Best All-Time Target and Game Cartridges
These are some of the best hunting and target cartridges ever conceived. These rounds will take down flying game, flatten deer at distance, or punch holes in your home-made targets on the horizon.
These are your working man's rounds. Wildcats, proprietary rounds, and old English double guns were not considered for this list. Yes, I'm also biased to North America.
500 Smith and Wesson Magnum
The 500 Smith and Wesson Magnum...a top hunting and target round?
You bet your ass.
Put a 325 grain bullet in front of 44.5 grains of Lil Gun (shout out to MD Smith)--that approaches 3000 ft/lbs. That's 45-70 power in a handgun. I've shot 500 grain bullets clean through 16" maple trees
Unreal power, but recoil is not unmanageable for experienced handgunners.
My Smith with a 4" bbl is the most amazingly accurate handgun I've ever fired. I get surplus books from the company I work for, and I have no problem putting a round into an 8x10 at 208 yards. With iron sights.
It shoots flat and hits hard. This round wasn't pulled out thin air over there at Smith and Wesson. It was carefully designed and optimized. The engineers wanted to design a revolver that would never again be superseded in performance from any other reasonably sized, commercially produced revolver.
Its superiority is no coincidence.
There is a reason why it is still the number 1 rifle in the US after 105 years. It is accurate. It is incredibly versatile. It punches paper. It hits hard and kills. Our forefathers successfully defended our country in wars against evil empires with the .30-06.
And you officially aren't a pussy if you can handle one.
To really simplify it, it's basically a .30-06 in a pretty short action. The inherent accuracy is makes this #1 choice of shooters stateside, and man--the report is magical.
This was and continues to be one of the top 1000 yard rounds out there, period.
Trajectory is flat. Stopping power is impressive. Again, the short action is a major advantage. It's no accident that this is one of the top military and police sniper rounds.
Shoot a FN FAL rapid fire or a precision bolt action in .308 and you will be a believer--if you aren't already.
7 MM Remingon Magnum
The first time I shot one of these, I was a changed man.
To that point, the most powerful rifle I'd ever fired was a .30-06. The report of the 7mm Mag was incredible, and it rumbled your guts. The concussion was indescribable. And it went through the can so clean that it looked like a laser was involved, not a rifle.
The cartridge's belt--used to ensure proper extraction--looked so damn cool. I was convinced that it was there to strengthen the cartridge. And I foolishly told everyone as much.
The round is snubbed by many in the long range shooting community because its belt supposedly causes chamber alignment issues and detracts from accuracy. Never mind that handloaders can adjust their dies to headspace off the shoulder.
It is legendary amongst deer and elk hunters. For those of use that have attempted long range target shots, we know its capability. People can say that it is ballistically similar to the .270. So what. It's awesome.
I won't go on a cliche tangent about Jack O'Connor.
My current reverance for him aside, I'm not sure I'd ever heard of the guy when I got my first .270 when my old man died.
What I did know was that it kicked like hell but always, always hit what I was aiming at.
What I didn't understand was that the rifle was an obscure Husqvarna. I stupidly pushed the extractor over the bullets single-shot style and oops---needed a new extractor. It took me 2.5 years and 250 bucks to locate a new one.
Needless to say that I don't bring this rifle to family/friend shoots very often...
The point is, a .270 in a rifle built for accuracy is usually an MOA shooter, is very trustworthy, and is a lot of fun to blaze with. It is also so valuable and has so much nostalgic value that even your best pals rarely get to shoot it.
This round is like the baseball player that doesn't look like much on paper but seems to hit the clutch home run every time.
This round blends in the crowd--so much like the .308, 270, .303, 7mm-08, etc., yet it's almost completely overlooked by all but the most serious hunters and hobbyists.
It has been described as a "ballistician's dream." Don't let some of the published velocities fool you--much of the commercial ammo is loaded for the original Spanish Mausers that require much lower pressures. If you have a gun made in the 1890s and beyond (check with a smith to be sure) you can use ammo that is on par with any common centerfire fire rifle, with incredible trajectory and stopping power.
During a summer deer cull, I shot a deer in a dead run at just under 300 yards with my Venezuelan FN-49 with peep sights. Double lunged it. Quick kill. Was it luck? Skill? The round? The proportion of skill and luck is debatable (pretty damn lucky I think) but the 7x57 was the constant in this equation.
My experiment may be inconclusive, but a few noteworthy particular big game hunters have definitively proven the effectiveness of this round. Karamojo Bell, anyone?
PS: The 7x57 is the reason we have the .30-06. Look up "San Juan Hill" for more on that subject.
This truly might be the most versatile hunting round ever. You can take anything from a squirrel to a bear with a 12 gauge. Some Professional Hunters (PH) in Africa use them as backup guns
Recoil can be mild to downright painful. Ever shot a 3 1/2" Magnum? If the forestock doesn't fly out of your hand, consider yourself a strong dude.
For target shooting, the 12 guage is the most common skeet shooting round. This might make it the most popular target round ever, outside of the 22 LR.
It is ideal for home defense. Its reputation of a body chopper is well earned.
Most of the pump shotguns out there can handle literally any weather/climate condition.they are made in every conceivable configuration.
If you had to have only one gun, a 12 gauge may be the only choice.
300 Remington Ultra Magnum
Where do I start?
150 gr. bullets handloaded to 3900 FPS??
180 gr. bullets handloaded to 3700 FPS??
That approaches elephant gun energy with 1500 yard accuracy. It screams performance. And muzzle blast. And recoil.
Maybe not the best round for the casual shooter; unless you handload, it will bankrupt you. The recoil is very strong and requires practice. But it's perfectly suited for your working-class gunner who wants incredible hunting and target potential but doesn't have thousands of dollars to spend on an exotic wildcat.
It is a killer: on you, the beast, or whatever you're shooting, but in the heat of the moment, you'll never feel the punishment. A cheap rock-chucker press will keep you in business. Most rifles chambered in 300 RUM are MOA shooters. Finally, having a true long range cannon is a hell of a lot of fun. Man up and get one!
This round shoots flat as a pancake but can really deliver the goods. It is completely versatile as both a varmint and deer-sized game gun.The report is awesome--very powerful, sure to rock you if you don't have ears on. However, recoil is quite mild.
It is also inherently--and deadly--accurate. It's well suited for long range target shooting. Savage has no problem producing MOA rifles chambered in .243 for less than 400 bucks, with a scope. I bought one for my wife and turned someone with mixed feelings about guns into a someone that loves to shoot.
Velocities range from 3000 FPS with 100+ grain bullets to 4000+ FPS with 55 grain bullets. That kind of hit is said to alter molecular structure. It's easy, fun, and cheap to handload. And it's just a hell of a lot of fun to shoot.
You can't talk about hunting and target shooting without mentioning the .22. It has probably blasted more squirrels, birds, woodchucks, coyotes, etc. than any other round, EVER.
Most all of us grew up with a .22 somewhere in the house. And we all shot the hell out of it.
My old man was a hardcore centerfire reloader, but he was old school. According to him, the .22LR is the most inherently accurate round ever developed, bar none. He would never waver.