Most dedicated shooters have a battery of weapons to fall back on and many of these hand load. They utilize a 22-250 or a .223 Remington for varmints, some even flirt with the .17 center fires. Others are of a mind that the .17 HMR rimfire is sufficient for the ranges that they engage critters in this weight class. While others have the .22 Long Rifle doing yeoman duty in pest encounters. They have a medium game rifle in perhaps 270 Winchester for most everything else with some opting for a 300 or 338 Magnum for elk, black and brown bear. But what about the person on a strict budget and confined to commercially loaded ammunition that wants to have a single gun to engage deer, perhaps elk or black bear and also enjoy a prairie dog hunt on occasion. First let’s say it is a common belief that no one gun can be optimal for all uses. But some come close, such as the 250 Savage, .257 Roberts (including +P and improved versions) and the 25-06 Remington. Starting around .264 inch (6.5 mm) the diameter of the bullet and performance tend to ruin much of the consumable portions of any edible small game. The 6.8mm (.270) and 7.62mm ( 30 caliber) tend to be very destructive on small game.
60 Grain to 120 Grain Ammo
But the quarter inchers can be used across the board with a large choice of bullets for these cartridges. Hornady lists eight bullets from 60 grain to 117 grain. Factory ammo down to Federals 85 grain to 120 Super X Winchester, that covers the gamut of game sizes for the 25-06. Most factory ammo selections for the 250 Savage is 75 grains for varmints and 100 grain with some 120-grain factory ammo. The 257 Roberts follows with the same but for many of the light numbers you need to consider the smaller ammo loaders, where Winchester, Remington/UMC, Federal and Hornady are the brands usually on the shelf.
257 Roberts VS 25.06 for Long Range Shooting
A good shot can confidently tackle elk and black bear, but for most deer class either white tail or mule deer are the rule. The 6mm (243) and the quarter inchers shine on pronghorns. For the average and occasional rifleman, the .257s are very attractive as a one gun system for varmints up to deer sized animals. And at least a one rifle hunter can concentrate on mastering his gun. At one time the .257s where very popular and the .25-06 on introduction gained a wide following, but new rifle sales in this caliber has declined somewhat. The 257 Roberts just soldiers on and the 250 Savage is seldom encountered. Off the shelf in ammo stores of three the 25-06 may hold to higher availability followed by the Roberts. The 257 Roberts Improved approaches 25-06 velocities and is a popular ‘old timer’ but would be a hand loaders preference. Of the three it is to be admitted that the 25-06 Remington offers the best flexibility in factory rounds.
How Many Guns Do You Need?
A case can be made that at least two guns are necessary. A good .22 LR rimfire and a versatile centerfire. Add a good pump shotgun with a 26-inch barrel with interchangeable chokes and a 20-inch slug gun barrel with rifle sights, and you can just about cover it all. Throw in a 9mm (the most versatile given stopping power, price and controllability for most shooters). A three long gun battery with a handgun back-up. If you spend a lot of time in the outdoors hiking and fishing you may want to go with a revolver, such as the S&W 6-shot Model 686 with a 4-inch barrel in .357 Magnum would cover about 80% of all outdoor activities and threats. In big-bear country (Brown or Grizzly) a 44 Magnum should be considered. Just some ideas to consider. A similar argument can be made for the 243 Winchester and 6mm Remington, though a bit more marginal on large game like elk or black bear.