How small is too small?

Are large calibres better than small calibres for deer stalking?

A: (George Wallace)

There is a technical reason for preferring big bores.

There are two ways of producing a humane kill.

First, you can use a high-velocity small bore which seems to produce a level of shock to the animal’s system above and beyond what one might expect from such a light bullet.

And then there’s the larger bore with a heavier bullet which kills by making a big hole and letting all the blood out.

The first can kill in spectacular fashion with the target animal dropping as if struck by lightning.

However, they can also fail equally spectacularly if you don’t put the bullet in the right place.

A big bullet of larger diameter and at moderate velocity is usually far less dramatic and an animal hit by one may appear completely unaffected for a moment before suddenly collapsing.

Less meat damage

Either one kills perfectly well if the shooter does his part but I am personally happier with the bigger bore because they do a lot less meat damage and because the bullets don’t fragment inside the animal, spraying shards of copper and lead all over the place.

If you have no rangefinder and need to shoot routinely at 300 or 350 yards, then high velocity is certainly a big help; but at shorter ranges, where trajectory doesn’t matter so much, I am happier, much happier, with the performance of a bigger, slower bullet.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Are large calibres better than small calibres for deer stalking?
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