Ask a group of hunters, even those who have been hunting together for years, what kind of hunting rifle would be the best kind of rifle for hunting deer, and you will likely get a different answer from each one. Some opinions may overlap, or one hunter may agree with another in some way, but each hunter has his own way of defining what would be best for hunting deer.
Now, a hunting rifle is easily an investment that can last you a lifetime and more, assuming it remains well-maintained. And if you are lucky, then you may have inherited a rifle that works well for you. But sometimes a new hunter will need to choose his first rifle, or a hunter of a few seasons decides he wants a new rifle – how does one choose a proper deer rifle? How would you choose a new deer rifle?
As I have already mentioned, many hunters will have many differing opinions, and I would think that you would have your own opinion as to what works for you in the field. This is fine, and really the bottom line is to make your rifle work for you. Here are a few ideas on how to find that rifle.
Most hunters will agree that the first thing to consider when buying a new rifle is the caliber you want to use. A rifle’s caliber refers to the width of the bullet fired through the rifle’s barrel. A larger caliber will have more overall power, while a smaller caliber will have higher velocity and penetration. Consider what you will most likely use this rifle for, and what you want most out of it. Do you want stopping power, or longer range for your rifle? The selection of caliber would then limit your choices of rifles, as a rifle can only fire a cartridge in the caliber it was designed for.
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Having come to a decision as to the caliber you would like, the next consideration would be the size and, somewhat related to this, the weight of the rifle. For example, if you are purchasing a rifle for a smaller individual, like a child, you would want to avoid larger rifles. Larger rifles would be more difficult to handle. The weight of the rifle is related in that lighter guns are of course more comfortable to carry, which may be helpful for longer hunts. Heavier rifles generally have less kick, however, which means a more consistent shot.
Next consideration is the action of the rifle. Among the choices are bolt action, single shot, lever action, pump, and semi-automatics. This mostly comes down to your personal preference, and what you will be comfortable in the field with. Some hunters for example, prefer bolt action rifles as it’s easier to get a second shot, though the same can be said about lever action rifles or semi-automatics. It’s a matter of taste, for the most part.