Choosing a Hunting Rifle

Posted: 4th October 2013 by Michael Levanduski in Hunting & Trapping, Survival Gear & Weapons, Weapons & Ammunition
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Choose a Hunting RifleWhether you’re an experienced hunter or looking to go out for the first time, choosing a hunting rifle can be difficult.   Walking through a sporting goods store will most likely leave you even more confused because there is a seemingly endless number of different options to choose from.  These guns come in a wide range of different sizes, materials, prices, looks and feels.  You can find a rifle that shoots a variety of different types of ammo, or one which takes only specific types.

Taking the time to make sure you choose the right hunting rifle is extremely important.  If you take care of this weapon, it will last you many years.  When choosing a hunting rifle, don’t be afraid to ask questions of others and get lots of advice.  Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few, see if you are able to take them out to a range and shoot them for an afternoon to see how they feel.  This should help you make that final decision.  Before you get to that point, however, you need to know where to start.

What Are Your Goals

When choosing a rifle, it can be helpful to start out by thinking about what your main goals are.  Think about things like what you will use the gun for, how you would like it to look and feel, and anything else you can think of can be very helpful.  Some questions to ask yourself might include the following:

  • What Will You be hunting?
    You will obviously need a different riffle for hunting bear compared to deer or small game.  Make a list of what types of animals you will be hunting, in the order of how often you’ll be hunting them.
  • Where will you be hunting?
    If you’re going to be hunting from a tree stand, you may want to consider something slightly lighter.  Hunting in areas where you may not have much room may require a rifle with a shorter muzzle.
  • How often will you be hunting?
    If you’re only planning on hunting a couple times per year, you can likely choose a rifle that is less expensive than if you were planning on hunting regularly throughout the year.
  • Do you have any other weapons?
    If this is your first weapon, you may want to consider getting something that can also be used effectively in home defense.  If you’ve got other guns, choosing a hunting rifle which will compliment your existing weapon could be the right choice.


In addition to understanding your goals of getting the rifle, you should make a list of requirements.  These will be fairly practical considerations, but still very important.  Some examples of requirements you may have include:

  • Budget
  • Ammo Availability
  • Usability (some people won’t be able to effectively fire a rifle with a lot of kick, for example)
  • Single Shot vs. Repeater
  • Legal Considerations (Some states have laws regulating the type of weapons you may purchase)

How does it Feel?

Once you’ve taken the time to think through this decision in your head by asking the above mentioned questions, it is time to visit a hunting store.  You can buy weapons online in many states, but it is an excellent idea to go to a sporting goods store first to get a feel for all your different options.  If you can, find a store with a hunting expert who can help guide you through the process.

When you arrive, explain to the salesmen what you are looking for based on the answers to the above questions.  They can take that information and recommend a few different options.  Take some time with each weapon and get a good feel for it.

  • How does the weight feel?
  • Does it fit comfortably in your arms?
  • Can you use the sights comfortably?
  • Are you able to load the weapon effectively?
  • Does it feel right?

Remember, there is typically no hurry to get through this process.  Take the time you need to ensure you find the right weapon.  I’ve tried to avoid giving any specific recommendations in this post because choosing a hunting rifle will be different for every person.  What works for me, might be terrible for you.  If, however, you follow the principles in this post, and take your time to find the perfect rifle, you can enjoy it the rest of your life.  Whether this is your first weapon, or your 100th, it is important to choose wisely.

Good luck, and happy hunting.

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