Should You Carry A Sidearm If You Are Going Hiking, Fishing Or Camping Far Off The Beaten Path?

There is something about being in the great outdoors that is relaxing and rejuvenating for many people like me. I get away to hunt, hike and fish whenever I can. I will also tell you that when I do these things I like to do them far off the beaten path. Another thing I don’t mind telling you is that when I do these things I make sure I have a sidearm with me wherever I am permitted to carry one too.

This has been the subject of much debate between me and some of my more liberal friends. They actually have some valid opinions as to why I should not take a firearm with me when I go hiking, camping or fishing in the deep woods. Let’s take a closer look at both sides of this argument and then you can better judge whether carrying a firearm with you into the wilderness is right for you.

Arguments For and Against Carrying a Firearm When Fishing, Camping or Hiking In the Back Woods

Here are some of the reasons people choose to carry or not choose to carry a handgun with them as they travel in a remote wilderness area.

Arguments for carrying a sidearm

Not all of the people in the woods are good people

If you are hunting or fishing in a very remote area you may very well run across some unsavory type people. It could be someone hiding from the law or engaged in some type of legal activity. Chances are they will be better armed than you will be if it comes to an aggressive situation but it’s better for you to have a firearm and a small chance of survival than having no chance at all.

Sure the chances of you never having to use a handgun to defend yourself in the wilderness are by far better than the chances you will. But until the chance you will never have to defend yourself with a handgun in the wild becomes 100% all the time, it’s better to have a one with you just in case.

You can protect yourself against four legged critters

Many people say you should bring a gun with you into the wilderness to help protect yourself against such things as attacks from large predators such as bears, wolves or mountain lions.

First of all I am not foolish enough to believe that any weapon that I carry as a sidearm will be powerful enough to stop something like a charging bear. It can however be used to fire a warning shot that may or not discourage the bear from continuing the charge.

Here is an instance caught on video where a quick thinking warning shot probably saved some lives.

Also, if you are forced to climb up a tree to protect yourself from a bear I guarantee one or two well placed shots to the head will most effectively convince the bear you are not worth the effort for them to continue climbing.

Fortunately I have never had a close encounter with wolves but I have had friends who have and they described some pretty scary close encounters to me. On the other hand, I have had more than one occasion when I am sure a pack of coyote were stalking me as I ventured deep into the woods or came very near my campsite. Having a sidearm with me took a little bit of the tenseness away from these encounters.

A handgun will benefit you if your outdoor event becomes a survival scenario

Firearms can come in handy for other things beside personal defense too. For example, if you should hurt yourself out on the trail and lose your ability to travel a well-timed gunshot into the air can alert a search party to your presence. You can also use a bullet to help you do such things as start a fire.

Arguments against carrying a sidearm

Causes fear among others

It is a pretty safe bet if you stumble upon other hikers out in the remote wilderness and your firearm is not concealed it will make those people a little intimidated in most circumstances. Some may even freak out about it.

Makes the woods a more dangerous place

There is some truth to the fact that if every person going into backwoods areas carried a firearm it would become a much more dangerous place just by the sheer number of firearms present. This is especially true if these firearms are being carried by people who have not been properly trained to use them.

It gives people a false sense of protection

Having a firearm strapped to your side can actually lower your guard against some very real threats in the wilderness. It may do such things as give you false confidence you can get closer to bears or make you so comfortable you choose not to leave an area that presents the possibility of some real hazards to your personal safety.

If You Decide To Carry Do It the Right Way

Make sure you are proficient with that sidearm

The only thing more potentially dangerous than someone carrying a sidearm with them as they go into the deep woods is for them to not know how to properly use it. If you are going to carry a sidearm with you on your outdoor adventures then know its safety features, how to clean it properly and practice shooting it on a regular basis.

Do it legally

Know the local laws and regulations as far as carrying firearms is concerned. Some states do not allow carrying firearms in such places as state parks and they are never allowed in federal buildings (such as ranger stations).

In some jurisdictions you are never allowed to carry a concealed weapon even with a permit but you can do such things as open carry a firearm. So make sure if you do decide to carry a firearm with you when remote fishing or hiking you do it in the right legal way for the area you will be travelling in.

Carry your sidearm comfortably

You want to make sure you carry a handgun with you that does not burden you on your trip. A firearm that is bulky or weighs a lot could make your hiking, fishing or camping trip much more uncomfortable than it needs to be. Remember you are carrying a sidearm more as a precaution and deterrent so get a handgun that is lightweight and easy to carry.

Be considerate of others

If you can legally conceal your weapon in the area you are in then do it. Some people are really intimidated by guns no matter how good your intentions may be.

Knowledge of the area you are going into is just as important as your handgun

Educate yourself about the remote area of wilderness you will be trekking through to get to that fishing hole or camping spot. See if it has a history of such things as bear attacks or law enforcement agencies discovering hidden marijuana farms in the area.

Often Times the Final Decision Is Up To You

This type of decision is always one that ultimately will be left up to you and the laws of the local area where you will go hiking, camping or fishing. Personally if I am going to place that will allow me to carry a sidearm I am going to make that as much of a priority as bringing my favorite custom fishing rod and reel setup. If I was you I would do the same if I was confident with my sidearm and going into any remote area where there is even the slightest possibility where you may need the use of a firearm to help keep you safe.

Author Bio
Hi, my name is Ben ayad a.k.a Ben. I’m an IT project manager and founder of a newbie blog called I love outdoors activities and the nature that God has created, as any human being does. I share what I know about outdoors and also the passion of other outdoors’ lovers who pride themselves in living off the land for extended periods of time in wilderness settings across the US.

5 “Must Do’s” Before Carrying Off-Body

We won’t beat around the bush, here. Carrying concealed with your weapon “off-body”, or in a container that is not attached to your person, is a contested topic. Check any article or message board and you’ll find strong opinions on both sides of the fence, which is probably why you’re here now, reading. Good news! We’re not going to advocate that one carry method is better than the other (situations change to fluidly to do so), but we will go through the five critical questions and considerations you should keep in mind. We’ll help you make the decision to carry on-body with confidence.

1. Know where you’re going

Pretty self-explanatory question, right? This is the most important question to consider, too. Depending on where you go, there are more considerations within this question to keep in mind. Where you’re going will dictate how – or whether – you’ll be able to carry off-body.
Keep it hidden: Say you’re going to carry at work, on campus, or in public. In these environments, accountability of your off-body carry container will be critical. Will anyone have the right to check or withhold your personal belongings? Is there an explicit policy against carrying in the workplace or on-campus? We’re not telling you to break the rules or local laws, but be mindful of who will have access to your off-body carry container.

Keep it with you: You need to know if you’ll be able to keep your carry container with you at all times. If you have to leave your weapon’s container behind, will it be locked and secured? Will it be left with another person, and if so, will they be aware of your weapon and can they legally carry, too? Are there areas where you cannot bring your concealed carry container?
Women are generally allowed to keep purses and small clutches with them for personal reasons, but men may not be able to carry their briefcase or backpack everywhere they go. If the place you’re visiting dictates you can’t keep your off-body carry container with you at all times, develop a back-up plan, have a reliable (legal/licensed) back-up person to carry for you temporarily, or go with an on-person carry method.

2. Know what carry container you’ll be using

There are numerous ways to safely and comfortably carry off-body. Some may be better than others, and some may work better than others depending on your environment and the need to access your firearm quickly. Let’s go over some of the most popular off-person carry containers, their benefits, and their drawbacks:

The purse/pocketbook: This is the most popular off-carry method for women by a healthy margin. You probably carry their purses or pocketbooks everywhere you go, regardless of the environment. Purses generally offer quick access because of shoulder or wrist straps and their under-arm location, making retrieval of your carry weapon pretty quick and simple. With that in mind, here are two considerations for carrying in your purse:

1. Never keep other items in the same compartment as your carry weapon. They’ll get in the way and could make for a dangerous situation, especially if you’re fumbling around when seconds count.
2. Make sure the compartment your weapon’s stored in is snug and secure. Your carry weapon shouldn’t “slosh” around in its compartment and the zipper, clip, hinge or latching method should be tight and not at risk of coming undone. You should be able to store your weapon in its compartment with a retention system or holster. Plenty of companies make concealed-carry purses with quick-access compartments that store your handgun securely. If you’re going to carry daily, we strongly advise you invest in one.

The backpack: This is one of the most popular carry methods for men. Backpacks are comfortable, convenient, they offer plenty of storage, and they can easily be carried anywhere you go, barring rules or local laws. Backpacks are generally slow when it comes time to draw, so if speed is of the essence, you should consider another carry method or invest in a backpack designed for quick retrieval.

The same two considerations apply to men as they do women and purses:
1. Your weapon’s compartment should not have any other items in it.
2. Your carry compartment should be able to store your weapon snuggly, so it isn’t shifting around.
You should be able to secure your weapon inside its compartment with a holster or retention system.

There are single-strap concealed carry backpacks that are designed to flip back to front with quick-access compartments. Investing in one of these packs can save your life if you’re singled out as a target in an active shooter situation. Lastly, don’t use a “tactical” backpack to carry. Using a tactical backpack only hints that you may be carrying – avoid the PALS webbing, “operator” or unit patches, and military logos. Go with a civilian pack that’s simple and unassuming.

The Smart Device Container: In recent years, society’s grown accustomed to lugging around smart devices. Tablets and phones have gotten bigger and more connected to our daily lives, so it makes sense that we now carry them with us inside nifty protectors and covers. Well, those same containers make great conceal-carry devices.

Of course, any smart device is more likely to be left on a table or seat or handled by another person around you, so keep accountability and concealment in mind when choosing to carry within your smart device’s container. Plenty of carry-specific smart device containers exist for Android and Apple tablets and phones, making handgun concealment and retrieval easier and safer.

The briefcase: This is the go-to carry option for the office worker or executive. You can generally bring your briefcase with you wherever you’re going and you won’t raise any eyebrows, but retrieval could be slow and cumbersome. There are briefcases specifically designed for concealed carrying and they usually sport an extra quick-access pocket or compartment designed for your handgun. As with all other off-body carry containers, we recommend investing in a by-design briefcase if you choose to carry daily.

3. Train with your off-body carry method

This is also pretty self-explanatory. Test out your off-body carry method at home and on the move. Practice retrieval and drawing your weapon in a safe manner before going out and travelling, working, or visiting an establishment. Can you draw fast enough if you’re singled out as a target? Do you have to put down your container of choice to retrieve your weapon? Can you retrieve with just one hand, or do you need both?

Decide how to best carry your off-body container, and consider whether other options are better. Test out the different compartments built into your off-body carry container and determine which one offers the fastest retrieval and the most secure storage. Once you’ve committed to your off-body carry container of choice, we again strongly recommend investing in one designed for your handgun. A by-design container, be it a purse, backpack, suitcase, pocketbook or smart device protector, will offer safer carrying, more concealment and faster retrieval. Your life could count on those seconds.

4. Train for the environment and the situation

Having to draw in a crowded food court will be a lot different from having to draw while you’re sitting at work – and those two situations will be dramatically different from having to retrieve your weapon while you’re sitting in your vehicle or traipsing down a dark alley in center city. Before carrying off-body, you should train for the environment you’ll be in, and the situations you might encounter that require you to retrieve your weapon safely and quickly.

If you sit down for a bite to eat or a Friday night film in a crowded theater, where will you place your backpack or purse? Can you set your briefcase next to your dominant hand on the subway while you head into the office? Are you sitting, standing, or moving with a crowd that’ll allow you adequate time to safely draw your weapon? If your backpack or purse is slung around your shoulder, can you safely and subtly draw without presenting yourself as a target? Can your off-body carry container be easily snatched by a passerby?

Even when sticking to one preferred off-body carry method, the situation that requires retrieval of your weapon can change, and the manner in which you utilize your off-body container can therefore change, too. You should be prepared for every scenario and environment you could be in, regardless of how brief, hypothetical, or unlikely it may seem.

5. Determine that off-body carry is best

We said we wouldn’t pick a side on the argument here, and we won’t – but you should still consider wholly and without question whether off-body carry is better than on-body. There are plenty of comfortable on-body carry methods that adapt well to nearly any type of clothing (read through our Carrying Concealed guide to find out!) so you should weigh the reason you would carry off-body against why you might instead carry on your person.

Why you might carry off-body

1. Dress – you may be wearing clothing that would “print”, or reveal, a concealed-carry holster, or you may simply not have any location to otherwise store your weapon on your person. This is especially true of ladies in dress and men in tailored clothing.

2. Location – You may be in an environment where sensitivity is high and concealment matters above all else – an off-body carry container guarantees concealment better than any on-body carry method.

3. Travel – You may simply be unable to accommodate a holster on your person while traveling. This may be because of close proximity to other pedestrians, seating arrangements, or dress rules and clothing requirements. Beaches and special events are great examples. If you’re driving you may have to take your holster or weapon off, and you may find difficulty in reattaching your weapon to your person. Retrieval from an on-person carry method could be difficult while driving, too.

4. Weapon – Simply put, you can carry a much larger weapon with off-body carry. Effective on-person concealment will depend largely on the handgun you choose. The larger the gun, the less likely concealment will be. Comfort and convenience can also become difficult to maintain, too. With off-body carry, you can easily fit a larger revolver or full-frame handgun into your container of choice, without sacrificing concealment or comfort. Obviously, a larger handgun will be more effective as a deterrent or when eliminating a threat.

There are plenty of considerations to make when carrying your handgun off-body. In summary, you should know where you’re going, what kind of off-body carry method you’ll be using, you should train with your carry method of choice, and you should practice and anticipate every scenario and environment you may find yourself in. Lastly, you should be sure that off-body carry’s a better choice than carrying on your person. With these considerations and questions in mind, be safe, be confident, and exercise your 2nd Amendment right armed with knowledge!


Howard Murphy has been an active member of the concealed carry community for over 20 years and is the editor for His passion for all things “guns” was born from growing up hunting and sport shooting in his home state of Wyoming.

Best Place To Keep Your Mount Gun Safe

Every gun owner who plans to keep a gun safe in their home should take all precautions and buy a gun safe to protect their weapon. Gun safes are used to keep firearms away from children and away from burglars. It can be tricky to find a good place in your home to keep your gun safe because the main objective is to keep it hidden but quickly accessible.

Most gun safes will provide you with predrilled holes for your gun safe to be bolted permanently into a fixture of your home. Mounting a gun safe provides protection from theft of your safe. Burglars see safes as treasure chest, they will try to steal them to open it on their own time. To make it difficult for your gun safe to be stolen, it should be properly mounted to the floor or wall of your home.

There are many different factors you should consider when choosing where to mount your gun safe. These include what room you should keep your safe to what kind of material you should mount your gun safe to. We will cover it all in this guide.

Keep your safe hidden.

Only you and those you trust should know about the location of your gun safe. When choosing where to store your weapon, you should find a location that can conceal your weapon from direct site. This means keeping it away from any windows that may give plain view to the safe.

If you have children in the house, a good rule of thumb is to keep dangerous household items 5 ft. or higher. This same goes for gun safes. If you children in the house, you should keep your gun safe high and hidden.

Keep it away from kitchens and fireplaces.

Most gun safes on the market will not protect your gun from a fire. Even the best gun safes which do provide fire protection will only protect your weapon to a certain temperature and for a limited amount of time. To reduce the risk of fire damage to your gun and safe, you should keep it out of the kitchen, any room with a fireplace or other fire hazards. Most house fires start from one of these rooms.

Keep away from humidity

Moisture is the main reason for rust on metals. Rust on your gun can cause it to stop functioning. To protect your gun from rusting inside the gun safe, make sure it’s placed somewhere with proper climate control. You can also consider buying a gun safe dehumidifier to absorb excess moisture in the gun safe.

Quick and easy access to the safe

When looking for a good place to hide your gun safe, you should consider someplace that you will have quick and easy access to. In case of any emergency, every second to get to your weapon will matter. It’s recommending to keep your weapon in the room you spend the most time. Most people will choose to mount their gun safe in their bedroom to keep their weapons close by at night.

Make sure the safe door can easily be opened without any obstacles blocking it. If you are tight with space, avoid cramming your gun safe in a hard to reach location.

Mounting your gun safe to a concrete slab

Mounting your gun safe to a concrete slab will be most effective. Some homes have concrete slab walls or floors. Basements and garages often have concreted slab floors as well. Once your gun safe is mounting to a concrete slab foundation, it’s very difficult to rip of.

When mounting your safe to a concrete slab, you should use a hammer drill. This will save you a lot of time and energy and provide secure mounting of the concrete anchors. If you don’t have one, ask a neighbor or rent one from your local hardware store.

Mounting your gun safe to a wood floor/wall

When mounting your gun safe to wooden floors, it’s important to drill into the actually floor joint and not just the plywood. Floors joists are the beams the run across the floor of your home. Plywood is attached to these beams to support the floor. A gun safe mounted to just the plywood can be easily pried off.

It’s important to make sure you do not have a gap between the floor/wall and the steel of the safe. Any gap between the gun safe and the wall/floor will allow space for a pry tool to detach the safe.

Best places in your home to hide your gun safe.


A lot of people choose to keep their gun safe under their bed or inside the bedroom closet. These are both great places if you will not block the entrance to the safe. If you keep your safe in your closet, it’s important to keep your closet clutter free for easy access to the safe.

Living room

Keeping your gun safe in the living room is not a bad idea if it’s hidden well. The living room is centrally located which makes it a central location for your weapon in case of an emergency.


Basements and garages with climate control are great places to hide your gun safe since they usually have concrete slab floors. You should avoid keeping your gun in the garage or basement if it does not have climate control, it’s likely an area with high humidity.

This article was written by Nate Perkins. He is a gun enthusiast and has a history in law enforcement. In his line of work, he has noticed the lack of attention to gun safety in homes. provides you everything you need to know about safely storing your firearms, and reviews/comparisons of the best gun safes.

The Seven Essential Mistakes to Avoid During Bowhunting

As sportsmen and hunters, it is absolutely necessary to learn from every mistake we make. If not, the next outing can be just as frustrating as the last. The following 7 mistakes are the seven most commonly made in the sport of bow hunting or archery and should be recognized and overcome as early as possible.

Misjudging Distance
The number one reason a bow hunter misjudges their mark is because they misjudge distance. Precision and estimation are highly important, vital aspects of the sport and without them, it is impossible to be successful.

Fortunately, all it takes are some practice and experience to be somewhat accurate at estimating the shooting distance. As your draw strength improves over time, make sure to take that into account as it will affect your optimum shooting distance. Mark your yardage whenever possible and practice often at home or at a range to get a better idea of how far you are standing from any given target.
If you are serious about bow hunting or archery, then you might want to get a good rangefinder. With advance technology these days, most rangefinders are accurate to a +/- 5 meters. It’s not a necessity, but definitely a handy gear to have.

Mishandled Equipment
If your equipment is not well maintained, it will not serve you well in the field. Your shots will be less accurate, your distance will suffer, and you will have less of a good time while shooting. This means you should inspect your equipment as often as possible and perform routine maintenance.
Tuning should be done before you go out every time, checking to ensure the center is trued, the screws and limb bolts are all in good position and that your sight pins are checked.

Too Much Weight
Speed is not the end all of bow hunting. In fact, too many hunters place a premium of being able to get high speed into their shots rather than any number of other possibilities. Accuracy is much more important and for that reason, your draw weight should be set well within your comfort level.
The extra FPS you gain is not worth the loss of accuracy and comfort in your shots. Also, remember that conditions in the field can greatly diminish the effectiveness of a weight you have tested beforehand.

Poorly Placed Shots
If you miss the right position on the animal, your hunt can become a horrible situation. A wounded, lost animal can haunt a hunter for the rest of the trip and ruin a perfectly good outing. It is necessary, both technically and ethically, to be able to hit the kill zone on an animal when bow hunting.
This means, you should be able to recognize where the kill zone is as well as have the right degree of accuracy in your shots to hit that position. If you do not feel you can do this, you should reconsider hunting with a bow until you have enough practice under your belt to do so.
To be more accurate though, you could use a bow stabilizer which absorbs vibrations in the bow at the shot. The added weight using the stabilizer will also keep the bow upright which will really improve accuracy.

Shooting Too Fast
If you grow too confident in your ability to shoot and release quickly on the run, you will probably have limited success. As a bow hunter, or any hunter for that matter, patience is absolutely vital. You want to get into and out of a stand as quickly as possible with minimal impact. If you can calmly and quietly handle your ground each time out, you will be much more effective than if you bolt in and try to overwhelm your game each time you go out.

Stand Placement
When you place your stand, a lot of importance is placed in the location, height, and time of its placement. If you are too low, too early, or in the wrong place, you will only spook your game and ruin a good position. Your placement will depend partly on your personal preference, but remember to make the right adjustments for your surroundings and the effect they will have on your game. Anywhere between 14 and 18 feet is ideal, providing enough range to keep from spooking your next quarry and with enough freedom to move if necessary.

Moving Too Much
If you move too much in your stand, you will not be successful. You must be willing to stand quietly, patiently, and as still as possible while waiting. Deer are incredibly adept at picking up movement – it is a survival instinct. If you set off those senses, they will bolt. Always keep an arrow knocked when on a stand so that you can minimize movement before a shot.

The right balance of common sense and preparation can result in the perfect hunting trips and the right shots almost every time for you. Be aware of what is happening around you, do not over adjust, move, or grow impatient, and you can avoid many of the most common mistakes made by bow hunters.

These are some of the common problems faced by most bow hunters at some point of the time. Have I missed out any of them? Feel free to share your opinion below.

Author Bio: John Lewis, a blogger over at, survivalist and outdoor enthusiast. While he believes that everyone should enjoy their lives doing things they love, being financially, mentally and physically prepared to face challenges that may arise is inevitably important.

Rundown Of The Best Cartridges For Hunting Deer

Rundown Of The Best Cartridges For Hunting Deer

When it comes to choosing the best cartridge for deer hunting, there seems to be quite a lot of debate.

I think the main problem is using the word best, when in reality many cartridges will take down a deer. However, there are many different variables at play, and people will always have their preferences.

In this article, I ran down some of the most popular choices out there and put a little data into the comparison.

While there are some folks out there that deer hunt with pistols or shotgun slugs, I’m constraining this analysis to rifles.

Different Factors

I first want to go over some of the main factors that go into choosing a deer hunting cartridge. People can always think of more, but this list covers the ones that effect most people. Your cartridge is a major choice before you go out to hunt.

Shot Range

If you ask around, most hunters would agree that the majority of deer are shot within 150 yards or less.

There are a variety of reasons on why this is the case. Usually, the average shooter is pretty proficient with their weapon at 100 yards, and many at 200 yards. As you get farther out, a shooter’s accuracy starts to drop off.

Accuracy And Shot Placement

Let’s face it. Shooter accuracy and where they can place a bullet is a huge factor. That is why we always here about people using smaller calibers and taking down deer easily, while others may end up losing their deer.

The advantage of bigger calibers is simply that it allows a little bit more shooter slop, assuming that the bullet is placed within reason.

While the cartridge plays a small role in accuracy, the rifle chosen is a bigger player. With modern rifles, this isn’t near as much of a problem given the size of a deer within 150 yards. Scope setup is also important.


As far as bullet trajectory, it is preferable to have a flatter trajectory over a 150 yard range. Naturally, a hunter will sight in their rifle for their preferred ideal distance, which is usually 100 yards for the average hunter.

Assuming they know how to use their scope properly, and are familiar with their rifle, most trajectory issues shouldn’t be a problem in this range. However, for longer range shots, trajectory will start playing a much bigger factor. Different reticles come in handy here.

Velocity and Energy

A big factor is the velocity of the bullet and the energy that it has when striking the target. The bullet will exit the muzzle at a certain speed, and then due to aerodynamics, will lose speed over range. We usually talk about bullet speed in units of feet per second (fps).

The energy of the bullet is simply related to the mass and velocity of the bullet when it hits the target. The units of measurement here are typically foot pounds (ft-lbs). Obviously, if you increase the mass and/or the velocity, you increase the energy.

A good rule of thumb is that you want around 1,000 foot pounds of energy to cleanly kill a deer. The rule is not perfect, but works well on average. Bullet placement is important here.


Recoil can play a role. For new or smaller frame shooters, taking a shoulder beating can be a problem. Most people can man up enough to take that single shot on a deer, but what about practicing a lot at the range to get proficient at their rifle?

If enough practice isn’t put in, with a knowledge of a lot of kick, flinching usually develops as a side effect. This will effect shooter accuracy.

The average size adult male shouldn’t have too many issues here, unless you have a sensitive shoulder or a prior injury. It’s a matter of personal preference. There are great recoil pad products out there too to help alleviate problems here.

Ammo Price And Availability

Depending on how often you practice shooting and hunt, the price of ammo can really add up here. What many people will do is get into reloading to help reduce the costs.

Availability can be an issue depending on where you live, or if you are on a hunting trip and can’t find more ammo in the cases that you might need it. Another concern is long term hunting during ammo shortages, or if civilization happens to ever end.

Rifle Size

The size of your rifle does play a role. It all depends on your hunting grounds and setup. Some people might like getting way out in the woods, which means a nice hike to and from the deer stand.

A couple of pounds difference in your rifle starts adding up. Not to mention that longer rifles are much more unwieldy when navigating through thick woods, over fences, and through creeks.

The size will affect younger and older hunters sooner than a hunter in their prime.

Most Popular Cartridges Used

Here’s what I did. I went out and asked a lot of people what cartridge they used for hunting deer. I also did a lot of research to see what the most popular options are. I wanted to bridge the gap to data, so I found out what the top selling rifle cartridges were in the USA.

The goal here is to try to compare what most people are buying and using, and see how the different factors line up among these choices. I came up with the 7 most popular options.

If your favorite isn’t here, it doesn’t mean it’s not a great choice. I just couldn’t cover everything in a decent sized article. The goal is to cover the biggest swath of hunters out there.

.308 Winchester

The .308 is the commercial cartridge version of the 7.62×51mm. Naturally, shooters in the USA often quickly adopt military based rounds.

The military has taken the time to really balance out these rounds, plus the ammo industry does a better job of mass producing them, which helps get the cost down.

The .308 is a popular choice because of the AR-10, as well as some very popular rifles like the Remington 700. It usually comes with good accuracy and long barrel life. The cartridge is one of the best all around options and is reloader friendly.

 .30-06 Springfield

The .30-06 has been around for quite a long time. It has been used in well known weapons, and has been a go to cartridge for many hunters. If you are looking for a more thorough rundown, there is a great comparison of the .308 versus the .30-06.

The .30-06 is going to be very similar to the .308, but has a little more recoil. It is also extremely reloader friendly, and offers a bigger array of bullet sizes over the .308.

 .30-30 Winchester

The .30-30 is a classic, and has its origins back to 1895 for the Winchester Model 1894. Because of this, it is often associated with lever action rifles. However, it’s not exclusive to them.

 .270 Winchester

The .270 is a necked down .30-03, which is the same parent case as the .30-06. There is another detailed comparison between the .270 versus .308 if you are interested in more info.

 .243 Winchester

While the .243 is more popular as a varmint round, it is also found in some deer hunter’s arsenals. The .243 is based on a necked down .308 case. It’s a popular target round for its accuracy and lower recoil.

 7mm-08 Remington

Given the ballistics, the 7mm-08 Rem has been gaining in popularity for deer hunting. It is a .308 Win case necked down to accept a 7mm bullet. A 7mm bullet is equivalent to .284 for reference.

.223 Remington

Actually, the .223 is the top seller in the USA since people are buying it for their AR-15s.

While the .223 is not the first choice for deer hunting, people have successfully used it to kill a deer. Given the popularity of the AR-15, I thought it was useful to include it on the list for comparison.

Because of the ballistics, the shooter needs to be pretty good with their shots. Otherwise they end up just wounding a deer.

The AR-15 is a popular platform, and for the really good shooters out there, might be a viable option. It’s not the best choice for the average shooter. The AR-10 is also popular, and with the .308 cartridge, is a much better choice for deer. If you want a comparison between .223 and .308, there is a nice delta here.

Ballistics Comparison

In order to get a valid ballistics number comparison, I chose the Federal premium ammo ballistics calculator.

I also chose to go with the Fusion ammo line since it’s available in all of the cartridges in this study for consistency. It’s a product that has been around since around 2005 and is designed specifically for deer hunting. The Fusion ammo gets some great reviews from hunters.

Some other assumptions for the calculator include: factory loads, sight height of 1.5 inches, zero range of 100 yards, temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit, wind speed of 10 mph, and altitude of 0 feet. These are the calculator defaults.

I also chose to focus on three ranges of 50, 150, and 300 yards to give a nice comparison of different shot distances.

Remember that we are assuming that most deer are shot under 150 yards and that our rule of thumb of 1,000 foot pounds (ft-lb) is the ideal energy to cleanly kill a deer. I colored the energy numbers in red that fall below this goal.

50 Yards

Here we can see that all of the cartridges perform well as expected. The only thing to point out is that the .223 is barely under the 1,000 ft-lb mark at 934 ft-lbs. This would indicate that using the Fusion ammo at 62 gr for shots under 50 yards should do just fine.

 150 Yards

At 150 yards, we see that all of the cartridges are still doing fine, except the .223 has fallen quite a bit below our desired energy, with 745 foot pounds delivered on target. The .30-30 has a bigger drop and wind drift here than the rest.

 300 Yards

For 300 yards, if folks want to take those longer and riskier shots, we see that now the .30-30 and .223 are below our desired energy goal. Also, the drop and wind drift for the .30-30 is substantially greater.


To wrap up our analysis, we covered many factors that you want to consider in choosing a cartridge for deer hunting. For example, rifle size, recoil, accuracy, price, availability, and many more play a role in each hunter’s decision.

It’s hard to quantify all of these factors because usually they can be very subjective from person to person. If recoil is a major factor, look into getting something like a LimbSaver recoil pad.

One objective factor that we can compare realistically is ballistics. We looked at the paper numbers by comparing the same manufacturer Federal, and the same product line Fusion of ammo across the cartridges.

What we found here is that only the .223 starts to fall behind up to 150 yards. The others perform very well. The .30-30 shows double the drop and wind drift though, which can be critical. At 300 yards, the .223 and .30-30 start dipping below our desired energy for a clean deer kill.

The final verdict is that depending on your preferences, all of these cartridges perform well for hunting deer under 150 yards. If you do insist on using a .223, you will need to make sure that you have great accuracy on bullet placement.

If you plan on hunting beyond 150 yards, you will need to be more selective on your cartridge choice.

Also, remember that we chose the Fusion ammo line from Federal, which is designed for deer hunting. If you go for more generic ammo, make sure and check the ballistics to ensure that it’s a great choice for deer.

Update Note (May 15, 2017): The original charts had the .270 145 grain from the Federal ballistics calculator which gives wrong data. Mark updated the charts for the .270 150 grain data, which is correct.

About the Author

Mark Wright is a longtime hunter and shooting enthusiast. He spends a lot of time at the range. Between hunting and shooting, he often shares his expertise over at Trek Warrior.