Update: I picked my 3 as if they were the only 3 rifles I could own the rest off my life. 1. 308 bolt action, Sniper round, dropped every deer I shot with it. Whats not to love?
2. 22LR ultimate survival bullet in my mind. Cheap, no recoil, high capacity, light gun, can carry like a million rounds in your pocket, and will kill what you need with proper shot placement (NO I HAVE NEVER SHOT A DEER WITH IT, BUT HAVE READ PLENTY OF POACHER STORIES WHO USED IT)
3. AK-47 7.62-39 ultra reliable, most produced bullet in the world probably, high capacity, high stopping ability, and fun to shoot.
Since this under the Deer Hunting Subforum, I am gonna assume that we are talking favorite for killing deer.
I was a huge fan of Jack O’Connor / Model 70 in .270 growing up, his writings where very impressionable on my young mind. “The Rifleman’s Rifle” was my favorite rifle combination for over twenty years. I have killed many deer with a M70 in .270. Several years ago I decided rethink the cartridge for the Southeasten Whitetail. My conclusion was to go with the 7mm-08 and haven’t looked back. My .270 is a great rifle, but I don’t think I will ever hunt another deer with it, but if I go West maybe a consideration for an elk hunt?
My 7mm-08 is a Winchester M70 Featherweight. About as good as it get for the SE Whitetail.
I also was a .30-30 Lever Action Rifle Guy growning up. As I have gotten older (and I think wiser) I re-evaluated that heavy cover and brush rifle/cartridge as well. I now am a huge fan of the .450 Bushmaster. It is lighter than a .45-70 nowhere near the recoil, and with a 250 grain Black Box is wonderful bullet against deer in heavy cover. I prefer it over the .30-30. And I love the Ruger GSR with its short barrel and traditional scope mount. This gun is tough as nails.
.44 Mag out of a S&W M29... would be my number three.
.308- all around caliber with nice and flat trajectory. Great for long shots.
7mm-08- Fun to shoot, plenty of knock down power. Great for new/young hunters.
.22 lr- Cheap, fun to shoot, great for survival/camping
If we’re talking deer
7mm rem mag every deer I’ve shot dropped in its tracks.
30.06 I have a 1950 Winchester model 70 in 06 mint. condition almost to pretty to hunt with. The 06 will kill any animal in North America with the right bullet and has mild recoil, a lot of bullet options and is tried and true.
I don’t have a number 3 the mag covers the high speed long range needs. The 06 covers anything else in a shorter action. Every other caliber is just a variant of these, supped up magnum or a lower recoil option imo.