As most know, it was Jack O’Connor and his exploits with this cartridge that endeared it to American hunters.
My first .270 was the first “other” caliber rifle I bought after my .30-06. With it I have killed several wild boar, more deer and pronghorn than I care to count, a couple of caribou and, yes, elk. The .270 Winchester is a very capable elk cartridge. What makes the .270 Winchester great is its combination of flat trajectory and mild recoil. A 130- to 140-grain bullet at 3100 fps placed in the heart-lung area of a game animal means a punched tag. The .270 is pleasant to shoot and easy to hit with, which probably has a lot to do with why you seldom see a used .270 Winchester in a gun store. Thems that buys ’em, keeps ’em.
7mm Remington Magnum
As with most of the all-around cartridges listed here, the purpose of the 7mm Remington Mag. was to improve on the .30-06—more velocity for a flatter trajectory and greater killing power and more-or-less the same recoil. Big 7 delivered. For several years after its introduction the demand for a Model 700 in 7mm Remington Mag. outstripped the company’s ability to produce it. Today it remains as popular as ever. Several of my shooting buddies here in Wyoming swear by their 7 Mags and will not shoot anything else.
Where Big 7 really shines is with those relatively heavy-for-caliber bullets, from 160 grains on up. Drop 72 grains of MagPro behind a 160-grain Nosler Partition or AccuBond, and you’ll send those high-BC bullets out the muzzle at 3077 fps. Need even more punch? Try 62.5 grains of RL22 behind a 175-grain Nosler Partition for 2970 fps. Though the 7mm Remington Magnum would not be my first choice as a bear gun, either of these loads would suit me fine if I were to take one to Alaska.
If there was just one truly all-around cartridge—one that could handle everything from prairie dogs to Cape buffalo with relative efficiency—it would have to be the .30-06. Stoke it with 110- to 130-grain bullets, and while it may not be the most economical prairie dog puncher, it will do a passable job and not beat you up over a day of shooting. Think I’m full of bull saying the old ’06 is a buff rifle? Talk to fellow scribe and now African PH Sam Fadala. Sam dumped an old mbogo with a single 220-grain bullet out of an ’06 about three years ago.
About the only flies on the .30-06 is that it is old—103 years old to be exact. Some guys are just bored with it. Others cannot warm up to its centennial legacy; they have to have the newest and coolest. It still has me beat by a few decades, but as one who is getting long of tooth, perhaps I identify more closely with the ’06 than I might with other cartridges. You simply cannot go wrong buying a .30-06.
.300 Winchester Magnum
My experience with the .300 Winchester Magnum includes several wild pigs, a couple of deer and a pronghorn. Trajectory is clearly flatter than the ’06, and—no surprise—critters hit with the big .300 get slapped down with authority. If all you have ever shot has been an ’06, it will take some time to learn how to shoot the .300 Winchester Mag. effectively, but it is by no means abusive given a rifle of reasonable weight and a well-designed stock. Like the other magnum cartridges, it needs a 26-inch barrel to get the advertised velocity and energy. Brush busters may find that barrel length a bit awkward, but up in the treestand overlooking a bean field barrel length isn’t an issue. Hitting the deer at 300-plus yards is, and that’s where the big .300 shines.
.375 H&H Magnum
Firing bullets nearly twice as heavy as the .30-06 at nearly the same velocity, the .375’s downrange trajectory is the same as the lighter cartridge. For the hunter going to Africa, that means he or she can have a reasonable chance of nailing an impala at 300 yards as well has having the power to stop a Cape buffalo at 300 inches.
It has been said by many that the .375 H&H Magnum is the one truly all-around cartridge for hunting anywhere in the world. Given the size and variety of game that encompasses, I’d have a hard time arguing the contention despite my longtime love of the .30-06.