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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

Scope/Optics

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.

Sling

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.

Top 5 Rifle Calibers for Hunting North American Big Game

Your Guide to the Market’s Best Hunting Rifles

If you’re reading this article hoping to find the magic rifle caliber that will help you pursue every North American big game animal, then you might be disappointed. Why? There really is no single best hunting gun, model, or cartridge out there that would be the golden ticket for all styles of rifle hunting, although some of them come pretty close. There is just too much variability in environmental conditions from place to place, wild game species, and personal style and preference. One hunter’s best all-around hunting rifle is another hunter’s strictly varmint gun.

However, if you’re looking for some highly recommended rifle calibers to add to your collection that will help you quickly take down anything from the smaller to the largest big game species, then we’ve got the top five for you. We have listed the caliber of guns in order, which should also help to narrow down which species you should use each rifle for. If you’re looking for hunting rifles for sale, this guide should inform you, and includes some specific rifle recommendations to get you out in the field soon.

.243 Winchester

Starting off at the lower end of the spectrum, the .243 Winchester is a very versatile lower-power caliber that is equally well suited for predator and varmint hunting as it is for taking down whitetails, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, or even black bear. It is probably the best deer rifle caliber for beginners due to very low recoil, and many of us probably started out with one of these in our hands while sitting in the tree stand for the first time. They are typically lighter guns that are easy to stalk with all day long and short enough to not cause a fuss in brushy or overgrown areas. Generally, the .243 is a fairly flat shooting cartridge that is perfect for close- to mid-range shooting opportunities.

The Remington Model 700 .243 Winchester is a classic choice to get you started on smaller to mid-size animals. It is an extremely accurate, bolt action rifle with a beautiful laminated stock and vibration-dampening 26-inch barrel.

Best Hunting Rifles | Whittaker Guns

5 Big Game Hunting Rifle Calibers | Whittaker Guns.270 Winchester

So much has already been said of the .270 Winchester that it’s difficult to not sound repetitive. But it easily stakes the claim among all rifle calibers at being the best whitetail deer rifle for a few reasons. First, it is laughably capable of short shots in thick timbered areas like northern Minnesota, but also proficient at long-range shots in more open prairie terrain like Kansas. The .270 cartridge can easily deliver a lethal dose of knock down power in most situations without being excessively powerful to the point of ruining a lot of your hard-earned meat. The recoil is fairly mild even after a long day of practice at the shooting range. These qualities make it an exceptional hunting rifle not only for whitetails, but also for a range of other species (e.g., mule deer, pronghorns, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, caribou, black bear, and elk). Although for long shots at sheep, goats, or elk, you may need to switch to a .270 Winchester Short Magnum cartridge,which has a little more power and speed. Just be forewarned that the ammunition will be a little more expensive and there will be a bigger kick upon firing for the .270 WSM versus the standard .270 cartridge.

The Remington Model 700 SPS .270 Winchester is an excellent bargain hunting rifle. The Model 700 Special Purpose Synthetic is a bolt action beauty that comes with receivers drilled and tapped for scope mounts. It will quickly become your go-to deer rifle.

.308 Winchester

Moving on in the list of rifle calibers, one of the next popular steps up from a .270 is the .308 Winchester. Many view it to be the best elk hunting rifle because it has a fairly light recoil for its power, and the .308 cartridges are more than capable of taking down a trophy bull at a distance. However, the .308 Winchester is also deadly on whitetails and mule deer, caribou, sheep, goats, black bear, and wild boar.

The Kimber .308 Winchester is classic bolt action rifle that combines power with a sleek design. Its innovative design results in a surprisingly lightweight gun that would be perfect for backcountry trips up to a remote mountain meadow where the elk are bugling.

.30-06 Springfield

The .30-06 Springfield is another of the greats when it comes to hunting guns for deer. But not only that, it is a staple among almost all hunters’ gun racks for a very good reason: it just works. The .30-06 is one of the most versatile rifle calibers on the market, and no big game hunter’s collection would be complete without one. It has a moderate recoil, and .30-06 cartridges will produce enough power to take down all but the largest of North America’s big game species, such as moose or grizzly/brown bear; although a .30-06 magnum cartridge would get you close to even these species.

The Kimber .30-06 is an attractive rifle with a French walnut stock and ebony forend tip. It is a great option to add to your gun collection to round out your big game hunting opportunities.

Best Big Game Hunting Rifles | Whittaker Guns

.338 Winchester Magnum

When you’re going to pursue North America’s largest wild game mammals, you need a rifle caliber that has the backbone to stand up to the challenge with you. That’s where the .338 Winchester Magnum steps in. Sure, there are more powerful rifle calibers around. But the .338 is a good option that’s still not terrible to lug around through the brush, and it packs a powerful punch to quickly take game animals down. A .338 Winchester Magnum cartridge can stop a charging grizzly bear or bull moose in short order, which is exactly the way you want it. That all being said, the recoil is obviously on the heavy side compared to the rest of the hunting guns on this list, and the ammunition is fairly expensive. But that’s the price you pay for one of the best hunting rifles on the market.

The CZ 550 Safari Classic .338 Lapua is a solid firearm for one of your biggest hunting adventures. Its hammer forged barrels can withstand a long and rich life full of epic hunting stories, and its beautiful walnut stock will draw admiration from you and your hunting companions alike.

No matter which big game species you plan to pursue in the great and diverse North American continent, these top 5 rifle calibers should help you tackle any of them with ease. Of course there are plenty of other options available to you, but the rifle calibers on this list are some of the most tried and true, consistently performing, and popular options. They are quite simply the best rifle calibers that have proved themselves over and over again. And that does a lot for your confidence when you’re staring down the barrel at a trophy brown bear. Especially when it’s staring right back at you.