The best way to choose a rifle is to work backward, first asking what type of game you intend to hunt? This kind of play will narrow down the caliber of bullet you should use. Once you know the cartridge that will limit the rifle types, you can use it, leaving the final points to personal preferences.
For example, a 30-06 rifle – means a gun that can fire a .30-06 Springfield cartridge – various rifles can fire this cartridge.
It is essential to select the correct caliber because you should choose ammunition to guarantee a humane kill while damaging as little meat as possible. Using a more powerful caliber than required will give a humane kill; however, more core will be injured. Alternatively, too small a caliber will mean the animal will suffer.
Other factors to consider: a comfortable rifle weight, the type of rifle action you prefer, and the materials you choose.
Choosing Rifle Caliber: what type of game you will hunt
A bullet is part of the rifle cartridges. A rifle cartridge is a case that contains a primer, gunpowder, and ammunition at the tip. The primer ignites the gunpowder, which then propels a shot down the barrel towards your target. The casing of the cartridge remains behind, expelled manually or automatically.
To add to the confusion of choosing the correct rifle, not all cartridges follow a standard naming convention. Their bullet caliber (diameter of the bullet) is usually named cartridges, with the UK and USA using the English measurement system, while all other countries use metric.
Some cartridge names have a second number that can refer to the cartridge casing’s length, except black powder cartridges, where the number refers to the size of the powder charge (the charge exerts power on the bullet, telling you how fast and far the bullet will travel).
In addition to caliber, bullets are classified by weight, measured in grains. An ounce is 435.7 grains -a 150-grain shell weighs .34 ounces or 9.6 grams. However, light shots are more accurate over short distances but have less impact on distant targets than heavier bullets.
If you shoot a small game, use smaller caliber bullets; either a .17 or .22 caliber bullet is the right choice. However, it would help if you also considered how much power is required to propel the bullet the distance you will be hunting.
If you are hunting at closer than 100 yards (91.4 meters), you could select a .22lr ammo. If shooting greater distances, consider a .22 Magnum cartridge.
For hunting larger games, use bigger bullets and cartridges with a greater charge. Medium or large game, consider .24 to .45 caliber, making sure the cartridge is powerful enough to take down the game you’re hunting. Remember, more powerful cartridges have more recoil force.
Once you select the cartridge for your type of game, you can choose rifles capable of firing that cartridge, considering the gun’s personal preference.
Choosing Rifle Action Type
The most common types are either single shots or repeaters. A single bullet can be fired once before you have to put a new cartridge into the rifle, while a repeating rifle holds several cartridges at once.
Some hunters prefer single-shot rifles, as they appear sleeker and more elegant in design and have an element of nostalgia, similar to historical rifles. A single shot rifle puts more pressure on the hunter, as they must take down the game in one shot.
Single-shot rifles come in different styles and mechanisms, including falling block action, rolling block action, break open, and trapdoor action rifles. Each type has another way of loading and unloading.
The one you choose comes down to personal preference; generally, falling block action rifles are accurate and working well for both left and right-handed hunters.
Repeating rifles also have various actions, including bolt action, pump-action, lever-action, and automatic rifles. Bolt, pump, and lever-action rifles require a movement from the hunter to eject the spent cartridge and load the fresh cartridge into the chamber.
Automatic rifles have a mechanism that does this without any intervention.
If you are new to hunting, you should stick with a repeating rifle; although single shot rifles can be elegant and accurate, they also require more skill and confidence to handle.
Choosing Rifle Material
Rifles are constructed in a variety of materials. The metal is usually either carbon steel or stainless steel. Carbon steel is less expensive. However, it is prone to rust. Stainless steel does not rust as easily as carbon steel, yet is more expensive.
Care and maintenance of your rifle mean rust should not be a problem.
Rifle stocks can be made from a variety of materials, including wood or fiberglass. Different woods can have a different feel and weight, like walnuts, which are more expensive. It is essential to choose a stock that feels comfortable.
Choosing Rifle Weight and Length
You should avoid a rifle that feels too heavy or long to handle; hunting requires patience, which would be made more challenging if you are not comfortable carrying a gun.
Always remember the most crucial factor in choosing a rifle that will fire the appropriate caliber cartridge for your hunting game.