LOADING LARGE | Hunting Ammunition

Take this sage “bigger is deader” advice before packing for your next elk, moose or bear hunt!

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d6845_phatch
Marlin Guide rifle in .450 Marlin. Handloads with Hornady 350-grain FP bullets. The .450 Marlin has a wider belt than standard belted cartridges. This is to prevent it from chambering in other magnum rifles.

The hunter made a good shot, a classic double lung, but elk are tough. The bull took off for the border of Yellowstone National Park, and if he made it across we would have to walk away and let him rot. The hunter continued pounding away with his 7mm Remington Mag., but nothing was happening. As the gap closed, another hunter’s shot rang out: When that big .338 Remington Ultra Mag. hit the elk, the animal stopped debating the issue. Once again, a big bullet accomplished what a swarm of little bullets could not.

We all know the arguments, “it’s all about shot placement” and so forth. But in the end, size matters. But all things being equal, a bigger bullet does more damage. If you are a serious hunter you should never plan your choice of firearms around the mythical “perfect shot.” Rather, pick your equipment for the worst-case scenario. After all, isn’t this about killing the animal in the most humane, surest way possible? The physics are simple: The bigger the bullet, the bigger the hole; the bigger the hole, the faster the critter dies. So, why mess around with a marginal rifle cartridge?

d11112_phatch
The Norma-brand rifle in .358 Norma Magnum that was used by the author on his moose hunt in Sweden.

SMALL ROUNDS & BIG GAME

The question was pretty much rhetorical, but I’ll answer it. Some advocates of small guns believe they can take their game with a little cartridge. However, there seems to be a dearth of technical evidence supporting the use of a smaller cartridge. But there is no technical argument against using a larger cartridge for hunting. You cannot over-kill any big-game animal. There is only one kind of dead, but there are an infinite number of degrees of wounded.