Exploring the Best Caliber for Hog Hunting from Ar-15s to Lever-Actions


best caliber for hog hunting

Hog hunting, an exhilarating pursuit for many hunters, demands the right equipment for both effectiveness and safety. One crucial factor in this equation is the choice of caliber.

The best caliber for hog hunting can vary depending on the hunter’s preferences, the hunting environment, and the type of firearm used.

This article delves into the various calibers suited for hog hunting, ranging from AR-15s to lever-action rifles, and aims to guide hunters in making an informed decision.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Caliber

Selecting the right caliber is paramount for a successful and humane hog hunting experience. Wild hogs, known for their tough hide and tenacity, require a caliber that can deliver sufficient stopping power.

A poor choice can result in wounded animals and a less efficient hunt. Factors such as the size of the hogs, the typical range of shots, and the hunting terrain all influence this decision.

AR-15 Calibers for Hog Hunting

The AR-15 platform is popular among hunters for its versatility, modularity, and ease of use. Several calibers within the AR-15 family are well-suited for hog hunting.

.223 Remington/5.56 NATO

The .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO are among the most common calibers for AR-15 rifles. While these rounds can be effective for smaller hogs, they may lack the stopping power needed for larger, more resilient boars. Precision shot placement is critical when using these calibers, often requiring head or neck shots to ensure a quick and humane kill.

.300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout has gained popularity in the hunting community due to its superior performance in short-barreled rifles and suppressed firearms. Its heavier bullet and subsonic capabilities make it a formidable choice for close-range hog hunting, especially in dense brush where silent stalking is essential.

6.5 Grendel

The 6.5 Grendel offers a balance between range and stopping power, making it a versatile option for hog hunting. It provides better terminal ballistics than the .223/5.56 and extends its effective range, making it suitable for hunters who may encounter varying distances.

6.8 SPC

The 6.8 SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge) was specifically designed to enhance the performance of the AR-15 platform. It offers increased stopping power over the .223/5.56 and performs well at medium ranges. This caliber is particularly effective for hunters targeting larger hogs or those hunting in open fields.

Lever-Action Rifle Calibers for Hog Hunting

Lever-action rifles have a storied history in American hunting culture. Their reliability, simplicity, and powerful calibers make them a favorite among many hog hunters.

.30-30 Winchester

The .30-30 Winchester is perhaps the most iconic lever-action caliber. Known for its moderate recoil and effectiveness at short to medium ranges, it has been a staple in hog hunting for generations. Its ability to deliver a solid punch makes it ideal for the thick-skinned, muscular bodies of wild hogs.

.35 Remington

The .35 Remington is another excellent choice for lever-action rifles. Offering greater stopping power than the .30-30 Winchester, it excels in delivering devastating energy on impact. This makes it a preferred choice for hunters facing larger boars in close-quarter situations.

.45-70 Government

For those seeking maximum stopping power, the .45-70 Government stands out. This caliber is capable of taking down the largest and most resilient hogs with authority. Its large, heavy bullets deliver immense energy, making it suitable for hunters who prioritize stopping power over range.

.44 Magnum

The .44 Magnum, often associated with revolvers, also performs admirably in lever-action rifles. It offers a unique blend of portability and power, making it an excellent choice for hunters in dense, wooded areas where quick, powerful shots are necessary.

Choosing the Best Caliber for Hog Hunting

When choosing the best caliber for hog hunting, several factors should be considered:

Hunting Environment

The type of terrain and cover where you will be hunting can impact your caliber choice. The dense brush may require a caliber with excellent stopping power at close ranges, while open fields may necessitate a caliber with better long-range performance.

Hog Size

The size of the hogs in your hunting area is another critical factor. Larger hogs require calibers with more energy and penetration to ensure a humane kill. Smaller hogs may be taken down with lighter calibers, but a larger caliber will provide more confidence and effectiveness.

Shooter Comfort

The shooter’s comfort and experience with the chosen caliber should also be considered. Recoil can be a significant factor in shot placement and accuracy, so it is essential to choose a caliber that the shooter can handle comfortably.

Shooting Distance

Consider the typical shooting distances you encounter while hunting. Some calibers perform better at close ranges, while others are designed for longer shots. If you’re using hog hunting hounds, they can be very slow and require closer shots, while others may allow for longer-range shots.

Recoil Tolerance

Your comfort with recoil should also influence your decision. Some calibers, while effective, have significant recoil that may be challenging for some hunters to manage.

Tips for Hog Hunting Based on Location

Hog hunting requires a different approach when selecting a caliber. Here are some tips to keep in mind based on your hunting location:

Dense Forests

One example is, boar hunting in Georgia, amidst dense forests with limited visibility, which often leads to close encounters. Calibers such as the .300 Blackout or .45-70 Government excel in such scenarios, boasting significant stopping power and effectiveness in short-range engagements. Georgia hog hunting would be even more fun and challenging when you use these calibers due to the dense foliage, which can limit your sight.

Open Fields

In contrast, hunting in open fields requires calibers with longer effective ranges. The 6.5 Grendel and .30-30 Winchester offer the necessary reach and power to take down hogs at a distance, ensuring hunters can cover more ground effectively.


Swamplands present a unique challenge due to their dense vegetation and difficult terrain. Here, calibers that perform well in brush and provide quick follow-up shots, such as the .300 Blackout and .44 Magnum, are particularly valuable.

Finding the Best Caliber for Hog Hunting

The best caliber for hog hunting is the one that fits the hunter’s needs and the challenges of their hunting grounds. Whether you’re chasing boars in Georgia’s forests or taking long shots in open fields, the right caliber can up your game for a successful hunt.

Considering the hunting environment and the caliber’s traits can boost your hog hunting adventures. Pick a caliber with enough power and that suits your style to bag those wild hogs with satisfaction. 

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