian goat.

    But i really like the 375 ballistics for the big nasty bears and moose.

  8. #8

    Default Yupper

    Yea man, a .270 is a great gun, but when you see a big Alaska bear that .375 will be a nice security blanket!

    And - if you haven't shot the magnums much - can't put in the same amount of range time with them, for MOST of us. Once I get my .338 sighted in, I don't do any more shooting from the bench - just from offhand, kneeling, and sitting positions. Using a PAST recoil pad, I can shoot 30-35 rounds per range session with no problem. Gets kinda expensive after that...

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    .375 HH balistics are very similar to 30-06 balistics. For years I had both rifles and built loads that performed virtually the same when it came to hold over for long range shots. A .375 may be a big boomer, but it is capable of amazing accuracy a long ways out there and carry much more authority than an -06 at 400 yards.

  10. #10

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    From handloads I have seen, you can load a 270 grain barnes or swift A frame at 2800 fps that has amazing ballistics that pack a whallop. While I don't like shooting longer than necissary. These ballistics give you killing power longer than I like to shoot.

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    Just joined and thought I'd introduce myself here. I'm a pilot and avid hunter and have lived in fairbanks for 20 years.

    Sorry about crashing in on this thread but I just gotta speak up here. I will never understand the reasoning that the biggest gun is automatically the best...especially when it's not necessary. I realize that talking calibers is similar to talking politics and religion but I don't shy away from those topics either. I shoot a 7mm Mag for all alaska game, this calber has a very nice blend of energy retention, velocity and flat trajectory out at range. A 375 may have a bit (2080 compared to 2220 at 300yds) more energy out at range but it does little good when the round goes rolling on the ground past the intended target. My wife took a Moose last season with a single shot from her .243. We have taken large game (moose, caribou, sheep) every year for the last 20 years and in my personal oppinion (backed by a lot of experinece in the field) is that a 375 is WAY more gun that is needed for anything in AK. The 243 may have been a bit light for Moose but the proof is in the pudding...2 minutes after the shot her moose was dead. If a person can't take down AK game with anything less than a 375 then I suggest spending a bit more time at the range working on shot placement. When I bought my 7 mag back in high school I spent some time mulling over the Remington trajectory tables. I wanted a gun that blended the best of all worlds (V.E.T) and the 7 mag stood out as the choice. I own many other calibers but will only take the 7 mag out in the field...I would not hesistate using it on bear and bison (if I ever get drawn...I realize there's a 200 gr min). Anyway, you don't need a punt gun launching bowling balls to kill AK big game...you need to put a bullet where it belongs.


    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    .375 HH balistics are very similar to 30-06 balistics. For years I had both rifles and built loads that performed virtually the same when it came to hold over for long range shots. A .375 may be a big boomer, but it is capable of amazing accuracy a long ways out there and carry much more authority than an -06 at 400 yards.

  12. #12

    Default Battery

    Sounds like you have an adequate battery for any job in Alaska. Just get very profecent with your new 375. Once your sighted in, practice shooting from different positions and learn to expect incliment weather; Thus the clothing may affect your length of pull a little.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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    As a little back up info, you can see from this site:
    http://www.chuckhawks.com/rifle_trajectory_table.htm

    That the MPBR's are as follows.

    30-06--269
    7 mag--305
    375----260

    Doug is right about the 06 - .375 comparason

    Don't get me wrong, I love my 06's & .270's...they're great for what they were designed to do but my 7 mag wins hands down for versatillity.

  14. #14

    Default HUH

    Quote Originally Posted by Capt. Kirk View Post
    As a little back up info, you can see from this site:
    http://www.chuckhawks.com/rifle_trajectory_table.htm

    That the MPBR's are as follows.

    30-06--269
    7 mag--305
    375----260

    Doug is right about the 06 - .375 comparason

    Don't get me wrong, I love my 06's & .270's...they're great for what they were designed to do but my 7 mag wins hands down for versatillity.

    Maxumum Point Blank Range has didley to do with the stopping power of a rifle. A bullets diameter, weight, and velocity determine stopping power. At 26 yds. you want POWER and give a rats @ZZ about MPBR. Now, tell me your 160 grn bullet will equal the power or penetration of a 375 with a 300 grn bullet at 26 yds, OR better yet tell a bear.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    Default from the fish and game web site

    Cartridges of Alaska's Hunters – Too Much Gun?

    As Southcentral hunters prepared for the 1999 hunting season Lee Rogers, rangemaster at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Rabbit Creek Range in Anchorage, conducted a survey of 1,848 Alaskan hunters. Rogers surveyed hunters to find out what cartridges Alaskan hunters are choosing for their big game hunting. According to Lee, hunters sighted in rifles using 70 different cartridges during the July to September survey.
    The most popular cartridge with Southcentral hunters is the tried and true .30-06, used by 387 or 21 percent of hunters. The .30-06 was closely followed by the .300 Winchester Magnum with 342, and the .338 Winchester Magnum with 339. Lee says these three cartridges combined are used by almost six out of ten Southcentral hunters. There was a huge drop from the .338 Winchester to the next most popular cartridge, the 7mm Remington Magnum with 157 users.
    Lee also looked at cartridges by caliber. The 30 caliber, for almost 60 years the choice of the U.S. military, boasted 912 users or almost exactly one-half of all hunters surveyed. The highly popular .30-06 and .300 Winchester Magnum are joined in this group by the .308 Winchester, .30-30, .307 Winchester, .300 Savage, .300 Weatherby Magnum, and the new .300 Remington Ultra Magnum.
    Taking a distant second place were the cartridges using .338 diameter bullets. The increasingly popular .338 Winchester was joined in this group by the wildcat .338-06 and the .340 Weatherby Magnum. Almost one out of five hunters are using these medium-bore rifles for their big game hunting.
    The third most popular caliber proved to be the 7mm. Led by the 7mm Remington Magnum, the 7mm clan had 202 users or about 1 of 10 Southcentral hunters. The 280 Remington, 7X57 Mauser, 7mm-08, and 7mm Shooting Times Westerner were used by a total of 42 hunters.
    The classic Alaskan brown bear cartridge, the .375 H&H showed well, being used by 116 or 6.3 percent of all the hunters surveyed. Cartridges with the word “Magnum” in their name accounted for 1086 or 58.7 percent of all cartridges used.
    This last statistic is the most interesting, according to Lee Rogers, who talks with and watches over 15,000 shooters each year. Many hunters, says Rogers, are uncomfortable with their loud, hard-recoiling magnums. Lee says that when a hunter is shooting a hard-kicking slobber-knocker" magnum, he or she often sights-in the rifle from a bench rest as quickly as possible and then packs up and leaves the range. Sometimes the hunter may even have to quit before the rifle is fully ready for the hunting fields.
    To confirm his theory that too much gun frequently results in too little practice, Rogers conducted a short study on hunters' ability to shoot their rifles from hunting positions at game-sized targets. During the summer of 1999, Lee asked more than 80 hunters to chronograph their hunting loads to determine the actual velocity. Hunters sighted in their rifles under Lee's expert supervision on a secure, stable bench rest. After sighting in, hunters were asked to shoot three shots at the vital, heart-lung zone of a full-sized moose silhouette, standing broadside at a distance of 100 yards. The individuals in the study averaged 19 years of hunting experience.

    Rogers says that less than one-half (46 percent) of hunters placed all three shots in the 16-inch by 24-inch vital zone. Twenty-eight percent of all shots taken would have wounded rather than immediately killed the moose. Most of the wounding shots are, in the opinion of Rogers, the result of too much gun and too little practice from the basic hunting positions of sitting, kneeling, and off-hand. Only about one out of ten hunters practices shooting from these hunting positions after sighting in their rifle, states rangemaster Rogers. This lack of practical practice, compounded by the use of a gun that is simply unpleasant to shoot, is likely to result in wounding and crippling animals. In a Department of Fish and Game telephone survey of Alaskan hunters, 38 percent said they had killed a big game animal that had been previously wounded by another hunter. According to Rogers, the results of this survey seem to confirm what he sees daily.
    Do Alaskan hunters need these big-kicking magnums for big game? Not really, say most biologists, hunter educators, and experienced big game hunters. Big game animals are not killed by foot-pounds of kinetic energy or some mystical “knock-down” power. Big game is consistently, quickly, and humanely killed by accurate, precise placement of a well-constructed bullet in the vital heart-lung area. A cartridge loaded with a 180 grain Nosler (partition bullet) fired from the 94-year-old .30-06 will almost always pass completely through a moose or caribou, taking out both lungs. Rogers says that hunters should find a cartridge and gun they can shoot comfortably enough to fire 30 to 40 rounds during a practice session. After sighting in, all the hunter's practice should be from hunting positions likely to be used in the field.
    Furthermore, when hunters chronograph their magnum factory loads they are often surprised they are getting so much buck and bang and so little gain. For example, during Roger's survey 15 hunters using .300 Winchester Magnum factory ammunition loaded with 180 grain bullets averaged 2,919 feet per second for 45 shots. Twelve different .30-06 rifles using factory ammunition loaded with 180-grain bullets chronographed 2,644 feet per second. See, some say, you get 275 feet per second difference! In the real world of hunting that works out to a gain of about 25 yards in range in exchange for easily one-third more recoil and a hefty increase in muzzle blast!
    What about bears, hunters ask? Shouldn't Alaskan hunters have a magnum in case I have a run-in with 'ol fuzzy? Bear experts say that alertness in the field and keen observation skills are better protection than a magnum rifle. Analysis of bear encounters reveals the fact that most surprise encounters with a bear are just that, a surprise. Fortunately for bear and man, the bear usually swaps ends and runs away. In the rare event of a genuine charge the distance is typically measured in feet, and the hunter most likely carrying his rifle slung over the shoulder or in one hand. Under these circumstances he has no real chance to gather himself, ram a cartridge in the chamber and make an accurate, aimed shot at any vital area. In the even more unlikely event that the hunter is carrying his rifle “at-the-ready” and is able to take an aimed shot, a well-placed .30-06 will do more good than a poorly placed .300 or even .375 magnum. Most of us are simply better off hunting with a partner, remaining alert to bear sign, avoiding dense thickets where visibility is virtually zip, and quickly moving game meat away from the gut pile.
    Hunters are responsible for wise use of our wildlife resource and using too much gun that results in wounded and crippled animals is not what we should aim for when we hunt.


    http://www.wildlife.alaska.gov/index...ul8#cartridges
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

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  16. #16

    Default Great Post

    This post using the numbers given illustrates my point exactly. 54% of hunters probably need to practice more from all positions once their rifle is sighted in; Regarless of the caliber rifle they use. A magnum rifle doesn't make you a poor shot, but inadequate practice will.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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  17. #17
    Member kahahawai's Avatar
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    Default Calibers for Alaska

    There is no "ONE CALIBER" for Alaska, just buy you a really nice Gun safe, get four of your best friends to help you move it into the house....and load up. different calibers, different actions, different size and weights all for different things...and oh don't forget to get you a nice bow...theres areas here that are bow only....CK

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    I'd say a .270 probably packs much more power than a recurve bow and because you can take any big game animal in alaska with a recurve, a .270 should be fine with a bullet that expands properly.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capt. Kirk View Post
    As a little back up info, you can see from this site:
    http://www.chuckhawks.com/rifle_trajectory_table.htm

    That the MPBR's are as follows.

    30-06--269
    7 mag--305
    375----260

    Doug is right about the 06 - .375 comparason

    Don't get me wrong, I love my 06's & .270's...they're great for what they were designed to do but my 7 mag wins hands down for versatillity.

    I agree with Bravo 1, MPBR is not really criteria to consider when selecting a caliber appropriate. But along those lines how can a 7mm Mag be more versatile than the 300 mag? There is so much more to the equation than trajectory.

    Just about everybody I know who swears by their old 243, 270 or 7mm does so because they do not have the shooting skills to handle an adequate caliber for the game they hunt. (unless they hunt deer) This is the reason for using a 243 for moose. And if you cannot or do not want to take the recoil of a big gun, so be it, that's fine. But to say you have the bestest, most versatile, game gettingest caliber on the planet and site some self proclaimed experts opinion or a trajectory table as proof is pretty thin. I always wonder about the 243 as a moose gun, and there are several who use it. A big moose can easily weigh 1200 pounds, most grizzlys are 400-600 pounds, by this same thinking the 243 is more than adequate for even coastal brown bears. The 7 Remington mag is significantly more powerful than the 243 but the 243 is more versatile because the MPBR is greater with the 243. Why not use the 243 for everything in Alaska?

    This often posted and well worn opinion by the "fish and game experts" holds very little water with me. This is directed at people who don't know enough about guns or game to make an intelligent decision about what gun to use for what animal. This thinking also supports the novice to buy a license, buy a rifle, buy a box of ammo, and go find a moose, all in the same week. Oh yeah, stop by the range and check to see if the store mounted scope is sighted in, two shots should do.

    There are many, many good calibers for Alaska, each has it's own merits but I don't believe there is a single one caliber that will give all we would desire given the variety of game and terrain in this state. The 270 and the 375 would likely be a pretty good combo, as would the 300 mag and the 375 or the 30-06 and the 338. Getting by with only two calibers would leave very little compromise in the way of ballistic coverage. Trying to get by with only one, and hunt the whole of Alaska game, even for well disciplined shooter with a lot of field experience, is pushing the envelope a little bit much.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by brav01 View Post
    Maxumum Point Blank Range has didley to do with the stopping power of a rifle. A bullets diameter, weight, and velocity determine stopping power. At 26 yds. you want POWER and give a rats @ZZ about MPBR. Now, tell me your 160 grn bullet will equal the power or penetration of a 375 with a 300 grn bullet at 26 yds, OR better yet tell a bear.
    Well, I guess it's all about what you want. I've been hunting out in all kinds of country in AK for 20 years. I've seen both blackies and grizzlies out there while hunting and in those 20 years I've never had a bear bother me...and we've crossed some close paths on occasion. I also keep my meat near camp and yet no bears. It's rediculous to pack a bazooka for your whole hunting career on the off chance (and I mean very off chance) that you confront a bear that is determined to kill you. If you hunt rabid charging bear at 26 yards then your choice of 375 may be a good one. If you're hunting Sheep, Caribou and Moose out at 200-300-400 yards then I think you should probably reconsider. In this case accuracy and finesse is what it's all about. You talk about power...as I said in my first post, I chose the 7mag because it is a nice combination of energy, trajectory and velocity. Maybe for you, what's more important is energy at the sacrafice of trajectory and velocity...that's your choice and maybe it fits the kind of hunting you do. Do you care to explain how my wife's little 90 grain bullet dropped a moose at 150 yards (I was backing her up...but she had it under control)...it wasn't because she hit the thing with a barn door, it was because she hit the thing in the heart. If you're hunting Kodiak Grizzlies then your 375 might be the right choice but I guarantee that I'd be just as comfortable walking beside you with my 7 mag. I don't want to sound like the poster child for the 7mm because I'm not. There are a lot of good calibers that will do the job just fine for all of alaska's game. When someone comes around and says "I'd like to come to Alaska for some Moose hunting, what gun should I use"...it's rediculous to immediatly steer them to a 375 because you need a big gun for a big animal. It's not all about POWER...it's about placement. I've taken a few boo at about 30 yards and honestly, at that range, there's a smoking little hole through and through (no meat loss)...I'm not sure what a 375 would do. Since I'm not normally hunting all the way out to 26 yards, I don't really care about a guns performance at that range...maybe you do, and that's fine. MPBR means a lot to me...since it's related to trajectory and flatness. You talk about STOPPING POWER as if you want a gun that will lift a Moose up off the ground, spin it around a couple times mid air and drop it dead on its back. Wow! you know a well placed .243 shot to the vitals will kill it just as dead...maybe less dramatic but still dead. At 150 yards, my wifes 90 gr 243 (max load) round was found in the heart. This is how much energy it takes to push a bullet into the vitals of a moose. Look up the energy of that round and compare it to all the other calibers that are being discussed here...you will find that they all have the ability to take down a moose with a well placed shot...the variables are how far out this energy can be retained and how far out accuracy can be maintained. I contend that a 375 can maintain some good energy out there a ways but when you're holding over 50" or 60"...accuacy suffers.

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