With the emergence of the rifled barrel it is increasingly important to have clear concepts that should guide the hunter to the choice of gauge. This is necessary also to avoid taking simply the weapon identified by the seller; we have to instead make an informed choice with his advice.
The choice of gauge, at the same energy transported, should tend towards the smaller gauge, not so “bad” for the shoulder, but that preserves at the same time the good qualities of precision and is chambered from a large number of manufacturers to find the right weapon and a wide availability of ammunition.
But even with these concepts it is necessary to make careful assessments: shot too light, although very fast, may find difficulty in killing stubborn game, exploding at the first contact with the tissues and causing only superficial wounds. This in alternative to shot with hard point that, if not meeting bones, pierces the soft tissues being unable to bring to bear on the game the right amount of useful energy to kill, a basic criterion for the hunt.
The hunting literature lists with certain gauges of historical reliability if used in their range of rational use in terms of shooting distances. The list is extensive but we can recal the 7×57 Mauser, the 7×64, the 5,6×57, the 30-30 W, the 30.06, the W 270, the W 308, the 22-250 and the powerful 300 H & H and 357 H & H.
But obviously the choice of gauge is also in function of the type of weapon that you are going to use. The logic of modern hunting with rifled barrel goes toward the specialization of the weapon and as for our game the maximum limit to be taken into consideration is the 30.06, being good for a big lone male wild boar. For other game, such as fallow deer and roe deer, we can consider it more than enough. But the concept is still controversial and hotly-debated among hunters and there are two well-defined schools of thought: one that wants to privilege the powerful gauge to avoid loss of the animal, and the other that focuses on the need to hit the game on the vital point though it’s small so favors small and fast gauges.
Passing by hunters to experts in ballistics applied to hunting, their advice is to choose the gauge as small as possible in relation to the game, able to carry enough energy on the game for a clean kill in a range that can reach 270-330 yd. This assessment has a security exception if you hunt dangerous animals (if you really want to go to Africa) for which an excess of energy is useful to the security of the hunter.
There are also some logical criteria that you should consider in choosing the gauge relating the habitual environment of hunting:
a) mountain hunting or in open spaces: in this case the logic is to opt for a fast gauge with light shot;
b) hunting in woodland: here quick, light gauges are not to be considered suitable and the best choice for gauges with heavy shot;
c) hunting in different grounds; the case is not specialized and the advice is to opt for an intermediate gauge but it should be able to take in shot with a good range of weights to cover all needs.
An assessment that leads to the small or fast gauge in the mountains there is the result of a factor, the angle of the site. Using in those places fast shot in straight trajectory will help us enormously in the calculation of the angle at which to set the final aim.
A final element of assessment, which makes someone happy and others unhappy, is the combination gun-ammunition. Not all the ammunition have the same in compliance with different weapons; tolerances in camerature set by the manufacturer, the choice of materials for the barrels and their elasticity (there are many types of steel with very different elasticity) may give different results at the shooting. In this case for a hunter the best way to evaluate is test his rifle with ammunition up to define the most suitable ammunition to interface with it.