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Our Favorite Calibers!

We all have it. That one rifle that we can’t help but reach for inside the gun safe, the one we consider our most reliable. The one that because of our prejudice towards its accuracy and knock down power has a higher kill count than all the others. Here are a few of the rifles that are our “go to” options.

The .270 Winchester Short Mag has become my go to rifle in recent years. I have fallen for the .270 WSM simply due to solid performance. Everything I’ve shot with this rifle has met an emphatic end, including two bucket list sheep this year. I have used Hornady factory loads and handloads for this rifle, both of which have proven to be effective. There are very few animals that I would hesitate to use this rifle on, especially when paired with a heavy for caliber bullet. – Guy Eastman

The .300 Win. Mag is my favorite all around caliber and I am betting many of you have the same feelings. For big tough animals like elk or moose use a 180-220 grain bullet and the knockdown power is more than enough. If I am shooting antelope I will find a load that has a lighter bullet with faster muzzle velocity. Do I have other calibers in my gun safe? Sure, but if I was forced to pick only one this would be my go to! -Ike Eastman

Factor in bullet sizes ranging from 125 – 220 grains in factory loaded ammunition readily available in any store, small enough to shoot coyotes, big enough to harvest moose, proven field reliability since 1906, and a nickname of “Old Meat in the Pot” and you will know why I LOVE the trusty old .30-06! The one rifle that does it all. Considering I shoot all of my animals from 450 yards and under, it’s all I need and want in a rifle. – Brandon Mason

Rusty Smith, featured in EHJ , killed this bull with a 7mm Rem Mag.

I have a long standing love affair with the .7mm Remington Magnum. It was my first rifle and there haven’t been very many years in my life when I have not owned one. My current “big 7” is spitting 180 gr. Handloads at a shade under 3000 fps and there are very few animals on the North American continent that I wouldn’t tackle with her. – Todd Helms



If you are shopping for ammunition Sportsman’s Warehouse has a great in their store! Follow the store locator and stock up for the coming year!


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  1. I don’t know if ill ever stray far from my 7mm-08. It has killed every elk I’ve ever shot at with it, and its a designated deer slaying machine.

    • The 7mm-08 is my choice too. Ballistics do not kill animals. Properly performing bullets do. And the 7mm-08 handles bullets in weights that can slay any animal that can be hunted. It is not a stopping a charge gun. But from concealment it can drop anything that walks the earth.

    • my father turns 78 in a few weeks, and we just finished whitetail season…he loves the 7mm-08 and has killed many animals with it!! it’s by far his favorite.

  2. I hand load .325 WSM’s for my Browning A-bolt.
    I either use a 180 gr. Barnes TSX or a 220 gr. Swift A-Frame depending on the game.
    They both shoot sub moa but I haven’t figured out the 160 gr. Barnes TTSX yet.

  3. .270 win 130gr bullets out of Savage 110cl. My 3rd rifle i have owned i kill everything from, elk to deer. I call it from soup to nuts

  4. 300 win mag will do everything in North America. Best all around rifle.

  5. My go to is .300 Weatherby Magnum. 180 grain Barnes TTSX traveling at 3250 will handle anything in North America. It may be overkill for smaller game but it is the gun I shoot the most accurately.

  6. We have grown very fond of the 28 Nosler using the 180-195 Berger Bullets, especially the 195’s… awesome ballistics and great long range energy with less felt recoil than the 30cals.
    Others on list are 6.5 Creedmoor and hard to beat 30 Nosler (and other similar 30cals)
    6.5 Creedmoor is my go to for anything under 700yds

  7. I have many calibers rifle but my go-to is 338 win mag. I back it up with a 25-06. And my 45-70-405 is a hoot to shoot. All my 22-270-300s are “safe queens”

  8. When it comes to over all reliable, i always grab my 300 Win mag

  9. Earl Rakestraw Sr

    My Ruger No 1 chambered in 7MM Remington mag was until recently my all around gun due to the variety of loads it shoots. But as my late dad use to tell me “ it’s not what you shoot it’s where you shoot them “. He harvested more big mule deer and elk in Colorado years ago with a 250-3000 that many of us now can only dream about. FYI My new favorite round is the 6.5 Creedmoor.

    • Earl ! The 250-3000, is alive and well.

      • Earl Rakestraw Sr

        Yes it is. I still have the Savage model 99 dad bought almost 90 years ago-in my gun safe. I still enjoy taking out from time to time and put a few rounds thru it. Maybe I’ll pack it on my hunt.

  10. I love my 270 WSM that I have been using since 2004. I have hunted several states with it and have made clean one shot kills on one to four animals per year including deer, elk, and pronghorn.

    • Brad, I’ve shot a 270WSM for many years too. I love it. 140g accubonds do the work needed very nicely. Mostly 1 shot instant kills on dozens of deer, antelope and a elk.

      What bullet do you use?

      • Kris, I have had great success with the 140gr Accubond in 270WSM like you which is an awesome combo and has been my favorite.. But with no lead proposels becoming more frequent among Fish and Game agencies, I have used the 140gr Barnes VOR-TX TSX on my last two hunts and have been very impressed with their performance on game.

  11. Bill Boyd ! I just keep the freezer full, with my trusting old 270. 130 grain sierra. Now ,when I’m chasing skillet meat, I use my 250-3000 . 22-250 and a 63 grain Sierra semi round nose for coyotes , marry’s up well.

  12. My go-to is a Savage Axis in 30-06 with a Boyds Prairie Hunter stock and Osprey Signature Series 3-9×40 scope. Pull it out of the case, load 4 rounds, fire them at the target at 100 yds, and all are within a 2″ square without using a vice!. Clean it and put it back in the case and I know it will be ready to do the same thing next time I pull it out. I have tried a lot of bullets in this rifle. I do all my own handloads. I have settled on Hornady Interlock BTSP in 165gr, CCI large rifle primers with Reloader 15 powder. Absolute consistency every time. Funny thing is I tried all the newer ballistic tipped bullets but they always had one fatal flaw: 3 shots dead center and one 5″ off in the weeds. The only thing I can figure is a loose plastic tip.

  13. Ok, I’ve gotta get in on the fray… Absolutely love shooting my Sako custom built 300 H&H. It shoots sweeeet and does not kick like the one size fits all winchester case length derivatives for standard actions like a 300win mag… H&H knew what they were doing… And, my H&H pounds elk right into the ground, right now, no running…

  14. The rifle that comes out of the safe on most of my hunts since 1966 is my Husqvarna 7mm Rem. Mag. All of the elk I have taken were with this rifle.

  15. Man, so many great calibers out there. I really enjoy my Tikka 695 in 7mm mag and everything it points at falls over. That being said my very very very favorite is my 264 win. mag. I seem to end up with a deer or antelope tag so much more often then an elk tag and that rifle with 142gr sierra’s is hard to beat. I figured there would have been a million 300 ultra mags on here by now. I own one and love it too. but i seem to always get lucky with my 264 over my shoulder.

  16. I hunt with my 7mm ultra mag and Hornady 162 grain sat has been a deadly combination

  17. Tikka T3 SL in 7mm Rem Mag shooting 150 CoreLokts
    Browning A-Bolt in 308 shooting Barnes 150 TTSX
    Browning A-Bolt in 260 shooting Fusion 120s

    I rotate these as the mood strikes. Love shooting all three. Whitetails in Mississippi.

  18. I would have to say my go to is my RMEF Tikka T3 cambered in 300 WSM. It’s a great gun and extremely accurate and consistent with Hornady GMX 150 gr. Handloaded. And after I installed the Witt machine muzzle brake I can shoot that gun all day long without a sore shoulder.

  19. I’m another 264 win mag fan. I haven’t used it for anything bigger than deer because I have always had a 7mm, 270, or 300 magnum around and my 264 isn’t my lightest rifle for climbing mountains. I wouldn’t hesitate to take elk or moose with a tough 140gr bullet though. The 264 with it’s sleek bullets, speed, and light recoil has put a lot of antlers on the wall and meat in the freezer. Where the wind always blows and shots can happen to fast to always use a rangefinder the 264 makes a lot of sense.

    Starting from scratch if I could only have one big game rifle it would be a 7mm magnum. If I could have two I’d take my 264WM and 300WM, they work just fine for anything I’d likely ever hunt

  20. Tommy Gene Heinrich

    Tommy Heinrich

    I have harvested not only deer, elk and antelope, but at least 70 some other species of animals around the world with a 300 Win Mag and 180 grain Accuabond Bullets and you can’t beat the 300’s flat shooting and knock down power. Just about all of them were one shot kills.

  21. 257 Roberts for anything deer sized. 257 Weatherby mag for flatter trajectory at longer distances. 30-06 or 7mm RM for elk and I keep my shots under 350yds. I do like my Rem 700 MT rifle in 7mm-08. I’d like to get a 7mm SAUM in a light compact rifle, that may be the all-rounder.

  22. 150 grain-30-06 has always worked for me, and if I feel underwhelmed I look in my freezer and say Thank God i can still hunt in the US of A.

  23. Randolph Holford

    Two go to calibers, ,308 and .300 Win Mag.

  24. Definitely my rifle of choice is my Weatherby 30-378. I have been very fortunate to take many deer & an elk with this caliber. Always the gun I choose first especially when I am hunting the Slim Buttes in Western South Dakota. Many calibers I love & own, but will go to the 30-378 every time. Also, keep up the good work – love your magazines & your show!!

  25. Like someone has already said in this forum “balistics don’t kill” you need a good bullet placed correctly in the vitals to drop the animal. I still want enough energy left in my cartridge to finish my animal for a humane kill no matter the yardage. I want accuracy too. Custom Lilja barrel, 700 Rem actions in 243, 280 Ack, 338-06 & my favorite is my 300 ICL which shoots 150gr & 180gr Barnes TTSX bullets equal or faster than a 300-378 with much less powder. All these rifles have place in where I hunt. Thick timber or open ranges to 600+ yds. All shoot sub MOA.

  26. Just one??? 30-06 for the go to. And my 300 WSM as my back-up

  27. No doubt about it. The best cal is the 270 Win. I have shot bull elk, deer and antelope with no problem. Distance is not an issue.


  29. The 6.5 x 284 has dropped all I have shot at within 750 yrds. Accuracy is outstanding even in the wind. It’s where you hit the animal.

  30. I have a 243, 270 win, 3006, 300win mag and I like them all for different reasons, but about 5 years ago I bought a 257 weatherby mag, none of my rifles have a muzzlebrake (I don’t like the noise) I hunt mostly mule deer and when I do, that 257 weatherby is always with me, its very accurate, moderate recoil, as flat shooting as anything out there and with the 115 grain bergers it drops em dead!

    • I’ve had a 257 weatherby for about 15yrs and love it. My daughter used it this year and got here first bull and 4th deer this year. So we bought her on for Christmas. We handload our barnes 100gr ttsx.

  31. I love my Remington 50th anniversary 700 7mm mag, I’ve had great results with 150 grain corelokt bullets and Barnes VorTX 150 gr on Elk but Remington Premier Accutip 150 boat tails give me sub MOA accuracy at any distance although those bullets leave big exit wounds. Either way everything I’ve shot with that gun has gone down right quick and other than a Timney trigger and Leupold scope it’s straight out of the box and an excellent rifle with nice furniture.

  32. I started with a .243, moved on to a .270 for whitetail. moved on to a .300 Ultra for caribou, bear, and deer. moved on to a .325 WSM just because. and now i’m going backwards to make hunting fun again. i killed elk, mule deer, bear,and whitetail with a 50 cal in-line muzzleloader. now I hunt with a 50 cal flintlock and enjoy hunting more than i have in years!!

  33. My 300 RUM has become my favorite can’t argue with 4 shots for 3 animals what I like best about it is it’s a shooter I’ve never had a gun that shoots as well, match with 180ttsx Barnes it’s been filling my freezer for 10years now “ the only interesting rifles are a accurate ones”

  34. .25-05 and .270 are my go to calibers for Mule Deer and Whitetails

  35. I own and shoot many of the calibers mentioned in the replies and am a bit surprised that my favorite hunting rifle is not mentioned. It is the 300WSM Remington 700.

  36. Donald Eugene McBride

    My Bergara 7mm rem mag if I had to choose one. Love my 7mm08 and my elk slayer is my Rem 700 8mm rem mag. Bought it new in 1981. With Barnes 180 or 200 great. Or nosler accubond 180 or 200 great,.

  37. I guess I am the only oddball here who favors the .280 Remington–great selection of bullets to handload and very effective on the deer I have shot. Had someone handload 160 grain Accubonds for a recent elk hunt but I was unable to find one to shoot!

    • Brian L Hudgins

      Nope, I to like the .280 Remington. The only problem is since I have to moved to AK, it has yet to go on a hunt here. In MT and AR it was a mule deer and whitetail killing machine.

  38. James Pendergraft

    I have grown partial to my 280 Remington over the years normally I shoot 140 gr core lokt recently I have started using hornady 139gr gmx and I have been very impressed with the accuracy and penetration .

  39. Since about 1985 my Remington Classic in .270 Win. , Sierra 130 or 140 grains both are equally accurate. Don’t need anything else !

  40. My go to rifle is a Remington 700, 280 Remington with 160 gr. Accubonds. I bought this rifle back in 1986 when I was a kid, and have taken 60+ big game animals with it. I have plenty of other rifles and calibers but this one always finds its way in the truck, even if I don’t plan on hunting with it.

  41. I really like my 270 winchester model 70 shooting Hornady 150 sst’s; 2nd would be the 7mm-08 with 140 bergers and my next build is a 6.5 SAUM that I’m dying to get on the range and work up some loads!

  42. The 7-08 is a highlyy efficient round, much more so than the 7mm mag or 300Win. Bullet placement kills animals not caliber size.

    • I agree and bullet terminal performance. So fire an A-frame 7mm in a vital area and deliver it with minimal recoil using a 7mm-08. At 160 grains or 175 grains the penetration will be equal to a 375 H&H 300 grain A-frame. The animal will expire as the terminal performance will dictate. It us hunting not shooting. So hunt close and place your shot and take home your quarry.

  43. Best for long range shooting 7mm stw period.

  44. 270 WIN. i’ve taken elk to coyote with it and i can get it in a featherweight rifle.
    At my age, i need lightweight rifle, not the best for elk or coyote but, it’ll work

  45. I love all these posts. I have hunted and own almost ever rifle mentioned, 280, 7 mag, 300 win. Are all awesome. But my 300 rum has beat em all. Accurate, flat shooting, and awesome knock
    Down on everything from antelope to bears. Love all the comments. 280 rem mt rifle is a choice gun for back packing steep country.

  46. Gary Evenson

    I own a Kimber Montana in 270 WSM, a Winchester Model 70 Winlite in 7mm Remington Mag (that I’m giving to my eldest son) and a new Nosler Model48 in 30 Nosler, so I’ve got 3 0f the 5 Rifles covered here. My Kimber is super accurate with every bullet I’ve tried in it, with Barnes 129ngr LRX Bullets over 66.0 grs of Reloader 22 @ 3398 FPS my go to Deer Antelope Sheep Rifle. This Rifle inspired me to give my 7 Mag to my son. I just bought the 30 Nosler because I drew an Arizona Resident Early Rifle Bull Hunt (18 Bonus Points) in September and wanted a bigger bullet for the monster elk we will encounter. Will try 210 gr LR Accubonds, Hornsby 212 gr ELD Hunting and Berger 210 gr VLD Hunting Bullets over several powders and find one that will drive tacks

  47. Up until recently my favorite rifle was a Winchester 94 Big Bore in 444 Marlin (AKA 44 Super Mag). Everything I’ve pointed it at ended up in a crumpled Heap.
    On a whim, I recently picked up a Winchester Model 88 in 308 and now its my go to gun. With 180gr Hornady Superperformance It has left a pile of bodies and its wake. Everything has been bang flop. 4 hogs with one shot at 90 yrds, a 260lb hog at 350 yards, a 250lb Whitetail at 80 yards and an elk at 200 yrds, to name a few. All in just a few months.

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