THE PERFECT SAMBAR CARTRIDGE
Many new deer hunters don’t know where to start when looking for their first sambar rifle purchase – the one that will knock down the big browns and never fail them in any situation they face. The topic will raise a lot of debate around the campfire, as most sambarmen are quite opinionated about their favorite deer rifle.
I won’t attempt to sell you on my favorite (the commodore of 30 Cal’s, the .308Win) as mine may not suit your style of hunting. I will go in to a few facts and details that you don’t need to be a ballistics expert to understand.
LATEST AND GREATEST VS. TRIED AND TRUE
Every couple of years the US gun manufacturers come up with a new “must-have” version of an old favourite, a new take on an old classic. They do this to provide hunters with one more reason to purchase a new rifle and drive sales with promises of innovative technology in these new super cartridges. For the extreme shooter, these cartridges provide an edge they may be looking for. For the average hunter the advertised benefits of these new cartridges make little real world difference. Paired with a quality projectile, the classics are hard to go past.
WHERE DO YOU HUNT?
To begin to narrow down the available choices, you need to consider the types of shots you’ll be taking. Will you be glassing big faces taking cross gulley shots pushing out past 400m, or do you prefer to ‘walk them up’ where the majority of shots are inside 100m? Maybe you are looking to join a hound crew, where the shots are at even closer ranges. If you are the type of hunter that is more often that not taking longer shots, you’ll want to go with a fast, flat-shooting cartridge. It will push a medium weight bullet with enough velocity to make a humane shot on a sambar stag at distance. Calibres such as the .270 Winchester, the 7mm Rem Mag, along with some of the short magnums (WSM & RCM) or wildcat cartridges such as the 338 EDGE are ideal. If you prefer to hunt the same face as the animal, and may be taking shots in thicker country where tree limbs and leaves could separate you from your target, a larger, slower moving bullet might be a better option. From the old favourites like the .308 Win, 30-06, and .338 Win Mag, even up to the 35 Whelan and .45-70, the 9.3x62mm has gained a large following among sambar hunters in recent years. Hunters who like to ‘walk them up’ or members of a hound crew would do well to pick a big bullet to push through the dense vegetation.
HOW MUCH RECOIL CAN YOU HANDLE?
For most sambar hunters, you want the most downrange energy that your rifle can deliver. Energy, however, doesn’t always translate to an ethical shot. Many new hunters take to the hills packing more gun than they can handle. It does no good to be carrying a .300 Rem Ultra Mag when you can’t hit the broad side of a barn because you flinch at the recoil even before you pull the trigger. Pick a calibre you can shoot accurately and confidently. When shopping for your rifle it’s important to pick a calibre that suits your style of hunting best, as well as delivers a quick, efficient kill. Find one you are comfortable with, match it with a quality projectile and you will enjoy years of hunting with your favourite rifle, until you need to find a reason to buy another gun that is.