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The 4 Very Best Calibers For Hunting Big Game

The 4 Very Best Calibers For Hunting Big GameThe answer to the question – what is the best all-round rifle caliber for big game? – has been debated among hunters and gun enthusiasts for decades.

Everyone will tell you something different. The truth, though, is that there is no correct answer, as the best all-around hunting caliber is really subjective based on personal experience and preference.

Nonetheless, there are certain rifle rounds that undoubtedly deserve more attention than others. Not only are they significantly more popular, but there are other factors we will look at that set them above the rest of the playing field. They have a solid track record and certain advantages that place them on this list.

Maybe you have the hunting rifle you want picked out but can’t decide on the caliber; most hunting rifles are available in all the calibers on this list, plus more. This list is designed to be a starting point for you to make that decision.

1. .308 Winchester

The .308 has evolved to become the most popular rifle cartridge in the United States today. A near identical round is also in service with the United States military — the 7.62x51mm NATO.  This means that even your average hunting rifle chambered in .308 will accept both calibers, making it one of the most versatile rifles you could own. The .308 round also has a noted reputation for accuracy, and as a result the 7.62x51mm NATO is currently used as a sniper round in addition to the .300 WIN Mag and the .50 BMG. Not only that, but both .308 and 7.62x51mm are some of the most plentiful and affordable rifle calibers currently on the shelves.

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Beyond that, the .308 is an effective hunting cartridge for most, but not quite all, North American big game. It is an excellent round for deer, elk, black bear and bighorn sheep. The only time you’d wish you had a bigger round is if you go after the biggest prey such as a moose or grizzly, where a magnum cartridge would provide greater knockdown power. Nonetheless, the .308 is also effective against smaller- and medium-sized game, in that it has more than enough power to take anything that size down with one shot and without being too large of a round to make a mess of the meat. A further benefit of the .308 is its relatively light recoil, meaning that no one’s going to be going home with a bruised shoulder after a day on the range. All in all, it may not be quite the round you need for moose and grizzly, but beyond that, it’s a challenge to argue against the .308 as a great rifle round.

2. .30-06 Springfield

Image source: Fishthewest.com

Image source: Fishthewest.com

There is no more classic choice on this list than the .30-06 Springfield. In service all the way back since World War I, the .30-06 also has the longest proven track record of any caliber on this list. Though it has since been eclipsed narrowly by the .308 in terms of popularity, the .30-06 remains one of the most popular and common rifle rounds today. Nearly every rifle manufacturer produces large quantities of .30-06, so it’s not hard to find it on the shelves.

In terms of hunting, the .30-06 is a heavier round than the .308, giving it slightly more stopping power but also slightly less velocity (and moderate recoil). While it’s still not quite the best round you could use for the biggest game such as grizzly or moose (though it could do the job if you needed it to), the .30-06 is a superb round for all other game on the continent. And beyond hunting, no gun collection is truly complete without a .30-06 rifle of some sort in the mix.

3. .300 Winchester Magnum

The little brother of the .338 Winchester Magnum, the .300 Win Mag has gained a stout reputation as being a near-flawless combination of accuracy and stopping power. It has gained favor in the military as an A-grade sniper round and will no doubt serve you well when it comes to hunting.

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The best feature about the .300 Win Mag is that it offers excellent long-range performance with superb stopping power and high velocity. It has been used successfully time and time again to drop the biggest game like moose and grizzly. So far, the .300 may seem like the perfect cartridge. The only downsides to this round are its greater recoil (which will make it uncomfortable for beginners or for those who just don’t like the kick to their shoulder) and it’s more expensive per-round as well. Both the .308 and .30-06 are more affordable and also found in greater quantities on the shelves.

4. .338 Winchester Magnum

This was the round that was made for Alaskan big game hunting, and is the preferred caliber of grizzly bear and moose hunters across the continent. The .338 Win Mag will drop anything and everything to walk North America. In that regard, the .338 is considered by some experts and professionals to be the best big game American hunting cartridge for that very reason.

But the .338 is also not for everybody. The .338 ammo is insanely expensive; you can plan on spending $3 to $4 per round (and you’ll have to fire hundreds of rounds on the range to become truly proficient with any caliber). And as you can imagine, the recoil is the largest of any of the calibers on this list. New shooters or anyone who doesn’t want to go home with pain in their shoulder (after firing multiple shots) is not going to be a fan of this round. But still, the .338 Win Mag is a rifle round to be respected by all gunowners, and if you want a caliber that’s going to kill anything without question, the .338 Win Mag is it.

What would you add to this list? Share your opinion in the section below:

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57 comments

  1. 7mm-08, .270, 7mm Rem mag and 30-30.

    • Since most big game means deer, I like LL’s idea of the 30-30. With the new Hornady ammo, this one really cooks and the other issue is that the wife or young son might need to harvest game and the recoil of the ’06 is considerable. I have a Model 7mm/08 and the gun is light and it produces quite severe recoil.

      Good 30-06 has the advantage of being able to reach out and touch game (if you do your part) at 300 yards-and if food is essential, you might save a stalk.

      I also have a 338–Brutal Betsy I call her–enough said about that unless a Grizzly is on you.

    • I have and like the .308 Win. My personal hunting experience convinced me that it is just as much a well-placed shot that counts, as does the bullet size.

      • Every moose I ever shot with a .308 went right down in it’s tracks. I have a wide selection of rifles, but if much walking is involved still use my BLR .308.
        A friend of mine who owns a .300 Win Mag hunts moose with his .303.
        Moose are not as hard to kill as a deer. Bear are way tougher, and timber wolves are also unnaturally tough.

        This was a very good sensible article!

    • 270,30-30,30-06,45-70

    • I shot a 5 y/o Bull Buffalo with a .308 Norma Magnum. It is made from a necked down 338 win mag casing. I dropped the bull with 1 round (180 gr).

    • I can’t believe the absurdity of this extremely ignorant comment ” In terms of hunting, the .30-06 is a heavier round than the .308, giving it slightly more stopping power but also slightly less velocity ”

      It CANNOT be the heavier round and offer less velocity. In fact it is the exact opposite. The loads found commonly for the 30-06 are anemic because there are so many old rifles still in circulation. This used to be mentioned on a regular basis but no longer. It seems gun writers want to please and don’t care about writing in depth about a subject.

      I own both and shot both extensively. There is absolutely no question that the 30-06 has a substantial edge over the 308 with proper, safe hand loads. It can also shoot heavier bullets with an even more substantial edge over the 308. The 308 is a great round but it isn’t as fast, more accurate or more powerful than the 30-06. The 308 is an efficient, accurate, compact round. The 30-06 is a larger, accurate, powerful round that isn’t as compact because it is substantially more powerful with proper hand loads for both in modern rifles. There is no context. Unless you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re bias in favor of the 308. As a hunting round, the 30-06 is excellent for a very large variety of game. In Europe where people haven’t jumped on the 308 band wagon as much, the 30-06 is more popular for all the reasons I mention.

  2. i know those guns are good but i love my 7mm bolt action its got great knock down power plus ive owned it for over 40 years was built from 25 diff guns and love it too..

  3. 7mm stx winchester with a 1-7 twist and 26″ barrel .30-378 26″ barrel wby only 2 guns u will need in lower 48 for big game shotgun for turkey and water fowl 223 for predetor control and a hardball for rabbits ha ha c how good ur aim is

  4. you asked for calibers (not cartridge) so to answer: .25, .270, .300, .338 in domestic inches and 6,7,8 and 10 in millimeters – but boy, does that leave out a lot of cool stuff in-between 🙂

    • Except 6 mm is .24, 7mm is .28, 8mm is .32, and 10mm is .40 cal.
      .308 winchcester, 30-06 sprng, and .300 win mag all shoot a bullet of .308 inches = to 7.62 mm.
      Also the part in the article about the 30-06 hittimg heavier but with slower velocity is decieving. With equal weight bullets, in factory loads, the 30-06 will always shoot faster, and thus deliver more energy.

      • Wrong! I’ve seen ammo for 06 and 308 that shoot exactly the same.
        Same grain same speed same energy.
        I’ll trust my 308 over an 06 any day.

        • The 3006 has more powder capacity and a lower operating pressure.just because youve seen loads the same doesnt make it the rule.research your facts.

      • You’re absolutely correct. The article suggest that it is slower than the 308 which is false. The manufacturers in general don’t load it to its potential while they load the 308 to its maximum potential. The apples to apples comparison is that the properly handloaded 30-06 in terms of speed and power is a superior round to the 308. I own both and load for both. The 06 also has the ability to hold heavier bullets because of its higher case capacity. The 308 shoots a 180 gr projectile around 2600 fps. The 06 without signs of pressure is 200 fps faster. It doesn’t make sense that one round holds more powder, is of very similar design and is less powerful. The anemic loads one finds on the shelf are the reason for this flawed reasoning. The 308 is a very nice, accurate cartridge but it is not superman. Of all the articles I’ve read, this has to be the faultiest one ever on the subject of comparison between the 308 and the 06. The difference extends well beyond the 180 gr projectile. The 06 can easily shoot 200 and 220 grains bullets at very respectable speeds to which the 308 doesn’t come close. In the lighter bullets area, it is where the two are close but the 308 isn’t superior to the 06. I love the 308 for its low recoil, inherent accuracy and all the good stuff but it is NOT faster than the 06. This is flawed information.

  5. I agree with your choices and comments left here by others but you are all leaving out one really great cartridge that’s been around since, I believe, the year 1911.
    And ,,, that is the 35 Whelen.
    For those who are unfamiliar, it is 30/06 brass necked up to 35 (.358) caliber.
    In reality it is much more versatile than your recommended big four as well as the magnums commented about.
    I can load and shoot anything from cheap 38/357 120 grain pistol bullets up to 300 plus grain stuff out of the same rifle. (A custom 98 Mauser with a 3-18 by 56 Leupold)
    I have a large arsenal to choose from, but this has been my go to gun just about every time.
    The versatility this cartridge provides allows me to do anything from light plinking, with no shoulder pain, up to confidently dropping anything on this continent.

  6. For dangerous game (Bear or moose) up north we prefer a lever gun in 45/70. Maybe for hunters coming from the lower 48 a 375 will work better for a longer, safer shots but for day to day use the 45/70 offers the needed knock down along with faster follow up shots when a few short seconds makes all the difference.

    • Gerald

      Isn’t a 375 considered as too powerful fo American game? I grew up in Congo and Ruanda and we handled any game, from guinea fowll and rabbits to elephants and buffalo with only four guns : 22 lr, 12 guauge, 30-06 and 375 magnum H&H. The 375 was used only for elephant and african buffalo, the 30-06 for antelope , water buck, wart hog, wildebeast, leopard, etc… A good hunter has to learn how to deliver one clean deadly shot and not expose himself to dangerous animals’ unforeseen reactions.

  7. I use a BA 223. A single shot Browning low wall in 243. A Weatherby 308; it’s not pretty but it shoots great. A Brwning BLR in 358 Winchester.A 300 Win mag. A Ruger #1 Tropical in 375 H&H (handloaded). All rifles to this point are scope mounted, the following are not. A 375 H&H Sako; and a Marlin Guide Gun,, handloaded in 45/70. I usually shoot standard rated ammo in the 375 Sako.. I may scope mount the Sako as the Guide gun now covers the need for a stopper. But the Sako has filled the bill for close up work quite well before acquiring the Guidegun. If I put a scope on it it will certainly be of the large field of view type. I

    Best Regards

    chukr

    • One can never go wrong with medium bore cartridges for all an every big game animal on this continent. 348 winchester 358 winchester. 35 Whalen an for hand loaders 35 Whalen AK improveD 35 whalen based on 30-06 case is a great stopping round with not even half the felt recoil of either 300 win. Mag or the 338 win mag Yes it is True 35 is range limited. Lets be real though . It is the very rare few who will take shots a medium or large game over 300 yards or beyond. About max for factory 35 whalen loads is 400 yards with proper hand loads. Push that maybe another 50 yards.
      With the 35 Walen Ackley improved hand loads 500-550 yards we are talking about medium size game at ranges over 350 yards With either 35 Whalen.

  8. Having used almost every SAAMI cartridge available, and more than a couple wildcats, over the past 40 years I have found that I have returned to what I started with so many years ago. No battery is complete without a fast 22 and the 22-250 rem gets the nod for available commercial loads but more important for me is the long case life and almost unlimited choice of components, powders and loads that excel. My in between gun is a simple 243 Win made by Melvin Forbes but any production gun will produce out to practical ranges for a 243. No chance I’ll ever be without a 270 Winchester and if I only had one rifle it would be something in 270 Win. My CRF Model 70 featherweight is tough to beat and easy to carry. Again, 120-150 projectiles and numerous powders will satisfy any handloader or pick any of the factory loads you desire from 12$ a box to custom loaded rounds that will require a Benjy to aquire a box. The final bolt is a bit of a departure from the age of the battery mates but I have grown fond of a 300 WSM in a Kimber SS 8400 because it is easy to load for, factory ammo is surprisingly affordable and easy to find when compared to Weatherby, Norma, and other variants of the fast 30’s. Once again it is as easy to handload for as choosing any Hodgdon or IMR from 4895 through 7828. I never got caught up in all the great scope debates so Leupold VX II’s are fine but mine wear the newer VX III’s because I found them on sale 2 years ago and each came with a really nice Carhart jacket. The 270 can be traded for a 30-06 and I won’t fret a bit just as the 300 WSM can be set aside for a Weatherby, Norma, Winchester Mag long action or any of the Lazzeroni/Dakota or whatever your flavor is. I don’t even need all four and if I had to get by with just one then I would be happy as a lark with a new 270 WSM and some 130, 140 and 150 grain Accubonds, Partitions and Ballistic Tips for everything from coyote, pronghorn, whitetail on up to elk, moose and carribou. I’m sure some will argue that the 270 WSM is way too light for the bigger stuff so I guess I’ll just throw my bow away right now because if the WSM won’t get it done then an arrow has no chance at all.

  9. Well the article does say big game hunting, so I’ll stick to that and not comment on varmint calibers and etc. For any North American big game, you really only need one or two calibers, not four, in my opinion. For large and dangerous game like Brown Bear, Grizzly, etc., I would go with the .45-70 with heavy bullet weights, 350 grains or more. The .45-70 is no slouch with deer sized game either, so it is the one do-it-all caliber, as long as you stay within, say 150 yards. After that the trajectory becomes somewhat rainbow like, But it will still kill out to 500-600 yards. The second gun could be your choice of any number of flat-shooting speedier rounds. Anything from a .270, 7mm Magnum, .308, .30-06, or a .300 win mag and you would have everything covered. Just my 2 cents…

  10. I have hunted deer, elk and bear for years using a Ruger M-77 300 Winchester Mag . I’ve also used Remington 270, a Winchester 22 and a Savage 308. The Ruger 300 WM is hands down the finest gun/ammo combo that I have used. The Ruger has NO kick back, just a gentle push. It has amazing range and never destroys the meat . I have taken down deer at over 400 yards with no more than a 2 inch adjustment after setting my scope for 100 yards. This will always be the rifle of first choice for me!

  11. I can only judge by what I am using or used before…
    I did use many different calibers going from .222 up to .338 Lapua.
    Now I only use 2 to do it all.

    For both I use the same gun, my Blaser R8 and I really love this gun.
    I use .308 win for everything from varmints to deer sized game, as long as the distance is in it’s limits.
    For everything above or even for mid-size game at longer distances, I use the .338 Win Mag.
    I never hunted grizzly or dangerous African game but I am sure that this caliber will do the job.

    Bullet placement and using the correct type of bullet is still the main reason for a quick kill.
    That is my reason for using and loving my Blaser, I just switch to the scope that is sighted in for a specific load / bullet and i am good to go.
    Maybe a little more expensive this way but it gives me a one rifle battery with unlimited possibilities.

  12. I have several rifles of different calibers.
    Still my favorite is my .45-70 by Henry…not that th3 brand matters so much.
    Does it have the range of my 300 mag or 7mm mag….no it doesn’t.
    But its still my gun of choice as I head out the door.
    Actually going to sell my others and have it as my only rifle.
    Using Hornady 325 grain bullets gives me all i have ever needed, even big norther BC Canada moose have never required more than 1 shot.
    I quickly lever in round 2, and they are down by the time I’m ready to fire again.
    Love my ‘little ‘ gun.

  13. In 2015, the 30-06 is not slower than the .308. That’s an error. Maybe in 1970 that was true, but certainly not now. 30-06 can also throw heavy bullets down range at higher velocities because of greater case capacity/seating depth allowance.
    30-06 is superior to the 308 but 308 typically has an accuracy advantage that comes into play at extreme ranges.

  14. First off, 95% of all game taken in the lower 48 are shot inside 200 yards. Most under 100 yards. Average hunters have no business shooting past 300 yards. Some of the stories I read on these forums must be taken with a grain of salt. Most people cannot judge distance if their life depended on it. If your an average hunter I would advise you to read a great article from the Chuck Hawks website.

    http://chuckhawks.com/myth_busting_calibers.htm

    Just like the folks that tell you that if you don’t carry a .375 magnum in Alaska you’ll most certainly die. For those types I would present a page from the Alaskan Dept. of Fish and Game.

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.firearms

    For the average hunter who hunts antelope, deer, black bear, hogs and elk out to 250 yards and can have but ONE RIFLE the .308 Winchester is all the rifle you will ever need. My favorite deer caliber is the 6.5×55 but I would be the first to admit that the .308 is much better for larger animals. As a new hunter forget the retards and their magical 600 yard shots and focus on reality. If you can hit an 8″ target every time at 200 yards you can hunt most everywhere in the lower 48. And the .308 will handle anything you encounter within that range.

  15. I have used just about everything in the last 55 years of big game hunting.
    What is all this talk about the 45-70? I had one and did not find it as good a killer as most of my centerfires, and I had it loaded to the nuts too!
    As to the .308 not being good for moose, that is hooey, I have shot lots of moose with my favorite BLR, “Staghammer”, dropped every one of them right in their tracks, a moose is not hard to kill anyway.
    Last fall we were way up north of Pickle Lake in NW Ontario hunting moose and though I have a half dozen rifles, from .223 to 7mm Rem Mag, it was the .308 BLR that I carried most of the time.
    I would not be one damn bit worried about shooting a grizzly bear with it. (I know two guys who shot a griz with .30-06 and had no problem. They are flesh and blood!
    Shot placement is more important than anything else!

    • You’re darn right, shot placement is more important than anything else. I remember, as kids 12/13 years old back in Congo we used to shoot impala, thompson’s gazelle or waterbuck with a simple 22 LR. One shot did it most of the time and we never left an animal wounded, no matter what it took to finalize the kill, or else Dad woulld have given us the licking of our lives.

  16. My list:

    1.) 7mm Rem Mag
    2.) .30-06
    3.) .338 Win Mag
    4.) .458 Win Mag

    The .30-06 should be obvious. I know, the .308 Win, but remember that the .30-06’s original military loading was about the power of today’s .308 Win loadings, so that’s covered. German Salazar has shown us that precision shooting with the .30-06 is possible, doable, and practical to achieve. Gunny Hathcock did his work with a .30-06.

    The 7mm Rem Mag will reach out there due to the optimal aerodynamics of 7mm bullets. It can be downloaded to .270 Win or even 7×57 Mauser levels of power if need be, so that’s covered. Full power loads routinely put down elk and moose.

    The .338 Win Mag has sufficient power to put down something large and mean, and sufficient ballistics to do so at a relatively safe distance.

    The .458 Win Mag, being powerful enough for the Big Five, is surely powerful enough for anything in North America as well. It can also be downloaded to .45-70 specs.

  17. Wow! All this info and I’m still confused!
    I agree with Charlie and Gerald that shot placement is key.
    I was trained to shoot in the military and am a novice elk hunter (novice meaning I always go with someone that knows more than me) and I use the Remington 700 .300 win mag. I think I can pretty much use it for any big game within the North American continent. I met some folks from Alaska visiting Phoenix this winter and they invited me to come up for a hunt, we didn’t specify the time of year or animal but he seemed to feel my .300 wm would work just fine up there. And, it’s the only animal hunting rifle I own so it will have to do!
    Thanks for posting everyone!

  18. A 7mm WSM is the most versatile Rifle for the Lower 48 I have proved that to my self A 300 WSM Will Do the rest in the hands of a hunter.

  19. I think the 7mm WSM with right bullets is the most useful Rifle for the lower 48 and the 300 WSM will cover them all I have used both calibers. The 7MM has the range and power for the lower 48 .And the 300 WSM In the hands of a hunter has plenty for the Rest.A one shot kill on a brown Bear and a 450 yard shot on a mule deer should ice the cake.

  20. My two best big game calibers are 7X57 Mauser and 338/06. Both are Mausers and both with handloads The 7MM is right there with my 270 Winchester and the 338 is only 100 fps behind the Winchester 338 and a lot less recoil. If I can’t kill it with either one of these I have no reason to be shooting at it.

  21. I realize that many of the posters here, seem to think that only the lower 48 of the US should be considered when choosing a “best caliber.” However, when I read the article, I thought the idea was to pick the “4 very best Calibers for Hunting Big Game.” (No geographic limitations stated.)

    With that in mind, my big game caliber list would have to include:

    1 – 30-06 some will choose to substitute a .308; however, I think there is just enough difference between the two cartridges to give the 30-06 the edge – not to mention its versatility to choose larger (heavier) bullets for bigger game (bears come to mind, along with bison, moose, elk, and anything else, shy of Africa’s big 5).

    2 – 30-30 for deer size and smaller game (especially wild hogs). I like the round in a Marlin lever action with a low power stope for quick action and easy shouldering for fast shots, even on running game.

    3 – I’m now completely out of my element; but, I think something on the order of a .338 or a .375 for “great bears” and such would be appropriate.

    4 – As long as I’m dreaming, I will dream really big, and go with a .50 Barrett for the “really big game” at “really long distances” – say, elephants and a half mile… In reality this round is so much overkill, I can’t even think of a big game animal big enough to justify it. However, how can you not want one… If I were truly looking for an African “big 5” gun, I would have to get something that starts with a 4. How big, I don’t know. I’ve never even shot one. The price of ammo is so far off the affordability scale, I would have to defer to the judgement of those hunters who have already made the investment of time, recoil, and putting their lives on the line for a selection for a dangerous game rifle.

    If I could only have one big game rifle, it would have to be the 30-06, hands down, no question. Teddy Roosevelt used one on safari for virtually everything in Africa. That certainly makes it good enough for anything in North America, where I expect to hunt my big game. It is also a cartridge that is readily available in a variety of weights, it is relatively inexpensive, and I happen to own of couple of rifles in this caliber, and I find that I can shoot it reasonably well without developing an aversion to shooting it from excessive recoil. For those reasons, I feel it is by far my favorite “go to caliber” for all big game.

  22. No one mentioned the 6.5×55 SM or the .260 Remington. Better ballistics than all of the above with the exception of the .338. But then you could shoot the .338/06 if you don’t want to have shoulder surgery to put everything back where it belongs. I’m a big fan of the 6.5 mm. Shot placement counts and the 6.5 has plenty of penetration where it counts.

  23. We have 24 individuals that have given their advise.. There is a cartridge that has not been mentioned although several have proclaimed to be handloaders. And you would need to see your friendly gunsmith to have your rifle re-barreled since most firearms manufactures do not chamber rifles for this cartridge.
    I would advise anyone to investigate the 338 Federal cartridge before making judgment on all the cartridges mentioned. Granted it is about a 400 yd. max cartridge but combined with a short action, shorter barrels,, lighter weight rifle, ballistics superior to 308 & 30-06. with same weight bullet. Less recoil than 30-06, 300 WSM, 300 Win Mag. – Down sides — Cost of custom rifle, lack of factory ammo off the shelves.

    BUT if you really want a good cartridge — this just may be it. 338 Federal

    • You make a valid point with the 338 federal however it is a niche cartridge. Try going to walmart and buying ammo. The 30-06 on the other hand no problem they are everywhere in the world. I doubt the animal will know the .30 inch difference.

  24. For most of North American game 30-06 is fine. Have you tried the Hornady Light Magnum or the Federal High Energy? All 180 grain, the Hornady is spire point the Federal comes in Nosler Partition. Try hitting a bear in the chest with the Federal at 150 yards then come and tell me what happened!

  25. You wrote that the 30-06 has “slightly less velocity” then the 308. Are you sure? The books show it to be hotter, more like a 308 on steroids. In my reading, the 30-06 is likely the most versatile hunting caliber for North American medium to large game and can legitimately be use on anything in North America. Unfortunately, I have never been able to experience the wide expanse of hunting here in America and have had to settle for whitetail due to economics. But, I can read and enjoy the hunting of others! I wish more of the televised hunts could focus on the hunt instead of the sponsor, though. I certainly do enjoy the hunts and appreciate those who can go and share their hunt!

  26. While I have several big game rifles including a 300 Win Mag, a 9.3×62 Mauser and a couple of 45-70’s, but my very favorite rifle caliber is the often overlooked 358 Winchester. Most think of the 358 winny as a “woods” cartridge, but my bolt action rifle is accurate (by hunting standards) out to 250 and probably a bit further. 250 yards is the longest distance I’ve shot and it is reliably accurate at that distance. I reload and my hunting bullet of choice is the 225 grain Nosler Partition. For target work, I use 220 grain Speer Hot-cor which would probably be a very decent hunting bullet as well. Both shoot to nearly the same POA. This is a hard-hitting caliber with very manageable recoil and it is a pleasure to shoot.

  27. Your article was exactly as I guessed it would. Be.
    To eat I’ll take the .22. To save butt I”ll take the
    06.

  28. Hunterman
    I like the great advice. I also agree that shot placement is the key. I will tell you my 4 favorite rifles. My favorite is a 243. However I believe that a 25/06 is a superior cartridge so I will list that as a favorite. Another is the 270. It is a favorite of many hunters. Last is a 300 win mag. I think this is really to big for deer but is great for elk and bears. My favorite is still a 243 but my advice for all deer sized game: all you need is a 25/06. No caliber will knock a deer in there tracks every time but some do more than others. The 25/06 does nearly every time though. The 30’s, even the magnums, shoot straight up and down. Which is why i said what i did about the 300 to big for deer. I know there are people that would b aggravated about me saying this but i really dont care. For an outstanding flatshooting longrange rifle, go with the 25/06.

  29. I like all different Cal’s but the 3006 is the most universal round of all and I don’t like it only because I’d have no excuse to try on a new one when the gun bug bites me honestly it will do for all game in us maybe not my first choice for brown bear but I m not a bad shot so I wouldn’t be afraid to use it load it with heavy bowler bullets as to those that claim a 308 win Chester will match the o six in power are nuts factory loads for paid are kind of weak except for Hornady lite magnums try and match the velocity of the 3006with 308 in hand loads my old during says o six is 200 fps faster with 220 grain hand loads not even available in factory 308 but 2300 is best I could get but paid would go 2600 or little less with h4831 recoil is brisk but manageable a good recoil pad helps in this regard I do my own gun smithing glass bedding locking lug lapping Barrell lapping trigger work so on so forth I’m 63 now retired heavy equipment mechanic with some limited machinist skills no expert by any means but have accursed many bolt and lever guns shot big bore hand guns a lot so I do have some shooting experience on and by the way I do love the 308 as it is more easy to get accuracy with than almost anything out there good a deer round as any

    • As to my reply please forgive my godamned auto correcting device changing whole words I’ve turned it off but it keeps changing my words you just have to put in correct words like Nosler in stead of ECT ECT

      • The .308 with the faster Federal 165 grain Trophy Bonded Tip ammo will match any standard 30-06 load today. I would not hesitate to take any game the 30-06 would take, including Grizzly (If I had too) with that load. Bullet leaves muzzle at 2880 fps and 3000 ft lbs. Of course real world use will be lower but you get the point. The average recoil of the .308 is 17lbs and the 30-06 is 22lbs or right at the comfort limit of the for the 06. The .308 is just more enjoyable to shoot. That being said the 30-06 is still slightly overall better for larger CXP3 game being able to use 200+ grain ammo. The .308 just doesn’t have enough room for powder to push 180+ grain bullets at high enough velocity like the 30-06.

  30. Can you use an AK 47 or an ARTICLE 15 for hunting deer, in a pinch?

  31. I’ve been hunting for more than 40 years and using both the 7mm Remingtom Mag and the 300 Winchester Mag for medium/large US game.
    – On the 7mm Mag (using a Rem 700) I use either the Hornady 162 grain SST bullets or the 175 grain bullets. With the 162 Grain Bullet, using 60.3 grains of RL-22 powder I can get about 2700 FPS at 100 yards with about 2650 ft.-lbs of energy. At 300 yds the velocity drops to 2370 FPS and 2030 ft.-lbs of energy – enough to drop any elk size animal. With this load I killed a 6 pointer in Colorado hitting it at 420 yds out. One shot and the elk dropped dead in less than 10 yds.. This load for this bullet weight is most probably the flattest shooting for the Rem. 700 Rifle.
    – On the 300 Win. Mag (using a Thompson Dimension) I use the Hornady 180 Grain SST Bullets loaded with72.5 gr of RL-22 that propels the bullet at 100 yds at 2680 fps and 2874 ft.-lbs of energy. at 300 ysds it still has 2276 fps and 2269 ft.-lbs energy. It is also a very flat shooting bullet.
    I found that from wild hogs, white tail deer , mule deer, elk, moose, both black and brown bear. Any of those two calibers with a well placed shots will drop anything that walks our land. I also dropped a Moose at 500 yds with the 180 gr 300 Win. Mag. I usually reload the bullets myself.

  32. Michael S. Sisley

    The author stated that the 30-06 velocities are slower than the 308. FALSE. Read a reloading manual or look at a manufacturer’s website of loaded ammunition to see what I am saying is fact. Given that bullet weights are the same, the muzzle velocity and the foot pounds of energy generated by a 308 are less than 30-06. The 30-06 case holds more powder than does the 308 and this results in the higher velocity of the 30-06. Another plus for the 30-06 is versatility…110 grain bullets all the way to 220 grain bullets. The performance of anything bigger than a 165 grain bullet in a 308 is pathetic. However, a 30-06 works just fine with 180, 200, and 220 grain bullets. (they go fast enough out of a 30-06 to expand whereas in a 308 not so much). Does all of this make a 308 inferior. Not inferior, just realize its limits. Do I like a 308? Sure, for what it is, it is fine. Were I to live where big bears roamed I would NOT hunt with a 308 because of the bears. A 30-06 would be the smallest round I would use, probably bigger because I would be in bear country.

  33. While I understand and agree with the comments of many here, my personal preference depends more on the terrain I’ll be hunting. If I’m hunting larger game in bush country I will carry my Henry 45-70. Unless I screw up and hit a tree the bullet ends up where I’m aiming. It isn’t deflected by small limbs and branches, and it arrives with enough energy to drop whatever I’m shooting within a reasonable search and find distance. Most often right where it is standing.

    More open country where I’m expecting longer shots, .308. Current bullet technology will kill anything I’m planning on eating, don’t like bear meat myself, at any longer range shot I’m willing to take.

    What about bear protection when I’m carrying the .308, 10mm pistol. If I gotta kill a bear, it will be close enough to me that the semi-auto I carry on my hip will do the trick.

  34. The 4 cartridges listed by the author are all very good. Trying to pick just one for all big game hunting is a feat! To hunt the world with just 1 gun, I would pick the 375 Ruger, perhaps limiting shots to 350 yards? A hand loader can load the 375 for everything from deer to Buff. For North America I would pick the 338 Winchester, followed by the 300 Win and lastly 30-06. In my experience larger game such as moose and elk get clobbered with a 338 or 375, especially when shooting Nosler partitions. Oddly though when using modern mono metal the bullets killing effectiveness seems reduced in larger calibers. I.E. a caribou once took 3 shots using a 338 shooting 225 X bullets. Same with a small black bear in a tree. I do not like that, but do feel the modern bullets do improve effectiveness in smaller calibers like 7mm and down. Shots at deer using 7mm X bullets have been spectacular! No doubt modern bullets have made lesser calibers more lethal, however these days hunting has become more difficult and expensive. So why use whimpy cartridges? Sure you can kill an elk with a 243 when things go your way. One guy online shoots elk way out yonder with a 243 WSSM. I respect big game too much to chance wounding and do not subscribe to using enough gun. I say use more than enough gun. I expect clean humane kills and view recoil as the price paid. From experience a 375 is no stopping gun! Watching a rich guy in Africa wound countless animals with his whimpy 308 left me feeling sick! Watching a guy turn a small moose to Swiss cheese with his 7 Mag made me sick! Yes shot placement matters, but I still think 30 Cal and up consistently kill quicker… I should say 30-06 and up. These days so many seem scared of recoil and choose lesser cartridges. Heck my first 98lb girlfriend in high school enjoyed shooting my 338 and 375 off the bench! Guess she was tough? I feel the average adult hunter can handle a 300 mag, especially with practice. Even the scary 338! I mostly hunt elk, 400 yards and less. I like it when they go down quickly and the 338 Win does that often and really is quite tame shooting 200/210 gr bullets. Quite often my buddies shooting elk have to shoot multiple times with their 06, 270 and 7mm. We tracked one double lung shot bull only to hear another shot and find another hunter tagging our elk! I guess guys who can’t practice enough to handle Magnum recoil should shoot an 06. I do like the 06 and if your gun likes Winchester 180 Power Points, that bullet does very good on everything from deer, hogs, black bear and elk. Just limit to shots to 300 yards. For mountain hunting mule deer, a 7 REM mag does great as does my favorite 7, the 7 WSM. Obviously there are many exceptions and variables when hunting big game, but my 4 best choices would be 375 Ruger, 338 Win, 30-06 and 7WSM. 375 for the big boys, 338 for moose, elk and when hunting in big bear country, 30-06 as my do most and for lots of off hand practice at the range, 7WSM for occasional longer range medium game. Forced to pick one for most big game… The 300 Winny.

  35. There are so many great calibers! My daughter is amazingly accurate with her 7mm-08 out to 300 yards+. Incredible deer and under round. I love the 308, too, but for me the next step up is my Sako 85 stainless mounted with Meopta 1.7-10 in 30-06. The most accurate rifle I own and shoots like a dream. Advancing to the third level, I’m strongly tempted by my 338 win mag (Ruger laminated stainless guide gun — if it were a woman I’d marry her) and the 358 win Browning BLR-81, but I have to give the nod to my CZ 550 in with Leupold VI scope in

  36. Continued…..

    375 H&H, which is probably the most versatile round ever made. The 375 H&H is so good that if this discussion was about picking just ONE go-to gun, then yeah, the 375 H&H would be that gun. Then lastly, the African gun as number four of four. Since I only vave one 400+ gun I must pick the 416 Rem Mag in Winchester model 70. I do believe it is better than the 416 Rigby, and for my shoulder I wouldn’t trust anything larger not to develop a shooting flinch. BTW, I also NEVER go into the woods without my 460 Rowland at my side. If you want major league stopping power in an autmatic the 460 Rowland is awesome, and recoil is pretty much nothing (comparatively). So there are the four: 7mm-08, 30-06, 375 H&H, and 416 Rem Mag.

  37. Hunterman,
    Maybe i shud correct myself about what i said about 30 calibers. Lots of deer have been killed with the 308 an 3006 and even the sweet little 3030. Probably the main reason i like the 243 so well is bcause i like a gun that dont kick. The 2506 and 270 also fit the bill there good. But the the 30 cals certainly will kill a deer. I dont like them personally but i certainly want to respect the opinions of other hunters.

  38. I think that the 30-06 is the most popular cartridge in the USA. Virtually every poll that you can find shows it as the #1 for North america big game. From there it goes by reign. But I have never seen the .308 at the top, but it is almost always in the top five give or take. lets face it go anywhere and you will always see (from light to heacy) the same calibers… .270 , 7mm,.308, 30-06, 300 and the 338. Up here in Alaska you have to throw the .375 in the mix. No matter which you think is the best, they are all capable of taking Moose. I have taken moose with .270,7mm.300 win mag the .338. If you just saw moose you would not have to carry a large magnum for moose. But throw a big old brown bear in the mix and most in Alaska will almost always choose a .300 win mag or larger.

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