Modern Rifles are the great equalizer. They are the refinement of many centuries of advances and improvements on an old technology. They allow modern hunters to harvest game efficiently and humanely than ever before.
As any hunter knows though, they are not the magic boomstick that makes any hunt a sure thing. It takes the right rifle coupled with the right ammunition and the well-practiced skills to use it properly.
Follow the category links below to learn more about all types of rifles.
Hunting rifles are a very important part of the hunting experience. They have been used to hunt for food and sport for centuries. But, with so many rifle models on the market today, how do you know which one is right for you?
Whether you’re new to hunting or just want some more information about what all those different features mean, and keep up with all the new features and models being released every year, the articles linked above will help you make sure you have the knowledge you need to get the best rifle for your next hunt!
What Type Of Rifle Do You Need?
If you are planning on getting a new rifle, one of the first questions to ask is, what type of rifle do I need? There is no one size fits all answer for this. I often get asked questions like, What is the best rifle for deer? What is the best overall hunting rifle? What caliber do I need to hunt all game? What is the best rifle for elk hunting? etc.
Suffice to say, the answer to all of these questions is, “it depends”. It depends on you, what type of a shooter you are. How much experience do you have with hunting and shooting. What type of game are you planning on hunting. And what type of terrain are you planning on hunting.
The rifle you need to hunt Moose in the thick Alaska brush is totally different than the one you would use to hunt pronghorn in Wyoming. And both of those rifles are probably very different than the rifle you would choose for a high mountain bighorn sheep hunt.
This is not to say that you need to have a different rifle for each of these tasks. There are a lot of very capable rifles and calibers that can pull “double duty” or triple duty or more, especially if you are comfortable and confident with your rifle.
How To Choose The Best Rifle For Me?
With the above said, you may be scratching your head and thinking, “So, how do I even choose the right rifle for me”? I like to use a few basic questions to help narrow down the choices and help narrow down the field.
- What type of animals will you hunt?
- What type of terrain will you hunt?
- What is your level of shooting experience?
- What is your starting budget?
- How many different rifles do you own or want to own?
Once you have the answers to these questions then it is much easier to zero in on the type of rifle and caliber that will be right for you.
And don’t get too caught up on finding the ultimate, best of the best, perfect rifle. You can believe unicorns are real, but you will probably never see one! Until you are well into your hunting career and have multiple quality rifles in your safe, then just choose a reliable model, in a trusted caliber and learn how to shoot it well. Learn how to shoot it really well!
A $500 dollar rife and scope in the hands of an experienced shooter is a much better hunting tool than a $3000 dollar rifle in the hands of a newbie. Modern rifles are precision machinery and even the budget models are capable of firing very good groups and a well placed shot with a good caliber and bullet choice from just about any good rifle will do the job.
What Caliber Hunting Rifle Do I Need?
Ok Mike, You’ve said a lot so far but still haven’t really answered the question. What rifle and what caliber do I need? Of course you local hunting regulations will come into play but the following are some good rules of thumb to help you make you choice.
Rifles For Deer
For deer sized animals, and rifle over .22 centerfire can do the job. Now, is a .223 rem big enough for the job? Military arms around the world would say yes, however, I personally like to choose something more in the .243 or bigger with my go to deer rifle being the trusted .270 win.
The commonly accepted terminal energy required for a humane shot on a deer is over 1000 ft-lbs. This is not to say that a bullet with less energy wont do the job, but it is a good rule of thumb to go by.
Rifles For Elk
For elk sized animals most hunters recommend something in the .270 or larger caliber that is capable of a terminal bullet velocity of over 1500 ft-lbs of energy. Again, this is not to day that s shot with less energy won’t do the trick, but it is a good target to aim for. (pun intended)
Many hunters, myself included, like to use larger than .270 calibers on elk and I often have my classic 30-06 in my hand when I am chasing the elusive Wapiti. Like any animal and caliber though, a well placed shot, with a quality bullet will do the job more often than not with just about any reasonable caliber. I just prefer a little more hole when it comes to putting meat on the table.
Rifles for Moose and Big Bears
When it comes to big Alaskan or Canadian moose it is hard to have too much rifle for the job. I have hunted a lot of moose in western Canada and often with compound bow in my hand. That said, when I am rifle hunting moose then i will usually be carrying my Marlin 1895G in 45-70 packed with Hornady Lever Evolution bullets.
Any higher velocity caliber over .30cal can do the job on moose but when you are lined up on a big bull in the thick bush I really want him to travel as short of a distance as possible after I shoot him. That is a lot of meat to haul out and after a long hunt every step counts!
Just about any caliber that is effective on moose will work well for bears. Just keep in mind that things can get hairy quickly if you make a bad shot on a big bear and a little extra oomph in your shot can go a long way to keeping everyone safe and dropping that bear before he has a chance to go too far.
Choosing A Rifle Brand
It used to be more common that one brand of hunting rifle would consistently perform better than another brand. Nowadays though, machining tolerances are tighter, design specs are better, and the overall technology and manufacturing of modern hunting rifles mean that just about any rifle from a reputable brand will perform fairly well out of the box.
However, if you are reading this then you probably want a rifle that performs better than just “fairly well” There are many brands that offer rifles that are guaranteed to shoot sub MOA right out of the box. Make sure to dig into our detailed rifle reviews, brand spotlights, and rifle comparison articles if you are interested in learning more about choosing the best hunting rifle for your next hunt!