You may be having the best rifle for deer hunting but would it really be any good to you if you don’t match it up with the best deer hunting caliber? Of course, it wouldn’t.
Being a topic that has been debated on for decades, you may need the biggest rifle caliber in some cases and the smallest one on some days since deer vary in size. Also, depending on the deer habitat, you may need something different from what you are used to. At the end of the day, sticking to one alone won’t get the job done.
As it turns out, there are innumerable deer hunting cartridges out there some of which may not make the cut to our list but, in this section, we’ve narrowed it down to only the best of the best that have got guaranteed results.
So, that being said, let’s cut to the chase and move on to the main agenda right away, shall we?
- 1 The 308 Winchester
- 2 The .223 Winchester
- 3 The .270 Winchester
- 4 The .280 Winchester
- 5 The 7mm-08 Remington
- 6 The 7mm Remington Magnum
- 7 .30-06 Springfield vs 30-30 Winchester
- 8 .35 Remington
- 9 The .243 Winchester
- 10 The 6.5 Creedmoor vs 25-06 Remington
- 11 260 Remington
- 12 300Winchestermagnum
- 13 300 Remington Ultra Magnum
- 14 300 Winchester Magnum
- 15 The 257 Roberts
- 16 .257 Weatherby Magnum
- 17 The 338-federal caliber
- 18 The .44 magnum
- 19 The .45-70 Government
- 20 12-gauge Slug
- 21 7x57mm Mauser
- 22 The 6.5 Grendel
- 23 The 204 Ruger
- 24 7mm Weatherby Magnum
- 25 Final verdict
- 26 Share this:
- 27 Related
The 308 Winchester
It’s not in vain that this has grown to be one of the most popular hunting rifle calibers for deer over the years. The recoil is manageable, has got easy compatibility with factory loaded ammo, packs enough power to take down deer of different sizes and it’s comfortable as well.
Standing out to be one of the best whitetail deer calibers, it packs as much as 2629 ft/lb of energy even for the long-distance shots with as little recoil as that of a.30 caliber.
In addition to it being possibly the best deer caliber for long range, it goes easy on your pockets and in addition to this the fact that it’s powerful, getting it won’t be a problem in any part of the world.
The .223 Winchester
If you’ve tried to look or ask around for an ideal caliber, I’m pretty sure that the .223 deer hunting caliber came up. Well, there’s a really good reason for this being the preferred choice for most.
This cartridge has got a similar design similar to that of the .308 Winchester only that this one has been turned down a notch. If you are going out on your first few hunts, then I’d recommend you check this one out.
On both the accuracy and giving you some really flat shots, you’ll also find it much easier to handle the recoil from this bad boy. Another thing you should bear in mind with the .223 Winchester is that it’s present in various weights ranging from the 55 to 105 grain
So, in a nutshell, you get to use your gun more comfortably since all that power from the bullet is used on the deer. This, as a matter of fact, makes it the best caliber for deer hunting for kids and adults reason being that the ammo is easily affordable and compatible with most rifle chambers
The .270 Winchester
Yet another Winchester, boasting to be in use since as early as 1925 and yet still boasting to be a good enough caliber round up to date, the .270 Winchester packs the amount of power and speed to take down most deer.
By reducing a .30-06 Springfield to take the .277-inch diameter bullets, this bad boy gets the smaller diameter bullets with less recoil while at the same time maintaining a straight path hence better accuracy.
As far as the compatibility and flexibility of use are concerned, you’ll get it for the pump, the semi-automatic as well as the lever action rifles so if you prefer to go deer hunting with different guns, this is exactly one of the best deer calibers you ought to settle with.
It zeros at 200 yards and when used at double this distance, it only drops by 18 inches but the power it carries will be enough for a sure buck kill
The .280 Winchester
.270 vs 280 Winchester; which one is really the best caliber for deer hunting? With the close similarity, it can be quite difficult to settle for one but let me clear the air.
Intended to be a step up to the 270, the .280 Winchester, though not popular as its competitor has got much better performance. Despite it having poor marketing, it offers quite a lot of bullet weights such as the Remington 165 grain and the Norma 125 grain.
As a matter of fact, the fact that it’s easy to get your hands on the ammo is more the reason you should go for this one
The 7mm-08 Remington
As already mentioned at the beginning of this article, deer come in different sizes and at the end of the day, you want to have the best deer caliber for long range shots without compromising on the power.
Now, with our preferred rifle of choice and with this the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip, you’ll be having the best combination ever. Otherwise known as the .284 Winchester, the 7mm-08 is the preferred choice for most people that want to hat a bang for their buck.
This caliber size is also reputed for having some of the best results when hunting all deer sizes and in different conditions as well.
The action case is a smaller .308-inch Winchester and it can be able to fire the 140-grain at an amazing 2770 fps which then delivers quite a lot of energy to take down the deer and amazing long-distance shots too.
To add icing to the cake, it’s for only 17 lb. for the recoil which is far less than what most hunting calibers will give you. It is also easy to carry and regardless of the prevailing conditions, it will not let you down.
The 7mm Remington Magnum
Though this was not the case initially, the 7mm Remington is the best deer caliber for deer and elk currently unlike in the past where it was engineered exclusively for elk hunting.
The reason for it being a suitable whitetail hunting cartridge is that it delivers some of the flattest shots while at the same time hitting with an amazing level of energy even for the long-distance shots like over 250 yards.
Here’s where it gets interesting…
Regardless of having this much power, you won’t have to worry about the recoil since it compares to that of calibers that have less power like the 7mm.
Despite having an advantage as far as the power the recoil is concerned, one downside that you will have to put up with when it comes to this bad boy is the rifle stock it comes with which makes it somewhat uncomfortable to shoot.
.30-06 Springfield vs 30-30 Winchester
I did mention that it can get a little confusing on choosing the ideal hunting rifle caliber. As it turns out, most people find it confusing on which one to go for between the two of these.
Considering it has been around since the year 1906, the fact that the 30-06 Springfield is still popular to date confirms that it’s one of the best performing deer calibers. It gives some really amazing flat shots and in addition to this, you will appreciate the recoil which is manageable and it’s versatility with different deer hunting rifles.
Now, for the 30-30 Winchester, though not as popular as it was years ago, it’s viable for use when taking less than 150-yard shots but on the bright side, most rifles are compatible with this and most importantly, has got a quick pointing lever action.
At the end of the day, the .30-06 Springfield is a much better option and poses some really good competition against the .308 and .300 Winchester Magnum.
There is a small yet significant difference between the.30-30 Winchester and the .35 Remington. Despite being one of the most underrate deer hunting calibers, it just so happens to be easy to carry and delivers a quick lever action similar to the 30-30.
It gets more interesting than this…
Whereas the 30-30 is suitable for short distances, the .35 Remington boasts to offer a more reasonable range and with the fast-pointing action it’s got, this might just be the perfect caliber for deer and elk you’ve been missing out on.
The .243 Winchester
Is the .243 for deer? Like most Winchester calibers, the .243 hunting caliber packs quite a decent amount of power and is suitable for use in different conditions as well.
With a 100-grain bullet, it can have speeds of as much as 2960 fps while delivering a 1,945 ft-lb of energy. Well, it gets even more interesting than this; the recoil is under 10 ft-lb, which makes it possibly the best cartridge for children.
The 6.5 Creedmoor vs 25-06 Remington
Yet another caliber that boasts being around for quite a long time, the 25-06 is not to be underestimated. Put side by side with just as good a caliber as the 65 Creedmoor, it’s somewhat difficult to tell the difference between the two but let me clear things out.
With the best factory 6.5 Creedmoor, you’ll be getting a bullet with amazing aerodynamics- we’re talking the sectional density, and amazingly high BC bullets which then gives it more energy for long distance shots without compromising on the accuracy. As far as getting clean shots is concerned, this one definitely ought to do the trick.
With the 25-06 Remington, you’ll be getting a smaller .257 diameter as compared to the larger .264 on the Creedmoor. Over the years, it has stood out to be a good enough caliber in giving hunters a dependable accuracy, keeping the recoil light and taking long-range shots.
Comparing the two, both of them excel in taking down deer and have an amazing shot placement on even moose at correct ranges. Among the two, the 25-06 has got better flat rate shots at long distances as it is lighter but when power is a priority, go for the 6.5 Creedmore.
Having a closer performance, similar to that of the 243 Winchester caliber we’ve just looked at as well as the 7mm-08 Remington caliber, both of which have been built on the .308, this one has got a .264 diameter.
Like other calibers in the 308, this one too has got a lot of powder and suitable of giving you some really amazing speeds with flat shots while at the same time keeping the recoil really low
So, why is this really the best caliber for deer hunting? Well, to be more specific, if you are looking for something that’s guaranteed to take a buck down, this is definitely it.
The level of accuracy it comes with is superb and only rivaled by a few hunting calibers which are why most experts prefer to stick to it on deer hunting. Being possibly the best long-range caliber, you can get your hands on, the best rifles would be one with a long barrel to maximize the performance.
The shots are flat and accurate but the downside to settling for this cartridge is that the recoil, like in most magnum calibers is something you will need to get used to and being efficient in powder, it’s bound to take some really long shots.
From a 120-grain bullet, the speed of a .260 should be as much as 2,930 fps and offer as much as 2459 ft-lb of energy while at the same time keeping the recoil as low as 13 ft-lb.
All things considered, you could say this is one of the best hunting calibers for everyone.
300 Remington Ultra Magnum
Now here’s something that really packs some power and as a matter of fact, it might be the best caliber for deer and elk. Think of it as the best kill shot on a deer. The shots are flat and it is capable of shooting at longer distances than what you are used to.
The only major point of concern with this one, as it is expected from most Magnum calibers is the high recoil which may take some time getting used to. But like most big gun calibers, it won’t feel as heavy provided you’re comfortable with it
You might also be forced to look around some more for the perfect factory ammo to use on your best hunting rifle.
300 Winchester Magnum
Regardless of the size, a cartridge is only as big depending on how comfortable you are with it and in the case of the .300 Win Mag, the best caliber rifle to settle with ought to be one with a long barrel.
Though uncomfortable, you’ll want a longer barrel and like bigger than average cartridges, you’ll have to deal with the recoil on this one as well.
With enough power to push out heavy bullets as far as 400 yards in the open country, a 155-grain bullet may drop only 13 inches at 400 yards if zeroed at 250 yards so you need to do some target shooting and know how high to hold it for pinpoint accuracy.
In a nutshell, this caliber is quick, accurate, efficient and obviously deadly for both long distance and short range shots
The 257 Roberts
Despite being around for as far back as the year 1934, the 257 Roberts is highly underrated. Now, how about we take a look at what there is to look forward to from this bad boy.
It was a mid-sized game caliber back then and it still is to date. For a consistent expansion, you can get this present with a 117-grain bullet which can attain speeds of as much as 2945 fps and delivers at least 2,253 lb. of energy once it leaves the muzzle.
Even with this much energy, you not only get less recoil but also a long-lasting barrel
.257 Weatherby Magnum
Standing out to be one of the most powerful .25 calibers you can get your hands on, you’re sure to get a deer kill shot with this one.
When used to take close-range shots, this one is by far the best hunting rifle caliber since it packs enough power at the barrel to take out a deer such that you won’t have to do any tracking.
Whereas you may not have to worry about taking down deer with the .257 Weatherby Magnum, the same cannot be said about the recoil. In addition to this, it’ happens to run a bit high on the price and only a handful of rifles are meant to accommodate it.
The 338-federal caliber
Yet another caliber for deer and elk that won’t disappoint you, the 338 Federal packs enough power to take down even bears.
This hunting caliber slightly surpasses the performance of the .358 Winchester which is just as good a deer hunting caliber. If you’ve been searching for a good enough rifle caliber that’s going to give you a kill shot on a deer, this is definitely worth trying out.
The .44 magnum
There is no way even the heaviest pistol can be compared to the lightest rifle and at times, it’s preferable to hunt deer with a pistol. After all, they’re stealthier than rifles, right? Enough of all that though. Let’s take a look at why the .44 is good enough to take on a deer hunting expedition.
First, there’s no other pistol caliber it can be compared against and at some point, it was the most lethal cartridge you could get your hands on for your handgun and holds to be one of the strongest to date.
The bullets with each trigger pull pack enough power to take own a deer even at 150 yards which is what some rifle calibers offer. Though a little slow, the .44 magnum, at the end of the day will give you some really clean shots.
Regardless of packing enough power for guaranteed deer kill shots, you’ll have the recoil to worry about.
The .45-70 Government
Some people will argue that the .45-70 is a little too big for deer hunting. But then is there really such a thing as too much caliber when it comes to hunting? From my experience, not really and as it turns out, this bad boy stands out to be a good enough caliber for deer and elk.
So, let’s find out what the 45-70 Government packs under the hood, shall we?
Boasting to be one of the largest lever action calibers, it packs a lot of bone-crushing power while at the same time maintaining a moderate velocity which then results in a neat, clean shot. As mentioned, it’s ideal for lever action rifles which makes it perfect for close range shots and the same cannot be said about other rifles.
But that’s not all…
The recoil you’ll be getting from this rifle is manageable despite a large amount of power it packs which makes it an all-around caliber for deer hunting for guaranteed results.
Otherwise known as the buckshot, this caliber does exactly as the name suggests but only if it is used correctly.
Though centerfire rifle cartridges are not allowed for use by everyone in the USA, it can be quite lethal when used. Upon taking close-range shots of about 150 yards out, you’re sure to take down a deer and only if you use a powerful enough shotgun such as a 12-gauge.
Weighing as much as 3 times as most rifle calibers, this just so happens to be one of the most dependable calibers you could use on a moving deer at a close-range distance. In addition to this, if you want something that’ll not let you down in thick vegetation cover, this is definitely what you ought to go for.
It’s quite amazing that this caliber dates back as far as 1892 but it still got it. With a case that is as long as 57mm, it can fire a 139-grain bullet at an amazing 2650 feet per second and upon doing so yield 2,200 ft.-lb.
Now as compared to most in its class, this is by far one of the most powerful deer calibers since when paired up with a powerful enough rifle, it can take down even an elephant.
Is it friendly enough?
Well, you could say that the Mauser has it all. In addition to being high powered, the recoil is light, the sectional density high and it is also chambered for most rifles all over the world.
The 6.5 Grendel
With a high recoil, it’s obviously less comfortable for someone to handle a rifle but in addition to this, accuracy is compromised. Though it’s mostly used on smaller game, can you get any 6.5 Grendel deer kills? Let’s find out, shall we?
Standing out to be one of the lightest you can get your hands on, the recoil is hardly noticeable but at the same time, the accuracy is amazing which means you’ll be taking home lots of kills this deer hunting rifle season.
How versatile is it really?
Over the years, there has been a growing ammo supply and different types of bullets for this caliber which deems it eligible for American Rifles and the bold guns as well. If you’re just starting off or would like to take your kid with you on a hunt this season, the 6.5 Grendel will do the trick.
The 204 Ruger
At the end of the day, everyone would want to start off with a deer caliber that is friendly yet bound to get the job done and the 204 Ruger just happens to house both of these features.
Similar to the 6.5 Grendel, this round has got guaranteed kill shots and with uncompromised accuracy. If you’re starting off, this would be a perfect choice since the recoil is manageable but there’s a catch. With the bullets being lightweight in nature, you’re not guaranteed to get kills that are consistently clean.
7mm Weatherby Magnum
With its development dating back to as early as the 1940s only for it to gain a vast exposure in the 1950s, it was one of the pioneer cartridges from the company and still holds to be one of the best to date.
In addition to coming from one of the most reputed companies in the manufacture of rifle calibers, the 7mm Weatherby Magnum is the ideal choice for anyone who intends to stick to one rifle alone. Designed to give you the best of long-distance shots, it also packs enough power in it to take down various game sizes.
It’s finally time to wrap up our review of the best hunting calibers, it’s basically all about getting one that matches perfectly with your rifle. A caliber’s performance is just as good as that of the rifle so it’s important that you know the limitations of your weapon so as to get the best deer caliber for it.