There are a whole lot of reasons why naysayers knock magnums, and some of their complaints are legitimate. Yes, magnums burn more powder than standard cartridges. Yes, they have increased recoil and muzzle blast. And, yes, they generally cost more to shoot. But for long shots on big game, magnums certainly have their place. Over the years there have been a number of quality rounds introduced that bear the magnum moniker.
In general, magnums refer to large, belted cartridges that are an increase in power above “standard” cartridges like the .270 and .30-06, though there are no strict rules regarding the name. Some cartridges, like the 7mm Shooting Times Westerner and the new .26 Nosler, certainly feature magnum-class speed and power without the name.
This list looks at eight great cartridges that bear the magnum title and have served dutifully from the plains of Africa to the peaks of the Himalayas. No matter the game, when you need a flat-shooting, hard-hitting cartridge these magnums get the job done.
Many of these cartridges were spawned during the “magnum craze” of the mid-20th century, but they date back as far as the 1940s, and one of them appeared on the scene as recently as 2002.
But these cartridges all share one thing in common—they are proven on big game at long ranges.
<h2>.257 Weatherby Magnum</h2>The .257 Weatherby Magnum came on the scene in 1945. Roy Weatherby had a special affinity for this cartridge, purportedly taking a cape buffalo with it. Though it isn’t considered a dangerous game gun, the .257 is one of the fastest, flattest-shooting .25s ever designed. Factory ammo is currently available, with bullet weights ranging from 80 to 120 grains, and the 80-grain Weatherby load pushes a TTSX bullet out of the barrel somewhere around 3,870 feet per second. <p></p> Zeroed at 300 yards, that load hits only 2.55 inches high at 200 yards and 6.41 inches low at 400 yards. Even the heaviest Weatherby factory load (120-grain Partition) leaves the muzzle at 3,305 feet per second and retains 1,221 foot-pounds of energy at 500 yards. As magnums go, the .257 Weatherby is a mild kicker, and it’s a great long-range cartridge for deer, pronghorn, sheep, and the like. <p></p> It’s also remained one of Weatherby’s most popular cartridges as it’s available in both the flagship Mark V and the more budget-friendly Vanguard Series 2 line.