Whether you are buying a rifle as a present to yourself for the holidays or choosing your first rifle for a future hunting season, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration before making your choice. If you are an experienced hunter most of this information is second nature to you, but for the new guy just getting into hunting and possibly with a limited budget, the choosing of a hunting rifle can be a difficult experience.
Let’s assume you are only going to have one rifle but you are hoping to go on various hunting trips in the UK for several types of deer, your choice, although maybe not perfect for each species needs to be adequate for your needs and skill level. We have 6 species of deer and wild boar to consider.
The Right rifle for what you are hunting
The first question you should ask yourself is what are you going to hunt? Some types of guns, and by guns we are really saying Caliber can overlap in terms of what they are used for. A caliber that you may use for wild boar and Muntjac might be also useful for Sika and Red deer. A .22 caliber rifle might be perfect for Squirrel but completely inadequate for Wild boar. Get the Picture?
What Caliber is best?
Each Caliber may have several size bullets for available for it and you may want to consider the weight (grain) bullet that will best serve your needs.
Let’s assume you will be primarily hunting Boar and Deer, a 150 grain bullet should be adequate for either so you may consider a caliber that has a variety of cartridges around that bullet weight for it. So now we can narrow down our caliber rifle to the .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield and perhaps a .300 Winchester Magnum.
Now, remember that we mentioned this may be your first gun and the recoil of the gun may factor into your decision. The .270 Winchester will have the lightest ‘kick’ while the .300 Magnum may leave you with a few aches and pains after a lot of practicing.
Pick the rifle action that works best for you and the type of hunting you will be doing. Remember, you may have to do maintenance on it.
Experienced hunters can take pretty much all UK deer species with either of the above guns, but remember, you are not yet experienced. My first hunting rifle was the .243 mostly because of the wide selection of cartridges for it, allowing me to scale up or down for pretty much anything I needed. It served me well on the foxes and plenty of deer, but would have been under powered for hunting Wild Boar.
Stock material and barrel length
Barrel length and the material used for the stock of the rifle are really a combination of personal preference and the environment and distances you may be hunting.
This is something that you will probably develop further in your shooting career. My first gun was a Tikka .243 with a plain wooden stock and blued action. Nowadays, I pick and choose how my rifles are put together and have more of an idea as to what i like to see.
All-in all I am very happy with my choice and glad I took the time to figure out what best suited my needs. For small game…well, that’s why god invented shotguns and rimfire rifles 😉
What was your first rifle and why, and how has it worked out for you?