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Last night, the NCAA college basketball Sweet Sixteen tipped off with Syracuse vs. Butler. Today, our own sweet sixteen gets started with .270 WSM vs. .260 Rem.


I am talking about the March Madness of whitetail cartridges. The Final Four of deer rounds. Bullet bracketology. (Okay, bullet-case-powder-and-primer bracketology, but you get the idea.)

We start with16 contenders for the title of Best Whitetail Round, which have been split into two divisions and seeded by SHOT Business contributing editor Christopher Cogley. We chose Mr. Cogley to help us because he is highly qualified and so I have someone to throw under the bus if necessary. His seeded selections (which you are free to take issue with, as my @$$ is covered) are:**
Division I:**
(1) .270 WSM — By improving on the ballistics of the original .270, this could be the best deer round in the woods today.
(2) .270 Win. — The standard bearer in deer cartridges. It is cheaper to shoot than the .270 WSM, but its ballistics aren’t quite as good.
(3) .25-06 — Gentler on the shoulder than the .270, but not quite as much energy or overall performance.
(4) .243 — It’s small. But light recoil helps you put shots exactly where they need to go.
(5) 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser — With larger bullets, it can outperform the .260, but its U.S. fan base is small.
(6) .257 Roberts — Light recoil and flat shooting, but factory loads are limited and can’t match the energy or velocity of the .25-06.
(7) .257 Weatherby — Great long range performance, but high prices make practicing with these cartridges costly.
(8) .260 Rem — It has the light kick of a .243 and more knockdown power, but its low popularity makes ammo harder to find.

Division II:
(1) .30-06 – It’s hard to argue against the 06 being the greatest hunting cartridge of all time. Deer included.
(2) .308 – Not quite as much speed or energy as the .30-06, but arguably more accurate.
(3) 7mm-08 – Flatter trajectory and more long-range energy than the .308, but with less recoil. Because it’s not as popular as the .308, however, ammo is slightly less available.
(4) .30-30 – Its ballistics aren’t the most impressive, but no one can argue with the historical results.
(5) .280 – Flatter shooting than the .06, but doesn’t pack the same punch, and can’t match the versatility.
(6) .30 Rem AR – The performance of a .30 in an AR platform. It’s not completely mainstream, yet. But watch out.
(7) 7×57 Mauser — Good ballistics make it hard to ignore, but its lack of popularity is carrying it toward extinction.
(8) 7mm Rem Mag – Generates tight groups at long distances, but might be overly aggressive for whitetails. -Christopher Cogley

Okay folks, check out the bracket (you can also click here to print out a larger copy if you want to fill it out). Then vote for your preferred cartridge in each matchup below to begin the first round of play for Division I. We’ll follow up with Division II in a couple of days, then move on the Elite Eight, Final Four, and National Whitetail Cartridge Championship in a couple of weeks.

Sweet Sixteen Whitetail Cartridge Tournament: Division I

Have fun!