Choosing the right caliber for your hunting guns and rifles is one of the most important factors to put some good thought into. There are way too many different calibers available for a rifle to list them all. We will list some of the more popular and more widely available calibers below. It’s important to pick a rifle that is a common caliber, so it’s easy to find ammunition for it. Especially with the shortage in ammunition these days, it’s important to pick a caliber that you can easily get bullets for. It’s also a good idea to put some thought into what you want to hunt or do with your hunting rifle, so you can pick a caliber that will work for all of what you want to use it for, so you don’t have to buy several different calibers of rifles. That way you can buy one, or a few, that will cover all of your needs. There is a table below that shows exactly what calibers are good for what game animals. I like to hunt elk in some years, so for me, a rifle that is big enough for elk is a must, though it is mostly used for blacktail and mule deer hunting.
There are several different types of action that you can find for a rifle.
A Break Action rifle is where you push a switch or lever on the rifle, and the barrel swings open on a hinge exposing the breech so you can load and unload the rifle.
Bolt Action Rifle
A Bolt Action rifle is where you manually feed and ejects each round by rotating, pulling and pushing back in the bolt handle on the side of the rifle. Then you fire and repeat for the next shot.
Pump Action Rifle
A Pump Action rifle is where you you load the bullets into a tube that runs below the barrel and then “pump” the fore end back and forth to load the first bullet, and then shoot and repeat.
Lever Action Rifle
A Lever Action rifle is where you push the lever down and forward, which pushes the rifle’s bolt back, locking the hammer back and opening the breech. Pulling the lever back to its original position pulls the bolt closed, chambering a round.
Semi Automatic Rifle
A Semi Automatic rifle is where you manually chamber the first round. When you fire the shot, the next round is chambered automatically and ready to shoot again.
What to Look For When Buying a New Rifle
•Rifle Weight•Rifle Balance•Rifle Finish
When considering the weight of a rifle the important thing to consider is what you will be using the rifle for. A heavier rifle will absorb the recoil of the shot better, but the lighter rifle is easier to carry. This matters a lot when you do a lot of hiking while hunting, and matters less if it’s for target practice, or shorter hiking distances while hunting.
The balance of a rifle is important as well, and it’s a matter of personal preference. For me, I shoot better with a rifle that is slightly muzzle heavy. The exception for me is when I am hunting in close cover for upland game bird hunting, such as for grouse.
The finish on a gun is really important to some people, and much less important to others. A nice fancy expensive walnut finish and beautiful shiny engraving on the rifle look great in the uplands and on the target range. But if you are hunting deer, elk, or other big game, you may prefer something duller, a bit more durable, and easier to care of.
Choosing the Right Rifle Caliber
Choosing the right rifle caliber is important. You want the right caliber for the type of game you are hunting, and for the type of shots you take, whether it’s short range or long range. Each caliber has it’s own purpose, and each size has it’s own fans.
Common Hunting Rifle Calibers
.17 - Varmints, Small Game, Coyotes .22 - Varmints, Small Game, Coyotes .223 - Varmints, Small Game, Coyotes .243 - Deer, Sheep .257 - Deer Sheep270 - Deer, Sheep, Elk, Black Bear 7 mm - Deer, Sheep, Elk, Black Bear .308 - Deer, Sheep, Elk, Black Bear .30-30 - Deer, Sheep, Elk, Black Bear .30-06 - Deer, Sheep, Elk, Black Bear, Moose, Brown Bear .300 - Deer, Sheep, Elk, Black Bear, Moose, Brown Bear.338 - Elk, Black Bear, Moose, Brown Bear .35 - Elk, Black Bear, Moose, Brown Bear .375 - Moose, Brown Bear .458 - Moose, Brown Bear
17 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .17 Caliber rifle shoots a low caliber round that produces almost no recoil. It still packs a small, fast punch to take down small game and predators. Perfect for hunting varmints, small game, and coyote. •Tikka T1x MTR Rimfire Bolt-Action Rifle •Henry Varmint Express Lever Action Rimfire Rifle •Henry Golden Boy Lever Action Rimfire Rifle •Savage BTV Bolt Action Rimfire Rifle
22 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .22 Caliber Rifle is another small caliber rifle that is great for hunting varmints, small game and coyotes. Comes in both a rimfire and centerfire model. Small, fast shooting bullet to tackle small prey. Bullets are very cheap for the .22, so it is a great caliber for young hunters to have for their first learning rifle. It’s also a lot of fun, since the bullets are so cheap, to shoot a lot of rounds through. •Browning BL-22 Grade I Lever Action Rimfire Rifle •Ruger 10/22 Takedown Semi Auto Rimfire Rifle •Savage A22 Precision Semi Auto Rimfire Rifle •Savage B22 Precision Bolt Action Rimfire Rifle
223 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .223 caliber rifle is one of the most popular rifles today for hunting varmints, small game, and coyotes. They are affordable, ergonomic, and very lightweight. The .223 is one of the most affordable rifle cartridges on the market. •ZEV AR15 Core Elite Rifle •Armalite M-15 Light Tactical Carbine Semi Auto Rifle •Ruger AR-556 Semi Auto Rifle •Savage MSR-15 Recon Semi Auto Rifle
243 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .243 caliber rifle is a great smaller rifle for deer and sheep. The .243 is light, small and is an excellent choice for beginning deer hunters. Some big game hunters use the .243 rifle for mule deer and even bear as it is one of the most accurate fifle rounds when shooting less than 200 yards. It also has a low recoil. Because this is a smaller rifle caliber, great shot placement is important. •Henry Long Ranger Lever Action Rifle •Savage Axis XP Youth Bold Action Rifle in True Timber •Strata Remington Model 700 SPS Blued Bolt Action Rifle •Remington Model 700 SPS Compact Bolt Action Rifle
257 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .257 caliber rifle is perfect for Deer, and Sheep hunting. It was designed in 1944. It shoots basically a .25 caliber belted bottlenecked cartridge. It is one of the flattest shooting commercially available cartridges on the market today with accuracy upwards of 500 yards.
270 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .270 calilber rifle is great for Deer, Sheep, Elk, and Black Bear. The .270 was originally released in the 1920s. It is basically just like a .30-06 with a smaller bullet diameter, which gains a higher velocity. Better velocity, with good knock down power for big game, earns the .270 caliber rifle a spot as a favorite among many big game hunters. •Brenelli LUPO Bolt Action Rifle•Winchester Model 70 Super Grade Centerfire Rifle •Browning BAR Mark III Semi Auto Rifle •Browning X-Bolt Medallion Maple Rifle
308 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .308 caliber rifle is great for hunting Deer, Sheep, Elk, and Black Bear. Released in 1952, the .308 has become the cartridge of choice for many hunters, as well as for sporting, military, and law enforcement. The .308 provides deep penetration, as well as long range capabilities. There are many manufacturers and models of the .308, as well as availability of ammunition due to the wide use of this caliber. •Browning X-Bolt Hunter Bold Action Rifle with Walnut Stock•Browning AB3 Composite Stalker Bolt Action Rifle Combo•Browning AB3 Hunter Bolt Action Rifle •Savage 10T-SR Bolt Action Rifle
30-30 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .30-30 caliber rifle is perfect for Deer, Sheep, Elk, and Black Bear. The .30- 30 rifle remains the preferred choice of many whitetail deer hunters. This latest models of the .30-30 was built with the traditional deer hunter in mind. They are both lightweight, at around 7 to 8 pounds, and maneuverable with the average length at around 39″ long, providing the perfect combination for hunting in dense timber and heavy brush. •Henry .30-30 Lever Action Rifle •Marlin 336 Dark Series Lever Action Rifle •Winchester 1894 Deluxe Short Rifle Lever Action Rifle •Winchester Model 94 125th Anniversary Lever Action Rifle
30-06 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .30-06 is a really great hunting rifle for Deer, Sheep, Elk, Black Bear, Moose, and Brown Bear. One of the most used multi-species hunting rifles. It has a very mild recoil when compared against the magnum cartridges of other rifles. Even with the lower recoil, it performs magnificently in taking down large game. Because of it’s popularity, it is one of the most widely available types of rifles, and the ammunition is abundantly available and easy to find. •Tikka T3X SuperLite Bolt Action Rifle with True Timber •Camo Winchester Model 1895 125th Lever Action •Centerfire Rifle Benelli LUPO Bolt Action Rifle •Remington Model 700 SPS Blued Bolt Action Rifle
7mm Magnum Caliber Hunting Rifle
The 7 mm Magnum is perfect for hunting Deer, Sheep, Elk, and Black Bear. It has been around for over fifty years, and was the first magnum hunting cartridge to achieve widespread commercial success among big game hunters. This is one of the top calibers that is known as an all purpose type gun for big game. The magnum caliber shoots out bullets of the same weight faster than popular non-magnum calibers like the .270 Winchester or .30-06, and the 7mm Mag is great choice for hunters who want a rifle that shoots a bullet with hard hitting knock down power, and is flat shooting for long range shots. With this much power comes a lot of recoil and brings more noise with the loud bang of the shot. When I shoot my 7mm Remington Magnum, it does cause other shooters at the range pause to see what shot that big bang. •Winchester Model 70 Super Grade Centerfire Rifle •Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range Bolt Action Rifle •Browning X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon Long Range Bolt Action Rifle •Savage 110 Long Range Hunter Bolt Action Rifle
300 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .300 caliber rifle is a great choice for hunting big game like Deer, Sheep, Elk, Black Bear, Moose, and even Brown Bear. It is known for it’s versatility and precision, along with it’s hard hitting power and accuracy. It is a great multi- species hunting rifle. •Savage 110 Tactical Bolt Action Centerfire Rifle •Benelli LUPO Bolt Action Rifle •Browning X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon Long Range Bolt Action Rifle •Fierce Firearms Fury Rifle with Carbon Stock
338 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .338 caliber rifle is a real powerhorse that is excellent for harging the larger big game species such as Elk, Black Bear, Moose, and Brown Bear. If you are looking for a rifle to hammer through a quartering away elk out to 400 yards the .338 caliber bullet driven fast enough would get the job done. The .338 bullets are unique as they have both high ballistic aerodynamic efficiency, and high sectional densities which allows them to penetrate deeply into large, heavy big game animals.•Victrix Scorpio Centerfire Rifle•Savage 110 Precision Bolt Action Rifle •Browning X-Bolt Stalker Bolt Action Rifle •Savage 110 Storm Bolt Action Rifle
35 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .35 caliber rifle has great close range knock down power for hunting large big game animals like Elk, Black Bear, Moose, Brown Bear. The .35 caliber rifle was very popular in the early 1900’s, but this caliber has fallen out of mainstream use over the last ten years due to the advancements of other calibers that have much better ballistics for longer range shots. It is not a good long range bullet, but it is a good gun for heavy brush and short to moderate range hunting with tremendous knock down power for larger animals. This rifle to the left is the CVA Hunter Single Shot .35 Caliber Hunting Rifle.
375 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The 375 caliber rifle is for really big game like Moose, and Brown Bear. It is a durable and dependable model. The .375 caliber rifle is a serious rifle for hunting dangerous game, especially in harsh, wet environments, or remote backcountry where an equipment failure could cause life safety issues camping or hiking amongst prey that hunts you back. This is the Sako 85 Kodiak Bolt Action Rifle to the left.
458 Caliber Hunting Rifle
The .458 caliber rifle is for hunting larger big game species like Moose, Brown Bear as well as for hunting serious big game species such as Cape buffalo and Kodiak bear. It is also an outstanding choice for hunting in Africa or any rugged environment inhabited by dangerous game. This is the Winchester Model 70 Safari Express Bolt Action Rifle.Also, Check Out our articles about the the Best Rifle Scopes and the Best Gun Safes. About The Author Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive free products from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase. The Best Rifle and Guns Shopping Experience Awaits!