What is YOUR Favourite Calibre for UK Deer Stalking?
We need your help, choice of calibre is a hot topic amongst deer stalkers and we want you to tell us about your chosen calibre and the reasons behind your selection?
We will publish the results below for everyone to see and add to the list every time we get a new opinion. This will help us build up a clear picture of the most popular rifle calibres used in the UK for Deer Stalking.
I hope that you will take a few moments to let us know your thoughts by contributing to what will become a fascinating survey of the UK’s top stalking calibres.
Your Favourite Calibres
65) Barry Gault - Fav' Calibre Is the .270Win, I was always told to go for 6.5 SE or .308Win. I went against the grain and got the .270Win and delighted with it. With the main points of readily available ammunition always on the shelf of any decent RFD, and the 130 grain round can humanly deal with all UK species of deer.
64) Iain Watson Senior CIC Trophy Judge – My faithful Sauer 90 in .243 has stayed with me. It’s gone through various scopes, two moderators, and had a replacement stock. When I look back on my records I see that with it I have grassed all six species in England and all four in Scotland and when I stalk for my own sport, rather than stalk professionally it is still the one I choose. Old habits and loyalties die-hard.
63) Tom Halverson - When I moved to Alaska from the states 15 years ago my rifle of choice was the .338 Win Mag. Later while assistant guiding I added the .375 H&H, and now that I am not guiding my go to rifle caliber is the .300 Win Mag. Not only my choice but several friends also use the .300 Win Mag. I too think this caliber is a little over kill for deer stalking. I enjoyed your film and love learning about deer stalking in the UK. I learn little tricks or tactics while doing my research. Thanks!
62) Kjell Hvamb - To discuss calibers can be a tricky matter :-) If 10 individuals discuss calibers there will be 10 opinions. My favourite is 6,5x55 and with proper bullet it hits hard even at longer range.
61) Jean Michel Noiret - In my opinion the 7mm Mauser is a fine round and not rare to find. It’s all about preparation. Just ask the gun dealer to order you more than two packages, so that you have always enough ammo. Another interesting aspect would be "barrel life". Especially when using the rifle also for sport shooting.
60) Donald Robertson - This side of the pond, for 100 years, gun writers pounded into our heads the need for a 30/06. If you were recoil sensitive or Western deer hunters, you'd pick a .270. Frankly, it's gotten ridiculous. Many, most excellent cartridges have been abandoned due to this. The effects of heavy recoil are all negative. A cartridge that is comfortable to shoot, and adequate for the game, is always the best choice.
59) Crash Taylor – It’s all about the 6.5 Creedmoor!
58) Trevor Heath - Buckinghamshire/Bedford "The calibre I use for my stalking is 6MM BR, my location limits me to CWD, Muntjac and Roe, it’s very easy to re-load for soft shooting and is extremely accurate which gives me great confidence with shot placement. (foxes hate it!) If I were ever able to get a chance of the rest then I would opt for a .308 as a second rifle".
57) Antonio Ruibérriz de Torres - “ 7x57 Spanish Mauser. I use either Norma Oryx or RWS. Very balanced caliber. When I have to choose between power or accuracy I choose the last one because it gives me a better opportunity for shot placement, factor that matters the most from my humble point of view.
56) Guy Pearce – “The question is "favourite" not necessarily ideal/ best for/ etc. Stalking for over 50 years I have only owned 3 stalking rifles, a 7x57, a 7x64 and a .243”.
55) Damian Laverty - "I think everyone has their favourites for sure, but I do not personally think there is an “ultimate” best calibre for deer stalking, any legal calibre will, given proper shot placement, get the desired result. I use a 308win, but have used various other calibres and have never felt let down by any of them, the stalker has to look more at the job he’s doing rather than the tools he’s using, though I agree confidence in a gun scope calibre combination does help, so pick what you like and use it to the best of your ability".
54) Carl Emery – “It's all what you feel happy with, I have x4 deer rifles 303,308 a 30-06 and a 260rem if you can shoot all will do the job on a stalked deer. 243 on large species I feel is only just but others think they are great. A lot of people feel you must have great velocity, velocity doesn't kill anything. Knowing your rifle/calibre you shoot and bullet selecting and placement is what gives a humane kill.”
53) Ally Browne – “I only have .270 but from what I can see its got a place at or near the top”
52) Mike Seager, Southern England – “My chambering of choice is the 7x64. I bought it when living in Switzerland where it is a popular round and doesn't fall foul of the military chambering laws in some continental countries. It's a very capable round and I like it as it shoots like a .270 but has the advantage of being able to use 7mm bullets and being able to shoot up to ~175gr or so. Works well on everything from munties to boar and I personally like 165gr soft nose. I really feel it is a shame the 7x64 is not used more in this country as it is a cracking chambering. I thought when I came back to the UK I'd change to something like .30-'06 but now I've used the 7x64 I have no plans on changing. And I'm also surprised on this list more people on this poll don't use 7mm of some form (nice pick on the 7x57mm Byron)”
51) Carl Emery – “30-06 with a 150g zero at 150 yard with no issues out to 250 yard. Plenty for deer stalking".
50) Ian Lennon – “Just after buying a Blaser 30.06 can anyone advise what the best distance is to zero it at ??”
49) Mitch Padley – “243 all the way to the larder never fail’s”
48) Jason Stockham – “30 -06”
47) Robbie Raowantree – “The calibre of the stalker is more important than the calibre of the rifle”
46) Guy Baxendale – “.243 for CWD, Roe, Munties and Fallow (ex rutting bucks) and 30.06 for everything else.”
45) John Roberts – “260rem all the way got a 6.5x55 and a 30-06 but 260 one of the best all rounds I have ever had”
44) Matthew Hooks – “The only real answer is "whatever gun you are most accurate and comfortable with"
43) Simon Jackson – “.270 big or small it will cope with it all .. With the right choice of bullet does it for me”.
42) Andy Hebditch – “.243 all the way for me after using many other calibres. The 308 was kept for a few boar outings!”
41) Andy Benn – “7x57 is my choice with 154 grain federal premium”.
40) Kevin Clayton: “.243 for me”
39) Iain Farthing, Dorset, Hants & Lincs - “I use 6.5x55mm with reloaded 140gr Hornady SSTs for everything. A lot of time at the range with the one rifle/ammo/scope combo gives me the confidence that anything I point the rifle at will drop into its own shadow”.
38) Alan Morrissey – “Stalking for Sika in Killarney and stalking for Fallow in Tipperary, Rep of Ireland. My favourite calibre is the 6.5x55, I use 140g Berger VLD heads in a Tikka T3 , 26" custom heavy barrelled fluted with March 5-50...I love the 6.5 x 55 because it has the power / weight and accuracy to stop an animal out to 600 yards and from a 200 yard zero it makes long range shooting a pleasure. It has very low recoil and with the 140g it can handle moderate winds changes out to medium ranges with ease...an excellent all round calibre for all quarry from foxes to the biggest of deer species”.
37) Byron Pace - "The calibre question is a long and worn debate. Everyone will have a favourite, and often this has little to do with any great logic. Some calibres are just endearing. Confined to only UK hunting makes life a little more straight forward, but our spectrum from Chinese Water Deer to the mighty Red Stag means that a single choice has to cater for the largest of what’s on offer, knowing that it will also be able to take care of the smallest without any issue.
Hunters get very caught up in the actually cartridge, where as the calibre choice is actually very small. We are likely to be using a 6mm, 6.5mm, 7mm or 7.62 (.308”). Whatever the case behind these, the same projectile is being pushed. The 6mm cartridges are a little under powered for bigger game, which leaves three options. From there, most debate is really academic. All will do the job, but some with more powder than others. Any of the Magnums are just overkill for the UK, and no serious hunter in the UK would use one on a daily basis.
For me I will forever be tied to the 7x57Mauser (.275 Rigby), due to the history and the fact it was my first rifle. I will likely always have one in the cupboard, having said that, for convenience, I now find myself shooting a .308Win more than anything else. It’s not perfect, but it will take care of anything here, including boar, with little fuss and with modern ammo and homeloads, any shooter can hunt to 300yds with it without having to become a ballistics expert. Of course the other big plus, is that factory ammo and loading components are always available, and this is important for a day to day rifle which sees a lot of use".
36) John King, Northants ".243 Win with a 100 grain bullet for all my stalking".
35) Cris Wheatley-Hince, Berkshire. "For me the 243 as it's been tested well and has all the power I need for Muntjac to Fallow that I most often shoot. Low recoil makes it stable and predictable. Also 270 for hardier types like Sika and boar.
34) Andris Erglis "My favourite calibre is the 6.5x55 with a 139gr bullet"
33) Chris Dalton, Ayrshire “My Favourite calibre has been for a long time the 6.5 x 55 Swedish! I use a 120 gn, Nosler ballistic tip which is fantastic, flat shooting and it’s a nice calibre to fire – no great big thumping thing. I use this for everything – some would argue its too light for a big red, well they don’t come much bigger than the Galloway Reds and I have never had a problem! this is also the calibre we have for our estate rifles and all guests like it – I would far rather my stalkers have a rifle in their hands they can shoot well with, rather than a big calibre they can’t – a well placed shot will do the job on any deer”.
32) M. Barnes, Herefordshire “Personally I am amazed the 25-06 hasn’t taken off more in the UK, it’s a hard hitting and flat shooting calibre and should be considered more often as an option”
31) P. Jackson, Perthshire "Stalking Red's, Roe and ocassional Sika deer I use a trusty .308 with a 180 grain bullets"
30) Brian Fraser, Yorks “30-06 is the way to go, fired with a heavy bullet it doesn’t destroy small game but it’s also ample for larger species of deer”
29) T. Hughes. W Sussex "I use been shooting Fallow for years with a.243. It’s the first calibre I ever bought and I’ve never needed anything else”
28) Stephen Watson “I use to calibres 6.5x55 for woodland stalking and .270 on the hill”
27) Ben Stovey, Wiltshire "The majority of people I know are choosing the 6.5x55 and rightly so. Its fast becoming the UK's favourite calibre"
26) Kevin White, Northants “.243 Win it’s a classic and I’d recommend it to both beginners and experienced stalkers”
25) C Grahame - “I’ve only ever stalked in Scotland where I always use a .270. It is a tried and tested calibre for Reds and I’ve never needed anything else”
24) John Barton, Dorset - "It may not be fashionable, or obscure, but .308 Winchester is my all-round calibre of choice. It's legal for all species in the UK. It's easy and forgiving to reload, supplies being readily available. It doesn't present any issues for UK stalking ballistically, as most shots are taken at sub 200 yards. With an effective moderator, recoil just isn't an issue. Terminally, with a slower and heavy bullet, it has knock-down power, without creating unnecessary damage. As an all rounder, it's a hard calibre to beat"
23) Alistair Stobie - "6.5 x 55 SE - enough knock down power for all woodland stalking. And therefore allows me to buy something bigger for the (very) occasional hill day"
22) Nick Jones, Sussex - “6.5x55 all the way, I bought mine in a Tikka T3 a few years ago and have never regretted it. It’s spot on for stalking Fallow Deer in Sussex where ranges rarely exceed 200 yards. This calibre has great penetration and knock down power and what is more it’s lack of recoil means you can watch your shot find it’s mark”
21) Larry Taafe, Ireland - "My own reasons for selection are based on experience over different stalking grounds, different animals and different distances.
I owned an original Husqvarna Swedish Mauser in 6.5x55 many years ago and still have a more modern make in my possession but as already indicated the bullet drop after 200yrds is steep.
I like this calibre because it has low recoil and modern makes can produce a very light weight rifles in this calibre, with a moderator it feels like .22 to use. But it has its limitations. We have in Ireland very wild and large Sika stags and distance shooting may be necessary at times.
I have also had a .308, again a super all round calibre, adequate for any deer species in the UK or Ireland, but it is just slightly out done by the 30.06 Springfield. I have settled for my companion rifle the 30.06 in Sako, with a ASE Ultra moderator. This for me will cover all animals from fox to wild boar and everything in between. There is a large selection of bullet weights to suit all circumstances and as a standard round I use 150grain S&B soft point, which will kill efficiently with minimum damage when placed correctly. Accuracy to longer distances than the average staking distance is always available with this calibre and I took a very clever sika stag some years ago at 345yrds" .
20) E .Thompson - “The 6.5x55 Swedish is far and away the most suitable for woodland stalking and what is more it is the best calibre for beginners to start out on, as it is easy to shoot and usually permitted by most Firearm enquiry officers”
19) Neil Allen, Hampshire - "My favourite is the Swedish 6.5x55, next to no recoil, shoots flat and is perfect for any deer species in the UK. It's the calibre I chose when buying my rifle and was also influenced by many people recommending it, including the firearms officer!"
18) Chris Parkin - "My head says 308, my heart says 300 win mag purely because its been the gun to accompany me on some of my most memorable trips".
17) John MacDonald - “.243 All the way”
16) Sam Goodwin, Kent - “.300 Win Mag all the way. Does any species and they never get far, so no trouble finding your quarry”
15) David Barbieri - “.30 cal puts them down hard and not too much bruising unless you catch a shoulder”
14) Dustin Pitman - “I love my .270 & my .308 but .375 stops everything on the spot”
13) Dobson-Gilbert - “.243 will stop anything! But then again so will a .22 rimfire if put in the right place! It’s about the person behind the trigger!”
12) Kevin Dancey - “.243”
11) Del Walters - “6.5x55 for me”
10) Kenny Smart - ".222 .243 .25-06 shot most things with .243 but .222 is very sweet”
9) Alan Lawrence - “.243 Winchester”
8) Dan Deer-Toppler Priestnall - “.308 for me”
7) John Pocock - “.243 and .308”
6) Barry Griffin - “Do arrows have a calibre? If not my ones are pretty big and sharp”
5) David Jones - “Love my 220 Swift and .30-06”
4) James Schneider, Hampshire - "My favourite calibre is the 6.5x55mm as it is ideal for woodland stalking and park culling. I wouldn't use this calibre for any type of distance shooting as it drops off significantly over 200 yards, however it's impressive knockdown power with minimal recoil and muzzle blast provides absolutely reliable tight pattern shooting at 100-200 yards and enough punch to topple large fallow while being manageable for Muntjac".
3) Tom Watson, N Yorks - "It has to be the .270 it’s an awesome all time classic that has stood the test of time, both flat shooting and powerful, it’s welcome on all species across the UK and abroad and accepts a variety of bullet weights that make it a very versatile calibre".
2) P. Jones, Hampshire - “My favourite calibre is the .308 Winchester, it’s suitable for all of the UK’s six species of deer, highly accurate and hard hitting, with a variety of bullet weights it can be used from anything from a diminutive Muntjac to a large lowland Red.”
1) James Mott, Surrey - “For me it’s the .243 Winchester, highly accurate with a super flat trajectory, mild report and moderate recoil, it is undoubtedly a very pleasant and manageable calibre to shoot. As yet I’ve never had to use more than one bullet on a deer.”
For more information about Rifle Calibres follow this link: rifle-calibres