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The Best Deer Rifle Part 2


The Best Deer Rifle Part 2


As we continue the look at the best deer rifles, it is prudent to reiterate the parameters of the qualifications that were stated in part 1. To be considered for this piece, the caliber of the rifle needed the following; Availability of ammunition, choice of actions, ballistics inside normal hunting distances (under 200 yards), variety of ammunition available, and lastly, felt recoil.

It is true that some of the ones chosen may fail on one of the categories outlined, none fail on two or more. They have to meet the majority of these categories. So we move on to the larger calibers, those being the thirty caliber and larger offerings.

It has been said by writers far more knowledgeable than I that the .30-.30 Winchester has killed more game than any other caliber in North America. If this is the case it is due to the fact that the .30-.30 Winchester was one of the first mass produced cartridge rifles that was affordable for the average American. The traditional lever action still dominates the action choices of the .30-.30 but other actions are available if you search hard enough. Ammunition is readily available and the ballistics are acceptable inside 100 yards. Outside this range the cartridge begins to fail rather quickly. It is an iconic cartridge that should be found in every gun case.

Staying in the thirty caliber category, the .30-06 Springfield is a perennial favorite. Having come onto the scene in 1906, the .30-06 Springfield was developed as a military round but fast became a favorite of hunters for all game across the continent. With bullet sizes ranging from 90 grains all the way to 220 grains. The .30-06 Springfield is, in my opinion the best all-around cartridge available. It has always remained my personal favorite for all of the reasons mentioned. Bullets are available at hardware stores, convenience stores and actions for this cartridge are varied. From the bolt action, slide action, and single shot. Like most “pointed” bullets, these are not available in lever action due to the magazine configuration that places the nose of a bullet directly onto the primer of the preceding bullet. The .30-06 Springfield is still my personal favorite.

Next would be the .308 Winchester another round developed for the military and one of the most overlooked effective rounds today. This round has seen somewhat of a resurgence in the AR-10 platforms, but overall it is still a hunting round that is ideally suited for big game. Here in the Carolina’s and southeast, the .308 Winchester may be the best overall feral hog cartridge but we will discuss that more at a later date. For whitetail deer the .308 Winchester is an excellent round available in lever action, semi-auto, bolt and single shot it is a great round with enough down range velocity to make it one of the best “bean field” rifles around. Capable of being extremely accurate out to 400 yards.

There are other rounds in the thirty caliber category that many will find that suits the parameters. But these are the most dominate. Moving up in size we now have the magnum rounds, and some of the cowboy rounds that all are very effective at killing deer.

In the magnum category, the 7MM Remington Magnum is by far the most popular. This jacked up .270 has a lot more felt recoil than does its brother, but with this recoil also comes down range energy. The 7MM Remington Magnum is arguable one of the best all-around rifles available. Being a great deer rifle it is also one of the favorites for elk, black bear, hogs, caribou, moose and other very large game. With bullet offerings from 140 grains to 175 grains these are able to be tailored for all game. As far as deer are concerned, the smaller 140 grain bullets are the best choice. With a muzzle velocity of 3175 fps and energy at 100 yards of 2650 ft./lbs. it is a devastating round for whitetail deer.

Outside of these there are hundreds of calibers that come and go, like ladies of the night. They tease us with ballistics, recoil, configurations and still do not last more than a few years and then they fill our gun cabinets with guns we can no longer get ammunition for. I chose to stay with some of the tested, tried and true. Those that have stood the test of time, sure there are others, many others that compare to these. But these are my choice, and if I have to pick one, for me it is the .30-06 Springfield. I know I can pick up this gun and kill any deer in North America with it, and really any game animal in North America. If I forget my ammunition along the way, I can stop at just about any store and they will have the .30-06 Springfield. It may not be your choice, so let the conversations begin.