Even shooters in their 20s have had cartridges invented, failed to catch on, and disappeared in their lifetimes. Not so with the six I’ll mention in this short article. These cartridges are still quite popular throughout the world and that certainly includes hunting in the Yukon.
The youngest is the .375 Holland and Holland Magnum, which is popular among bison, moose and bear hunters in the Yukon. It was introduced in England in 1912, making it the youngest in the group at 106 years old.
It is also the minimum cartridge allowed for hunting “the big five” in Africa. In the hands of a competent hand-loader, this cartridge is extremely versatile. Most popular loadings are in 270 and 300 grain bullets.
Next is the 30.06 Springfield, which was produced as a U.S. military cartridge in 1906, making it 112 years old, and it is likely among the most popular cartridge in the world.
Outpaced only slightly by the hard recoiling 30 calibre magnums, the 30.06 is still more than adequate for any North American big game animal with the multitude of bullet choices available for the hand-loader and also in factory loads.
Third youngest at 123 years old is the 30.30 Winchester, which became famous in the iconic lever action Model 94 Winchester. This U.S. cartridge is currently available in factory loads of 150 and 170 grains.
In the Yukon, this cartridge is more than adequate for caribou and black bear, provided the shooter accepts that it is not a long range cartridge either in power or accuracy. It is more commonly used in the whitetail deer woods of eastern Canada and the U.S.A.
Similar to the 30.06 Springfield, these next two started off as successful military cartridges, which proved to be very adaptable to the field for hunting.
The 7 x 57 (aka 7mm Mauser) invented in 1892 (125 years old) is similar in ballistics to the venerable .270 Winchester, but allowed for slightly heavier bullets to be used. It’s popularity was enhanced by the availability of thousands of Mauser rifles sold worldwide as military surplus.
At 126 years old, the 1891 invented 6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser – commonly referred to as the 6.5 Swede – has always been somewhat popular, but tended to be underrated in the U.S.
Now with five or six newer 6.5s on the market, this cartridge is enjoying a bit of a popularity surge with the fairly recent acceptance that 6.5s are extremely accurate. The 6.5 x 55 uses bullets that are long for their diameter, which gives them a high ballistic coefficient – making them accurate and high energy at long ranges.
Finally the 145-year-old classic 45-70 Government was created in 1873 and was originally a black powder cartridge, which was changed to use smokeless powder when it became available.
Until recently, the only factory loads available were in 300 and 405 grains, which were loaded down to the original ballistics. Now there are a number of modern high energy loadings that have flattened out the rainbow trajectory of the old loads and also increased velocity and energy levels to match and even outdo many modern cartridges. These modern loads should only be used in modern firearms, which are designed for those pressure levels.
There are other old classics out there, but these will likely be in use forever.