One of the requirements to become a United States Marine (when I was in, it may have changed by now) was to shoot at 200, 300 and 500 yards. Basically, there were three different levels of qualification based on the score you got: marksman, sharpshooter and expert rifleman. We used the steel sights that came on our M16s which were chambered in 5.56 NATO. I used to think that this was an awesome round suited for long distance shooting. That is, until I realized that it wasn’t the best one available. So what are the best long distance rifle cartridges? Here is my version of the best:
This is a newer addition to the long distance shooting cartridges that demands the attention of anyone looking to get into this sport, or someone who is already in this sport and looking for another option. The 6.5mm family of cartridges is one of the most accurate and flattest shooting available on the market. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most expensive of the smaller sized match grade rounds, coming in at over a dollar per unit.
Their accuracy comes from a relatively small projectile between 120-140 grains. This bullet is capable of bucking the wind due to its aerodynamics and velocity. This is a newer round that is essentially the same as a .260 with a few small differences to help it push the accuracy envelope.
This workhorse is tried and true. It has been tested for many years, and is known as an accurate heavy hitter that is capable of going the distance (literally). This is an affordable round that is also readily available. In fact, these rounds can be found starting at 60 cents per cartridge, to well over $2.00 depending on the quantity and grain size of the projectile.
These rounds are deadly accurate out to about 1,000 yards, and are decent at bucking the wind to help aid in accuracy. Grain sizes usually range from 145-180, and just about everything in between.
When you want to shoot something powerful, with a fast moving bullet, the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum is a great choice. The superior velocity of the projectile means that it drops slower than other bullets (because it covers a greater distance in a shorter amount of time). Thus, this projectile is very accurate out at very long distances.
Furthermore, this is a magnum load making it powerful enough to take that moose or grizzly bear you’ve been thinking about. These rounds are expensive, and can cost as much as $4.00 per round. However, if long distance shooting or hunting is a serious endeavor for you, you can’t go wrong with this cartridge.
Some people have stated that the longest confirmed sniper kill at 2,400+ yards was done with a .338 Lapua. The pros have estimated that the bullet was traveling somewhere in the neighborhood of 850-900 feet per second when it reached the poor sap on the receiving end. Considering that it had just flown for 1.5 miles, that ain’t bad! When you’ve just gotta reach out and touch something, you can’t go wrong with a Lapua Magnum.
Because, why not? Listen, in all honestly, if you’ve never fired one, you need to put it on your bucket list. This is a great option if you need to put down a Tyrannosaurus Rex or punch a hole in a light armored vehicle out at 2,000 yards. Bullet size starts at a tremendous 600 grains and go up from there depending on how big your dinosaur is.
The guns are big, heavy and expensive. Each time you apply steady pressure to the trigger a 5 dollar bill comes flying out of the pipe at over 2,700 feet per second. But hey, you only live once, right?
It should go without saying that there are a lot more long distance cartridges that could be on this list. If I were to list all of them, I’d likely run out of room so don’t hold it against me. What is your favorite long distance rifle cartridge? Sound Off!
Ever consider hunting with a brush gun?