Ruger American Ranch rifle

Ruger American Ranch rifle

Explaining different rifle calibres

The word calibre is the measurement of the interior (the bore) of a gun’s barrel and the diameter of bullet ammunition used.

Ammunition is described in various ways, namely:

  • Velocity: This is the speed at which the bullet travels in feet per second.
  • Energy: The approximate power of each bullet
  • Bullet Weight: This is measured in grains

Common rifle calibres

.22 LR

A small round with a low recoil.  Good for beginners. A 22 rimfire (R/F) is used for rabbit shooting but not powerful enough for foxes.

The .243 is a popular calibre for deer stalking

.243

Suitable for foxes and small deer.  The 1963 Deer Act stipulated a minimum of .240 calibre and since then the .243 has become one of the standard UK deer rounds.

.270 Winchester

Popular with deer stalkers for its long range.

.308

For larger deer such as Sika, Fallow and Red. It is also used for target shooting and if you join a shooting club you are likely to see many .308 rifles.

What the expert says

Shooting Times contributor Bruce Potts advises:

“Cartridge choice is a very personal thing and I still love the .22 LR rimfire due to its diverse and cheap range of bullet selection from reduced loads, subsonics to high velocity, perfect for vermin.

“For foxes I like the smaller calibre centrefires like the .17 Rem, .20 Tactical and .223 Rem cartridges and for deer other than smaller species where a 22 centrefire is legal, I still use the old .308 Winchester cartridge for its flexibility of loading for Roe right up to Red stags and Wild Boar abroad.

“Although the 243 Win is still popular and the newer 6.5mm Creedmoor is giving its old predecessor the 6.5x55mm Swedish a run for its money.”

Shooting the .243 calibre

Choosing a calibre

I am a keen deerstalker and use a Sako .243. I intend to invest in another rifle with a larger calibre and was thinking of .270, 30-06 or .308. I want it for red deer, the odd fallow and hunting trips abroad. What calibre would you suggest?

Wild boar

Which calibre is best for wild boar?

What calibre is best for wild boar? I intend to go wild boar shooting soon. In your opinion, what calibre would you say is best for boar?

Shooting the .243 calibre

Rifle shooting the .243 calibre

The .243 calibre is a user-friendly cartridge for shooting deer, mostly roe, and perhaps the occasional fox at ranges out to 200 yards...

.308 Win cartridge

What’s the right cartridge for red deer?

Deer stalking: I plan to get involved in deer stalking on my father’s farm and two neighbouring Estates where there are Roe, Fallow and a few Sika. Can you recommend a calibre that will cope equally well with all three species?

What’s a good second-hand rifle for deer stalking?

Q:  I want my son to come out stalking with me; he is keen and a good shot. Can you recommend 
a good-value second-hand rifle? Will any brand be OK providing the rifle meets the right specifications, and 
if so what specifications should I be looking for? A: It is…