Top 5 Hog Hunting Calibers

Hunting feral hogs is fun and rewarding because you help reduce the destructive hog population and get some good meat for the freezer (or the smoker). Whether you’re planning a hog hunt for meat or looking to cut back on the size of a sounder that’s tearing up a field, you might be wondering if there’s an ideal caliber for it. Well, we have some suggestions, and because we also understand the usefulness of handgun hunting hogs, we’re not limiting this to rifles only. Check out our top 5 calibers for hog hunting. We might even throw in a few tips along the way.

remington 308 win
308 Win is a tried and true classic that’s perfect for hog hunting. (Photo credit: Remington)

.308 Winchester

There’s a reason the .308 Winchester cartridge has remained a constant for many gun owners throughout the years. This cartridge was designed in 1952 as the result of the T65 series of cartridges that were developed for combat use. Winchester wisely believed .308 Win had a bright future on the civilian market, and they were correct. This cartridge is fantastic for hog hunting because it produces the correct energy transfer and creates a large wound cavity, dropping the biggest of boars with a single, well-placed shot. They might be feral hogs, but they still deserve an ethical, one-shot kill.

Hog hunters can find AR-10-platform rifles, bolt-action rifles, and a few lever-action rifles chambered in .308 Winchester, making it a rather versatile hunting cartridge.

hornady handgun hunter
10mm is a stellar hunting round, and Hornady’s Handgun Hunter is made for the task. (Photo credit: Hornady)


If you’re going to hog hunt with handguns, it’s a good idea to go with a caliber that’s both sufficient ballistically and controllable enough for rapid target re-acquisition. 10mm is a solid choice for handgun hunting. When you’re selecting a hunting load, find one that’s specifically designed for hunting or is at least a strong performer as a defensive load.

Hunting with a 10mm handgun means you need to keep a few things in mind. First, a longer barrel is better. That means a Government-sized 1911 with a five-inch barrel or even a long slide that extends beyond five inches works well. And if you’re not a fan of 1911s, there are plenty of other striker-fired and hammer-fired handguns to choose from. There are even revolvers, like the Smith & Wesson Model 610, which has a 6.5-inch barrel. Thanks to its manageable recoil and effectiveness on hogs and other animals, 10mm is the perfect handgun hunting round.

federal fusion ammo
Want a hard-hitting straight-walled cartridge for hogs? Try 450 Bushmaster. (Photo credit: Federal)

.450 Bushmaster

Want an AR platform rifle, but prefer a straight-walled cartridge? The .450 Bushmaster cartridge might be just what you need. Keep in mind that this is a cartridge that tends to drop precipitously, meaning it doesn’t have the effective range of rounds like .308 Win. Even so, its performance on feral hogs is nothing short of impressive (as long as you remain within effective range). Based on the Thumper concept and requests of the late Colonel Jeff Cooper, this cartridge was designed by Tim LeGendre in 2007. It might seem like a bit of a niche cartridge, but it’s spectacular on feral hogs. After all, hogs are tough animals, and it’s a smart choice to use larger cartridges when you’re hunting them.

You can find ARs in .450 Bushmaster but there are also quite a few bolt-action rifles out there. Henry Repeating Arms also produces a single-shot .450 Bushmaster. Hog hunt with .450 Bushmaster if you’re fine hunting under 100 to 150 yards. If you need a more multi-purpose hunting rifle for longer-range targets, the Thumper might not be for you. But it is an enjoyable, accurate, and effective cartridge. The wound cavities produced by .450 Bushmaster are substantial and work well even on the bigger, tougher hogs.

winchester 45-70
There’s a reason 45-70 Government is the most well-known lever-action chambering around. (Photo credit: Winchester)

.45-70 Government

For those who prefer hunting with a lever-action, there’s the .45-70 Government. There are two main reasons for recommending this particular cartridge for levers: it’s a proven, top-performing hunting round and it’s more readily available than some other lever cartridges. This cartridge is at its best within 200 yards with the exact effective range depending on the barrel length of your gun and the ammunition being used. Regardless of the caliber, it’s always wise to be familiar with the drop rate of your hunting setup before you head out to chase hogs, so take time for some range use with your .45-70 Government.

This cartridge does produce more felt recoil and muzzle rise than others and due to its being a lever-action caliber, there’s typically not much to mitigate that. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great hog hunting choice, only that you need to be aware of its recoil and your own ability to handle it (especially if this involves a lot of shooting in a single day or night). If you really want a semi-automatic platform, there is a .45-70 Auto made by Phoenix Armory. It’s the only gun of its kind at this time, but it does give you broader options if you’re a fan of .45-70 Government. Just keep in mind that the two loads are not interchangeable.

nosler trophy grade
Nosler makes excellent 6.5 Creedmoor ammo for hunting. (Photo credit: Nosler)

6.5 Creedmoor

Using the 6.5 Creedmoor hog hunting gives you the ability to take significantly longer shots. That’s especially helpful during daylight hours when it’s difficult to move closer to them. There are other cartridges you can use the same way, such as .300 Win Mag or .338 Lapua Magnum, but you’re likely to find the 6.5 Creedmoor is more versatile and produces less felt recoil. It’s an extremely precise round on target, which is a must when you’re hunting. And if it just happens to be deer season, this one gives you options for multiple species without worrying about destroying meat.

6.5 Creedmoor is a flat-shooting round with wide availability in different platforms. You can find it in AR-10s, bolt-actions, and even lever-actions (check out Henry Repeating Arms). There are a lot of load options for 6.5 Creedmoor, and availability is typically good, so you’re unlikely to find yourself struggling to find ammunition. This is an especially great option for hog hunters interested in shooting from an overwatch location or even prone in a field.

When you’re after feral hogs, remember that although their eyesight is terrible their sense of smell is excellent and their hearing is also good. It’s all but impossible to eradicate them, but if you hunt an area hard enough you can at least reduce the population, and that’s important for farmers and ranchers. If you do participate in a hog hunt, don’t dismiss the idea of keeping backstraps and hams. Hog meat is delicious when it’s cooked correctly, and you don’t want to waste it.

What’s your favorite caliber for hog hunting? Share your ideas in the comments.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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