Long-Range Hunting Calibers | What’s the Best Option?

Long-Range Hunting Calibers | What’s the Best Option?

Top Long-Range Hunting Calibers

Long-range shooting is a very addicting sport. While it can be competitive with others (if you want), you’re also always competing against yourself to constantly improve your shooting accuracy and extend your maximum shooting range. But when it comes to long-range hunting, there’s even more pressure to perform well. You need to make absolutely sure you can hit your target accurately every time under different environmental conditions. Otherwise, you shouldn’t pull the trigger. To do that, here’s a list of the best long-range hunting calibers to use on big game species so you can set yourself up for success in the field.

Long-Range Hunting Considerations

First, it’s important to discuss some of the factors that will affect your success. Obviously, picking up one of the rifles below won’t automatically make you successful. As with anything, practice makes permanent. The more you practice at the shooting range under different conditions, the better you’ll perform in the field while hunting. One amazing tool you should include in your shooting practice and hunting is a laser rangefinder. Kestrel has several options that combine rangefinders with binoculars so you can spot your target animals out to a few thousand yards and reliably range them. Of course, weather conditions can dramatically influence a bullet trajectory when you’re shooting at extreme distances. So just knowing the range may not be enough information for first-shot accuracy. Combine a laser rangefinder with a ballistics meter for highly accurate shots every time.

Also, each hunter has different preferences for what features are important in a hunting rifle. For some, having access to a wide range of ammunition choices is critical. In that case, picking a rifle cartridge with lots of options is the smart move. For smaller framed hunters or those who might be sensitive to recoil, picking a low-recoil rifle is prudent. Take time to think about what you want in a long-range rifle before you commit to any of the calibers discussed below.

Long-Range Hunting Calibers for Big Game Animals

Any time you discuss the best rifle calibers for a given pursuit, you’re opening an extra-large can of worms. Every hunter has their own particular bias when it comes to big game rifle preferences, and it can be hard to win some folks over. But there are some consistent winners for long-range hunting calibers that you should know if you plan to take this on seriously.

6.5 Creedmoor

Despite the pessimists out there, the 6.5 Creedmoor has a lot going for it in terms of the best long-range hunting calibers. The recoil is very light, which is important to keep you from flinching or not wanting to pull the trigger. You’ll be more willing to practice with it at the shooting range if your shoulder’s not bruised each time! The cartridge itself performs very well in the field too. It has slim-looking bullets that shoot flat, carry a good amount of energy toward your target while maintaining high velocities at long distances, and they aren’t very influenced by wind. Overall, it’s a pretty solid choice when it comes to long-range hunting calibers.

.270 Winchester

Since it was first introduced, the .270 Winchester has been a reliable and popular choice among long-range hunting calibers. The bullets are very flat shooting among this group of rifle calibers, so you don’t have to worry as much about bullet drop over long distances. They still carry a lot of velocity downrange, while maintaining a decent amount of energy, making them good candidates for smaller big game species or shorter-range shots. The recoil is also very light, which makes them a joy to shoot at the shooting range or in the field. There are plenty of cartridge options to choose from at stores too, so you can find a load that works well for your intended purpose.

7mm Remington Magnum

While you don’t see much of the 7mm Rem. Mag., it is a good choice among long-range hunting calibers. It can fire much heavier bullets than the .270 while keeping a similar velocity, which means there’s more energy and knockdown power downrange. The bullet trajectory is similar to the .270, as well. But it does have a heavier recoil, so you should take that into consideration.

.308 Winchester

The .308 Winchester deserves a spot on our list of long-range hunting calibers too, because it is just a solid all-around rifle caliber. The cartridge packs enough power to keep energy downrange. The bullets aren’t as flat shooting as some of the others, so there will be some bullet drop, but it’s a pretty consistent round. And there are lots of great factory loads available, so you can find what you need. The recoil for this round is actually fairly low, considering its power.

.30-06 Springfield

The .30-06 has long held a special place in many a hunter’s gun safe. Put simply, it is just a solid caliber for so many different big game pursuits, including long-range big game hunting. There are plenty of ammo options out there for this caliber, so you shouldn’t have an issue finding the right load for whatever species or scenario you’re hunting in. Over long distances, the bullet will drop a bit more than some others on this list. The main con for this caliber is that the rifle definitely has more recoil than others. Although, to be honest, this can easily be mitigated by wearing appropriate hunting clothing to serve as shoulder padding.

.300 Winchester Magnum

The .300 Win. Mag. is a terrific long-range big game cartridge. Its best feature is that it can fire heavy bullets at high speeds – in other words, the bullets maintain high velocity downrange while packing a lot more energy than other rounds presented here, making it a heavy hitter among long-range hunting calibers. This is a great scenario for truly big animals like moose, bison, or bears because it packs enough punch at distance to get through tough hides and break through bones. Better yet, it shoots flatter than a .30-06 so the drop isn’t as noticeable. However, it does have a higher recoil than the other calibers discussed here.

Regardless of which rifle caliber you choose, these are all very fine options for many different long-range pursuits. It all depends on your shooting distance, species you’re hunting, weather conditions, and the type of ammo you can find. With the right combo, you can be an effective hunter with any of these long-range hunting calibers.

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