Understanding Ballistics of Common Hunting Calibres

by Keith Cunningham and Linda Miller | August 18, 2014

bench_shooting

Energy = Mass x Velocity Squared

If someone had told us we’d need math and physics to understand ballistics, we’d have paid more attention in high school. When you’re choosing your bullet, you’ll find there is a dizzying variety of types, weights, shapes and promises.

Then there’s the speed of the bullet and its ‘ballistic coefficient’. Basically, if fast is good, faster is better (so long as your bullet is built for speed, and most have a maximum speed rating to let you know how hard you can push it). The speed of the bullet refers to muzzle velocity. The terminal velocity is affected by muzzle velocity, but also by the ballistic coefficient (its ability to overcome air resistance in flight) of the particular bullet.

If you’re using factory ammunition (rather than hand-loads or specialty ammo), it won’t be going really fast. Heavy bullets are often in the 2600 – 2650 fps range while most factory .308 cartridges are in the 2650 – 2750 range. The smaller varmint rounds are often much faster and that helps make up for their relatively small payload. (Ammo manufacturers quote their muzzle velocity for a particular barrel length. If you use a barrel of a different length you will get different results.)

Below is the ballistics of common hunting calibres. For more on taking long shots, see the related story in the 2014 Hunting Annual.

100200300400500600Meters

Our 7mm WSM
Drop 0 1.5 3.75 6 8.75 11.5 MOA
Velocity 2808 2714 2622 2532 2443 2356 fps
Energy 2694 2517 2348 2190 2039 1896 ft-lb
7mm WSM
Drop 0 1.25 3.25 5.75 8.25 11.5 MOA
Velocity 2985 2780 2584 2394 2212 2037 fps
Energy 2967 2573 2223 1909 1629 1382 ft-lb
300 Win Mag
Drop 0 1 3 5 7.5 10.5 MOA
Velocity 3143 2900 2670 2446 2231 2027 fps
Energy 3290 2801 2374 1993 1657 1368 ft-lb
270 Winchester
Drop 0 1.75 4.25 7 10.25 13.75 MOA
Velocity 2717 2539 2363 2204 2042 1887 fps
Energy 2758 2147 1868 1618 1388 1186 ft-lb
30-06 Springfield
Drop 0 1.5 4 7 10.25 14.25 MOA
Velocity 2765 2539 2320 2111 1913 1727 fps
Energy 2545 2147 1792 1484 1219 Below 1000 ft-lb
308 Winchester
Drop 0 1.75 4.5 7.5 11.25 15.5 MOA
Velocity 2670 2446 2231 2027 1834 1653 fps
Energy 2374 1992 1657 1368 1121 Below 1000 ft-lb
303 British
Drop 0 2.25 5.5 9.5 14 19.25 MOA
Velocity 2457 2226 2006 1801 1608 1435 fps
Energy 2010 1649 1340 1080 Below 1000 Below 1000 ft-lb
243 Winchester
Drop 0 1.5 4 6.75 10 13.5 MOA
Velocity 2791 2587 2391 2204 2016 1938 fps
Energy 1730 1486 1269 1079 Below 1000 Below 1000 ft-lb
22-250 Remington
Drop 0 1.5 3.75 6.5 9.5 13 MOA
Velocity 2834 2629 2432 2243 2056 1877 fps
Energy 1427 1227 1050 Below 1000 Below 1000 Below 1000 ft-lb
45-70 Marlin
Drop 0 5 12 22 34 49 MOA
Velocity 1822 1496 1181 Subsonic Subsonic Subsonic fps
Energy 2212 1490 Below 1000 Below 1000 Below 1000 Below 1000 ft-lb
30-30 Winchester
Drop 0 4 10 17 26 36.5 MOA
Velocity 1949 1671 1448 1264 1127 Subsonic fps
Energy 1264 Below 1000 Below 1000 Below 1000 Below 1000 Below 1000 ft-lb

Technical Specifications

  • All with 26″ barrel unless otherwise noted, sight 1.7″ above bore
  • Velocity based on reloading manual maximum velocities (except our 7mm WSM)
  • Data from Sierra Infinity Ballistics software
  • Our 7mm WSM with 154 gr Hornady Interbond at 3100 (27″ barrel)
  • 7mm WSM with 150 gr Sierra SBT bullet at 3200 fps
  • 300 Win Mag with Sierra 150 gr spitzer boat tail at 3400 fps
  • 270 Winchester with 150 gr Sierra at 2900 fps
  • 30-06 Springfield with 150 gr Sierra spitzer boattail bullet at 3000 fps
  • 308 Winchester with Sierra SBT at 2900 fps
  • 303 British with 150 gr Sierra SBT at 2700 fps
  • 243 Winchester with Sierra 100 gr Sierra spitzer boat tail at 3000 fps (22″ barrel)
  • 22-250 with 80 gr Sierra HPBT bullet at 3050 fps
  • 45-70 Marlin with 300 gr Sierra at 2200 fps
  • 30-30 Winchester with 150 gr bullet at 2300 fps