Hunting hogs can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Taking down these quick, clever, and potentially dangerous animals, hinges on having the right equipment. While your choice of weapon is certainly instrumental in your success, the efficiency, precision, and humanity of hunting hogs comes down to the cartridges you’re using.
There are several cartridges suitable for the task of hunting hogs. The top four most reliable and proficient cartridges for hogs include the .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester, and the 6.5 Creedmoor
In this article, we’re going to explain why these four cartridges are our top choices for hunting hogs and list some alternatives that you could try out as well. We’ll also discuss factors to consider when choosing the ideal cartridge for your future hog hunts.
Defending Our Top Four Cartridges for Hunting Hogs
Like most hunting topics, you’re bound to see a great deal of debate regarding the best cartridges for hunting hogs. A lot of this centers on people having different preferences for their firearm type, model, and strategies.
- .270 Winchester
- .30-06 Springfield
- .308 Winchester
- 6.5 Creedmoor
What you won’t see is debate on the two most crucial qualities a hog hunting cartridge needs, and they are precision and power. This is why we, and numerous other hog hunters, recommend the four cartridges previously listed.
The average hog or wild boar can weigh anywhere from 130 to 220 pounds (source). Not only do you need enough power to penetrate a significant amount of muscle and bone to hit its vitals, but you want to do it with absolute accuracy.
This is for two reasons:
- the first, of course, being that ethical hunting should always be at the forefront of your mind when taking a shot.
- the second being that hogs often become extremely aggressive and tend to fight back when wounded, so taking it down with a single shot also becomes a matter of safety.
Each of these four cartridges will get the job done. It’s just up to you to determine which suits your style and arsenal best.
Here’s a caliber selection video for hog hunting, with a lot more info below:
If you’re looking for the most efficient and powerful cartridge with the best knock down power, it’s going to be the .270 Winchester.
With more than 1000 ft-lbs of energy beyond 700 yards, this is an excellent cartridge to pair with any long action rifle, and suits hunters who prefer to set up and wait patiently in their stand for the perfect instant kill shot rather than track down their prey.
However, the .270 Winchester recoils more than most cartridges, which is why hunters will often opt for an alternative.
Another classic choice for bringing down hogs of all sizes, the .30-06 Springfield has been a reliable cartridge since 1906.
Many hunters consider this cartridge to be one of the most versatile, all-purpose options for hunting larger game including deer, moose, and even bears.
Despite its exceptional recoil and weight, a .30-06 Springfield boasts precision, deep penetration power, and can perform effectively at both close and long ranges.
A .308 Winchester is the perfect cartridge for any hunter who favors the AR-10. It’s also ideal for times when you find yourself facing multiple hogs at once, or worse, your hog is on the run.
That being said, the specs of this cartridge are the reason why most hunters say you simply can’t go wrong with it, no matter a hog’s size or the shot. It’s undoubtedly one of the most versatile and widely used options for this and other hunting tasks.
Those of you who’d rather use their AR-15 over an AR-10 might want to consider using .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO.
While you’ll likely see the remnants of .308 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield embedded in a hog, another highly plausible option is a 6.5 Creedmoor.
This cartridge was specifically designed for long-range shooting and out performs many of its competitors regarding recoil, flatness of trajectory, bullet drop rates, amongst other categories.
If you’re confident and skilled enough to shoot hogs at a distance of 800+ yards, we guarantee this cartridge will not fail you.
What Grain Bullet Is Best for Hogs?
Once you’ve settled on your preferred cartridge for hunting hogs, you know have to decide what bullet weight or grain is best.
The answer to this question is going to partially depend on which cartridge you’ve chosen, as they are offered in different grains.
For the purposes of hunting hogs, you’ll want to opt for at least 110 to 120 grain for smaller targets, but maybe go for 130 or 150 grain to be safe. If you know for a fact that you’ll be shooting at some heavy hogs (ex. 200+ pounds), you’re better off with 160, 170, or 180 grain.
Ultimately, when you combine your cartridge with your grain, you want a round that penetrates deeply, expands well, and has excellent precision. As long as you have those qualities, your hog hunt should be a success.
How to Choose the Best Cartridge for Hog Hunting
While the cartridges listed here are all excellent choices for hog hunting, there’s always a chance that a different cartridge might suit your needs more.
When it comes to choosing the best cartridges for hunting hogs, there are many factors to consider, including:
- Style: tracking behind dogs, spot-and-stalk, waiting in a stand
- Distance: if you tend to shoot within 100 yards of the hog, you don’t want a light bullet that is more likely to wound the hog than penetrate for an ethical kill
- Recoil tolerance: can you bear the significant recoil of a .30-06 Springfield or are you better off going down to a 6.5 Creedmoor?
- Gun type of choice: do you prefer a rifle or a shotgun (we’re going to assume you aren’t opting for a pistol or machine gun, as these are terrible choices for hog hunting)
Of course, hunts don’t always go according to plan, and you might find yourself shooting at a shorter range than intended or are now tracking down a hog you wounded rather than killed.
You won’t be able to foresee situations like these but taking these factors into account when choosing your ideal cartridge and grain can help ensure optimal performance and limit undesirable turns of events.
Hunting hogs is similar to hunting other big game in many ways. Taking them down requires cartridges with exceptional penetration power and accuracy to limit unethical injuries and aggressive reactions.
The four cartridges and grain ranges listed here are a great place to start for almost any hunter, but don’t forget to consider other aspects of your hunt to ensure you’ve made the right choice.