Please help me with a decision. After sitting in my stand last season and noticing my scope had got loose I decided I need to bring an iron sighted "backup" rifle with me in case something like that happens again. I could see banging my scope on something or falling on my rear and "adjusting" my scope. My first thought was a .30-30. Simple, reliable, a decent performer out to 150 yards and ammo is cheap. I thought then about a backup that I could use for larger North American game. My .30-06 will handle anything on the continent. I'm not so sure about .30-30. I've considered a number of calibers. The ones I really like (.35 Whelen, .444 Marlin, etc...) are either expensive rifles (I'm looking for a backup), ammo is hard to find or both. I've narrowed it down to .30-30, .35 Remingon and .45-70. I supect the readers or this site are familiar with the ballistics of these calibers so I won't bore you with a description. I'm aware that these are all short range cartridges; that's ok. I'm mostly hunting in thick forest. If you wanted a backup rifle for anything up to and including elk, which of these would you choose? I'm looking to keep my cost of a rifle low so please no $1000 wonder rifles. When I'm ready I already have my eye on a CZ in .375 H&H. Help me out please! Thanks.
Terry B. sent me the verbatim quoted note below from the USA. He is not a signed up member yet so I took the liberty to repeat his missive here (Terry was a member minutes after I had posted this...) : The 30-06 in Africa With the African hunting season coming on soon, I thought of this old story I had about what gun to take on a plains game trip. It actually started way back in 1960 with an article by a Dr. Wendell G. Swank from Michigan State College that was in the Sports Afield Gun Annual. He and a fellow doctor took their old pre-64 Winchester M 70 .30-06 Springfield’s with Sierra bullets to Uganda to harvest game for research. They did a fantastic job of taking pictures of the bullets recovered and details of each bullets performance. Not only did they take plains game normally associated with the .30-06 Springfield, but also took Hippo, Lion and even a Cape Buffalo. That article intrigued me so much that I still have an original copy and it prompted me to research the .30-06 Springfield performance ever since. My first “Deer” rifle was lever action .30-30 Winchester, but my second was a Remington pump action .30-06 Springfield, and I don’t think that in the past 50 plus years, there has ever been a time that I did not have at least one or two .30-06 Springfield rifles around. At first, I used factory Remington 180 grain RN Core Lokts and all the Deer I shot fell over just fine. Then as time progressed I took up reloading and since then have taken Deer, Elk, Moose, Caribou, Antelope and Mt Goat in North America with various bullets. I started out using the same 180 grain Sierra bullets Dr. Swank used and eventually tried just about every bullet and powder combo I could come up with and eventually ended up using mostly 180 grain Nosler Partitions. During the next 30+ years, I took the .30-06 Springfield to Africa with me several times as it was my intention to field test as many bullets as I could, and here is a list of the bullets tested there: 180 gr Hornady Spire Point FB & BT 180 gr Speer Hot Core 190 gr Hornady Spire Point BT 180 gr Speer SP BT 220 gr Hornady RN 220 gr Sierra RN 180 gr Remington Core-Lokt Ultra 165 gr Trophy Bonded Bear Claw 180 gr Nosler Partition 180 gr Speer Mag Tips 180 gr Remington RN Core Lokt 150 gr Barnes TSX & TTSX 180 gr Speer Deep Curl 165 gr Hornady GMX 180 gr Nosler AccuBond 168 gr Barnes TSX & TTSX 180 gr Federal Fusion 180 gr Barnes TSX & TTSX 180 gr Federal Tipped TBBC 180 gr Sierra SP BT & Flat Base 200 gr Nosler Partitions 150 gr Hornady SP Each of the above-mentioned bullets has its own distinctive characteristic performance. The typical soft point bullets all seem to kill about the same, but the premium bonded core or monolithic bullets give much more dependable penetration. On a recent trip, I shot six Blesbok with six different bullets and found that it made no difference at all. Each was shot about the same distance and they were all about the same broadside lung shots. Every bullet gave complete penetration and each animal rarely went more than a few yards before going down. If you were to make me choose any one of the “common” lead cup and core bullets to use from now on, my choice is surely going to surprise you as I’d take the 220 grain Nosler Partition as my first choice and the 220 grain Sierra RN next. Those two bullets will almost always penetrate completely and leave a nice exit hole. They will not give you those instant kills of high speed bullets, and seldom will the animals drop at the shot, but they will only go a few yards before expiring. Ya, Ya, I can see the readers jumping up a down about the “rainbow” trajectory of those bullets. Now just a minute, with the 220 grain Partition at 2400 fps muzzle velocity that is zeroed 2.9” high at 100 yards, it is then dead on at 200 yards. The 180 grain Nosler Partition at 2700 fps zeroed 2” high at 100 yards is dead on at 200 yards, so no big deal. I’m being conservative on my 220 grain velocities at 2,400 fps as the Nosler Reloading Guide #4 page 329 shows loads up to 2,602 fps. For most shooters 200 yards is plenty far to shoot anyway, and if you can crawl up to 200 you will never know the difference in trajectory, but you will see a difference in performance on the game as those 220 grain bullets really put the hammer down. I remember an outfitter from Zimbabwe that took some 220 grain Sierra RN bullets home to try. When I met up with him the next year, he said they were the most dependable bullet in the .30-06 Springfield he had ever used. As you can well imagine this whole bullet subject can be cussed and discussed much like religion and politics long into the night, but the truth will end up being that the .30-06 Springfield with well placed shots, will take any plains game Africa has to offer. Another wonderful thing about the .30-06 Springfield is that virtually anywhere in the world you go, and should you lose your luggage and ammo, you can usually scare up a box of ammo somewhere. It may not be your first choice of brand or bullet, but it beats having none at all. Not having or being able to find ammo is my number one contention with the new RUM and WSM cartridges. Unless the fellow that hunted there ahead of you left his ammo, you don’t have a snow ball’s chance of buying any abroad. We have seen great advances in bullet construction and technology with John Nosler’s first Partition bullets all the way thru the Jack Carter’s Trophy Bonded Bear Claws, and now unto the Hornady GMX and Barnes TSX lead free bullets. As usually, it all boils down to “Bullet Placement”. If you do your job the old “ought six” will do its part. Feel free to write Terry anytime about bullet choices at TBlauwkamp@superior-sales.com
There is an established confidence that ALL 7mm and .30" calibre cartridges will shoot to the same point of impact out to 250 yards and kill exactly the same with similar weight bullets. Because the 30-06 and 7mm Rem Magnum and 8x57 are ballistic triplets, and the .308W and .270W and 7x57 are ballistic triplets, and the 6.5x55 Swede, 6.5x57 Mauser, 6.5x58 Portuguese are ballistic triplets, and because all of these 9 cartridges shoot to within less than 1/4 MOA from one another when zeroed at 200 yards, the actual calibre designation has very little to do with the way South African hunters choose their hunting rifles. The 7mm Rem Magnum is not very popular here because despite its bigger case capacity it merely equals the 30-06 in performance. On top of that try and explain the reason for the presence of the belt on the case and South African hunters are not convinced that it has any advantage - in fact the opposite - and they just stay with their 30-06s. The .270W can not handle the heavier bullets we prefer for big game, so the 7x64 Brenneke and .308W outshines it on big game - and with 150gr bullets and lighter the .270W merely equals the .308W. So the .308W has become the most sought after calibre for big and smaller game. The rifle brand name is the first driver in getting the buyer's interest - but when paying the money even that is lower than the appealing appearance the rifle will have regarding a pleasing, understated profile, good wood, and neat wood to metal appearance, and the ease of shouldering, and immediate and instinctive line up. Only then will the buyer look at the calibre designation. He may beforehand have decided on whether he wanted a 6.5 mm or larger - but the choice between a 7mm and .30" and particularly amongst the ballistic similar chamberings will be made by the individual RIFLE as there is no difference in killing ability as long as any one of the 7mm chamberings allows for bullets in the 170+ gr weight class. The new (since the 1970s) standard against which all hunting cartridges have been measured regarding big game killing ability is the 308W. (Of course the real standard is the 30-06 or 8x57 which is 100% capable of killing even the 2,000 lb eland under all conditions - but the .308W is far by far the most popular big game hunting cartridge in South Africa). There are very few .338" calibres around and virtually no .35s because nothing " more powerful " than the 308W is needed to kill any of the 12 size elk big game with a single heart shot. The .338" / .35" is a true American want-but-not-needed calibre, which is a concept we do not fully understand in Africa. Having a non dangerous game rifle which merely sends its fully penetrating bullet further into the unknown beyond the shot animal than the .308W already does is seen as kind of an anomaly. If a .308W 180 gr bonded core bullet has a perfect penetration impulse to penetrate through the shoulders of all the 12 elk size big game animals then the next step up is for a rifle to kill buffalo or elephant - which is the .375 H&H - so there is no requirement in Africa for a rifle in between the ballistic similar group of the 7x57 / .308W / 30-06 / .303 Brit / 7x64 Brenneke and then, for dangerous game, the .375 H&H / .416 Rigby / .458 Lott / .458 3" Express / .458 Sabi. Regarding brand names - European made rifles without a doubt rule the roost - SAKO, BRNO, CZ 550, and of course the locally manufactured Musgraves and custom built rifles on Mauser actions. There are many South African hunters who only own one rifle and that invariably is a BRNO / CZ 550 / Mauser / SAKO / Musgrave in .308W. He will in all likelyhood use only one bullet weight in it all the time which will depend on the area where he hunts - the distances that he shoots at will determine bullet weight - whether he hunts wildebeest or impala. The size of the animal he hunts is not the determining factor. Always using only one bullet weight allows the hunter to intimately know the trajectory out to say 300 yards. In the northern part of the country where I live and where shooting distances are mostly between 80 - 150 and rarely 200 yards it will be 180 gr, and on the open plains with shooting distances of 200-300 yards it will be a 165-150 gr bullet of premium construction. On shooting distances: There still is a strong ethic here that if your stalking skills are such that you are unable to get closer than 300 yards then you need to practice more. The culture we foster in the hunter education programmes (the hunting rifle shooting competitions) is that there should never ever be a reason to shoot at an animal beyond 300 yards. If the local hunter can not get closer than 300 yards it more than likely means that game is too scarce in his area to be hunted.