Best Deer Cartridges: Our Top Picks

Always a hot topic! What are the BEST deer cartridges out there?

Josh Kinser, Marketing Director at Big & J and Swagger Bipods sits down with Brian McCombie, Outdoor Writer and Field Editor for American Hunter Magazine, to debate their top picks for best deer rounds. If you stick around for the end, you’ll also get their pick for WORST deer round.

Related Videos: At The Ranch – Whitetail: Deer Vision 101

Best Deer Cartridges – Josh’s Picks:

3. .308 – Various grain choices, & readily available. A lot of stopping power.
2. .25-06 – Kick is minimal. “Killability”. Flat shooting round.
1. 6.5 Creedmoor – Readily available, many loads to choose from. Confident round, “killability”.

Related Videos: In The Hunt – Whitetail Hunt Prep

best deer cartridges

Best Deer Cartridges – Brian’s Picks:

3. .243 Winchester – Powerful, minimal recoil, accurate and plenty of ammo options. Has used on various game from Whitetail to hogs with majority one-shot kills.
2. .308 – Very versatile round for many species. Decent recoil.
1. 6.5 Creedmoor – Lives up to the hype! Flat shooter. Very versatile, dependable at long range.

best deer cartridges

What’s the LEAST favored deer round? Watch to the end to find out!

What do you think are the best deer cartridges? Comment below!

best deer cartridges

Subscriber Comments

Comment by:

Enjoyed the video interesting and informative. I grew up hunting in south Texas mainly close in brush country shots or longer range senderos. I also hunted up and down the west coast during my military career and experienced longer shots. My three choice are 3. 30-30 2. .270 1. 30-06. Im old school and grew reading Jack O'Connor. I believe .308 is a good choice but has its limitations compared to .270 and 30-06. Shot placement and experience as a rifleman is always an important element in a successful deer hunt.

Comment by:

I hunt in Vermont I have hunted all my life here and more dear have been killed in Vermont with the very reliable but short range 30/30 win. than with any other caliber. Now I have shot deer with a 270 wsm and sold that rifle before the next season , yes it dropped the deer where he stood but it destroyed so much meat in process and recoil was pretty heavy. My go to deer rifle is a .257 Ackley Improved the draw back is the lack of commercially produced ammo, I hand load and my round of choice is 100gr Nosler Ballistic tip traveling at 3400 fps , it is my one shot one kill rifle. I have just moved into the MSR world with my caliber of choice the 6.5 Grendel for its ballistics are slightly better than the Creedmoor.

Comment by:

7MM-08 is better all around than 6.5 creedmore ....but 6.5 wins because that’s what gun / Ammo company are pushing....7-08 Ammo is readily available most places....not much a 139gr GMX cannot take down

Comment by:

The 7mm-08 is a fine deer cartridge! Low recoil, flat-shooting, accurate. The three picked by the experts are popular, but none of them have both the ballistics and power of the 7mm 08. I shot the 7mm mag for years, but the recoil finally convinced me to go to the 08. Should have done it sooner!

Comment by:

Everyone can afford as many rifles as they want. Economic rifles are damn accurate. The thing is is how important is shooting and hunting to you. A 30-06 and a 7mm Mag.Are both acceptable all around rifles . I have one in each caliber, However they are NOT the most ideal for anything. The Great 30-06 is capable of taking most game In North America, however I’ve had elk wander away after a solid heart lung his and go down into the dark deep puckerbrush then die. The 7mm recoils to hard and damageS a lot of meat on deer and antelope sixes game. Both are really way too much for varmints. Neither is a good choose for big bears. Matching a rifle and a caliber to your specific hunt is always best. If hunting is just a secondary thing you do, yes buy a single rifle in 30-06 a 308, a 270, 280 or a 7mm mag.

Comment by:

As a hunter in the eastern half of America, the need for long range is low. For woods hunting, Marlin lever action in 35 Remington, absolute hammer on deer to 200 yards with Hornady Leverevolution ammo, and black bear with Remington Corelok, handy rifle, light recoil. Second, bolt action in 7-08 w/20 inch barrel; handy, light recoil, ability to take anything up to and including elk. If I lived out west, or in big bear territory, there is not much that cannot be taken with a 30-06. 70 now, veteran, some experience.

Comment by:

I agree with the 308 but I disagree with the 6.5 creedmore, I shoot a 150 gr 7 mm mag and in my opinion I have better accuracy with that than any other rifle I have shot.

Comment by:

How about suggestions for those of us who must use a straight walled cartridge?

Comment by:

If everyone could afford to have a nice new accurate hunting rifle for EVERY species they hunt then yeah you guys may be right. Unfortunately the real working person could be able to only afford one rifle for serious hunting. Myself, I use a Ruger m77 in 7mm magnum because I wanted a rifle that was easy to find ammo for, was flat shooting for long range AND would tackle close range. I can hunt hogs, whitetail, elk and moose all with ONE rifle. I think that's a good conversation to have is what are good rounds for overall hunting. Just my 2 cents from real America where we cant all go buy 5 rifles in different calibers unless we buy cheap ones that cant shoot MOA consistently

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