Choosing the Right Calibre Hunting Rifle

Tikka T3 Lite Stainless

Choosing the right calibre for a hunting rifle can be a hard task and the more people you ask the more confused you can become. I have put together a list of standard hunting calibres that are available in a wide range of new firearms, which you might find useful.

There is an old saying “You can’t have enough horsepower” and this is very true when it comes to hunting and one which I recommend to people that are looking to purchase a rifle in store. Have a think about the animal you are intending to hunt – whether it is small goats or big red stags in the Roar. Choose a calibre that will quickly and efficiently take care of business.  It is not nice to see any animal suffer and that is why I personally choose to use a calibre that will despatch the animal quickly.

 The Calibres

  • .223 A very light round and ideal for small animals up to goats – I personally do not recommend this for deer. Average projectile weight 55 – 64 grains
  • .22-250 Same as above and good for small game at longer ranges up to goats. Average projectile weight 55 -70 grains
  • .243 A very versatile cartridge good for small game, goats and small deer species like fallow and whitetail. Average projectile weight 80 – 100 grains
  • .25-06 A good versatile cartridge has excellent longer range capabilities – ideal for goats to small deer species and pigs. Average projectile weight 90 – 120 grains
  • .6.5 x 55 A good all round cartridge -unfortunately there is a limited choice of new rifles. Pigs and deer small to medium size. Average projectile weight 120 – 140 grains
  • .260 A very good all round cartridge- good for most deer species and pigs. Average projectile weight 120 -140 grains
  • .270A real kiwi favourite and ideal for all species of deer, chamois and tahr. Average projectile weight  130 – 150 grains
  • .270 WSM – A good longer range cartridge – ideal for all large game. Average projectile weight 140 – 150 grains
  • 7mm-08NZs most popular cartridge in a short action – ideal for all big game species. Average projectile weight 140 – 150 grains
  • .280A very under rated cartridge in NZ, same case size as the .270 with a 7mm projectile good for all big game species and has longer range capability. Average projectile weight 140 – 150 grains
  • 7mm Rem Mag – Jeremy’s favourite – a good long range calibre and ideal for all big game hunters and trophy hunters. Average projectile weight 140 – 168 grains
  • 7mmWSMVery similar to the Rem Mag, unfortunately it is not chambered by many manufacturers and lacks popularity because of this. Average projectile weight 140 – 168 grains
  • .308An old faithful and still really popular today, it is ideal for all aspects of big game hunting. Average projectile weight 150 grains
  • .30-06Another old faithful that delivers good knock-down power and is ideal for big stags like sambar. Average projectile weight 150 -180 grains
  • .300 WIN MAGThe 300 Win Mag is an ideal long range calibre that delivers good performance, perfect for trophy hunters. Average projectile weight 150 – 180 grains
  • .300 WSMGrowing in popularity it is ideal as a long range calibre and performs well on all of our big deer species. Average projectile weight  150 – 180 grains
  • .338 LAPUA MAGThe best of the ultra-long range cartridges available, has amazing knock-down power ideal for all big game animals. Average projectile weight 250 – 300 grains

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to know more about an individual calibre or if there is a rifle available in the calibre of choice for you. Please note that these are my own opinions and are based on my own experiences with the above calibres over the past 25 years of hunting and guiding.

Some other points to consider with today’s technology are improved gun powders, better performing projectiles and other gadgets. We can help you choose what is right for you as well as offering the following options to help you be more successful out in the field


If you are recoil sensitive or do not like the loud bang we recommend a Dan Hardy Suppressor. The Generation 4 suppressor has been a huge hit and is perfect for reducing recoil on all rifles. It also reduces the noise factor, which not only makes it more comfortable for the shooter but more often than not will confuse game due to the sound suppression giving you more chances of another shot.

Rivers to Ranges have been appointed as a Dan Hardy Suppressor fitting outlet so we can offer a fast turnaround time to have your rifle fitted with a new Generation 4 Suppressor.


If you are looking for supreme accuracy out of your new rifle from Rivers to Ranges we also offer a custom load development. We can custom build ammunition for your rifle, which includes new brass, top projectiles, powder and primers plus testing at our private range to guarantee accuracy.


With the load development we also offer a long range verification service to ensure that the projectile is on the money out to 500 yards. Once completed your long range rig will come complete with drop-charts ready for the field.


Priced on an individual basis the team at Rivers to Ranges have extensive knowledge to build up the rifle of your dreams. We have available a wide range of different gunsmiths and weapon’s engineers who can customise or manufacture to your specifications. This is a speciality service that we are extremely proud off so feel free to contact us or call into the store to find out more.