Forty or 50 years ago, the .30-30 was one of the most-popular deer rifles.
Now, with newer calibers providing better ammunition, the world of deer rifles has changed.
The most popular deer calibers today include the:
• 6.5 Creedmoor – This cartridge has received more press than other deer rifle cartridges, since hunters are enjoying taking deer at ranges of 400-500 yards. But honestly, the 6.5 Creedmoor isn’t that much of an improvement over the 7mm-08.
• 7mm-08 – The 7mm-08 is a .308 necked down to 7mm. From a ballistics table, you’ll see that the 7mm-08 is very close in ballistics to the 6.5 Creedmoor.
• .308 Winchester – The most-popular deer caliber today still may very well be the .308 Winchester. This old military cartridge is a .30-caliber cartridge – not quite as popular as the .30-06 – but very reliable out to about 300 yards.
• .30-06 – This older, long-range caliber that’s easy to find will put down the biggest buck you’ve ever seen at 400 yards. It has a long history as one of the top calibers for hunting both whitetails and mule deer.
• .243 – Due to its low recoil, this cartridge is a great choice for young shooters, small-frame shooters, older shooters and first-time shooters. The .243 is a flat-shooting bullet for out to 200+ yards.
• 30-30 – Many still hunt with the .30-30 caliber with the two most-popular rifles being the Winchester lever-action .30-30 and the Marlin lever-action .30-30. These two rifles have held their popularity because bullet manufacturers, like Hornady, have come up with a soft-tip pointed-nose .30-30 bullet with a larger amount of powder than before that can be loaded into a tubular magazine. With newer bullets, this same rifle is extremely accurate and has the knockdown power to take any deer out to about 300 yards.
The caliber of rifle you shoot is as personal as the size, color, shape and style of shoe you wear. Sometimes I think calibers may be overrated. Regardless of the caliber of deer rifle you choose, the one that you have the most confidence in and can shoot most accurately will be what you need to use. In my opinion, accuracy and shot placement are the most important features to look for to determine the best deer rifle and caliber for you.