Top Ten BEST Cartridges / Calibers for Hunting

by Ranger Man on August 1, 2008

Yo, yo, yo. It’s been a little while since I’ve given you a top ten list, sooooooo – here we go. This post is influenced by American Hunter (AH) magazine’s recent article on the top ten best hunting cartridges of all time. Here it is:

hunter_magazine.JPG

Sorry for the glare, but I didn’t feel like taking another pic. You’ll live. We’ll live. What the hell am I talking about!? We’re all gonna die.

Anyway, if you’re a member of the NRA you get to choose between 3 different types of magazines with your membership. American Hunter, a gun policy magazine, and a magazine with a gun smithing type slant. You see my choice.

The brief article actually gives you 3 top ten lists from 3 different writers. I’m not going to copy their list here. You’ll need to get an NRA membership to read them for yourself, but I will tell you, their #1 choices were: .308, 12-Gauge, and .375 H&H. I’m going to present the SHTFblog top ten.

Numba 10: .44 Remington Magnum
Whether you’re into handgun hunting or you use the Ruger .44 magnum rifle, this cartridge is sweet. In a handgun it’s about as big as you really want to go unless you’re into causing yourself wrist pain. She’s got knock down powah. Put it in a rifle and increase the velocity. It’ll git-r-done.

Numba 9: .300 Winchester Magnum
This thing borders on a bazooka . . . well not really, but it sure is big, BUT did you know it loads in various ways? It can be powered down, or it can be powered up. You just gotta pick (or load) the shells you want. It’s also sweet for putting a moose down or heading into Africa.

Numba 8: 30-06 Springfield
Look out! Here she comes! Man-o-man, this thing will really come right onto-ah, won’t she? Got Aught 6? No? Well, you gotta get her. The magazine article accurately states, “If you don’t have one by now you are weird, but there is hope.”

Numba 7: .223 Remington
This cartridge is scoffed at by many when it comes to large game, but, unless you’re on safari, it’ll surely get the job done. It’s fast and accurate. The magazine article refers to it as a “small-caliber 30-06, but more affordable.” Makes sense to me . . . . plus it also fits the mighty AR-15.

Numba 6: .270 Winchester
I used to see this as a 30-06 wannabe, but I’ve since changed that thinking. It has a slightly more mild recoil, flatter trajectory, and it’s a bit faster. Even if the bullet is a bit smaller than the 30-06 – exactly how much do you need?

Numba 5: 30-30 Winchester
It’s here, because it’s a damn classic – a classic, I say! If you don’t own a 30-30 lever action rifle . . . . *sigh* – talk to the hand!

Numba 4: .243 Winchester
Truth be told, if I’d been in charge of developing the M-16 (and all its variations), I’d have chambered it with the .243. It has mild recoil, it’s accurate, and there’s a bit more power than the .223. As quoted in the AH article, “this is the gun culture’s equivalent of the little engine that could.” Very nice round.

Numba 3: .22 (long rifle and magnum)
This round is the ultimate survival round. It’s small, cheap, quiet, and perfect for small game. Bump up to the .22 magnum and you can even move into mid-sized game. The minimum cartridge size for deer hunting in many states is the .223, but in Maine it’s the .22 magnum. It’s not widely used for deer, but I know of one person that has taken many, many deer with the .22 magnum.

Numba 2: 12 Gauge
As they write in the AH article, “What other round can be used for pheasants, ducks and clay pigeons on the wing, turkeys on the ground or, with modern slug ammunition, deer, bears or anything else up to 150 yards?” This thing ranks so high because of its versatility. It does a little of everything.

Numba 1: .308 Winchester
Ooooh baby. There’s a reason it’s the most widely used sniper round in the world. She hits hard, and the 180 grain round nose bullet is a Ranger Man favorite. It’s obscene. There’s also a plethora of 7.62 NATO cartridges on the market (just make sure you have a 7.62 rifle (vs. a .308 (confused? e-mail me (ranger @ shtfblog.com (I think this is the most parenthesis I’ve ever pulled off in a row (ever (cool, huh?))))))).

- Ranger Man

BTW: To view the SHTFblog Top Ten Best Guns for SHTF – go here. Alternatively, you can visit the SHTFblog Top Ten Best Handguns for TEOTWAWKI by going here.

SurvivalTopics.com August 1, 2008

Pretty much agree: .22lr, 12 gauge, .308 really cover just about everything and after that you are quibbling over details. How’s that for starting a debate!

shtf homie #1 August 1, 2008

woohoo! the 223 made it!

Jennersen August 1, 2008

That sounds about right.

Ranger Man August 18, 2008

Jackson, I like the .308 the best for deer hunting, but ask anyone and they’ll give you a different answer. The .308 is a common caliber and it works – well. Some people say a 30-06 is a bit excessive for deer hunting (possibly damages too much meat). I tend to agree, but that also works.

It also depends on the environment in which you’ll do most of your hunting. Is it thick woods? Open terrain? This will also dictate what you use for sights or scopes. As for the 25-06 – dunno – I stick with common calibers. If SHTF how many people are going to either have, or be able to use 25-06 ammo?

Hope that helps.

Jackson B August 18, 2008

im 20, and looking to buy a hunting rifle for the first time. I’ll worry about what one feels the best in my hands when im in the store, but what kind of caliber should i get? Mainly for deer hunting.

Jackson B August 18, 2008

also what about a 25-06?

CountryTek October 8, 2008

I’ve had .308, .270, .303 British, .30-30, and have shot .30-’06 extensively. They’ll all do the job on deer size game, within their performance envelope. ’06 is a bit of overkill, but if it’s what you’ve got, use it! .270, .308, .303, and ’06 are all potent medicine on elk, as well.

People tell me that both .308 and .270 are light for moose. I’ll buy it on the .270, but I just don’t see it on the .308 — not if you consider the ’06 adequate. My only reason for agreeing on the .308 would be the fact that moose country is also grizzly country — and there I’d want a .35 Ackley-Whelan, a .338 or .375 magnum or the venerable .45-70 Gov’t round, so ’06 and .303 would both find themselves lacking, as well. But, if I were to find myself in moose country with a .270 and my kids were hungry — the moose would be in trouble. I’d just be very careful about stalking as close as possible and putting my bullet where it would do the most good. Heck, he’d be in trouble if all I had was my trusty .30-30, I’d just stalk closer.

Just my heavily de-valued 2 cents worth . . .

OCT

mario November 1, 2008

I’m trapped betweem my 30-30 & 30.06. I’m hunting in thick brush. Which 1? & what grain?

Ranger Man November 1, 2008

Mario, I’d probably go 30-30 with a heavy grain, but that’s just me. Lighter rifle, lighter recoil, faster response time.

hangemghigh87 November 11, 2008

about two years ago I got the Prep bug. I spent about two year researching my battery of guns.

Most of whom, appear on this list.

Ruger 10/22
AR-15 in .223
Bolt Tikka in .308

now about building that hidden room….

Anonymous December 8, 2010

I’m sorry but the 308 was ment for sniping…..NOT for the deer woods

bigbuck December 16, 2010

The 30-06 is the best rifle out there. For kids though I would stick with a .243 or .223.

Anonymous December 16, 2010

The best big game rifle though is the .458 Winchester Magnum.

bigbuck December 16, 2010

I also think that the .223 is a bit small for deer. Especially a .22 mag is way too small.
the 25-06 would be my second choice behind the 30-06

Austin December 28, 2010

.25-06 is an Amazing Deer caliber, especially here in Texas. Fast and Flat shooting. I load mine with 90 gr Barnes TSX and shoot them in a 1-10 twist. Extremely accurate and deadly out to 400 yds.

I do plan on adding a .30-06 to the collection, just in case I want to hunt Elk and/or other larger game.

Anonymous March 12, 2011

I am 13 and am getting a .50
Cal . I am going deer hunting and I think it’s to small. Thinking about a 20 mm

Anonymous August 6, 2011

Where are the European cartridges. 7 x 64 is one of the best when it comes to the tough African game, long range and short range. I agree the 25-06 is a master piece.

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