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Thread: Sheep Rifle caliber

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    Default Sheep Rifle caliber

    Im sure that this have been talked about a ton. I have been thinking about getting a new rifle for just sheep/deer hunting. I have been looking at the sako finnlight and im a little undecided about the caliber I want. I have narrowed it down to 3 calibers. The first one is a 7mm-08, the second is 300 wsm, and the last would be the 30-06. I really wanted a 280, but they dont make one in that caliber. I really dont like to shoot past 350 yards, and would probley pass-up a shot that was much farther then that.

    My last option would be to load 180 accubonds out of my cooper 338-06. Anyone have any experence with these. I usually shot 210 partition out of it at about 2650fps or so. It shots really well, but it weights in at about 8.5 lbs. and a little lighter might be nicer for in the mountains.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Honestly all of those will work at the ranges you are talking. I am going to do a 308 simply because a bunch of my friends already shoot them and it makes ammo selection easier and cheaper. My current sheep rifle is a Tikka 270WSM and it is a lazer. Recoil is very light and the package is a hoot to shoot.

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    First, all 3 calibers you listed are very good. The 300WSM is overkill on sheep and deer. The same is true for 30-06. For a one gun battery the 300WSM is the ticket as it can be bought in a lighter rifle than the 30-06 depending on the manufacturer. That all being said, the 7-08 is your clear choice here. A true short action design which can be purchased in a wide variety of makes and models. Clearly it should be something to handle the Alaskan weather - synthetic and stainless. A wide variety of ammo, from premium to standard cup and core can be purchased. If you are a hand loader you can tailor make your ammo easily.
    Personally I like Kimber Montanas and they appear to have tuned up their quality control. The Kimber comes out of the box at 5# 2 oz. and has many custom features for the near $1100 price tag. For a lower cost alternative don't overlook the Tikka T3 Lite ($625) and the upgrade model - the Sako A7 ($700-800). These last two weigh in at 6# 3 oz..

    A 7-08 with the correct bullet and proper placement will handle everything in North America exclusive of Brown Bear. Think of it as a .280 on a diet. Keep us posted as to your decision.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Know a few folks happy with Ores light weight rifles.
    http://www.oregunsmithingllc.com/Custom-Rifles.html
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    If your going to hunt deer in Alaska where the big bears are present, 300 WSM. Otherwise the 270 WSM is my choice. The shorter action of the WSM caliber line will save about 5 ounces. This is compared to a 30 06 sized Win 70 action as I have weighed both.
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    I agree. There are a whole bunch of calibers that are suitable and those are on the list.

    I'd put more thought into the rifle. Light is one thing, but I'm leery of "whppy" with zero weight out front in the balance scheme. Sometimes for sheep, but often for deer, you get into a situation calling for accurate offhand shooting. A rifle that's light in the muzzle is hard enough to shoot offhand when your rested at sea level. It really suxx big time when you have to do it at the top of a mountain and you're winded and excited.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I would lean towards the 300WSM, IMHO it is the sweet spot of the WSMs. I can't recall any place that I saw sheep that I did not also see bears or bear sign. This year alone there was several bears killed by sheep hunters protecting themselves. My partner and I killed a grizzly on our sheep hunt this year.

    I have owned 2 different 270WSMs and IHMO the sharp shoulder causes feeding trouble in push to feed type actions, in CRF the bolt grabs the round and it feeds better. I had my Remington 270WSM re-chambered to 300WSM for this reason.

    I also agree that the really light barrels are hard to get to shoot accurately.

    The 30-06 would also be a fine choice with a multitude of ammo choices for it. Lighter load for sheep and some heavier ones for up close bear defense is required.

    The 7mm-08 while a fine sheep round, but would not be my first choice in a bear fight.

    Good Luck

    Steve
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    I currently have a Kimber montana in a 300 wsm that I can not get to shot hand loads. I was going to trade it in and get something else. i like the way it feels, but if i can't hand load for it I dont really have a use for it. it shots factory federals good a little under .75 MOA, but I can not get it to shot with hand loads under 2.5 inches. It has potental, but I have heard of the night mare that you can have with a light weight rifle and the WSM. I have tried different powder, and bullets. I just wanted to get a feel for what is out there. I tried 165 barnes and now I'm going to try 165 partitions. I just tring to get a feel for what I have to convince the wife on what I would like. A custom will not happen (new baby) but I could get away with a new factory sako and getting something I can hand load for.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swapdonkey View Post
    I currently have a Kimber montana in a 300 wsm that I can not get to shot hand loads. I was going to trade it in and get something else. i like the way it feels, but if i can't hand load for it I dont really have a use for it. it shots factory federals good a little under .75 MOA, but I can not get it to shot with hand loads under 2.5 inches. It has potental, but I have heard of the night mare that you can have with a light weight rifle and the WSM. I have tried different powder, and bullets. I just wanted to get a feel for what is out there. I tried 165 barnes and now I'm going to try 165 partitions. I just tring to get a feel for what I have to convince the wife on what I would like. A custom will not happen (new baby) but I could get away with a new factory sako and getting something I can hand load for.
    I don't want to bash the Kimbers, but I have been told by more than one gunsmith that the actions are not stiff enough to maintain accuacy.

    If you are in the market for a new rifle I would look long and hard at the new FNH Winchesters. I have 2 Extreme Weather Model 70s, one in 325WSM and the other in 270 WSM. They weight 6lbs 13oz out of the box and both shoot sub MOA with factory loads and clover leaf with my hand loads. They come bedded, adjustable trigger, 3 position safty, fluted barrel, composit stock. A lot for the money IMHO. I sure gave mine a workout this year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post

    I have owned 2 different 270WSMs and IHMO the sharp shoulder causes feeding trouble in push to feed type actions, in CRF the bolt grabs the round and it feeds better. I had my Remington 270WSM re-chambered to 300WSM for this reason.

    Steve
    I have a Sako 85 in 270wsm and tho you didn't mention this as one of your options thought I'd mention that what Steve mentions here is a real issue for my rifle. Now and then, a minor hesitation required in chambering the next round or you'll jam it. That's the only negative on an otherwise incredible rifle and caliber. Great to shoot at the range (60rds doesn't even register as sore shoulder the next day, which I believe is a major factor in knowing your rifle well in the field)

    Personally I believe having a rifle large enough to kill Bears, but that wails on ya so hard you don't want to shoot it A LOT at the range is not a realistic approach. Bear defense/problem avoidance is a real factor but if you can't harvest your Deer/Sheep with efficiency because you're carrying a canon that you anticipate hurting too much and is thus not very familiar to your shoulder (or is so large it destroys large portion of the meat you're harvesting) is not necessarily level thinking.

    Not a popular opinion I know but I think Bears need to be dealt with other than having to kill them with your Deer rifle.

    Have killed more than a few Deer/Caribou with 25-06 and 270wsm on Kodiak and AK Pen, and not had to shoot at a Bear yet and I usually take all the meat home.

    But Hey, I know some who shoot Deer with .375 H&H so just an opinion worth considering
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    The Sako mag fed bolt guns (A7 & Tikka T3) feed the 270WSM like butter. So smooth in fact, the first time I cycled the action I opened it back up to make sure it really chambered a round.

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    Man, I think if you have a Cooper in 338-6, you are already there in terms of a caliber you can use for Sheep and deal with a Griz. 180 BS out of that 338-06 will be great Sheep rounds.
    However, its not optimal, but everythings a tradeoff.
    If you want a dual prupose, Sheep and bear rifle for the same trip, I'd stay with your 338-06. Coopers are fantastic.
    If you want a Sheep only, but can protect you from an interior Griz if pressed to it, a 7mm-08 is a fine choice. Load it for 160 A Bonds, or 140 for the Sheep, and some 175 grains to have along just in case.
    However, I think you should get a .280 even if you can't get a Sako. Get a Cooper in .280, or .280 AI. Now that would be a great combo.
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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    The Sako mag fed bolt guns (A7 & Tikka T3) feed the 270WSM like butter. So smooth in fact, the first time I cycled the action I opened it back up to make sure it really chambered a round.
    This is an interesting statement, compared to others I imagine the Sako is really far above the average. This smooth cycling action was the selling point for me as mine, an 85, (I think that is a mag fed bolt gun ? tho it is questionable that it is a true CRT or more like a push feed) has a definitely smoother action than even the Weatherby Mk V I had for many years.

    It truly is stunning, YET, after cycling well over 1000 rounds through this new Sako this winter getting the feel of it and learning reloading, (I may be getting too picky here) but it is a noticeable hitch that the short fat cartridge may produce.

    I will qualify that with the info that I am new at reloading so am doing things like "Only Neck Sizing" for a "Custom to chamber tight," fit and those are well known among reloaders to have the possibility of a tight chambering. Not to be used on the hunting load in some opinions. I love the accuracy of these, just a minute amt tighter and maybe only in my imagination but those Neck Sized Brass loads may be what I am referring to as sometimes (like two in a hundred or so) causing a need to hesitate with your bolt closing with my WSM.

    Still, some say that issue is resolved, in my opinion unless I am making mistake with the Neck sizing, the issue is not resolved in one of the smoothest action rifles on the market.

    Probably my fault, but thought you might want to know some recent experience with the WSM from my bench
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Well I know Kimbers have been a problem for some. The sites are full of those posts although some can be questionable. Of late, Kimber seems to have cleaned up their act as the problems of quality control have subsided. All rifles out of the box are an unknown entity until you get them to the range. Below is last weeks Kimber Montana .308 at the range off the bench @ 200 yards. The two targets show what can happen when you alter the OAL. Those are 4 inch square targets. Even the horses stopped eating grass and came over to look.


    The next one is the Kimber Talkeetna 375 H&H @ 200 yards off the bench.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Oooohhh, I really like those Kimbers, recently was just carrying a Montana for a guy, giving him a ride to his boat and His just felt really right. Didn't get to work the action but it had "That Feel" on my shoulder. Really lightweight tho.

    Been hearing good things about them on and on. One of those may be my next venture. I'm totally sold on, and in love with my Sako, hope I'm not misinterpreted there, and mine is one yr out of the box so may be before recent work on those WSM issues, and I'm probably WAY overanalyzing the wsm issue.....

    Can I ask, Your Kimber Montana, and Talkeetna, possibly too light for the calibers you mention? Or is it really well balanced? I'm wondering about the continueing trend towards featherweight rifles that launch big bullets. Seems we may be overdoing that? What do you think of your Kimbers?
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    I like my lightweight .300WSM for just about everything these days. Its a little much pop for a sheep but for the blonde griz you've been waiting a lifetime for- its just right.

    There are a lot of great sheep cartridges and rifles out there these days- you should have no trouble finding something appropriate.

    If I were looking to build a specific sheep gun I'd probably look very hard at the 280AI in a Nosler 48 sporter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    ...But Hey, I know some who shoot Deer with .375 H&H so just an opinion worth considering
    I am hunting deer this fall with my .375 Wby. Muhahahahahahah!

    Hey, it's all sighted in; it works, and I have tons of extra ammo.

    On the OP's question, wouldn't a 7mm RM be a decent option all things considered, including ammo avilability? I only ask because it recoils less than a .300 WSM, shoots further better than the 7mm-08, and is possibly decent on a bear charge.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    It requires a long magnum action and the added weight that comes with it. The trajectory of the cartridge is great though.

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    It requires a long magnum action and the added weight that comes with it. The trajectory of the cartridge is great though.
    I'm just asking because I don't know, but how much more weight? More than a few ounces? I don't know the answer.

    If it's significant, what about a 7mm WSM?

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarineHawk View Post
    but how much more weight? More than a few ounces? I don't know the answer.
    Most rifles will weigh something like 4-8 oz. more from a short to long action depending on the manufacturer- hardly a showstopping amount of weight. But to my line of thinking if you're going through the hassle of building up a specific sheep rifle then its 4-8oz. you don't need to carry. A nice short action and a trim barrel can really reduce the weight- my .300WSM is 7.5 lbs scoped and slung.

    7mm WSM is a fine cartridge but largely overlooked due (IMHO) to the bracketing effect of the 270WSM and 300WSM- all are really excellent.

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