The Chamberlain Development
Cartridge Comparison Guide
Better understanding cartridge performance empowering the reader to select the best cartridge for their personal shooting requirements
The Cartridge Comparison Guide has been called “The Hunting Bible” by Professional Hunters from South Africa, as well as “A Gold Mine of Information” from U.S. Fish & Wildlife employees. This Guide delivers superb evaluation techniques, hand selected ballistic data, simple and extremely accurate comparison tools and discussion material that will benefit every hunter. This Guide covers virtually every hunting application offered by cartridges that are factory available and hand loaded for both standard Rifles and Handguns.
When preparing to hunt in a new area or for a new type of animal, information regarding the optimal cartridges, bullet types, and bullet energies can be hard to find. Let us provide two suggestions. Always check the state, area, or jurisdiction requirements where you will be hunting. The Division of Wildlife, Fish and Game, Department of Natural resources or other regional authorities will provide a list of the minimum legal requirements for bullet type, bullet size, and bullet energy to harvest a specific game animal. In addition to the area authority, ask those individuals who have personal experience hunting a particular animal for their suggestions. (Ask them to recommend at least two cartridges. There should always be more than one cartridge that will do a good job.) This combination of legal requirements and recommendations from experienced hunters will provide an excellent launch pad for your selection process.
We would like to provide you with a few baseline suggestions of appropriate calibers, velocities, and bullet energies for each size of game animal that align with most states requirements. (Remember to always check your area).
Varmints, (depending on the state) may include fox, coyote, beaver, raccoon, skunk, squirrel, gopher, etc. Typically, varmints may be hunted with any firearm. (There may not be a requirement of bullet weight or energy to harvest varmints.) When shooting small varmints, any .172” up to .224" caliber cartridge will do well. When shooting large varmints (such as coyotes and bobcats) or at distances well over 80 yards, we recommend .172,” .204” or .224" caliber cartridges, with velocities of approximately 3,100 ft/sec and produce 250 ft-lbs of energy on target. With that said a viable minimum is a 22 magnum that shoots a 40 grain bullet at 1900 ft/sec. Remember, when shooting varmints, faster bullets are more fun – “The faster the funner.”
Small and Medium Game can include animals from 20 lbs up to 150 lbs (or antelope and deer sized animals), in general these animals can be hunted with a .224 caliber cartridge. However we recommend using cartridges from .243” caliber up to the .284” or even .308” caliber cartridges. An expanding bullet of medium bullet weight delivering 1,000 to 2,200 ft-lbs of energy at 100 yards should perform very well. Medium bullet weights usually perform well on medium game (we discuss this in the Wound Channel and Bullet Expansion sections of this Guide). A good rule of thumb for finding a good bullet weight for a particular animal is to match the weight of the bullet (in grains) to approximately 65% -110% of the animal weight. For example, a 150 lb deer should be harvested with a bullet weighing 100 -165 grains. This will help the beginner find an appropriate bullet weight for a specific animal. It will also help you stretch the capabilities of an existing rifle if your budget does not include a new rifle, scope and ammo.
When hunting small to medium game we particularly like cartridges with performance levels similar to the 243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, 25-06 Remington, 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, 270 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, and 308 Winchester. Any cartridge that can deliver similar levels of velocity, bullet weight and energy should be very effective (See Data tables).
Big Game such as large deer, elk and moose can be hunted with a .243” caliber cartridge using a bullet weight of 85 grains or more. Some very popular cartridges range in caliber from .257” up to .338”, use bullet weights of 125 to 250 grains and generate well over 2,200 ft-lbs of energy. Even larger calibers like the .358”, .375”, .416” and .458" can be popular for elk, moose, and bear. These cartridges can generate over 4,500 ft-lbs of energy. However, the level of recoil energy may be more than an inexperienced hunter can confidently manage. A few examples of adequate and proven Big Game hunting cartridges are the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser, 270 Winchester, 7x57 Mauser, 7mm Remington Magnum, 308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield and the 300 Winchester Magnum. We say adequate because they all will do the job very well and are not lack luster in their performance.
Let us give you an example of why we say adequate and not lack luster. Consider the number of moose harvested in Norway, Sweden and Finland annually. In Norway alone, more than 35,000 moose are harvested each year. The two most popular cartridges used to harvest this huge number of animals are the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser and the 7x57 Mauser. These two cartridges have also proven themselves in African Safari applications. Combining these two cartridges with the proven track record of the 308 Winchester and the 30-06, the reader can confidently set the standard of proven and adequate performance. Using this information combined with proven field experience, we consider the higher level performance offered by the 300 Winchester Magnum to represent the transition point to the upper echelon of big game cartridges. Meaning that the 300 Winchester Magnum and anything at or above its provision of energy and bullet weight will deliver superior performance on any type of big game animals you wish to harvest.
Heavy game is any animal with large or heavy bones and dense muscle tissue. This could be a smaller sized animal like a 350 pound wild boar, or it could be larger animals like an Alaskan grizzly, a 1,200 pound Yukon Bull Moose, or large African plains game like Eland or Oryx. When planning to harvest heavy game, use a proven big game cartridge with a bullet that is larger, heavier and has more controlled expansion than a typical big game bullet. (See the Bullet Construction and Bullet Expansion sections of this Guide) Also, we recommend using a cartridge that can generate over 3,200 ft-lbs of bullet energy.
Popular and proven cartridges for heavy game may include the .308 caliber cartridges, but we recommend using the larger calibers from the .323” and .338” up to the .375”, .416” and even the .458” caliber cartridges. Some of these cartridges may include the 8x57 Mauser, 8mm Remington Magnum, 338-06 A-Square, 338 Winchester Magnum, 9.3x62 Mauser, 375 H&H, 416 Rigby, and the 458 Winchester Magnum.
Dangerous Game can be anything from a Grizzly Bear in North America to a Lion, Cape Buffalo, Hippo, or Elephant in Africa. These are not animals to be harvested using a cartridge that delivers minimum killing power. But they should be harvested with a cartridge that delivers high-level killing power also known as Stopping Power.
Dangerous Game cartridges with Stopping Power typically range in caliber from .375” up to .458”. Hunting Dangerous Game in Africa usually requires a minimum caliber of .375” (The 9.3x62 and 9.3x64 may be the exception) with a minimum bullet weight of 300 grains. These cartridges propel a large diameter - heavy bullet with controlled expansion. Often a solid bullet or non-expanding bullet is used.
True Stopping Power cartridges typically include a range in caliber from .510 to .700” like the 500 Nitro Express, 500 Jefferies, 505 Gibbs, 577 T-Rex and 700 Nitro Express. Each of these cartridges expel a very heavy slug at velocities of roughly 2,000 to 2,300 ft/sec (“Heavy and Slow”). Some new or modern cartridges may produce a higher velocity or more energy than some of these “slower, heavy-slugged” cartridges. This could make these older and well established cartridges appear to be out-dated. However, these cartridges are still being used with a high level of success and satisfaction. There is a very good reason for this. THEY WORK!
If you want a high-performing cartridge and an effective bullet combination, don’t jump to conclusions or cut corners. Start your cartridge selection based on what is proven to work. Ask those who have experience hunting the animal(s) you plan on harvesting. Ask them why they use a specific cartridge, and why they prefer it over the other available options (Their answers may surprise you!). Then do your own specific research and select the right cartridge for your specific purposes to create shooting success!
This 184 page Cartridge Comparison Guide by Chamberlain Development is packed from front to back with valuable information for the novice to the experienced shooter, with bullet performance, graphs charts for every make and bullet type imaginable every hunter, shooter should own this information packed manual, this manual can be purchased here at
Rockies to Alaska Outdoors.
The ultimate hunting and ballistic manual provides the tools and selection techniques that will help every reader clearly understand their own shooting expectations and capabilities. This Guide will help a hunter gain success by quickly finding the specific cartridges, bullet combinations and structures that will fit their individual requirements, provide the necessary terminal performance and maximize their enjoyment and shooting success. Good Hunting!
The Chamberlain Development
Cartridge Comparison Guide
The Ultimate Hunting & Ballistics Manual