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  #1  
Old 11-09-2012, 9:14 AM
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Default Best all around caliber for bolt action rifle?

So I'm thinking of picking up something larger than the .223 turnbolt I have but am not sure what caliber to go with. I know .308 is a good all around round but is it the best?

My criteria is to find the caliber with the best balance between three factors.
Accuracy at long range.
Impact/power at long range.
Readily available from a widespread selection of sources.

I know the question will be asked, 'What does long range mean'.
Well, my understanding is that 5.56/.223 is effective out to 300 yards so I'm looking for out to 800+.

So is .308 the best blend of all three criteria or is there a better caliber choice?
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  #2  
Old 11-09-2012, 9:20 AM
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308 is decent, but there are several calibers that will perform better at long range while still being readily available. The top two that come to mind are the 260 Remington and the 7mm08, both based on the case from the 308. The slimmer profile bullets of these two calibers have much better ballistic coefficients than their 308 counterpart, allowing them to retain energy and velocity better over long distances.
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  #3  
Old 11-09-2012, 9:20 AM
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.308 Winchester.
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Old 11-09-2012, 9:22 AM
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While 308 doesn't have the best BC... the availability of ammo, barrels, fully built rifles, support, training... all catered to the 308, really makes that aspect shine.

If 800 is where you're pushing out to, 308 will serve you fine.

And in all honesty, match ammo costs almost the same when you compare 223 and 308, so might as well go with the bigger round that actually allows you to see the splash on steel and can stand up better to the wind.
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Old 11-09-2012, 9:23 AM
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308, same bullet has 30.06 and 300 AAC blackout. You wouldn't have to but different types of bullets if you're reloading 308 or 30.06.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kestryll View Post
...
Accuracy at long range.
Impact/power at long range.
...
Well, my understanding is that 5.56/.223 is effective out to 300 yards so I'm looking for out to 800+.

So is .308 the best blend of all three criteria or is there a better caliber choice?
That is a though equation and the answer is most likely not an .308
- Competition accuracy and impact power at 800+ would limit the choices and I'm interested to see what suggestions you get.

- My next rifle will likely be a 6mm for LR paper punching. To punch more than paper, you would probably need to look at a long action or short magnum for 6.5 or 7mm; maybe 6.5x55, 7RSAUM, 7-08.
my 2c.
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Old 11-09-2012, 11:56 AM
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Though a std. 1x9" twist (maybe heavy barrel) .223 with 75 VLD or 77 sierra wil get you out to 600/800 yards.

I would say a .243 Win.with a factory 24" std. non custom rifle/barrel shooting 100 grain boatails or 95 grain bergers (JLK's and others mfg's.) gives you better ballistic bullets out to 800 and maybe 1000 yards? Cost could be approx around $800 with decent scope maybe $100 less in a used (savage/win/remington/winchester) rifle. I recently saw a limited production Winchester StStl med heavy wt. barrel marksman (prone) stock NOS rifle (for $600) down at "Eddy's sporting goods shop in mountain view that would be a better starter rifle for longer range.

In a custom rifle there are a bunch of 6mm/6.5mm that offer you a 10-30% jump in batllistics/accuracy but are mostly handload propositions and you are now talking 2-4 time std. rifle cost increase.
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Old 11-09-2012, 12:02 PM
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I bought the 308 because it's very common, very accurate, is on the cheaper end, can be used to hunt most anything in North America, and is NATO-compatible.
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Old 11-09-2012, 12:05 PM
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I think 6.5 variants are smarter as a one-size fits all bolt gun, for shooting inside of 1000m. They tend not to kick as much as .308WIN, and while that's not a big deal for most shooters, I still see a lot of people getting into precision rifles and having a hard time moving up from .223. You can shoot the light 100-ish gr bullets for benchrest style precision inside of 250m. You can also shoot the heavier 139gr bullets out to 1000m easy. All of which will give .308WIN a run for its money.

That said, it's hard to beat the ubiquitousness of the .308WIN - everything for it is available in volume and variation.
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  #10  
Old 11-09-2012, 12:06 PM
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I would say that the .308 is best for YOU given your criteria. It won't beat you up like a 300 WM, you can shoot to 800+ yards, it is great for hunting, and you can find it anywhere.

Now if you reload, then I would suggest a .260 or a 7-08. The problem is that ammo selection isn't as vast and common with those calibers compared to .308.
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  #11  
Old 11-09-2012, 12:07 PM
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7.62x54R

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  #12  
Old 11-09-2012, 12:36 PM
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308 is ok.
But if you are serious, go with the 300wm and learn to reload.
308 is a millitary caliber and with the way things are going, might be unavailable. However 300wm uses the same bullets as 308 and if you reload, you can get anywhere from cheap plinking rounds to very accurate long range rounds for the same price.
If you wan a semiauto you can get a Browning BAR in 300wm and it will last you a lifetime.
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  #13  
Old 11-09-2012, 12:47 PM
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I guess I should clarify usage.
I'm not much of a 'competitor' so any bench rest shooting would be mostly by myself or with friends for enjoyment.
I'm not much of a hunter though I might go up to my in-law's ranch and help thin out the coyotes that prey on their chickens and other livestock.

Mostly what I want to be able to do is go up to the ranch, prone out on a rock or hill top and do some target shooting down in to the valley or across to the other hill with my BiL. A little fun, a little friendly 'competition' and some bragging rights if I hit and he doesn't.

If I'm going to own a rifle that can reach that far I want one that can stop someone/something from that far otherwise it's just a plinker and I've got those.
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  #14  
Old 11-09-2012, 12:58 PM
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Historically, 30-06 is the traditional all around caliber. It can take down all game in North America, it's common, and pretty accurate. It's also "relatively" inexpensive.

As a second choice, I'd also vote for .308 Win.
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Old 11-09-2012, 1:04 PM
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.308 Winchester
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Old 11-09-2012, 1:08 PM
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I had some of the same criteria that you do, and I chose the .243 Win. I am set up to reload it, but I can buy ammo almost anywhere. It has a good range of bullet weights, and I can use it for varmints or target shooting.

A 30-06 would blow a varmint away, if you wanted to preserve any of it. Would be fine for pure extermination. I have one of those also, but it doesn't get shot all that much. Plus my wife can shoot the .243 which is a plus for me.
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Old 11-09-2012, 1:26 PM
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.338lm. i love shooting my buddy's savage in .338.
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Old 11-09-2012, 1:34 PM
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For cheap ammo, 7.62*54r is about as cheap as you can get with some long range potential.

7.62*51 and .30-06 used to have decent surplus ammo cheap.

If you are going to buy factory ammo or reload, my 6.5*55 Swede is quite accurate, hopefully my 6.5 Creedmoor will be accurate (and it is cheaper than .308 when you compare similar Hornady loads) and .308 is ubiquitously available but not the greatest in terms of really long range ballistics.

Then there is .510 DTC, .338 Lapua Magnum and a bunch of other long distance specialists.
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Old 11-09-2012, 1:51 PM
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.308w or 30-06
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Old 11-09-2012, 1:56 PM
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.270 or 30.06

Simple as that.
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Old 11-09-2012, 2:00 PM
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.308win is a good place to start as other said. Both in the sheer amount and variety of loads, tons of data, tons of selections of parts, and price to shoot. Not a bad place to step into. Sure there are other calibers with some better characteristics for precision shooting, but based on your immediate needs - why not?
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Old 11-09-2012, 2:07 PM
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I don't think you will find anything more available than 308 on the shelves. I actually don't like the 308 much. There are some much better long range rounds that don't beat up your shoulder. I think the rem 260 is an amazing cartridge with the perfect blend of long range accuracy and power. Its not on every shelf though so your best bet is to order online or reload. My next pick would be the 243 which you can almost always find.
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Old 11-09-2012, 5:05 PM
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I have a .308 and am extremely happy with it out to 800 yards. Past that accuracy was very inconsistent. I want to get an R700p in 300wm as my further distance rifle if I can't swing a .338 lapua. It sounds like you want a fun plinking rifle for longer range. I think the .308 fits your bill nicely. 800 yards is a long way and with the right ammo you can go further.
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Old 11-09-2012, 5:56 PM
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If I had a choice either a 6.5 creedmore or the 6.5 lapua.
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Old 11-09-2012, 6:13 PM
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243. Flatter trajectory past 800 than 308, less recoil, easy to get ammo and components.
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Old 11-09-2012, 6:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kestryll View Post
I guess I should clarify usage.
I'm not much of a 'competitor' so any bench rest shooting would be mostly by myself or with friends for enjoyment.
I'm not much of a hunter though I might go up to my in-law's ranch and help thin out the coyotes that prey on their chickens and other livestock.

Mostly what I want to be able to do is go up to the ranch, prone out on a rock or hill top and do some target shooting down in to the valley or across to the other hill with my BiL. A little fun, a little friendly 'competition' and some bragging rights if I hit and he doesn't.

If I'm going to own a rifle that can reach that far I want one that can stop someone/something from that far otherwise it's just a plinker and I've got those.
If you don't reload I'd say the only real choice is 308 Winchester or on the lighter side a 243 Winchester. There are many other calibers that are better for longer range shooting but unless you reload they're not all that easy to find or are markedly more expensive.

Just to toss out a few, the 25.06 has excellent longer range abilities, as does the 260 Remington and 6.5 Creedmoor. The 7-08 is a good choice too. I have a Winchester 1885 in 7 WSM and it's not only very accurate but is compact and has just enough wallop to it.

Last edited by dfletcher; 11-09-2012 at 6:23 PM..
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Old 11-09-2012, 6:16 PM
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Quote:
Well, my understanding is that 5.56/.223 is effective out to 300 yards so I'm looking for out to 800+.
Sorry but that is just totally wrong.

Completely. If you really want to shoot long range, then you will reload. And throw out 90% of that posted above. .223 is reloaded and is effective out to way way way way past 300 yards.

I saw US service forces shooting .223 with irons at 600 yards ??

Where do people get this misinformation ?

.223 is also used, albeit by skilled reloaders and shooters, at 1,000 yards.

I know this hurts but this the wrong Forum to ask this question.

The typical AR-15 shooting junk surplus ammo is another animal completely. You already have a Bolt gun. Forget surplus or even store bought ammo.

Try Accurate shooters or Benchrest central.
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Old 11-09-2012, 6:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flouncer View Post
Sorry but that is just totally wrong.

Completely. If you really want to shoot long range, then you will reload. And throw out 90% of that posted above. .223 is reloaded and is effective out to way way way way past 300 yards.

I saw US service forces shooting .223 with irons at 600 yards ??

Where do people get this misinformation ?

.223 is also used, albeit by skilled reloaders and shooters, at 1,000 yards.

I know this hurts but this the wrong Forum to ask this question.

The typical AR-15 shooting junk surplus ammo is another animal completely. You already have a Bolt gun. Forget surplus or even store bought ammo.

Try Accurate shooters or Benchrest central.
This write up is what I based the 300 yard figure on:

http://www.snipercentral.com/223.htm
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Old 11-09-2012, 6:32 PM
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308 or 243. I prefer 243 over 308. Varmints to deer a 243 is hard to beat if you want to hunt, flatter trajectory and less kick than a 308 for target shooting.
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Old 11-09-2012, 6:49 PM
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http://www.caprc.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=34

Reload or factory ammo only is probably the biggest factor...
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Old 11-09-2012, 7:07 PM
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Quote:
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Historically, 30-06 is the traditional all around caliber...
Yeah it is.
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  #32  
Old 11-09-2012, 7:10 PM
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You kinda need to decide what you will be shooting at to make the best decision. The .308 or .50 BMG (banned in CA of course) are the only ones that covers all the things you posted. The .30-06 would also be a good choice & you could use the USN chamber adapter to fire .308 in it if .30-06 ammo got scarce. If you hand load you can make .30-06 loads that have much more power than the .308 due to the longer case. If you want to do that make sure you have a strong action that can handle magnum power rounds. IMO, it always best to stick with a round that is in current military use. The .308 & .50 BMG will be in military use for a very long time. Generally obsolete military rounds fall out of civilian popularity due to cheap surplus ammo drying up. The .30-40 Krag, 7/8mm Mauser, .303 British, etc are good examples of once popular ex-military rounds. The .30-06 has been an notable exception to that in the US. Sporting/hunting/wildcat rounds can be very trendy & most don't remain popular or easily obtainable in the long run. There are hundreds of once popular, but now forgotten & unused rounds.
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Old 11-09-2012, 8:07 PM
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If you are not reloading, the best match to your requirements is .308 win. Plenty of factory rifles and factory ammo that will do what you want.
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Old 11-09-2012, 8:18 PM
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Since you don't reload, I would say 7mm REM MAG.

If you did reload ... I would not hesitate to say 6.5x45 Lapua.
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Old 11-09-2012, 8:24 PM
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Quote:
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243. Flatter trajectory past 800 than 308, less recoil, easy to get ammo and components.
+ 1 for .243
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Old 11-09-2012, 8:31 PM
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is it for hunting or just shooting long range targets?
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Old 11-09-2012, 8:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ufcfan83 View Post
.308w or 30-06
There is just so much load data and components are just so readily available that there really is not much other choice than 30-06 or .308 win.

6BR if you wanted to be all tack driver @ intermediate to long range.
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Old 11-09-2012, 8:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kestryll View Post
This write up is what I based the 300 yard figure on:

http://www.snipercentral.com/223.htm

I think some of the data in that write up may be a bit outdated, but overall I agree with the majority of it concerning the use of the .223 for a LE sniper rifle application. Past 300 yards I would want a more substantial caliber for sniping.

In a military sniping role, the .223 does have some merit, as instant incapacitation is not as much of an issue for military snipers, especially with a semi auto platform. To my knowledge, the MK 12 SPR is the only military sniper rifle chambered in 5.56. There are other accurized variants of the M-16 in service, such as the Marines SAM-R and Army SDM-R, but these are more intended for use as a designated marksman platform rather than a true sniper rifle. The difference being that the suppressed MK 12 is designed for firing on distant targets from a concealed position in an offensive role, while the SDM-R and SAM-R are designed more for a more defenseive role, returning fire towards a distant enemy position when being ambushed or fired upon. In either case, there are documented reports of the MK 12 and SDM-R rifles being used to effectively engage and nuetralize targets out to 700+ yards using the 77 grain OTM MK 262 ammunition.

In my own rifles, I've been able to shoot a clone load of the MK 262 ammo out to 780 yards. It's impact on steel at that distance is pretty faint however. Even with the heavier bullet, it certainly isn't carrying a great deal of energy past about 500 yards. Shooting that distance is also very challenging with the 5.56. Environmental conditions have a very large influence on the 5.56 bullet when compared to heavier 6.5 and 7.62 caliber projectiles. On windy days, I'll normally just leave the AR-15's in the Jeep and shoot the 308 rifles.

The 308 is a much easier round to shoot at a distance. Anything under 10 mph wind, and 700-800 yard shots are kind of a non-event for the 308. Once you push out to 850+ it becomes more of a challenge depending on bullet type. At ranges out to 1000 yards, the best option for factory ammo is going to be Federal GMM or Black Hills loaded with the 175 Sierra HPBT. Hornady Superformance with the 178 HPBT is also a good option, as it has a slightly higher BC than the 175 Sierra.
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  #39  
Old 11-09-2012, 9:27 PM
sigstroker sigstroker is offline
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7mm Mag if you want the knockdown power you mentioned in the OP, .243 if not.
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Old 11-10-2012, 7:16 AM
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IF off the shelf ammo variety and availability is one of the criterion then .308 is a no brainer. Choose on of the 6.5s or a .260 if you care to reload.
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