View Full Version : Mountain Sheep Rifle Cartridges?

03-08-2003, 05:05 PM
I have a 1.5 hr drive home so I get too much time to think. I recently picked up a UT FNAWS flier and got to thinking what would be the perfect sheep rifle. Beings that I don't know I thought I'd ask here. My ideas are something between .25 and .28 on any of the short action cartridges from the .308 class on up. Since I've never shot a light rifle I don't know what I'd aim for as far as weight. Scope would be anything with at least 6X magnification, but no more than 9X to save on weight.

What would be your IDEAL mountain sheep rifle?

PS- Sorry, but the mental masturbation gets pretty bad for me this time of year.

03-08-2003, 10:28 PM

Very good subject for mental masturbation, and one I've pondered myself.

Assuming you're talking about a very light rifle, my vote goes to the .260 Remington, with a 2x7 Compact scope. Right in the middle of that that span you laid out. Congrats!


03-09-2003, 03:59 PM
I am building my "sheep" rifle right now. It is a M70 .300 WSM barreled action and I am trying for 7lbs loaded. My .270 worked great on sheep and moose, but I passed up a great grizzly @ 227 yards because it just wasn't right for the .270. When I go back, I will be ready for anything. I plan to load it down to .300 Savage/.308 Win levels to use here in Mi for whitetails.

03-11-2003, 06:20 AM
When discussing sheep cartridges, the first question is are you hunting in a grizzly area or not? Sleeping near a cache of sheep meat with only a thin nylon fabric between you and a brown bear makes this a very important question even if you have no interest in bear hunting. He may be hunting you.
If not in bear country, I like the .257 Roberts Imp. but just about anything bigger than a .243 will do. In bear country, I feel you should carry at least a .30 caliber. Patricks's Rambler is great, but I don't think I will be shooting a sheep on top of a mountain with the .260 barrel and than stopping to change barrels (after hauling a .308 barrel up the mountain) to .308 before descendng with a load of sheep meat in grizzly country. Every time I ask a grizzly to wait before mauling me so I can change barrels, they refuse to comply.

03-13-2003, 08:23 AM
Thanks for the replies! If'n I'm in Grizz country the .338 will get the nod for insurance sake. I'm collecting the components for a heavy (10#+) .264 Win Mag and am starting to think that it is too niche specific. Couple that with the FNAWS flier got me to thinking of other avenues, of which Patrick's suggestion of a .260 Rem is the forerunner!

03-13-2003, 03:00 PM
Great topic.....in bear counry I wouldn't have anything less than a 30 cal. I like the 300WSM the 150/180 loads are good all around choices for sheep and bear.

Yukon Hunter
03-15-2003, 09:21 AM
Despite taking my Dall Ram last year with a .270, I've decided, for a couple of reasons, to go to a one-gun, one cartridge battery. That would be my Sako synthetic .375 H&H with a 20" barrel. It's VERY light (weight unknown- no scale handy), will knock down absolutely anything, and the recoil is, oddly enough, manageable. My sister (at a whopping 103 lbs.) even found the kick to be reasonable.
I also love the idea of one gun for all. Moose, Caribou, Sheep, Grizz- whatever. There's no such thing as "too dead", I don't find that it has excessive meat waste, and I'm very familiar with what this rifle does in most situations. My .270, with 130 grain bullets, dropped about 40" at 500 yards. The .375, with 270 grainers, drops about 10" more. I can live with that, considering all the friggin' bears up there.

03-19-2003, 05:32 PM
Have you looked at Weatherbys .338-06 Ultra Lite?
With Noslers new 225 grain Accubond it should be suitable for all big game in US. With 2x7 Leupold my rifle is under 7 lbs. Shoots good ,nice to carry.

03-24-2003, 02:12 PM
Joe- I bought an Ultralight .338/06 just before Christmas, but haven't had a chance to play w/ it much yet. How does yours shoot, and what loads are you using? My rifle weighs 6#, 2oz. bare, about 1/8# over the advertised weight. It didn't surprise me though, because the one I have in .25/06 weighs about 1/8# over advertised weight too. I'm yet undecided about scope choice for this rifle. It is critical to get the "right" scope for these ultralights, as I learned to hard way that it is easy to kill the balance and lively feel w/ too much scope. I finally settled on a 3x9 leupold compact on the .25/06 after trying three other Leupolds. I am using the new Lightweight alloy Talley mounts that come in at 2.2oz, and want the total package to weigh no more than 7#, all up, like yours. I beleive the 2x7 compact has too short a tube for this rifle, and it is not offered in matte finish, one of my prerequisites. Scopes I'm considering: Leupold; 2x7 VXII, 3x9 compact, 1.75x6 VXIII, 2.5x8 VXIII, Kahles 2x7 1", or Swarovski 3x9 1". At 11.6 oz., the European scopes are at the upper limit, weight-wise. Are you satisfied w/ your 2x7? Is it a new generation VXII w/ the multicoat 4? Any opinions or experiences will be appreciated

03-25-2003, 07:28 AM

Hope you don't mind me jumping in...

I have the new VXII 2-7x in Talley alloy mounts on my .338-06 ULW and am extremely pleased with the entire set-up. I am shooting 225 grain SAF's for elk--RL 15 gives me about 2600 fps and avg 1.25" groups. While I am still playing with the load, this is more than adequate for my needs.

Now all I need is a matching rifle in .25-06--the ultimate 2-gun battery for North America....


03-25-2003, 02:56 PM
shu- Glad to hear you're happy w/ your setup. We must think alike in regards to the 2 rifle battery, except I started w/ the .25/06. My wife also has an Ultra in .243 which is actually more accurate than my .25/06. I shoot 100 grain barnes xlc's, which are devastating on deer sized game. I have always loved the .338's, I shot a magnum version for the past 15 years, but ruined it with a muzzle brake a couple years ago. I was wanting something lighter anyway, so I sold it. Due to some judidious trading, I've only got about $625 in my ultralight .338/06. That leaves me a little room to splurge on optics, but I will probably stick w/ the tried & true Leupold's, either the 2.5x8 or 2x7, whichever I can score the best deal on. This rifle will mostly be a dedicated elk rifle, as the .25/06 is a half pound lighter and has plenty of smoke for anything up to and including elk, but if I ever draw one of the sheep tags I religiously apply for I'll probably use the .25/06. Always glad to talk to someone w/ like interests- Jim

03-28-2003, 10:55 AM
Bighorn & shu,
My 338-06 likes 225 gr bullets. Right now I am shooting 51 grs IMR-4064 w/Hornadys. 1.25" groups, glass bedded and free floated. My 2x7 is old. Will be using vari-x III's from now on or Nikon or Sightron 4X. Vari-x I & 2 have two piece tubes. I will also be trying H4350 with 225 gr bullets. Extreme powders from hogdon maintain velocity during wide range of temperatures. RL-15 is supposed to do that as well and shoots great w/210 Nosler in my 338 mag.

03-28-2003, 11:09 AM
If I weren't going with a 4x, I'd probably go with the 1.75x6E from Leupold. Sightron and Nikon claim 95% + light transmission. Leupold claims 87% for their VXI & II. My 4x Redfield seems to be brighter than my 2x7 Leupold. I'm looking for ruggedness. The 1 piece tube should be more rugged. Don't you think? I will also be trying RL-15 with 210 Noslers. Should be low recoil all around load. I'll keep you posted.

03-28-2003, 11:40 AM
I was hoping to be able to use 210 Noslers or XLC's in mine. How did you bed yours in regards to the aluminum bedding block in the B&C stock? did you skim bed it with steel bed, devcon, marine tex, or what? Or, did you remove some of the aluminum material. Of the 3 Ultralights I've had, the first, a .243, shoots one hole groups with about whatever you feed it. The only "tuning" it's had has been lightening the trigger pull weight. The second, a .25/06, didn't shoot well at all during the breakin period. In fact, I almost sent it back to Weatherby because it wouldn't come any where near their 1.5" gaurantee. After some scope switching, and some load experimenting, it got quite a bit better. Then right around the 100 round mark, all of the sudden groups started to shrink untill it consistently shoots under an inch. It does not like any bullet I've tried heavier than 100 grains. I've been tempted to bed & float it just like I would a normal Remington 700, but I've held off because of fear of voiding the factory warranty. I'll have to reserve judgement untill I've had a chance to play with the .338/06. If it doesn't shoot like I think it should, maybe I'll sell the whole bunch and buy a Rambling Rifle. A .260 and a .358 should take care of about all my needs in that department too. I like the concept of the RR, and I love the way they handle and look. When you factor in the fact that you only need 1 scope, they really aren't all that much more expensive that 2 good quality, lightweight rifles, w/ quality scopes and mounts.

03-28-2003, 02:27 PM
I bedded my weatherby by putting a gob of acraglass gel at the 90 degree recoil lug/action area and then reassembled the gun. Groups went from 1.95" to 1.25"! My initial disapointment shrank with the groups. 38 rounds fired so far.The reason I purchased the 338-06 was to eliminate the " gun battery". My Colt Light Rifle now belongs to my wife. 7MM Mag w/3x9 Burris Fullfield II. 7 lbs. 1.1-1.25" groups.$600 total investment. I will continue to try other loads. RL-15 & H4350 w/225's & RL-15 with 210 Noslers or 200 X bullets. Shot 225 X's w/50 grs. 4064 got 1.35' group. Need to check velocity but should be killer elk load. Waiting for Nosler 225 Accubonds. 200 gr. B-tip needs to be seated deep in my rifle. 200 hornadys did better but still not satisfactory.

03-28-2003, 07:38 PM
FWIW....A good friend works with D'arcy Echols up in Cache Valley and he tells me that in the course of testing all their African big bores over the years about the only scopes that hold up to the punishment are the Leupolds. European scopes are great glass but don't take the punishment.(according to him) Same thing for the Burris scopes (after I popped $ for one of their new Signature series.) I have always been satisfied with Leupold and Burris. The beauty of Leupold is their customer service and lifetime warranty. I have sent a 4x back for rebuilding twice in twenty years. Any scope can break, (I've broken Swarovski binos too and they did me right)having a company that stands behind their product is the bottom line for me.
All around go to rifle for serious hunting? Rem 700 22"bbl, .270 Win, matt finish, reworked trigger and HS Precision classic stock. Currently wears the Burris Signature 2-7 and Leupold double dovetail rings. Weight is 7 lbs sans ammo. I only hunt the lower 48 so don't need grizzly medicine. It works for everything else with two loads that both shoot to same point of aim.

03-28-2003, 07:47 PM
Similar to mine. LH, Garrett glass stock, and Jewell trigger. Leupold 2x7 compact, and when I use a sling, Browning Sharpshooter.
What 2 loads? I use 130 part/59 IMR4831/Win Brass/CCI or Fed primers....chronographed at 3276
150 partition, all same except 57 gr. 150 prints 1 inch lower at 100yds

Disclaimer. This works for me. The rest of the world should back off 3 grains or more and see how it works. For all I know, your chamber is tighter, and these loads would cause serious problems in your gun.

03-28-2003, 08:53 PM
Kevin, you shooting a 22" barrel or longer?

I have three goals when I reload: accuracy, barrel life and minimum recoil. I segregate cases by mfg but generally don't vary my loads by case mfg and have never suffered accuracy because of it. I actually have 3 loads I use:

Varmint load: Hornady 110 gr hpfb, 56 gr IMR 4350, F210 primers, COL 3.365, crono @ 3150.

Day to day load for deer, goats etc.: Sierra 140 gr Gameking btsp, 58 gr H4831, F210 primer, col 3.340, crono @ 2900.

Elk load: 150 gr Partition, 56.5 gr H4831, f210 primers, col 3.345, crono @ 2825.

Both of these hunting loads are +2.5" @ 100 & 200 and down about 6" at 300.

I like Sierras for their price point and accuracy and shoot them a lot. Noslers for their terminal performance and reserve them for load development and actual hunting. I belong to a small arms assoc. with a 600 yard range about a mile from my house and it's great for getting out each week to practice without having to drive forever.

03-29-2003, 05:06 AM
Elmbow- Are you talking about the Centerville range? Sound like you may, I've tried emailing the contact from <a href="http://www.utahshootingsports.com" target="_blank">http://www.utahshootingsports.com (http://www.utahshootingsports.com)</a> and keep getting an error message. Either way, I'd be interested in knowing more about the range your talking about. Do they allow for field position shooting? How much to join? Lastly where abouts?

03-29-2003, 08:34 AM
Elmbow, that was chronographed in a pre-64 Model 70 by a friend of mine that shoots the identical load. I would not be surprised if it has a 24" barrel but I believe it's only 22. It has been years and I can't remember. Yup, it screams out of the rifle and hits plenty hard. Elk go down at any reasonable range fast, and a few at unreasonable ranges.

Right now, I am using the standard Remington barrel at 22" but that is a dilemma for me. I've done all the easy stuff to lose weight. The next step is either to replace the barrel or put the action on a diet. Or save up the dough and let Patrick turn it into a gossamer wand. Can't decide, and since none of my options are cheap, it will take a while. I think it will be 04 before I do anything, especially since I hardly notice it now.

03-29-2003, 08:37 AM
Elmbow, FYI, the Winchester brass is slightly thinner and holds about 2 gr more powder. That's why I stick with it. I get no pressure signs with the Winchester but I only use the brass 3x max for these loads. I also use 19gr 4227 with a 130 gr ballistic tip for a small game load. Like shooting a 22 mag, but it works pretty well out to 100-125 yds or so.

03-29-2003, 05:33 PM
Kevin, good tips on the small game loads and brass. I cast bullets for my Win 1895 and Browning 1885 and for my Rugers,and I've thought about casting for the .270 also but I'm finding less and less time for reloading in my old age. I never have ammo loaded when I want to go shooting but I sure enjoy loading my own. I'm sure Patrick's rifle is a dandy but it's out of my price range and I do most of my own gunsmithing. I guess I'll have to stay in good enough shape to lug a 7 lb'er around. That's what initially brought me to this site is my search for the ultralight stove/tent solution. I am going to buy Patrick's stove this summer and hopefully a tipi before elk season.

Pointer, yes it's the centerville small arms association and it's right above my house. It's official purpose is for NRA High Power matches and the local gendarme use it as do the shooters from Hill AFB. I don't participate in that stuff but took out a lifetime membership to get key privileges. The current Pres. is deployed with the Guard but you can call Bud Benard here in Bountiful @ 295-2740. I believe life membership now is $175.00 which I think is cheap for a key to your own rifle range. They have two berms, at 300 and 600 yards respectively. They are offset so you can see them both from the shooting positions and can shoot from 100,200,300,400,500 and 600 yards. The range is on Centerville city property and they do ten year leases to the assoc. in the past they have had some council members that wanted to get rid of it. Currently we are on a new 10 yr renewal.
Let me know if you need any more info. I'd be glad to take you up for a look see.

03-29-2003, 06:18 PM
Thanks I give him a call! Kaysville and Lee Kay are nice, but I need someplace closer to home to practice from field positions.