© By Othmar Vohringer
It’s not only elk and other large critters where the .300 magnums are hailed as the “ultimate” caliber. It seems that some of the magnum fans believe that even deer sized game won’t die if you use anything less. Are magnums really the perfect caliber that kills animals deader than dead as some would have you believe? Frankly speaking, no, they are not. In fact, more than any other caliber the .300 magnum has mislead many hunters into the wrongful thinking that the size of the caliber will make up for sloppy marksmanship. Comments in the vein of “hit them somewhere upfront and they will die” are very common. Of course it’s not true. Proper marksmanship, no matter what the caliber, is a prerequisite to a perfect killing shot.
There is another serious factor to consider when shooting .300 magnums. The downside of these magnum calibers is the amount of recoil. The average .300 magnums will kick the shooter with about 26.5 ft. lbs to 35 ft. lbs, depending on the load and bullet weight used. This is between 45% and 50% more recoil than the more traditional hunting calibers like the .30-06 Springfield and the .270 Win. One study done on over 1,000 rifle shooters has shown that the .300 magnums induced flinching by the majority of the test shooters. Flinching is the number 1 cause for inaccurate shooting. The study also showed that for most shooters the .300 magnums are outside of what they consider “comfortable” to handle.
Yet despite that result many hunters fall for the magnum hype and then wonder why their accuracy suffers. How bad the magnum hype has become and what it has done to marksmanship is made clear by the fact that many professional guides and outfitters in North America have grown very suspicious of clients showing up in camp with .300 mag. rifles and make clients prove that they can handle such a beast and be on target with it before they are taken out on a hunt.
The bottom line in this: Magnum caliber rifles are only good in the hands of a shooter that can handle them. If not then the touted advantages of a magnum will do you no good. It will in fact ruin your hunt and shooting enjoyment. If you’re in doubt, or if your accuracy has suffered since you started shooting a magnum caliber rifle, stay with the more traditional hunting calibers. The .30-06 Springfield and the .270 Winchester, to mention two of many traditional calibers, have been around for many years for good reasons. I am convinced they will be with us long after the magnum hype has subsided.