Ask the Experts November 2010
January 04, 2011
I want to build a bolt action in .25 caliber to hunt antelope and other similar size game and be capable of shooting out to 400 or 500 yards.
.25-Caliber Long-Range Hunter?
Q. I have a question for Layne Simpson. I want to build a bolt action in .25 caliber to hunt antelope and other similar size game and be capable of shooting out to 400 or 500 yards without having to worry about carrying enough killing power. I don't mind shooting a wildcat or Weatherby cartridge.
I am looking at several cartridges, some of which Simpson has written about. I like .25-06, .25-06 Improved, .257 Weatherby, .25 Gibbs, and .257 STW. Forming brass doesn't bother me--it's one of the fun aspects of working in the reloading room. I want to shoot 80- to 120-grain bullets in the loads depending on what and how I use the gun. So this question is: What would Layne consider the strengths and weaknesses of each of the cartridges listed above? Which one would he use?
A. Except for the .25 Gibbs, which is similar in performance to the .25-06 Improved, I have taken deer-size game with all the cartridges you mentioned and find all to be quite suitable for shooting at extended ranges. The .257 Weatherby Magnum shoots almost as flat as the .257 STW, and factory ammo is available for it to boot. Everything considered, it is the best of the bunch for long-range shooting, especially when the heavier bullets of that caliber are used.
With that said, my favorite .25 is still the .25-06. I started using it back when it was a wildcat and continue using it as much as possible today. I have a Cooper Model 52 Western Classic in that caliber that is incredibly accurate. When placing an order for that rifle, I was torn between the standard and the Improved versions of the .25-06, but the former finally won out. The Improved is about 100 fps faster than the standard cartridge.
Executive Field Editor
Q. Why is the .308 Winchester that's so popular in the East almost disregarded as a hunting cartridge out West?
A. In a word, bigger game and longer distances. In the Midwest, East, and South, big-bodied game such as elk rarely if ever enter the equation, and shots are usually taken within 250 yards. The .308 Win. is a great performer in such conditions, but it does not have a particularly flat trajectory, and when shots stretch beyond 250 yards, cartridges such as the .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag., .30-06, and various .300 magnums really outshine it. Also, the .308 does not handle heavy .30-caliber bullets particularly well, and many westerners like 180-grain bullets, especially when hunting elk.
Joseph von Benedikt
Editor in Chief
Also see: Reduced .308 Winchester Loads.
Beware Of Dry Cleaning Fluid
I read the "How To Clean Reloaded Ammo" article by George Nonte Jr. that was reprinted in the September 2010 issue, and I felt compelled to warn readers about the potential danger of using dry cleaning fluid to clean their ammunition. Obviously since that article was from the 1960s, Mr. Nonte was not aware of more recent health concerns associated with perchlorethylene (PERC), which is the most commonly used dry cleaning solvent. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), PERC can enter the body through respiratory and dermal exposure, and it can cause depression of the central nervous system, damage to the liver and kidneys, impaired memory, confusion, dizziness, headache, and drowsiness. It can also cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. NIOSH considers PERC to be a potential human carcinogen. Proper ventilation is recommended to control exposure to PERC.
Msgt. Victor S. Jr., U.S.A.F., Ret.
Lost Creek, WV