It's a rare instance when we get to talk with a customer who knows exactly what caliber they want. It's rarer still that the customer has done their research and has picked a caliber best suited for his/her needs. More often than not, we get asked "what's your favorite caliber?" or "what's your most popular caliber?". First, they're all favorites. Secondly, we have 48 standard caliber options and no particular one is more popular than the others.
So, how do we go about choosing a caliber for our personal rifles? First and foremost, we always take the latest hype with a big grain of salt. Someone somewhere got something to say that whatever the latest fad might be is the best caliber ever. With that in mind, we look at the primary purpose that the rifle is going to serve. Is it going to be a comp gun? Primarily a hunting rifle? Or maybe a hybrid cross-over that we can use for both. Does our list of possible calibers need a longer or shorter barrel to optimize performance? Does that even matter for the intended use? Is the rifle going to be mag fed or internally fed? Some work better one way than the other. Do we need to minimize recoil? What about overall weight? Sure the gun can be light (think the stereotypical "mountain" rifle). But when you load it with a bigger magnum caliber, those ounces start stacking up quickly. (ounces make pounds, pounds make pain - not that we're averse to pain, but sometimes there's no need in making your life harder)
Perhaps one of the biggest considerations that we ask customers to think about is will you be hand loading or simply relying on whatever your favorite local gun store has on their shelf. Take for instance the .260 Remington & our favorite flavor: Hornady 140gr ELD-M. Up until recently, it was easy to find boxes of that ammo on the shelf. But then Big Army came in and opted for the 6.5 Creedmoor and Hornady was all too happy to do some slight of hand with the numbers - which in the end, meant that 140gr ELD-M factory Hornady ammo suddenly wasn't being made any longer.
Another great example, though maybe a little on the extreme side, is that a close friend got an LRP™ model made a few years ago in the 6.5 SAUM. At the time (and still not sure if it's changed), no one made factory ammo in that caliber. Sure enough, when he got to the backwoods of British Columbia, he found that his ammo never made it to the destination. It wasn't like he could run down to the local mom-n-pop gas station and pick up a box .30-06 Remington Core-Lokt. All that to say, depending on your intended use of the rifle, and your ammo choices, it's something we think you should consider.
Lastly, one of the bigger points of confusion for people in this process is getting bogged down in the weeds with all of the technical stuff. Don't do it. Figure everything else out and then let us do the leg work in figuring out optimal barrel length, projectile weight, twist rate, etc. Once we do that, everything else will make much more sense to you, making you much more successful in the field.
As always, if you have any questions about caliber choices, we're always available to help you figure it out. We're just a phone call or email message away.