#FranchiFeelsRight: How to Choose a Deer Hunting Caliber 

So you want to join the most popular group of American hunters, and head out to deer hunt? Surveys report that at least 80% of big game hunters go after whitetail and/mule deer, so you’re in good company there. However, when you go to the gun store, here’s what you need to know to choose a deer hunting caliber, especially for a Franchi Momentum Elite rifle.

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Know the Terrain/Setting

Think about where you will be hunting deer. I’ve hunted deer in the hills and hollers of the Ozarks, from a spot-and-stalk situation to stand sitting and also, out to the Chihuahuan Desert in Texas, where we drove around for hours, looking for an old muley. You’ll also need a great pair of binoculars for out West hunting, that is for sure. The reason you’ll need to know the terrain/setting is mainly for the distance. Believe it or not, not every caliber is effective on medium-sized game (like deer) at 200 yards and beyond. We’re not talking about luck shots, we’re talking about ammo calibers that will kill most of the time with a well-placed shot. 

Understand the Meaning of the Numbers

Usually, the first two or three numbers of a name mean the rifle caliber belongs to a general group of calibers (the bore diameters) of the guns that use them. For example, the .30-30, .30-’06, and .308 are each .30 caliber rounds, which means the bore diameter of the gun matches bullets of about 0.308 inches in diameter. The numbers may also represent millimeters (mm) instead of inch diameters, hence the 6.5 Creedmoor and the 6.5 PRC, each of which fires bullets of about 6.5 mm in diameter. Note: Just because a rifle is 30, caliber doesn’t mean you can use any 30 caliber ammo in it. You must use ammo that matches the manufacturer’s specification for the gun, which is normally stamped somewhere on the barrel.


Franchi Momentum Elite’s Deer Caliber Offerings

The Franchi Momentum Elite lives up to its prestigious name afield, with a fantastic combination of balance and accuracy. Here are the different calibers you can get in this model. 

6.5 Creedmoor: The latest, most popular kid on the block, or so it seems, is the 6.5 Creedmoor. It has evolved from a precision rifle design to an accurate long-range round for hunting medium-sized game (like deer) at longer ranges. The cartridges fit in short-action rifles. For deer, cartridges using bullets around 140 grains in weight and designed for medium-sized game work well out to about 300 yards. 

.308 Win: I chose this caliber this year for a hunt with my state rep. Although it has slightly lower performance than the .30-’06, it is a very effective short-action cartridge on medium-sized game, with many bullet designs and cartridge powder loads that allow the shooter to select cartridges with optimum performances at various ranges. For killing deer, a bullet weight of 150 to about 170 grains is effective out to about 600 yards. Heavier bullets are also effective at such ranges, but be sure to get out to the range and shoot them at the distances you might use during your hunt to see how much bullet drop you get at those distances.

6.5 PRC: PRC is an acronym for Precision Rifle Cartridge, which gives you a clue as to the cartridge’s design concept. This cartridge is a higher velocity cousin to the 6.5 Creedmoor. Both cartridges used similar design concepts for their cartridge cases, chambering and bullets (longer than previous .264 in/6.5 mm bullets, for more bullet weight and better aerodynamic performance). The PRC cartridge sports a slightly longer case with a bigger diameter than the Creedmoor, allowing for about 30% greater gunpowder charges and nearly 10% higher velocities (and more recoil). Bullets of around 140 grains are also good fodder for the PRC when hunting deer out to 450 – 500 yards.

300 Win Mag: As with the 6.5 Creedmoor/6.5 PRC comparison, the 300 Win Mag is a higher velocity cousin, of sorts, to the .308 Win. Each fires 30 caliber bullets, but except for some crossover in the intermediate bullet weights (around 180 grains), the Win Mag can utilize heavier bullets than the .308. Because of its higher muzzle velocities, bullets fired from a Win Mag have a flatter trajectory (similar to the 6.5 Creedmoor) than bullets fired from a .308, and because of the heavier bullet weights used by the Win Mag, it is effective on deer out to 700 – 800 yards. Of course, along with the bigger cartridge and higher velocity, the Win Mag also sports greater rifle weight (it is a long action round) and greater recoil than a .308.

.350 Legend: The .350 Legend is the latest entry in the growing straight-wall centerfire cartridge category. This cartridge was intended to satisfy the needs of hunters in states and locations with restrictions on conventional centerfire rifle ammunition, requiring the use of such straight-wall cartridges for deer hunting. For example, Ohio does not allow bottlenecked rifle cartridges in deer hunting, but it allows the use of straight-walled cartridges with a minimum caliber of .357 (think .38 Special or .357 Magnum pistol cartridges). Therefore, even though it is called the “.350” Legend, it is legal to use in such circumstances as it employs .357 caliber bullets. It was also designed to fit in the magazine of an AR-type semiautomatic rifle. When fired from similar rifles, the .350 Legend’s recoil is similar to that from a .243 Win cartridge. This is much lower recoil than from the straight-wall .450 Bushmaster cartridge or from a 12-gauge slug, making it better for recoil-sensitive shooters. When using cartridges with bullets suitable for deer hunting, 165 to 180 grains, the Legend is effective on deer out to about 250 yards.

Read about Hannah Kelly’s deer hunt with the Franchi Momentum Elite.

Learn more about the Franchi Momentum Elite.

  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at https://www.ozarkian.com.


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