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5 Best Rifle Cartridges for Whitetail Deer

Consider for a moment the fact that, in 1914, James Jordan killed his 208-inch, number-two all-time common whitetail using a Winchester 1892 rifle, chambered in .25–20 WCF. Delivering only 550 ft.-lb. of power at the muzzle, the anemic .25–20 is far from best by present-day standards and it is, the truth is, now unlawful for deer hunting in Wisconsin, where by the Jordan Buck fell. Modern-day hunters take pleasure in vastly excellent cartridge possibilities, and it is the responsibility of moral hunters to work with those that dispatch deer quickly. Distance, bullet building, shot angle, and the size of the animal all come into enjoy when narrowing down the sphere of contenders. Just after getting additional than 100 whitetails in dozens of states, I'm confident which the eleven cartridges ranked under are classified as the best at getting the occupation finished.

1. .30–30 Winchester (Hornady Leverevolution)

Ideal bullet weight Muzzle velocity Muzzle energy

140 gr. 2,465 fps 1,943 ft/lb.

This 140-grain bullet travels only at 2,465 fps and produces about one,943 ft.-lb. of power with the muzzle, and 1,501 ft.-lb. at one hundred yards, but few deer live to complain about those numbers if shots are kept within reasonable ranges. In 1895, when this .30-caliber cartridge was introduced, it was the first round specifically designed round for smokeless powder—thirty grains to be exact—and it has been filling freezers ever since. The Winchester or Marlin lever-action .30–30 is perhaps the quintessential rifle and caliber for deep-woods deer hunting, in which the brush is thick and bucks are rarely taken farther away than a frisbee toss. Recently, fashionable ammo like Hornady's Leve­revolution has breathed new ballistic life into this old favorite. If kept at ranges within 150 yards, a .30–30 will get the job performed every time.

2. .270 Winchester (Winchester Deer Season)

Ideal bullet weight Muzzle velocity Muzzle energy

130 gr. 3,060 fps 2,315 ft/lb.

The reality is that any factory-loaded .270 Winchester round will drop a deer faster than you can yell, Big buck down! Since its 130-grain bullet travels north of 3,060 fps to produce 2,702 ft.-lb. of electricity, many hunters use it for elk and mule deer, so it can certainly handle 150-pound whitetails, too. The venerable round is ranked 8th here only because other calibers with ample energy for deer have shorter cases, making them better suited for smaller, lighter rifles than many of those chambered in .270. That said, if you needed a powerful deer rifle that can make almost any shot, regardless of length or angle, the .270 is a great choice.

3. .257 Weatherby Magnum (Weatherby Select Plus)

Ideal bullet weight Muzzle velocity Muzzle energy

100 gr. 3,500 fps 2,721 ft/lb.

Roy Weatherby's dar­ling, the .257, is one in the most powerful commercially available .twenty five calibers and kills deer like a death ray. I once shot a Coues deer in Mexico at 50 yards with this hyper-velocity cartridge; no tracking was necessary. Trouble was, at that distance, few 100-grain, copper-jacketed bullets stay intact when they hit shoulder bone at 3,500 fps for 2,721 ft.-lb. electrical power. Fortunately, now hunters can choose a tough bullet, such as the Barnes TSX or Hornady GMX, that forgo such failures. I love the .257 Weatherby, despite its sharp recoil to get a quarter-bore, and if it weren't for the actual fact that only a few rifles are chambered for it and ammo tends to be pricey, it might top this list.

4. .25–06 Remington (Federal Premium Vital-Shok)

Ideal bullet weight Muzzle velocity Muzzle energy

115 gr. 3,220 fps 2,302 ft/lb.

The .25–06 Remington was introduced in 1969 for a deer-sized game and has a .30–06 case necked down to .257 caliber. With Federal Premium ammunition, it delivers a 115-grain Nosler Partition bullet around 3,220 fps, producing nearly 2,302 ft.-lb. of electricity, and it is a solid long-range option that's easy on the shoulder. It really is no surprise that this standard-length .25–06 cartridge remains a popular choice in open-country states, such as Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

5. 7×57mm Mauser (PPU)

Ideal bullet weight Muzzle velocity Muzzle energy

139 gr. 2,660 fps 2,184 ft/lb.

Concocted in 1892 by Paul Mauser, this 7mm/.284-diameter round, that has a 57mm-long case, fires a 139-grain bullet at 2,650 fps, generating 2,200 ft.-lb. of energy, which is extra than adequate to tag any buck on this planet. As proof, William Bell used the round—albeit called the .275 Rigby when chambered in his Rigby rifle—to fell additional than 800 African elephants with precise headshots click here for more. This Spanish military cartridge truly has it all: ample vitality, relatively light recoil, high sectional density, great ballistic properties in its long-for-caliber bullets, and a rich history to boot. Frankly, if more American rifles were chambered for it, it would likely be as hugely popular stateside as it is in Europe. But many domestic ammo makers decided to make their own 7mm, short-action rounds—all copies on the 7×57 Mauser—and so it remains a cult favorite among American riflemen in the know.