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What’s the Most Popular Big Game Caliber in the Book?


With the Method Visualizer tool, you can search the records for the most popular calibers and draw weights on 29 species of North American Big Game. 

The Boone and Crockett Club has plenty of records. But did you know that for more than a decade the Club has also been keeping track of the weapons and calibers used to take those records? Ever wonder what the most popular caliber for moose might be? How about the draw weight most used to kill big elk? Maybe you’re considering buying a crossbow for black bear hunting and want to know if hunters actually kill big bruins with them? With the Club’s new Method Visualizer, you can find out. 

The Method Visualizer is part of the Boone and Crockett Club’s suite of records search options. With a $50 subscription, you can spend more than a few wintry days searching the records database, which includes the Classic Trophy Search, County Search, Trophy Combinator and, of course, the Method Visualizer. 

Why Use the Method Visualizer?

Let’s say you’re going on a once-in-a-lifetime bison hunt, and you want to know if your .270 will be enough gun. By using the Method Visualizer, you’d find that the most popular caliber is the .300 Win Mag, and the .270 is quite a ways down the list. But there’s your old .30-06 in the gun safe, which hasn’t been in the woods for a while. A quick look at the search results will show you that it’s been more than effective at harvesting record-book bison. This kind of weapon-specific info is available for 35 categories of big game. 

Curt Heinert harvested his Montana bison with a .300 Winchester Mag., the most often used caliber used on record-book bulls.


How to Use the Method Visualizer 

It’s easy to use the Method Visualizer search tool. After getting your subscription, log on to the Boone and Crockett website and click on the Communities tab. Then click on Big Game Records LIVE to take you to the Trophy Search page. Click on the Method Visualizer tab. From there, you will see two grey menu bars. To search for a specific caliber or method, click on the grey box labeled Method. Using the drop-down menu, you can find the weapon you’re most curious about. Then click Apply to populate the graph. 
To search for the most popular weapon used to take a particular trophy category, the process is the same. Click on the Trophy Category box, and a dropdown menu will appear. Select one or more trophy categories and click Apply. The graph below will populate the search results. 

How to Use Method Trends 

 Just below the Method Visualizer, the Boone and Crockett Club has recently launched a Method Trends tool. This tool allows users to discover the most popular weapons by state and region. In addition, it allows you to narrow your search down to specific trophy categories. 

Why would you possibly need this? Let’s say you drew a mule deer tag for a primo area in Colorado. You’re from the East Coast, this is your first mule deer hunt, and you have no idea what caliber you should use. With the Method Trends tool, you can easily find the most popular caliber. 

Like the Method Visualizer tool, you’ll need to fill in those little grey search filters along the top: Colorado is your state, date range can be the last 20 years or so, skip the Method box, and select typical mule deer and non-typical mule deer from Category box. Be sure to click Apply after each box is populated with your info. 

Below the search boxes, a graph that looks like some seriously steep mountains will appear. Scroll over the various peaks and see that the 7mm Remington Magnum is the preferred caliber used for trophy mule deer over the years in Colorado. 


What is the Most Popular Caliber in the Records? 

If you’ve read this far, it’s only fair that we answer our original question. With 1,216 entries, the .30-06 Springfield is the most popular caliber used on trophies in the Boone and Crockett records. It’s followed closely by three other well-known calibers. If you want to see how they rank, consider subscribing to the Boone and Crockett Club’s suite of record search tools, which includes the Method Visualizer

This Arizona black bear was taken by Lars Petersen, Jr. in 2019 with the most popular caliber used to harvest a B&C record-book animal..... the .30-06 Springfield!

PJ DelHomme is a writer for Crazy Canyon Media in Missoula, Montana. He regularly contributes content to the Boone and Crockett Club as well as national and regional publications.

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