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March Madness: The Sweet 16 of Long-Range Deer Cartridges: Division II

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March 14, 2013

March Madness: The Sweet 16 of Long-Range Deer Cartridges: Division II

By Dave Hurteau

After more than 3,500 votes per matchup, the Division I Elite Eight cartridges are settled: The 7mm Remington Magnum obliterated the .260 Remington; the .30- 06 predictably crushed the .243 Winchester; the .257 Weatherby Magnum edged past the .257 Roberts; and, in our first upset win of the tournament, the .25-06 Remington took down the excellent 6.5-284 Norma.

And now, on to Division II. You know the drill. Layne Simpson’s seeded selections for this group are listed and explained below. Check out the bracket (you can click here to print out a copy if you want to fill it out by hand). Then vote for your preferred long-range deer cartridge in each matchup below to begin Division II play. We'll follow up with the Elite Eight, Final Four, and finally the F&S Long-Range Deer Cartridge Championship.

Division II

[1] .300 Winchester Magnum:
Three out of five doctors recommend the .300 Winchester Magnum for shooting deer at long range. And plenty of Alberta outfitters who specialize in big whitetails and mule deer agree with the prescription.

[2] .264 Winchester Magnum:
Winchester’s full-page advertisements in 1958 said the new cartridge “Makes a helluva noise and packs a helluva punch.” It still does and like most magnums it is at its best in a 26-inch barrel.

[3] 7mm STW:
Push a 140-grain bullet to 3400 fps, zero it three inches high at 100 yards and it strikes below point of aim a mere half the body depth of a deer at 400 yards where it delivers over 2000 ft-lbs of punch. Enough said.

[4] .270 WSM:
A bit faster than the .270 Winchester, this cartridge is a great choice for the deer hunter who absolutely must have a magnum cartridge short enough to squeeze into a short-action rifle.

[5] .270 Winchester:
The cartridge that Jack O’Connor built continues to offer excellent accuracy, a flat trajectory, plenty of downrange energy and a level of recoil easily managed by most hunters. Long live the .270.

[6] .280 Remington:
Developed by Remington back in the 1950s for the company’s Model 740 autoloader, the .280 has become a favorite in bolt-action rifles. Try it and you will see why.

[7] .308 Winchester:
Originally created for war, the .308 is now extremely popular among hunters. It is accurate, it doesn’t kick too hard, it kills deer dead enough, and many different rifles are chambered for it.

[8] 7mm-08 Remington:
A necked-down .308 Winchester, the “Seven-O- Eight” can be just as accurate. It also kicks lighter and kills deer just as dead, making it a wise choice in any short-action rifle.

You can click here to print out a copy if you want to fill it out by hand.

Comments (28)

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from Sarge01 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I see that there are alot of other shooters that know that the .280 is one of the finest big game rifles made today. I have made some outstanding shots with mine in the bean fields of Alabama and it is a real dream to shoot. I have a new Remington CDL that my wife got me for my birthday that I will be hunting with this year. I put a Quick Klip unit from Cabelas in mine and I really like that set up.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

The first time I shot a .280 (a friends rifle) I was not paying enough attention, and it bit my eyebrow pretty hard, I was very impressed. a fine cartridge.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I've been considering another custom from a very well-known local maker who wants to barter one for professional services. If I pull the trigger on the deal, it will be a .280 Rem. I don't own one, but I have used them and it is a very impressive cartridge.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntslow wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Doug Burris would be rather surprised that the cartridge he used to take the world record mule deer is trailing the .308 by a large margin!

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from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I not sure what people are considering a long range deer rifle because with the exception of the 300 win the results are almost backwards compared to the first round if you compare terminal performance. In round one every cartridge that advanced besides the 30/06 is faster . in round 2 not so much. I would love to hear why people chose what they chose as long as its not an argument for one is more popular than the other.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

love the .308! awesome bullet and still very inexpensive to shoot, that's if you can find them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ALJoe wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

It's not fair putting the .270 up against the .270 WSM. After all the the WSM is suppose to be an improved version of the .270 win. I'll take my .270 win seven days a week.

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from mayoaaron wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

surpised the 270wsm is getting slaughtered, a couple guys I hunt with use those and love them but another couple guys I know also love their 270win

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from JPMNTMAN wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Well GtBigsky it seems to me that some of these match up will be rather lop sided. For instance it appears that the 300 win mag and 280 will soon face each other off. Now I can not think of a time I found a 280 box of ammo at my local wal mart or general hunting store. The same can be said about the 308 vs 264. In reloading the 300 I have a wide range of sizes I could or do use. The 280 probably not so much. Considering that the 300 has become a very popular ELK round in the west I would assume in the next match up the 280 will lose. Although a very fast gun the range of reloading and availability of that specific round and others on the charts could be why the round is not doing to well. Now lets look at a match of the 7mm mag and 300 win mag. Both produce a large amount of speed and take down animals at long range quite well. But if a hunter wants a wide range of reloading as well as powders to choose from the 300 wins hands down. The range of .308 reloading bullets range of 125 up to 220 and even more where as the 7mm has fewer options. So I imagine using this logic the 308 rifle will go deeper into this bracket as will the 30-06. More options to reload and have a huge history with hunters as well as the military.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from voiceofreasoncny wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

How many bullet/powder choices do you need? A casual stroll down the reloading aisle of the local Bass Pro Shops store had me walking back to the truck with eight (8) different bullets in only two of the available weights (150gr. and 160gr.), several suitable powders were available, no shortage of brass, either. I didn't even bother to count the variety of other bullets available from 100gr. on up to 190gr. and that's before even considering the available match bullets. So far, I have noticed that the .280 Remington kills stuff dead enough to get it into the freezer. I don't think anything needs to be any deader than that, so, I'll save my powder budget and my shoulder and everyones' ears and stick to my .280.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

JPMNTMAN,

I understand what you are saying but I don't agree with your logic. Popularity and a wide variety of available reloading options don't give a caliber long range capabilities. For example, the 300 savage uses a .308 caliber bullet just like all the 300 mags but its not a a "long range" deer rifle. I am just surprised at some of the choices in round 2 and call me crazy, I thought a long rang deer rifle was supposed to be a flatter shooting rifle than the rest. 7mm stw uses the same bullet as the 280 yet sends it about 400fps faster. The 270 win vs the 270wsm is the same scenario. The 284 sends a 150gr bullets the same speed as a 150gr 308 win however a .284 caliber bullet's ballistic coefficient is superior to a 150gr .308 caliber. So i am still confused as to why people chose what they did.

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from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

My most accurate cartridge ever is a .280Remington. Shot 5 rounds of .284 bullets and made a hole .380"

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from Drew McClure wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I would shoot a whitetail at 400 yards with my 243 A-bolt a lot sooner than I would with my Ol' Man's Model 70 in 30-06. The 80 grain GMX is a real performer in lethality, and it is a flat shooter, but what do I know I have never killed a deer in a field in my life.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from lil bits wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Could Field & Stream test something besides the most popular calibers. How about critiquing the 300WSM, never see anything on that hot caliber. Thank you. Russ

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from huntslow wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

There is nothing in the "rules" that say there needs to be lots of choices, or readily available, just long range deer cartridge (not even rifle type). It seems to me many of these cartridges are popular rather than more capable. Perhaps with the .270 choices one could say the "standard" round is better because it kicks less and is close in velocity. The 7STW is certainly flatter shooting than the .280 and the .264 much flatter than the .308. All that said it is still more the shooter than anything else. I have hunted and guided throughout the West and seen some great guns with poor shooters

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Amen huntslow

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

The votes in Division II seem to be along nostalgic lines and have little to do with ballistics.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from hutter wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

It's not over yet boys. The only one I disagree with is the .308. A fine cartridge in it's place but not LONG range. The .280 is the best of all only because I've killed a ton of stuff with it,from 50 yds to 500. Know your drop and it will drop.

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from sdboy wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

personally I love my .308 it is a very versatile round but honestly there are a lot of quality rounds on this list such as the 300 win mag, 270 (both versions), 30-06, 280, 7mm mag. but as previously stated by "huntslow" it comes down to the shooter, even the perfect round requires the right shot placement

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from Douglas wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I put a vote in for the 264 Win Mag. Simply because I witnessed a fellow snipe a crow waaaaay out there with a vintage sako in that caliber. Shot placement!

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from hengst wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Amen WAM, the .308 is not a long range hunting caliber period.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

hengst,

I guess "long" is in the eye of the beholder or an overactive imagination! LOL

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from huntslow wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Douglas, I saw such a shot several years ago. John Ketcham hunter guide and President of the Eastern High Sierra packers Association and I were on an elk hunt in New Mexico and a coyote made the mistake of sticking his head up. John hit him in the head at a paced 287 steps with his .264 WM. Later that week an elk had the same fate at a somewhat shorter distance.

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from troll53 wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

While I don't think it would win, would have liked to see the 6.5X55 Swede included instead of the 6.5 norma or the 264 win mag. Great down range performance, due to good balistics, without the kick and bang of the '06 based rounds or the magnums.

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from hsken wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Tried to post this once already and it did not take for some reason.
I am not sure what the criteria are to win this, but when you look at the numbers for most comparable commercial loads, it is pretty hard to beat the 270wsm for long range deer. Long maximum point blank range, plenty of energy and velocity above 300 yards, manageable recoil. I know the ammo can be expensive and hard to find but I am not sure that should be considered for this contest. I know there are better cartridges for bigger game. But for my money, when I look at the numbers the 270wsm is at the front of the pack.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

As one person said,

"I remember Dad saying, you just got to let the air out."

hengst, 308 is what? I tell'ya what, I'll let you use a 300 Win Mag David Tubs Match rifle and I'll use my open sight M1A and let's step back to the 1000 yard line.

308/7.62 NATO is no punk, just the one behind it that might be....

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

troll53, if history, number of winning rifle competitions, number of enemy and Scandanavian moose killed in addition to what you said counted, the old 6.5 Swede would win. Its just not new and fancy enough for some folks.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I see the uninformed still rule the ballot box! LOL

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from huntslow wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

There is nothing in the "rules" that say there needs to be lots of choices, or readily available, just long range deer cartridge (not even rifle type). It seems to me many of these cartridges are popular rather than more capable. Perhaps with the .270 choices one could say the "standard" round is better because it kicks less and is close in velocity. The 7STW is certainly flatter shooting than the .280 and the .264 much flatter than the .308. All that said it is still more the shooter than anything else. I have hunted and guided throughout the West and seen some great guns with poor shooters

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

The votes in Division II seem to be along nostalgic lines and have little to do with ballistics.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Amen huntslow

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I see that there are alot of other shooters that know that the .280 is one of the finest big game rifles made today. I have made some outstanding shots with mine in the bean fields of Alabama and it is a real dream to shoot. I have a new Remington CDL that my wife got me for my birthday that I will be hunting with this year. I put a Quick Klip unit from Cabelas in mine and I really like that set up.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

love the .308! awesome bullet and still very inexpensive to shoot, that's if you can find them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from voiceofreasoncny wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

How many bullet/powder choices do you need? A casual stroll down the reloading aisle of the local Bass Pro Shops store had me walking back to the truck with eight (8) different bullets in only two of the available weights (150gr. and 160gr.), several suitable powders were available, no shortage of brass, either. I didn't even bother to count the variety of other bullets available from 100gr. on up to 190gr. and that's before even considering the available match bullets. So far, I have noticed that the .280 Remington kills stuff dead enough to get it into the freezer. I don't think anything needs to be any deader than that, so, I'll save my powder budget and my shoulder and everyones' ears and stick to my .280.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I would shoot a whitetail at 400 yards with my 243 A-bolt a lot sooner than I would with my Ol' Man's Model 70 in 30-06. The 80 grain GMX is a real performer in lethality, and it is a flat shooter, but what do I know I have never killed a deer in a field in my life.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hengst wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Amen WAM, the .308 is not a long range hunting caliber period.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RJ Arena wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

The first time I shot a .280 (a friends rifle) I was not paying enough attention, and it bit my eyebrow pretty hard, I was very impressed. a fine cartridge.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I've been considering another custom from a very well-known local maker who wants to barter one for professional services. If I pull the trigger on the deal, it will be a .280 Rem. I don't own one, but I have used them and it is a very impressive cartridge.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntslow wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Doug Burris would be rather surprised that the cartridge he used to take the world record mule deer is trailing the .308 by a large margin!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ALJoe wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

It's not fair putting the .270 up against the .270 WSM. After all the the WSM is suppose to be an improved version of the .270 win. I'll take my .270 win seven days a week.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mayoaaron wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

surpised the 270wsm is getting slaughtered, a couple guys I hunt with use those and love them but another couple guys I know also love their 270win

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

JPMNTMAN,

I understand what you are saying but I don't agree with your logic. Popularity and a wide variety of available reloading options don't give a caliber long range capabilities. For example, the 300 savage uses a .308 caliber bullet just like all the 300 mags but its not a a "long range" deer rifle. I am just surprised at some of the choices in round 2 and call me crazy, I thought a long rang deer rifle was supposed to be a flatter shooting rifle than the rest. 7mm stw uses the same bullet as the 280 yet sends it about 400fps faster. The 270 win vs the 270wsm is the same scenario. The 284 sends a 150gr bullets the same speed as a 150gr 308 win however a .284 caliber bullet's ballistic coefficient is superior to a 150gr .308 caliber. So i am still confused as to why people chose what they did.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

My most accurate cartridge ever is a .280Remington. Shot 5 rounds of .284 bullets and made a hole .380"

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from lil bits wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Could Field & Stream test something besides the most popular calibers. How about critiquing the 300WSM, never see anything on that hot caliber. Thank you. Russ

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hutter wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

It's not over yet boys. The only one I disagree with is the .308. A fine cartridge in it's place but not LONG range. The .280 is the best of all only because I've killed a ton of stuff with it,from 50 yds to 500. Know your drop and it will drop.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from sdboy wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

personally I love my .308 it is a very versatile round but honestly there are a lot of quality rounds on this list such as the 300 win mag, 270 (both versions), 30-06, 280, 7mm mag. but as previously stated by "huntslow" it comes down to the shooter, even the perfect round requires the right shot placement

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I put a vote in for the 264 Win Mag. Simply because I witnessed a fellow snipe a crow waaaaay out there with a vintage sako in that caliber. Shot placement!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

hengst,

I guess "long" is in the eye of the beholder or an overactive imagination! LOL

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntslow wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Douglas, I saw such a shot several years ago. John Ketcham hunter guide and President of the Eastern High Sierra packers Association and I were on an elk hunt in New Mexico and a coyote made the mistake of sticking his head up. John hit him in the head at a paced 287 steps with his .264 WM. Later that week an elk had the same fate at a somewhat shorter distance.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from troll53 wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

While I don't think it would win, would have liked to see the 6.5X55 Swede included instead of the 6.5 norma or the 264 win mag. Great down range performance, due to good balistics, without the kick and bang of the '06 based rounds or the magnums.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hsken wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Tried to post this once already and it did not take for some reason.
I am not sure what the criteria are to win this, but when you look at the numbers for most comparable commercial loads, it is pretty hard to beat the 270wsm for long range deer. Long maximum point blank range, plenty of energy and velocity above 300 yards, manageable recoil. I know the ammo can be expensive and hard to find but I am not sure that should be considered for this contest. I know there are better cartridges for bigger game. But for my money, when I look at the numbers the 270wsm is at the front of the pack.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

As one person said,

"I remember Dad saying, you just got to let the air out."

hengst, 308 is what? I tell'ya what, I'll let you use a 300 Win Mag David Tubs Match rifle and I'll use my open sight M1A and let's step back to the 1000 yard line.

308/7.62 NATO is no punk, just the one behind it that might be....

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

troll53, if history, number of winning rifle competitions, number of enemy and Scandanavian moose killed in addition to what you said counted, the old 6.5 Swede would win. Its just not new and fancy enough for some folks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I see the uninformed still rule the ballot box! LOL

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I not sure what people are considering a long range deer rifle because with the exception of the 300 win the results are almost backwards compared to the first round if you compare terminal performance. In round one every cartridge that advanced besides the 30/06 is faster . in round 2 not so much. I would love to hear why people chose what they chose as long as its not an argument for one is more popular than the other.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JPMNTMAN wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Well GtBigsky it seems to me that some of these match up will be rather lop sided. For instance it appears that the 300 win mag and 280 will soon face each other off. Now I can not think of a time I found a 280 box of ammo at my local wal mart or general hunting store. The same can be said about the 308 vs 264. In reloading the 300 I have a wide range of sizes I could or do use. The 280 probably not so much. Considering that the 300 has become a very popular ELK round in the west I would assume in the next match up the 280 will lose. Although a very fast gun the range of reloading and availability of that specific round and others on the charts could be why the round is not doing to well. Now lets look at a match of the 7mm mag and 300 win mag. Both produce a large amount of speed and take down animals at long range quite well. But if a hunter wants a wide range of reloading as well as powders to choose from the 300 wins hands down. The range of .308 reloading bullets range of 125 up to 220 and even more where as the 7mm has fewer options. So I imagine using this logic the 308 rifle will go deeper into this bracket as will the 30-06. More options to reload and have a huge history with hunters as well as the military.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report

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