The following is the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the publication.
Do you want to begin hunting and practicing your shooting skills? The first thing you have to do is to invest in the quality hunting rifle to practice with. But the question is: How do you know what the best one is for you?
I’ll be showing you essential tips and factors to consider when purchasing a hunting rifle to get a bang for your buck.
How to Choose a Hunting Rifle
If you’re having trouble in the sporting goods section and looking at all the guns blankly, then let’s start off with the basics. It’s best to choose a rifle with a backward induction process, which is to look at the ideal result and work your way back until you reach a decision.
Choosing a Cartridge
For hunters, we want to answer the question: What kind of game do you plan on hunting? You will be able to narrow the type of rifle and cartridge you need. The cartridge is central to any hunt, with every gun capable of shooting with only specific cartridges. If you plan on capturing deer or bigger animals, then you’ll need something that can take down large game.
For the basic hunting setup, I recommend you to get a rifle that can shoot a .308 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield. If you want to capture smaller game like rabbits, then a .223 Remington works best.
The typical barrel length for rifles ranges between 18 to 26 inches. It would affect four things in your rifle, which is the barrel’s stiffness, the rifle’s length and weight, as well as the bullet speed when you make your shot.
Take note that the longer the barrel, the more it would move when you fire the cartridge. As a result, it would affect the accuracy. With that being said, shorter barrels (which have the similar diameter with long barrels) are a bit more accurate.
But I didn’t choose a hunting rifle with a short barrel for its accuracy, as it’s indifferent. I selected it because the shorter the barrel, the lighter and shorter it is, making it easy to carry. The downside here is that the recoil is more severe as compared to using a longer barrel.
So if you want something with less recoil and better bullet speed, I would recommend the longer barrel. If you want something lighter, get a rifle with a shorter barrel.
Your Action Plan
There are two main types of rifles: One that fires single shots or repeats shots. Some hunters prefer single shots to give them more pressure and practice to shoot accurately, while others (mainly new hunters and shooters) prefer the repeating rifles.
The single-shot rifles have a sleeker and more elegant design as compared to the repeating-shot rifles. They have the appearance of historical rifles, a classic and traditional design.
Want to get a single shot? You can choose between break-open, trapdoor, falling-block, or rolling-block action rifles.
For repeating rifles, you can choose between the bolt-action, pump-action, lever-action, or automatic rifles. The bolt-action receiver is probably the simplest design, as it has the least moving parts, it’s easy to maintain and is very reliable.
The difference between these types of rifles is the way on how you load and unload the cartridges. If you are a beginner, I recommend that you use a repeating rifle first, as a single-shot rifle needs a bit of confidence and skill until you can handle it properly.
There are rifles made out of different materials, such as fiberglass or wood. They all have a unique feel to it, as well as various weights. The material is also a factor to its price, as some guns made of a specific material (such as walnut), are pricier than others.
Walnut is an excellent choice because it is stronger and more durable, made to withstand various weather conditions or situations. You can also opt for laminated woods, as they are strong and durable as well. But they are heavier as compared to walnut or other synthetic stocks.
Carbon steel is a more affordable choice, though it is more rust-prone as compared to stainless steel. BUT, if you are keen on maintenance and handle the gun correctly, then you can save a few bucks and not worry about it.
There are also synthetic materials available and are becoming more popular. It’s more affordable but better in taking in moisture as compared to rifles made of walnut. The drawback here is that they are sensitive to extreme temperatures and it isn’t as solid enough (they are a bit flexible), so it may affect your accuracy.
Go for a lightweight rifle that you can carry around easily, considering that you’ll be in the field for a day or so lugging it around. You’ll need to find something with a good feel with your hands. This doesn’t only make shooting easier, but it helps you gain the confidence and skill while you use it. After all, you won’t be able to hunt correctly or stay patient if you are using a gun that doesn’t feel right.
Don’t Forget The Scopes!
Many hunters usually purchase their rifles only, forgetting that there are accessories left. Remember to think ahead when buying a rifle, creating a budget for its accessories, particularly the rifle optics. Invest in a suitable scope mount and optics, which will help polish your shooting skills and get you ready for a hunt.
If you plan on hunting big game, go for a 3-9x40mm scope. If you’re going for size and lightness, then a 2-7x33mm scope is a good choice. For a scope mount, go for something that is compatible with your chosen rifle scope for a secure mount.
Wrapping It Up
I know how daunting it can be when it comes to choosing a hunting rifle suitable for your wants and needs. But as long as you do the right research and take time to select one, then you can enjoy hunting the way it is supposed to be.
I hope that this article informed you on the factors to consider. So don’t scrimp on time or money choosing a rifle. Shop wisely!
Mitchell Wood is an outdoor, ranch and hunting guru. He is the lead guide and liason at the MusketHunting. He is an expert in both native and exotic hunting species as well as conservation.