What’s Your Rifle Caliber Choices for a Long-Term SHTF

What rifle calibers are you stockpiling?

If you were going to pick a rifle caliber for a long term SHTF situation, what would that caliber be?

For some reason I woke up this morning thinking about my 7mm express / 280 Remington, and how the panic buying back in the first half of 2013 caused a shortage in ammunition supplies.

When I got my Remington model 700 chambered in 280, I wanted something that was around the 270 or 30-06, and that would also work on heavier game such as elk and moose.

In all honesty I put too much thought into picking the 280 Remington. While it’s a fine caliber, the price of ammunition has gone up so much that shooting has gotten downright expensive. With a box of 20 rounds costing more than $25, stockpiling is cost prohibitive.

And let’s be perfectly honest, there is nothing the 280 Remington / 7mm express can do that either the 270 Winchester or 30-06 Springfield cannot do.

There comes a point when survivalists are stockpiling too many calibers. We need to get out of this “buy a new rifle, stockpile a new caliber, buy a new rifle, stockpile a new caliber” roller coaster.

During the great ammo panic of 2013, what calibers were available? Or maybe the question should be what calibers were not available? I’ll tell you what, let’s talk about both.

30-30 Winchester
After its introduction in 1895, the 30-30 Winchester has won a loyal following for its reliability. There is a reason why the 30-30 is considered to be the gun that won the west. Excluding military calibers and the 22 long rifle, if I had to pick a single cartridge for a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation, it would probably be the 30-30 Winchester.

Why the 30-30 Winchester? Because it has a proven track record of over a hundred years on deer sized game. Chances are no other modern caliber has killed more deer than the 30-30.

Before the panic of 2013, you could walk into just about any sporting goods store, or even a WalMart, and buy a box of 30-30. What really surprised me was that the 30-30 Winchester was included in the panic buying. Why were people buying so much 30-30 Winchester? Maybe it’s because the lever action rifle is one of the most popular rifles in the United States?

Even though the 30-30 Winchester works well for distances shorter than around 150 yards, past that distance the bullet starts to drop rather quickly. For shooting past 150 yards, there are better calibers out there.

When stockpiling ammunition, I try to put calibers into two different categories: readily available and buy when you can. The 30-30 Winchester used to be in my “readily available” category, but after supplies were stripped during the panic, I put the 30-30 Winchester in the “buy when you can” category.

270 Winchester
After its introduction in the early 20th century, the 270 Winchester gathered a loyal following for deer- and elk-sized game. After the 30-30 Winchester, the 270 Winchester would probably be my second choice for a long term SHTF survival rifle caliber. Keep in mind we are excluding military calibers and the 22 long rifle.

The 270 Winchester is flat shooting, available in a wide range of rifles, and has a reputation for taking deer sized game. One may even consider the 270 as one of the better all-around deer calibers.

Unlike the 30-30 Winchester, the 270 Winchester does not suffer from sudden bullet drop between 100 – 150 yards. This makes it a good choice for shooting at ranges that the 30-30 has difficulty achieving.

During the great panic buying of 2013, the 270 Winchester stayed in stock both online and in physical stores. Due to its being widely available even during a panic buying scare, the 270 Winchester stays in my “readily available” category. All this means is that the 270 has had a reputation of being available when other calibers were not.

30-06 Springfield
This probably the most versatile round ever developed. One of the major factors that drove the popularity of the 30-06 Springfield was the returning veterans from world war II buying rifles in the caliber they were familiar with.

Developed 1906, the 30-06 has over the past century proven itself in deer and larger sized game. There is no other caliber that has been so widely adopted or so widely used as the ’06. Whether it is deer hunting in Florida or elk hunting in Washington, the 30-06 is at home in both places.

Unlike the 30-30 Winchester and the 270 Winchester, the 30-06 Springfield has the destination of being a military service round.

From time to time, surplus ammunition will come onto the market, which helps offset supplies during times of panic buying. During the panic of 2013, the 30-06 Springfield stayed in stock both in physical stores and online. The ’06 stays classified as “readily available,” meaning that it was in stock during times of panic buying.

7mm Magnum
Why are we talking about a caliber that has a small but loyal following? Because during the great panic of 2013, the 7mm magnum was one of the few calibers that was in stock.

Introduced in 1962, the 7mm magnum offers improved ballistics over the 30-06 Springfield, but only up to 175 grain bullets, which is the largest 7mm bullet on the market. The ’06 can be loaded up to 220 grain bullets.

Let’s be honest, there is very little the 7mm magnum can do that the 270, 280, and ’06 can’t also do. The only real reason to use a 7mm magnum is on very large or dangerous game.

Since this article focuses deer sized game, the only reason why the 7mm magnum is listed is because it was in stock during the panic buying. Why was the 7mm magnum available during the panic buying? Probably because so few people shoot it. The excessive recoil would probably turn a lot of people off the 7mm magnum.

What Was Left Out
Why were so many calibers left out of this article? For the sake of discussion I tried to focus on what was readily available and widely used.

Why were military calibers left out? Because they should be a given. The .223 Remington/5.56mm vs. 7.62×39 vs. 308 Winchester discussion has been beat to death. And every survivalist should already have those calibers in stock, along with .22LR.

Besides the big three, what other calibers are you stockpiling?

Story by Kevin Felts