Over the last 50 years or so I have been fortunate and blessed to have hunted big game from Alaska to Africa and parts in between. During these hunts I have pursued and taken said game with everything from .22 Magnum (feral hogs only) to .458 Winchester Magnum.
I have written in the past of calibers many would now say have outlived their time to more modern-day cartridges that even now are “behind the times”.
The advent of new calibers seems to be at an all-time high. So much so that I cannot seem to keep up with all the new offerings. Even handgun cartridges are not immune to this constant drive towards newer and better ballistics.
In just the past few months, the .30 Super Carry came on the market for defensive handgun use. Sometimes these new offerings catch on and stay the course for years, and sometimes they fade away as fast as they began it seems.
Let’s take a look at two old and two new(er) rifle cartridges that I have personally used in the hunting field for big game.
First the old:
There can be little doubt the “aught six” as it was referred to in the past, has stood the harsh test of time and will continue to do so by all estimations.
The cartridge was also called “30 Govt’ 06” by Winchester and was adopted by the US Army in 1906, hence the 06 designation. It is 116 years old to give you some indication of its vitality and is still in use today worldwide as both a hunting and military caliber.
I have taken mule deer, pronghorn, elk, oryx (gemsbuck), barbary sheep (aoudad), hartebeest, waterbuck and zebra with the 30-06 Winchester. I don’t believe it will be going anywhere anytime soon and is the one cartridge I feel you can hunt successfully anywhere in the world with and for any game, like I just did on my Barbary Sheep hunt.
Introduced in 1925 along with the Winchester Model 54 bolt action rifle under the name “270 WCF” (270 Winchester Centerfire), the .270 Winchester was not an immediate success due to the popularity of the then, relatively recent introduction of the .30-06 Springfield.
The .270 Winchester was developed solely as a big game hunting cartridge and became very popular, in part, due to the writings of the well-known Jack O’Connor who used the cartridge for 40 years and praised its merits in the pages of Outdoor Life.
Hunters started noticing that the .270 Winchester caliber cartridge was capable of shooting flatter than the popular 30–06, thereby making it of great interest to the hunting community. In my book the .270 has proven itself, much like the 30-06 and will be around for years to come.
Big game I have taken with the .270 includes, mule deer, white-tail deer, elk, black bear, bighorn sheep, caribou and pronghorn. I hope to take the .270 to Africa in the next year or two for plains game.
Now for the new:
The 6.5mm Creedmoor, most often referred to as 6.5 Creedmoor was designed specifically in 2007 by Hornady for long range target shooting. Actual production began in 2008 and since has gained in popularity as a big game cartridge.
To put it in perspective, the 30-06 has been around over 100 years longer than the 6.5 Creedmoor.
Because of its overall length of 2.825 inches, the Creedmoor can chamber in short action rifles and has seen increased use by the military specifically for engagements out to 1200 yards.
I have used this cartridge in the field only for deer and pronghorn but found it so far to perform admirably.
Having utilized three different makes and models of 6.5 Creedmoor rifles I have discovered that I can always find a factory load that will group sub 1MOA which is an added advantage in the hunting field for those longer shots.
The .375 Ruger is a standard-length, rimless rifle cartridge. The original intent was for the hunting of large dangerous game. It is designed to provide an increase in performance over the .375 H&H magnum, but allows to be chambered in a standard-length action rifle.
The cartridge was built in partnership, by Hornady and Ruger in 2007.
My personal experience with the .375 Ruger has been hunting Oryx (Gemsbuck) in southern New Mexico. I have taken two of these tough African antelope (400-500 pounds) with this cartridge and I can attest that it performed wonderfully.
I must admit that for years I was hesitant to stray from the old and proven hunting cartridges that have been around for so many decades. But now I must also admit that trying newer cartridges has been both enjoyable and rewarding.
After all, it’s the constant and ongoing development of new calibers that keeps the shooting, defensive, and hunting world alive and moving forward.
We recommend Lucky Gunner for all you ammo needs.