You finally drew that coveted mule deer tag! You have all your gear ready, and the perfect spot picked out. Now you’re tasked with picking which caliber of rifle to use for the hunt.
Many factors go into this, and in this article, we’ll be discussing the best mule deer hunting calibers, including some of my personal favorites. In order to choose the correct caliber for hunting mule deer, we first need to consider the distance of shots you may be taking, how accurate the cartridge is, and how much recoil the cartridge may have. Let’s get started!
Editor’s Pick – 6.5 PRC
The first caliber I am going to recommend is my all-time favorite mule deer hunting cartridge, the 6.5 PRC. This is a very new caliber made by Hornady, and it is impressive to say the least.
It is a fast shooter and has been my go-to for long distance shooting these days. It will perform on the 600 – 800 yard shots you may be looking to take and will also do very well under 100 yards. My favorite thing about this cartridge though is that you can get the long-range effectiveness out of it, as seen with bigger calibers, but with very little recoil so anyone can shoot it, even petite women and children.
If you are looking for a super long-range gun, or something that will literally do it all, then you have to consider the 6.5, it will outperform many other guns, and will quickly become your favorite rifle.
7mm Rem Mag
The next caliber I am going to recommend is the 7mm Rem Mag. This cartridge is a little bigger than the 6.5 and is going to show it in the recoil area.
Outside of the recoil though, there are no downsides to this rifle.
Fast shooting, and great in long distance predicaments, this rifle will do it all.
It also is big enough that you are not going to be tracking very far. This cartridge is guaranteed to be knocking them down for you.
I have personally shot a 7mm rem mag for going on 10 years for whitetails and have never tracked a deer more than 50 yards and have never had accuracy problems. They are super easy to reload as well, if you’re into that, and can be a super accurate rifle.
.257 Weatherby Mag
Now, I want to talk about a caliber that is relatively unknown but is one of my all-time favorites.
That would be the .257 Weatherby mag. This little gun just does it all. It is about perfect for any type of deer hunting.
It’s super-fast shooting and super accurate, and to top it all off, this thing pretty much has no recoil at all. I got blessed with being able to shoot one of these for a few rounds this last year, and let me tell you, it is just plain fun to shoot. If you are looking for something a little different to use, and want a fun shooting round, this is the cartridge for you!
The next cartridge on our list is the .300 PRC. This is another new cartridge developed by Hornady. This one is much bigger than the 6.5 PRC, however.
This gun specializes in super long-range shots and has the recoil to prove it. It’s not one that you will want to go out and shoot 50 times, but it is one that will handle 1000+ yard shots and drop mule deer in their tracks.
So, if you are into long range hunting, or just want something that is going to drop anything from a mule deer to a moose, then I strongly encourage you to give this rifle a chance.
Lastly, I want to discuss the 25-06. This round is super-fast, and very effective inside 400 yards. If you are going to get within a decent distance, this gun is going to put the hurt on them. The 25-06 is hard hitting and will drop mule deer in their tracks.
The one downside I see to this cartridge is that it kicks pretty hard for the caliber size. Normally a 25-caliber rifle would not kick too hard, but these things are shooting so fast and they are packing enough powder to really make this cartridge feel like a much bigger round.
We have discussed many different options here for you to use on your next mule deer hunt.
Now I want to give you a few more examples of very good rifles, that I won’t go in depth on, but all could be considered perfect rifles for the job.
You could consider the 300 win mag, 7mm Saum, 30-06, 30-30, .243 win, 270 win, 6.5 creedmore, 6.5 grendel, 6mm creedmore, and 6mm Remington.
Any of these cartridges would be great choices, and there are many more out there as well, but as stated above I believe the 5 that we went into depth about would be the top choice for those looking for the best mule deer calibers. If you are heading out I urge you to go with one of those, and soon enough you will be watching the mule deer drop. Happy hunting.
PS. Looking for more ammo comparisons? Check out our 22 250 vs 223 deer hunting article!