There are some amazing long range calibers out there. However, when it comes to deciding which is the best, it is not that easy. Why? It depends on what you want to do with it. Especially the great variety of long range ammo made for its specialization. Instead of a jack of all trades and master of none, you now get calibers that are perfect for one thing but only mediocre for others.
While there are a lot of little gizmos out there that make hitting a target at long ranges ever easier, that does say nothing about the effect you have on the target. That does considerably narrow down your options. To help you with what ammo you should use for what, you get a list here with the best long range ammo for each of the different jobs you can do with them.
Are you a new shooter when it comes to long ranges? You cannot go wrong with the 6.5 Creedmoor. It is literally made for competitions at 1000 yards, and for high-volume shooting. Even better, it does not break your bank. As a newbie in long range shooting, you have to train, train, and train. For that, affordable ammo is always a good argument.
The 6.5 Creedmoor shines in one regard, and that is its excellent accuracy. At the same time, its recoil is very light making it enjoyable to shoot. Also, you get a wide selection of different bullets, and there is some great factory ammo out there. While there are no real downsides to this caliber, there are still some haters, but that is something we have to live with.
Introduced in 2007, this round gets a lot of passionate responses, both positive and negative. Alone with this, it has already outdone every other cartridge invented in the last few decades. There is a hype for both sides, love and hate, with a lot of false claims.
Engineered for accuracy along the lines of modern designs, its bullets are super efficient retaining their speed making for very flat trajectories while only generating a mild recoil. This also extends the life of the barrel. This leads to rifle competitions on small targets at 1000 yards, that are repeatedly wone by the 6.5 Creedmoor. Besides that, it is also great for hunting going after elk and deer. In this capacity, it is also used in Afrika where it is also being used to hunt the world`s largest antelope weighing 2,000 pounds.
Especially for new hunters, its moderate recoil makes it easier to shoot. Coupled with its accuracy and lethality, it is nothing you can go wrong with. With its low price, you can practice and soon become an expert shooter and field marksman.
2. The Best for Precision Shooting Matches: 6mm Dasher
If you need the absolutely best precision in your next match, it is the 6 mm Dasher that you should use. It is fantastically accurate, and that with a remarkable consistency. That gives you the edge to wine one competition after another. It is also easy to reload further increasing its hyper accuracy. When it comes to recoil, it is negligible at worst, and cannot be felt at best.
Such advantages must have some downsides and indeed, there are a few. First, to really get the best out of this caliber, you will have to do your own reloading. As if this is not enough, the components are rather costly. Also, you should be very careful and follow the specs of this round to the point or you might encounter some feeding issues.
Developed in 1999, it was the brainchild of Dan Dowling and Al Ashton leading to Dasher as a mashup of both names. Both were benchrest shooters who wanted so squeeze ever more accuracy out of their guns. The result speaks for itself having won numerous records in benchrest competitions at distances of 600 to 1000 yard.
The key to winning is consistency. This means, you need to employ proper handloading techniques in order to create only minimal shot to shot standard deviation as well as minimum spread. It is this predictability, that makes it possible for shooters to calculate the trajectories of their rounds even at longer ranges with extreme confidence.
An interesting plus is that this is achieved with relatively mild velocities revolving around 2850 fps (feet per second). This allows shooters to easily manage the recoil of their guns and spot their hits as well as misses. The feeding issues come from the overall short length and the 40-degree shoulder. However, tuning the magazine can mitigate this problem.
3. The Best Caliber for Pure Accuracy: .30 Stewart
If precision is everything you want, go with the .30 Stewart. It is purpose build for the benchrest shooting making it the caliber shooting the smallest 5 shot groups ever. In other words, it can only be described as insanely accurate. The downside is that as such, it is a niche cartridge so good luck finding it in a store near you.
To really understand its precision, one has to look at the .0077 inches 5-shot group achieved with this round in 2013 by Mike Stinnett. This means, all 5 bullets landed within the space that is the same as the thickness of 2 sheets of paper. To prove that all shots actually landed on paper, a backer was used. This paper was moved and showed 5 distinct wholes.
The .30 Steward is based on the 6.5 Grendel which was necked up to .30-caliber. Stinnett formed the brass in a laborious process. He took a 6.5 Grendel and run it through a sizing die. The shoulder was pushed back far enough to chamber. Then you used a barrel dedicated for this process to fire form the brass. Next, he ran it through a die with a .30 caliber mandrel. At that point, the case neck is turned and the brass trimmed to the right length. He needed all in all 8 test firing before he got the dimensions correct.
For the bullet, he chose a .30 caliber BIB 114-grain projectile which he seated only .12 inches into the case. It was loaded over H4198 powder, and achieved a muzzle velocity of 2980 fps. The barrel he used was custom made and came with a twist of 1:17. If you plan on getting it somewhere, you might have to invest some time and load it by yourself. This way, Stinnett ensures that his record will stand for a long time.
When it comes to hunting, nothing beats the .308 Winchester. Itself being a jack of all trades, it is the best when it comes to hunt game without being to specific which one. This round is well balanced, and it comes with a proven track record.
The recoil is manageable, so that you easily hit the target. It is no problem to find this caliber in any store, and you get a wide variety of bullets to choose from. Of course, this does come with some downsides. So is the trajectory a little bit less forgiving, and the projectiles are more susceptible to wind.
While you can choose more specialized rounds for certain kinds of game, there is a lot going for the .308 that makes it just right for most. Not least nostalgia, as many hunters got their first experience with this round in the military. Apart from that, it is just the perfect round that has done it all. It has been used for everything apart from the largest game. It is accurate to begin with, and it does shoot well.
Granted, the trajectory could be flatter, but you can deal with it for a simple reason. This caliber is just super consistent. Knowing where to aim, having a good scope, and a little bit of experience, and you can hit what you want over quite some distance.
It is its very versatility paired with its availability that made Jeff Cooper choose this round when he defined his vision of a scout rifle, a rifle meant to do it all reliably while being accurate and light at the same time. The .308 fits perfectly as it can easily take down an animal with a weight of 1000 pounds with a single hit. It allows for a light rifle, and it can produce 2 MOA groups at 200 yards.
There are a ton of good factory loads out there. That includes Federal`s Gold Medal Match Loads, Black Hills 168-grain BTHP, and the Nosler 165-grain Accubond. Also, reloading it is not that tricky, and you can tailor its performance to your liking.
Going for Mule Deer? Consider the 6.5 PRC. It is absolutely lethal, even at very long ranges, and it is made for accuracy. This is the cartridge for open-country with an unobstructed view for miles into every direction. For that, it is made ballistically efficient. It comes with a recoil that is not too strong, and you get quite a selection of ammo and bullets. However, to benefit from it, you got to put in more money, and it might take some time before you find the ammo you want.
Introduced in 2018 by Hornady, it sits in a sweet spot for shooting long ranges in windy conditions with a mule deer, elk, or similar game at the end of the trajectory. Comparing it to the 6.5 Creedmoor, you get some 200 fps more giving you the extra punch and the extra flat trajectory you are looking for.
The projectiles are made to bleed speed very, very slowly. This allows it to even outshine calibers that are larger and hit harder. After 600 yards, it is the 6.5 PRC that has the most speed left thanks to a high BC (Ballistic Coefficient).
Shooting the Hornady ELD-X with a bullet weight of 143 grain, you get a drop of 65 inches at 600 and 137 inches at 800 yards. By then, they still have a velocity of a tad over 2200 fps and 1967 fps retained. That means, at 600 yards, they still pack a punch of 1539 ft-lb (foot pounds), and at 800 yards of 1229 ft-lb.
At 500 yards, you get pinpoint accuracy and enough power, to drop any mule deer, whitetail, elk or Moose. If you wat to go for competitions, this caliber will serve you well too. However, here you should use lighter ELR (extremely long ranges) rounds that give you great accuracy out to 2100 yards.
Planning to hunt something bigger? Here the best caliber is .300 Win Mag. You want to hit hard? That caliber packs some serious punch. With it, you can handle every big-game animal you can find on this planet. While its terminal ballistics are nothing to sneeze at, it also comes with great accuracy nowadays. A further plus is that you can easily get it in any store, online or around the corner. The downsides are that it also kicks your shoulder, and not every round out there does what the caliber promises.
Introduced in 1963, this amazing caliber was part of a series of belted magnum cartridges offered by Winchester which were based on the .375 H&H. At the beginning in 1958, there were the .264 Win.Mag, .338 Win.Mag, and the .458 Win.Mag. Then came the .300 Win.Mag., which very quickly made a name for itself. It became the go to round when somebody wanted to hunt Western big game. Also, it became popular in international hunting. That was no coincidence as the .300 Win.Mag. came with a harder hitting bullet but lighter recoil and a flatter trajectory than the .300 Weatherby Magnum, which had been available since 1944.
To see the performance, we can just take one example. It shoots a bullet with a weight of 180 grain and a .507 G1 BC at a muzzle velocity of 2960 fps. With a rifle sighted at 1.5 inches high at a distance of 100 yards, you get a bullet drop of 6.7 inches at 300 yards. At 400 yards, the bullet drops a tad less than 20 inches. At that distance, it still as a velocity of 2261 fps what still gives it quite a punch.
Soon, its performance was noticed by the military not last because of Carlos Hathcock, the most famous Marine sniper in Vietnam. He won the 1965 Wimbledon Cup with a .300 Win.Mag.. While he did not use this caliber in Vietnam, the attention of the military was there. Trying to adopt it, it had to comply with the laws of warfare forbidding the use of hollow-point rounds. Changes to the ammo trying to adapt it to these rules introduced instabilities, so it fell through at first, but after trying again and again, it was adopted as the A191, and deemed effective up to 1200 yards.
Looking for a round effective to 1500 yards, it was the .300 Win.Mag., that got adopted to that requirement after a short consideration of the .338 Lapua. With a 220 grain bullet and a muzzle velocity of 2800 fps, it was more cost effective for less recoil making for its win over the .338. Good rounds for hunting big game, among others, are Winchester Deer Season 150 grain XP and Federal Gold Medal Match 190 grain HPBT.
There you have it guys, the best long range calibers for 2022. If you think I forgot one, please put it into the comments, and let us all know why you think it should make the list.