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The Best Rifle Calibers for Hunting in 2020

Hunters have debated the best rifle calibers for hunting over crackling campfires for decades. Which caliber works best on which critter? Is there a caliber that works best for multiple uses? 

Keep reading to learn about the best caliber for hunting in 2020. 

What Is a Caliber? 

Caliber numbers refer to the bullet’s diameter. Companies will identify their caliber in either inches or millimeters. 

Which Rifle Calibers Work Best?

Below is a list of caliber needs. Because some calibers work well on multiple targets, you will see some calibers mentioned more than once. 

For example, a .22 caliber rifle can take down anything from a squirrel to a wild hog. 

Varmints at a Short and Medium Range

If you’re needing to rid your yard of small varmints, these calibers work best. 

  • .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire
  • .22 Hornet
  • .22 Long Rifle
  • .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire
  • .223 Remington

The .17 caliber is specifically for small animals. If you want a gun that will give you some variety, select a larger caliber. 

Small Game

Small game require these calibers. 

  • .22 Long Rifle
  • .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire

Both of these calibers work great for rabbits, possums, and the like. 

Predators at a Long Range

Predators such as fox, coyotes, and raccoons require these calibers. 

  • .223 Remington
  • .22-250 Remington
  • .220 Swift
  • .243 Winchester

The .223, .22-250, and .220 are specifically for smaller animals. The .243 can be used for deer as well. 

Black Bears

If you’re hunting a smaller bear, then these calibers seem to work best. 

  • .30-30 Winchester
  • .300 Savage

Smaller black bears need bigger calibers because they are such a dense animal.

Deer at a Short Range

If you’re in an area where you’ll be shooting deer at short range, these calibers work best. 

  • .243
  • .30-30 Winchester
  • .300 Savage
  • .25-06 Remington

Of all these guns, the .243 has the least kick. Use this caliber if you don’t want a bruised shoulder when you’re done. 

Sheep and Mountain Goats

To bring down a mountain goat or sheep, you have a variety of options. 

  • .25-6 Remington
  • .270 Winchester
  • .308 Winchester
  • .30-06 Springfield
  • 7mm Remington Magnum
  • .300 Winchester Magnum

Choose a caliber that makes sense for all of the hunting you do. For example, choose a smaller caliber if you tend to hunt small game. 

Deer, Black Bear, and Caribou at Medium to Long Range

When you’re facing a big game animal from a distance, do not mess around. Use these calibers.

  • .25-06 Remington
  • .270 Winchester
  • .308 Winchester
  • .30-06 Springfield
  • 7mm Magnum
  • .300 Winchester Magnum

You can use any one of these calibers for either goats or sheep and these animals as well. 

Elk

Elks are big animals that require a big caliber. 

  • .270 Winchester
  • .308 Winchester
  • .30-06 Springfield
  • 7mm Remington Magnum
  • .300 Winchester Magnum

Anything larger than a .250 will do the job here.

Hogs

Hogs can be dangerous. You want the right caliber to put one down at the appropriate distance.

  • .270 Winchester
  • .308 Winchester
  • .30-06 Springfield

 Hogs move fast, so you need a responsive weapon with a decent-sized caliber. 

Grizzly Bears, Brown Bears, and Moose

When you’re hunting a big predator like a grizzly, do not mess around. Use the big caliber so you can put it down with one shot.

  • .300 Winchester Magnum
  • .300 WBV
  • .338 Winchester Magnum
  • .375 H&H

You need something in the .300 range for a grizzly. 

Black Bears Only

If you’re just hunting for a black bear, these calibers work best. 

  • .44 Marlin
  • .45-.70 Govt. 

Bigger black bears require bigger calibers. The next time you crack open one of your cabinet humidors and smoke a cigar with your hunting buddies, you can tell them only calibers in the forties will do for a black bear. 

Hunt With Confidence

Now you know which rifle calibers work best for hunting in 2020. Which one will you use for your next hunting trip?

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