Q: I have a Winchester Model 70 in .300 Win. Mag. and have only been able to get factory ammo loaded with 180gn bullets. Is this a good load for elk moose and bear? I’ve been told that a 165gn bullet would shoot a lot flatter. I have booked a hunt for these animals in Canada later this year? Can you suggest a bullet and load? Likely trajectory? In inches please. Also, my rifle has a Weaver 4x scope. Do you think I need more magnification for hunting big game?
A: The 180gn .30 calibre bullet has long been considered about optimum in .30 calibre cartridges from the .30-06 to the big .30 magnums for all-around shooting of all sizes of American big game at all ranges, and my own experience would bear this out. The 165gn is less effective because even though you can start it some 100fps faster than the 180gn., there is so little difference in drop at 400yd that you can’t notice it. It delivers 200-400 ft/lbs less energy (depending on whose ballistics you believe) at that range than the 180gn. and everything else being equal, will give less penetration. because of its lack of
sectional density – .247 compared to .271 for the 180gn. Make sure the bullet is a controlled expansion design since your shooting could be anywhere from 50 to 400yd. I’d use something like the Nosler 180gn E-Tip or Barnes MRX BT and try to work up to 79gn of AR2217 which will give you 3100fps. Sight in the 180gn bullet 3in. high at 100yd. and it will be 4.5in. high at 200, 2in. high at 300 and down 7in. at 400. That’s flat enough to handle elk and moose out to 450yd. I like a 2-7x or 3- 9x variable scope for elk and moose. The higher magnification is plenty for shooting animals that size at long range. When turned down to 2x or 3x, the scope has plenty of field of view in case you go into thick timber where shots are close. I’ve done my share of long range shooting at game of all sizes from antelope to moose, but I consider 400-500yd. to be the limit with the best cartridges, rifles and scopes under ideal shooting conditions. It seems, however, that some hunters feel they have to impress others with tales of killing game at 1000yd, sometimes on the run. This makes old timers like me yawn and fall asleep.