You love the solitude of the wilderness, the thrill of the chase, and the challenge of a kill. You can’t wait to go hunting again, but you don’t have the right gear.
In the past, you borrowed guns from your family and friends. Now that you’re thinking about purchasing your own gun, let’s take a look at common hunting weapons.
The rifle is the most popular hunting weapon because it typically has the best range, and it shoots more accurately than other types of guns.
As a beginning hunter, you should avoid single-shot rifles. You can fire them only once before you have to reload the cartridge. This puts a lot of pressure to hit your target on your first shot. Choose repeating rifles instead.
There are several different types of rifle actions:
- Bolt-action—you lift the bolt handle and pull it back.
- Lever-action—you pull a lever to cock and load.
- Pump-action—you pump the forend (the part underneath the barrel) back and forth.
- Semi-automatic—you squeeze the trigger and it loads automatically.
Some of these rifles are easier to operate than others. For example, the lever-action rifle is very difficult to operate. Talk with a gun seller about the best options for novice hunters.
Your rifle will have one of two types of firing methods. If you’re planning on shooting big game such as deer, you’ll need a centerfire rifle. This type of rifle shoots with great energy and velocity.
If you’re going to shoot small game like squirrels, you may choose a rimfire rifle. Rimfire ammo is much cheaper than centerfire ammo. The biggest downside to a rimfire rifle is that you can’t reload the cartridge.
Many hunters prefer shotguns to hunt small game. Shotguns shoot close range, and they can shoot multiple projectiles. Thus, they are better for hunting small, fast-moving animals. Some hunters even use shotguns to shoot large game. To do this, they use a special kind of projectile called a shotgun slug.
Special types of shotguns include:
- Backpacker shotgun—a single-barreled shotgun that’s popular for home defense
- Coach gun—an extremely short shotgun used for hunting in the marshes or bush
While hunters might see a shotgun’s short range as a disadvantage, it’s actually an advantage if you’re hunting around other people. After all, a missed rifle shot could hit someone several miles away, but a missed shotgun shot won’t travel as far.
Handguns differ from rifles and shotguns because they’re fired not on the shoulder, but by hand. Hunting handguns have longer barrels and more powerful cartridges than your typical handgun.
Some hunters prefer handguns because handguns give them the exciting challenge of moving in close to the target. They don’t get this same challenge with long-range rifle hunting.
Types of handguns include:
- Single-shot pistol—an explosive handgun sometimes used to shoot big game. It requires reloading after each shot.
- Revolver—contains five to eight rounds and shoots very accurately
- Semi-automatic handgun—reloads automatically as you shoot
Despite their advantages, handguns may not be the best choice for the beginning hunter. It takes years of practice to become proficient in handgun hunting.
When it comes to guns, each hunter has his or her own preferences. As you choose your gun, keep in mind the kind of game you hunt, where you hunt, and how close you are to populated areas. Also keep in mind your proficiency level. Ask a firearm professional to help you choose the right weapon for your needs.