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Thread: Reduced loads in your Big Game rifles for small game.

  1. #1
    Boolit Master greywuuf's Avatar
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    Reduced loads in your Big Game rifles for small game.

    Almost all of the "old school" writers talk about it, and some of the manuals show it, but do any of you do it? Curious as I have a new to me rolling block carbine in 7x57 that I am working up some caribou loads for later this year. I am looking for a reason to carry it around before season, thinking maybe a slow cast slug might not be too bad for Ptarmigan head shots ...or possibly a bunny.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Killed a deer with cast in a 7x57 and shot a TON of the 135 grain soup can bullet from Midsouth in practice with ten grains of 700X, but never used it on small game.

    I like to squirrel hunt with a down loaded .22 Hornet or .25-20 and cast, but those aren't big game rifles. Did a little with a .30-30 which downloads easier than most big game cartridges.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    There are lots of cat sneeze or mouse fart loads you can look up, a pinch of tite group or bullseye under a dab of lead...if nothing else its fun.

    Little 314-90swc for 30 cal plinking and small game (rabbit)

    Something similar in your 7mm would be fun

    Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    https://castboolits.gunloads.com/sho...l=1#post196751

    See item number 1. Bullseye is the powder of choice. It will work in your 7x57 too. What you are looking for is accuracy, so be prepared to work up or down.
    USMC 6638

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    I use a plain base 30-155 flat on top of 5.6 grains of 700X. I think it runs around 1000 fps. On my 30-30 I use the highest sight setting and it is dead on at 50 yds. FYI the lowest sight setting is on for my deer loads. I have used light for caliber but harder to regulate the sights with my heavier loads. Most any fast shotgun/pistol powder will work.
    I have played around with small game loads in all my big guns and 30-30, 35 Remington and 357 mag are the calibers I have had the quickest success with. I have done it with 44 spl and mag and 45 Colt, but a lot of wasted lead for a squirrel. I never could find an easy repeatable scope setting for my 30-06. If you had a scope with the long range hash marks it might be easier.
    I agree with John McCorkle, lots of recipes on this board and 7mm should be just the ticket.
    Tony

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master


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    To answer your specific question....no I do not download my .308 hunting rifles. I see no point in it and most of the reasons folks use for doing it are questionable.

    I really chuckle at the one most used..."to get used to using the rifle". I suppose if someone only had a couple of rifles they used a handful of times a year that might make sense. For someone who shoots a number of guns regularly it is silly.

    If you do not have a .22 for shooting rabbits, nothing wrong with using a cast rife bullet, but to me it is more work, and costs more than a .22. If I make a bad hit on a "trophy" rabbit and lose it, it is not the end of the world. I will not go home and ponder what could have happened if I had hit it with a 125 gr cast at 1200 fps.

    Now, if I wanted .22 Mag performance I would download the .223 but I have no need for something like that.

    IMO the only two centerfire rifle calibers 98% of folks need is a .223 and something like a .270, .280, .308 or .30/06. Nothing wrong with the hundreds of other choices...but nothing earth shattering about them either. Wanting is not the same as needing.

    Of course, if too many people thought that way, the gun rags and most gun businesses would collapse...LOL. And this site would get boring....

    BTW your 7mm RB sounds like a neat gun. It was on my "want" list for a long time. Good luck on your caribou hunt!!
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master


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    In my M95 Chilean 7x57 I use the Lyman 287448. I usually cast it pretty soft with 20-1 alloy. Weight runs I TL the as cast bullets in LLA with a light coat and let thoroughly dry. I then GC it with older Lyman slip on GCs which are just push on and held on by the LLA. Since the GC is not seated lower than the case neck this poses no problem.

    I use fire formed cases with the flash holes drilled out with a #28 drill. The cases are NS'ed with a Lee Collet sizer to give .002 neck tension. A lee case mouth expander is used. The soft bullets are seated then w/o any deformation.

    As mentioned, Bullseye is the "go to" powder for such loads. I suggest a start load of 3.2 gr and work up until velocity is a sub-sonic 1050 - 1100 fps. Excellent accuracy will be found in that range.

    I have a Redfield receiver sight om the M95 and from my 200 yard zero with the 140 gr jacketed bullet hunting load I just go up 4 moa for a 50 yard zero with the cat's sneeze load. It hit's about 1/2" right and I could also make a windage adjustment but i usually don't as out to 50 - 75 yards it's close enough for grouse and snowshoe hares many of which have fallen and filled the pot to my hunting rifles (6.5 up through 45 calibers) with such loads. Body shots on the grouse damage little meat and I use head shots on the hares unless I HP the bullet with the Forster HP tool.

    The same bullet and loading technique has proven very usable in the 280 Rem and 7mm Rem Mag. Should do as well in other 7mms also. The heavier 135 - 160 gr cast bullets should do as well as the 287448 can be hard to come by.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  8. #8
    Boolit Master greywuuf's Avatar
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    Not saying I dont have a ton of weapons better suited to the task of small game. My main goal is I have found a particular old gun that just "does it" for me ...and to actually only be able to take it on one hunt a year is not enough. I want to carry this one around and it would be nice if there was at least "some" point to it ...however artificial it might be.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Here is a bunch of data to go through.

    http://www.gmdr.com/lever/lowveldata.htm

    I download my .308 with Blue Dot, Titegroup or 700X. The Blue Dot has done the best with 165gn bullets.

    If I wanted a field gun I'd go with one of the smaller bullets or even round ball. It is a ton of fun. I actually start to laugh when I hit a soda can at 200yd. FWIW, I usually use bullets that failed my final QC checks for the rifle. Yes, I could get a mold for my .223 and shoot light loads in it. I don't want to mess with those tiny bullets so the .308 gets used instead. And, no, I don't own a .22 rimfire.

    I think you have a decent idea. Get more use from the rifle, get more comfortable carrying it, get better at shooting it.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy


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    I found it more practical to carry a .22 handgun when I am hunting with my 30-06.
    I have several cases of reduced 30-06 loads from the Oct 1995 American Rifleman article by C.E. Harris, using 2400 powder and surplus 150 gr M2 bullets. That load is for fun with my 1936 Winchester Model 70 rifle at 100 yards - and its very accurate.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy Doughty's Avatar
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    greywuuf,
    I have been doing that very thing for about 50 years. Every hunting rifle I have has a "grouse" load for it. I have killed a lot of small game with these loads. I can't remember the last time I took a .22 rifle hunting. I almost always carry a handgun while hunting, and occasionally use it for small game. However, the down loaded rifles have much better field accuracy than the handguns. And, more and more, it is just fun some times to plink with them. Just fun.
    AKA "Old Vic"
    "I am a great believer in powder-burning".
    --Theodore Roosevelt, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman

  12. #12
    Boolit Master greywuuf's Avatar
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    Some of you are missing the point, I am not looking for a way to take small game when I am hu ting big game .....I am looking for an excuse to carry my big game rifle outside of big game season.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    My for fun project is a 7x57 small ring that I put a midway special barrel on . I have bin playing around with a 132 gr Thor , and the 135 lee like Richhodge66 uses . I haven't really been able to get it to shoot as good as I would like out to a hundred yards with really light charges yet , but it's a lot of fun working on it .
    Give it a shot .

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by greywuuf View Post
    Some of you are missing the point, I am not looking for a way to take small game when I am hu ting big game .....I am looking for an excuse to carry my big game rifle outside of big game season.
    Not missing the point, I wouldn't bring light loads for a rifle I was deer hunting with. The light loads are for separate hunting trips.

    If you can head shoot squirrels with your big game rifle, then big game is a no-brainer. I do think your bullet selection is best with a .30, not sure what light weight 7mms with a flat nose are out there, but lots of them like that in .30.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master greywuuf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richhodg66 View Post
    Not missing the point, I wouldn't bring light loads for a rifle I was deer hunting with. The light loads are for separate hunting trips.
    I was not directing that towards your reply. Just some of answer seem to say that a .22 either rifle or pistol is a better option. Frankly it is, but option is the word. Alaska is kinda weird for as much game as we have hunting opportunities it's are relatively scarce. Moose bear and Caribou. Though I have carried a 7mm for moose, it is not my go to so that leaves bears and caribou. I no longer hunt bears. Leaves me one trip a year.... and I really dig this little carbine and I want to pack it around, but it ain't like it is bear defense so the only shooting opportunities I would have would be basicly Ptarmigan (or grouse) or bunnies (and those not so much in the summer as tuleremia is a thing here ) I just really hate crowded ranges and I want to get some time with this thing. I appreciate the input I have been given and I have a couple bullet molds in mind (most heavier than "optimal" but one is a nice FP) and will be seeing what I can do. Was just curious ...as like I said it seems that "back in the day" it was a pretty popular notion and I was wondering if anyone still did it ....or if it was just stories of poor kids growing up with only one rifle and not enough money for ammo.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I agree with you. Let us know how it works out.

    And, yes, 'in the old days' people used what they had to get the job done. Factories used to make light loads for rifles to allow varmint hunting with a larger caliber rifle.

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Guilty. Most of my rifles have a practice/ plinking/ small game load to go with them. This is 38-55, the round ball loads use fireformed 30-30 brass.

    Sent from my SM-A716U using Tapatalk

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I have reduced loads for several of my rifles, most using Unique. I have not had a real desire to use any of them for small game, squirrels and the like. I've thought about it but there's a half dozen small game cartridge, centerfire rifles that always call my name first. I'm still ga-ga using my Jeffrey Rook rifle...lol!
    "In general, the art of government is to take as much money as possible from one class of citizens and give it to another class of citizens" Voltaire'

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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I mostly shoot mild loads all year long in my 308's and 300 Savage's wearing heavy 4.5-14 scopes, then about the middle of August I change to 1.75-6 or 2.5-8 Leupold's, sight in for hunting season's and practice more with lower powered rifles. The 358's and 45-70 pretty much stay regulated for hunting with full power loads.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Any idea what size boolits you might need ?

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BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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