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As a relative newcomer to the shooting/hunting world, I am looking to buy my first big game rifle. Now, I know what rifle I want, just not what caliber to get it in.

The two calibers that I am left with after reading up on the subject are .308 and .30-06. So, what are their relative advantages?

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.30-06 is a much more powerful round with flatter trajectory and greater impact energy. That said, for shots on mid-sized game (like deer) at ranges out to 300 yards, it makes no difference which of those two rounds you use, only that your shot is accurate. Both rounds are plenty powerful enough for those common hunting scenarios. For long range shots or very large game (large bears, elk, African game, etc.) .30-06 is a much better round. Being a good marksman and only taking responsible shots (that you know will kill instantly with one shot) is by far the most important thing.

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The two rounds are essentially the same. To a newcomer, the differences are not going to matter.

If you are picking between these two calibers of the same model rifle, I would just get whichever has cheaper ammunition.

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Although it might not make a difference for a newcomer, it would be great if you could elaborate on what the differences are and what effects they would have. –  Benedikt Bauer Nov 2 '13 at 17:48
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I personally don't think there's that much difference between the 2 calibers, they both use similar weight bullets. I'd use either on most game in North America. So I'd approach it from this angle, what caliber ammo can I find readily available in your area?

Now if you're talking primarily very large game such as bear, moose, bison, etc. I'd probably go bigger such as the larger 30 calibers (338, 375, etc) or into the 40 caliber rounds.

If you're basically talking deer, elk, hogs, either of those rounds are fine.

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