What caliber gun for deer

What caliber gun for deer

What caliber for deer:

This is one of the questions that new hunters need proper answers for, most guys and gals just use what their friends are using.  Hundreds of thousands of gun enthusiasts around the world hunt whitetail deer. An age old question I continue to receive year after year is what is the best caliber deer rifle to purchase. Of course I have my personal favorites which include the 308 Win, and the Weatherby 7 MM Mag, but then again I’m a “big gun” type of guy. My thought is the bigger the gun the harder the deer fall, and the more room for error I have when shooting at trophy whitetail deer. However opinions vary throughout the hunt industry, therefore after doing a vast amount of research here are some calibers to consider and some ballistic information to bring you up to speed on the opinions of experts.

.30-06 – thirty-aught-six  or thirty-oh-six or 7.62 x 63 mm in metric notation


The most used caliber for deer hunting is the 30.06. The .30-06 Springfield cartridge was introduced to the United States Army in 1906 (hence “06”) and standardized, used until the 1960’s and early 1970’s. It replaced the .30-03, 6 mm Lee Navy and .30 US Army (also called .30-40 Krag). The .30-06 remained the US Army’s main cartridge for nearly 50 years before it was finally replaced by the 7.62 x 51 mm (7.62 mm NATO, commercial .308 Winchester).

The United States has a large number of wildcatters, or hand loaders who experiment with cartridges and bullets as a hobby. Sometimes these wildcat cartridges become popular enough to be adopted by a large commercial rifle maker and/or ammunition manufacturer. The .30-06 has been the basis of several mainstream and wildcat cartridges which are widely used for hunting and other special applications:

•25-06 Remington, necked down to accept 6.53 mm (.257″) diameter bullets
•6.5-06, necked down to use (.264″) diameter bullets
•270 Winchester, necked down to accept 7.04 mm (.277″) bullets
•280 Remington, necked down to accept 7.21 mm (.284″) bullets with the shoulder moved up slightly
•8mm-06, necked up to accept a 8.20 mm (.323″) bullet. This is a common modification performed in the USA to German Mauser rifles to facilitate use of a more commonly available cartridge case with improved performance compared to the standard German 8x57mm.
•338-06, necked up to accept 8.59 mm (.338″) diameter bullets
•35 Whelen, necked up to accept 9.09 mm (.385”) bullets


As a hunter you should be concerned with 3 things when thinking of ballistics. Velocity or Speed, Energy or Knockdown of pounds delivered to the animal when the bullet hits the target, and Trajectory which is how much the bullet rises or drops at different yardages. Personally I like guns that deliver all 3 of the categories.