Tactical Weapons Firearms

The rise of long-range hunting: How technology and training are changing the game

As technology advances and hunters push boundaries in the field, long-range hunting has become more capable and diverse.
Brady Kirkpatrick Avatar
long range hunting
Getty Images (Credit: Klaus Vedfelt)

As a passionate gun enthusiast and founder of GunMade.com, I’ve seen firsthand how advancements in technology and innovation have revolutionized the world of long-range hunting. 

Gone are the days when hitting targets hundreds of yards away was only possible for the most experienced marksmen. With today’s high-performance cartridges and cutting-edge optics, even the average hunter can achieve impressive accuracy and success in the field

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the evolution of long-range hunting cartridges, compare the most popular options and offer invaluable tips on choosing the best cartridge and bullet for your hunting goals and conditions. 

We’ll also explore the advancements in long-range hunting optics and how to choose the perfect scope to elevate your hunting game. So, let’s get started!

The evolution of long-range hunting cartridges

As technology advances and hunters push the boundaries of what’s possible in the field, long-range hunting cartridges have become more capable and diverse

Let’s explore the advantages of 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30 caliber cartridges for long-range hunting, compare some of the most popular options, and provide tips on choosing the best cartridge and bullet for your hunting goals and conditions.

Advantages of 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30 caliber cartridges

  • 6.5mm cartridges: The 6.5mm cartridges have gained popularity due to their excellent ballistic performance and low recoil. These cartridges are known for their high ballistic coefficients (BC), which means that they retain their velocity and energy better over long distances. Their lighter recoil makes them easier to shoot accurately, even for those with less experience in long-range shooting.
  • 7mm cartridges: The 7mm cartridges provide a good balance between bullet weight and velocity, making them suitable for a wide range of game animals. They offer a higher BC than the .30 caliber cartridges, providing better long-range performance and less wind drift. The 7mm cartridges are also known for their accuracy and consistency, making them popular among long-range hunters.
  • .30 caliber cartridges: The .30 caliber cartridges are the most versatile and commonly used for hunting in North America. Thanks to their heavier bullets and high muzzle energy, they are known for their excellent terminal performance. These cartridges are suitable for hunting a wide range of game animals, from deer to elk and even larger animals like moose and bear.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular long-range hunting cartridges and how they stack up against each other:

  • 6.5 Creedmoor: This cartridge has quickly become a favorite among long-range hunters and precision shooters. It offers a high BC, low recoil and impressive accuracy, making it an excellent choice for those new to long-range hunting or looking to minimize recoil.
  • 6.5 PRC: The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge is designed to provide better performance at extended ranges than the 6.5 Creedmoor. It boasts higher muzzle velocity and energy, making it suitable for hunting larger game animals at long distances.
  • .28 Nosler: This cartridge is a high-performance 7mm option with impressive velocity and energy, making it suitable for hunting large game animals. Its high BC makes it an excellent long-range option, with less wind drift and better-retained energy at extended distances.
  • .300 Winchester Magnum: The .300 Win Mag is a popular .30 caliber cartridge known for its versatility and excellent terminal performance. It offers a good balance of bullet weight, velocity and energy, making it suitable for hunting a wide range of game animals.
  • .300 PRC: The .300 Precision Rifle Cartridge is a newer addition to the .30 caliber family, designed to provide better long-range performance than the .300 Win Mag. It features a higher BC and improved consistency, making it an excellent choice for long-range hunting and precision shooting.

Another interesting long-range cartridge is the 30-30 Winchester, which used to be a popular choice for long-range hunting applications.

Factors affecting long-range terminal performance

When it comes to long-range hunting, several factors affect the cartridge’s terminal performance, including bullet design, ballistic coefficient, muzzle velocity, and energy.

  • Bullet Design: The shape and construction of the bullet play a significant role in its terminal performance. For example, a boat-tail design can improve the bullet’s BC, while a controlled-expansion bullet ensures reliable expansion and penetration on game animals.
  • Ballistic Coefficient: The BC is a measure of the bullet’s ability to overcome air resistance and maintain its velocity. A high BC means that the bullet retains its energy better over long distances, making it more effective at extended ranges.
  • Muzzle Velocity: The speed at which the bullet leaves the barrel influences its trajectory and energy. Higher muzzle velocities result in flatter trajectories, making it easier to hit targets at long distances.
  • Energy: The bullet’s energy is a measure of its ability to cause damage on impact. Higher energy levels result in better terminal performance, especially when hunting larger game animals.
long-range hunting moose
A large bull moose (Alces alces) with large antlers climbing a grassy hill along the Long Range Traverse, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada. (Getty Images)

Tips for choosing the best cartridge and bullet

When selecting the best cartridge and bullet for your hunting goals and conditions, consider the following tips:

  • Know your game: Understand the size and toughness of the game animals you intend to hunt and choose a cartridge that provides adequate energy and penetration for a clean, ethical kill.
  • Consider your shooting distance: If you plan to hunt at extended ranges, prioritize cartridges with high BCs and velocities for better long-range performance.
  • Balance recoil and performance: While powerful cartridges offer better terminal performance, they also come with more recoil. Choose a cartridge you can shoot accurately and comfortably to ensure successful hunts.
  • Bullet selection matters: The bullet design can significantly impact the terminal performance. Choose a bullet designed for your game animals and intended range to maximize your chances of a successful hunt.

By understanding the advantages of 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30 caliber cartridges and comparing popular long-range hunting options, you can make a more informed decision when choosing the best cartridge and bullet for your hunting goals and conditions. Happy hunting!

The advancement of long-range hunting optics

As a seasoned gun enthusiast, I know that quality optics can make or break your long-range hunting experience. When you’re trying to hit a target hundreds of yards away, every little detail matters. 

So let’s dive into the world of long-range hunting optics, including scopes, rangefinders, and spotting scopes, and discuss their importance for a successful hunt.

Importance of quality optics for long-range hunting

Having the right optics can make all the difference in your hunting success. Quality scopes, rangefinders, and spotting scopes are essential for accurate targeting, distance estimation, and identifying game.

A good scope will help you maintain a clear sight picture, while a reliable rangefinder will provide accurate distance readings. Spotting scopes come in handy for scanning the terrain and locating potential targets at a distance.

Comparing the best long-range hunting scopes

There’s a plethora of long-range hunting scopes on the market, but some stand out from the rest. Here are a few of the cream of the crop:

  • Leupold VX-3HD: Known for its excellent light transmission and clarity, the VX-3HD offers a wide range of magnification options and a rugged design built to withstand harsh hunting conditions.
  • Vortex Razor HD LHT: This lightweight scope boasts impressive image resolution, a versatile magnification range, and a reliable zero-stop feature. It’s a top choice for hunters who value performance and portability.
  • Nightforce NX8: With a compact design and advanced features like a first focal plane reticle, the NX8 is perfect for those who want a high-performance scope without the added bulk.
  • Swarovski Z8i34: The Z8i34’s reputation for exceptional glass quality and precision adjustments make it a favorite among long-range hunters seeking the best in optical performance.

Mastering your scope’s features

Understanding your scope’s features can greatly improve your long-range shooting accuracy. Let’s go over some key components:

  • Magnification: Adjusting your scope’s magnification allows you to zoom in on your target and make precise shots. Keep in mind that higher magnification may reduce your field of view and make it harder to locate moving targets.
  • Reticles: Your scope’s reticle is the aiming point you see when looking through the lens. Different reticle styles serve different purposes, so choose one that suits your hunting needs.
  • Turrets: Turrets are used to adjust your scope’s windage and elevation. Quality turrets with positive clicks and a consistent return to zero can make all the difference in your shooting accuracy.
  • Parallax Adjustment: Parallax occurs when your target appears to shift as you move your eye. A parallax adjustment knob helps you eliminate this optical illusion and ensure consistent shot placement.
  • Zero Stop: A zero stop allows you to quickly return your scope’s adjustments to your pre-set zero, making it easier to switch between targets at different distances.
hunter scope
Getty Images (Credit: Tyler Stableford)

Tips for choosing the perfect scope

Here are some factors to consider when selecting a scope for your rifle and cartridge combination:

  • Compatibility: Ensure the scope you choose is compatible with your rifle’s mounting system and has enough clearance for your barrel and action.
  • Magnification Range: Consider the distances you’ll be shooting and choose a scope with a suitable magnification range for your needs.
  • Durability: A rugged scope that can withstand rough handling and harsh weather conditions is essential for hunting.
  • Weight: Lighter scopes are more comfortable to carry during long hunts, but make sure you’re not sacrificing quality or performance for a lighter weight.
  • Budget: Set a realistic budget and look for scopes that offer the best value for your money. Remember that a higher price tag doesn’t always guarantee better performance.

With advancements in long-range hunting optics, there’s never been a better time to invest in quality gear. Whether you’re an experienced hunter or just getting started, taking the time to research and choose the best scope for your needs will pay off in the long run. 

Embracing the future of long-range hunting

From the evolution of 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30 caliber cartridges to advancements in long-range hunting optics, there’s no denying that the world of long-range hunting has come a long way. 

As hunters and Second Amendment supporters, it’s essential we stay informed and up-to-date on these developments to make the most of our hunting experiences and ensure that we’re using the best tools for the job. By understanding the advantages of different cartridges, mastering the features of your scope, and prioritizing quality optics, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any hunting challenge that comes your way. 

So, whether you’re an experienced hunter or just starting out, embrace the future of long-range hunting and watch your skills, accuracy and success reach new heights! Happy hunting, my fellow gun enthusiasts!