In selecting the ten best big game cartridges of all time, it’s important to define what “best” really means. There are cartridges that have a much flatter trajectory curve than other cartridges, and there are those that are extremely efficient. Others are easy to hand load, while some have a reputation for accuracy and thrive in competition.
But in a democratic sense, the “best” American cartridges are those that have won over the masses and garnered the approval of American hunters, withstanding the test of time.
These cartridges must have a long and decorated track record on game, and while I believe that some of the newer cartridges like the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .270 Winchester Short Magnum may prove to be lasting and popular cartridges, they’ve yet to endure a half century of field testing. The cartridges that made the cut here have all been around for over 50 years, and a few have been around more than twice that long.
While you can argue that other cartridges perform better, the following rounds have become the gold standard by which other hunting cartridges are judged.
Based on history, success, performance and popularity, here is a list of the ten best hunting cartridges of the modern era.
<h2>.243 Winchester</h2>The .243 Winchester debuted in 1955 as a necked-down version of the .308 Winchester. And while it may seem an obvious choice for one of the most versatile and effective big game cartridges ever developed, surviving as a 6mm cartridge isn’t as easy as it seems. <p></p> The 6mm Remington, argued by many to be a better cartridge than the .243, has struggled on the edge of obscurity for years, and the .243 WSSM hasn’t come close to matching the other Winchester 6mm in popularity. The .243 Winchester is capable of driving an 80-grain bullet about 3,300 fps and a 100-grain projectile around 2,800 fps, making the .243 a flat-shooting varmint cartridge that can also kill deer, antelope and black bear. <p></p> Recoil with the .243 is minimal, rifles are everywhere and there is plenty of ammunition available even if you don’t handload.