In Search of . . . Hog Hunting Cartridge. And Gun.

I’ve been thinking that I’d like to add a bigger rifle to my collection. My future father in law has a close family friend with a ranch down in South Texas with a 1000 yard range and an endless supply of pigs. For a kid raised in the country, that is as close to a dowry as you can get. However, my little .243 just doesn’t have the stones to reach out past about 500 yards and I sure wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a little piggy at any distance beyond 100 yards. So, I feel justified in my need for a new gun to bring to the ranch . . .

If you haven’t spent some time playing with Winchester’s Ballistics Calculator, I highly recommend it. While it is not a replacement for field results or a more customizable calculator like the one from Knight Armament, it is still a pretty slick (and free!) tool to help you get your bearings on a ton of cartridge profiles.

I used it one evening to take a look at my four potential candidates. In no particular order, .25-06, .270, .30-06, and .308. I chose these for their diversity, general availability, and extensively studied characteristics. I modeled all of them on the Ballistic Silvertip Bullet that I have come to know and love. I made an effort to get the bullet weights as close as possible to each other. Your results might vary based on what size bullet you use. Here are my simulated shooting conditions.

I included .243 in as well to establish a baseline for what I use now. My 95 gr. .243 round leaves the barrel with 2025 ft-lbs of energy, but by 400 yards has dropped almost 19 inches below point of aim, has drifted a little more than 12 inches, and has just a touch more than 1022 ft-lbs of energy.

Taking a look at the three metrics for the four cartridges (click to expand), it becomes apparent that if you want to put holes in paper, .25-06 is a worthy contender. Given that .270 and .25-06 have .30-06 as either an inspiration or a parent case, their terminal performance should come as no surprise.

Line of Sight Drop

1.) 115 gr. .25-06 (18.6 inches)
2.) 130 gr. .270 (18.9 inches)
3.) 150 gr .30-06 (21.2 inches)
4.) 150 gr. .308 (22.8 inches)

Wind Deflection

1.) 115 gr. .25-06 (10.93 inches)
2.) 130 gr. .270 (11.37 inches)
3.) 150 gr .30-06 (12.16 inches)
4.) 150 gr. .308 (12.74 inches)

However, I am looking for a cartridge that will impart as much energy as possible to the target animal. And here we can see that .30-06 and .270 are within a few percentage points while .308 and .25.06 bring up distant third and fourth places.

Energy

1.) 150 gr .30-06 (1471.88 ft-lbs)
2.) 130 gr. .270 (1426.48 ft-lbs)
3.) 150 gr. .308 (1369.21 ft-lbs)
4.) 115 gr. .25-06 (1296.48 ft-lbs)

.270 has a lot going for it. Flat shooting, good wind resistance, decent downrange energy. In addition, .270 can be found in any gun shop, Wal-Mart, and bait & tackle place in the nation. It has been studied extensively and manufacturers have created a plethora of cartridges fitted for everything from varmint hunting to large game for use in .270. And if it was good enough for Jack O’Connor, it is good enough for me.

Now, to choose a rifle . . .

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About Tyler Kee

Tyler Kee is a small town kid trying to make it in the big city of Austin, TX. A salesman by day, he is an avid motorcyclist and aspiring chef out of the office.

34 Responses to In Search of . . . Hog Hunting Cartridge. And Gun.

  1. avatarRebecca says:

    Oh, I dunno… some years ago my FIL’s BIL was trying to kill a hog with a .22. He’d hit it in the forehead about 2-3 times, and only made it mad. I took the gun away from him and put one slug right between the hog’s eyes, dropping him right then and there.

    As we women keep telling you guys: it’s not the size of the tool, it’s the skill and capability of the person wielding it. ;)

    • avatarI_Like_Pie says:

      I have a springfield 15 that has killed hundreds of hogs at a pig farm. Drops them right into their slop bowl where they stand.

  2. avatarTravis Leibold says:

    .270 is a great choice for all around hunting of small to medium+ game. I tried to tell a friend to get one but he insisted that the 270 WSM was what he needed. Good bye $15 a box and hello $35 when you can find it…

    Being able to practice is important if you want to get good.

    • avatarOld Jarhead says:

      $35.00 a box looks great right now. I’m paying about $72.00 for Weatherby .270 magnum. I use the 140 grain BST rounds. But is is extremely accurate out to 500 yards. Where I normally hunt, a shot over 200 is rare, because of the brush.

      .30-06 is always a very acceptable alternative, and much cheaper to shoot. But for brush bustin’, I really like my Marlin 336 using the Hornady LeverEvolution.

    • avatarMark says:

      What about .260?

  3. I’ve shot my share of boar in the country that I come from, and outside. My suggestion if you are in thick cover (which pigs love to hide in during the day – that’s why they are difficult to find) then stalking close and hitting them on the left side with a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with slugs makes them go down fast. From longer ranges a 30-06 (which I have experience with) will help you reach the heart after breaking a shoulder from the far side. I’m sure the 270 and other rounds will work too, but there’s no fault with the 30-06 IMHO. :)

    Good hunting!

  4. avatarMike says:

    Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting another gun, but what is wrong with .243 for hunting?

    With a Berger 105gr hunting VLD conservatively going 2950fps or so (you can safely load them to ~3100fps or so), you will still have ~920 ft. lbs of energy at 600 yards. The hunting VLDs are proven killers; for more information check out their blog post. Many competitors successfully use .243 Win. to shoot out to 1000 yards. You will probably need an 1:8 twist barrel too. For 1:9 or 1:10, twist, their 95gr or 87gr hunting VLD work great, respectively.

    Another good hunting bullet for hogs is the Barnes (T-)TSX. The if you don’t reload, Federal Premium sells an loaded ammo with an 85gr TSX loaded to 3200fps, which will still have ~1050fps (per JBM) at 300 yards.

    My hog gun is a 20″ AR chambered in 6.8 SPC with 95gr Barnes TTSX loaded to 2950fps (29.5gr of RL-10x, Wolf SRM, SSA small primer brass). Honest sub-3/4 moa accuracy, low recoil, and deadly.

    BTW, JBM Ballistics is the most accurate ballistics calculator out there, and it’s free (it’s also the engine used in the Ballistics iOS apps). Plus it has a huge library of bullets with accurate BCs (e.g. many were determined experimentally by Bryan Litz for his book).

    • avatarI_Like_Pie says:

      Same here….the 6mm class of cartridges are excellent
      .243 is one of the most underrated, accurate, and versatile cartridges in the market today. For some reason they get a bad rap because people mysteriously see them as not potent enough (which is utter nonsense) – while at the same time singing the praises of cartridges of .308 (.243 is simply a necked .308 to take higher coefficient bullets)

  5. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    I’ll stick with my 700 grain T-REX ammo for the 500′s, because it’s advertised to take down any walking mammal. How much did that hog weigh?

  6. avatarBrad Kozak says:

    Speaking as a city boy, born and raised, and knowing my way around Photoshop, IS THAT THING REAL? WTH?! Holy Dinosaur, Batman, that looks like pig that swallowed a horse. Whole. Do you kill them or put saddles on them and break ‘em? Damn!

    • avatarJason says:

      I think that’s a visual trick where the person stands a ways back making the animal appear bigger by comparison.

      • avatarThomas says:

        Incorrect. That is a real pig, one of the ‘Hogzilla’ category. The boy in the picture shot it with a pistol. It was a 1051 lbs. Here is the article:

        http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,275524,00.html

        • avatarStephen H says:

          I think it’s a little bit of both. I’m not disputing the size of Hogzilla, but you can tell there’s a visual perspective trick going on too. Notice how the hog is in “soft focus” relative to the shooter.

          Also, for anyone unfamiliar with the story, Hogzilla was a farm raised pig named “Fred” who had been released into a canned-hunt environment four days earlier. It took the kid 3 hours and multiple wounding type shots to kill him. Not my type of hunting.

        • avatarBenjamin T. Shotzberger says:

          Eight wounding shots over the course of three hours – finished off by a ninth “point blank.” Very much agree Stephen – not my type either.

          Re: Hog guns – Pistol caliber carbines are a hell of a lot of fun at closer ranges.

    • avatarirock350 says:

      That picture is probably Photoshopped,however 300+ lbs boar are not entirely uncommon in Texas you can get a pretty good range of 150-300lbs feral hogs near the border. My hog gun is a 70′s era 30-30. Where I hunt I am almost entirely shooting in the brush, so I needed a short carbine with some oomf to it that I could take into the thicket with me. Most of the time I go hog hunting I either go with some good ole’ boys from Death Row,TX (Huntsville TX) or my with my father to our land near Midland TX. If I am with the Boys we take the dogs with us, and we have to run and gun. If I am with my Dad he likes to sit in the stand with his Remington 700 while I go off brush poppin’ to scare the game towards him. From my experience any anything in the .30caliber family should be able to knock em down, but make sure you walk up to the pig with you side arm loaded or another round chambered in your rifle, I have seen more than one pig get up and get one last gore in before becoming sausage.

  7. avatarJon Marler says:

    That Savage .270 with the AccuTrigger I have just keeps looking better and better, eh? After speaking to you last year, I did similar research, and came up with the same conclusion. Let me know if you want to head back out to the range and put some rounds downrange with my Savage. If you want a more “laboratory” experience, we can go to Red’s, or for a more “real life” type experience, we can head back out to that long distance range. If you remember, I was able to knock over the metal targets at 500 yards with the .270 where you’re .243 was unable to. That experience appears to support the data calculations you have made here.

    I am really enjoying your articles. Keep up the good work!

  8. avatarBob H says:

    I was amazed at the massive drop from the .308 with all weights. Is there a calculator that will allow you to add in muzzle velocity so you could calculate each manufacturers rounds?

    • avatarMike says:

      JBM. See my post above. All you need is the specific bullet used; if it’s in JBM’s library great, if not, just find out it’s BC from the mfr.

      To a rough approximation, all you really need to calculate drop and wind drift are BC and MV. The height of your scope’s centerline over the axis of the bore is helpful too. Of course, if you look at JBM, there are all sorts of other variables which will have an effect, many/most of which don’t really matter until you get out past 600yds.

  9. avatarBob H says:

    I wouldn’t want to shoot a hog the apparent size of the one in the pic with anything less than a .50BMG

  10. avatarChaz says:

    Remington’s Model Seven in 7mm-08 – a real undiscovered “sleeper.”

    “It is a grand cartridge which packs more than sufficient wallop to efficiently down all medium-sized big-game animals found in North America and elsewhere, and equally appealing, it is less expensive to shoot (ammo-wise) as compared to such popular big-game cartridges as the .30-06.”

    Also this: Justifying the 7mm-08

  11. avatarTexas Deputy says:

    Just to prove that I am crazy, I have been hunting local feral hogs with a muzzle loader!

    A co-worker owns a few hundred acres of bottom land – swamp – bogs near my home, and only allows black powder hunters, following some incidents with some slob hunters using center fire semi-autos who shot up the place. He found that smokepolers are much more careful, and generally better behaved. He wants to reduce the damage being done by the countless feral hogs who have pretty much taken over much of his land.

    I use my Thompson-Center .50 Hawken (percussion) loaded with self cast 370gr maxi-balls pushed by 80gr of FFg. According to the loading data, I am getting 1344fps and 1484 ft lbs at the muzzle. That big bore soft, pure lead conical has both energy and expansion, as it flattens like a Frisbee on impact and penetration. I had a debate with a .308 shooter about lethality; my projectile weighs more than double his 170gr SP load, and his perfectly expanded SP bullet is about the same diameter as my maxi ball at the muzzle. Terminal impact of a large bore, heavy, soft lead bullet is very effective.

    Regardless of caliber, a large hog that has not been instantly killed or incapacitated is a very dangerous animal, and I have seen first hand what those large, razor sharp tuskers can do to a dog, and when unhappy, these feral hogs like attacking the hunter! I carry my stainless .44 Ruger Old Army cap and ball (loaded with conicals) justin case a coup de grace is necessary, or the hog decides that he is not happy with me shooting at him!

    My hunting buddy welded a home-made bayonet stud on his muzzle, and mounted a modified WW1 vintage Springfield long bayonet to deal with a charging hog. I never saw him use it, but he claims that it works the same way that hunters of years past carried a pole-spear with a large cross piece such that the boar could not run up the pole and get the hunter.

    I have had the meat professionally processed and then donated to a local shelter to feed the hungry and needy, mostly because there is no way to Kosher feral hog and make my wife happy!

  12. avatarTony says:

    Got to love TX hogs. I’ve never had a shot much over 100 yds on one. I use a 165 gr rounds in my 30.06. I lay the crosshair right behind the ear and shatter the vertebrae. Doing that also gives me two good holes for the hog to bleed out. I tend to shoot 200 pounders for eating quality.

  13. avatarmiforest says:

    what an opportunity for you. I say we have a meet up there! I have a 30/06 and a 270. both are fantastic. there is a lot to be said with for staying with popular cartridges. Now buy a smoker and a good recipe book. nothing like home cured ham and bacon.

  14. avatarRocky says:

    I think 270 rocks. I like the savage

  15. avatarMatt in AZ says:

    Of the four calibers listed the .270 offers the best long-range performance hands down. There is a reason Jack O’Conner loved the .270. As far a terminal balistics on feral hogs, all of the calibers listed will do the job provided the shooter makes the shot. The .243 will also get it done, shoot a 95 gr. soft point in the vitals and tell me I’m wrong. My personal favorite for all around utility would be a 7mm Rem Mag in the 150 gr. varity with a 200 yd zero. So, yeah, buy that Savage in .270 and you will have mild recoil with a flat shooting bullet that will bring the thump at 400 or 500 yards. Keep us posted.

  16. avatarUncle Lar says:

    Personally, I’m partial to a Marlin 1894 .357 with 158 grain jacketed soft points for hogs. But then I’m shooting in brush at 75 yards or less.
    Y’all griping about ammo cost really need to consider reloading. A basic setup of tools with a single stage press can still be had for at or under $200 and you can turn out a couple hundred rounds of quality rifle ammunition in a single evening. And there’s a certain simple pleasure in taking a critter with a cartridge you built yourself. Kind of like muzzle loading in advance so to speak.

  17. avatarBrian says:

    I am building a .45-70 double rifle on a shotgun action just for piggies.

  18. avatarWildfire says:

    I wouldn’t want to rain on anyone’s chance to acquire a new rifle.
    But a few major points from the post and comments scream for address.

    You want a rifle for 1,000 yard shots: .338
    Reliable hits, on a moving, hog size target (most will be in the 200 pound range), with most calibers below that is, well, we’ll just call them “Obama promises”.

    The capabilities of a rifle means very little, if the shooter doesn’t have the marksmanship skills equal to the capabilities of the rifle.

    Can you consistently hit a 12” X 24” target at 1000 yards? 500 yards? 300 yards?
    Or is the stated 100 yards about it? Then you only need to worry about rifles that will do a clean kill at 100 yard range.

    As commenter Rebecca so eloquently stated: “As we women keep telling you guys: it’s not the size of the tool, it’s the skill and capability of the person wielding it.”

    It’s SHOT PLACEMENT that counts: A solid, well place hit with a .22 LR is much more effectual than an “I almost hit him!” with a .700 T-Rex.
    The man, who killed the most white tail deer of ANYONE I’ve ever known, getting 1-shot-kills, used a Winchester 1890 in .22 SHORT.

    2 years ago, my dad used a .17 HMR to kill 87 feral hogs in one year.
    Again, shot placement. Many say “Once you have hogs, you can never get rid of them”.
    Even putting out grain to “lure them up”, there has been no hog signs in the last 2 years.

    But don’t take the word of some unknown poster, telling stories of “years gone by”.
    Remember: Karamojo Bell killed over 1000 elephants with a .275 Rigby (7 mm Mauser, 7×57mm Mauser).

    On to the picture of “Hogzilla”.
    The picture was of a downed hog, about the size of a large standard size horse, taken beside an ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOY (100 pounds?). No other photographic “trickery” was really needed. Domestic hogs, while they can, aren’t usually allowed to attain this size because the sows tend to kill their pigs by laying on them, and boars aren’t good for breeding as they tend to injure the sows.
    This then leaves mostly barrows just kept as pets. (If they are aggressive in any manner, they’d be put down because of the danger a hog that size would be.)

    However, the photo clearly shows (by size, but hair and snout most significantly) that “Hogzilla” was a domestic hog (Fred), and NOT an Alabama feral hog.

    Behavior also indicates it was NOT an Alabama feral hog.
    While I can’t speak for other places, I’m quite familiar with Alabama feral hog.
    If you try for a head-shot on a domestic hog, and hit it without dropping him, you’ll have to REALLY work hard for a second head shot, because it will be trying to escape.
    On an Alabama feral hog, you won’t have much trouble trying for a second head shot, because the head will be facing you and the shot will be quickly available and it will be at a MUCH closer range!

    This means that had “Hogzilla” been an actual feral hog, and was wounded, little Jamie Stone would have been in a “World of Hurt”!

    Good luck on your rifle search.

  19. avatarPatrick says:

    .308′s the most efficient and affordable round concerning accuracy and price. .270 has some great ballistics, still responsibly priced. I have a Win Model 70 in .270 and it’s a handy rifle!

  20. Omfg, thank you very much for posting this! It is gonna help when I am thinking about going to Cinergy Midland in Fort Wayne! I am from Calgary so I am not familiar with Midland. Next time I see my family will be much better! Wonderful!

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