Top Ten BEST Cartridges / Calibers for Hunting

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:


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 various products EPIC20 code colorado veteran 400x250here. 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 epic water filtersto 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 @ (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. Save Visit Sponsors of chromium 6 erin brockovich quote 99.87 600x200
32 comments… add one
  • August 1, 2008, 8:47 am

    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!

    • Anonymous November 15, 2015, 9:22 pm

      I say at one of em has gotta be the 7mm Magnum

  • shtf homie #1 August 1, 2008, 11:53 am

    woohoo! the 223 made it!

  • Jennersen August 1, 2008, 6:37 pm

    That sounds about right.

  • Ranger Man August 18, 2008, 7:24 pm

    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, 6:29 pm

    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.

    • Jon Evans August 17, 2015, 6:17 pm

      The .308 Winchester in a bolt, lever, pump or semi auto will kill anything in North America. The only problem with it is that you really won’t need another rifle in your life. THAT my friend is the problem. How now do you tell HER “I need another rifle for *******?

      • Tomas May 19, 2017, 2:54 pm

        Ha ha ha, fully agree with you, Jon.

  • Jackson B August 18, 2008, 6:34 pm

    also what about a 25-06?

  • CountryTek October 8, 2008, 5:14 pm

    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 . . .


  • mario November 1, 2008, 1:51 pm

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

    • Anonymous July 12, 2015, 9:38 pm

      3030 best brush gun

  • Ranger Man November 1, 2008, 7:21 pm

    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, 10:25 pm

    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, 3:48 pm

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

    • Anonymous November 28, 2014, 7:34 pm

      The .308 is without doubt one of the finest hunting cartridges ever developed. when you’re hunting , you are sniping for game, its just a breath away from 30-06 power.

  • bigbuck December 16, 2010, 5:46 pm

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

  • Anonymous December 16, 2010, 5:48 pm

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

  • bigbuck December 16, 2010, 5:50 pm

    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, 3:45 pm

      .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, 5:36 pm

    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 May 25, 2016, 2:22 am

      it depends on the size of the deer. you may need to upgrade to a 30mm (30x173mm) projectile, as delivered by hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type autocannons such as mounted on the United States Air Force’s Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

    • Paul Overlie August 31, 2016, 6:45 pm

      About time someone made fun of the .30 cal. plus nuts. For deer, unless you know of some 400 pound monsters with alligator hide, a .222, .223 or .243 are plenty of gun. I’ve probably taken around 40 deer in my 44 years of hunting and I have used .222, .223, .243, .270, .30-30, .30-06, .303 (Savage and British), .308 and .300 win mag in that time. I’ve even used the 7.62×39 in an SKS sport rifle. The .300 mag is more gun than anyone needs for anything smaller than an elephant. For deer the .222, .223, .243 and .30-30 are my choices. More than half the deer I shot were with either the .222 or .30-30. My only tracking job to find a wounded deer came with the .303 British (mainly my unfamiliarity with the gun, not the gun or cartridges fault.) Still, unless you are just rack hunting, a bad hit with even the .30-30 or the .270 can mean a lot of messed up meat. Also I’ve had to help friends track wounded animals hit with just about ever caliber out there, but it has been more rare with the smaller caliber guns that the bigger ones. I suspect it has a lot to do with flinching and a lack of target time. I could go on but the bottom like is you big gun guys are full of it.

  • Anonymous August 6, 2011, 6:59 pm

    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.

  • jay phillips February 9, 2015, 9:28 pm


  • K.I.S.S. March 26, 2015, 10:44 pm

    Reputation,availability,308win is my choice here in the south.all the rap about the wssm rounds are overrated .keep it simple 30-06 has done its Killing for a long time

  • christian October 14, 2015, 11:11 pm

    all have good points but for getting key factors like were u hunting what u are hunting for or going to hunt for as well most important is the range u want to hunt and max hunt. and use ability of each round u can get. .308 is best for it being widly used every were how about 7mm or the 6.5 round both accurate even long range as well as the 9mm

  • Don Harrison October 15, 2016, 2:49 pm

    Interesting list, a bit dated but I agree with some of your picks. For #1 I would have selected the 30-06. Probably has taken almost as much big game as a 30-30. #2 would have been the 300 WSM. I took a moose with this calibre about 2 weeks ago. This is a strictly business rifle and does the job extremely effective. 7 mm would have been my number three. Far superior to the 270 in every instance. 308 would have been #4 and 30-30 would have been number five. As for the 44 mag and the .22 I would think you are just foolin around. As for your choice of the 243, since it is just a necked down 308 it would be repetitive. I know everybody has there favorites but you have to consider that whenever you hunt there are usually big game out there than the ones your hunting. If I had to have only one calibre it would be the 7 mm hands down. Just my thoughts only applicable to me.

  • Travis January 22, 2017, 7:22 pm

    I have a 35 Remington single shot a marlin 3030 a 243 Remington pump have killed lots of deer with them but my favorite gun is my Remington model 700 in 308 with 165 boatail

  • Shoot1st June 19, 2017, 9:00 am

    Using Rifles; I prefer the .308 as my deer / boar hunting cartridge in a custom DPMS AR rifle. It’s a very versatile cartridge, as is the AR platform. I also have a Ruger 10/22 with a Volquartsen trigger group….very sweet shooter.

    Using Handguns; I really like my 10mm Glock with a 6″ KKM barrel and matching Lone Wolf slide. But I love my S&W #41 rimfire with a 7″ barrel for just plain fun ;0)

  • matt la-black January 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    The argument is stupid –


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