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Thread: New Deer Rifle - Thoughts on Caliber?

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    New Deer Rifle - Thoughts on Caliber?

    I'm in the market for a new deer rifle. I have not been hunting very long - it was not something my dad did, so I didn't grow up with it. My son started showing an interest in it a few years ago, so we have been learning together with the aid of his grandfather and my brother-in-law (both lifelong hunters). I live in western PA, and hunt the surrounding areas. Our portion of the country is very hilly, a lot of trees and brush, never far from water (streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.), and is peppered with some open fields. Finding somewhere with a clear shot over 300 yards is not very common, and is frankly beyond my skill and comfort level attempting harvesting an animal. The .308 is my son's, and it will stay that way. He enjoys it and he's good with it. I've been looking at the following:

    .270 Win - Tried and true deerslayer. Been around forever, there aren't many people who haven't harvested a deer in this area with either a .270 or .308.
    7mm-08 - Slightly larger diameter, though a little slower than .270. Supposed to have a touch less recoil too.
    6.5 Creedmoor - This is the one I have really been interested in. Very accurate over long ranges, moderate recoil, but I just haven't read enough from people who have successfully harvested deer with this round.

    I'm not really interested in any of the magnum or short-magnum loads (even 7mm). Due to the conditions and terrain this rifle will be carried in I will likely settle on a 22" barrel; I have no intentions of shooting a .300 WinMag on a slippery hillside from a light rifle with a 22" barrel. I am very interested to hear from anyone who has hunted deer with any of the calibers mentioned above - particularly the 6.5 Creedmoor. Rifle season doesn't start until after Thanksgiving here, so I have some time. I value the knowledge that the members here have greatly, so I'm really looking forward to anyone's experiences.

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    I've got the 270 and have never wished for anything else. It has worked flawlessly and taken down what I've shot at. It's a real good gun at a good price point. Plus the ammo ain't bad either.
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    I'm leaning towards building a 6.8 Creedmore.

    One, its a flat shooter and two...I dont have one.

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    I would imagine that any of those choices would be fine for deer. The .270 will probably have the wider array of factory ammunition choices and the 6.5 will probably have the fewest factory choices...

    Personally, if you're recoil sensitive, I'd say a .243 would be a great option. Many, many deer have been taken with that cartridge, though it might leave a little less room for error than the other choices. If recoil isn't so much of a consideration then I think the venerable 30.06 is one of the best cartridges you can hunt with.

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    My two go to deer & antelope rifles are a .243 or my .270.

    Took an elk with my .270 last year also

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    Out of those I'd choose the .270.
    If I was looking myself today I'd go .308 or the TNT 30-06.

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    Any of the ones you mentioned would make a good deer rifle. The .270 would be my choice since you can find the ammo in any mom & pop store that carries ammo. The other two can be harder to find. The .243 is one of my favorite cartridges. With around a 55 grain bullet, it makes a great varmint round. With a 95 or 100 grain bullet, it makes a good deer rifle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TX expat View Post
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    I would imagine that any of those choices would be fine for deer. The .270 will probably have the wider array of factory ammunition choices and the 6.5 will probably have the fewest factory choices...

    Personally, if you're recoil sensitive, I'd say a .243 would be a great option. Many, many deer have been taken with that cartridge, though it might leave a little less room for error than the other choices. If recoil isn't so much of a consideration then I think the venerable 30.06 is one of the best cartridges you can hunt with.
    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyColby View Post
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    My two go to deer & antelope rifles are a .243 or my .270.

    Took an elk with my .270 last year also
    This is why I was very heavily leaning toward the .270. It is good for pretty much anything that can be hunted with a rifle in PA (I don't apply for a bear license). I'm not recoil sensitive, but I do want something that I can shoot a lot without fatigue and - more importantly - my younger kids can pick up easier when they're ready. I know that most deer hunters will recommend a .270, and seeing as how I don't have one I've been thinking that's a great idea. There is something so alluring about that 6.5 Creedmoor though. I've read about a lot of people who are not really marksmen making some pretty ridiculous shots with that round. Again, though, these reports are about target shooting not harvesting an animal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RaiseTheJollyRoger View Post
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    This is why I was very heavily leaning toward the .270. It is good for pretty much anything that can be hunted with a rifle in PA (I don't apply for a bear license). I'm not recoil sensitive, but I do want something that I can shoot a lot without fatigue and - more importantly - my younger kids can pick up easier when they're ready. I know that most deer hunters will recommend a .270, and seeing as how I don't have one I've been thinking that's a great idea. There is something so alluring about that 6.5 Creedmoor though. I've read about a lot of people who are not really marksmen making some pretty ridiculous shots with that round. Again, though, these reports are about target shooting not harvesting an animal.
    If you're thinking about passing it off to a kid at some point, then I'd take a look at the .243 without a doubt. As a kid, I started hunting deer with a Winchester 70 in .243 and still have it and still hunt with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TX expat View Post
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    If you're thinking about passing it off to a kid at some point, then I'd take a look at the .243 without a doubt. As a kid, I started hunting deer with a Winchester 70 in .243 and still have it and still hunt with it.
    We have a light .243 in the family, otherwise that would probably be first on my list. I still might get one at some point; maybe along the lines of a Savage Axis. This one will be mine, and one hopefully the younger kids can work with once they're teenagers to get an idea of what they want moving forward. And when I say younger kids I mean one is 6 months and his Irish twin is still cooking. So I have a while for this one to be all mine

    ETA: as an aside, my nephew took his first buck this year with his dad's 7mm RemMag, but he couldn't get on target consistently with the .243. Go figure, right?

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    .270 lets you go up into elk or bear sized animals.

    .243 lets you do down into coyote and varmint sized animals. (my first real rifle was also a .243, a ruger M77, sweetheart caliber for me)

    .30-06 is never a bad choice in north America, though a bit much for varmint.
    .308 is very similar from a hunters standpoint.


    one other cartridge i'll throw into the mix - .25-06 - I think it bridges the gap a little better than any of the above cartridges. can be loaded up for elk, can be loaded down for coyotes. Caveat - I'd not want to go after any but the smallest bears, and while I'd use it on coyotes, it's a bit much for anything smaller.

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    Have you considered a lever gun? .30-30 is tried and true in the brush, and with practice, has a range of up to 200 yards. If you were out here, where the biggest tree is a bush, I'd say .270... But it's hard to discount a good lever gun...

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    Not to muddy the waters, but your area sounds prime for a .30-30 lever action. Good for up to around 150 yards. Easy to find ammo.

    If you ever aim for bigger game or longer distances, then the .270/30-06 calibers would stand out. I've used my -06 for everything from ground squirrels to moose and it's never done me wrong, althought the recoil is more noticeable these days. I agree that ammo availability and choice may be more limited, but it can be found.

    I'm also a fan of the 7x57 mm as well as the 7mm-08. Unfortunately the7x57 is almost always downloaded due to,the number of questionable surplus mil arms out there, but a hand load in a modern rifle is a more than capable round for anything you'll run into.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaiseTheJollyRoger View Post
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    We have a light .243 in the family, otherwise that would probably be first on my list. I still might get one at some point; maybe along the lines of a Savage Axis. This one will be mine, and one hopefully the younger kids can work with once they're teenagers to get an idea of what they want moving forward. And when I say younger kids I mean one is 6 months and his Irish twin is still cooking. So I have a while for this one to be all mine

    ETA: as an aside, my nephew took his first buck this year with his dad's 7mm RemMag, but he couldn't get on target consistently with the .243. Go figure, right?
    Ah, yeah, if you've already got a .243 in the stable then I think I'd lean towards the .270 if you're a factory ammo type of guy. As a reloader, I'm probably most interested in the 6.5 but I don't know how much I'd care for it if I wasn't reloading. I think it'd get pretty pricey to shoot with a more limited selection of factory rounds.

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    well, and if you ARE into handloading, or want something a little different, but like .30-06 derivatives...

    How about a .280 .. ???

    better ballistic coefficient than a 270, it's really a 7mm, and hotter than a 7mm-08, but doesn't recoil like the belted magnums .....

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