Hunters are a contentious bunch. They love to debate, argue and downright fight over the best gear and tactics. A favorite topic that comes up time and time again is the debate over the “best whitetail caliber.”
Here’s the short version. It’s the caliber you shoot best with deadly results. In most states legal calibers begin with .243 and the sky’s the limit. Instead of picking a specific caliber and putting it on parade, I’m going to list a handful of characteristics that make a great caliber.
First, does the caliber come with enough bullet selections for accuracy and optimum, controlled expansion to cleanly put down a mature buck? Companies like Hornady and their new Superformance ammunition offer ample selections of practically handloaded calibers.
Next, does the caliber come in the action that fits your hunting style? Can you get the caliber in a pump, lever, bolt, single-shot or even in the hot new format of an AR? This all comes down to your personal preference, personal hunting strategy and the terrain where you hunt.
Is the caliber readily available? This may not be as critical for the back-forty whitetail hunter, but if you travel and need extra cartridges, it’s helpful if you can pick them up at Walmart instead of being limited to Sam’s Gun and Meat Market.
Finally, are you comfortable with the caliber? Is the recoil punishing or pleasant? Do you like the results when your aim is dead on? It goes back to the short version. Can you shoot it with deadly results?
I’m a fan .30 calibers. My favorite is the .300 Winchester magnum, but there are a handful of others that also do the trick. My son shot two deer last year with the .30 TC and I was more than impressed with the results. I’m not a fan of the classic .30-30. I own one and historically it’s responsible for millions of pounds of pan-fried venison, but except for nostalgia there are dozens of better calibers that can handle the job with high-performance results.
I’ll write it once more. Shoot what’s comfortable and what you shoot best. That’s the best caliber for your whitetail hunt. That’s all for now. I have to start answering E-mails from angry .30-30 owners.
I can’t believe it! That gray-haired hunter in the red, plaid jacket just shot the buck I was eyeing with his .30-30.