Your cartridge choice is important, and it’s worth taking the time to research. Here are the three calibers that come out on top every time in our search for the best long-range hunting caliber.
No, we couldn’t narrow it down to just one simple answer (nobody can hope to bring a full stop to the battle between the mightiest rifle calibers). However, you really can’t go wrong with any of these options.
.338 Lapua Magnum
Sometimes considered “the ultimate sniper bullet,” there’s nothing to write about the legendary .338 Lapua that hasn’t been discussed at length already. That said, it truly is a badass cartridge. Developed for military snipers in the 1980s, it’s now beloved by hunters for its uncompromising dependability and accuracy in windy conditions. As a general rule, this cartridge will outperform the .50 BMG, .416 Barrett, and the .408 Chey Tac. The 300 grain Berger Elite Hunter bullet has a ballistic coefficient of 0.818, a muzzle velocity of 2,700 fps, and an 800 yard wind drift of a scant 3.4.
.375 Holland & Holland Magnum
The .375 H&H has been responsible for the harvest of thousands of trophy animals at home and abroad. With its century-old legacy since its introduction in 1912, it sets the standard for long range hunting calibers. It might be useful to know that the .375 H&H is often considered the minimum ethical caliber for hunting the African Big Five, but many professional hunters will keep something bigger on hand for backup when hunting dangerous game.
Don’t go thinking you have to limit yourself to African big game with the .375 H&H, though. This caliber is great precisely because you can also use it to hunt small species of antelope without doing much damage to the hide, provided you use a non-expanding bullet. For the record, respected sportsman Keith Warren has named the .375 H&H as his favorite long-range hunting cartridge.
.300 Winchester Magnum
The most versatile option on our list, the .300 Winchester Magnum uses the same bullet as the familiar 30.06 and is sold in a wide variety of loads ranging from 150 to 200 grains. It’s actually based on the .375 H&H, made smaller and squatter by Winchester Repeating Arms in 1963. We prefer it to other .30 caliber “magnum” rounds such as the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum and the .300 Weatherby Magnum for its lighter recoil and compatibility with shorter rifle actions.
Heavily favored by law enforcement for long-range power, this caliber will give you great precision and consistency with your shots. The 150-grain Winchester bullet is capable of over 3,200 fps, which really helps explain its popularity.