Top 15 Most Popular Rifle Cartridges (2022 Edition)

I have been tracking the most popular rifle cartridges for the last several years, and it’s always fascinating to see what cartridges take off.

The only problem, is defining what “popular” means. There are many different ways of deciding what is popular, so I’ll list them separately.

Hottest Rifle Cartridges (Ranked by buzz)

According to Google search traffic, these are the top most-searched cartridges in the world right now. This is a good indicator of “what’s hot.”

  1. 22LR
  2. 223 Remington
  3. 308 Winchester
  4. 6.5 Creedmoor
  5. 30-06 Springfield
  6. 300 Win Mag
  7. 6.5 PRC
  8. 22-250 Remington
  9. 7mm Rem Mag
  10. 300 PRC
  11. 6.8 Western
  12. 7mm-08
  13. 300 WSM
  14. 270 Winchester
  15. 25-06
  16. 243 Winchester

Most Common Bolt-Action Rifle Cartridges (By rifle chambering options)

This method of determining what’s most popular is to look at about 60 different models of rifles, and see what percentage of the rifles have each chambering as an option.

  1. 308 Winchester
  2. 6.5 Creedmoor
  3. 300 Winchester Magnum
  4. 30-06 Springfield
  5. 243 Winchester
  6. 270 Winchester
  7. 7mm-08 Remington
  8. 7mm Rem Mag
  9. 22-250
  10. 300 WSM
  11. 6.5 PRC
  12. 220 Swift
  13. 300PRC
  14. 270 WSM

As you can see from this list, some of the newer designs aren’t ranked as high, because some legacy manufacturers haven’t updated their options to include newer chamberings like 300PRC.

Most Popular Hunting Cartridges in Custom Rifles

This list is a bit more anecdotal, but I spoke with more than 15 custom rifle makers and asked them what their customers are choosing most right now. Generally, custom rifle makers have customers who are willing to spend more for the latest-and-greatest, and they also generally load their own ammunition, so they are less concerned about ammo availability.

  1. 6.5 PRC
  2. 300 PRC
  3. 28 Nosler
  4. 6.5 Creedmoor
  5. 300 Win Mag
  6. 7mm Rem Mag
  7. 7 SAUM
  8. 300 RUM
  9. 6 Creedmoor
  10. 300 WSM

Rifle Cartridge Popularity Ranked By Ammo Sales

I have to keep my source private on this one, but here are the most popular rifle cartridges as ranked by online ammo sales.

  1. 22LR
  2. 223 Remington
  3. 6.5 Creedmoor
  4. 300 Blackout (tied for fourth)
  5. 30-06 Springfield (tied for fourth)
  6. 300 Win Mag
  7. 6.5 PRC
  8. 308 Winchester
  9. 7mm Rem Mag
  10. 22-250
  11. 7mm-08

Bolt-Action Rifle Cartridge Popularity (Ranked by USA Rifle Sales)

This data comes from rifles sold in the USA during Q4 of 2021 and Q1 of 2022.

  1. 6.5 Creedmoor
  2. 22LR
  3. 6.5 PRC
  4. 30-06 Springfield
  5. 300 Win Mag
  6. 308 Winchester
  7. 6.8 Western
  8. 7mm Rem Mag
  9. 7mm-08

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13 Comments

  1. I want to buy a rifle under $1000 with the better scope that can also operate in night which one do you recommend to buy

  2. @Jim, very interesting data points! Thank you for pulling them together for us. Have you considered doing any content on wildcat cartridges? Recently was looking around to see what people were doing in the 7mm caliber that resembled some of the design decisions that seem to make the 6.8 Western so compelling (high efficiency due to the short powder column enabling shorter barrels and high BC bullets). The 7mm Sherman Short seems very compelling aside from the price to get into it.

  3. Ryan Hall says:

    I liked being able to follow along with the link you provided. I did notice that there was a discrepancy on the popular custom rifles. One says 30-06 the other says 300 RUM. One of my favorite channels. I really like the content you come up with.

    Also was let down that 280 Ackley didn’t make the list as that’s what I’ve shot for 20 years.

    Also I’ve been really getting into following the Sherman Max wildcats.

  4. David Hanlon says:

    Very new to hunting. So new that if we count not killing anything I have been on two hunts In 53 years. They were nearly 50 years apart. But I got invited to a private ranch with a nearly 100% chance I will get a white tail. I have been invited for the next several years. So looking to get a rifle. To make matters worse I have a brother in law that keeps wanting g me to come visit him in Bueno Vista Colorado. I have not done so but now since I am getting a rifle want to get something that will take down an elk. Have been watching your videos on you tube for about 5 months now and was sold on getting a Tikka until I saw your video that says they are bad on recoil. I was wanting to get 300 rem mag. Tikka was a good price point for me. Unlike fishing I want to get a rifle I can use the rest of my life. But I am definitely visiting the brother in law and we will go elk hunting. I can step up and get a 2020 waypoint but then I am limited on a scope. I could go 21 nosler again similar issue but more cartridges available in the Nosler. Help me obi wan kenobi. You are my only hope.

    1. How did you obtain/account for Ammo Sales? Was it based on $ spent or Cartridge Units purchased? (Both are interesting data points)

      Seems that people would buy rifles today based on availability and cost of ammo, depending on the volume use expected. (With a side note for reloaders obviously)

    2. I would stick with Tikka and get a 7mm Rem Mag instead of a .300, and order up Limbsaver part number 10826 – it’s the pre-fit Air-tech recoil pad for the T3.

      In the field you won’t notice much recoil, but a decent pad helps at the bench.

  5. HeyJim. I need help. I live in an area where white tail deer is the big game of choice. Most shots are taken within 100 yards. Most people, myself included, use a smaller caliber rifle, I prefer the 270 winchester. My father in law is planning an Elk hunt in the near future. I know I will need a new rifle for this hunt but I dont know what caliber to choose. If you had to pick 1 caliber for the biggest game animals, what caliber would it be?

  6. Strider_Wolf says:

    Really helpful when getting data to help make a purchase decision!

  7. Doug Jones says:

    Very interesting, simple, and great article – brilliant in fact. Five different ways to measure “popularity”.

    I would sure like to see the cartridges lined up in your photo all labelled if you get a chance.

    Thanks

    Doug Jones
    Billings, MT

  8. Which list showcases which ammo is more readily available from the manufacturer(s)? Does popularity of purchases indicate that it’s readily available?

  9. MARTIN KEITH HUNT says:

    have you done a comparison between Hornady superformance and Hornady precision hunter in 7mm rem mag? i shoot with a Tikka and it seems not to like the superformance would a supperessor make a difference? i down here in NZ and am off to shoot a tahr next month and need a stable consistant round