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Mike's Monthly Monologue About Shooting
Volume 1, Issue 1 - June 1, 2012  -  Other Issues  -  Articles/Downloads

The Perfect Pragmatic Compromise
by Mike Price
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Pragmatic - when one is more concerned with practical results than with theories and principles. How about saying it this way - advocating behavior that is dictated more by practical consequences than by theory? Maybe this - treating historical phenomena with special reference to their causes, antecedent conditions, and results. In other words - what works and is very practical covering all the needs for taking game within reasonable hunting ranges that most hunters experience?

I have found through my experiences what I think is the perfect pragmatic compromise in rifle, cartridge, scope, bullet and load components for taking all kinds of game from just in front of the muzzle out to 300 yds - distances where 95% of all shots are taken on game by hunters.

Now before we get into the specifics of what makes up this perfect pragmatic compromise, let me lay a little groundwork. Remember, I said this is a compromise, but it needs to be one that is very practical in function and can be used on small to large game, as well as dangerous game, and is very effective in getting the job done. No! It is not the .30-06, even though you can find ammo anywhere. I am talking basically to those who like to reload. Although, the .30-06 is a great candidate, it is my second choice, but remember now - it must be rifle, scope, bullet, cartridge and load chain that controls the compromise, along with the fact that reloading is the way to go with the cartridge. Developing your own loads is also part of the fun and mystique.

In my hunting life that spans of over 35 years of hunting all kinds of game in many kinds of conditions and topography, using 30 different cartridges in 45 different rifles - I now think that it can be reduced down to a common denominator, at least for me. One rifle, one cartridge, one scope, one bullet and load chain - that would end up being a perfect compromise to do it all. Now that said, I did not mean to indicate that this is all I would use from now on when hunting game. I like to use many different cartridges and rifles with specific qualities, covering specific tasks - but what about the mythical combo of rifle, scope, bullet, cartridge and load chain to do all our work? Now that is intriguing indeed, and there is a world of options and ideas hunters have come up with, but here is mine, for what it is worth.

We would first and for most need a bolt-action rifle that has a reputation of being rugged, you know, the Jeep Wrangler of the rifle world. It needs to be accurate and also would prefer control feed for any dangerous game we decide to hunt. It would require a cartridge that has a good balance between energy and momentum, having good bullet weight and construction, with velocities between 2300 and 2800 fps and has reasonable and controllable recoil, no more than a .30-06 shooting a 165gr bullet. The scope needs to be one that is light, roughed and has good glass without spending a fortune, and is low power enough for close encounters, while being powerful enough for hitting big game out to 300 yds. It needs to have a bullet that has good construction and will open up on small game and penetrate enough on big game, without coming apart and allows the rifle to end up being a real big time thumper. Also, one must use load components that bring out the best the rifle and cartridge has to offer. One might say the goal seems impossible.

So what in the world is it that I think is THE PERFECT PRAGMATIC COMPROMISE? The rifle is a Ruger Hawkeye with a 22" barrel, control feed, weighing 7.5 pounds and with scope, rings and mounts it needs to weighs around 8.5 pounds. It needs to be an out of the box with no custom work done on it and it must not cost a arm and a leg or one having to go to the bank to borrow the money. The one load chain I would settle on would consist of 225 gr Accubond, Winchester brass, CCI 250 primers and TAC powder, moving the 225 gr Accubond at 2506 fps on the average. The scope would be a Leupold VXIII 1.5-5x20mm. The above combination is extremely accurate, very deadly and dispatches game quickly. Yes it is the .358 Winchester. What a perfect pragmatic compromise with all the elements of the mythical combination of rifle, cartridge, scope, bullet and load chain.

How accurate?

It will punch a good size hole in the game without destroying a lot of meat or making a big mess, leaving a distinct Blood trail to follow in case the animal isn't immediately dropped and down for the count. It would allow us to have confidence when larger game might be encountered unexpectedly, making it desirable to carry, knowing it is powerful enough to do the job without being to much for smaller game even when up close. All these qualities, make the .358 Winchester a perfect and pragmatic compromise; the mythical all around rifle, scope, cartridge, and bullet combo.

What about recoil?

Here is recoil of my 165 gr HPBT deer load in my .300 Winchester Magnum.

Muzzle velocity (ft/sec): 3161
Bullet Wt (gr): 165
Charge Weight (gr): 74
Barrel Length (in): 24
Firearm Weight (lb): 7.50
Free recoil energy: 31.1 ft-lb. (42.2 Joule)

Here is the .30-06 with a 165 gr bullet:

Muzzle velocity (ft/sec): 2950
Bullet Wt (gr): 165
Charge Weight (gr): 59
Barrel Length (in): 22
Firearm Weight (lb): 7.50
Free recoil energy: 23.9 ft-lb. (32.4 Joule)

Here is the recoil of my .358 Winchester 225 gr AccuBond deer load.

Muzzle velocity (ft/sec): 2556fps
Bullet Wt (gr): 225
Charge Weight (gr): 47
Barrel Length (in): 22
Firearm Weight (lb): 7.50
Free recoil energy: 24.7 ft-lb. (32.1 Joule)

Frank Barnes said years ago in his book Cartridges of the World, that the .358 Winchester was, "...definitely out of the short range, deer-only class." Frank Barnes was so right about the .358 Winchester being more than a bush or deer cartridge. What a wonderful compromise that fills so many of the ideas embodied in the concept of one rifle, one cartridge, one scope, one bullet and load chain, to do it all for the average hunter who likes to reload.

The Ruger Hawkeye, with a 22" barrel, the .358 Winchester cartridge, Leupold VX III 1.5-5x20mm, TAC powder, CCI-250 primers, Winchester brass and the 225 gr Accubond. Yes sir, the perfect pragmatic compromise, possibly the mythical all around for taking game in North America. I did say mythical, didn't I?


Mike Price is a lifelong shooter, hunter and reloading enthusiast. He has been published at AmmoGuide.com, Guns & Ammo and Nosler. His article "Green Boxes", available at AmmoGuide.com, is posted in the bullet production area at Sierra. Mike has traveled to Africa, Europe, Asia, parts of Central America. His favorite two hobbies are spending time with grand children and taking them hunting. Mike holds a Ph.D in Philosophy and Psychology, is a licensed clinical therapist, adjunct professor and Minister in the Church of Christ. To read more by Mike, CLICK HERE.

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