The .300 Winchester Magnum: The Best Hunting Cartridge?
Is it possible, despite all the new hunting cartridges introduced in the last decade or so, 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.
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 bear. 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 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.
.300 Win Mag vs. .308: Long Range Impact Energy
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 need, 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 .375’s, .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-light weight guns though; anything less than seven and half pounds bare will get even a seasoned shooter’s undivided attention.
What's your favorite hunting cartridge?
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.