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By Eric J.

As someone who’s only recent stumbled into the world of hunting with a centerfire rifle, I thought I’d offer my observations on what is apparently an ideal hunting rifle, from the perspective of an outsider reading fora and online gun rags . . .


1) It must shoot sub-MOA

If it can’t shoot sub-MOA, you may as well be using an unloaded blunderbuss. Fortunately, every single sponsor’s gun ever reviewed by an editor at a firearms magazine has shot under 1 MOA, regardless of conditions and clearly has the capability to do yet better under ideal conditions.

2) Magnum is the new minimum

It’s unfortunate that we live in a world of steel deer and elk with reactive armor, but it is what it is, and old standards like the .30-06 just aren’t cutting it anymore. And don’t even get me started on the .243 winchester, and how it just ticks whitetails off.

3) A newer cartridge is a better cartridge

Most folks drive recent cars, use recently designed golf clubs, etc. So why would anyone want to use some rifle cartridge designed in 1895? .30-30: don’t you realize that 30 minus 30 is zero? Now a short ultra magnum, that’s the ticket! You can’t be inconvenienced with the long bolt-throw of the .30-06, and anything under 3500 ft lbs of muzzle energy? Fuggedaboudit!

4) Walnut and blued steel

If a gunstock isn’t walnut, it might as well be made of baked raccoon dung. Anything less is Eurotrash styling or cheap and completely, utterly non-functional. Stainless steel? Are you kidding me? Do you want to give away your position by blinding every game animal within three degrees of longitude? Any designs other than old-fashioned aesthetics are emetics!

5) Detachable Magazine

In this modern era of particularly nasty game animals (see #2), you need to be able to reload in a heckuva hurry if you want to survive an oncoming battalion-wave attack of antelope. Not to mention hordes of zombies. A detachable magazine is the only way to go! Don’t forget six spares!

As for the  ammunition:

1) It must penetrate indefinitely

Obviously, a bullet has to get to something vital to do its job. Sufficient penetration is a must! From what I’ve read,  the ideal bullet must be able to bust brush, blast through a tree trunk, lance through a car body, and transfix a wayward battleship hull plate on its way to penetrating through the skin, fat, muscle, shoulder blade, and ribs of a hadrosaur. Or three.

2) It must have stupendous expansion

The more damage a bullet does and the more energy it transfers, the more likely it is to destroy something vital in an animal. From some helpful advertisements, I’ve learned that the ideal hunting bullet expands to approximately 30x its normal diameter upon striking a game animal, and does so while retaining 256% of its mass.

3) It must have a very high ballistic coefficient

In order to penetrate and expand, a bullet must get to the target first. Fortunately, I’ve been enlightened to the fact that firing a bullet with a G2 BC of less than .550 is likes trying to push an umbrella through molasses. That bullet will simply never get there.

4) It must be highly “accurate”

If a bullet can’t group into less than 1″ at 100 yards in my rifle, then I might as well use a shotgun with a single pellet in it. In order to score a humane kill, I must be able to select exactly which hair on the animal’s hide I want to split with my bullet’s ballistic tip.

5) It must be bonded

I’m not sure why the bullet doesn’t need to be licensed, certified, and insured as well, but I guess being bonded is secure enough.

Well, that’s what I’ve learned about hunting equipment from advertising and punditry. For my next endeavor I intend to educate myself about which handgun caliber is “best” based upon the arguments in online forums. I’m sure it’ll be just a straightforward process.

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  1. I thought this was going to be serious.
    I’m still snorting. This was good stuff. Thanks!

    • Me too. I think there might be a few more to add, like handguns must have a minimum capacity of ten(15 in states where that’s legal), etc…..

  2. You probably weren’t reading the mags and watching the shows when they went through the WSM, WSSM, WSSSSSSSSSSSSM of everything and that was the greatest cartridge ever! For those who bought those rifles, good luck finding ammo for a them.

  3. #2 ALL day long. I don’t understand how all those deer died before 300 Win Mag came along.

    To anyone looking to get into hunting- 30-06 will kill anything in the western hemisphere. You can certainly keep buying guns, I won’t stop ya! But an ’06 covers a loooot of bases. Have fun and be gentle when youre cooking venison. Dries out in the blink of an eye!

    • A former boss of mine has been successfully hunting Elk for thirty years with a .270. I’ve never understood why people seem to believe that it is necessary to have some massively powerful round like the 300 Win Mag to knock down deer, or anything else in North America. Underlying masochistic streak?

      • It is a puzzle.

        My uncle successfully hunted elk on Colorado for 20+ years with a .243 Win. Mulies, too, of course.

        It boils down to what my friend’s Dad used to say: “Sometimes, you just got to be a better hunter.”

        I’ve convinced myself that a lot of the “you gotta have a magnum” stuff came from people who wanted horsepower to make up for poor shots. And, for some warped reason, I guess, “bragging rights” as if the freezer is more full because it was a cartridge labeled “Magnum” that did the killin’.

    • this is great stuff, .303 Brit single shot falling block or SMLE for me and I still rate the 38, no hope for me lol

    • Maybe not deer, but I would definitely go hog hunting with one. If only I could find a herd of hogs grazing near the Texas coast line…

  4. Bonded is to prevent finding bits of lead in your venison burgers. But that is funny.

    • Bonded is to help keep the copper jacket stuck to the lead core, for yet deeper penetration. The lead bits will always be there if the lead fragments. Mostly lead is too soft to do that, and just stays in one or two lumps. Unless one shooting 22RF hollow points into hard targets, ofc.

  5. I had to look up “emetics,” but I agree with this part:
    “I might as well use a shotgun with a single pellet in it.”
    … but we just call them slugs.

  6. Excellent! I especially liked:

    I’m not sure why the bullet doesn’t need to be licensed, certified, and insured as well, but I guess being bonded is secure enough.

  7. I haven’t hunted on forever. Partially because I caught tired of roaming the Colorado mountains like a modern day Jeremiah Johnson and not seeing anything.

  8. Loved #2… especially love when the guy who actually believes it shows up at the indoor range to sight in every year. Eventually brings the target back to 50yds because he cant get the damn thing on paper at 100yds because he is flinching so bad. Although I have usually packed up and left by then to conserve my hearing unless I brought some foam plugs to put on under the ear muffs.

    #3 is also pretty funny if you ever stumble over to Long Rnage Hunting…I usually get laughed out of there for daring to hunt with my 308 and its “rainbow” trajectory.

  9. Nice article, precisely the reasons why I have stopped subscribing to the gun rags. What shooting bench do you have pictured?

  10. Lol #11 always make sure you get a bobbed duece and a half with an oxy torch set & a good pneumatic cut off wheel to field dress them up armored white tails specially if they spring for the frag 37 kit.

  11. Most people could hunt anything smaller than moose with a 7×57 Mauser with great success. Most of the hunting ballistics developments in the last 100 years have done little more than gild the 7×57.

    With today’s powders and bullets, the 7×57 Mauser could take down most anything anyone hunts in North America.

    And if you needed something heavier, you can’t do much better than the 9.3×62, which came out in 1905.

    Want to hunt with a handgun? Get a .45 Colt… and a Ruger revolver. Stoke up the .45 Colt to potential and you’re well on your way to making a .454 Casull superfluous.

    That said, if you want to hunt anything in North America with a US-made cartridge, you can’t get too much more classic and lethal than the .45-70. Or, or that matter, the .50-70 that preceded it. They both seemed to extirpate the bison herds of the 19th century quite successfully…

  12. I understand that the Forest Service recently ruled that nobody can shoot moa on federal land. I don’t know whether the smaller, less common sub-moa are also covered by the ruling.

  13. I would love to be a fly on the wall near some of the snoody schmucks who read this and get offended.

    A+ for this my friend. Awesome

  14. I love magnum is the new minimum… The body armor on those mule deer has gotten so much better that I’m having trouble knocking them down with the .308. I’m thinking of moving to the .375 H & H mag for 200lb mule deer next year, I’ll just wait until I can shoot through the pine tree for expansion!

  15. I guess my sarcastic/hopefully-humorous submissions were the P320 palette cleansers! I’d given up all hope of seeing either one making an appearance at all (and had submitted them kinda for the heck of it anyway).

    Much better reaction to this one than I expected.

    If anyone’s curious as to what I use, About a month ago I bought my first centerfire rifle (first I’ve owned personally, not first I’ve used), a Savage Axis with an unusually decent trigger in .30-06 Springfield. I’m Not terribly worried about it having the oomph to get the job done on anything I care to hunt here in Idaho.

    My grandfather has a Winchester 94 in .30 WCF (“.30-30”). It has 72 notches carved in the stock for all the deer that his father (my great grandfather) took with it. Since it was my great grandfather’s *deer* rifle, he didn’t include notches for the several elk he took with it, nor the moose he caught raiding my great-grandmother’s garden. My grandfather hunted with it too, but decided not to add any notches of his own, but estimates about 15 or so of his own. The stories that old lever action gun in a humble caliber could tell…

    • “a Savage Axis with an unusually decent trigger in .30-06 Springfield. “

      Certainly a fine choice. I wish you many good hunts with this rifle.

      And thanks for the story about your family Win ’94. Nice.

    • So much of the “magnum-itis” that goes on in the hunting world is this intellectual onanism of making 400+ yard shots.

      I find people who talk of taking shots on large game at 400+ yards to be tedious and unsportsmanlike. First, there’s the issue that most people can’t dope wind for crap, and they’re likely to hit a deer wildly outside the kill zone and they’ll have to shoot the deer (or elk) umpteen times to get a kill. The people who really bungle the job end up wounding an animal and they’re nowhere near close enough to start tracking the game to finish the job. The animal gets away to die a slow death, unclaimed. That’s waste of game.

      Second issue I have is that this is supposed to be hunting, not sniping. The skill required to hunt an animal in close is higher and a real test of a hunter. The best hunters, IMO, are the bow hunters here in the west. People that close to within 40 yards (or less) in open country in the west have sometimes spent hours stalking one particular animal. That’s hunting.

      An ’06, with proper bullet selection, will kill anything in North America. 168 to 180gr premium bullets and you’re good for a point-blank zero out to 300 yards.

      • I used to like to try and sneak up on birds in my backyard (close enough to catch ’em) and see how close I could get to the deer in the trees down by the river.

        Getting close is downright fun. Challenging, disappointing when it doesn’t work out, but when you’ve gotten really close, and every heartbeat threatens to betray you… That’s something else, even if you’re only shooting with a camera.

        For shooting at live critters I think I’ll probably have a hard limit of 200 yards with a good rest and perfect conditions. In practice less.

        Wind. I think I could use some instruction in figuring wind. Sure plays heck with my Remmy 510 at longer ranges. I guess .22 lr will never be known for its wind bucking ability, eh? I wonder if it’s good for practice or if that doesn’t translate well to bigger calibers. Thoughts?

  16. How about one of those Noreen Bad News .338s with a (modified) walnut furniture kit?

  17. Brilliantly funny! And yes, I like walnut and blued steel too. I thought this was going to be a serious article, but so funny!

  18. Super Dooper Pooper scooper, the new models will gut, dress and process your game animal! I’m not sure if packaging and home delivery is available!

  19. This was too funny! But there is a lot of truth in it as well. seams that the younger/newer hunters have forgotten or do not know what the old calibers are capable of in the hands of a GOOD shot! Please … Keep up the good work here at TTAG!!!

    • Well, hopefully not everyone who’s young and/or new is a lost cause (I’m 26).

      An irony is that many newer folks I know or know of seem to be going “back” to the more classic cartridges out of economic necessity. Shooting a .338 Ouchenboomer is great for the ego, but terrible for the wallet.

      I’ve been holding onto my .30-06 brass, hoping that someday I’ll be able to take up reloading.

      • @ Eric J. … You have just lit a candle at the end of the tunnel … A few more like you and there may be hope after all. And good luck if you start to reload … It is well worth the time and money that you will invest.

  20. Also, it must cost at least $2500, preferably $5000 and then only shoot 1 & 1/2″ groups off sand bags at 100yds. Somebody please buy the American Rifleman a bench rest.

  21. Eric: Reading this submission was the most fun I’ve ever had on TTAG. Thank you so much!

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