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Most Common Long Range Calibers for Hunting Stopping Power & Target Shooting

You’re on a hunting trip. Nothing exotic, just muley or white-tail deer and you realize you left your ammo on the kitchen counter as you were packing. What now? You’re a day or two from home so going home will burn up your time off for the hunt. You pull into a small town hoping to pick up a box or two to finish your hunt. So what calibers are you most likely to find on the shelf in a small community?

Top 20 Gun & Ammo Sales

Knowledge Glue published the TOP 20 list using sales data of gun and ammo sales. Some interesting data here. Top deer hunting caliber is no surprise as the .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO and it was listed as number 8 on the list. At #16 the venerable 30-30 was the choice, while the .30-06 was number 13. The Russian 7.62c54R was 17 and the very popular hunting caliber the 270 Winchester was at number 19. We must look at situations that skew this chart a bit. The chart includes handgun ammo as well. And sales of the Russian ammunition occur in case lots as cheap steel cased ammunition becomes available from former Eastern Block countries. Most of this is military ball ammo is not ideal as a hunting solution. Therefore, we would need to know much 7.62c54R soft-point or other expanding hunting bullets in that caliber, probably not much. Another consideration is we only are considering viable deer hunting calibers, not prepper, survival or defense calibers like 5.56 NATO or 7.62×39 M43 style ammo. So, we are looking at 308 Winchester, 30-06 Sprinfield,30-30 Winchester and the 270 Winchester and it would be reasonable to assume that these may be the most available calibers. Another consideration is that they would stock ammo for the most popular local calibers, which could skew their stocking strategy. But it would be safe to assume that these calibers would be included. In their top 91, Knowledge Glue rates 243 Winchester at 21 and 7mm Remington Mag at 22. But remember there are numerous handgun and shotgun calibers as well in between. Our list then would be:
1. 308 Winchester (the NATO rounds would most likely be ball or non-sporting loadings not suitable for hunting).
2. 30-06 Springfield
3. 30-30 Winchester, ideal for heavy brush or woods hunting at moderate ranges.
4. 270 Winchester
5. 243 Winchester, though capable for the heavier Mule deer it might be a touch on the light side.
6. 7mm Remington Magnum, possibly stocked in the smaller communities but no guarantee.
7. 300 Winchester Magnum
8. 25-06 Remington
9. 7mm Mauser
10. 338 Winchester Magnum a good all-around cartridge for the bigger game like elk and even bear.

Occasional Hunting & Shooting of Firearms

The top five would be the most likely calibers. And most knowledgeable hunter’s have a back-up rifle just in case of breakage. The numbers reflect current sales activity. It does not consider the occasional shooter that only hunts once a year and not buying truck loads of ammo. A hunter may shoot 5 to 10 rounds to zero his gun or check functionality. Perhaps up to 10 rounds max for the hunt for a total of 20 rounds a year, or one box. The black rifle owner probably stocks rounds by case, a recent phenomenon, not relating to the traditional North American hunter, so sales could skew these numbers in current market and are not representative of historical hunting caliber sales. At least make sure your back-up hunting rifle is in one of the common calibers, even if your main gun is a bit on the rare and exotic calibers like a Weatherby. Just another consideration when you’re building your closet battery with your favorite or most used shooters. Shooting Range Industries wishes you happy hunting!

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