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Big Bore Rifles for Whitetail Deer



Big Bore Rifles for Whitetails


Contrary to the last edition where we focused on light calibers for whitetail deer in the Carolina’s and Georgia and beyond. This edition we are going to look at big bore rifles for these same whitetail deer.

Big bore rifle include but are not limited to the larger thirty caliber models, and the forty caliber models. To begin with I know that some will want to add to this list, but for simplicity, I am only focusing on the most popular offerings of this category. While there are others, more obscure and less popular we will for simplicity, only look at those that are readily available, and only those who qualify as forty caliber and larger.  Excluded are the extremely large calibers used for dangerous game such as the .470 nitro and the fifty calibers and above.

In the forty caliber models, the .44 Rem mag is perhaps the most popular and long standing of the big bores. This caliber is offered by most major manufactures and comes in virtually every action. With bullets available from 180 gr to 400 grain this can be used for many applications. Not only is the .44 Rem mag popular, the availability of ammo makes it an easy choice.

Outside of this the most are offered in lever action. The rise of cowboy action has stimulated the growth in the lever gun and there are a variety of caliber choices. From the .444 Marlin, to the long standing .45/70 govt. These are perhaps the standard and one that I personally covet. Marlin introduced their guide series several years ago, and this has added to the popularity. These guns and calibers offer the whitetail hunter fast action, although limited range. These big bore guns with their heavy bullets are not made for bean field shooting, or stands in clear cuts. These are definitely brush guns. Made for fast action, and close quarters. Their slow moving heavy bullets are ideal for the swamps, and thickets most of the hunters in the Carolina’s and Georgia call home.

Of these, the .45/70 is the better option. First and foremost the bullets are a bit easier to find, although not all that easy. However the .444 Marlin is much more difficult and considerably more expensive. Moreover, the .45/70 comes in more variety of bullet weights and it also comes in the Hornady LEVERevolution which increases accuracy down range. These bullets have ballistic tips that are soft enough to allow loading in the tubular magazine. For those wanting more traditional options of ammunition can find solids up to 500 grains. Granted no one needs a 500 grain bullet for a whitetail. But these slower moving bullets need a bit more mass to cause the damage we are looking for. Perhaps the best of these are the 300 gr and the 305 grain bullets

No doubt the use of a big bore for whitetail deer is largely out of preference. We certainly do not need a caliber this large for hunting our deer. However, they are fun to shoot, a bit more challenging and for many the way it is supposed to be.