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  #1  
Old 08-04-2022, 9:14 PM
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Default Ideal Deer Cartridge For CA

Based on our terrain here in northern California, what would you say is the ideal rifle cartridge for deer hunting? On average, how far are you shooting? For example, in the north east USA, I've heard that 100 yards is a long shot. Based on that information, there's no need for anything larger than a .30-30 Winchester. My definition for ideal would be something without excessive recoil, that doesn't damage too much meat, but will make an efficient kill on game with a well placed shot within the given average expected distance.

The reason for this post is to gather knowledge from the more experienced for the new guys. A lot of new guys tend to go over kill or buy a jack of all trades type of gun when they wont ever need that capability. In my opinion, it's better to have dedicated rifle for the type of game. If you want a deer rifle but plan on hunting elk in the future too, just buy a new rifle for the elk hunt. If you can afford an elk hunt, you can afford a new rifle.

My opinion: .243 Win, .25-06, 6.5 Creedmoor/swede, 7mm-08 or 7mm mauser, .30-30, maybe .308 win, maybe .270 win
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Old 08-04-2022, 11:02 PM
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All of those would be fine with the .243 maybe less so in brushy country and the .30-30 at a disadvantage where a 200 yd. shot might happen.

With copper bullet requirements none is going to damage as much meat as with lead.

My choice is the Swede and satisfied it has no shortcoming on either end I can obsess over the other bits of gear.
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Old 08-05-2022, 12:38 AM
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.270 Winchester does it all. I have whacked a bunch of hogs with it.
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Old 08-05-2022, 3:13 AM
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A caliber that has non lead ammo readily available. .243, any 30 cal. 270.
I handload so ammo no issue for me. I shoot 6.8 spc for hogs and deer. Also have .308, 30/06 amd .300 win mag for bigger game.
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Old 08-05-2022, 4:19 AM
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Been hunting with my marlin 45-70 for years with a 1.5-5x leupold mounted on, at 250 yds no problem. If its past 250, I'll get closer. No tracking no meat damage.
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Old 08-05-2022, 5:21 AM
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The one you can find ammo for and shoot straight out to 300 yards.
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Old 08-05-2022, 5:37 AM
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7.62x39 CZ527 would be worth consideration as well.
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Old 08-05-2022, 5:45 AM
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.243 win will do, I am getting 7mm-08 as dedicated deer rifle.
.270 win is excessive recoil.


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Old 08-05-2022, 6:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoadedM333 View Post
.243 win will do, I am getting 7mm-08 as dedicated deer rifle.
.270 win is excessive recoil.


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My .308 Winchester had more perceived recoil than my .270 Winchester. However things like fit and recoil pads make a difference. I sold the 308 and kept the 270. My 270 is a pleasure to shoot.
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Old 08-05-2022, 6:29 AM
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I’m a big 30-06 fan for deer.

BUT

I will concede that the 6.5 CM is right for deer.
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Old 08-05-2022, 6:39 AM
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If I was buying a rifle today, it would be the caliber that has ammo readily available. From my observations that is either a .243 or .270.
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Old 08-05-2022, 6:40 AM
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OP, first off, there is no overkill in hunting, they can never be too dead. So shoot what is the biggest caliber/cartridge rifle you can shoot accurately whilst not becoming recoil shy. As far as meat damage, it depends where they are hit and whether bone was hit. You will have enough meat, and likely only damage shoulder/rib meat, so no worries. Most shooters can handle anything up to .308. Your 30/30 is a fine choice however there are new cartridges shooting spitzer bullets that will get better downrange performance if you ever need that, also the bolt actions are generally considered the favored action for new modern hunting rifles for a few reasons(a whole other discussion) So I would say .308, or if you are concerned with recoil then 7mm-08, or .243. All these are short action (.308 family) so your rifle will be a tad bit shorter and lighter. However, if you can find a good used 30-06, .270, or 25-06 they are basically the (30-06 family) long action versions of what I first recommended.

Last edited by theduracellbigd; 08-05-2022 at 7:13 AM..
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Old 08-05-2022, 7:45 AM
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A .300 Win mag is never the wrong choice, but of course it's more of an elk cartridge. I'd say any of the calibers between a 6.5 mm and 7mm are quite well balanced for deer and shoot high BC bullets. So: 6.5cm, .260 Remington, .270, 6.8 western, 7mm-08, .280 AI, 7mag.
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Old 08-05-2022, 8:13 AM
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270 with 5 in the mag is hard to beat.
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Old 08-05-2022, 9:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoadedM333 View Post
.243 win will do, I am getting 7mm-08 as dedicated deer rifle.
.270 win is excessive recoil.


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Excessive recoil??? You better double check to see if you don't own a 30-06. .270 has a mild recoil.
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Old 08-05-2022, 9:28 AM
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All the calibers you mentioned will work and have been proven to take game. I'm in the bay area and I see 308 non lead more in stock and bass pro or sportsman's compared to other calibers. I have been using 308 btw but If you can order online then I would suggest 6.5cm,243 or 7mm-08 are lighter recoil compared to 308 especially If you going for alpine light weight setup with thinner #1 barrel contour/lightweight stock.
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Old 08-05-2022, 9:35 AM
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any but 243 for me. I am using a 338Fed now with 160gr Barnes TTSX bullets. I like the bit more frontal area.
Much of it depends on the shooter and bullet used
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Old 08-05-2022, 9:46 AM
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308

Anywhere in North America.
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Old 08-05-2022, 4:41 PM
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.270 has always worked for me on CA deer and hogs if I do my part.
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Old 08-05-2022, 4:42 PM
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.223 🤷🏻*♂️
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Old 08-05-2022, 5:56 PM
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.270 Win, .308 Win is all you need. Heck, my 7x57 Mauser[Ruger] worked just fine.

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Old 08-05-2022, 6:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oneaudiopro View Post
Excessive recoil??? You better double check to see if you don't own a 30-06. .270 has a mild recoil.

I was actually basing on the calibers OP listed.

I owned 30-06 as well as .300 win mag, I’m very well aware of the recoil of 06 but it’s mild in comparison to my .300 win mag if you must know.


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Old 08-05-2022, 6:30 PM
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.270 but I would favor the 6.5 prc now.

That said, I would push back on your idea of a different rifle for each type of game. 1 or 2 quality rifles that you know cold is better than having a safe full that you may not be 100% competent with.

My .270 has worked great on elk, deer, pigs, javelina, coyotes.
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Old 08-05-2022, 6:34 PM
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Most of my hunting has been with a .30-06 and I've shot everything from springbok to kudu with it.

For deer, you don't want to use anything smaller than a 6mm/.243. Friends of mine have shot lots of deer with .300s, including the smallish sitka blacktails. Anything in between those two calibers will get the job done, although I would personally not use a .30-30 because I'm under the impression that it's not really suitable for shots beyond about 125 yards.

I also don't think it makes a whole lot of sense to get a different rifle for each kind of game you want to hunt. If you think you might want to hunt elk, bear or larger African plains game, then get a .270, .308, .30-06 or .300 and be done with it. If you plan on sticking with deer, pronghorn and similarly sized game, a smaller caliber rifle will be fine. Unlike wrenches or screwdrivers, one rifle can be used on a variety of critters.


In addition to the '06 I have a couple of .223s and a .243 that I use for practice. I had originally thought I'd get the .243 for coyotes and the .223 for squirrels and larger rodents but I would have been ahead not buying the .243 and loading more ammunition for the .30-06 instead.
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Old 08-05-2022, 7:27 PM
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I’m a believer in the 7mm-08. Basically a .308 casing shooting a 7mm bullet. Coyotes, deer, hogs, elk…..it can do it all.
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Old 08-05-2022, 7:39 PM
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What have you used or shot before?
I have 223,76239,30/30,6.5 CM, 270,308, 30-06 that I would use for deer.
My main deer gun is 270 but 6.5 is for my daughter and my back up.
My youngest shoots 223 and 76239.
In Cali With mono bullets requirements, go with the 6.5, 270, or 308. They will all work on elk later.
7-08 would be on top of my list if you re load.
Scope vx3i 3.5-10 with CDS to keep it stupid simple
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Old 08-05-2022, 7:45 PM
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.257 Bob hands down.


Richard
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Old 08-05-2022, 8:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hntnnut View Post
.257 Bob hands down.


Richard
I deeply regret selling the one I built on a Mauser 98 action in the 80’s. 😭
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Old 08-05-2022, 8:51 PM
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I have used a 30-06 for years for everything from hogs to deer to coyotes,etc. It has taken two nice X zone bucks easily and cleanly.

When I bought it I was a young Dad in the Air Force and could only afford one rifle. I found a nice pre-64 Winchester model 70 feather weight. I mounted an old Leupold on it.

That rifle shoots MOA or near MOA with almost every factory round I ever tried in it. It is the easiset rifle I own to handload for. Everything works! From 110 gr to 220 gr.

I was still on active duty when I bought it and there was a chance we would get stationed in Alaska so I wanted a potential moose rifle.

I never made it to Alaska and have only hunted here in California. If I had it to do over again I would have bought a 7x57 or even a 243.

Also, the question of ammo is very pertinent. If you don't handload then you should probably stay away from the exotic calibers. My son has a Ruger American Ranch in 7.62x39 and it is an accurate rifle capable of taking anything you will see around here. And ammo used to be abundant.

Last edited by sghart; 08-05-2022 at 8:54 PM..
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Old 08-06-2022, 6:52 AM
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I vote .308 because it works fine in a 20” barrel and has tons of different bullet choices. So much nicer carrying a 20” barrel around. I’d say the portability is more important than the cartridge. Anything over .243 is fine so I might as well choose one that’s compact. I also like the 6.8spc for the same reason. That’s my go to for hogs.
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Old 08-06-2022, 11:08 PM
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Another .25 Bob Lover.
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Old 08-06-2022, 11:50 PM
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A close friend of mine bumped into a large black bear while hunting deer right here in the mountains of Southern California. I guess it really left an impression on him. Later he said he'd never go hunting again with anything smaller than a .30-06.
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Old 08-07-2022, 1:47 PM
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243 works fine. 308 does too. And lots in between.
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Old 08-07-2022, 2:36 PM
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7mm-08 or .308
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Old 08-07-2022, 3:14 PM
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I have seen deer killed cleanly with one shot from a .22 LR. I killed my first deer with one shot from a Mini-14 in .223. I have rifles chambered for cartidges from .17 HMR to .458 Lott, and much of what is in between.
However, my goto hunting rifle is a LH Savage 110 in 30-06. The recoil is not a factor and it will cleanly kill almost anything in the lower 48.
Out of more than 60 rifles, the Savage 06 is the rifle most likely to go hunting.
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Old 08-07-2022, 4:18 PM
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I’ll vote 25-06. Long distance, short distance it’s good to go. Recoil is a non issue.
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Old 08-07-2022, 6:34 PM
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I have a .243 and .270. I’d probably grab my .270 for a deer hunt. I haven’t hunted deer though. .270 has done a great job on pigs. There is more recoil with the .270 but it’s not too bad.
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Old 08-07-2022, 6:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishfisher View Post
The one you can find ammo for and shoot straight out to 300 yards.
OP, this is the best advice you’re going to find on this thread.
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Old 08-07-2022, 7:17 PM
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Since we have to use non lead in California, it’s probably going to be copper. In my experience that copper needs to be moving fast. 243 doesn’t cut it. My favorite is 7-08 traveling at about 3,000 ft / sec. One shot and done on 4 pigs so far.

Using a .444 Marlin with copper didn’t stop a 200 pound pig never to be seen again
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Old 08-07-2022, 8:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kokopelli View Post
I deeply regret selling the one I built on a Mauser 98 action in the 80’s. 😭
A few years ago Ruger had a limited run of 100 in their model 77 so I tracked one down for my wife. She jumps back a forth between that and her .300WSM but anyways she has wacked a bunch of deer and antelope with ber bob pushing the Barnes 85 gr TTSXs.

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