Choosing a Hunting Rifle

Rifles on display

Most hunting rifles are very similar, but there are many factors to choosing an appropriate one. When considering rifles, some of the important areas to evaluate include action style, cartridge selection, barrel length and finish. If the gun you're considering is used, examination it thoroughly.

Cartridge/Bullet Choice

Start with the type of rifle cartridge or bullet you want to shoot. Every gun is designed to shoot certain cartridges, so narrowing your desired bullets, also narrows your rifle choices. The most common big game animal in the U.S. is deer, which aren't robust and don't require powerful magnums. Factor in the most common hunting range of 200 yards or less and the .30-30 Winchester is a common choice for novice hunters. Experienced shooters, choose a caliber you're proficient with that matches the intended game's size.

Rifle Action

The action of a rifle involves ammunition loading, firing and unloading. Common rifle actions include break, bolt, semi-automatic, lever and pump-action. Novices should choose rifles that are simple to load, shoot, unload and clean, which makes break actions and bolt actions the prime choices. For seasoned shooters, choose the action type best suited to your hunting environment and desired game. Rifle action is largely determined on personal preference.

Barrel Length

Lengths generally vary between approximately 18 to 26 inches, but all lengths aren't available for all rifle models. Barrel length affects barrel stiffness, the overall length and weight of the rifle and the speed at which the bullet exits the barrel, also referred to as muzzle velocity. Keep in mind that longer barrels can affect accuracy and shorter, lighter barrels have more recoil.

Evaluate Materials

To avoid a bad investment, evaluate the stock and barrel material. The stock rests against your shoulder and is part of what you hold while shooting, so it must feel comfortable as well as be durable. Stock materials are usually wood, laminated wood or plastic/fiberglass. Wood is a traditional material and despite the higher cost, walnut is often the wood of choice because it's durable, aesthetically pleasing and feels good while shooting.

Barrel materials are either stainless or carbon steel. While carbon steel is the less expensive choice, it's also more prone to rusting. Keep up on proper maintenance to negate this problem. Treatments like bluing and Parkerizing can also retard rusting, although Parkerizing only works on carbon steel.

Buying Used

There's always a risk involved when buying any used gun. Examine the exterior for rust, cracked stocks and pitted barrels. Look inside the bore, through the receiver end, to determine the condition of the inside of the gun, which should be shiny.

Dad's Super Pawn stocks an amazing array of new and used guns along with scopes and other accessories for all your hunting needs.