Don’t Think So, Simon

According to this guy, the only three chamberings one needs to hunt everything in the U.S.A. are the following:

  • 6.5 Creedmoor
  • 12ga
  • .338 Win Mag

To paraphrase Sheriff Margie in Fargo, “I’m not so sure I’m agreeing with your rationale, there.”

I don’t agree with the rifle choices (the 12ga. is a no-brainer), for the simple reason that they don’t pass the “To Be Found On The Shelves Of Bubba’s Bait & Ammo Store In Bumfuck, Anywhere” test.  Granted, the 6.5mm Creedmoor (a.k.a. the “flavor of the month” cartridge) and .338 Win Mag are fine cartridges, but are they sold everywhere?  I doubt it.

Also, two chamberings aren’t enough.  We can sit and argue the point all day about which rifle cartridges are the best — and I have no problem with entertaining said discussion in Comments, of course — but I am of the opinion that the “hunt anywhere / anything” criterion in the U.S. of A., given the wide variety of terrain and game we have, cannot consist of fewer than three centerfire rifle chamberings, to whit:

  • .25-inch (.243 Win, .270 Win etc.)
  • .3x  (.30-30, .308 Win, .30-06 etc.)
  • .3x magnum  (7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag, etc.)

…and a credible argument can be made for an additional, larger cartridge for grizzly in deep brush, such as:

  • .4x (.45-70 Gov, .458 Win etc)

I know, anything a .308 can do, a .300 Win Mag can do better;  but let’s just add a little real-world experience by acknowledging that the .300 Win Mag costs twice as much as its little cousin, and also because recoil / owie shoulder.

All that established, feel free to suggest your three favorite rifle chamberings in Comments, especially when taking the “Bubba’s Store” criterion into account.  Explain your choices, if necessary.  I’ll be adding mine later.


  1. My three go to guns are my o/u 20 ga. for birds and targets, due to old shoulders I gave away my 12 ga. to son ten years ago. I don’t shoot ducks or geese and this shotgun has brought down a lot of pheasant, quail and doves. I can shoot 100 shells a day and not hurt my shoulder.

    My go too rifle for anything in the part of the US I plan to shoot game is my CZ bolt action with set trigger in 6.5×55 Swede and I reload so I can afford to shoot a fair amount, if I were going after anything bigger than a Texas deer I could load it hotter but the regular loads are accurate with 140 grain bullets.

    It has been years since I shot coyote and other varmints but I like my 22-250 heavy barrel Savage with an aftermarket stock and a decent scope. I shoot steel targets up to 500 yards with my reloads in this rifle and being nice and heavy not too much recoil.

    As for big bad stuff, I do have a little Marlin Guide Gun, made back when Marlin made good guns, in 45-70 I have used for hog hunting and I guess if I were in bad bear country I would carry that with a hot load.

    I like the puzzle part of the question and there are a lot of different ways to get the job done and in my case in my 70’s my bullet placement is better when the recoil is not so much. I have a few of the old military rifles and I have to put extra padding between the butt plate and my shoulder to shoot the Mosin, Enfield, Mauser and Springfield all great old WWI cartridges well over 100 years old.

  2. I have had a bit of a different take on this question. First I have a firm belief that if it wan’t around close to 100 yrs ago, it ain’t worth a damn. Then looking at muzzle energy in blocks makes sense to me.

    1000 to 2000 ft lbs takes 75 % of what walks north america. 6.5×55 or 30-30 does just fine. I just bought a 30-30 barrel for my TC Encore. Both have been around for 100+ years.

    22LR takes all the small stuff including flying beasts (assuming this is end of world thinking. Cause othewise I have a damn safe filled with all sorts of canons I can draw upon. And ain’t giving up any of them.)

    Only if we are talking the BIG bears, moose/elk and musk ox I am nominating the classic 9.3×62. Enough energy at mid 3000’s ftlbs plus big broad bullets. Is used across Africa so good to go here. Plus recoil is considerably more pleasant than magnums which require NASA permission to shoot. As for availability you will only need a handful of factory ammo, so hell…order it online NOW.

    Never been a big fan of a shotgun for end of the world.

  3. Assuming we’re ignoring small game like squirrels and rabbits (if not we’d need to include a .22LR, but as you’ve noted before 22LR isn’t ammo, it’s a household commodity like soap):

    I’d probably bypass the .25 inch and go with a .30 ’06, it’ll do most anything the quarter-inch will do, and there used to be loadings for it that approached .300 WM performance (don’t know if they’re still out there, but they were). Then a bigger magnum like .375 H&H, not sure how available that is but if anything in that power range is available that’ll be it. Can’t argue against the .45 thumper either, I’d probably go with the .45-70, in a modern rifle you can get some scary performance out of it even if you don’t reload.

    On a related note, a friend of my wife’s lives out in rural NJ and has expressed interest in a rifle for pest control, particularly coyotes, any thoughts on a proper cartridge for that? It’s heavily wooded so not likely to get a long shot, I was wondering if .22 WMR would work, or possibly .22 Hornet. Of course .223 has the advantage of letting her practice with cheaper milsurp ammo….. I’m personally partial to Savage rifles, I’ve got a .22 LR that shoots like it’s got eyes of its own.

  4. .223 (which I’m not a huge fan of, but is everywhere, and will handle everything not big)
    .270 win (will do everything a .30 cal mag will do, faster, and is readily available)
    12 ga.

    Entirely possible to do it in three so long as the primary goal is hunting everything N.A.

      1. I’ve done it a couple times. With a 180 grain load, it’s lights out for Bullwinkle.

        Hell, Jack O’Connor used the thing to pop damn near everything Africa had to offer, much less North America.

  5. Having lived out in the middle of nowhere, if there’s any cartridges that can be found in Bubba’s Bait Shop, it’s 30-06, .357 Magnum, and .243. Any of them can take down game, and out of a carbine barrel the .357 hums along fast enough to take down deer in most states.

    I would add .50 cal muzzle loaders in that as well. I could find muzzle loader rounds damn near everywhere. Wouldn’t want to try bear with one, but deer? Oh yes.

  6. I don’t hunt, so I don’t need any hunting calibers.
    So, I pretty much stick to 5.56/.223, 9mm, and .38 spl for a good majority of my shooting.
    Happily, all of those pass the Bubba’s store test.

  7. Haven’t been out hunting in a couple years, but:
    last time I dropped in on Bubba’s in the boonies, he was stocking ’06 Federal 180 gr soft points, which is almost enough for anything I might find in this country. OTOH, I prefer packing my old dirty 30 loaded with a 170 gr flat point.
    ‘tho the last time I went salmon fishing in nowhere Oregon, I brought along my Trapdoor (elderly, not really all that heavy, and very comfortable against my left shoulder. Yah! it’s only one shot, but how many do you really need at that distance) with some HSM 405 gr it digests very nicely and I did find them on Bubba’s shelves in several places on the way there (if not, there’s always Wally’s, jes ’round the corner down the road apiece).

  8. Bah.

    .22lr, 12 gauge, 44 magnum and VERY quiet shoes.

    .44 mag loaded right to the top of the charts, with hard cast bullets out of a 18 inch barrel will pretty much do for anything on this continent.

    Wouldn’t want to hunt cape buff with it though.

  9. .22lr, .30-06 and 12g. I’ve never seen a ammo store that doesn’t stock these calibers. There isn’t much that will stand up to a properly placed .30-06 bullet. With those, I can hunt every creature in the Americas, and just about anything elsewhere.

    1. My sentiments exactly, even if it would mean living a mundane existence with just these three. I hand load for ’06, so it can play at both ends of the power spectrum quite handily.

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