So, you are hunting for the first time and are heading out to purchase a new hunting rifle. While it may seem like an easy task, it isn’t, and the process will get your heart pumping. Any successful hunting trip largely depends on the rifle you use. It must match the game that you are pursuing and your preferred hunting style.
10 Steps to take when selecting your first rifle
Determine your experience level
If you are entirely new to shooting and have no idea how hunting works, you will require a gun to use during training. A light caliber like .22 is affordable, easy to use, and one of the best choices for informal shooting and understanding basic firearms. Because of the low power of the .22 caliber round, most sellers offer relatively cheap rifles in this caliber. You will have to research on the manufacturers of such guns and select the one that suits you best.
Which rifle is legal in the hunting area?
Another equally important consideration is to know the rifles you can use in the hunting area of choice. Otherwise, you might as well purchase something you cannot use. If you would like to hunt in many areas, do your research and find out the generally accepted rifles.
A beginner’s rifle should be easy to maintain and simple to use
An easy-to-use gun will be fun to shoot. The only way of getting better with rifles is to fire more. A fun riffle is, therefore, the best alternative because it will give you a much delightful shooting experience. When shopping for your first firearm, get one that you can handle effortlessly.
Are you after big-game or small-game?
By this time, you already know which animals you would like to hunt. When starting, it is a good idea to start with the small ones, like the jackrabbits and turkeys. For small game, you can use air rifles. Another option would be to use a short bolt-action rifle with minimal recoil.
How accurate is it?
Considering that this is your first time owning a rifle, you don’t have much experience to know how accurate the different types are. Therefore, you have no option but to rely on other people’s experiences. Read online reviews to understand what works and what doesn’t. You may also ask your hunter friends to recommend the precise one. If they can allow, borrow their rifles and have an experience of their accuracies. That way, you will have a benchmark of the kind of gun to buy.
Scopes and optics matter
You require an excellent scope or optic to make a humane kill, especially for the first shot. Some offer magnification, while others don’t. Both types are okay, as long as the one you select matches your rifle. When buying a scope, consider whether you are into big or small game hunting, because there are different kinds for the two.
How long is the barrel?
A barrel’s length impacts the stiffness of the barrel, the exit speed of the bullet, and the weight of the rifle. Rifles with short barrels are usually light, more compact, and easy to carry around. However, the recoil and muzzle blast is stronger than those with longer barrels. Both of these factors influence your shooting accuracy. Long barrels have more efficiency and higher muzzle velocity. For a beginner, you ought to weigh your options.
Choose an action plan
The rifle action is responsible for kicking out the fired cartridges or loading new ones into the chamber. When it comes to actions, hunting rifles are designed to either make a single shot or repetitive shots. The decision is primarily based on preference. Some beginners prefer single shot rifles because they raise pressure and increase your chances of making an accurate shot. Others prefer repetitive guns, which reduce pressure.
Select the right hunting rifle cartridge
The rifle cartridge, or rather the bullet, is vital in any hunting trip, as it is to the hunting rifle. Remember that every gun is made to shoot only particular cartridges. Now that you are new to the hunting game, you may want to consider the .22 or .233. Go for a round that has sufficient power to take down your prey in a single shot.
How much are we talking about here?
Since you are starting, you wouldn’t want to invest a fortune into something you might regret later. Experts recommend that you don’t spend more than $500 on your first hunting rifle. That way, you will have enough to advance to bigger guns as you get better.
Rifles that beginners should avoid
- Pump-action rifles: They are an abomination because you require so much manual effort to use them. Bolt action rifles are more affordable and accurate.
- Semi-automatics: If you are only starting in the shooting game, it can be challenging to understand the mechanisms involved in using your rifle. A semi-automatic is complex to use. It is also easy to forget that there is a live round in the chamber because of the excitement.
- Lever action rifle: They come with additional baggage than necessary. Most of them are costly, yet they are not precise. The lever-action guns are compact and easy to carry, but the shortcomings are too much for beginners to bear.
- Rifles in the used market: Although guns in the used market are affordable, they aren’t a good pick for beginners. Rifles don’t lose value fast, which means that people sell their old guns for as much as the new ones. The chances of getting a gun with tens of problems are high, and not worth your cash or time.
Big magnum rifles: If you need to go for big game hunting, go for a 7mm magnum at most. When you get a high magnum one, you might not shoot accurately because you would be anticipating a big kick from the rifle. You may also not afford a few rounds at the range every once in a while.