Selecting the right caliber may be a terrifying decision to make especially if you are a beginner at hunting or even just owning your first firearm. It is understood that every hunter is different at what they like, preference of model and game type. Therefore, manufacturers produce a wide selection of caliber to suit every hunter’s needs.
Firearm enthusiast usually refer the diameter of a bullet as caliber instead of bullet size. Caliber refers to the measurement of a bullet’s diameter within the bullet’s cartridge. The most commonly known caliber in the market is 260 Remington, 270 Winchester and 308 Winchester.
Now being a beginner, you are probably confused at the wide variety of choices out in the market. But fret not, we are here to help you select the best caliber suitable for your hunting occasion. So here is a guide for picking the best caliber for hunting accordingly.
Types of Hunting
When it comes to hunting, there are different categories and levels that defines your target size. Therefore, you must first decide what level you are in the hunting game before selecting a caliber. To determine which stage you are at in the hunting process, you can refer to Hunting Research’s hunting guide.
Why is this important? It’s because the type of caliber you select usually depends on how small or big your target size is.
Different calibers have different capacity it can take on and each caliber has its own specifications. Normally, there are three levels of hunting a hunter can belong to. Starting at the lowest which is called small game, then the light kickers and lastly is large games.
If you are a beginner at hunting, this would be an excellent way to start off your journey. Hunting small game introduces the fundamentals of hunting and ways of learning essential skills. In this category, your starting game animal would be relatively smaller in size such as rabbits, grouse and squirrels.
Therefore, you may not require as much firepower compared to large game hunting. With that being said, here are the following calibers suitable for this range.
The .22 Long Rifle is considered to be one of the most suitable caliber for small game hunting. .22LR is light in weight and used by many hunters for training purposes. This is due to the fact that it is simple to handle and the recoil impact is not as heavy against your shoulder making it a popular choice among beginners.
The speed of the caliber varies from subsonic to high velocity to hyper-speed or ultra-speed. This shows that the bullet can travel with a velocity of 1200 ft to 1600 ft per second and a distance of 75 yards or less. .22 are usually sold in bulks as it is inexpensive to own. Hence, .22 calibers are ideal to be used for training as you will be able to train for many rounds without the fear of spending too much money.
.17HMR, also known as the 17 HMR Hornady Magnum Caliber, is the next in line after the .22LR caliber. Its characteristics are relatively similar to the .22LR but having a few perks of its own. The .17HMR shoots lighter bullets creating greater speed compared to a .22LR.
The speed of the caliber is between 1700 ft to 2500 ft per second which is faster than the previously mentioned caliber. Furthermore, this result to an ability to travel as far as 75 yards and remaining under 150 yards. However, this caliber is pricier than buying a .22LR but if you are more focus on having accurate shots, the .17HMR will be more suitable.
When you are progressing from hunting small targets, you tend to have the need to experiment on relatively larger size targets to test your capacity. This category is known as the light kickers. In this category, you will be looking at medium size game animals such as deer, wild boars and bighorn sheeps as your target.
You will need to use calibers that produce a power strong enough to knock out your target but at the same time remaining light in weight and accurate.
This caliber is known as the 30-30 Winchester Caliber and it is one of the most well used caliber in the market for deer hunting. The 30-30 has the ability to travel at a velocity of 2390 ft per second while still able to produce a light recoil impact against your shoulder.
However, the ability to travel at a faster speed is limited to a certain extent. Although the 30-30 is able to take down a deer or bighorn sheep in one shot, it can only travel up to a range of 200 yards. Hence, if you are looking into shooting at targets further than 200 yards, the 30-30 may not be sufficient for you hunting ethics.
This caliber is the most popular caliber designed for hunting deers and it is known as the 270 Winchester caliber. The .270 caliber has the ability to travel at a range of velocity between 3060 ft to 3140 ft per second because of its extremely flat shaped trajectory.
As this caliber is smaller in size, it can travel up to a distance of 300 to 500 yards with an impact of recoil tolerable by majority of hunters who use this range. However, due to the fact that the caliber is smaller in size, many may say that it is more appropriate for close range shooting but the ability to shot at an extended distance says otherwise.
.30-06 and .308
The .30-06 and .308 are known as 30-06 Springfield caliber and 308 Winchester caliber respectively. These calibers are suitable to be used when you are hunting animals that are larger than a deer such as an elk.
They are bigger in size and contains a large amount of gunpowder that produces a powerful force when fired. This result to a velocity of 2600 ft to 2900 ft per second covering an approximate distance of 1000 yards.
However, with such a powerful shot comes with a greater recoil impact. The caliber generates a very fierce recoil against your shoulder to counterbalance the force produced. Even though the price of these calibers are pricier to own, it guarantees to takedown your target with just one shot.
If you are starting to get bored with having small size target and you are intringe to take on something larger, you might just belong in the category. In large game hunting, your target size will be large such as moose or grizzly bears. With this size, you will definitely require a caliber that produces more force, speed and still remain accurate.
.300 Win Mag and .300 WBY
.300 Win Mag and .300 WBY are known as the 300 Winchester Magnum caliber and 300 Weatherby Magnum caliber. These calibers creates a force strong enough to single handedly take out a polar bear from a distance due to its well known ability to perform long range. It can travel at a speed of 3060 ft to 3540 ft per second covering up to an effective range of 1210 yards.
However, similarly with the previously stated caliber, with greater force comes with a greater impact of recoil. Therefore, be prepare for that level of force against your shoulder even though this makes them the perfect caliber to take on enormously large targets.
To select the perfect caliber, you have to understand the capacity of each caliber at what it can take on. Having a caliber that produces powerful shots but only to be used in small game hunting will be a waste of resource.
Not only that, it may ruin or even compromise the meat of the target. Therefore, follow the specifications accordingly and you will be on your way.
Written by James Nelson