Top 5 Deer Rifle Cartridges for New England – Updated for 2017

This  is my Top 5 Cartridge List is for hunters who do not hand load and want access to cartridges at any Ammo store.

New England is a mix of heavy cover and transitional farm land. That said, lighter, more frangible bullets limit the shooter to open spaces. A 100 grain bullet that hits a twig at 3000 fps is not going to stay on the intended path for long.

My Number one New England rifle cartridge choice for hunting in heavy cover or open spaces is the 30-06 Springfield. It can shoot bullets from 100 grains all the way up to 220 grains. Best deer killing bullet weights in moderate cover are from 150 grains to 180 grains. 

My Number two New England Choice is the .270 Winchester with 130 and 150 grain bullets. The parent cartridge is the 30-06 case. If I were hunting heavy cover, this would not be my second choice. Works well in moderate cover to open space.

My Number three Choice is the .308 Winchester and does nearly all the 30-06 can do in all field conditions. Best bullets in 165  to 180 grain weights.

My number four Choice is the 7mm-08 which is like the .270 Winchester but just slightly less powerful. The parent cartridge is the .308 Winchester case. Good choice of Bullets for all field conditions. Best bullets in the 140 to 160 grain weights.

My number 5 choice is the 30-30 Winchester. It is a proven deer killer and has taken more deer than perhaps any other round. It is good for moderate and heavy cover at 150 grain bullets that are flat or round nose. Great in Lever action.

Bullet choices are tops with a bonded core or an expanding gilding copper bullet. This is so because these bullets do not shed much weight as they mushroom in shape.  All other lead bullets work well but may shed more copper and lead in the deer if velocities are too high such as 2700 fps and higher and damage edible meat.

For young hunters or new hunters it is all about recoil. Shoot a rifle such as the 243 Winchester with 80 grain bullets or so. Or an above caliber with a Pachmayr decelerator recoil pad or a Sims Vibration Lab Recoil Pad. This will cut felt recoil in half. © 2013

Update for 2017 is that the 6.5 Creedmoor. I predict, will, in time, become a top 5 cartridge as it will replace the 7mm-08 and 243 for young and new hunters and become a favorite for all hunters and target shooters. Very low recoil! Very high Sectional Density for penetration.

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About Ed Hale

I am an avid hunter with rifle and Bow and have been hunting for more than 50 years. I have taken big game such as whitetail deer, red deer, elk, Moose and African Plains game such as Kudu, Gemsbok, Springbok, Blesbok, and Impala and wrote an ebook entitled African Safari -Rifle and Bow and Arrow on how to prepare for a first safari. Ed is a serious cartridge reloader and ballistics student. He has earned two degrees in science and has written hundreds of outdoor article on hunting with both bow and rifle.