How do you choose between hunting rifles?

The question of which of the many hunting rifles to choose from has been debated for years. There are books written on the subject, magazines have printed hundreds of articles submitted by knowledgeable authors on the subject.

You likely have an opinion too!

Are you brand loyal? Are your choices influenced by the availability in your area, or did someone tell you that if you choose a particular make, model or caliber that you will get more game (or hit more targets)?

As a youngster growing up in British Columbia I know I was influenced by the hunting rifles that my father owned.


My Introduction

His firearms were my introduction to them.

To say that I studied and did research on my first hunting rifles would just not be true.

I used one of the rifles my dad owned to harvest my first big game animal (a spike white tailed deer). It was a simple Savage Model 99F in .308 caliber.

My dad likes to joke about how I spent about five minutes trying to load the hunting rifle and then promptly ejecting all the cartridges, “unfired” onto the ground.

Or sometimes he will change it up and say the deer actually ran into the bullet! Very Funny Dad!

Buck Fever: Oh Yes

Truth be known I was full of Buck fever at that moment, and likely did fumble some trying to load the rifle.

By the time I got a couple of shells into the firearm, the buck was in motion; he was in fact running directly away from me.

I was member of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets at the time and part of our training was to regularly go to the rifle range and practice, albeit at stationary targets.

In other words I had lots of practice under my belt. A deer quickly retreating directly away left me with one shot. The only part of the deer I thought would make an ethical shot at would be a head shot. “A Head Shot”, I can hear you shouting already!

That is a small target I must admit, but I just did not consider a deer head to be a small target, my friends and I regularly practiced shooting at targets the size of a Canadian nickel (about .625 inch diameter).

Anyway, I raised my hunting rifle and timed my shot so when the deer’s head was just reaching the crosshairs in my scope I squeezed the trigger.

Lucky... maybe? I considered it skill; I still do as a matter of fact, because I have done this more than once.

The point is at that moment I was convinced that the Savage .308 must be the perfect rifle for hunting deer.

I made my choices for several of my rifles, not because of due diligence but because of what works for me.

How about you? Did you make your choices because fate put the firearm in your hands at the time.

Maybe your father left you an old military rifle and that is all you have. Does it work, sure. Could you do better, it depends on your circumstances.

Modern firearms have come a long way from the day of flintlock, with so many calibers and manufacturers... How can you choose?

Can you buy one rifle to cover all your shooting needs? You really need to ask yourself, what, where and how often are you going to hunt? Are you hunting only dangerous African plains game, or do you just hunt white-tailed deer in the state of Texas.

Are you hunting in thick brush where a typical shot is under one hundred meters, or hunting open areas where maybe you must make long shots of 400 meters or more?

Kinetic energy comes into play here; how much energy do you need to shoot a rabbit or a charging Grizzly Bear?

I am not going to try to convince you that any particular rifle manufacturer or caliber is more suited for the game you hunt. I do not know your skill level, or what your resources are. I can make a few suggestions based upon my own experience. You will have to be the judge of my recommendations.

BTW: My experience is limited to North American Game, if you need any advice on hunting rifles for Africa I suggest you check my friends website Shakari Connection.

Tikka SS Hunting Rifle

The Tikka Hunter Stainless Steel

My Favourite Hunting Rifles

  • Deer - .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .30-06 Winchester
  • Black Bear - .308 Winchester, .30-06 Winchester, .300 WSM
  • Moose - 270 Winchester, .30-06 Winchester, .300 WSM
  • Grizzly - .30-06 Winchester, .300 WSM, .338 Winchester

All of these choices for hunting rifles are in bolt action, I choose a bolt action for action reliability and accuracy. My preference would be to purchase all of these made by Sako, but unfortunately my pocketbook will not allow it. I have one Sako model 75 Stainless Steel and the rest are Model 70 Winchester, blued.

For optics I always pick Leupold in 3.5 X 10 Vari X-lll with a 40 mm objective. These scopes are extremely reliable and never fail.

Shoot Straight and above all... Know Your Target and Be Safe

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Our moose hunting tips book is written with not just the novice in mind, there are tips in the book that even the most seasoned moose hunter will find of value.

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by Mark Allardyce

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