Best hunting caliber for barrel length 16.5-20"

tex68w

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While I assume that the .308 will be at or near the top of the list, I was curious what most here suggest for calibers best suited (or still having acceptable ballistics) for barrel lengths between 16.5-20" might be? This will be a hunting rifle used mostly here in Texas for everything from whitetail to antelope and even aoudad. I am interested in these shorter barrel lengths because I plan to run a TBAC Ultra7 on the end and I don't want a freaking light saber of gun since it'll see some occasional use in the blind and tree stands. I know I will give up velocity and energy with most calibers when going shorter but I don't foresee this rifle getting use beyond 400-500 yards max. Let me hear your thoughts and suggestions.
 
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tex68w

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At 20" pretty much everything is on the table. But I'd go with 7saum or 300wsm.

I love everything about 7saum but I don’t reload anymore so until it gets factory loads (never) I’ll just have to dream lol.
 

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A 6.5 Creed in a 20" barrel with suppressor is my light option (carries min energy and expansion velocity to 500yds). You could definitely do a 7 SAUM: my next step up is a long throat 7mm RM (bought the reamer before newer options existed) that is a 26" barrel plus can.
 
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fdkay

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    The 7-08 with the Hornady 150 ELDX would excell at the longer shots, the 139-140 class for typical hunting shituations.
    It's hard to beat.
    I really like the .308 for this as well.
    .270 WSM ammo is available, but spendy.
     

    tex68w

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    I have a 24" 6.5CM but it's still far too long, I don't think I'd wanna go much shorter with that caliber, but 20" could work. An 18-20" 308 does sound like it might be the ticket but for some reason it just doesn't sound exciting lol.
     

    Secant

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    From Hornady:
    factory 6.5 PRC 143 ELDX MV = 2,960 fps (24" barrel)
    factory 6.5 CM 143 ELDX MV = 2,700 fps (24"barrel)

    You can figure on about 25 - 30 fps loss for every inch taken off the barrel. So a 16" - 18" 6.5 PRC should perform similarly, or potentially better than your 24" 6.5 CM.

    Check with Zac or Ray, but I think if you have a Gen 1 Ultra 7 you might want to be at 18", but the Gen 2 can go on a 16" PRC.
     
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    Painless300

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    I’m running a 6.5 PRC 20” with Ultra 7 with 156 Berger’s.
    Safe load at 2705MV
    6.5 PRC not the greatest with heavies and short barrel.
     

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    redneckbmxer24

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    20" 6.5 Creedmoor, under 20" then do a 18" 308. You can't go wrong with either but if you want factory ammo as an option theres a lot more 308 on shelves than there is 6.5, just something to consider. I'm looking for another rifle as well for similar purposes that will probably be a 20" CTR and will likely go 308 for that reason despite already having a 6.5 and keeping 6.5 ammo on hand.
     

    tex68w

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    From Hornady:
    factory 6.5 PRC 143 ELDX MV = 2,960 fps (24" barrel)
    factory 6.5 CM 143 ELDX MV = 2,700 fps (24"barrel)

    You can figure on about 25 - 30 fps loss for every inch taken off the barrel. So a 16" - 18" 6.5 PRC should perform similarly, or potentially better than your 24" 6.5 CM.

    Check with Zac or Ray, but I think if you have a Gen 1 Ultra 7 you might want to be at 18", but the Gen 2 can go on a 16" PRC.

    It's a Gen 2. I have kicked around the idea of a 18" 6.5 PRC but numbers tell me 20" might be best.


    I’m running a 6.5 PRC 20” with Ultra 7 with 156 Berger’s.
    Safe load at 2705MV
    6.5 PRC not the greatest with heavies and short barrel.

    Great looking gun. Are you happy with the 20" or do wish that you had gone shorter?


    20" 6.5 Creedmoor, under 20" then do a 18" 308. You can't go wrong with either but if you want factory ammo as an option theres a lot more 308 on shelves than there is 6.5, just something to consider. I'm looking for another rifle as well for similar purposes that will probably be a 20" CTR and will likely go 308 for that reason despite already having a 6.5 and keeping 6.5 ammo on hand.

    Yea, no matter how I slice it the 308 seems to come out on top and there are tons of hunting loads out there for it. It's not a sexy or exciting choice but I do have a lot more time behind 308/7.62 than any caliber short of a 556. If I am being completely honest with myself, odds are there will rarely ever be a shot taken beyond 250 yards with it. We simply have very few locations where a quality shot could be taken much further. An 18" 308 with the TBAC Ultra7 would make for a nice package.
     

    Baron85

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    Is there a point where you are not gaining anything with the magnums in the shorter barrels.

    For example my friend just built an 18” 7sherman and was blowing huge fire balls vs a 7/08 I would imagine would be a more complete burn.

    What’s the point of barrel length vs powder where it looses its benefit.
     
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    acudaowner

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    280 would be pretty easy to get the factory ammo for , 7mm rem mag the ammo is available online as well . maybe even that 7mm prc if you can ever get any of it .
     

    65x55guy

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    Thousand opinions out there. I’ve got an 18” 6.5 CM with a TBAC ultra 9 that I like. You can load 140 class ammo to 2550-2650 fps pretty easily and that should be deadly to 500 without issue. I also loaded some 123s for my son to shoot to 200 yards max.

    .308 should also do well in 150-165 class bullets. Tons of great hunting bullets there. 2400-2500 fps easily with an 18” barrel, maybe faster. Loses some energy because of ballistic coefficient.

    I would be more likely to ask about middle 50% of shots and design to that. 150-250 yards with possible at furthest to 500 sounds like almost any 6.5 CM or above can meet the need.
     
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    redneckbmxer24

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    Yea, no matter how I slice it the 308 seems to come out on top and there are tons of hunting loads out there for it. It's not a sexy or exciting choice but I do have a lot more time behind 308/7.62 than any caliber short of a 556. If I am being completely honest with myself, odds are there will rarely ever be a shot taken beyond 250 yards with it. We simply have very few locations where a quality shot could be taken much further. An 18" 308 with the TBAC Ultra7 would make for a nice package.

    I'm in the same boat, look at the 308 Bergara Ridge SP. You can find them for under $800 if you shop around. It's a basic ass rifle but its purpose served.

    Is there a point where you are not gaining anything with the magnums in the shorter barrels.

    For example my friend just built an 18” 7sherman and was blowing huge fire balls vs a 7/08 I would imagine would be a more complete burn.

    What’s the point of barrel length vs powder where it looses its benefit.

    That fireball turns into hella carbon in the barrel with a can, but you're still going to see higher velocity with a magnum than a standard round.
     
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    D_TROS

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    The 7-08 with the Hornady 150 ELDX would excell at the longer shots, the 139-140 class for typical hunting shituations.
    It's hard to beat.
    I really like the .308 for this as well.
    .270 WSM ammo is available, but spendy.

    My fav hunting rifle is a 7-08 with a 22" light palma barrel. 168 Berger hunters going 2750. Cut down to 18-20 should get you 2600-2650 which is a very effective speed - at 2600 it packs 1000 ft lbs to 900 yards...



    Is there a point where you are not gaining anything with the magnums in the shorter barrels.

    For example my friend just built an 18” 7sherman and was blowing huge fire balls vs a 7/08 I would imagine would be a more complete burn.

    What’s the point of barrel length vs powder where it looses its benefit.

    You are correct to a point. To counter the large bore/short barrel, you have to use faster burning powders to get it burnt before barrel ends. This does shorten barrel life, but in a hunting rifle not a concern.


    GL
    DT
     

    Baron85

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    He did switch to a faster burning powder and it helped a bunch. Just curious.
     
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    redneckbmxer24

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    For sake of factory ammo it looks like it's either an 18-20" 308 or a 20" 6.5CM.

    You could also do a 223. People are taking elk, moose, and bear with 77gr TMK's successfully. Factory ammo is hard to find right now in that flavor but Fusion, Gold Dot, and Barnes will all drop deer and antelope to 400 yards or so.
     

    roostercogburn98

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    18 inch 7mm-08 should still get you plenty of speed and lethality out to several hundred yards. Load some 120-130 grain bullets and maybe gain some speed still have plenty of ass there for whitetail
     

    tex68w

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    223 for big game just "feels" wrong lol. Nothing against 223 for Coyotes and pigs.
     
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    larryh128

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    223 for big game just "feels" wrong lol. Nothing against 223 for Coyotes and pigs.
    It does but I can attest to over 50 deer killed with a 223 and no wounded or lost. I wouldn't use it on anything bigger BUT I know of a Caribou "bow hunt" that turned into a harvest of 22 caribou with a 223 and 55 gr sp's. Also no wounded or lost. A couple needed the 2nd shot but most didn't. It really comes down to bullet placement and construction.
     
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    redneckbmxer24

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    223 for big game just "feels" wrong lol. Nothing against 223 for Coyotes and pigs.

    I get that and I would never chose it for moose and elk but for deer sized game it works great. My first deer rifle was a 300RUM because that's what I thought you needed to kill deer because everyone and their brother used 30-06 or a 30 cal magnum around me at the time. These days I'd take a 223 or a 6mm of sorts knowing what I do now.
     
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    tex68w

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    I shot a deer with a 223 once, but it was only because I wasn't expecting to see anything worth taking while I was sitting there looking for pigs. I am not against using it for Texas hill country suit case deer as we call them. I've shot lots of deer with a 22-250 over the years.
     

    redneckbmxer24

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    There's a lot of good info in this thread:

     
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    CaptArab

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    I'm in 22GT mode for said purposes- 88s at ~2900.

    22 creedmoor will trade you some barrel life for another 100 fps.

    The 88s BC beats most the 6mm bullets and they go pretty fast. You wouldn't want deer any more deader.
     

    KnowNothing256

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    I'm in 22GT mode for said purposes- 88s at ~2900.

    22 creedmoor will trade you some barrel life for another 100 fps.

    The 88s BC beats most the 6mm bullets and they go pretty fast. You wouldn't want deer any more deader.
    That’s in a short barrel? Cause otherwise you’re leaving a lot of velocity on the table, and no need at all to go Creed to get more.
     
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    CaptArab

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    That’s in a short barrel? Cause otherwise you’re leaving a lot of velocity on the table, and no need at all to go Creed to get more.
    Yep, specifically 16" barrels.
    I've heard reports of the gt pushing 88s past 2950 in a 16 but that's going hard. Ditto for the CM at ~3050.

    I don't do the whole KY Long Rifle thing 😏
     
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    Bakwa

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    16" Mod Seven 308 with Ultra 7.
    Fast, easy, agile.
    98313BC8-0DC2-4117-8238-DC9B84C7C846.jpeg



    20" CTR 6.5CM with Ultra 7.
    Set up as a target pig, but has already killed deer this year.
    A01D8487-D4A1-447F-9603-6E08636F5A4D.jpeg



    I'm all about the shorter whitetail rigs.
     

    4O6shootist

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    Easy now.......my 18" supressed 22cm is running 75 eldm at 3250! 26" 22gt will run 90s at the same speed top end. The short barrel creed is a purpose built rifle, supressed shorty with a thermal bridge for night hunting primarily.
     

    Sniperwannabee

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    never mind if your in Texas just go 308/ 6.5cm . I hunt at my in-laws in the hill country (Harper)and my AR in 300aac is plenty enough for anything out there.
     
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    krw

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    I hav never really understood the hav to have a suppressor on a hunting rifle. Thats just me. I would add 6” bbl, 7mm-08 and never look back
     
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    tex68w

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    never mind if your in Texas just go 308/ 6.5cm . I hunt at my in-laws in the hill country (Harper)and my AR in 300aac is plenty enough for anything out there.

    Funny, we aren't far from there, outskirts of Ingram/Kerrville. 9/10 I have a 9" 300BLK in the blind for pigs and with 110's it'll more than get it done inside of 200. I simply want a shorty bolt for the sake of getting something new.
     

    Painless300

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    It's a Gen 2. I have kicked around the idea of a 18" 6.5 PRC but numbers tell me 20" might be best.




    Great looking gun. Are you happy with the 20" or do wish that you had gone shorter?




    Yea, no matter how I slice it the 308 seems to come out on top and there are tons of hunting loads out there for it. It's not a sexy or exciting choice but I do have a lot more time behind 308/7.62 than any caliber short of a 556. If I am being completely honest with myself, odds are there will rarely ever be a shot taken beyond 250 yards with it. We simply have very few locations where a quality shot could be taken much further. An 18" 308 with the TBAC Ultra7 would make for a nice package.
    Happy with my 20” would not go any shorter since I like to shoot heavies. Plenty of down range energy for white tails 500yds and in. Originally was going to use it for larger game as well but after finding the velocity was not there I decided to build a big bore light weight 300NM to take care of that. It is just a good excuse to get another gun!
     
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    GreenGO Juan

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    Shot a break barrel 16” suppressed .300 black out subs today. Damn quiet and handy.

    Not mine random guy I started chatting with on the firing line.
     

    Defender32

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    I'm having a 6.5 cut down now to 16.5-18". I left it up to the guy chopping it. It will have a 9" suppressor on the end. I'm in KY so I'm looking at 300-400y max.
     

    TonyTheTiger

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    Slight thread drift, why is 16.5" the default shortest bolt gun length when everyone knows and millions of AR's say that 16" is perfectly legal?
     
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    Conrad

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    I’m in the hill country too and run an 18” 6.5 creed with 7 Ultra. Love the set up. If you reload you can do some cool things with R26 (yes in a short barrel too) or 6.5 Staball.

    I can also run a 123 gr SST at 2950 with H4350. I have found I like a lighter faster bullet for neck shots on our little deer. Need it to come apart quicker.

    I also have a 20” 6xc barrel that moves a 105 very fast and accurate with staball. If you don’t reload, a 20” 6 creed or maybe 6 GT would be cool too.
     
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    65x55guy

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    Slight thread drift, why is 16.5" the default shortest bolt gun length when everyone knows and millions of AR's say that 16" is perfectly legal?
    I always heard it was in case some jerk had a measuring technique that made your 16” short by 1/8” and suddenly you’re getting accused of possessing an unregistered SBR.

    Or maybe it’s that we’ve all dreamed of having an extra half inch and this is how we fulfill that dream.
     

    redneckbmxer24

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    Remember that a 24-26” bare muzzle hunting rifle is unwieldily, but an 18-20” rifle with 7-10” suppressor is handy. It’s physics.

    The idea is to have a suppressed rifle that doesn’t blow your ear drums out, annoy neighbors, spook other game or be a dinner bell for bears that’s no longer than a standard bolt gun. An 18-20” rifle with a 5-7” can is extremely handy. It’s common sense.
     

    CaptArab

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    Remember that a 24-26” bare muzzle hunting rifle is unwieldily, but an 18-20” rifle with 7-10” suppressor is handy. It’s physics.
    This - go to a ballistics calculator.

    If your bullet will kill effectively (usually ~1800fps) to 600 yards with a 16" barrel, and you'll never shoot past 500 anyhow, there's nothing but cons to leaving it longer.

    16" barrel plus 5-7“ can is where it's at.
     

    tex68w

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    I’m in the hill country too and run an 18” 6.5 creed with 7 Ultra. Love the set up. If you reload you can do some cool things with R26 (yes in a short barrel too) or 6.5 Staball.

    I can also run a 123 gr SST at 2950 with H4350. I have found I like a lighter faster bullet for neck shots on our little deer. Need it to come apart quicker.

    I also have a 20” 6xc barrel that moves a 105 very fast and accurate with staball. If you don’t reload, a 20” 6 creed or maybe 6 GT would be cool too.


    Good to hear and neck shots are what I tend to take up here as well. I'd like to go 18" on a 6.5CM but I don't reload and it doesn't sound like there are lighter factory loads that can still get it done in that short of a barrel so maybe 20" it'll have to be.


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