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10 Top Long-Range Hunting Cartridges

The best long-range cartridge in the world might be the .408 Chey-Tac. Its bullets will remain supersonic out past 2,000 yards. But you wouldn’t want to hunt with it. A good hunting cartridge has to fit in a rifle that’s comfortable to carry all day and won’t kick you so hard that you can’t shoot it well. If you’re after critters deer-size and up, the field is dominated by 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30-caliber cartridges, with the best long-range options remaining supersonic out to at least 1,400 yards. None of them will turn you into a trained sniper, but if you’ve put in the range time and have the skills to stretch it out, these 10 cartridges have the reach and the thump to put game on the ground from the next canyon over.

The 6.5s

It’s not all hype. The reason why 6.5mm cartridges are exploding in popularity is because they are ultra-efficient. Bullets of this diameter are easily configured to have extremely high ballistic coefficients. That, combined with their relatively small size, means that compared to cartridges of similar powder capacity, the 6.5s will almost always do more, in terms of external and terminal ballistics, with less recoil.

See the list of top 6.5s at Field & Stream

The 7s

With the exception of the 7mm Remington Magnum, cartridges of this diameter have never been as popular in America as they should be — maybe because this was the caliber of the Imperial German Army and the Nazis. Nonetheless, 7mm bullets can be extremely aerodynamic and, as legendary elephant hunter Karamojo Bell proved, effective on even the largest animals.

See the list of top 7s at Field & Stream

The 30s

This is the darling diameter for American big-game hunters. It started with the .30/30 and continued with the .30/06 and .308 and right up to today’s .300 Blackout. Even though high-BC .30-caliber bullets need to be heavy and pushed hard to shoot flat, many American hunters love them enough to tolerate the recoil.

See the list of top 30s at Field & Stream

The .277

The .277 is an oddball bullet diameter, in that it doesn’t fall into the 6.5mm, 7mm, or .30-caliber categories. Besides the .270 Weatherby Magnum and 6.8 SPC, the .270 Winchester is the only .277-caliber cartridge made — and the only one that matters to most hunters, given all the guns and loads out there for it.

See the top .277 at Field & Stream

In this video, Top Shot Champion Chris Cheng explains for beginner shooters the various components that make up a rifle cartridge. Firearm instructors and experienced shooters are encouraged to watch and share this knowledge with newcomers to the shooting sports.

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