[Guide] Best Rifles & Calibers for Hog Hunting


Are you a fan of pork chops? How about bacon?

Thankfully, with feral hog populations exploding across much of the United States, there’s plenty of pork, ham, and sausage out there for the picking. No grocery store visits required.

wild hog hunting
Wild hogs are invasive, destructive, and delicious.

Want to try your hand at helping quell the swelling tide of feral swine (and get some fresh pork loin in the process)? Read on to find out which rifles are best for popping porkers.

A Plague of Pigs

Wild hogs are expensive critters. This invasive species causes up to $2.5 billion in damage each year.

Feral swine wreak havoc wherever they go, tearing up farm fields, destroying golf courses and manicured lawns, contaminating water supplies, and spreading disease.

They’re kind of like portly partying rock stars, only without the killer concerts.

rock n roll pig
We Googled “Rock n Roll Pig” and we regret nothing.

Not only are pigs destructive, they are also smart, highly adaptive, and prolific breeders. They currently run wild in at least 39 states (although they’ve made reported appearances in 48).

Hunting plays a key role in keeping the booming pig population in check. This is good news for outdoorsmen (and women) looking for a fun, year-round hunting opportunity that just happens to have the side benefit of pork ribs, slow-cooked barbecue, and everyone’s favorite….BACON!


Wild pork is the perfect way to extend your hunt to the dining room table. The typical southeastern hog will yield a good 140 pounds of mouthwatering wild pork for your freezer.

The Perfect Hog Rifle

Hogs ramble over a pretty extensive range. They call the marshlands of eastern North Carolina home, as well as the shrub lands of New Mexico. They also roam pretty much everything in between.

Swampfox sunset
Typical Texas sunset. God bless Texas.

Their habitat runs the length of California, well into the Midwest, and deep into the Florida Everglades.

With such a diverse habitat, and minimal regulations regarding wild hog harvests, few hog hunts look exactly alike.

Hunters take pigs from treestands, ground blinds, over bait, in front of dogs, and by spot-and-stalk methods.

With so many different approaches to hunting feral swine, there is no one perfect hog hunting rifle.

Wonder how many lists John was on...
What do you need to hunt hogs?

What works for stalking swamp pigs in the Louisiana Bayou just isn’t going to cut it for hogs strung out through the North Texas Badlands.

(If you want to hunt the Golden State, check out our article covering all the ins and outs of Hunting Wild Boar in California.)

Traditional Hog Hitters

In the not-so-distant past, most hunters used their deer guns on wild pigs, and they enjoyed at least respectable results. Here are just a few tried and true hog hitters. (They happen to be pretty competent deer rifles, too).

Winchester 1894

First introduced to the public in (you guessed it) 1894, the Winchester Model 94 is best-known as an iconic symbol of the American West. This is the quintessential cowboy gun.

Winchester 94 & Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt - Original Pistol Caliber Carbine
Winchester 94 & Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt – Original Pistol Caliber Carbine

This classic firearm certainly set the standard for American-made lever actions. However, the Model 94 (especially when chambered in .30-30 Winchester) has also reigned in the American woods as one of the most successful deer hunting rifles ever made.

Perfectly capable of pulling double duty, the Model 94 has also taken its fair share of feral hogs.

John Wayne Lever-Action

While the Model 94 is certainly no sniper rifle, it makes a great little brush gun. It has a short, carbine-length barrel that’s easy to swing in thick woods and a smooth lever-action that, in practiced hands, can string some pretty impressive rapid-fire shots.

These guns are just plain fun to shoot, too. You’ll just want to get in close to ensure an ethical shot. Hogs have a smaller vital area than the average whitetail, with their heart and lungs sitting low and tight in the chest cavity.

They also leave notoriously poor blood trails, so you want a spot-on hit, which can be difficult at ranges beyond 100 yards, especially on porkers weighing over 150 pounds.

If you’re going to hunt hogs with Model 94 .30-30, keep em’ close and keep ‘em small. (The little piggies taste better than those monsters, anyway.)

Our biggest issue with using this traditional rifle as a hog culler: There’s no place to mount a thermal optic, but this one works great for harvesting daytime pork chops over a feeder.

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Marlin Model 1895

It really isn’t fair to mention Winchester’s famed lever action without also mentioning Marlin’s famous “Guide Gun.”

This updated version of the Marlin classic features a larger looped finger lever for faster, easier cycling. It also comes drilled and tapped for scope mounts, and it’s chambered in pig punishing .45-70 Government.

Black Hills .45-70 vs 5.56
Black Hills .45-70 vs 5.56 NATO

You just have to figure out where to mount your flashlight.

Remington 700

The Remington 700 has been a staple at deer camps and hunt clubs across the country for nearly 60 years, and its popularity as a deer rifle doesn’t seem to be waning.

Hog Hunting Rifles Remington 700
Hog Hunting Rifles Remington 700

Known for its simple, rugged, reliable design, the Remington 700 also has a reputation for high-level accuracy. In fact, the Remington 700 bolt action is widely used as a base for long-range, precision rifle builds.

So, if you want a precision pig puncher, there’s no reason not to start with the Remington 700.

The Remington 700 SPS Tactical makes a great entry-level hog gun. Not only does it have that legendary bolt action, but this version also has a tough textured synthetic stock that is perfect for grungy, mucky hog hunts.

Get it chambered in .308, top it with a variable FFP scope (I have the Monstrum G3 on mine), and you’ll be ready to pop pigs across cropland from your favorite deer stand.

Want more choices..check out our Best Remington 700 Models.

What’s your take on the 700?

Tactical AND Practical – The AR Hog Hunter

The AR-15 often gets a bad rap from media pundits and anti-gun groups. “Why would anyone NEED an AR-15?” ponder the Karens of the world with their can-I-speak-to-the-manager haircuts.

In answer to their hypothetical questions, hog hunters across the country inevitably raise their hands in unison, waving them in the air and shouting, “Me, Karen! I NEED an AR-15!”

While there will always be die-hard fans of the traditional hunting rifle, an AR-style rifle is hands-down the best platform upon which to build a solid hog reaper.

With a laundry list of absolutely everything that makes a great hog rig – like reliable semi-automatic functioning, easy mounting of super cool and totally practical accessories, and higher capacity magazines (See, Karen? We NEED those, too) – the AR is a hog hunter’s teenage wet dream.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (8)
Lead Star Grunt AR-15

If you don’t have the time or the gumption to build your own AR, here are a few great factory options you can easily customize.

1. Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 Carbine

With a short, 16-inch barrel, you’ll never have to worry about bumping your hunting buddies inside a ground blind with this AR-15 style carbine from Daniel Defense.

It’s also relatively lightweight. At just over 6 pounds stark naked, this thing weighs less than a gallon of milk. That means you can trick it out to the nines and still have a pig rig you can tote for miles without it wearing you down.

If you’re thinking that .223/5.56 chambering might be a bit of a lightweight for wild boar, don’t worry. The DDM4 V7 has a barrel with a 1:7 twist, so you can load it up with heavyweight projectiles to ensure enough penetration to punch through thick pigskin and still reach deep-set vitals.

2. Palmetto State Armory PA-10

When it comes to hogs, virtually any AR-10 style rifle will do the trick. There are plenty to choose from, but the Palmetto State Armory PA-10 stands out from the crowd for several reasons.

It features a six-position telescopic stock, ambidextrous controls (safety, magazine release, and bolt selector), and is chambered in hog-punishing .308 Winchester.

wild boar fighting
Palmetto State Armory PA-10, Gen 3

This thing will also eat just about any ammo you feed it, and it’s perfectly capable of dropping a passel of pigs faster than you can recite the words to “This Little Piggy.”

We’ve tested the gen 2 and gen 3 version of the PA-10 and have found them to be rock solid and a great price.

If you need to lay waste to hogs, this is a great option.

3. Bushmaster Hunter SD

Every aspect of the Bushmaster Hunter SD is engineered to enhance the performance of the heavy-hitting .450 BM cartridge.

We’re particular fans of the special muzzle brake designed for greater recoil reduction. Thanks, Bushmaster. We are eternally grateful!

Yet, despite the colossal size of the projectile this baby fires, it still somehow manages to handle like a freakin’ AR-15.

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We just want to know what kind of witchcraft Bushmaster is practicing to pull that off.

The Best AR-15 Caliber for Hogs

Obviously, .223/5.56 is the most popular AR chambering, and there are plenty of hog hunters who use these cartridges. In fact, hundreds of hogs are harvested with them every day.

PSA Valkyrie .224 (Complete)
Imagine this, but with bigger tusks and coming at you instead of another hog.

Some serious hog hunters argue that .223/5.56 is less than ideal. However, modern ammunition continues to improve the terminal performance of these popular cartridges.

Many major ammo manufacturers have noticed the growing hog-hunting trend and developed their own hog-specific ammo. Some of our favorites are Remington Hog Hammer and Hornady Full Boar.

However, sometimes bigger is better. Here are some common cartridges that team up well with the AR platform.

As a bonus, they can really put a hurting on the feral pig population.

.224 Valkyrie

Although the .224 Valkyrie uses the same bullet diameter as .223 Remington, this newcomer to the ammo scene has a much larger case volume.

Grendel Hunting Setup
PSA Valkyrie .224

That allows a ton more powder to pack in behind that .22 caliber projectile.

As a result, .224 Valkyrie drives heavier projectiles downrange at a much higher velocity than standard .223 Remington.

That translates to deeper penetration and an exponentially longer effective range, two things every hog hunter will appreciate.

6.5 Grendel

Another relative newcomer, 6.5 Grendel is made from a necked down 7.62×39 case (that’s an AK-47 casing just in case you weren’t paying attention) to accommodate a .264 caliber (6.5 mm) bullet.

6.8 SPC
Kens 6.5 Grendel Hunting Setup

Why a 6.5 mm projectile? I’m glad you asked.

6.5 mm projectiles are esteemed for their superior ballistic performance. With high sectional density, 6.5 mm are incredibly aerodynamic, slow to shed velocity, and much less affected by wind.

Because 6.5 Grendel likes to flex on other AR-15 cartridges, it effortlessly achieves supersonic flight past 1,200 yards.

These qualities all make the 6.5 Grendel perfect for popping pigs across longer distances.

6.8 Remington SPC

Based on the .30 Remington cartridge, 6.8 Remington SPC hits the halfway point between 5.56 NATO and .308 Winchester in regard to bore diameter.

6.8 SPC

That .270 caliber bullet delivers 44 percent more energy than .223/5.56 rounds to hogs between 100 and 300 yards.

However, the 6.8 Rem SPC is far from a superstar. Compared to other alternative AR cartridges, this one is mediocre at best. 6.5 Grendel will outperform it every time, especially at longer ranges.

.300 AAC Blackout

This is THE current hot cartridge all the cool kids are running in their ARs. It’s basically a .223 casing necked up to accommodate a .30 caliber projectile.

M1 Carbine ammo vs other ammo
.300 BLK home defense pistol

This baby was specifically designed to allow your AR-15 to run a more powerful cartridge without sacrificing magazine capacity. In fact, all you need is a barrel swap to convert your standard AR-15 to .300 BLK.

You get to keep your magazines, bolt, and lower receiver.

.300 BLK is a nice mid-range cartridge with ballistics similar to .30-30 Winchester.

Targets for the 10 different loads tested out of a 16” Bushmaster barrel
(L to R) 5.56 NATO, .300 BLK, .30 Carbine

You’ll just want to keep your shots within 200 yards or so, because once you get out past 250 yards, this one sheds speed faster than a Golden Retriever sheds hair on the living room carpet.

However, if you want to run a short-barreled AR, especially one with a suppressor, this is THE best cartridge for the job. .300 BLK teamed with a suppressor and some subsonic ammo is deadly quiet.

The keyword here is “deadly.” If you want to drop several pigs in a single sounder, this is the way to do it. The loudest sound the hogs will hear is the thud their buddies make when their bodies hit the ground.

.450 Bushmaster

Not all hogs are created equal. If you’re going after heavy hogs, you’re going to need a heavy hitter.

.458 SOCOM vs 5.56
Targets for the 10 different loads tested out of a 16” Bushmaster barrel

Those massive mature boars you often see gracing the covers of outdoor magazines are tough, dangerous, and hard to kill. They have a thick cartilage shield that protects their deep-set vitals.

If you want to take down the mob boss, you just aren’t going to do it with your cute little .223 AR-15.

You’re going to need a big boy cartridge like the .450 BM. These things push big, heavy bullets with a ton of energy for some serious hog-thumping performance.

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.458 SOCOM

The .458 SOCOM is simply a .50 AE Desert Eagle cartridge necked down to accommodate a .458 caliber projectile.

350 legend
.458 SOCOM vs 5.56

This thing is an absolute beast that combines a butt-ton of fast-burning powder and a mammoth projectile to produce a massive amount of energy in a relatively small package.

It also plays well with a suppressor and subsonic ammo, which is a huge bonus for hunters culling swine in over-populated areas.

Although this cartridge is indeed a badass, it may be a bit of overkill. So if your motto is “Go big or go home,” this is the cartridge for you.

However, these big guys shed velocity and energy pretty quickly, so you’ll want to keep your shots within 150 yards.

.350 Legend

New to the hunting market, .350 Legend was designed for states that have restrictions on hunting with a rifle requiring a “straight-wall” design.

ATN Thermal Hog
.350 Legend

It has quickly proven to be an effective hunting cartridge and one that is welcome in states like Ohio for allowing people to finally use their AR-15 while hunting.

Make sure to check your local laws, but if you’re in a “stright-wall” hunting state for rifles, we highly recommend taking a look.

And of course we have a complete guide on the .350 Legend!

Tacti-Cool Accessories for Your Hog Hunting Rifle

One of the absolute best things about using a modern sporting rifle for your hog rig is the ability to totally trick it out with cool accessories.

Nitecore MT10A Red Light
ATN Thermal Hog

And those cool accessories aren’t just eye candy either (although they are definitely that, too). No, sir.

This is one area where tactical accessories are as practical as they are cool. (So you can totally convince your wife/girlfriend/significant other that they are absolute necessities. You’re welcome.)

Here are some ideas to get you started, but honestly, the possibilities are endless.

Rail-Mounted Weapon Light

Some of the best hog hunting on the planet takes place after the sun goes down. A rail-mounted light is one effective way to illuminate your target.

Green or red weapon lights are the best options for hogs, because swine (like most other mammals) are unable to separate green and red wavelengths of light, so they basically can’t see you, but you can still see them.

SOPMOD 1.5 Clone (4)
Nitecore MT10A Red Light

Protip, some red colored plastic cut to fit the front of your light will turn any white light into a hog light.

Or get a dedicated red light, like the Nitecore MT10A.

We review five other awesome weapon lights in our article 5 Best AR-15 Flashlights.

Night Vision and Thermal Scopes

A better (although much more expensive) option for after-dark hog hunting is a night vision scope. You can check out our top picks in our article, Best Night Vision Scopes & Capable Optics.

Laser Sights

In some states, hunters can pursue hogs at night with laser sights. Why would you use a laser sight for hunting hogs (besides the fact that they’re cool)?

[Guide] Best Rifles & Calibers for Hog Hunting
SOPMOD 1.5 Clone, sometimes you just gotta get tactical on those hogs!

It can be hard to line up iron sights (or even a scope) when your flashlight is bobbing around all over the place. A laser sight solves the problem.

Streamlight makes some awesome options!

You can also check out our reviews of the 7 Best AR-15 Lasers [Hands-On]: Budget to Pro.

Parting Shots

It’s no wonder hog hunting is so popular.

Not only is it seriously fun, but it’s also like community service since you’re helping cull the population of an out-of-control nuisance species.

And as a major bonus, a successful hunt results in copious amounts of bacon and barbecue.

There are plenty of awesome hog-hunting rifles on the market today. Space is limited, so we’ve only listed a few. Any of these rifles will be an asset when it comes to hunting feral pigs.

Whichever option you choose, be sure to spend some time practicing before you hit the woods or fields. Ultimately, accuracy and proficiency are your best weapons, no matter which rifle you shoulder in the field.

Hit us up with your favorite hog slayer in the comments! Got a great recipe for hog? Let us know! If you want to really customize your AR, whether for hogs or just plain fun, check out our article on the Best AR-15 Furniture & Accessories.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>