Softest shooting UK wide calibre for all deer species

Hi all,

Interesting question that I was asked today by another stalker. He is thinking ahead for his daughter who is getting further into stalking. What is the softest shooting, i.e. lowest recoil deer calibre for all species in the UK? I said 243 100gn which is overall, I think, the lowest calibre and weight allowed in all parts of the UK on the larger deer species. Action results in equal opposite reaction, etc. Does this sound right? Minimum muzzle velocities/energy requirements apply obviously. Please ignore individual gun weight, action length, ballistics, etc. just focussing on recoil of particular calibres and bullet weights. She's been using a 25-06 estate rifle which I think is a good choice but he wondered if there is something better out there when she gets her own rifle.

All best,

Recoil is, if rifle weight and stock configuration are equal, a product of bullet weight, bullet velocity and importantly but often forgotten bore area.

Thus a 100 grain .243 will have recoil than a 100 grain .257. But to be honest there is also muzzle blast which either a 24" unmodded barrel...or pretty much any sensible length modded barrel will deal with this.

But IMHO stock fit is the most important factor. I've shot a properly stocked .470 NE double that had, for me, at 6' 4" tall, less felt recoil than a .303 No 4 Lee Enfield with the factory "S" marked short butt fitted.

Best compromise would be .257 Roberts with 117 grain bullet in a well stocked rifle. Then .243 with 100 grain bullet...but this will have more muzzle blast.
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Muzzle blast on my browning lever action, 20" barrel is very ordinary, the rifle fits me just nice. My 6.5 is a tikka t3 lite and is so much more pleasant to shoot. And about 350grams lighter. No mods here in Australia either


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If she is shooting a 25/06 ok then I would use that as a yardstick and not overthink it on her behalf. As has been said the stock fit and design is far more important than the calibre. Saying that the 6.5 and 7x57 would spring to mind as obvious choices to your question. The best answer however might be any calibre with a PSE composites stock fitted as to me these manage the recoil best of any I have tried without a weight penalty

The tramp

Well-Known Member
I used to have an old Parker hale .308 that beat the shooter right up, I'd rather use my 338LM than that. Horrible punch to it, where the 338 is a stern push.
For purely hypothetical minimum recoil reasons he islooking for the most efficient cartridge firing a light bullet at as close to 4250 fps (the Scottish minimum) as possible.
For this you want a .243 bullet (smallest allowed by law) so he can run a light but well constructed bullet like a 95gr SST or 85gr partition.

So if he reload (and don't mind a semi custom rifle) I'd say 6PPC or 6BR
If he doesn't reload etc then .243 is a sound choice.

Now that's out of the way, I'd say 6.5x55. I'm a big bore kinda guy but I love that round. The large range of bullets makes it incredibly versatile and recoil is minimal before you add a mod. With a mod it's extremely soft shooting.

As as has been already said, take the 25-06 as a yardstick and something around that would feel standard to his daughter. 6.5x55 fits that bill but 7x57 does aswell and has more potential for muzzle energy
Baguio- 9.4 is the recoil velocity, recoil energy is a bit higher with the 25-06.

A trip to somewhere that allows you to try before you buy, like Ivythorn Sporting in Somerset, would be beneficial so she can try a few calibres.
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We in Ireland can use a 22-250 for all deer species, most would rightly suggest to use something larger. I would even see the 243 as being a bit light as a main deer rifle. Recoil might be an issue for an individual however we must also think of the deer and a humane possibly quick kill. Generally from 7mm upwards hunters seem to agree as being adequate, anything lower we seem to find differing views. I also think it is not right to look at a cartridge on it's own and then get any old rifle in that "low recoiling cal"... rather choose a cartridge that is up to the job and optimise the rifle to lower felt recoil. If one cannot handle that recoil...sorry then maybe forget about shooting deer until one can handle it.
My choice would be a 7-08 with ~120gr and the option to increase bullet weight. As a rifle I would suggest a 20" T3 lite with an ultra light moderator and a relatively heavy scope. Weight in the scope leads to less muzzle flip than a heavier barrelled rifle and light scope. Some stocks will reduce felt recoil drastically even without weight increase. Generally a good scope position, stock length, comb height etc. will lead to a more pleasant shooting.


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257 Roberts: Shallower shoulder angle for less a bit less of a punchy impulse and handles 100gr bullets better than the .243W