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Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards

22 Jul 2018
@ 08:40 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe


Firstly let me say thanks to everyone for the replies and information they shared in my two recent posts. Life gets a little busy sometimes and I get forgetful, so don’t take it too seriously if I don’t reply right away or respond to every individual.

Here’s the situation that prompted this particular post:

The rifle, cartridge, and ammunition I’m using for whitetail deer is as close to optimal as I could reasonably ask expect. 20” barrel .308 Winchester, 165 grain Superformance SST’s at just over 2,700 FPS. For the game weights of 150 to 225 pounds, this is just fine. BUT, I’m somewhat bored with this combination and want to experiment with a new setup that consistently offers significantly faster killing.

The main options I’m considering are these:

- .45-70 (full-power loads suitable for levers and Ruger #1)
- .270 WSM
- 7mm Rem. Mag. (Maybe WSM)
- .35 Whelen

I would appreciate some input on what you guys think would provide the fastest killing possible for the above mentioned game weights, out to about 125 yards. Handloading is an option, as is factory ammo. One major consideration is that I would really like to keep the overall length of the rifle to an absolute maximum of 44 inches.


04 Aug 2018
@ 09:55 am (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards

Some links to bolt action 450 Marlin builds
The Mauser M98 looks mean. It's all been
done before
26 Aug 2018
@ 03:06 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
A couple questions for you guys, though I do think the answers are in the book:

1. Does anyone see major potential problems with going with a stock from Choate that has a full-length aluminum block? I believe the stock is made from fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene, similar to the Ramline military rifle stocks. At a minimum it could be said to be a solid improvement over the factory Savage stock (not exactly the highest praise :D ) and the particular design I’m looking at doesn’t have any unnecessary bells/whistles, has a wide forend, straight comb, and very little drop at the heel.

2. If I can be sure to keep a light film of oil (Ballistol) on the barrel bore during storage, is it worth the nearly double cost to get a stainless barrel? EABCO offers a 26” Varmint contour barrel in blued steel for a very reasonable price but their barrels are quite highly regarded in terms of accuracy.

The reason I ask is because EABCO can do literally all of the required work to convert the rifle from .243 to .450, put a heavy-duty recoil lug on it, a nice scope base, and put it in a Choate stock, for $600. I would have to spend at least twice that if I sent it to a full-custom maker for the same work and a fiberglass or carbon fiber stock. If I let EABCO do it I can have a complete rifle with a very nice (to me) scope for a maximum of $1,000 total.

I know it’s potentially not very wise to cut costs on what should be a rifle to own for the rest of my life (hopefully about 50+ years), but it would be tremendously helpful to my fairly limited finances if I could simply mail the barreled action to EABCO, wait 6-8 weeks, put a scope on it, and start testing accuracy and hand load performance.

If necessary I could attempt to bed the rifle after it arrives, but I also don’t actually need anything more than about 1.5-2 MOA accuracy. Sure, I would be extremely happy with 0.5 MOA groups, but given the distances I shoot at and the size of the projectile relative to the target, even 2 MOA would be acceptable. If it’s outside of 2 MOA then I’ll have to bed it, as I’m just a bit too perfectionist and I often thread bullets through very narrow openings in branches/brush.

I know Nathan’s book says that guys like me (basically people who have a fairly limited amount of disposable income, I literally wear blue collared shirts at work) should just stay patient and focus on the long-term goal regardless of how long it may take, but letting EABCO do the work would just be so much simpler and so much less expensive.

What do you guys think??

Thanks. And Warwick, those Mauser builds are freakin sweet. Another interesting cartridge along the same lines of my plan is the .458x2” American, which I believe was invented by Fred Barnes. Just a .458 Win. Mag. cut down to 2” to work through a short action bolt gun. This .450 Marlin build is very very similar.
27 Aug 2018
@ 08:55 am (GMT)

Phil Van Zuylen

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Hi Ryan seems like a bloody good plan to me as I have heard of guys waiting along time for builds. As to a blued barrel well they have done the job for 120yrs or so already and I can't fault the couple I have funny though last hunt I met a couple of guys on the way out and they asked me what rifle I had a blued one??? Theirs were stainless T3s haha
28 Aug 2018
@ 12:46 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Phil, I’ve been thinking about this more and I think I’ve come up with a good way to split the difference:

I’ll send the barreled action in to EABCO for the conversion, and when it gets back then all I’ll need is a stock and scope. This is, like you said, much faster than most custom builders.

This will keep the costs of that work relatively low, and still allows me to pick a better stock than the Choate. Likely a laminate one, since they’re relatively inexpensive and still very sturdy and accurate after bedding.

As I keep reading the rifle book, there are very many subtitles, small details, involved in creating a solid platform within the stock via an epoxy bedding job. I wouldn’t trust someone else to bed it that way, wouldn’t want to try to convince them to do it that way instead of theirs, and since I can’t erase the new knowledge from my mind, I’m just not gonna be satisfied with using a bare aluminum block instead of epoxy. I’ll have to bed it myself, regardless of what it ends up looking like. As long as it shoots and is stable

I’ll know I skipped important steps, I’ll know the performance could be better, and that will very likely bother me to no end until I give in and decide to do it right.

29 Aug 2018
@ 08:57 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Hi Ryan, sorry for taking so long on this.

I think you are working through this quite well. Ergonomics are going to be a key factor. The choate you are looking at is not so bad. For snap shooting, a swept grip would be better but this stock could be made to work. You could if you wanted to, use the rigid mount method in the accurizing book to get you going, bed later if you need to.

Otherwise yes, you are quite right. An action screwed onto a limited contact ali surface can set up all sorts of issues.

Another factor with this type of chassis (unbedded) is to keep the barrel relatively short. In your case, I think 22" is about as long as you would need to go.

To all readers, many chassis style stocks (free standing grip / skeleton forend types) are not always what they are cracked up to be. I'll use a chassis in a push, perhaps for a slap together Mosin or such. But for serious work, it is still extremely hard to beat classic stock designs (with or without an internal ali chassis). They simply line up better from a range of positions rather than forcing you into the one prone position. Bedding is generally easier without any huge gaping areas and with sidewalls to bed to.

If the barrel is relatively long and chunky, it pays to bed out into the forend about an inch or so to eliminate stress at the action screws (past the barrel nut on a Savage). This is yet another problem with the forendless wonder guns - there is no area to bed the beginning of the barrel. This situation is most problematic on target rifles with heavy 32" barrels. The stocks may look racey, but the action can be placed under a great deal of stress with no knox bedding. The greater the power, the more we run into problems. In contrast to this, a 50 BMG built on a chassis should be built in such a way that the action is very large, robust and under no stress when secured to its chassis. Actions for the BMG are so large that we are forced to step away from traditional stock designs, there is simply no way around it. Having said this, .50 BMG accuracy is somewhat mythical. Few can afford to do the load work, nor do they want to do the testing, the brass is often rubbish, the rifle triggers are rubbish, the entire stock designs are like a brick. Much of it is quite farcical but thanks Hollywood for doing all of the add work for these companies and giving us the illusion that the .50 BMG has magical powers.

You play this however you want to Ryan but yes, try to keep the rifle as clean and simple as possible. Sometimes working to a budget is more of a help than a hindrance. Its amazing what sort of crap folk end up attaching to their rifles once funds start flowing. Less crap, less variables to go wrong.

Personally, I think your goal should be to aim for 1 MOA accuracy, do the best you can, but be happy if the rifle produces 1.5 MOA. Basically- work towards the optimal but be realistic. I have just been through the wringer with a rebellious .44 Marlin, a self imposed refresher course. You get all sorts of comments with these, the action is too short, the twist is too slow for heavy pills etc. A lever action is a mongrel and a marvel of a design all at the same time. I just worked through it. When I started, it wouldn't stay on an A4, now its shooting 1.5" with a 300gr pill, very consistent, 1600fps.
29 Aug 2018
@ 09:22 am (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
An A4 Audi or A4 paper? Quite a size difference Nathan! 😆
30 Aug 2018
@ 01:02 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Hey Nathan, no worries.

What I’m mainly concerned about with the bedding is longevity, the long-term durability of the rifle. In the book you point out that, especially on Savage actions, it can be important to bed the parallel section of the barrel to help support the weight. That, as well as the recoil lug area, would be my main concern with using a bare aluminum block with no epoxy involved.

On the shape of the stock, here’s how I generally shoot:

I’m sitting in a chair in the corner of the blind, with the rifle propped up in the corner. Upon hearing or seeing deer, I grab the rifle and keep it in a ready position, and if I wanna shoot then I’ll generally use the wall of the blind as a rest, as much as possible. But offhand shots are sometimes the only option, probably around 50% of the time.

Do you think a vertical M24 style grip is useable for that? I haven’t really handled one before so it’s not something I can be very sure of. The Choate has some kind of rail system for a bipod on the forend, I’m not sure if it’s removable or not so now I’m not sure if that’ll work for me. I have literally no need for a bipod at all. R

And yeah I would agree about keeping the overall package as simple as possible, I generally dislike things like Picatinny rails and adjustable stocks because they tend to just clutter things up for my purposes. I do plan on using EABCO’s one-piece rail and their Keylock rings, that should be a pretty stable and reliable mounting system:

On barrel length, they have a pre-made one at 26” that tapers to about .795” at the muzzle. It’s a little longer than I’d like but it should also allow for more velocity from a given load, keeping recoil to a minimum with the target MV’s of 2,200-2,300 FPS with a 300 grain hollow point.

I could also outsource the barrel from a different maker though and get a shorter one.
30 Aug 2018
@ 07:58 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Another question:

In a stock with an aluminum bedding block, would it be possible to bed only the recoil lug area and the first inch or two of the barrel? Is this dependent on the individual designs on the market?
30 Aug 2018
@ 09:01 am (GMT)

Kenneth Kephart

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards

Your build should be a thumper!
You might also look into E.R. Shaw for your barrel and work. I've bought 2 barrels from them and absolutely love them!

My 284 Win barrel, 24" polished, blued, 11 degree recessed crown in their 1.5 contour for my Mauser build was $272 shipped to my front door.
Does make for a HEAVY rifle though. 10lbs scoped, no ammo.

You can always thread the barrel for a brake. Another option is a recoil reducer in the buttstock. Essentially a mercury tube with an oriface in it to control the flow of mercury.
They are popular with shotguns, and some of the harder kicking rifles.

I gotta admit, i was reading through the posts thinking "YES! a 25-06 barrel!!! " lol
01 Sep 2018
@ 07:21 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Hi Ryan, I want to pause you for a bit, go through a break down session via skype, get a clear picture / goals. Could please make contact, NZ morning suits me best.
01 Sep 2018
@ 07:40 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Sure Nathan, I’d be happy to. I’ll send you an email.
03 Sep 2018
@ 04:58 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Fellas, just to update you all on what’s going on:

After talking with Nathan today I’ve decided to put the brakes on my previous plan of a .450 Marlin conversion for the Savage. Here’s why:

In order to obtain the dramatic difference in performance I’m after, which might be described as a the animal being struck by a bolt of lightning instead of instead of a poisoned dart, the .450 is not likely to give me the results I’m after. At least not beyond the 50-75 yard range. The .458” bore will only provide that performance if I’m able to keep impact velocity above 2,000 FPS. Between 2,000 and 1,700, it is not likely to make a significant difference from the .308 Winchester cartridge.

In light of that, I’ll just keep an eye out for a used rifle in either a magnum small-bore like a 7mm Rem. Mag. or .300 Win. Mag., a medium bore such as a .35 Whelen, .375 H&H, or .375 Ruger, or a large-bore like a .458 Win. Mag.

The price will be a wash (roughly $1,000 USD for the complete package, rifle and scope) and just getting an entirely new rifle will also give an opportunity for a whole new experience, aside from just a new cartridge.

Also, in keeping with what he’s said in the rifle book, I’m going to keep focused on the type of action that the rifle has. A Remington 700 would be ideal. This way I can have a gun that’s easy to work on and customize, with many future changes being available if I want to alter the setup to pursue a different design and purpose.

05 Sep 2018
@ 05:17 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
I think I’ve been approaching this from a potentially unproductive angle. Rather than looking at what cartridges can provide the performance I’m looking for, it would make much more sense to ask it this way:

What individual projectile, and at what impact velocity cutoff point, will provide that performance?

Then, after answering that question, the options are much more clearly defined. Just pick a rifle that’s capable of launching the chosen bullet at the required MV’s, and the cartridge itself almost becomes irrelevant.
05 Sep 2018
@ 03:47 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Perfect Ryan you just described this gun and bullet combination

07 Sep 2018
@ 07:57 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Hi Ryan, it was good to chat. Your posted conclusions are well summarized.

Still waiting for repairs to be completed on our computers, currently tying on a terrible device. Hopefully back to normal in a couple of days time.
08 Sep 2018
@ 06:05 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Hey Nathan, no worries. And yeah the chat was very helpful and fun, thanks.

I did have a question about the terminal performance of the .308” 208 grain A-Max/ELD-M.

- What happens at impact velocities of between 2,600 FPS and 3,000 FPS? On the game weights of 150 - 250 pounds, with a rear lung shots.

There are a few rifles available locally that can produce MV’s of around 2,850 and up to 3,100 with that bullet. A .300 Mag. is beginning to look interesting because it will show me the direct results of a large velocity increase with an identical bullet. For instance I could use the same 165 grain SST I’m using in the .308, but bump up the muzzle velocity to 3,200 - 3,400 FPS, as opposed to the 2,740 I’m getting right now. This means that the difference in effect on target is purely a result of velocity and nothing else.

Just as an aside, I would also like to try the Hawk 200 grain 0.025” jacket round-tip, which should be similar to the ELD-M but more ductile instead of fragmentary. Perhaps producing a very large frontal area like the Winchester Super X 180’s
08 Sep 2018
@ 02:53 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
A question on the Hornady 168 grain ELD-M:

I just want to make sure I’m understanding this correctly, so I’ll state what I think the performance difference is from the 165 grain SST at the same MV’s;

The ELD-M will dramatically lower the impact velocity requirements for producing a reaction that’s similar or practically identical to hydrostatic shock. It does this by being very explosive and fragmentary in nature, making a wound that is much much wider than what’s normally possible with this bullet weight and diameter. Expansion/fragmentation is near-instant at the likely impact velocities I’ll experience, which means that the wounding will be almost optimal and should provide a good degree of forgiveness with shot placement error, at least compared to the SST I’m currently using.

Is that correct, and if not, why not? Am I missing something, or am I pretty close to the mark with the above statements?
09 Sep 2018
@ 09:14 am (GMT)

Andrew Murray

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards

My advice is to read through the entire 30cal family in the knowledgebase. It not the easy or simple answer but it will give you the information you're after.
10 Sep 2018
@ 06:57 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Thats correct Ryan. All quite true.
14 Sep 2018
@ 01:57 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Hmm. Well in that case I think I’ve found a dual loading for the .308, barring any significant issues with my always-dreaded meat destruction:

- The 168 grain ELD-M Superformance Match as a stand hunting load, since I can often pick my shot placement to a reasonably predictable degree.

- The 165 grain SST Superformance as a deer drive load, where the animals are usually already adrenalized and running, very rarely beyond 75 yards away, and I basically have no choice but to make a quick snap shot towards vital organs, regardless of how much bone or body length is between me and them.

Come to think of it, the Barnes 130 grain TTSX at a bit over 3,000 FPS muzzle velocity may actually be optimal for close range deer drives. Perhaps even better than the SST.
14 Sep 2018
@ 03:58 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
220gn round nose .308 bullet.............area x force x acceleration
14 Sep 2018
@ 07:12 pm (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
winchester factory 180grn power point........sub hundred yards = DEAD deer they dont boot you around either...try a box and see for yourself.. I was so darn impressed with them Ive gone to the nearest thing I can reload with a big fat hornady 180grn round nose...and Im as happy as a pig in pooh....cant ask for more than that.
15 Sep 2018
@ 12:48 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
Mike, on the Power Point 180’s, I nearly used them last year. I was a bit put off by the examples I saw though because I noticed that the bullet seating depth varied quite a lot, anywhere from just below the cannelure to no cannelure exposed. But performance-wise they’re definitely intriguing.

My uncle (one of two hunting partners of mine, with grandpa being the second) uses a .30-06. I managed to convince him to use the Power Point 180’s this year because I told him that they’re inexpensive but should produce a massive blood trail and won’t be sensitive to body weights or shot angles.

His rifle was zeroed for Federal blue box 180’s that I recommended to him for his bear hunt last year, so the POI should be roughly the same and not require too much tweaking to get it dead-on. I’m interested to see the performance, it’s a 22” barrel so the MV should be around 2,650, a full 200 FPS above what I’d get in my rifle. I think he’ll like them quite a lot.

If he doesn’t, the next recommendation I’ll make is probably for the Power-Max bonded 150’s. I loved that round inside 50 yards but I moved away from it because I noticed a serious drop off past about 100-125 yards. His rifle should get them moving fast enough so that he won’t notice that the drop in killing speed that I did. I really think that the Power-Max is a very good choice for most woods hunters on a limited budget if you can get the lightweight bullets.
15 Sep 2018
@ 01:18 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
I’ve come across an interesting opportunity for me to try a .375 Ruger rifle, but I’ve got a couple minor concerns about the idea that I’d like to run by you guys:

The rifle is a Mossberg Patriot, a budget bolt gun that I can’t really alter or re-barrel. Though I should be able to lapp the locking lugs at least. However, for $500 this is what I’d be getting:

- A straight-comb laminate stock, with the barrel free-floated.

- Dual crossbolts through the action and stock.

- Weatherproof exterior finish, I think it’s an electroless nickel plating (won’t help the bore at all but it’s still better than a blued exterior)

- 22” Sporter-weight barrel that has a recessed crown and (miraculously) no ridiculous spiral muzzle break.

- Reported accuracy of anywhere from 0.6” to 1.1” at 100 yards off sand bags. This was with factory ammo and should be more than adequate for my purposes.

- Scope mounts are identical to Remington 700

- Stock factory trigger at 2.5-3.5 lbs.

- Fiber optic iron sights

Now obviously if it’s a dud bore or has some other significant accuracy issues then I might be screwed and just out $500. But on the other hand, it does appear to be a decent gun for the price, and a .375 Ruger would be very interesting to try. Hawk 235 grain bullets at a mild 2,800-2,900 should provide all the punch I require and more.

My only real reservation is that I generally want to avoid one-off guns like this that I can’t modify, but if it turns out to be a decent rifle and I enjoy the .375, then I’ll know exactly what to build when I eventually burn up the Mossberg barrel.

What do you guys think?

15 Sep 2018
@ 01:36 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: Cartridges for Fast Killing Inside 125 Yards
One last note about that Mossberg .375:

Recoil could be quite stiff considering it’ll weigh 8.5 or maybe 9 pounds with scope, but hey, if I can manage to learn how to shoot it with accuracy and consistency from the bench and various field positions, I should be able to manage just about anything else out there.


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