American shooters think they know a lot about magnum rifle cartridges and performance, but after they shoot one they’re positive they know one thing—recoil. Magnums batter at both ends.
Experienced magnum shooters sneer at that. Recoil doesn’t bother them. But it bothers others, often to the point of ruining their shooting. Flinch.
It doesn’t have to.
The 7mm Rem. Mag. will throw a 150-grain bullet farther than a 7mm-08 Rem., but a laser rangefinder can compensate for that. Then it's just a matter of selecting the correct aiming point and putting the bullet in a vital spot.
The so-called magnum advantage really isn’t. Magnums don’t kill harder, deader and faster than most standard rounds. Friends and I have proven this to ourselves while taking literally hundreds of big game animals with everything from .223 Rem. to .458 Lott elephant rounds.
We’ve watched elk drop in their tracks when hit with a 243 Win. and coyotes dash 30 yards after taking a .300 magnum through the boiler room at 50 yards. We’ve shot through jackrabbits with a .357 Mag. without even slowing them down. And we’ve watched 2,000-pound buffalo collapse in their tracks when hit with a .270 Win.
In short, magnums just don’t always deliver the knockout punch they’re supposed to.
This doesn’t mean they’re puny or underpowered—it just means that bullets don’t perform like the punch from a heavyweight boxer. Despite all those foot-pounds of energy in a magnum, it’s not going to hit like the hammer of Thor and pound all game into an early grave.
A puny, little 140-grain .270 Win. bullet broke the neck of this 2,000- pound Australian water buffalo and anchored it in its tracks.
A bullet can absolutely pulverize the heart and lungs of a critter while barely jolting it. Until blood pressure to the brain drops sufficiently, the animal goes about its business. Usually that’s running away, but sometimes it’s just standing there or walking or even eating. Many times game doesn’t even know it’s been hit until it falls over. This takes anywhere from 3-20 seconds—sometimes longer—regardless the energy with which the bullet struck.
So why fool around with magnums? For extra reach. By throwing bullets faster, magnums throw them farther before they fall too low to hit your target. This is all relevant, but many magnums can add 20-60 yards to your dead-on shooting distance. They still recoil smartly doing it, so if you don’t appreciate that, choose a non-magnum cartridge and make up the shortfall with a laser rangefinder.
A 95-grain bullet from a .243 Win. is NOT supposed to be used to shoot Dall's sheep at 450 yards, but no one told Spomer, his rifle, his ammo or this ram.
A laser rangefinder offsets the magnum reach advantage by nailing precise distance to target. Once you know that, you just raise your sights or dial your turret or choose the correct ballistic reticle to put your bullet on target. If that target is the central nervous system, dead right there. If it’s the heart/lungs, give things a few seconds to work out.
Regardless whether your bullet lands with magnum or standard energy, it’s not going to bounce off.