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The .300 Winchester Magnum: The Best Hunting Cartridge?

LJ Bonham is a semi-subsistence hunter, hunting magazine editor, and firearms enthusiast who lives in the Rocky Mountains.

L-R: .338 Win Mag, .300 Win Mag, 375 H&H Mag

L-R: .338 Win Mag, .300 Win Mag, 375 H&H Mag

Tough Veteran

Is it possible, despite all the new hunting cartridges introduced in the last decade or so, that the best has been here all along? In 1963, the .300 Winchester Magnum hit the market. Winchester intended the .300 to provide .30-06 punch with the .270’s flat trajectory, and created something greater than the sum of its parts. Almost every gun maker offers a model chambered for this fantastic cartridge.

Proven Performer

Why is the .300 Win Mag so special? Versatility, availability, and power. The .300 can take everything from woodchucks and coyotes, to moose and Grizzly bears. Hand loaders can tailor the round even further with premium bullets. Few other cartridges can claim such flexibility.

The .300, like so many other magnums, uses the British developed .375 H&H Magnum’s belted case; shortened to fit into standard length actions, with less taper, and a sharper shoulder. It works at higher pressures (64,000 PSI) than its parent to provide on average 150–200 feet per second greater velocity than the .30-06.

.300 Win Mag velocity compared to other popular calibers

.300 Win Mag velocity compared to other popular calibers

.300 Win Mag energy by bullet weight (industry std. velocities)

.300 Win Mag energy by bullet weight (industry std. velocities)

Pros and Cons

Detractors claim the .300’s case is its primary fault: inefficient, and short necked, which they say is problematic for the hand loader, particularly with heavy for caliber bullets. Those who actually use the .300 have few complaints, however. All the bullet and powder makers publish complete reloading data for the .300, and all are very enthusiastic about its capabilities.

Weight for weight, thirty caliber bullets may not have the ballistic efficiency or sectional density that 6.5 or 7mm bullets do, but that has not prevented the .300 from winning countless long-range target matches. It is still considered by many in America’s West the premier long-range elk and pronghorn antelope round.

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.300 Win Mag vs. .308: Long-Range Impact Energy

World Standard

The .300 Winchester Magnum is an international favorite, as well. European hunters like it for the larger stags and moose. It is very popular for African plains game of all sizes. It has taken game in Alaska and Canada. In short, anywhere power and reach are needed, the .300 is there.

The .300 found a home early in its life with law enforcement and the military, and is considered superior to the standard issue 7.62mm NATO sniper rounds beyond 500 meters.


A Hard Kicker?

The .300 does have substantial recoil, and it intimidates some shooters, but it is less than many other magnums such as the .375s, .300 RUM, and .30-378 Weatherby. When chambered in a rifle with a properly designed and fitted stock, most people can shoot it quite well. It is not a cartridge suited to ultra-lightweight guns though; anything less than seven and a half pounds bare will get even a seasoned shooter’s undivided attention.

The Perfect Cartridge?

There are harder hitting, more efficient, and longer ranged cartridges than the .300 Winchester Magnum, but few if any are available in almost any gun store around the world. A major consideration in the age of recurring ammunition shortages. For the one gun, international hunter, no other cartridge is as useful for every game species on the planet, except Africa’s largest animals, than the .300 Winchester Magnum.

.300 Win Mag Knockdown Power!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Are Remington synthetic cartridges better than wooden Savage?

Answer: I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you referring to the stocks those companies use for their rifles, or do you want to know something else? If you are interested in their rifle stocks, both companies use wood and synthetic/composite materials. Rifle makers offer a given stock type based on many factors: price point, customer feedback, style, operational environment--the list is extensive. Neither company actually makes their stocks, these days; they are provided by third-party vendors. The main things to consider when you shop for a rifle are, first and foremost: is the basic rifle chassis (receiver and barrel) well made and then, does the furniture (stock) meet your needs. A stock should fit you well, fit the rifle well, and fit into the operational environment you plan to hunt in. Synthetic stocks have come a long way in the last twenty years, or so. They resist, or prevent, a rifle from losing its zero due to temperature and humidity changes. Some people don't like the esthetics, but I'm a form follows function guy, and appearance is secondary to performance for me. Also, a serious hunting gun takes quite a pounding in the field season after season, and I don't want a stock I'll cry over if it gets a few nicks in it.

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