Whitetail and Plains Game
There are many social media groups and forums you can get on these days and start a wildfire of debate on what the “best” caliber is for hunting certain species. When the bullets get to be real is when the debate on the best “all around caliber” for all species gets started. Obviously, there are many opinions on this issue especially when talking about plains game and whitetail.
In my previous career before working in the outdoor media industry full time, my former manager Mark Hamilton made a trip of a lifetime back in the summer of 2015 to hunt in Africa and took every single one of his plains game species with a rifle chambered in .270 Winchester and, in his opinion, it was a more than capable rifle for African hunting adventures.
From my experience, and I come from the background of hunting with a wide array of calibers, for various big game species, I personally think it is hard to beat the .270 Winchester. One could argue the .25-06 Remington (my Dad’s favorite all around caliber) would be a rival to this as it is a flatter shooting round but, in any case, credence in an all-around caliber suited for plains game in Africa to whitetail deer in Texas and beyond should have a good mix of knock down power and flat shooting trajectory.
Now keep in mind that I am an “old school” rifleman for my age of nearly 40 years old. Sure the 6.5 Creedmoor is one of the newest hottest calibers of present day, but it is hard to argue with the sustainability of a .270 Winchester on just about anything that walks in North American and many critters beyond that reach on the dark continent or other hunting realms. Now if you want to step in up a notch, there is always they 7mm Remington Magnum cartridge for really reaching out there with a flat trajectory, but most will agree that this caliber is a bit of overkill in many areas of Texas and in the bush of Africa unless you are making super long shots.
That all being said, there are numerous other calibers than can be used here in North America and beyond without stretching the limits too far. I am a fan of the .308 Winchester, the venerable 30-06 Springfield and other cartridges in this power range for hunting duty here and abroad. Now of course you could crank up to a .338 Winchester Magnum for the bigger game species or a 6.5-284 Norma, which is similar to a 6.5 Creedmoor in some ways, but at some point we’re just splitting hairs. In this article, I just wanted to talk about the best all around “common” calibers of yesterday and today.
Norma makes great ammunition in countless calibers and our team here at Texas Fish & Game has had experience with the Norma TIPSTRIKE and Norma Oryx lines of ammo. These rounds are built for fast, reliable kills when the moment of truth comes. These are both premium ammunition lines built to serve the hardcore sportsman and Norma plays the game to win on their ammo’s performance.
Whichever caliber you choose consider a heavier grain bullet in your caliber selection as this is a key point to making sure your ammo gets the job done well. Also, I want to remind us all that you must shoot to kill and by that I mean: practice with the ammo at the range you plan to take on your hunt. Different brands and different grain weights tend to have a different point of impact in most guns. Take care, have fun, stay safe and shoot straight.
Dustin Vaughn Warncke