Every day I am asked what calibre is best to shoot long range. Now my business is my passion. I can only offer advice, and try and steer the client in the right direction. First off, many shooters have different visions of ‘long range’. I myself would only shoot an animal at short range, as I believe the experience of the hunt is over once you pull the trigger. The animal deserves to be dispatched as humanely and as quickly as possible with a well place shot.
Target shoot is another matter altogether. Here, one assembled equipment in addition to technique and practice, info order to win a competition. The right choices should be made first time, unless one has plenty of money to waste on learning what were bad choices.
Now let’s get back to the ‘long range’ discussion. Any target that tests a shooter’s ability at a considerable distance can be considered long range. Standing and shooting silhouette targets at 500m offhand is by no means, easy and is definitely long range. Or take a steel challenge shooter lying on his stomach shooting over valleys out to 1400m. That’s also long range, but a completely different style of shooting.
I recall a 1980’s article from Precision Shooting about the new 1000 yard bench-rest world record being set by .223 Remington caliber, with a ten-shot group of 3.9 inches using a 55 gr bullet, driving that smaller calibre can do the job.
A couple of points to consider when selecting your calibre is terminal ballistics at the furthest distance you will be shooting, recall, barrel accuracy life, and the external wind drift effects on the bullet. There’s no point in shooting a 338 Lapua magnum in competition up to 450m, as the recall and cost will definitely make you flinch. The same applies to the other end of the spectrum, as there’s no point in trying to shoot a target at a kilometer on a breezy day with a 223 Remington.
If you look at the popular calibre, which include manageable recoil, fairly flat trajectory, and good terminal ballistics, one is steered towards the 6mm, 6.5mm and some 7mm to a certain extent. Most of these calibre offer good barrel accuracy life, and plenty of components are available.