Best Well Rounded Rifle Calibers for Survivalist

What are some of the best rifle calibers for survivalist?  These calibers should be able to fit a range of needs, including hunting wild game in a given area.

There is an old saying I sometimes like to quote, “Always use enough gun.”  Because of that, smaller calibers such as the 223/5.56mm, 6mm, and the 243 Winchester should be excluded from the list.

Hunting rifle for SHTF teotwawki

Can small calibers take deer sized game?  Sure they can.  The question is how humane are they to use?

For my area here in Southeast Texas, the most common calibers are:

  1. 30-30 Winchester
  2. 308 Winchester
  3. 270 Winchester
  4. 30-06 Springfield

Available game are hogs and whitetail deer. Longest shot is going to be around 125 yards. If you are on a pipeline or highline, shots might get out to the 200 yard mark. The rolling hills and thick timber stop the shots from being too long.

Question To The Community

Recently I asked the people on the SurvivalistBoards facebook page what rifle calibers they hunt with.  I made sure to specify what calibers they currently own and use, and not what calibers they plan on buying.

Some Of The Answers I Received

‎.243 Winchester

12 gauge, use it for everything from pheasant and ducks to Deer and bear. I hunting mostly swampy areas so no long shots.

.270 east Texas… hogs, deer, coyotes, 130gr Winchester ballistic tip nosler. stops them in their tracks with minimal meat loss.

.308 Winchester


30-06 Springfield

.308 BLR. If I was to use something else it would probably be a .30-30.

I take 2 Rifles to Camp –  Marlin 30-30 for the woods, and 7 mm mag for the fields. Also gonna try my luck @ Black Powder season this year Dec. 17th ~ 27th here in Mo. Thats a pick of a rub I found a cpl weeks back as profile pic.

7.52x54R, or 12g depending on area.

30.06 but after the SHTF my 7.62×39 will do since it is basically a 30.30

‎30/30, its an 1899 Marlin that was my Grandfather’s and it has taken a lot of deer over the years, but not many with me. I also use a Remington 550I in .22 a lot, but not for deer, just squirrels, bunnies and varmints.

My go-to round for anything with two or four legs is the 175gr Sierra Match King chambered in 7.62×51 (.308).

.44 Magnum Handgun Deer and Black Bear.. .22 Browning handgun for small game.

‎308 & 7.62×54.   Middle Tennessee area.

Savage over / under model 24 … 30/30 12 gauge no 1 buck 24 -30 cal pellets


‎.357 magnum Ruger 77 carbine. 180gr. bullets.

30-06, 30-30, and 7mm. Bought a 300wm for long range shots, but built it too heavy to walk it! Will hit a man a deer at 600 all day long though!  My normal for big game is 30-06 but I love dear hunting with my Marlin 30-30 lever action.


.303 Brit. For mid MI and farther N. South of Mid MI I use 12g 3″ buck and or slug. Small game .22 lr Most of my hunting shots are under 100yds. do to trees.

M6 scout 22 lr/410+ 20 gauge 3 inch/222 Remington + MS carbine .in 30-06. they covers all my needs , but i have a husky 6,5×55 and brno in 375 HH too.

‎6.5X55 Swede for deer and smaller and 9.3X62 for everything else.

Remington 700 in .308, Remington auto74 in 30-06 comes as a back up (glad I had it lady weekend as the wind blew over my 700 and bumped the scope off). Also have a Rossi 94 levergun for bunnies, varmints and walking the brush. Hunt central Texas on the Edwards Plateau. Shots from 30 yards to 350.


As I suspected, the 30-30, 308 and 30-06 are mentioned several times.  Over the course of the past 100 years, the 30-30 has probably killed more deer then anyone will ever know.

After World War 1 and world War II, the returning veterans bought he same caliber rifle they had used in the war, and that was the 30-06.  The 308 is a great preforming caliber on deer sized game.  So its no surprise that 3 calibers lead the list.

One thing I was a little surprised at was the number of people using pistol calibers, such as the 357 and 44 magnum.

The 223 / 5.56mm and the 7.62×39 are only mentioned a couple of times. This brings up the question of people hunting after SHTF / teotwawki with a rifle cartridge that they have not proven. Wouldn’t it be better to hunt with a caliber that you “know” is a proven performer, instead of a caliber that you have never used?

270 and 280 are mentioned a couple of times, which really surprised me. The 270 and 280 are both great preforming calibers that are effective on deer and hog sized game.  Ammunition for the 280/7mm express can be a little difficult to find, the ammunition for the 270 is usually easy to find.

Best Rifle Calibers

Using my personal experience from hunting the piney woods of southeast Texas, I would say the:

  1. 30-30 Winchester
  2. 270 Winchester
  3. 308 Winchester
  4. 30-06 Springfield

are probably the best caliber selections for survivalist.

Post your comments in this forum thread about Survivalist Rifle Calibers.