Boddington's Top 10 Picks for Big Game Bullets

Boddington's Top 10 Picks for Big Game Bullets

Campfire cartridge controversy is lots of fun, and we all have our favorites, but there are lots of popular calibers that are actually pretty darned close in diameter. It's a very subtle progression as you go from, say, .257 to .264 or from .277 to .284. How many of us can tell at a glance a bullet that is just .007 inch fatter than another? (Wait, let me get my glasses on!)

With diameters so similar, there are a lot of calibers- and cartridges within the calibers- that are virtually identical in effect on game. Most of our campfire arguments are based largely on personal preference (based on limited personal experience) and, from a purely objective viewpoint, are pretty thin. But there is one irrefutable concept: Regardless of the caliber or the cartridge, it's always the bullet that does the work.

I've hunted with virtually all of the popular bullet diameters, generally multiple cartridges in each. My word isn't law on the subject, but my purpose here is to offer my preferred big game bullet weights in the popular hunting calibers.

8mm/.325

Pretty simple: 180-grainers for the 8x57, 200 for the .325 WSM and 220 for the 8mm Rem. Mag.

.35

While originally a 250-grain man, Craig has recently been shooting 200- to 225-grain bullets in the .35 Whelen and similar cartridges.

.224

If you must. Where it's legal to hunt deer-size game with .22 centerfires, go with bullets of 60 grains and up. Just be sure they're specifically designed for big game.

6mm/.243

A more sensible choice for deer-size game. Use bullets of 95 grains and up and, again, be sure they're specifically designed for big game.

.257

While he doesn't like the low BCs of this caliber, Craig admits bullets in the 115- to 120-grain range are good choices for deer-size game.

6.5mm/.264

You can't go wrong with 140-grain bullets in this caliber, although for deer-size game in open country, 120 to 130 grains works fine.

.277

Take your pick: 130, 140 or 150 grains. Base your choice on whether you're looking for speed (130), penetration (150) or a little bit of both (140).

7mm/.284

Can't go wrong with 140- to 165-grain bullets. The 7mm-08 and 7x57 are best served with bullets on the low end of that weight range, the 7mm Rem. Mag. on the high end and the .280 in the middle.

.308

In .30-06-class cartridges, 150s for deer-size game, 165s as a compromise while the 180 remains a top choice for heavier game. In the fast magnums, Craig's choices are 150s for deer, sheep and goats, and 180s for everything else.

.338

Milder rounds such as .338 Federal and .338-06 are good with 200-grain bullets. The .338 Win. Mag. may be the ultimate elk round with 225s, while 250s are good for the fastest .33s — if you can handle the recoil.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Revew

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Revew

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Revew

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

SIG SAUER adds to its Elite Match ammo line with the 30-06 Springfield. Ammo

New 30-06 Springfield Elite Match Ammo from SIG SAUER

Rifleshooter Online Editors - April 03, 2019

SIG SAUER adds to its Elite Match ammo line with the 30-06 Springfield.

For decades, things were quiet on the .22 centerfire front. Starting in 2017, shooters were offered not one but two hot new centerfire .22 cartridges. First out of the gate was the .22 Nosler, followed by the Federal .224 Valkrie. Ammo

.22 Nosler vs .224 Valkyrie

Brad Fitzpatrick - May 02, 2019

For decades, things were quiet on the .22 centerfire front. Starting in 2017, shooters were...

Want to get into the long-range game and not go broke? Check out the Mossberg MVP Precision Rifle. Reviews

Mossberg MVP Precision Rifle Review

J. Scott Rupp - March 21, 2019

Want to get into the long-range game and not go broke? Check out the Mossberg MVP Precision...

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17 Ackley Hornet, .17 Hornady Hornet, .17 Mach IV, .17 Remington Fireball and .17 Remington. Reloading

.17-Caliber Reloading Data and History for 5 Cartridges

Layne Simpson - June 05, 2019

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17...

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

The well-known bullet maker, Berger Bullets, is now loading some terrific deer ammunition. Ammo

Berger Bullets Classic Hunter Ammo

J. Scott Rupp - December 13, 2019

The well-known bullet maker, Berger Bullets, is now loading some terrific deer ammunition.

The RifleShooter staff put together their gift guide for the upcoming holiday season, with products from SIG, Browning, Leupold and many more. Accessories

RifleShooter Holiday Gift Guide (2019)

J. Scott Rupp

The RifleShooter staff put together their gift guide for the upcoming holiday season, with...

The new Hornady .300 PRC competes in a very crowded field, but this dark horse has the legs to go the distance. Ammo

Hornady .300 PRC Review

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 25, 2019

The new Hornady .300 PRC competes in a very crowded field, but this dark horse has the legs to...

Listed by caliber, here's a look at what big game rifle cartridges are trending upward, and which are not. Ammo

Top Big Game Rifle Cartridges by Caliber

J. Scott Rupp - July 07, 2020

Listed by caliber, here's a look at what big game rifle cartridges are trending upward, and...

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Rifle Shooter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now