Reasons Why Small Bore Turkey Shotguns Are Effective

Advantages of Small Bore Turkey Shotguns


Most turkey hunters have probably never used anything but a .12-gauge when hunting turkeys. Why would you? It is the perfect combination of power and range for taking longbeards, especially considering the advances to turkey shotguns and accessories over the last few years. Unknown to most, there are several reasons to choose a small bore shotgun for turkeys.


Small Bore Turkey Shotguns


Before we touch on the reasons why you would downsize your shotgun for turkeys, we first need to define what “small bore” means when it comes to turkey hunting shotguns. Small bore refers to any shotgun that is less than the traditional .12-gauge shotgun used by most turkey hunters. These would include, primarily, the .20-gauge and .410-gauge shotguns available on the market.


The evolution of the turkey gun in the last decade has gotten us more deadly shotshells and the promise from high-end shotguns of being able to drop a bird out to 50 and even 60 yards. Of course, this is better, right? Well not necessarily. All of this innovation leaves most hunters confused about what turkey shotgun accessories such as choke tubes, shotshells and ultimately turkey hunting gun recommendations they should be using. Let’s remember that the target on a turkey is a small diameter (2-3 inch) circle at the base of the neck. These improved .12-gauge shotguns and all that go with them certainly have the punch to take a turkey’s head right off, let alone hit one in the kill zone.


This is where the small bore turkey guns come into play. Killing a bird successfully is about getting close. Most turkeys are killed within 25 yards, regardless of the shotgun used, so the need for highly complex shotshells and long-range shotguns is minimized to some extent. Instead of spending time testing different shotgun shells and seeing how far you can shoot a turkey silhouette on the range, focus on getting close this spring, which takes all the complexity out of the picture.



How to Kill a Turkey with a .20-gauge Shotgun

You will only be willing to give up your trusted turkey gun if you actually are able to take a bird down with a smaller gauge turkey hunting gun. Here are three key tips you need to know in order to kill a turkey with a .20-gauge shotgun.


  1. Find the right turkey loads. You can stretch a .20-gauge shot out a few more yards with the right turkey load. Try different brands and different shot sizes until you have one patterned consistently in the kill zone at 30 yards.


  1. Know you have to be patient. Killing a turkey with a smaller bore shotgun will require more patience because the bird will need to be closer. More time observing the amazement of a strutting Tom around your decoys is not necessarily a bad thing.


  1. Good shots are a must. The power in a .20-gauge load will be slightly less than the .12-gauge shell and also hold less shot. Along with patience, you have to be sure of a good, clean shot in order to reduce misses and wounded birds.


Advantages to Choosing Small Bore Turkey Shotguns

There are several advantages to using turkey hunting shotguns that are chambered in smaller calibers. The first is that these smaller chambered shotguns for turkey hunting are usually lighter and more compact than its larger .12-gauge brother. You might think it is only a pound or two difference, but that pound of weight can mean a lot in the woods. Lighter shotguns allow you to shoulder your gun for longer periods of time compared to heftier shotguns for turkeys. When that gobbler hangs up just out of range or he is coming in silent, being able to hold your shotgun in a shooting position without moving can be all the difference in getting a shot off. Also, there often comes a time in the spring gobbler season when you have to put in miles on the ground to seek out unresponsive birds. Toting a heavy turkey hunting gun over ridge tops all morning can put some serious strain on your shoulder. Lighter variations of turkey shotguns let you cover more ground when you need to find the birds.


The second advantage to turkey guns in lighter gauges are the doors they open up to other hunters. For instance, these calibers are much better suited for young hunters. The recoil from larger caliber shotguns for turkeys on a youngster’s shoulder can cause them to miss and more important scare them from continuing the sport. A knock down from a big bore shotgun on a kid’s shoulder can scare them from shooting it again. These small bore shotguns not only are easier for kids to control from a weight and size standpoint like we previously mentioned, but they have less recoil. If you are a parent of an up and coming turkey hunter, start out by purchasing an all-purpose .410 caliber shotgun like the Mossberg 510 Super Batam. With good turkey hunting and the right shells, your kids can easily drop an old tom at 20- to 30-yards.


Mossberg 510 Super Batam


The .20-gauges are even more versatile for youth hunters because you can use them yourself for a few years turkey hunting while also teaching your kids how to shoot them. The Benelli Nova Youth APG is one shotgun for turkeys that fits this description. Once they are ready for the woods, this Benelli turkey gun can give you a few more yards of range without the recoil of larger, more traditional turkey guns. Most shotguns come with or have the ability to accept expandable butt spacers to add or remove length as needed as your kids grow with the shotgun. This is also a great feature, along with reduced recoil, for women and senior turkey hunters.


Benelli Nova Youth APG


Finally, there comes the all-important cost aspect. Smaller bore shotguns are going to save you some money from the gun itself to the cost of shotgun shells. Turkey shells are going to be a few dollars cheaper than their .12-gauge counterpart. A significant difference if you are spending substantial time on the range. In addition, you can expect to save anywhere from a few tens of dollars to a few hundred dollars when buying a smaller bore turkey gun. Smaller gauge shotguns are often the best turkey gun for the money, and price alone makes it a good reason to check them out.


Shotguns for Turkey Are Only One of Many Parts to Being Successful


The shotgun has transformed from a general firearm for hunting all sorts of game into a highly specialized weapon designed for specific species. Turkey shotguns evolved from here just like waterfowl shotguns. The shotgun is only one part of the turkey hunt, however. Smaller caliber shotguns reduce your effective range, no doubt. But if you are a sloppy caller or move frequently as a gobbler works his way in, it will not matter how far you can shoot. Choosing to forego a .12-gauge shotgun for turkeys and pick up a lighter, more compact smaller bore turkey shotgun has many advantages while also knowing you have to up your turkey skills for a clean, effective shot.

Beginners Guide to Handgun Shooting

10 Handgun Shooting Tips for First Time Shooters


Handgun shooting is growing in popularity with more diverse audiences than ever before. People are choosing to shoot for recreation, hunting and purchasing handguns for personal protection. What this means is that there are many more first-time handgun shooters out there than ever before.


Learning how to shoot a pistol accurately and safely takes practice. Purchasing a handgun is just the start as you begin shooting. You have to dedicate time and resources to develop proper technique, understand the rules of gun safety and be consistent at shooting accurately to be effective and have fun. Here are 10 handgun shooting tips for beginners to get you started.


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Handgun Shooting Tips Before Firing the First Round


Safety Comes First


Many shooters, even beginner shooters, think that safety is a given. Of course, you need to be safe when shooting firearms. However, it is so important that it needs to be shooting tip number one. Continually reemphasizing safety, whether you are heading to the range to shoot a pistol or taking out a handgun for big game hunting, is essential.


The standard rules of gun safety are key points that ever person handling and shooting firearms should know.


  • Every gun should be treated as if it were loaded each and every time you store it, handle it, clean it and shoot it.


  • Never point a firearm at anything or anybody that you are not intent on shooting.


  • The firearm’s safety should always be on until you are ready to shoot.


  • Keep your finger away from the trigger at all times until you are absolutely sure you are ready to fire the gun.


  • Always know the target you intend to shoot and what is around it.


As a beginning shooter, it is important to practice these safety rules each time you are around handguns and firearms. Treating a gun as if it were loaded means you should never assume it is unloaded. The first point of action when picking up a handgun is to point it in a safe direction and make sure it is unloaded.


Handgun shooting safely revolves around knowing your target. You only want to draw your weapon at something you want to shoot at. When shooting, make sure the safety of the handgun is on and your finger is away from the trigger until you are ready to shoot at the right target. Taking a firearms safety class is also a good idea. Here, certified instructors will walk you through every aspect of safety and basic handgun shooting techniques. These rules and practicing them each time you are around a firearm will keep you and others safe.


Protection for Yourself


Safety also includes your safety while shooting. Each person handgun shooting should have hearing and eye protection. Hearing protection ranges from ear plugs to full coverage earmuffs. Find a pair that is comfortable for you but also meets the minimum standards for firearm noises. Also, make sure you have eye protection in the form of shooting glasses. Sunglasses will not cut it. Make sure your protective eyewear is ballistics tested and impact certified. Rounds coming out of semi-auto handguns can easily injure your eyes if struck not to mention other fine materials that can be disbursed when shooting.


Double Check Your Handgun and its Ammunition


It may sound simple to more experience handgun shooting enthusiasts, but always make sure you have the correct ammunition for the handgun you are shooting. This is one of the most important pistol shooting tips for beginners as there are many of calibers of bullets as well as variations within the same caliber. Putting the wrong ammunition in your firearm is a sure way to damage your weapon and cause injury to yourself. If you are still unsure, it is always a good choice to reference your manual and ask a sales associate at your local gun shop.




More Handgun Shooting Tips for Beginners


Enroll in a Shooting Class for First Time Shooters


Local gun ranges and shooting facilities offer classes throughout the year for first-time shooters and beyond. Handgun shooting classes can often be free of charge if put on by local outdoor groups or law enforcement agencies. In more elaborate shooting facilities, there is usually a small fee for signing up for shooting classes.


These classes walk you through everything from gun safety briefly discussed above to pistol shooting fundamentals like proper handgun stance and grip all the way up to more advanced shooting drills. Classes like these are a great way to get a basic understanding of handgun shooting, be safe while shooting and build your confidence to shoot a pistol on your own.


Work with a Shooting Instructor


Better than enrolling in a shooting class, hiring an instructor can be one of the best ways to learn pistol shooting fundamentals. When it comes to finding a good instructor, you have to seek out reviews and trust your instincts. Ask around the range or shooting club about the person you are thinking about shooting with. Do they have references and how long have they been a handgun shooting instructor? Also, if you feel uncomfortable with your instructor when you first meet, choose a new one. Having someone you do not feel comfortable around while shooting is unsafe and unproductive.


A good instructor will tailor their training to your skill level. He or she will provide constructive criticism on how you handle the firearm and how to shoot a handgun better. Absorb their knowledge and practice the shooting skills they show you to become a more competent shot with a pistol.


The Pistol Shooting Grip is Everything


The pistol shooting grip drives how well you shoot your handgun. Having an incorrect grip can keep you off target and even potentially injure you. Start by taking your trigger hand, which is the hand you will use to pull the trigger, and surround the grip. Remember to make sure your fingers are away from the trigger for safety. Next, the supplemental hand (support hand) wraps over the top of your trigger hand exerting firm but not overwhelming pressure against it. The key is to develop a consistent and comfortable grip that puts you on the mark each time.


A good grip is also important to protect your hands. Fast shooting semi-automatic pistols can grab a thumb in an instant. In addition, revolvers can burn your hand and fingers from the firing gap between the cylinder and chamber.


Understand Your Sights


Depending on the type of pistol you have purchased, it may have fixed or adjustable sights. First, determine which are on your handgun. As you shoot more, if they are fixed sights, you will start to know how to aim accurately. The positioning of the front and back parts of the sight can vary from pistol to pistol, but through practice, you will know how each needs to be lined up.


Adjustable sights are easier to use in the sense that like a rifle scope, they can be adjusted for better accuracy and to fit your shooting style. Start with the factory settings then as you get more comfortable shooting, tweak the sights to hone in each shot on target.




Do Not Just Practice Firing Your Pistol


Practice makes perfect and the more practice you take part in the better you will be as a shooter. Put simply, practice is the only way a beginner shooter will learn. Shooting on a regular basis will help you understand your pistol, become competent at the range and ultimately make you more successful at hitting the target. Shooting, however, is not the only part you should be practicing.


  • Practice tearing down your pistol. If you spend a lot of time practicing shooting, then your pistol will need to be cleaned often. Some are easier than others to dismantle and put back together. Reference you manual or have someone familiar with your type of pistol show you the correct way to tear it down. Practicing this procedure will speed up cleaning and make sure you get a functioning pistol assembled.


  • Work on different shooting positions. This beginner pistol shooting drill can be done at home. For safety, however, triple check that your firearm is unloaded, the magazine is removed and no ammunition is nearby. Work on positioning your feet in different stances, from standing, sitting, kneeling and laying down. This is particularly important for those who purchased a pistol for self-defense. You may never know what position you will be in when it comes to defending yourself so practicing now will prepare you.


  • Shoot different targets. Repeatedly firing at the same target is not going to make you a better shot. Use different size and style targets as you progress in your shooting ability. Also, shoot at variable distances. Try close range, medium range and long distance to build your basic handgun shooting skills.


Never Settle with Your Shooting Skills


Even after you have been through a few shooting classes and spend time with an instructor one-on-one, your education is not over. To be effective and accurate with handgun shooting, you have to continually aim to learn more and practice. There is always an aspect of your shooting skills that can be improved.


Handgun Shooting Should Always Be Fun


One of the reasons for purchasing a handgun is for recreational shooting. Remember that when you are on the range. Shooting is a serious undertaking with the attention it commands but handgun shooting should always be fun. There is no other feeling like shooting a pistol.


As a beginner shooter, there are many pistol shooting fundamentals to learn and practice. Shooting skills will not come overnight. It takes practice and training to become comfortable and proficient at handgun shooting. These handgun shooting tips for beginners can hopefully progress your skills and performance on the range. Do not get discouraged if you fail to center shots your first few times on the range, but rather keep at it and you will be shooting accurately in no time.

Beat the Winter Blues with Small Game Hunting

Mid-Winter Small Game Hunting Fun


This time of year, many people tend to get a little depressed. It’s probably because deer season is done, the holidays are mostly wrapped up, and the long winter months lie ahead of us. Not too encouraging, right? Fortunately, there are lots of great activities we can keep busy with over the cold, dark winter. Small game hunting is one way to satisfy our need to do something fun during this time frame. It keeps us active outdoors and can allow us to still do some hunting during a time when most hunting seasons are closed. Let’s dive in and discuss the species to hunt, habitats to find them, gear you need, and hunting methods.


Small Game Hunting Seasons Kentucky


Why Small Game Hunting?

As we mentioned above, there are so many reasons to hunt small game animals this time of year. First, you’re probably bored of watching television already and looking for something to do. Chasing small game critters is a way to spend an invigorating day outdoors. In fact, the cooler weather and lack of vegetation can make walking much more pleasant and increase your opportunity of spotting game before they flush. Second, it’s one of the few hunting seasons that are still open for most hunters to capitalize on. Small game animals are usually very plentiful and can be hunted for extended seasons in many areas. Additionally, small game hunting keeps your hunting and shooting skills sharp so you don’t have to wait as long until next season. Just because there are potentially a lot of small game in the woods doesn’t mean they’re easy to get. Some of them can really take a calculated plan of attack or catch you totally off-guard. A day of hunting small game animals in the woods will almost always teach you something new, so it’s really a good learning opportunity if you look at it that way. If you hunt with a dog in the fall, it’s nice to give them some extra exercise and practice by getting out during the extended small game hunting season, especially if you’re training a new puppy. Finally, very few people actually go out this time of year for hunting purposes. Nine times out of ten, you’ll probably have the public land woods to yourself instead of constantly running into other hunters.


Small Game Species, Habitats, and Seasons

So what animals are we talking about for small game hunting? It all depends on where you live and hunt, but these will generally consist of birds (e.g., ruffed grouse, woodcock, pheasant, waterfowl, quail, doves, etc.), squirrels (i.e., gray or fox squirrels), and rabbits (e.g., cottontails, snowshoe hares, jack rabbits, etc.). Of all these types of game meat, the larger birds and rabbits will easily provide a great dinner for two, while a few of the smaller birds and squirrels are great in a slow cooker together.


The bird species are found in all kinds of different habitats. Upland bird habitats can overlap a little in some locales. Grouse and woodcock prefer dense, brushy thickets of dogwoods or alder. Pheasant, quail, and doves prefer agricultural fields and grassy swales. Waterfowl species obviously prefer waterbodies, such as rivers, sloughs, or ponds. Go to your state’s natural resource website and you can easily find a list of game birds for your area.


Squirrels can be found in many places across the country, but both gray and fox squirrels require mature deciduous forests to really thrive. They use the mature trees to nest in and depend on the nuts and seeds they gather from them for food, though they will also happily raid bird feeders and corn cribs.





The three primary rabbit species all use very different habitats. Cottontails and snowshoe hares can overlap their ranges a little. But wherever winters are tough and snow really piles up, snowshoe hares are more common than cottontails because of their adapted feet that keep them on top of the snow drifts. They also prefer conifer and aspen forests, while cottontails prefer dense brushy woodlots, shelterbelts, and overgrown fields. Jack rabbits are usually found out west in deserts, farm fields, and scrublands.


As we said, many small game hunting seasons extend for another couple months. Most of the bird hunting seasons tend to wrap up pretty quickly as the New Year approaches, so you don’t have much time to still capitalize on that. But keep it in mind for next year, as late December bird hunts can be a lot of fun. Fortunately, squirrel and rabbit seasons are often open through mid-winter, which allows you plenty of time to still stretch the legs and put some more meat in the freezer.


Best Small Game Hunting Gear

Obviously things will vary a bit depending on how far north or south you hunt and what kind of environment you’re in. But the basic hunting gear you need is pretty similar no matter where you hunt. You probably have a lot of it already, so the gear shouldn’t take you long to gather.


First and foremost, you need the right gun for small game hunting. Everyone likes to choose their own small game hunting weapons, but there are some recommendations. If you’ll be bird hunting, you definitely need a shotgun because any bird you hunt will almost never be sitting still when you shoot. They’ll likely be flying by your head in a feathery blur. For smaller birds like quail, dove, and even some grouse situations, you can get by with a 20 gauge. But for shooting at flushing pheasants, waterfowl, or grouse, a 12 gauge is a solid option. Provided you have the right ammunition, it has the power you need to knock them down quickly. In fact, it’s probably the best shotgun gauge for small game in general. The Remington 870 Express Tky 12 gauge is an attractive gun for small game hunting. It’s got a camouflaged synthetic stock and has a 21-inch barrel, so you can sneak it through the woods easily. But because it can handle 3-inch shells, you can also hunt larger waterfowl species and pheasants with no problem.




For rabbit and squirrel hunting, you have another option. If you’ll be stalking up on squirrels and rabbits, you could also use small game hunting rifles. Typically, the best small game caliber is a .22 since a clean head shot won’t ruin any meat like a shotgun will. The Henry Classic Lever Action 22LR is a fun and fast-shooting rifle due to the classic Western style action. While the open sights are accurate for close-up shots, you could always add a scope for tack-driving shots at further distances. This could make it the best rabbit gun for these situations. The only downside with rifles is that you really need the animal to be holding still to make any ethical shot. Sometimes rabbits and squirrels will run a short distance and freeze, relying on their camouflage to hide them. This is the perfect scenario for the .22 mentioned above or even a small game air rifle.




Other than small game guns, you’ll also require some of your basic outdoor gear, including good boots, warm clothing, and a hunting vest. There really aren’t many specific small game hunting accessories you need. Depending on the conditions, you should have performance clothing to keep your body warm and dry through whatever weather you might encounter. A vest with an over-sized and waterproof back pouch is nice since rabbits tend to make a mess and fill up space quickly.


Small Game Hunting Methods

Now let’s dive into some small game hunting tips you can use to put some winter meat in the freezer. For winter bird hunting, it can be really difficult to hunt by yourself simply because they will rarely flush unless you almost step on them. It’s best to bring a family member or hunting buddy along. Walking side by side, spaced about 30 yards apart can be useful for flushing birds to your partner. It’s critical when hunting with someone else to always know where they are and which direction is safe to shoot. This can sometimes be difficult if you’re hunting in dense conifers or brushy areas. But flushing a bird and passing on the shot is still better than walking around all day by yourself and not seeing anything.


With winter rabbit hunting, you can be successful by yourself or with a partner. If you’re by yourself, walk along key winter habitat areas (e.g., dense brushy areas or low-growing conifers) and pause frequently with your gun ready. This will often scare a rabbit into flushing out of cover. If you have a shotgun, point and shoot as soon as you can, trying to lead the rabbit a bit. If you have a rifle, wait and see if they stop. If they do, you’d better be quick and take a head shot right under the ear. For small game hunting with a friend, you can either use the same upland bird hunting approach above, or make miniature drives for each other. One person basically stands in a spot where they can see a distance or along a dominant rabbit trail. The other should make a big circle through thick cover no more than 50 to 75 yards away to try to flush a rabbit towards their friend. Again, knowing where the other hunter is at all times is critical.


For squirrel hunting, you can easily hunt by yourself. Start your hunt by quietly walking through a mature forest, keeping an eye on the canopy. You may startle a feeding squirrel from the ground, but by the time you notice them, they will likely already be up in a tree. When you see one, try to close the distance as best you can since they will already be 40 to 50 feet up in a tree before you even approach. Use other trees for rests if you’re using a rifle so you can get an accurate head shot.


This winter, get outdoors and do some small game hunting while you can. It’s a surefire way to beat the winter blues and cabin fever if you’re feeling a little claustrophobic inside. And you might luck out with some extra wild game meals.

Hunting Rifles | From the Shooting Range to the Field

The Overall Process for New Hunting Rifles

With various hunting seasons upon us, a lot of people have been heading to the woods lately to see what they can put in the freezer. Many hunters have owned and used the same hunting rifles, shotguns, or muzzleloaders for years. But there are many new hunters who have just bought their first gun to use this year. If you’re not quite at that stage yet, but are considering it soon, there will be a lot of decisions to make. Which animals are you targeting, how much money do you want to spend, and what kind of gun are you thinking of getting? For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you’re looking at hunting rifles since it is prime deer season time across the country.

Hunting rifles, where legal to use, are excellent weapons for big game animals. You can shoot very accurately and reliably at long distances, provided you have a quality set of optics with it. The ammunition types are very customizable, depending on what animal you’re chasing. You can find many different types of rifles that are either very lightweight for spot and stalk hunts or heavy duty for tree stand hunting. There are plenty of accurate actions to choose from as well.

What You Need for Hunting Rifles 

If this all sounds like a good fit for your hunting preferences, it’s time to consider buying one. It might get confusing when you’re just starting out, especially when you look at the long rows of gun accessories on the store shelves. It can seem like you’re going to have to break the bank to possibly buy everything. But you don’t need every last accessory to get out hunting. Instead, you only need a few basic items.

Hunting Rifle

The hunting gun you choose should really depend on your personality and hunting goals. For example, if you’re not likely to hunt anything larger than a whitetail and you’re smaller-framed, buying a high-powered .338 is just asking for regrets. Similarly, buying a .243 is insufficient if you’re a larger person who wants to take on a moose head to head. Take time to read about the best caliber and cartridge for various North American game animals to see which one might be right for you and your situation. The best deer rifle caliber is often debated as the .270 or .30-06, but it really depends on your preference. You can usually find a quality brand and model of guns for sale cheaper than you think, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t find anything right away.

The Ruger® American .270 Winchester is about the best all around hunting rifle for most wild game species and body shapes, but many people prefer the .270 for deer hunting. Its sleek synthetic stock reduces the overall weight of the rifle, and the rubber buttpad helps absorb and reduce the recoil force. Additionally, the bolt action is considered a very dependable style, which is always a bonus for new hunters. Hunting guns need to be dependable above all other things. Ruger® rifles are also known for their high quality, along with Remington® rifles or Winchester® rifles.

hunting rifles from the shooting range to the field | Whittaker Guns


Sure, you can shoot hunting rifles without a scope, but that really takes the advantage away from using a rifle in the first place. Plus, you don’t need a crazy, high-end version to extend your ethical shooting range by a significant amount. A simple 3-9×40 mm scope will set you up for hunting at close and far distances alike. They’re relatively cheap and pretty easy to mount and sight in too, which we’ll discuss below.


Having a sling to carry your firearm is definitely a nice item to have; especially if you have to walk a good distance to your tree stand. They’re cheap too, so there’s really no reason to not have one for all of your deer hunting rifles.

Cleaning Kit

As with any firearm you own, you should have a corresponding kit or various gun care tools to clean it thoroughly. This should include a rod/brush attachment or bore snake to clean the inside of the barrel, some solvent and lubricating oil, and a rag to wipe down the exterior. If you have just these three items, you can do a very good job at cleaning your hunting rifles.

Hunting Rifles Out of the Box 

When you finally purchase your firearm, the fun can really begin. Before heading to the woods, you need to unbox it, assemble it, and sight it in. Just about any gun you buy from a reputable source will contains simple instructions to assemble and operate a firearm. Many people get intimidated at this stage, thinking they don’t know enough about guns to do it themselves. But it really is a piece of cake.

hunting rifles from the shooting range to the field | Whittaker Guns

Ammunition for Rifles

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the operating manual and the anatomy of the gun, you can go pick up some ammunition. Again, this will depend on the animal you intend on hunting. Explain to an associate what you will be hunting, if that makes you feel more at ease, so that they can help guide you to the right ammo for sale. For deer hunting with the Ruger .270 example above, a 100 to 150 grain cartridge is more than enough to ethically and quickly kill a deer. It always helps to use the same ammunition you would use for hunting at the shooting range, so you know exactly how it performs and you can get comfortable using it.

Sighting in Hunting Rifles

Now that you have a box of cartridges to shoot, it’s time to find a shooting range near you. It’s even nicer if you know somebody who owns some land where you can practice in privacy. But many new hunters are more likely to use a shooting range for the initial sighting in process. If you have a brand new scope set up on the rifle and you’ve never shot it before, the first few steps will take a while.

A bore-mounted laser is the easiest way to sight a new scope in. You simply insert the bore sight into the muzzle of the rifle, mount the gun to your shoulder (a shooting sled is better), and look through the scope. Adjust the windage and elevation of the scope slowly until your crosshairs are roughly lined up with the laser dot on the target downrange. A bore sight is meant to get you shooting on paper, but the final adjustments need to be done through shooting practice. You can remove the bore sight and take a few shots, adjusting the scope further after each one. It really helps to shoot at grid paper, so you know exactly how far you should adjust the scope each time. Once you’re happy with how it’s shooting, take a few shots that will simulate a hunting scenario. For example, set up at a distance that you anticipate to shoot from and take your time to really visualize a hunting situation.

After squeezing the trigger, focus on keeping the rifle in place for 3 to 5 seconds, which will feel like an eternity. But doing this in practice sessions will get your body used to focusing on holding it steady. Most people tend to quickly look up from the scope sights after shooting, especially when their adrenaline is pumping from a wild encounter with a big deer. Unfortunately, this could cause you to bump your gun in anticipation and interfere with long shots. The steadier you remain throughout the shooting process, the more accurate you will be and the better hunter you will be. If your rifle is still shooting accurately in this hunting simulation, it’s time to move on to a real hunt.

Into the Woods 

Assuming you’ve gone through the steps above to get your hunting firearm ready, you need to reflect back on the questions you initially asked yourself. What type of hunting are you going to do? Would you prefer to ambush wild game animals from a tree stand or ground blind, or stalk them on foot? The answers to these questions will influence how you approach a hunt.

For the Ruger .270 example above, you could either hunt from a stationary point or stalk animals, since the gun is fairly lightweight, yet heavy-duty enough to easily kill a whitetail. Hunting rifles for deer can be very variable. Regardless of which method you choose to hunt, the actual shooting process will go about the same way. When you see a target game animal, very slowly move your rifle into position. A mature whitetail is certain to spook if you move very quickly. Settle the crosshairs on their vital area and slowly let them circle around. Most people try to quickly pull the trigger as soon as the crosshairs slip behind the front shoulder, but this can cause you to jerk the gun and make a poor shot. By letting the crosshairs make circles around the general vital area and slowly squeezing the trigger, you get way more accurate and consistent shot groupings. It’s important that you don’t intentionally try to circle the target area, but that you merely think about it circling. You’ll start to notice it moving on its own. If you practiced before the season, you should have developed some muscle memory that will hold you steady for a few seconds, ensuring a better shot. Then it’s time to get on the blood trail and collect your prize.

It’s Action Time 

If you’re a new hunter or haven’t bought your own hunting weapon before, hopefully this post explains the process for you. Hunting rifles really are a valuable piece of anyone’s hunting equipment. Looking for hunting rifles for sale in Kentucky? Visit Whittaker guns for all your gun needs.

Shotgunning Fall Upland Game Birds

Shooting Tips for Bagging Fall Upland Game Birds

shotgunning fall upland game birds | Whittaker GunsWhether you are busting big timber in search of grouse or moving alongside fence rows for pheasants, shotgunning fall upland game birds is a different kind of hunting compared to big game hunting. It requires a skill set unlike other types of hunting. Everything is moving, from yourself to the birds not to mention the concentration required while hunting to watch everything that is going on around you including other hunters. When it comes down to bird hunting, you want to know you have prepared well enough to be able to make a clean shot when that bird final flushes.

Wing shooting, in general, is a use it or lose it type of hunting skill. If you are not practicing and putting in the time before the season, your success rate is greatly diminished once upland bird hunting season rolls around. Take these five upland bird shooting tips, paired with a good shotgun, when you go afield this fall

5 Upland Bird Shooting Tips 

Your shotgun is important, no doubt about it. But even the highest quality shotgun is not going to improve your upland bird hunting without these wing shooting tips.

Pattern the Shotgun 

How often have you patterned your upland game bird shotgun? Probably less than your turkey shotgun and far less often than you should. Each shotgun shoots differently, and knowing the point of impact is critical for accuracy in the field. First, you want to know if your shotgun is shooting straight. If it is off too much, a gunsmith may be required to make some adjustments. Second, you want to pattern your shotgun in order to test various shotshell loads and chokes based on your intended use. Are there enough pellets at different distances with different combinations of shells (shot size, weight, length) and choke (modified, improved, etc.)? Answer these question before you take that first shot of the season at an advancing bird.

Clay Birds Are Your Best Friend 

Patterning your shotgun is first and foremost. After you have a good handle on shot dynamics, it is time to put some boxes through your barrel. Clay birds are a great way to practice your fall upland game bird hunting. Start by shooting easy floaters out in front of you to get a feel of swinging your shotgun and following a moving target. Once you are comfortable with that, move to more realistic shooting scenarios including shooting at clay birds through the woods, low to the ground and multiple targets at the same time. Also, do not think that you need an expensive automatic thrower to take part in practicing your game bird shooting, On the contrary, a hand thrower works as well if you can grab a buddy or two to shoot with.

Hunt Ready to Shoot 

No matter if it is grouse or pheasants, each step you take while hunting, you should be prepared to shoot. Fall upland game birds can be up and gone in several seconds and if you are not prepared to shoot as you are moving then you missed your chance. Carry your shotgun in a shooting position, but one that does not make your arms tired. Also, pay attention to your footwork as you move through the brush or open field. With each step, you should keep your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly turned with the left shoulder leading the way (reversed for lefty shooters). This puts your body in a shooting position over each step, making it much faster to pull up while bird hunting.

Forget About Aiming 

Each bird flush involves a split-second reaction so trying to aim will only leave you missing the shot. More appropriately, you want to point your shotgun to the flushed bird with both eyes open. Keeping both eyes opens allows you to naturally follow the target with almost any upland bird hunting shotgun. Natural instincts (muscle memory and practice) take control at this point and allow you to land a good shot on the bird by being relaxed, responsive and repetitive. Keep your swing steady and smooth, following the target to the point where you line up and pull the trigger.

Know Your Surroundings 

Hunting fall upland game birds is a fast-paced sport, much faster than say fall turkey hunting. Birds flush out of nowhere and frequently there are multiple people involved in the hunt. As you move through the brush or fields, be aware of your surroundings. Know where your hunting partners are and if you are hunting upland game birds with a dog, where the dog is. You want to be constantly thinking about this so when that bird flushes you do not have to think but only react.

3 Must Have Shotguns for Fall Upland Game Bird Hunting

Now that you have a few upland game bird shooting tips, what is the best upland game bird shotgun to carry and use with those tips? Well first, a good bird hunting shotgun is lean, light and shoulders fast and smooth. You want a shotgun that can be lugged through miles of terrain and perform at a moment’s notice when that long awaited bird finally flushes. Additionally, you want the right gauge to match the species you are pursuing. Pheasants can be taken with .12- and .20-gauge shotguns and grouse and quail can be handled with anything from a .12-gauge to a 28-gauge shotgun.

Shotguns for Sale Worth Carrying for Wing Shooting

Benelli Super Black Eagle II

shotgunning fall upland game birds | Whittaker Guns

The Benelli Super Black Eagle II is a long and trusted friend by many who hunt fall upland game birds. This gun can be carried for hunting birds, turkeys and waterfowl with minimal effort. It is lightweight and shoots fast, important in hunting upland game birds. Although the newly released Benelli Super Vinci has some nice upgrades compared to the Super Black Eagle II, it still packs a nice bunch for all your shooting needs.

Beretta A400 Lite

shotgunning fall upland game birds | Whittaker Guns

Beretta’s A400 Lite shotgun is the ultimate carry shotgun for long days bird hunting. It packs a big punch in a light, 6.6-pound frame that is easy to point and shoot. This semi-auto shotgun has a smooth action but only chambers up to 3-inch shells. Also, this shotgun has no camo option available yet for, which is not all that big of a deal for most fall upland game bird hunters.

Remington V3

shotgunning fall upland game birds | Whittaker Guns

The new V3 model shotgun from Remington is an updated version of the VersaMax with the same Remington reliability as its other semi-auto shotguns. The versatile VersaPort system lets you move from different shell types with ease, ejecting them quickly and smoothly. The V3 has good balance and shouldering is quick and clean. An all-around shotgun for many types of bird hunting situations.

In conclusion, whether you decide to pull out your trusted shotgun or maybe look to purchase a new shotgun, fall upland game bird hunting is here. It is not enough to head out once or twice a year but if you are serious about hunting upland game birds then you need to put in the time. The right shotgun and the right preparation can go a long way in putting more birds in your vest…and ultimately making the dog happy!

The Right Shotgun for Fall Turkey Hunting

Fall Turkey Hunting Tips for a Thanksgiving Bird

When most people think about turkey hunting, they imagine scenes of springtime: bright green grasses popping up out of the ground with lime green new leaves budding out on the trees. But if turkey is primarily a bird destined for Thanksgiving table fare, doesn’t it make sense to hunt them in the autumn months when the leaves are red, yellow, and orange? If you’re looking to put some wild turkey back on the Thanksgiving menu, here are some fall turkey hunting tips for you. We’ll talk about the main differences between spring and fall turkeys, the different techniques you should use, and the best gun options. Whether you’re looking for turkey hunting tips for beginners or seasoned hunters alike, you’ll find something useful here.

Comparison of Spring and Fall Turkey Hunting 

the right shotgun for fall turkey hunting | Whittaker GunsThere are several big differences between spring and fall turkeys. Springtime is breeding season for turkeys (and many other animals), so most of their activities are focused on this behavior. Strutting and gobbling are common actions for tom turkeys as they chase hens, which can be very exciting to watch at close range. You typically use hen calls or gobbler purrs to bring a tom in for a closer investigation in the spring, since they’re competing for hens and are ready to fight about it. Decoys are typically used to simulate a breeding scenario, with a combination of a jake and a hen decoy. Once a tom sees this display, they should get mad and run in to bust up the party. During most spring hunting seasons, you can only legally harvest a tom, which leaves the hens to produce more eggs and young poults.

As far as turkey habits in the fall, toms pretty much stick to themselves or in groups of adult males (like whitetail bachelor groups). Hens hang out together with young jakes and jennies in large groups. Because of this behavior, male turkey calls are used to call other males, and hen or poult calls are used to attract other hen and poult groups. Typically, toms produce a deeper, raspier, and more drawn-out yelp than hens, as well as purrs. Decoys should correspond to the type of bird you want to attract too (male decoys for male birds, and vice versa). For many fall turkey hunting seasons, you can take a turkey of either sex, which drastically increases your chances at putting a turkey on the table.

Best Shotgun for Turkey Hunting

Everybody’s got their own personal preferences when it comes to the best guns for them. Their body size or hunting experience will dictate what gauge they are most comfortable shooting, as well as the overall size of the shotgun. If they’re mostly interested in a turkey gun, it will be a different scenario than if they want to also hunt ducks, geese, grouse, or pheasant with it. For waterfowl and fall turkey hunting, you can use a long-barreled shotgun, which will produce a more consistent and smoother aiming process. They can also be heavier guns overall since you’ll mostly be sitting with them during your hunt. On the other hand, if you’d like a general purpose shotgun that you could use for walking around all day for grouse or pheasant, you’ll want something a bit lighter and with a shorter barrel that you can maneuver through thick brush or corn stalks. Take these into consideration before you choose a new turkey gun.

the right shotgun for fall turkey hunting | Whittaker Guns

Turkeys are big and tough birds. While you could ethically use a 12, 16, or 20 gauges on turkeys, the best shotgun for turkeys is probably a 12 gauge since it can put them down fast and is so versatile. A shotgun with a receiver that can shoot at least 3-inch shells is preferable to increase the load you can fire at them. Whittaker Guns has many of the best turkey shotguns you could want. But a Remington 870 Express is always a solid choice for a variety of hunting types. The type of action you choose is really just a matter of preference, with the pump action being one of the more common choices.

Then you need to consider gun accessories, which there are plenty of. Depending on what distance you anticipate turkeys approaching from, the best choke tubes for turkey hunting will vary. If you’re naturally limited to shots within 20 yards (such as in very dense woods), a modified choke is probably fine in almost any case. But if you anticipate some 40-yard shots in open fields (and feel confident about making the shot at that distance), you’ll probably want to screw a full or turkey choke tube into the muzzle. Regardless of what you think, you should test your shotgun pattern density before you hunt. Set up a piece of cardboard with a rough turkey head outline on it. Shoot from the distance you plan to hunt at and see what the shot pattern looks like. If there are even 20 BBs in the turkey’s head or neck outline, you shouldn’t have any problem killing a bird.

Best Ammunition for Fall Turkey Hunting 

Speaking of BBs, there are a few general guidelines about the best ammunition for turkeys as well. Ammunition is probably one of the most important turkey hunting supplies we have because it makes such a difference in how lethal each shot is. Like we mentioned, a 3-inch shell is preferable to a 2 ¾-inch shell; a 3 ½-inch shell is also a good bet. The shell should contain shot in the 4 to 6 range, which are big enough to be lethal at a variety of distances. As far as the load, 1 7/8 ounce shells are more than capable of getting the job done quickly. For a good shell that matches these criteria, check out the Winchester Longbeard XR for 12 gauges.

Fall Turkey Hunting Tactics

There are a few good fall turkey tactics you can use yet this year to put a Thanksgiving bird in the oven. The first thing that really helps, though it needs some planning ahead, is to plant food plots. Deer aren’t the only animals that like to snack in these lush areas. Cut cornfields, clover, other cereal grains, and even brassica greens are all attractive to wild turkeys. During the spring and summer, they will key in on insects using these plants, but they will transition to eating the greens or grain in the fall. These areas are also usually open enough for a flock to all gather easily. Even if you just have some old hayfields, you might be surprised how many turkeys will come out of the thick forest around it to graze and gather. But they will also heavily feed on acorns in oak woodlots or small crabapples/hawthorn apples. So if you’re wondering how to hunt turkey next fall, consider planting a small 1/10 to 1/4 acre food plot near an oak forest with some crabapple trees on the fringe for the ultimate turkey spot.

Before you begin hunting, it’s time to go back to turkey hunting basics; get to know the property and your local flock of turkeys (where do they roost, where do they spend their daylight hours, how many gobblers are actually in the flock, etc.). Walking the land and finding potential roost trees or open hayfields is one way to do this. Another way to get these answers is to use trail cameras in strategic locations to monitor their movements. Keep a camera on any open areas and between them and potential roost trees. This will allow you to pattern where the birds are and decide if a certain area is worth fall turkey hunting or not.

the right shotgun for fall turkey hunting | Whittaker Guns

Once you start consistently seeing a tom turkey you’d like to hunt, it’s time to get in the field after him. You can either use a ground blind or a typical deer tree stand for fall turkey hunting. Ground blinds will allow you a little more movement since you’re fully concealed, which makes it a good option for bringing kids with. But tree stands are nice since they’re typically already up this time of year for deer hunting, and the turkeys will be used to them. Of course, they need to be located in the right spots to make this approach work. But as long as you have some good camouflage turkey hunting clothing and keep your movement to a minimum, you shouldn’t stand out much in a tree stand. While some people go fall turkey hunting without decoys, you should really use one. It helps focus the turkey’s attention on the decoy, which can give you the ability to get your gun in position for a shot. Turkeys have amazingly keen eyesight, so regardless of anything else, you need to move slowly. Again, use a male turkey decoy to attract toms, and hen decoys to attract hens. A single decoy should be plenty enough but look at your trail camera pictures to see what’s normal for your area.

After the decoy is set up and you’re concealed in a tree or on the ground, it’s time for us to discuss fall turkey calling tips. As far as how to call fall turkeys, there’s one thing you should keep in mind: keep it balanced. If you’ve rarely heard your turkey flock call to each other, don’t start squawking for 15 minutes. Make a few yelps and cuts, and then quiet down again. If you’re looking for toms, try doing some low and raspy tom yelps, three to five at a time, and then wait for 15-20 minutes before doing it again (for hens, try doing kee-kee runs). But once you get a bird to respond, start calling back immediately, trying to mimic their call exactly. You want to be aggressive with this part of the calling. Turkeys may not always see your decoy through the tall weeds or brush when they’re within cover, so call until they actually come out into the field. You’ll know when they find your decoy, as they will usually come running over to it to size up the intruder.

If you choose to go fall turkey hunting this year, keep these turkey hunting tips in mind. Whether it’s your first time hunting turkeys at all or you’re just used to spring turkey hunting, you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Big Game Handguns for Sale and How to Choose One

Handguns for Sale for Big Game Hunting

The majority of handguns for sale are designed for self-defense. These include your semi-automatic varieties filling the gun store cases or online gun stores web pages. However, often hidden in the back or absent altogether from the gun case are a set of pistols somewhat forgotten. Many do not think of handguns as a viable hunting firearm choice for big game hunting. But there are a group of handguns for sale that are more than capable of taking down a deer or larger game.

The group of handguns for hunting that has been eluded to are those single shot and single- and double-action revolvers. Handguns like these are built to handle monster calibers and in turn take down big game species. Hunting with handguns chambered in .30-30 or .454 Casull is not for the average hunter. Hanging on to a pistol that packs immense recoil from a tiny barrel leaves you in a world of hurt with each trigger pull. Here is how to choose the right handgun for big game hunting.

Considerations When Choosing a Big Game Handgun

Buying a handgun for big game hunting is much different than simply buying a rifle. With a rifle, you pretty much know what you are getting into. Handguns for hunting are a completely different beast. They vary in style, caliber, and function more drastically than hunting rifles do. There are 5 things to consider when choosing a handgun for big game hunting.

  1. Decide on which action fits your hunting needs. Revolvers in single- or double-action make up the majority of handguns for sale for hunting but single shot and even a few semi-auto handguns are available.
  1. Handguns for hunting come in a variety of calibers. Choosing one depends on your intended use. For deer, standard revolver calibers like .357 Mag, .44 Mag and .45 Colt will have no problem taking down a deer. Step up to larger calibers such as the .454 Casull and .500 Smith & Wesson for hunting larger game like elk and bears.
  1. Barrel Length. The shorter the barrel the more recoil and less accurate you will be at greater distances. You generally want to choose the longest barrel available that still fits your hunting needs. For instance, if you are planning to sit much of your hunt then you can go with a heavier, longer barreled pistol whereas if you are spotting and stalking game, a lighter and shorter barreled pistol will be easier to carry.
  1. Sights and Scopes. Today, most handguns for big game hunting are designed for use with a scope. For those that expect to take shots out past 50 yards, a scope is a must for your hunting pistol. These small scopes increase accuracy overall but can be a challenge to learn to shoot with. Open sights, or iron sights as some still call them, are ready out of the box and provide good accuracy at closer distances. Look for adjustable sights to give you better control and increased accuracy from fixed sights when choosing a big game handgun.
  1. Who doesn’t want a nicely engraved walnut grip? Handgun hunters, that’s who. Although they are beautiful, elegant grips are useless on handguns for sale when trying to manage shooting a large caliber handgun. Choose an aftermarket grip made from rubber or other synthetic material that will give you better control, improve accuracy and reduce recoil.

Better Handgun Shooting Accuracy

Hunting with handguns is completely different than hunting big game with a rifle. It takes, even more, dedication than most other types of hunting out there, simply because it is challenging to take a large animal with a handgun. Practice and using a proper rest both help to increase handgun shooting accuracy.

Practice is always part of any sport, hunting and non-hunting alike. It is almost a given and sometimes a waste of time to remind those reading. However, the practice required for hunting with a handgun is much more than going through the motions.

Yes, there is the basic range time needed to get your handgun for hunting dialed in. But the more important aspect of practice is to know your limitations and practice specific shooting scenarios. You may find it easy to land groups at 100 yards in the bullseye from a bench with a comfy rest, but what are your shot groups like when you shoot from a shooting stick? Practice shots that you will likely take in the field on an animal. Shoot using a tree as a steady point, practice free-hand and shoot from different body positions like standing and kneeling. Only after practicing field-shooting conditions will you be able to know your limitations hunting with a handgun. Know your shooting limitations and stick to them in the field or else you may blow an opportunity on a big game animal.

big game handguns for sale and how to choose one | Whittaker Guns

Handguns for big game hunting pack a bunch. Shooting them completely free-hand should be a last resort in the field unless you have practiced this enough to be comfortable taking that type of shot. For more consistent accuracy, an option is to add a shooting stick to your handgun hunting. There are many variations so pick a style that works best for you. The key is to make sure your handgun fits comfortably on them and that they are easy to deploy.

Top Big Game Handguns for Sale

There are numerous pistols for hunting available today that can be used successfully for various big game animals. Several manufacturers still pride themselves in making these firearms with the quality and precision they have been made with for decades. Here are the top five big game handguns for sale for hunting.

Smith & Wesson Model 629

The Smith & Wesson Model 629 is an updated version of the original Model 29. It features a single-action/double-action trigger combined with a stainless-steel matted finish frame and barrel. This handgun for hunting comes in barrel lengths from 3 inches to 7.5 inches. It is limited to .44 Mag (but will chamber and fire lighter .44 Special rounds as well) and has a large heavy frame, which is good if you are looking for better accuracy. This is one of the most popular handguns for sale for hunting for those hunters looking for an all-around pistol that is reliable, well-built and packs enough punch to take down deer, elk, and bear.

Ruger Blackhawk

The Ruger Blackhawk is truly the leader when it comes to cowboy-style handguns for sale. This single action hunting revolver comes in barrel lengths of 4.6-, 6.5- and 7.5-inch. If you are a traditionalist then stick with the original Blackhawk but if you are looking for a more advanced pistol with the ability to hold a scope then choose the Super Blackhawk. The Super Blackhawk has fully adjustable sights and an integral rib on the barrel to accept scope mounting hardware. Both styles come in .30 Carbine, .357 Mag., .41 Mag., .44 Mag. or .45 Colt.

Ruger Redhawk

Similar to the Ruger Blackhawk, the Redhawk keeps with the classic cowboy-style look but offers much more for those looking for a great handgun for hunting. The Ruger Redhawk is a double-action revolver that comes chambered in .44 Mag, .45 Colt or .454 Casull. Barrel lengths range from 2.5- to 9.5 inches with the 7.5-inch barrel being the most popular with hunters. The Redhawk is heavier than the Blackhawk but designed with a better grip shape making it much easier to hold and shoot more accurately. Fully adjustable sights come standard but only the Super Redhawk allows you to add a scope. Ruger’s Redhawk and Super Redhawk is one of the most durable and reliable handguns for sale for hunting.

Taurus Raging Bull

The Taurus Raging Bull is a monster of a handgun when it comes to big game hunting. Its large frame and ported barrel matched with available calibers like .44 Mag and .454 Casull make this pistol one that can be used on just about any big game animal. The drawback with this handgun for big game hunting is its tremendous recoil, perhaps where the name evolved from. Even with the 8.4-inch barrel and recoil absorbing grip, the Raging Bull can be a lot to handle. If you can get over the recoil and size of this pistol, it is one of the top handguns for hunting out there.

Thompson-Center Encore

The Thompson-Center Encore is the ultimate handgun for big game hunting and is specifically designed for it, unlike the previous four pistols which can also double as self-defense handguns. This single shot pistol is substantially larger than the others mentioned but it offers features the other do not. The ability to customize it and change barrels with ease, to name a few. Quickly your big game handgun can turn from a high-powered rifle into a .22 for squirrels, making it versatile for many different species and not just big game animals. The bulk in this pistol is due to the fact that it has to withstand calibers like .270 Win and .30-06. Notwithstanding the caliber options, the design of the Encore itself gives it an advantage at long distances. Shots at 200+ yards are possible when paired with a  quality pistol scope. If you are looking for a super accurate and versatile hunting pistol, look no further than the Thompson-Center Encore.

Hunting big game with a handgun is not for everyone. It takes incredible practice and shooting ability to be dead on with a handgun when it counts. Buying a handgun for big game hunting should be a methodical process and one that is based on your hunting desires. Even the top handguns for sale for hunting still require dedicated practice to become efficiently accurate. The reward, though, for this challenge is a big game hunting experience like no other when you finally get to pull that pistol trigger.

How Benchrest Shooting Can Help You Zero In Your Rifle

Benchrest Shooting Steps for Deer Hunting Preparation

Summer is coming to a close, which means hunting season isn’t that far off. Schools are starting up again, archery seasons are already open in a few states, and the mornings are starting to be just cool enough to give us the itch to get outside with our rifles. No matter if you bought a new gun or are just sighting in a gun you haven’t shot in years, benchrest shooting is the most accurate and fastest way to get you ready for the field.

But isn’t it still a little early to sight in my rifle? Not necessarily. As fall lingers on, shooting ranges will start to get pretty hectic with people all doing the same thing. This usually produces a situation where it’s not easy to concentrate. When you’re distracted and feel a little hustled, it’s hard to really focus the way you need to with benchrest shooting. As long as your rifle will basically sit in the safe or closet until hunting season actually opens, there’s no harm in taking advantage of the quieter range now. Plus, you can always go out and take a few confirmation shots a couple days before the season starts. Let’s begin.

What is Benchrest Shooting? 

Why should we as hunters adopt the strict principles of benchrest shooting for sighting in our guns? Or for that matter, what the heck is it? It’s actually a highly competitive sport where shooters pit their high quality gear, custom ammunition, and focused shooting skills against each other to see who can shoot the most accurately or precisely. Accuracy is the ability to consistently group shots around a chosen point (e.g., the bulleye), while precision is the ability to group your shots very closely together. You can have one or the other, both, or neither.

Benchrest shooting rifles are also a little different than hunting rifles. For example, they’re usually heavier to absorb some more of the recoil force, so that they don’t jump off of the rests. They also usually have a flat-bottomed forend to help with a proper seat on the rest. Speaking of which, they use two different rests, one in front holding the forend in place, and one in the rear grasping the stock. This helps take as much human error as possible out of the equation. The key is in lining up your body as consistently with the rifle and rests as you can. Adopt a few anchor points, like bow hunters usually do, so that you know exactly where to rest your nose, cheekbone, etc. on the gun each time.

how benchrest shooting can help you zero in your rifle | Whittaker Guns

Obviously, you also need high quality optics to achieve superior results. It’s necessary to have spotting scopes for long range shooting, so you can check your shots as you do them. And you’ll definitely need a nice scope. Whittaker Guns has several affordable long range rifle scopes you can use. The 4-16x42mm Nikon Prostaff 7 scope is a great option for target shooting and deer hunting alike. It allows you to adjust the magnification out to very far distances and lets in enough light to adequately see in dim light conditions. These gear choices allow the shooter to really dial in their rifle to ridiculously precise shooting. It’s not uncommon for some of the top benchrest shooters to have 10-shot 3-inch groups at 1,000 yards! Will you be shooting deer at 1,000 yards? Almost certainly not. But do you still need a reason you should adopt some of these principles to have more accurate deer shots up close?

How to Use a Shooting Bench 

how benchrest shooting can help you zero in your rifle | Whittaker GunsBut simply having a benchrest doesn’t mean you’re going to become a top shot. There is no single best shooting rest for rifles. There are right and wrong ways to sight a gun in, and it takes a lot of practice and dedication. Going to the shooting range may be your only option to practice, but they may not be set up well for your specific body build. For example, if you have to lean way forward or stretch up/hunch down to get in the right position, you introduce error. You can’t take consistent shots if your body is in a slightly different position each time or your stretching causes you to start shaking, if only even a little. You need to be able to have a consistent shooting rest to gauge your improvement. For that reason, the best rifle rest for accuracy is a sandbag or gun sighting vise to firmly grasp your gun. The seat also needs to be solid and steady. If there’s any wobble to it, you’re using your muscles and some brainpower focusing on holding still rather than shooting. And you’ll probably not achieve pinpoint accuracy if you can’t hold still.

The other thing to remember is to use consistent rests. Whether you decide on shooting bags or a full rest system, you need to be able to replicate it each time you go out. It also makes a difference if you’re using your hand under the forend or not. It’s better to simply cradle it in the rest and use your hand to stabilize the side or top. Again, doing it that way eliminates as much human error as possible. The best benchrest shooting setup should basically hold the gun in place with some minor tweaking, and you should be able to simply slip your shoulder up to the stock to aim and fire. Now let’s look at how you can use these shooting benches to sight in a new or old gun.

Gun Sighting Procedures – New Gun/Scope

As far as what gun sighting equipment you need to sight a new rifle in with a new scope, for example, there are a few options you can take. The most accurate way to quickly sight your gun in is to use rifle bore sighting procedures. You can find bore sighting equipment pretty easily these days, and they’re very easy to use. After mounting the scope to your gun, simply insert the laser bore sight into the rifle muzzle and look down range at a target. Align your scope crosshairs with the laser from the bore sight. When they are lined up, you can remove the bore sight and take a shot from your gun rests and vises to see how accurate you are. If you don’t hit where you intended to, simply adjust your scope and try another shot until you do.

If you don’t have a bore sight and are shooting a break or bolt action, you can also do it the old-fashioned way. Simply rest the gun within 25 yards of a target, and try to match up what you see by looking down the bore with what you see in the scope. Take a shot. Note precisely where you aimed vs. where the bullet hit the target, and make adjustments as necessary. You want to be fairly close for the first couple shots so you’re unlikely to miss the target.

Gun Sighting Procedures – Existing Gun/Scope 

If you’ve already got a hunting rifle that was sighted in last year, you probably won’t have to do much to sight it in this year. Unless you dropped it, bumped it against a tree, or usually have a bumpy ATV ride in the gun scabbard, most rifles and scopes hold onto their alignment fairly well. But you should always test it out before you go hunting with it, because you just never know.

Start with a paper target that’s set up at a similar distance to what you used last year. Set up the shooting bench with rests so that you can see where it’s shooting without further adjustment. It probably won’t be too far off. Now if you want to really dial it in, it’s time to start using the benchrest shooting techniques discussed above. Get your gun rest for sighting in rifles set up, and find a position that allows you to have as little contact with the rifle as possible so that it is sitting in alignment and on target down-range. Once it’s set up, put on your shooting glasses and hearing protection, and fire a shot. Check where it ended up on the target using binoculars or a spotting scope. You may want to fire another round to check the precision of your rifle. If it’s off-center from where you aimed, make the necessary tweaks to the scope’s windage and elevation, being careful not to move the rifle itself. Use the paper target’s typical 1-inch grid as a guide for how much you need to adjust it. After making the minute of angle adjustments, fire another shot and see where it lands. Repeat this process until you can consistently fire shots into the bullseye.

Other Benchrest Shooting Tips 

Finally, there are the rifle shooting accuracy tips that apply to any gun sighting situation. Once you get your hunting rifle truly dialed in to be both accurate and precise, a few gun accessories and reminders will help. Take care with it and keep it in a padded hard case as much as possible to avoid bumping the scope. Also, take note of a few other precision rifle shooting tips that can affect your shooting. What magnification is your scope set to? Will this be appropriate for your hunting pursuit? For example, if you primarily hunt in a thick wooded area where long shots are impossible, it’s really inappropriate to have your scope set to 9x magnification. You’ll spend so much time trying to acquire your target that you could miss the shot opportunity. But if you’ll be hunting in open country with lots of long-range shots, setting the scope at 3x magnification won’t allow you to be as accurate as you could be. Though you can adjust these scopes as needed, it’s best to pre-select an option and stick with it for maximum consistency.

how benchrest shooting can help you zero in your rifle | Whittaker Guns

Additionally, ammunition makes a big difference in the accuracy and precision of your shots. If you regularly use 100-grain cartridges during practice, and switch to a 125-grain cartridge of a different type for hunting, don’t expect it to follow the same trajectory. Sight your rifle in with the same ammunition you plan to use in the field on a hunt. Unless you’re really into reloading, there can be some minor differences between cartridges that ultimately show up sooner or later, usually when you just shot at a buck of a lifetime. These slight discrepancies can produce inconsistent shot groupings.

Zeroing In Further 

Now that you see how benchrest shooting works, hopefully you can appreciate how it would help you prepare for hunting season this year. By simply using rifle rests for target shooting, you can increase the odds of success when you’re hunting. High accuracy and precision are both necessary for consistent deer hunting success.

Must Have Gun Accessories with a New Firearm

Gun Accessories to Go with Your New Gun

So you have made the decision to purchase a new gun. It is not an easy decision. What caliber should I buy? Which brand of firearm should I choose? All are important questions when deciding to purchase a new firearm. Whether it is your first gun or another addition to your already full gun safe, your next decision should focus on the right gun accessories to pick up as soon as possible after you leave the gun shop with your new firearm.

Gun accessories should match the type of gun you have purchased. If you selected a tactical rifle, then you are in need of specialized tactical rifle accessories like extra magazines and an accessory rail. On the other hand, if you bought a hunting rifle your choices of rifle accessories are more about the type of scope to add and which sling will meet your needs best. Although some kinds of guns are unique, most shooters with a new gun in their hands will need to have some basic gun accessories to complement their purchase.

New Firearm Must Have Gun Accessories

The popularity of shooting is higher than ever. With that, many shooting suppliers are flooding the market with shiny gun accessories. Many of these are just that, shiny firearm accessories that have little impact on improving your shooting or making your rifle better. No matter what gun choice you have made, here are five must have gun accessories for your new firearm.

Range Gear

After you purchase your gun, you are going to want to hit the range as soon as possible. The last thing you want to shoot at is a plain piece of paper while trying to sight in your gun. One, it  will not aid in getting your gun zeroed in and two it is not all that fun. You can start with standard targets with your firearm accessories. These targets will give you multiple rings to shoot and provide clear direction as to how to dial in your gun. However, standard targets are hard to see at long ranges without a high-powered scope or spotting scope. Upgrade to high visibility targets in your firearm accessories. These “exploding” targets make your bullet holes stand out from even the furthest distances so you can clearly see how well your shots are landing.

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Also, you want to make sure you have all the necessary safety gear for shooting. Many shooters already have ear and eye protection, but those that have just purchased their first firearm should include these must have gun accessories. Even if you have the eye and ear protection, the purchase of a new gun is a perfect time to inspect these important safety products and upgrade if necessary.

Gun Case

The next basic gun accessory is the gun case. Firearms are expensive and are an investment that will be passed down through generations if taken care of correctly. Protect each gun with a proper gun case. Long gun or pistol, keeping and carrying your new gun in a protective case keeps it safe from scratches, dropping and ensures your optics remain zeroed in.

Do not skimp this firearm accessory. Again, each firearm is expensive and to keep it shooting well a quality gun case is needed. Cheap gun cases can let the gun slide around. These cases are often hard to transport and have substandard snap hinges that can fail while carry a gun to the range or the field. A quality case should protect the gun, scope and any other gun accessories through transport and if the unfortunate drop should occur.

Firearm Cleaning Kit

A case is good for protecting your gun from home to field, but cleaning it after each use keeps it functioning flawlessly for years. Regardless of type of gun, keeping your gun free of dirt, gun powder and oil will guarantee that it functions as good as the day that it was built. Though it is always a good idea to own some universal cleaning products, make sure that you also have a cleaning kit for your exact caliber. Gun cleaning kits come in portable versions for quick field cleaning and more robust varieties for deep cleaning on the bench. Both should be part of your basic gun accessories for shooting. Having them is a first step, but knowing the best ways to clean your guns will make all the difference in accuracy and longevity of your firearm.


Depending on the gun, a scope may be a necessity, like with a hunting rifle, or simply a nice addition, like with a handgun. Scopes as a rifle accessory should be chosen based on the desired purpose of the gun. Hunting scopes should be variable power with enough magnification to see out to your planned shooing distance. Pick up a quality scope that is weatherproof and shockproof to avoid interference from the elements. Target shooters can upgrade to higher powered scopes to plink targets at great distances. These scopes tend to weight more but as a target shooter you are more than willing to give up some weight for a more powerful scope.

Comfortable Gun Sling

Not only will you want to purchase a comfortable sling for carrying your gun in and out of the woods, but firearm accessories such as gun slings are also a great way to steady yourself for long distance shots. As with gun cases, gun slings vary from basic to high quality. Use dictates which gun sling to go with as part of your new gun accessories. More advanced, field tested slings made from neoprene and other synthetics are meant for harsh use in the field. Whereas more basic slings are a good option for light use or range shooting.

There are a lot of basic gun accessories that go with the purchase of a new gun including range gear, gun cases, cleaning kits, optics and slings. With your new firearm in hand and all of the right gun accessories that go along with it, you will be better equipped to head to the range and start putting round after round through your new firearm.

The Best Hard Hitting Handguns for Sale

Concealed Carry Handguns for Sale with Knock Down Power

Top rated concealed carry handguns typically have two criteria in common. They are easier to carry and conceal while still being able to pack enough punch to knock down your target. No gun is absolutely perfect, however. Women often feel more comfortable with different pistols than men, and people of different sizes, strengths and experience vary drastically in which concealed carry pistol they feel most comfortable with.

Handguns for sale in 2016 are changing designs based on the increased demand for lightweight concealed carry pistols. As of 2015, 5.2% of the total adult population in the United States has a permit to carry a handgun according to the Crime Prevention Research Center. The best handguns for sale are not necessarily new designs but rather updated or upgraded version of existing models that offer lighter and slimmer frames to make these popular pistols adaptable to carrying with you wherever you travel.

5 Features of an Everyday Concealed Carry Handgun 

A top handgun for concealed carry has different features to consider than when purchasing a handgun for home security or recreational shooting. For instance, a good shooting pistol for fun at the range typically has a large frame for comfortability and increased accuracy while this feature is not always an ideal characteristic in a concealed carry pistol. Consider these 5 features when deciding between the many handguns for sale to be used as a concealed carry firearm.

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  • Ease of use. Most carry a concealed weapon for protection. In a self-defense situation, every second matters so your pistol should function easily without complicated operating mechanisms. When drawn, they should be ready to shoot.
  • Safety First. Consider whether your pistol has a passive or active safety. Passive safeties do not require a user’s input, like toggling a lever, whereas active safeties are designed to have the user turn off the safety before firing. In conjunction with being easy to use, the safety choice on handguns for sale should be comfortable to the user.
  • Your choice of a concealed carry pistol should take into account that the firearm will be regularly holstered and worn. That said, you should select a handgun that can stand up to a beating in different situations.
  • Let’s be honest. Gun choice really comes down to feel. A handgun should feel good in your hands from the grip to the weight to the texture.
  • The most important factor in an everyday concealed carry handgun is size. Pocket pistols are small enough to carry in a pocket or purse while more mid-sized frame handguns are usually carried in a holster. Size not only effects how you carry your pistol but it also effects how powerful and stable they are to shoot. More mid-sized concealed carry pistols come in hard hitting calibers like .40 S&W and .45 ACP and are more accurate than smaller frame pistols in calibers such as .380 ACP.

Best Pistols for Concealed Carry

Just because you plan to conceal carry a pistol does not mean you need to sacrifice power. Many think that a small pistol, one that has the features needed to be an everyday concealed carry handgun, will not have the knock down power desired when the time comes to use it. Design changes in recent year have made hard hitting calibers like .40 S&W and .45 ACP available in small frame handguns that can be comfortably carried each and every day. Here are the best concealed carry handguns for sale that are available in hard hitting calibers.

Beretta PX4 Storm Compact

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One of the newest designs from proven manufacture Beretta, the .40 S&W PX4 Storm Compact is aimed specifically at those looking to carry a powerful handgun. The pistol comes with low-profile controls (sights and safety), a slim grip and a short slide equipped to be durable even with daily exposure to moisture and perspiration while carrying. The improved trigger also provides better accuracy and allows you to cycle follow-up rounds more quickly.

Smith & Wesson M&P Compact

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The Smith & Wesson M&P Compact in .45 ACP is one of the most versatile, durable and comfortable conceal carry pistols on the market. Built with the same specifications military and law enforcement rely on, the polymer frame 4-inch pistol is slightly bulkier than other compact pistols but few offer the powerful .45 ACP caliber in a more ergonomic and easy to use design.

Glock 30S GEN3

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Built on the G30 frame, the Glock 30S combines a full capacity .45 caliber with a slimmer slide for a lightweight concealed carry pistol option. Even with a full magazine, the Glock 30S is a well balanced pistol with its fixed sights, polymer frame and tenifer coated steel slide.

Kimber Ultra Carry II

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Kimber is known for stylish quality and superior accuracy. The Kimber Ultra Carry II not only incorporates Kimber’s traditional features but its design makes it one of the most powerful .45 ACP pistols for concealed carry. Complete with a polished carbon slide, stainless steel frame and characteristic rosewood grips, this pistol is a classic 1911 style in a unique everyday concealed carry handgun option for those looking for an easy to shoot, hard hitting handgun.

Ruger LC9s Pro

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The Ruger LC9s features a light, short, crisp trigger pull for shooters who are looking for easy shooting without giving up accuracy. Even though it comes in 9mm and not the more powerful .40 and .45 calibers discussed previously, it makes up for it in its ultra slim and compact frame that can easily be concealed in a purse or pocket for personal protection.

The many options that are now available with handguns for sale for concealed carry pistols means you have to choose wisely when selecting the right handgun to carry. Especially when considering a large caliber pistol with knock down power, it is important to look at features such as size, durability, safety, ease of use and feel. Each of these features varies in importance depending on the user, but all impact to some extent how comfortable your everyday concealed carry handgun will be. No more do you have to select comfortability over power when choosing a lightweight concealed carry handgun when you have compact handguns for sale like those outlined above from Whittaker Guns.