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6 Best Home Defense Tactical Shotguns [2021]

6 Best Home Defense Tactical Shotguns [2021]

We all want the most effective weapons possible when it comes to home defense. Our lives, our homes, and most importantly our families deserve the best protection. Though this is not the only reason. We are going to explain what is a tactical shotgun? and which are the preferred and best shotguns for home defense, and obviously our favorite ones with all points including prices.

12ga Shotgun Shells - Ammogunshop.com

12ga Shotgun Shells

What is a Tactical Shotgun?

Did you know what separates a tactical shotgun from a traditional hunting shotgun?

Double Barreled Hunting Shotgun - Ammogunshop.com

Double Barreled Hunting Shotgun

There are some different features that make a shotgun ‘tactical’:

18 – 20 Inch Barrel

This exact length of the barrel keeps the shotgun short and fast when used in urgency, like in case of sudden defense. The 18 inches is as short as you can go legally with a shotgun barrel. Moreover, it is enough to go without requiring a tax stamp or any federal registration.

Home Defense Shotguns – Semi-Auto or Pump Operation?

Shotguns have many variations, including pump-action, lever-action, semi-auto bolt action, and single or double barrels. The Pump and semi-auto actions are the only two types that are practical for home defense.

Good Set of Sights

There are many shotguns that come with a single bead at the end of the barrel which acts as a sight.  This type work for a lot of applications.

The Sling Mounts

A sling in the shotgun allows you to attach the weapon across your body.  Which allows you to keep the gun while you do other tasks with your hands, making it difficult for an attacker to strip you of your weapon.

Chambered in 12 or 20 Gauge

12 Gauge is the most famous combat shotgun caliber. Especially when it comes to semi-automatics guns. 12 gauge is a powerful and reliable option as well. It also makes the firearm heavier, larger, and recoils viciously. The 20 gauge is still a very potent round and is much friendlier for smaller people or beginners.

12 Gauge Speed Strips - Ammogunshop.com

12 Gauge Speed Strips

The capacity of 4+1 Minimum

Shotguns use quite large shells, therefore most shotguns are limited in their capacity.  The capacity of 4 +1 will settle most encounters, however, preferably you are using more akin to 7+1 to give yourself that extra edge.

The Stock

Any shotgun needs a stock. The Pistol grip-only shotguns are good, fun, and pretty handy in some situations. However, the shoulder stock makes a shotgun much easier to hit the target accurately with more comfort.

What Can the Shotgun Do?

Why is a shotgun are known to be so effective?

The first thing is versatility, it is possible to fire the various projectiles from a shotgun. Also, from engaging anything from pests like possums to two-legged varmints, and even creatures big as bears.

Types of 12ga Shotgun Shells vs Bullets - Ammogunshop.com

Types of 12ga Shotgun Shells vs Bullets

The shotguns have three primary loads:

The Birdshot

A load is filled with tiny pellets, they range between dozens to hundreds depending on the particular load used. It is designed to hunt down birds, clay pigeons, and other small games. However, these are not very effective for the home defense.

12ga Birdshot - Ammogunshop.com

12ga Birdshot

The Buckshot

Buckshot is a load of larger pellets than the birdshot, they commonly range in caliber from .24 (No 4 Buckshot) to .36 (000 Buckshot).  Additionally, the number of pellets varies per load and caliber of the ball used.  Perfect for medium game and tactical applications.

The most common is 00 (“double aught:) buckshot, this is equivalent to 9 lead pellets with 9mm in diameter.

12ga 00 Buckshot - Ammogunshop.com

12ga 00 Buckshot

The Slugs

Slugs are Solid projectiles, around 1 oz in weight.

The slugs are Often quite larger, heavier, and powerful.  They additionally allow you to extend your effective shotgun range.

12ga Slug - Ammogunshop.com

12ga Slug

The Best Home Defense Tactical Shotguns

With all these factors in mind, let’s take a look at the top tactical shotguns available in the market.

1. Mossberg 500 Series – Recommended Home Defense Shotguns

If you want to have one of the longest-serving combats and police shotguns, the Mossberg 500 is the best choice for you.

Mossberg 500 - Ammogunshop.com

Mossberg 500

The big difference from the Remington 870 (other popular pump-action shotgun) is the safety is on top of the receiver and accessible with your thumb.

Mossberg has built a big variety of different configurations for the 590A1 model. Which includes night sights or Ghost ring sights, collapsible or fixed stocks, and a capacity of up to 9 rounds. Regardless of the functionality you choose, you are getting one of the best pump action combat shotguns ever designed.

Mossberg-590a1 - Ammogunshop.com

Mossberg-590a1

It is specifically built for the dangers involved in military life, the Mossberg 590A1 is a solid combat shotgun. You can also mount a bayonet to it as well, in case that floats your boat. As a pump-action shotgun, it can handle everything from powerful magnum loads to the lightest reduced recoil ammunition, and even less-lethal ammo types.

2. The Remington 870 – Recommended Home Defense Shotgun

Combined with the classical Remington 870 platform, with a classic hardwood stock and pump design that has lasted the test of time. The Remington 870 gives you 6+1 capacity with an 18.5-inch barrel for maneuverability. You get a front rifle sight, so it is suggested to add a nice adjustable rear sight.

Remington 870 - Ammogunshop.com

Remington 870

The main difference from the Mossberg 500 above is that its safety is a button near the trigger.

The 870 design is so well known and so popular that there are tons of different accessories for it available.

This includes numerous different designs of sight saddles, lighting options, and even scope mounts for a red dot.

You can swap the barrel as well with any other 870 barrel without modification.

3. Benelli M4

Benelli M4 innovate and grow shotgun technology with every design.  What makes the M3 stand apart from other shotguns is its operating functionalities.

Benelli M4 shotgun - Ammogunshop

Benelli M4

The Benelli M4 can function as both a semi-auto shotgun and a pump-action shotgun with just a twist of a ring. It easily changes from semi-automatic to pump action to for handling lighter loads, or less-lethal ammunition.

The semi-auto mode reduces recoil and is known as one of the fastest cycling operations of any shotgun. As a Benelli you know it’s built to fight, and built tough enough to be a legacy weapon.

4. Hatsan Arms Escort Slugger

If you are looking for something that is affordable as well as super durable, then the Hatsan Escort series of shotguns may be for you.

Hatsan Arms Escort Slugger - Ammogunshop.com

Hatsan Arms Escort Slugger

The Escort Slugger has two types it is either a 7+1 capacity and comes with a 20-inch barrel or 5 + 1 with an 18-inch barrel.

The thing that is important to mention here is that the low price is not because the shotgun is poorly made.  In fact, the Escort has a chrome-lined barrel and components made of metal. It is designed with durability with simplicity in mind, the Escort Slugger is built to work harder for you. The blade front sight is fixed, and they are large and easy to find in low light. However, isn’t as silky as a fiber sight. The sling studs mounted provide solid attachment points for various slings and tethers. Moreover, a soft rubber buttpad absorbs recoil and improves shooting comfort.

The pump actually passes the receiver when used.  The shotgun is available in both Marine-grade finish and standard between $300 to $450 dollars.

5. Maverick 88

Maverick 88 is essentially a clone of the Mossberg 500. It is made by Mossberg and the primary difference is that its safety in front of the trigger.

Maverick 88 Shotgun - Ammogunshop.com

Maverick 88

Alone this fact cuts down the price and the 88 can be had for under $250 if you look around. However, because in the reality it is a 500, so it fits almost every kind of relevant upgrade. Also, the shotgun has a 7+1-round capacity featuring a bead sight and cylinder bore choke. Considered one of the best home defense shotguns as they are light weight and affordable.

6. Mossberg SPX 930

The Mossberg SPX 930 ($833) is the tactical derivative of the Mossberg 930 series.

The good thing about this Mossberg SPX 930 is that this shotgun is ready to rock and roll on the tactical shelf. Mossberg SPX 930 is also considered one of the most reliable semi-auto shotguns for home defense with affordable price.

Mossberg SPX 930 Shotgun - Ammogunshop.com

Mossberg SPX 930

Model 930 SPX is topped with an amazing set of sling swivels, sights, 7 +1 capacity, and a rail for adjusting an optic.

Mossberg products are well known for their quality firearms and backed by an excellent warranty.  The 930 SPX is built like a tank, as the semi-auto action reduces recoil to a pleasant thump.

Conclusion:

A tactical shotgun is a perfect weapon for home defense.

As the tactical shotguns give an absolute power a shoulder-fired weapon can have. On the other hand, if you go for the tactical shotguns, remember that like every weapon you need to train with it to be effective. A shotgun is only as good as the experienced shot gunner holding it.

.30-30 Winchester Vs. 30-06 Springfield – Cartridge Comparison

.30-30 Winchester Vs. 30-06 Springfield – Cartridge Comparison

 

There are an abundance of new cartridges on the market. It seems like every time we turn around, the market is flooded with some new “miracle” cartridge. Just in the .30 caliber realm we have .300 AAC Blackout (introduced in 2011), 7.62×40mm Wilson Tactical (also 2011), .30 Nosler (2016), and that’s just a few. While these newcomers are trying to prove their worth, plenty of hunters and target shooters choose to stick to the classics. Although the .30-30 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield have remained relatively unchanged for over a century, they remain two of the most popular cartridges available, especially among deer hunters.

There’s really nothing exciting about these two cartridges. You would think that since both are well past their 100th birthday, they’d be destined for the retirement home. However, these cartridges are still alive and kicking after all these years for two very good reasons – they are reliable and effective.

 

Let’s take a closer look at these two tried and true cartridges. By gaining a better understanding of the .30-30 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield, hunters and target shooters can better choose which cartridge is best suited for their individual needs.

 

A BRIEF LESSON IN AMMO HISTORY

The more you know about where you came from, the better you can appreciate where you are right now. This statement rings true for individuals, families, society…and ammunition. That is why we are going to start with a quick trip back to the origins of these two popular cartridges.

 

.30-30 WINCHESTER – A TRUE SPORTSMAN’S CARTRIDGE

Unlike many of America’s most popular cartridges, .30-30 Winchester does not have a military history. Instead, it was specifically developed for the civilian sportsman.

The .30-30 Winchester (you can just call it “thirty-thirty”) is one of America’s oldest hunting cartridges. Created by Winchester for use in its Model 1894 lever action rifle, it was the first cartridge to use smokeless powder. When the .30-30 made its catalog debut catalog in August 1895, it was listed as .30 Winchester Smokeless (the .30 referred to the diameter of the projectile). When rival gunmaker, Marlin picked up the cartridge, they dropped Winchester from the name (because rivalry) and added the -30, which represented the standard load of 30 grains of smokeless powder.

 

The first versions of the .30-30 cartridge were loaded with 160-grain bullets. Today, .30-30 cartridges are typically available with either 150-grain or the heavier 170-grain projectiles. However, some ammo brands (like Hornady LeverEvolution) are bringing back traditional 160-grain projectiles.

 

.30-06 SPRINGFIELD – STRAIGHT FROM THE BATTLEFIELD

Unlike the .30-30 with its strong sporting heritage, the .30-06 Springfield (better known as the “thirty aught six”) was built for war. It was released by Springfield Armory and the United States military in 1906 (that’s what the -06 stands for).

The .30-06 Springfield saw combat in several wars, including both World Wars, the Korean War, and Vietnam. For military purposes, the cartridge was perfect. The cartridge’s simple design allowed it to feed smoothly in both bolt actions and semi-automatics, and it delivered impressive ballistics (especially for the time period), consistent accuracy, and deadly terminal performance. Once soldiers returned home from military service, they again reached for the .30-06 Springfield. The qualities that made it an effective weapon on the battlefield, also made it a highly effective hunting cartridge. It was the obvious choice for big game hunting, especially since those former soldiers were already familiar and proficient with the .30-06.

 

Although the .30-06 has since been retired from military service, it has not lost popularity as a hunting cartridge. It has been used to bring down every species of North American game, as well as numerous species native to the African continent.

 

COMPARING THE .30-30 WINCHESTER AND .30-06 SPRINGFIELD

While both these .30 caliber cartridges remain top sellers in the ammo industry, there are some significant differences. Let’s see how they match up in some important categories.

PRICE

The price of ammunition is often a tricky subject. Some shooters place a high priority on affordability. Others don’t care what they spend, as long as they like the performance.

 

When comparing prices on these two popular cartridges, you should expect to spend a few more cents per round on .30-06 ammunition. For example, when comparing Remington Core-Lokt (a popular choice for deer hunting), .30-06 Springfield costs more than 15 cents per round more than .30-30 Winchester.

 

However, deer hunting doesn’t typically involve high-volume shooting, so the savings on .30-30 over .30-06 is minimal. If you plan to use your ammo for other applications (especially if you plan to hunt large game at longer distances), the extra cost of .30-06 cartridges is probably worth the investment.

 

RECOIL

Recoil can have a major effect on accuracy and performance, especially for younger and inexperienced shooters. When a shooter anticipates the force of recoil, he or she may flinch, sacrificing form and accuracy. Recoil can also affect the shooter’s ability to quickly realign with the target for rapid, accurate follow-up shots.

 

The .30-06 has a bit of a reputation for producing excessive recoil. For experienced shooters, this shouldn’t be a huge factor. However, the lighter recoil produced by the .30-30 Winchester makes it a great option for beginners or other recoil sensitive shooters.

 

VELOCITY

The velocity (or speed) of a bullet affects every aspect of performance, including trajectory, wind resistance, terminal energy transfer, and expansion. Generally speaking, the faster a bullet travels, the better it will perform.

 

Although there is some overlap in velocity between the two rounds, the .30-06 Springfield typically comes out on top in the speed category. The .30-30 Winchester clocks in at speeds between 2,200 to 2,700 feet per second. Meanwhile, the .30-06 Springfield zips along at speeds from about 2,500 to 3,000 feet per second.

 

ENERGY

The .30-06 comes out on top in the energy category, too. Since the laws of physics (and mathematics) dictate that an object moving at a faster speed carries more kinetic energy than an object of the same weight traveling at a slower speed, the faster velocities of the .30-06 are enough to produce more energy than the typical .30-30 cartridge.

 

While both cartridges produce enough energy for effective expansion and penetration on whitetails and other medium game, if you want to bring down something larger (like elk), the .30-06 is going to be the better option.

 

TRAJECTORY

When it comes to flat trajectories, the .30-06 wins hands down. Due to its faster velocities, the .30-06 Springfield maintains a flatter down range trajectory, especially for longer distances. When shooting at targets beyond 200 yards, the .30-06 has a clear advantage.

 

However, at the typical hunting distances of 100 yards or less, both cartridges deliver similar performance.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

When it comes to hunting, sometimes nostalgia is as important as performance. Both the .30-30 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield have been around for more than a century. Many hunters took their first deer with one of these two popular cartridges. For that reason alone, we should expect .30-30 and .30-06 to remain major players in deer hunting ammunition. However, both cartridges deliver proven accuracy and effectiveness on whitetails and other similarly sized game.

 

If you need a cartridge for hunting whitetail deer or larger animals at longer distances, the 30-06 Springfield should be your preferred option. However, the .30-30 Winchester has plenty of potential for deer hunters, especially for those new to the sport. Plus, you get to shoot a lever action rifle, which is pretty cool in its own right.

CHOOSING A HUNTING RIFLE

The quality of your hunting rifle has a major impact on your hunting success. However, it can be difficult to know what to look for. You might even feel intimidated by the rows of rifles behind the counter of your local sporting goods store. Modern advancements in firearms have left shooters with seemingly endless options for hunting. While options are a good thing, having so many choices of manufacturers, models, calibers, and accessories can can leave you confounded about where to start.

 

This guide is designed to help you break down the fundamental elements of a hunting rifle. Explaining all your options here isn’t practical, so consider this a starting point. Use this information to kick-start the process of finding the best rifle for your hunting needs.

 

IS IT LEGAL?

Before you invest hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a new hunting rifle, you should check the hunting regulations for the area you plan to hunt. Many jurisdictions have limitations on what types of firearms can be used to hunt specific game animals. For example, some areas restrict using rifles for deer hunting. Certain states may also have legal limitations on caliber and cartridges used for certain game.

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT CALIBER

Deciding on the caliber of your hunting rifle may be the most important decision in the buying process.

 

As a basic rule, you’ll need a smaller caliber for hunting small game and varmints. You should move up the scale, increasing size and power in proportion to the size of the animals you hunt. You obviously wouldn’t use the same caliber rifle to hunt squirrels as you would moose. Choose something too small for a massive bull elk, and he’ll think he’s been bitten by a mosquito. (There are exceptions. A well-placed, lucky shot always has the potential to bring down large animals.) However, shooting an eastern gray squirrel with a .30-06 will reduce your squirrel to nothing but a puff of fur.

For general reference, a small-bore .22 caliber rifle is perfect for rabbits, squirrels and varmints. Larger animals like deer and elk require something larger and more powerful. Popular choices are the .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield.

 

CONSIDER DISTANCE AND HABITAT

The type of hunting rifle you need will largely depend on the distance you’ll be targeting game. If you’ll be hunting thick woods, you’ll need a short-barreled rifle for maneuverability. You should also look for a rifle with a little more punch to effectively bust through brush.

 

However, if most of your shots will be long distances across open cropland or prairie grass, a long-barreled, flat-shooting rifle with a powerful scope is more appropriate.

LET’S TALK ABOUT ACTION

When we’re talking about rifles, the “action” refers to the mechanism that loads, locks, fires, extracts, and ejects the cartridge. It is literally where all the action happens. The most common actions found in hunting rifles are bolt-action, pump-action, lever-action, semi-automatic and single-shot.

 

The “best” action for a hunting rifle depends on your hunting style and is largely a matter of preference.

 

A semi-automatic allows for quick followup shots and can helpful when hunting moving game. They do require regular cleaning to prevent ammunition jams.

 

Bolt action rifles are the sniper rifles of the hunting world. Generally considered more accurate (especially for long-range shooting), a bolt action rifle is your best friend when hunting slow-moving or still game across open areas.

 

Pump actions (also called slide actions), lever actions, and single shots all have their own loyal fan base. Reliable and simple to operate, these traditional rifles helped tame the Western frontier and are still relevant for hunting modern game.

 

A LOOK AT STYLE AND MATERIALS

A traditional hunter may criticize any rifle that doesn’t have a blued barrel and a high-gloss cedar-stained wood stock. Although this might be the only options our grandfathers had, modern hunters have far more to choose from.

 

A synthetic stock is typically more lightweight and will resist denting and cracking better than traditional wood. If you like the look of traditional wood, there are synthetic stocks that feature a classic wood grain pattern.

 

When it comes to barrels, many hunters appreciate stainless steel over time-honored bluing. Stainless steel will shed rain, snow, and sleet with ease and requires less maintenance than a traditional barrel.

 

Modern sporting rifles like the AR-15 and other variants are also gaining popularity for hunting. Although they don’t fit the stereotypical image of a “hunting rifle,” they are effective, tough, and easy to shoot. You can find an AR platform chambered for anything from .22 Long Rifle to the .50 Beowulf. Despite the bad rap they often get from the media, these modern rifles are great for hunting a variety of game.

 

KEEPING IT IN YOUR BUDGET

There are hunting rifles available at every price point. From super simple to extravagant, hunting rifles run the gamut from cheap to ultra expensive.

 

This vast range in price means you should be able to find something that fits your budget. However, you need to know how to distinguish affordable quality from cheap garbage. One easy way to find good value is to purchase a rifle manufactured by a reputable company. Names like Winchester, Remington, Savage, and Mossberg have been trusted by generations of hunters. Rifles bearing these names command respect, because the companies that make them have earned it.

 

Don’t forget to budget for optics. Although you may think you can get by without it, a quality scope improves almost every hunting situation from squirrels to grizzlies. You don’t want to spend your entire budget on the firearm only to end up with an ineffective weapon due to low quality optics. You should expect to spend at least half as much (maybe even just as much) on your scope as you spend on the rifle. Be sure to budget accordingly.

 

PLANNING FOR SUCCESS

No matter how much you spend or how fancy your rifle, there is no substitute for practice. Accuracy is ultimately your best weapon. A bullet that accurately hits vital organs will be more effective than a bullet that misses, even if that bullet is fired by the best rifle money can buy.

 

Before you hit the woods with your new weapon, be sure to send enough lead downrange. Practice is the only way to develop proficiency and accuracy. As hunters, we have a moral obligation to make our kills quick and humane. The best way to do this is to put in practice in the off-season, so we can make an accurate shot when the opportunity presents itself.

WHAT IS THE BEST RIFLE CALIBER FOR DEER HUNTING?

Each year, over 8 million hunters across the United States hit the woods in pursuit of whitetail deer.

 

The most popular North American game animal, whitetails vary significantly in size across an extensive geographic range. They roam a number of habitats, ranging from thick forested swamps in the Southeast to open cropland in the American Midwest. Because whitetails are so diverse, it is impossible to choose a single best rifle caliber for deer hunting. However, this diversity doesn’t keep hunters from arguing the point.

 

Heated debates over the best cartridges and caliber have been taking place around campfires and skinning sheds for generations. Some hunters take criticism of their favorite firearms personally. Surely more than a few fists have been thrown and grudges held over differing opinions between hunting buddies.

 

Listing the “best” calibers or for deer hunting is sure to evoke strong feelings. The purpose of this article isn’t to insult anyone’s favorite firearm. Hunters use an array of effective rifles to fill their tags each fall. However, space is limited, so please don’t consider it a personal insult if your favorite weapon doesn’t make the list.

 

A NOTE ABOUT “CALIBER” AND “CARTRIDGE”

Caliber is literally the diameter of a projectile, while a cartridge is the whole shebang – projectile, casing, powder, and primer. Like most things in the shooting world, there are no hard and fast rules for language use. Some hunters use the terms interchangeably, at least under certain circumstances.

 

I understand .30-30 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .308 Winchester are “cartridges” that all contain the same “caliber” bullet (.308 inches in diameter to be precise). However, these cartridges have vastly different performance characteristics. For simplicity, I have chosen to use the terms cartridge and caliber somewhat interchangeably, despite the technical difference in definition.

THE TOP CARTRIDGES FOR HUNTING WHITETAILS

There are about as many opinions on deer hunting as there are deer hunters. I am just one hunter among millions, and I am not solely responsible for developing this list. After doing some serious industry research (including some impromptu polling of my personal hunting buddies), these are the top contenders for the best rifle calibers for whitetail deer.

 

.30-30 WINCHESTER

I killed my first deer with a Winchester Model 1894. That lever action relic, chambered in .30-30, was a hand-me-down from my grandfather. I still hunt with it regularly, and have used it to fill plenty of tags.

Generations of hunters have taken deer with a .30-30. For many, this cartridge evokes memories of their first hunts. Even without the nostalgia, the .30-30 remains an excellent choice for whitetails and is still used by plenty of experienced hunters.

 

The Winchester .30-30 was first marketed in 1895. Despite major modern advances in firearms and ammunition technology, the .30-30 cartridge routinely ranks as a top ten bestseller for many major manufacturers. It seems like this antiquated cartridge should have long since fallen from favor. Modern technology has taken ammo to new heights, and the .30-30 doesn’t produce impressive velocities, doesn’t carry a huge payload, and has a limited effective range (about 200 yards).

 

So, why is this blast from the past still relevant to the modern deer hunter?

 

One simple reason: it works!

 

.30-30 cartridges topped with soft points perform well, the recoil is gentle enough for young shooters, and 150-170 grain bullets produce enough penetration to reach vital organs. If you’re hunting the open plains of America’s Heartland or vast Southern bean fields, the .30-30 Winchester isn’t the best choice to reach out and touch a distant buck. However, if you regularly hunt the hardwood forests of the Eastern Blueridge or Northeast Adirondacks, there’s no reason not to take a .30-30.

Shop .30-30 Rifles

 

.30-06 SPRINGFIELD

The .30-06 (pronounced “thirty aught six”) Springfield is hands down one of the best deer hunting calibers in existence. Adopted by the United States Army in 1906, the .30-06 may be the most popular big-game cartridge in North America, and a top contender worldwide.

 

Although this cartridge was introduced when the horse and buggy was the main form of transportation, modern powders and innovative bullet designs have made the .30-06 even more effective today than it was in the past. 30-06 ammunition is readily available and surprisingly affordable. Nearly every popular rifle maker offers a model chambered in .30-06.

 

Rifles chambered in .30-06 deliver relatively flat trajectories, respectable accuracy, and manageable recoil. They also have an impressive effective range (out to 1000 yards by some accounts, although a shot at that range would require an awful lot of luck and a healthy amount of skill). The .30-06 Springfield also packs a pretty powerful punch, making it perfect for hunters who want to use a single rifle for whitetails and larger species like mule deer and elk.

Shop .30-06 Rifles

 

.308 WINCHESTER

The .308 Winchester is another popular deer hunting caliber, and for good reason. Basically the civilian version of the military 7.62×51mm NATO, the .308 is a short-action cartridge that produces marvelous ballistics.

 

Available in a variety of factory loads, .308 Winchester is only slightly less powerful than the .30-06, yet still delivers plenty of deer-dropping power. The recoil on the average .308 is more manageable than a standard .30-06, and in the right hands, the .308 Winchester is deadly accurate. Add it all up and the .308 is a dream to hunt with, whether in open terrain or wooded habitats.

Shop .308 Rifles

 

7MM REMINGTON MAGNUM

One of the best calibers available for long-range deer hunting, the 7mm Remington Magnum produces blistering muzzle velocities. When paired with modern bullet designs with high ballistic coefficients, the 7mm Rem Mag produces a radically flat trajectory. While most deer hunters don’t need extreme long-range effectiveness, those who want to stretch their shots beyond 250 yards will appreciate this level of performance.

 

Despite the speed and power produced by the 7mm Rem Mag, it produces significantly less recoil than many comparable cartridges (like the 7mm Weatherby Magnum or the .300 Winchester Magnum). Perfect for long-range hunting, the 7mm Rem Mag is a smart choice for taking game across wide open farmland or waves of prairie grass.

Shop 7mm Rem Mag Rifles

 

.45-70 GOVERNMENT

Although many deer hunters criticize the .45-70 Government as “too much gun” for deer hunting, these rifles make great brush guns, cutting through thick woods without major bullet deflection. Great for close range deer hunting, the .45-70 Government produces manageable recoil. As a bonus, you can also use the .45-70 for larger game, including elk, bear, and moose.

 

While the .45-70 does deliver serious bone-smashing power, it does so with a heavy bullet traveling at a relatively modest velocity. So while this caliber hits hard, it will drop deer without significant meat damage. If your main aim is to stock the freezer, the .45-70 Government is just the tool for the job.

Shop .45-70 Gov’t Rifles

 

.243 WINCHESTER

Developed by necking down the .308 Winchester cartridge to shoot a smaller projectile, the .243 Winchester is a great entry-level rifle perfect for youth, women, and other recoil sensitive shooters. This little cartridge has earned a reputation for being accurate, flat shooting, and highly effective on whitetails. The .243 is also a highly versatile cartridge, with plentiful options available for mule deer, pronghorn, black bear, wild hogs, and even long-range varmints.

Shop .243 Rifles

 

.270 WINCHESTER

Introduced in 1923 by Winchester Repeating Arms Company, the .270 Winchester cartridge was  derived from the .30-06 Springfield. The case of the .270 is slightly longer due to the necking down process. However, these cartridges shoot smaller projectiles at a higher velocity with a flatter trajectory and less recoil than the .30-06.

 

While these little gems aren’t capable of carrying as much downrange energy as the .30-06, they are  powerful enough (with the right ammo and a well-placed shot) to drop whitetails well beyond 300 yards.

Shop .270 Rifles

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Keep in mind; there are plenty of calibers to choose from for productive deer hunting. While I took the research for this list very seriously, the final choices were not based on ballistic measurements taken in cold laboratory settings. Instead, this list was compiled using history, real world observations, and the experience of successful hunters.

 

However, no two hunters are exactly alike. The real test for finding the best caliber for deer hunting, is being able to handle that firearm with skill and proficiency. Ultimately, a successful hunt depends more on a well-placed shot than the rifle that fired it.