Continuing with the hunting gear topic, today, we will answer a common question, “What is the best caliber rifle for deer hunting?”

Indeed, there are so many rifles, actions, and configurations advertised to be the best hunting calibers for deer. This makes you extremely confused at choice. Choosing the wrong caliber, and you might end up drag it back to the truck for nothing.

Fortunately, keep reading if you are also wondering about deer hunting calibers and how to use them for more and more successful hunting games.

How to Choose The Best Caliber for Hunting Deers?

Thanks, Primos Hunting, for useful advice on deer hunting calibers

Besides, we also want to contribute some useful tips for your reference to pick up the best caliber for deer hunting – for your demands and budget.

Shapes of the bullet

  • Flat-shape bullets are standard on most hunting rifles because they are cheap. However, it is a rule of thumbs that the flatter calibers will drift more in the wind. The trajectory and bullet drop are then significant since the flat-shooting rifles will provide the bullets that drop faster.
  • Boattail-rebated bullets are more popular to shoot the target and at long ranges thanks to their low-drag design. Those bullets are also cheap.
  • Boattail-standard bullets are by far the most preferred thinking of their length, weight, diameter, and angle.
  • Hollow or recessed bullets are hardly used as rifle bullets for deers, but more common on handguns.

Those shapes matter because some deer rifles require particular bullets for safety precautions. For example, 30-30 cartridges often come along with tubular magazine rifles having round-nose or flat-nose shots. Those bullets waste significant energy to fight against the wind while the strong impact quickly changes the soft-nosed ones.

If the rifle recoils kick your fear when you shoot, you will miss the deer – 100% certain! For that reason, never choose a large caliber or hard-kicking magnum. Otherwise, you will end up with poor shooting.

Instead, choose the 60-grain .224 bullet having a mild-shooting 223 Remington caliber.


It is extremely vital that you can control the deer rifle comfortably in your hands. Thus, make sure that you can carry and swing into action with ease and smoothness before firing it.

However, it is often hard to find a balance of all characteristics when it comes to deer hunting, in particular, and wildlife games, in general. Those with light and quick lever-action 30-30 often find it inefficient to handle a 26-inch barrel, coming in the sniper rifles.

Shooting distance

WANT TO STEAL? Guide To Have An Effective Mule Deer Hunting Trip

Ideally, the calibers for deer hunting should at least are able to reach the target.

In case you shoot close and populated deers – any which are within 75 yards, you do not need round calibers that travel too far. Rather than that, straight-walled ones like Winchester’s 350 Ledge are recommended because of their lighter recoiling.

Hunting in a far and remote distance of 100 yards and more, the calibers usually have to suffer from wind, making it less proper to the target. At that time, .308 rifle with hunting ammo is more comfortable to control.

What’s about shooting everything in between? Then, calibers 30 – 30 lever-action, as well as .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmore, etc. are commonly used.

What Is The Best Caliber Rifle for Deer Hunting?

With all information above, plus with our experience with the best caliber rifle for deer hunting, we give a complete answer to your question: What Is The Best Caliber Rifle for Deer Hunting?

READ MORE: Whitetail Deer Hunting: From Weather Matters To Hunting Success

It is .30-30 Winchester, an old rimmed cartridge that has been widely used since 1895. The .30-30 is somewhere between:  not too fast, not to slow, not too big, yet also not too small.

Accordingly, the caliber is supposed to burns powder of 32 grains to throw 150- to 170-grain -nosed or flat-nosed bullets at 2,100 fps to 2,450 fps. As a result, it will kill deers in a stone-cold way, while preventing common recoil ignition in tubular magazines.

Many hunters claim that the .30-30 Win is not what is the best caliber rifle for deer hunting, given the fact that the speed is lower than many other deer calibers. For instance, a .30-06 pushes the 150-grain bullets to 3,000 ft-lbs, and the small .243 Winchester can do so at 3,100 fps or so.

However, we still vote the .30-30 Winchester be the best caliber for deer hunting due to its balance in price, characteristics, and performance.

Some Other Best Calibers for Hunting Deer

.243 Winchester

Come to think of the .243 Winchester, it is much smaller than many deer calibers such as .270 Win or .30-’06 Springfield. However, the selling point is its ability to place your shots more accurately at around 3000 and 3100 fps thanks to a sensitive recoil. As a result, we would recommend the .243 Win for a short-action rifle having the most massive bullets.

.257 Roberts

While the .243 Win is a light big game caliber, the .257 Roberts is for significant heavy varmints and small predators since it can be loaded with 115- to 120-grain bullets, accomplished with dual-role mild recoil. At that rate, the .257 Roberts calibers are suitable for those who desire a capable, yet mild-shooting rifle for small deers.

.270 Winchester

Many hunters, the famous Jack O’Connor – for example, praised the .270 Winchester as one of the best deer rifle calibers of all time. This is for good reasons.

Compared to another popular deer calibers – the .30-06, the .270 Win has a tighter neck to handle smaller bullets. Thanks to that point, the .270 Win has a higher muzzle velocity, about 3,000 fps for a 130-grain bullet.

7mm Rem Mag

Here comes another Winchester caliber for deer hunting that is worth mentioning. It’s the 7mm Rem mag. This caliber is well-known with western hunters to have fast and flat-shooting bullets of 140 or 150 grains. Suitable for mule deer or goat.

.308 Winchester

At its heart, the .308 Win work splendidly on whitetails and sometimes, for moose. Things we like about the .308 Win is its compact dimension and excellent penetration. When it is properly zeroed, the caliber can hold dead on deers of 300 yards away.

.30-06 Springfield

This is one of the oldest caliber rifles so far, not only for deer hunting. It is a .30-caliber round, similar in diameter as that of .308 Win. However, the difference is that the .30-06 Springfield can fire heavy 220-grain bullets. It is even helpful over a long distance when being used with 150-grain bullets for deer hunting. In sum, the .30-06 Springfield gives off a well balanced, versatile, and cheap deer calibers.

.300 Winchester

Lastly, you should also consider the .300 Winchester – a bang and bump of a round. This caliber is solid enough to hold fine powder to push heavy bullets within 300 and 400 yards. If you have a longer barrel, you might have to accept a tradeoff between recoil and weight.

Last Verdict

As mentioned, the .30-30 Winchester is what you look for when asking, “What is the best caliber rifle for deer hunting?” Besides, take the buying guide and some alternatives we also introduced above. You might also want to try other deer hunting calibers to your preference.

You May Also Like

More From Author