Looking to get started with hunting? I would assume you want to shoot some deer, elk, bear or just any four-legged animal. Well, most hunters just like always face the challenge of selecting the right firearm for hunting.
Every aspiring hunter must know how to choose the right firearm for hunting. Are you aware of all the legal requirements? What is the amount of energy produced by the projectile?
Ideally, the right firearm should fit you properly, be powerful enough to kill the target, have correct recoil and support your optics.
Let’s dig deep and see what you should consider when choosing a hunting firearm.
Factors to consider when choosing a hunting firearm
Learn firearm safety rules
Even before you decide on the right firearm, you need to educate yourself on firearm safety rules. Safety is always critical when dealing with firearms. Some of the basic safety rules for firearms are:
- Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
- Unless you’re ready to shoot, keep your finger off the trigger
- Keep the gun unloaded until you’re ready to use it
- Know your target and what’s beyond it
Knowing these simple rules before you get your firearm can help prevent accidental shootings.
Simply put, don’t rush to just get a firearm. It’s more like buying a car when you don’t know any road safety rules. Firearms are dangerous, and safety should always be the top priority.
You can even take a step further and take a course on hunting and firearm safety. In fact, in some states, a hunting course is a requirement to get a hunting license.
The course educates you on safe gun handling. You also get to learn safety protocols when hunting. In addition, hunters get extra education on hunting ethics, respecting private properties and how to identify different animal tracks.
With gun safety and hunting education, you can move ahead and consider a few factors to select a suitable firearm.
Next, you need to know the state law about hunting in the specific regions you want to hunt. Check the Fish and Game hunting regulations of the state and make sure you’re buying a firearm that’s within the law.
You don’t want to spend money on a firearm you can’t use. While checking the state laws, be sure to check the allowed calibers, specific firearms and cartridges.
You can now see the importance of taking a firearm and hunting course. Breaking state laws is a punishable offense.
Now you can check the specific firearm features and choose one that suits your purpose. This is by far the most crucial step when choosing a firearm for hunting.
Under gun features, there are several features to consider. Below are the most important features to consider.
What is the accuracy limit of the selected firearm? Before you go hunting, you need to be sure of the firearm’s accuracy at certain distances. Take out the gun at the range and practice shooting using an 8-inch paper plate.
Set your practice paper plate at ranges as you expect your target to be in the field. Practice until you’re sure you can hit the target accurately from that range.
You need to limit your shots to the most accurate range. Practice with guns at the range to have an idea of the right gun to purchase.
The ideal firearm should allow alignment of the rear and front sights. Sighting your rifle enhances accuracy. It ensures the bullet travels and hits the target in sight.
When choosing a firearm, make sure it supports sight alignment. Sight the target with the bead or blade on the front sight. You can also consider lining your target if your rifle has an aperture.
The front sight should always stay within the rear peephole. You can also sight your target with crosshairs using a telescopic sight.
Another great option to consider using is a sight dot. Make sure the dot is always centered.
Caliber is another essential factor to consider when choosing a firearm. First, you need to make sure the firearm caliber meets the required state laws. Different states allow certain calibers, gauges and energy to be produced by the projectile.
In addition, you want to make sure the firearm chosen will have enough power to kill the desired game. Check the firearm chambering and see what calibers it supports.
In ethical hunting, you want to make sure the firearm can kill the game instantly.
Caliber directly affects recoil. You obviously want to deal with some moderate recoil.
Generally, the ammunition you choose for hunting depends on the type of game you’ll be hunting. You’ll find recommendations for ammo and the ideal game.
When looking to hunt, make sure you choose the correct ammo and choke combination. Additionally, make sure it fits properly.
Purpose or hunting target
What do you plan to hunt? Answering this question will enable you to choose the right firearm for hunting. Think about your situation and what you want to do with your rifle.
Are you looking to hunt big bucks or small game like squirrels and rabbits? You need a more powerful rifle for a big game. You also need to consider where you’re hunting. What is the range needed? Can the firearm support that range?
Lastly, you need to consider your ability to handle and manage the firearm. This takes us to our first point of taking a firearm safety handling course.
Lastly, you have to consider your budget. Hunting rifles can be quite expensive. You’re not going to order just any firearm without a proper budget. Set out a budget and be realistic.
You might have to spend more if you’re looking for top-notch firearms with high shooting accuracies and power.
Choosing a suitable firearm for hunting should not be a difficult decision when you know more about firearms and your hunting situation. There is no single best weapon for hunting. Every gun is different for every situation.
It’s important to consider all the factors and narrow down on a firearm that meets your hunting needs and situation.
With more than 50 years experience in the field and the testing lab, author L.P. Brezny is one of today’s most recognized shotgun experts and authors. He is a contributor to dozens of firearms publications, such as Wildfowl, Shotgun Sports, and Varmint Hunters, and he is a regular columnist in the Gun Digest annual as well as AmmoLand News.