Basic Cartridge Selection
Basic Cartridge Selection | When looking to outfit for hunting, rifles are usually the first thing that comes to mind. It’s a good to start with the cartridge. Read on to find out why.
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Basic Cartridge Selection – One of the concepts that is core to the principle of huntinginaustralia.au is finding good information on hunting in Australia without the BS and bias toward a particular brand.
With this in mind, I’ve written this post to provide my opinions on the best basic cartridge selection Australia has to offer for a certain set of situations.
Having worked in a gun shop for years I know the question that haunts Gun Shop owners around the world. It is when a customer comes in and says. “I want one rifle to do it all”?
Sure, you can have one hunting rifle that “does it all”, but, there are more questions that need to be considered before pulling the trigger. So to speak.
If your idea of a do it all hunting rifle is for rabbits, foxes and the occasional pig then you’re not going to want to shoulder a 30-06 Sako Finnlight and fire off 50 rounds in one night. You would probably need a shoulder reconstruction after 10 rounds!
Not to mention the Point of Impact (POI) will start to wander around the target as the barrel starts to heat.
Likewise, if you are looking for a cannon to take down Red Deer or Water Buffalo, you will not want to be shouldering a .223 Remington, as it may be the last thing you do!
However, rifle selection should be a secondary consideration. Let us proceed to discuss caliber selection or more specifically cartridge selection.
Be aware, there are minimum cartridge requirements for taking down large game in Australia, depending on which state you reside. As a general rule, if you use a minimum cartridge size of .270 Winchester you have it covered.
So, to find a happy medium and break down what is a capable, humane and legal cartridge, to take down your game of choice, read on!
Varmint or Small Game
Rabbits and Hares
European Rabbits and Hares were introduced into Australia for the purposes of hunting in the mid 1800’s. Ever since they were introduced they have been “breeding like Rabbits” and causing devastation to our native flora and fauna. More on hunting rabbits here: Rabbit Hunting.
Our top 3 cartridges for Australians in this category include:
Rabbits and Hares have been hunted using a variety of cartridges, however it would be safe to say the most popular calibre to rid of this feral species in Australia has been .22 Long Rifle. The .22 LR is the Jack of all trades and can be used to eradicate everything from snakes to Pidgeon’s.
What I like about the 22LR:
Need something with a bit more sugar? The .22 WMR will fill that glass, at almost twice the muzzle velocity of .22LR it has more take down energy and reaches out an additional 50m.
The 17 HMR was created in 2002 by necking down a .22 WMR and delivers a muzzle velocity of 2,650 ft/s, and for good reason this cartridge has gained traction over its short existence.
Both the .17 HMR and .22 WMR are capable of climbing up the game list to things like Foxes and Feral Cats.
In the days of old, bunnies would be shot through open sights, however these days people are more inclined to use optics or scopes.
Wild Dogs, Foxes, and Feral Cats
Stepping it up! Basic cartridge selection for small to mid size ferals. The abovementioned varmints are cunning and notoriously difficult to lure into a close range, little own spot at a distance for a humane shot. (See our Article on Fox Hunting a Humane Approach.) Dogs, foxes and cats can be hunted humanely with, really, any small bore, high velocity, centre fire rifle.
Our basic cartridge selection or top 3 cartridges for Australians in this category include:
What I like about the 22-250 Rem:
The .204 has been growing in popularity since its inception in 2004 which means the ammunition has been getting cheaper and more readily available, which is a great thing in my opinion. I have had great experiences with the 204 as a “Tack Driver”, if I need some reassurance in my shooting ability it’s a nice cartridge to fall back on.
What I like about the 204 Ruger:
Pigs, Goats, Fallow, Hog, Rusa and Chital Deer
Stepping it up in size once again the basic cartridge selection for the medium game that Australia has to offer, all of which are introduced, feral species. Although these animals are Feral, it’s important to maintain a level of humanity and hunt them well. I always shoot for the kill in one shot and ensure I have enough firepower to take care of the job.
Our top 3 cartridges for Australians in this category include:
The most versatile cartridge ever made? It’s hard not to love the .308 Winchester, it’s not a glamorous cartridge, but there is no denying its versatility to get the job done across the board.
What I like about the .308 Win:
As the .308’s little brother, the .243 does not disappoint. Australian’s have rested on the take down power of .243 for years, it may be the most popular hunting cartridge in Australia, and for good reason, it’s a great all rounder.
What I like about the .243 Win:
Many Aussies would say “why wouldn’t ya just shoot a .308?, cheaper to shoot and does not recoil as hard”. And to a point they would be right, however, there is no arguing that the 270 is flatter and carries more energy down range as distance extends. So for that reason, the great American cartridge does have purpose on our shoreline.
What I like about the .270 Win:
Red Deer, Sambar Deer, Water Buffalo, Banteng, Camel and Wild Brumbies
Make no mistake, taking a life is no easy task, animals are resilient and hard to kill. All of the large animals mentioned above, take that resiliency to the next level. I like to ensure that I’m shouldering enough gun to give the animal the respect of a clean kill even if my shot placement is poor or slightly off. With this in mind the basic cartridge selection for this group:
In the last century, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the 30-06 has knocked over the greatest variety of big game species throughout the world, largely thanks to the Americans (although I referencing them on an Aussie page seems misplaced). There is no denying this no frills “do it all” cartridge walks the walk, and delivers the goods across the globe.
What I like about the 30-06 Springfield:
As the first magnum cartridge to gain global commercial success, the 7mm Rem Mag is the choice for the hunter that wants a flat, hard hitting cartridge for those longer range shots.
What I like about the 7mm Remington Magnum:
The 300 Win Mag is considered the poppa of the big game world, it has the recipe of speed, accuracy and power, perfected. Without question for knocking down big Aussie game with authority at any reasonable distance, look no further.
What I like about the 300 Win Mag:
Outside the cartridges I have briefly detailed above, there are countless cartridges available to the Aussie Hunter, all equally valid dependent on your situation. Personally I would encourage research into basic cartridge selection and hopefully this article helps you step out the door and send you on that journey. Things to keep keep in mind are:
- Cartridge selection always comes first.
- Rifle selection comes second.
This may save you some disappointment, should the rifle you fall in love with not be chambered in your desired calibre.
It helped me when I did, before leaving the shop with my first rifle (.308).
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
The 30-06 Springfield is a no nonsense cartridge that will do it all. If you are looking at opening up the range then the 300 Winchester Magnum will do the distance and have the punch needed for Sambar.
Victoria has a minimum legal caliber for hunting Sambar deer:
- minimum diameter of .270
- no less than a 130-grain projectile.