The Powerful .300 Magnums

By Chuck Hawks

The .300 Magnums are generally regarded as suitable for game from the size of deer and antelope to the largest thin-skinned game worldwide. Many experts include dangerous game like the great bears, lion, and tiger if they are shot at a safe distance with proper bullets. To stop a charging lion, tiger, or grizzly at short range, a powerful medium or big bore rifle is generally preferred, although some Alaskan guides use a .300 Magnum to back-up their clients.

The ability to achieve a comparatively flat trajectory with bullets of 200 grains and heavier, suitable for very large game, is the biggest advantage the .300 Magnums have over the standard length high intensity cartridges (like the .30-06). Unfortunately, this attribute is compromised in the short magnums such as the .300 WSM and .300 RCM--a point to remember if you are shopping for a .300 Magnum rifle.

The main drawback to any of the .300 Magnums is recoil, which is more than most shooters can handle. For this reason, many .300 Magnum shooters are prone to flinching, which causes inaccurate and erratic shooting. Many professional guides in North America are suspicious of customers who show up with .300 Mag. rifles until they prove they can shoot their formidable rifles accurately.

A typical 8 pound .300 Magnum rifle shooting a 180 grain factory load socks the shooter with about 26.5 ft. lbs. of recoil energy. An 8.5 pound .300 Weatherby Mag. rifle shooting the 180 grain factory load pounds the shooter with about 35 ft. lbs. of recoil energy. I remember reading that tests had demonstrated that the average shooter couldn't withstand over 20 ft. lbs. of recoil without developing a flinch, and that a maximum of 15 ft. lbs. is safer. Thus any .300 Magnum is way over the limit, and the wise shooter will take it in very small doses.

For more on the individual .300 Magnums, look on the Rifle Cartridge Page. There you will find articles covering all of the popular .300 Magnum cartridges.

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Copyright 2001, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.