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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?


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.


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