Choosing the best caliber rifle for a big game combo hunt is largely a matter of preference. But something versatile is important. Many of Kawdy’s hunters tackle multiple species on a single trip. So an accurate, powerful and trusted big game caliber is preferred.
The best choice is one that you have used, have sighted in accurately and trust to get the job done. Period. There’s no replacement for practice and familiarity with your weapon. There are numerous different choices but these five are reliable and widely available.
Moose and Mountain Caribou
Moose are always a major topic of debate because they are such large ungulates. But consider the fact that the .243 is a popular rifle among Alaska natives. Still, many hunters choose a large caliber for moose hunting. Common calibers like the 7mm are perfectly reliable. But the most important aspect of moose hunting is accuracy. Make a great shot and prepare for a follow-up shot to finish the job.
Stone Sheep and Mountain Goats
Stone sheep and mountain goat hunters tend to favor rifles that are accurate at distance. Mountain goats are notoriously tough for their size. There are plenty of models that crossover here and are adequate for everything from sheep to moose. Practicing at long distances and knowing your abilities are the critical elements. Having the ability to shoot farther is a major asset when a big ram is sitting on an exposed ridge that is difficult to reach without getting busted. Choosing a caliber and grain bullet suited for the job is important on a hunt of this nature.
7mm Mag – This trusted favorite is a great all-around choice for big game hunting. It has a higher velocity than most big game cartridges and it packs a hard punch. The 7mm magnum will take down moose but the speed also makes it a great choice for those longer range shots. The distance abilities means it can crossover for high country sheep and goat hunts. This is a popular round and for good reason.
6.5mm Creedmoor – This is a popular favorite and a versatile big game option. While the 6.5mm Creedmoor has gained popularity and recognition for it’s exceptional accuracy at long distances, it packs enough punch as well. Northern European moose hunters have long trusted the 6.5s. The ability to shoot long makes it similar to the 7mm mag. But the 6.5mm Creedmoor has less recoil and is a bit easier to shoot, making it a better option for some hunters.
30-06 – This is the trusted, get it done big game cartridge. You can accuse it of being old-school, but it can handle anything. It also has distance abilities, although not quite on par with the previous choices. But it’s still a better distance choice than the .270 Winchester past 400 yards (a great caliber as well). For a moose and caribou combo hunt, it’s certainly an easy choice.
.270 Winchester – Like the 30-06, this is a classic caliber that can take on any of North America’s big game species. The rifle snobs might whine. But it’s very accurate at distances under 400 yards and is about as reliable a caliber as you will find. And the lighter recoil makes it a wise choice for young or smaller-framed hunters. Pair it with a great bullet that will penetrate and hold together and the .270 is a solid choice. If you want to push the distances out farther however, a longer-range caliber is preferable.
.300 Winchester Magnum – It kicks like a horse but the .300 Win Mag is accurate, fast and hits hard. Shooting a 180-grain bullet is normal but jumping to 200-grains for moose is not uncommon. When it comes to knockdown power for moose and big caribou, plus flat shooting at longer distances, this is an excellent all-around choice. For some hunters though, the recoil can be a legitimate issue.
Again, it comes down to the rifle that you can shoot accurately and consistently. It’s far better to be confident and well practiced than it is to go chasing after something new. Practice, practice, practice.
If you have questions about combo hunts with Kawdy Outfitters, please take some time to explore the information here on the website. For availability and specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!