Hunting rifle calibers?
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  1. #1
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    Hunting rifle calibers?

    All,

    Currently I bow hunt only as hunting is more of a hobby then a way of life. However, I plan on homesteading once I retire from the military and will be required to hunt more regularly and efficiently to subsist off the land.

    Obviously I can't be picky about HOW I hunt animals for food and wanted to know what calibers you all would use for various animals.

    I was thinking a mix of calibers as follows:

    17HMR or 22LR - Small game (squirrels, rabbits etc. )
    .223 or 5.56 - General purpose (deer, elk, coyote or small bear)
    .338 Lapua - Large game (brown bear, moose) longer distance shots (mountain goat)


    Any suggestions on calibers and or actual weapons that I should consider would be greatly appreciated.

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    I think you need to look at where you'll be hunting, what you'll be hunting and the distances you'll be shooting as well as the availability and expense of ammo. If I were to only have two hunting rifles in my cache, I would choose a .22lr for squirrel, rabbit, groundhogs, raccoon, etc. (Yeah, you can eat 'em all, as well as possum, muskrat and a few others). For larger game, I would choose a pre-2009 Marlin 336 30/30. Pre 2009 because that's when Remington bought Marlin and it became a Marlington - less attention to the QC. Marlin because it's side eject and will accept a scope a lot easier than the Winchester 94. It will take any game in North America including bear (although I'd hesitate to hunt Griz with it). Scope on a 30/30? Well with advent of the Hornady LeveRevolution ammo, the effective distances have become such that a scope is now practical on a 30/30 carbine.

    The 17 is a great round, and the effective distance is much greater than a .22lr, but how often will you be shooting squirrel at 200 yards or more? Same with the 5.56. And the 5.56 round is a little small to be hunting big game (in my opinion). .338 Lapua costs you a buck and a half every time you squeeze the trigger. You can do better with a 30cal type gun - 30/30 for example.

    Just my opinion based upon my experience, ownership and shooting. As with all shooters, the more I learn the more I realize I need to learn. So, the foregoing is not anything other than opinion.
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    I would second Divebum's comments. While we might like the .223/5.56 a lot to plink with, and some do deer hunt with it, doubt it is an efficient medium to large game caliber. Would seriously look into something in the 30 caliber (eg. 30/30 and 30.06) over .338 Lapua due to expense as mentioned.

    Personally, I have taken all my deer with my 44MAG Marlin lever gun but I hunt in heavily wooded terrain where there is no such thing as an open 100+ yard shot.

    Might consider the 45-70 for bear if you are really going to be looking that route. Should give you good coverage for close to medium range shots.

    Otherwise, your other listed cartridge possibilities look pretty good.
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    I'd vote for the 30-06. If you're going to be in big bear country maybe the 300 win mag, but either way I'd keep a heavy caliber revolver handy. JMO

    22 for small game.
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    The area I hunt for deer I use a 12 gauge with a rifles slug barrel because I don`t live in the rifle zone. That being said, I like the .30-.30 or .308 for deer or black bear. Now if I were hunting brown bear I would definetly use more than my .308. The .22 is a fine rifle for squirrels and rabbits if they are sitting. In the end, it`s all personnal preference.
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    Opinions are like rectums, everybody's got one; here's mine.

    Rifles (and ammo) in .270, .308, and .30-06 are ubiquitous and have taken darn near any game on the planet.

    A decent bolt action with a reasonably priced 4 X or 3 X 9 scope should take care of your needs.

    Don't discount the legendary .30-30 in reasonably priced lever actions by Winchester, Marlin and Savage.

    There are dozens of other heavy calibers/magnums that folks swear by, but locating their expensive ammo is even more of a task nowadays.

    I'd also include a good 12 ga. pump gun; with over 10 million sold each either a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 should work just fine.

    Many an Alaskan & African guide use them with rifled slugs to back up clients in bear country.

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    30-06 or 30/30 for deer sized game and Wile E. Coyote. 22lr for the odd squirrel or possum. A 12 gauge will come in handy when the ducks or geese come around, and a slug (or slugs) will suffice for anything looking to make a meal out of you.
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    Any .30 family for deer and above. I recommend 30-30 or 30.06. For smaller game .22.
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    Thanks for the opinions so far.

    It's still kind of up in the air where exactly we'll be homesteading but we've narrowed it down to a few states in the north: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota (Alaska is still a small possibility as well)

    In all honesty, the .338 was going to be my retirement gift to myself, but as I learn more I feel a .308 or .30-06 would have more practical applications. I do like the power of the .338 for bigger game though I understand it isn't 100% necessary.

    Is there a big price or availability difference between .22LR and 17HMR?
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    I will echo the recommendations for using .22lr for small game & a .30 caliber for most everything else. My personal fav is .308 Win. - it can be downloaded with light bullets for coyote sized critters, & with 150, 165, or 180 grain ammo it is effective for most North American big game. If a fair number of elk, moose, or bear hunts are in your plans, you may want to add a magnum caliber.
    Shinsou likes this.

 

 
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