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.
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
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.