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Forum Index > Rifles general discussion > Your ultimate close-range caliber

Your ultimate close-range caliber

14 Jan 2024
@ 04:14 pm (GMT)

Rob Bird

I know a lot of emphasis is given to long-range shooting and hunting here, and rightly so. But I am curious to know what your favorite or optimal cartridge would be--if all of your shots on anything from goats up to elk or moose--were within 75 meters/yards.

If you had asked me a year ago, I might have said 6.5x55 or 30-06. Now, I'm starting to think it might be 45-70 or 50-70 or similar. I have gotten into 1870s military bolt actions, many of which are chambered in 45-50 cal in the U.S. or 10-11mm in Europe. I shot a whitetail this fall with my 1870 Springfield trapdoor in 50-70. I meant to put squarely in the shoulder but, as it was a 60 yard quartering-to offhand shot, ended up putting it into his liver and it passed through the offside hip, coming to rest, as is often the case, under the offside hide. It was a 450 gr 30:1 bullet that might as well have been a freight train. I wish I could post a picture of it here.

What are your favorite close range cartridges (and actual rifles, if you want), and why? Any cool stories?

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18 Jan 2024
@ 02:00 am (GMT)

Ed Sybert

Re: Your ultimate close-range caliber
Since you've included elk and moose, I'd have to go with my Pre '64 Winchester M70 in 35 Whelen. The rifle was originally a 30-06 standard weight that a previous owner probably shot corrosive ammo through and failed to clean the bore properly. As a result the barrel had some pitting. It fouled quickly and didn't want to group more than 2-3 shots to point of aim. Rather than purchase a new barrel, I decided to try having the original barrel bored out and re-rifled to 35 Whelen. It was one of the best decisions I've made regarding customizing factory rifles. It handles very well and shoots MOA or near MOA with several good hunting bullets. It is one rifle that I'll never part with.
19 Jan 2024
@ 02:06 pm (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Your ultimate close-range caliber
Hi Rob. Does nostalgia kill? I don’t have a cool story, but your question should be of interest to the thousands of whitetail hunters in the eastern and midwestern US states, who may now hunt with straight wall rifle cartridges, in addition to shotgun slugs. Illinois, for instance, as of 2023, has no restriction on the size or power of straight wall cartridges. Their only restriction is it has to be available as a factory load. They list your 50-70 cartridge as “overkill,” in a “Ten X Cowboy 500 grain RNFP”, apparently an abbreviation for “lead, round nosed, flat point.” They claim it has an effective range of 600 yards, based on a muzzle velocity of 1216.
13 Mar 2024
@ 06:53 pm (GMT)

David Lenzi

Re: Your ultimate close-range caliber
I'd probably just keep on using the venerable .308 Win.

You have some interesting choices in the 195-225 grain range if you tire of more conventional options like the 150/165 SST, 168 ELD-M, 178 ELD-X/ELD-M, 180 SST/TBBC/Partition/A-Frame, 130/150/165 TTSX and so on.

If I wanted cool points, there's always the Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70 or something like a Winchester M70 in .35 Whelen. ;-)

I talk myself out of that latter option somewhat regularly.
31 Mar 2024
@ 03:14 am (GMT)

brendan wheatley

Re: Your ultimate close-range caliber
Ruger Hawkeye Laminate compact in .308

It's light weight(sub seven lbs) and shorter than a yardstick which is perfect for hunting in woods and deep brush.
With 168 ttsx Barnes it does everything I want it to do and being a bolt action if I want to reach out a little farther.
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08 Apr 2024
@ 12:10 am (GMT)

Ed Sybert

Re: Your ultimate close-range caliber
Since you've included elk and moose, I'd have to go with my Pre '64 Winchester M70 in 35 Whelen. The rifle was originally a 30-06 standard weight that a previous owner probably shot corrosive ammo through and failed to clean the bore properly. As a result the barrel had some pitting. It fouled quickly and didn't want to group more than 2-3 shots to point of aim. Rather than purchase a new barrel, I decided to try having the original barrel bored out and re-rifled to 35 Whelen. It was one of the best decisions I've made regarding customizing factory rifles. It handles very well and shoots MOA or near MOA with several good hunting bullets. It is one rifle that I'll never part with.
11 Apr 2024
@ 06:59 pm (GMT)

Craig Sanford

Re: Your ultimate close-range caliber
I will dare to be a bit different here and say that if all shots were within 75 yards, as originally posited, my choice would be a .357 Magnum lever action rifle. With the rifle length barrel, this little handgun cartridge achieves velocity and energy in the ballpark of the .30/30 but with a 10 round capacity. Plus a brace of revolvers alongside packing the same ammunition feels rather handy to me. One could make a similar case for the .44 Magnum, but the .357 keeps it all nice and light while still very fast handling and surprisingly hard hitting.
29 Apr 2024
@ 11:40 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Your ultimate close-range caliber
Bakail SxS in either .30/06 or better still .45/70
WHY?? can find out which barrel is best/which trigger is best,work out a really good load for that barrel and have something completely different in the other,either hot n heavy or go other way completely and something gentle to use. that way if smaller animal encountered pop it off without using your superduper loads and if you do need quick follow up shot in either senario its right there without doing anything other than moving trigger to 2nd trigger.
17 Jun 2024
@ 11:51 pm (GMT)

David Landwehr

Re: Your ultimate close-range caliber
While my 308 will easily do what's asked, I love my Ruger No.1 in 375h&h and it doesn't get enough use.
With 225gr hornadys (only about 80 left) or 235gr speers the goats are well accounted for. The hornadys are emphatic for the smaller game being light construction.
The 235gr Woodleighs will account for the elk. A good fast stout bullet and I still have an acceptable supply.
I'll keep my 300gr woodleighs for the proper heavy stuff.
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