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Picking a rifle caliber for a long term SHTF situation

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If you were going to pick a rifle caliber for a long term SHTF situation, what would that caliber be?

For some reason I woke up this morning thinking about my 7mm express / 280 Remington and how the panic buying in the first half of 2013 caused a shortage in ammunition supplies.

When I got my Remington model 700 in 280 I wanted something that was around the 270 or 30-06, and something that would work on heavier game such as elk and moose.

In all honestly I put too much though into picking the 280 Remington.  While it is a fine caliber, the price of ammunition has gone up so much shooting has gotten downright expensive.  With a box of 20 rounds costing more than $25 stockpiling is cost prohibitive.

Empty shelves

Lets be perfectly honest, there is nothing the 280 Remington / 7mm express can not do that either the 270 Winchester or 30-06 Springfield can not do.

There comes a point when Survivalist are stockpiling too many calibers.  We need to get out of this buy a new rifle, stockpile a new caliber, buy a new rifle, stockpile a new caliber,,, roller coaster.

In this article we will be using the term “reliability” – 1.  We are talking about the effectiveness of the round on deer sized game.  2.  During times of panic buying will survivalist be able to find certain calibers in stock?

Lets talk calibers

During the great panic buying of 2013 what calibers were available?  Or maybe the question should be what calibers were not available?  I’ll tell you what, lets talk about both.

30-30 Winchester – After its introduction in 1895 the 30-30 Winchester has won a loyal following for its reliability.  There is a reason why the 30-30 is considered to be the gun that won the west.  Excluding military calibers and the 22 long rifle, if I had to pick a single cartridge for a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation it would probably be the 30-30 Winchester.

Reliability – Why the 30-30 Winchester?  Because it has a proven track record of over a hundred years on deer sized game.  Chances are no other modern caliber has killed more deer than the 30-30.

Before the great panic buying of 2013 you could walk into just about any sporting goods store, or even a walmart and buy a box of 30-30.  What really surprised me was that the 30-30 Winchester was included in the panic buying.  Why were people buying so much 30-30 Winchester?  Maybe it is because the lever action rifle is one of the most popular rifles in the United States?

Even though the 30-30 Winchester works well for distances shorter than around 150 yards, past that distance the bullet starts to drop rather quickly.  For shooting past 150 yards there are better calibers out there.

When stockpiling ammunition I try to put calibers into two different categories – readily available and buy when you can.

The 30-30 Winchester used to be in my readily available category.  But after supplies were stripped during the panic buying I put the 30-30 Winchester in the buy when you can category.

270 Winchester – After it’s introduction in the early 20th century the 270 Winchester gathered a loyal following for deer and elk sized game.

After the 30-30 Winchester, the 270 Winchester would probably be my second choice for a long term SHTF survival rifle caliber.  Keep in mind we are excluding military calibers and the 22 long rifle.

Reliability – Why the 270 Winchester?  It is flat shooting, available in a wide range of rifles and has a reputation for taking deer sized game.  One may even consider the 270 as one of the better all-around deer calibers.

Unlike the 30-30 Winchester the 270 Winchester does not suffer from sudden bullet drop between 100 – 150 yards.  This makes it a good choice for shooting at ranges the 30-30 has difficulty achieving.

During the great panic buying of 2013 the 270 Winchester stayed in stock both online and in physical stores.  Due to it be widely available even during a panic buying scare, the 270 Winchester stays in the my readily available category.  All this means is that the 270 has had a reputation of being available when other calibers were not.

30-06 Springfield – Is probably the most versatile round ever developed.  One of the major factors that drove the popularity of the 30-06 Springfield was the returning veterans from world war II bought rifles in the caliber they were familiar with.

Developed 1906 the 30-06 has over the past century proven itself in deer and larger sized game.

Reliability – Why the 30-06 Springfield?  There is no other caliber that has been so widely adopted, or so widely used as the ’06.  Whether it is deer hunting in Florida, or elk hunting in Washington, the 30-06 is at home in both places.

Unlike the 30-30 Winchester and the 270 Winchester, the 30-06 Springfield has the destination of being a military service round.

From time-to-time surplus ammunition will come onto the market which helps offset supplies during times of panic buying.  During the great panic buying of 2013 the 30-06 Springfield stayed in stock both in physical stores and online.  Due to the widespread availability, the ’06 stays classified as  readily available.  Meaning that it was in stock during times of panic buying.

7mm Magnum – Why are we talking about a caliber that has a small but loyal following?  Because during the great panic buying of 2013 the 7mm magnum was one of the few calibers that was in stock.

Introduced in 1962 the 7mm magnum offers improved ballistics over the 30-06 Springfield, but only up to 175 grain bullets, which is the largest 7mm bullet on the market. The ’06 can be loaded up to 220 grain bullets.

Reliability – Lets be honest, there is very little the 7mm magnum can do that the 270, 280 and ’06 can not do.  The only real reason to use a 7mm magnum is on very large or dangerous game.

Since this article focuses deer sized game, the only reason why the 7mm magnum is listed is because it was in stock during the panic buying.  Why was the 7mm magnum available during the panic buying?  Probably because so few people shoot it.

The excessive recoil would probably turn a lot of people off the 7mm magnum.

What was left out

Why were so many calibers left out of this article?  For the sake of discussion  I tried to focus on what was readily available and widely used.

Why were military calibers left out?  Because they should be a given.  The 223 Remington / 5.56mm, 7.62×39 and the 308 Winchester discussion has been beat to death.  And, every survivalist should already have those three calibers in stock.

Besides the big three what other calibers are you stockpiling?  And that is what this article is about.

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Kevin Felts was born and raised in southeast Texas, graduated from Bridge City high school Bridge City Texas, and attended Lamar College in Port Arthur Texas. Hobbies include fishing, hiking, hunting, blogging, sharing his politically incorrect opinion, video blogging on youtube, survivalism and spending time with his family. In his free time you may find Kevin working around the farm, building something, or tending to the livestock

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