The best rifle caliber for Western Big Game Hunting

Arizona Deer guide


It’s been the subject of years and years of debate and discussion by trophy big game hunters that are hunting the elusive trophy big game animals that inhabit the wide open spaces of Arizona and the American West where 500 plus yard shots can be required to be successful on your big game hunts. Just what is the best rifle caliber for western big game hunting?

Is there a long range big game rifle caliber out there that shoots flat, hits hard, and can fire bullets both light enough and heavy enough to successfully dispatch all of the species of trophy big game animals that are found in Arizona and the Western United States? Can this long range elk and deer rifle and it’s ammo be found easily in most gun shops and sporting goods stores without having to go through the time consuming and sometimes frustrating process of reloading ammunition or having to order a hard to find custom rifle that may cost thousands of dollars?

Look no further for the perfect answer to all of the above questions: The .300 Remington Ultra Magnum. This long range hunting rifle caliber is perfectly capable of meeting all of the above requirements with factory rifles and factory ammo that can be easily found in most of todays gun shops and sporting good stores. What makes this long range elk and deer caliber stand out in my eyes is the previous sentence. You can get incredible long range performance and accuracy in this elk and deer rifle caliber from factory rifles and factory ammo.

Let’s take a look at my personal .300 Remington Ultra Mag. rifle and how it’s set up.

I ended up choosing a Remington Sendero PSS rifle in an all black finish with an H-S Precision synthetic stock. This long range deer and elk rifle features a 26 inch heavy bull barrel and a crisp 2 pound trigger. This rifle is completely stock the way that it came off the stores shelf except for the trigger that was lightened up by my local gunsmith. The only drawback to this long range gun is that it is extremely heavy. It can get heavy to pack all day in rough terrain but that extra weight is well worth it for the stability and steadiness that it offers when shooting at elk or deer at long ranges in the field.

For a scope I chose a Leupold 6 x 18 -40mm VXII scope with tactical turrets than allow me to quickly dial this rifle in for ranges out to 1,000 yards. A Pivoting Harris bipod completes the setup. All of these items can be easily found in just about any gun shop or sporting goods store.

For ammo I shoot Remington Extended Range factory ammo with the 150 grain Swift Scirocco bullets. With these factory loads my .300 ultra mag rifle chronographs at exactly 3,500 feet per second at the muzzle. That is extremely impressive performance for an all factory long range rifle and ammo setup. The accuracy that this setup also produces is second to none. It definitely is loud and you will feel the recoil but it isn’t anything that is unmanageable with some practice.

The .300 Remington Ultra Mag. can handle bullets up to 250 grains with great speed and accuracy which makes it ideal for all of the species of trophy big game that is found in the United States. The .300 Remington Ultra Mag. is the caliber that was responsible for one of the the longest range distance records for kill shots that I have personally witnessed at that time while guiding trophy big game hunting clients in the field.

During one of the late season bull elk hunts in Arizona several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be guiding a great father-son team that both carried .300 Remington Ultra Mag rifles. Before this particular late season elk hunt took place the furthest kill shot that I had personally witnessed a hunter make was 600 yards plus and again it was with a .300 Remington Ultra Magnum.

To be honest, I was a little skeptical when I was talking to these guys during the hunt and they were reassuring me that they were very accurate out to 1,000 yards with their rifles. I have had a lot of elk and deer hunters come into camp talking a great big game of how they can shoot and hit things a mile away only to end up totally bombing easy shots at trophy big game animals at ranges under 300 yards. Both of them shot great groups at 100 yards when we checked their elk rifles before the hunt but shooting at big game in the field and shooting off a bench at close range are a night and day difference to say the least. I took their 1,000 yard confidence in their weapons with a grain of salt and concentrated on finding them some good bulls for their hunt.

A good bull elk that we decided we wanted to shoot appeared on day 6 of the 7 day elk hunt and the stalk was underway. The bull was feeding with a couple of other bull elk on a distant hillside and halfway through the stalk it became apparent that the terrain was not going to allow us to get very close to these elk for a shot. The closest we could get to the group of elk without losing a visual on them was 746 yards. Any closer and the elk were lost to us in an ocean of cedar and pinyon trees. My hunter promptly said that he felt comfortable and confident with the extreme range so we quickly set up for the long range shot on this Arizona bull elk.

The bipod came out, my Arizona elk client dialed the turrets on his scope to 746 yards, and we waited for the bull to turn broadside. After a few minutes the bull finally turned perfectly broadside and he turned the first shot loose. Perfect hit. I told him to hit him again so he fired off another round with his .300 ultra mag. Another perfect hit. The bull was just getting ready to go down when he fired again. Make that 3 perfect hits in a row now. At 746 yards. Off a bipod. In the field. At a live animal. Damn.

At that range and in the cold weather I was able to watch all 3 of the bullet’s vapor trails fly through the air and land perfectly into the bull’s vitals. I would have called big time BS on this had I not been there to see it. Upon inspecting the bull we found that two of the shots were complete pass throughs and one bullet was perfectly mushroomed just under the skin on the opposite side of this Arizona bull elk.


Give the .300 Remington Ultra Mag. some serious thought if you are in the market for a new long range hunting rifle for hunting all of the species of trophy western big game this season. You won’t be disappointed………..