It is often a point of discussion between hunters about what is the right hunting caliber to choose. This Hunting With The Right Caliber Guide And Infographic will help you in making that selection.
Caliber Simple Definition
When referring to a guns caliber this is simply a reference to the internal diameter of a gun's barrel. This in turn represents the diameter of the bullet it shoots.
Calibers are measured in both inches and millimeters right down to the hundreds or even thousands of these measurements.
So, for example, .22 caliber small bore rifle fires a bullet diameter of 0.22 inches.
They are few factor factors to consider when selecting the right sized caliber to shoot with. The two key decisions in choosing the right bullet caliber for hunting are:-
1. Your quarry.
2. Your abilities.
The first question to answer is “What Game Or Animal Am I Hunting?"
This should be the main factor to consider when selecting your firearm and hunting bullet caliber. If your caliber is not large enough you will only injure an animal when shot. This does not achieve the number one hunting goal of making quick clean kill every time you fire.
See these shot selection articles for further information on the best shot placement.
If you use too large a caliber when hunting you will end up destroying the meat and skin of your animal. Using a 375 H&H Magnum caliber rifle on a squirrel is not going to leave much squirrel at all!
The second important factor to consider when choosing your hunting caliber is "What are you comfortable shooting with?"
Specifically "How much recoil are you comfortable with or physically capable of handling?"
If you are new to shooting firearms you definitely do not want to start with a large caliber hunting rifle with significant recoil.
That would be a very quick way to develop the dreaded shooters flinch. (Shooters flinch is when you flinch before squeezing the trigger in expectation of the recoil to come).
This will result in many missed shots. So if you're early in your hunting and shooting journey then starting will a small sized hunting caliber is a much smarter strategy to follow.
A final decision to make after selecting your hunting caliber is what weight of bullet do you choose. You can use different weight bullets (measured in grains) for each firearm caliber. For example, a 30-06 Springfield caliber bullet can come in 150 grains, (perfect for hogs or goats), through to 200 grains suitable for elk or large deer. Put in simple terms the heavier the bullet the more hitting power it will deliver. This will also mean there is plenty of room for a certain hunting caliber to be used on different sized game.
Small caliber rifles are generally easier to hunt with because they do not produce large amounts of recoil when fired. Small calibers are a perfect choice for hunting game such as rabbits, squirrels, raccoons prairie dogs and even foxes.
The .22 rimfire is a perfect small game hunting caliber that shoots accurately out to 100 yards.
Moving up the scale when hunting larger game such as coyotes, goats and even small boars, hunting calibers such as the .22-250 and .243 do the job perfectly.
These calibers are still classed as low recoil calibers but will shoot out to 200 yards without losing killing power or accuracy.
As you begin to hunt larger game such as deer, black bear, large hogs and smaller elk then the .30 size cartridge is required to drop an animal humanely of this size.
Animals of this size have a thicker skin that needs to be penetrated by your hunting cartridge. To hit the vitals your bullet will also need to travel through more flesh and even bone compared to when you are hunting small game.
The 30-06 Springfield is regarded by many as the best all-round hunting rifle caliber and I must admit my Sako 30-06 is my favorite rifle. It is a very popular deer hunting caliber for good reason. It does the job perfectly.
There is more recoil to content with when using these sized hunting calibers. Plenty of range practice is required to be comfortable when firing.
These larger hunting calibers work well on the previous sized game mentioned above, as well as the on to larger game such as moose, large elk, brown bears, and most African plains game animals.
I suggest you need to have some decent shooting experience before hunting with these larger calibers. The 375 H&H Magnum is an extremely popular hunting caliber for large and dangerous game. If you have ever hunted in Africa you will very likely see this caliber being used by the professional hunting guides.
A bigger bullet does not make up for poor shot placement:- Hunterabout.com
At the very large end are the .416 Rigby, .444 Marlin, and .500 Nitro hunting calibers.
These larger calibers need experienced shooting abilities before being aimed at an animal as they pack a huge punch. They are generally found when hunting dangerous and very heavy game in Africa such as cape buffalo, elephants and lion. They are also popular when hunting polar and grizzly bears.
The 400 plus grains of the bullet weight will penetrate the thick hides of these animals. It will also provide some protection against defection if your bullet encounters leaves or small sticks during its flight path.
So as you can see there are a few key, but simple factors to consider when choosing the right bullet caliber for hunting. First and foremost is the intended animal you are hunting. Secondly, being aware of your shooting abilities. Finally selecting the right weighted bullet to match your intended target.
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