It was hot, too hot.

But what do you expect in August?

My partner was too hot to speak and just emitted a primal grunt. His quietness caused my wheels to spin, and I started thinking about the cooler days ahead in the fall. This, of course, led me to think about guns.

Then I thought about what made a great cartridge as compared to a not-so-good cartridge. Then, during the hot walk, I started thinking about what is a great cartridge. And what about the weather? In the fall the days are so much cooler and wetter. Any article about the best cartridge of all time, of course, will lead to the old reliable .32 Special.

While still holding its own in sales it doesn’t meet the criteria of an all-around cartridge. I remember Theodore Roosevelt saying that the old .32 Special shot lions and they went down like they were struck by lightning. The old .32 Special had its day. It is limited in its range and today is known as the 30-30.

The presence of the .32 or 30-30 in the woods is more the result of the handiness of the rifle for which it was chambered. Most of these rifles still being used is a result of nostalgia.

Most people who rate cartridge for Pennsylvania game would jump on the 30-06 bandwagon. I am talking sporting arms and not military arms. As I rate cartridges in my mind, I remember the 30-06 as the round people moved up to when they deserted the .32 special or 30-30. People then regularly shot the 94 Winchester in the .32 and 30-30 cartridge, and they moved up.

The 30-06 increased the range of the firearm during the Spanish-American War. When we entered the war, the 7 MM Mauser used by our adversary proved to have much better rounds for distance and is still around today. Hence the development of a cartridge that could reach out to a greater distance.

When judging a round, I take into consideration the success of its offspring. The 30-06 Springfield by Winchester was called the 30 Government 06. Soon a new round was being developed in the .308. In the 1950s, shooting targets and hunting grew in popularity. It was inevitable that the shooters themselves would re-shape the cartridges being used and come up with a better cartridge. For instance, take a .308 casing, squeeze the neck down to .243 and there you have it a .243 cartridge. Necking down to .243 and it will push the 87-grain bullet 3,200 feet per second. With the resulting necking up and down of cartridges, the rifle can only use the round that it is chambered for. So many cartridges came from the .308. Soon, after there was the .358 formed from the .308 case. So, the reader can see that many cartridges came from the .308, usually seeking higher velocity. Necking down the cartridges really caused the bullet to fly faster. Therefore the .308 is also one of my top cartridges when I think of rating them.

Today’s hot-selling cartridge would be the 6.5 Creedmoor. Maybe we will look at it in the future and find out where it came from and why the popularity.

George Block writes a weekly outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.

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