The Best Deer Rifle
This issue of what is the best deer rifle has been debated for years. Actually there is no best rifle, only the rifle that you shoot the best.
Best Deer Rifle Caliber
Again, the best caliber is a personal choice. There are several variables that can help you make this decision. Ease of obtaining ammunition is one that I look at. Currently you can get ammunition for the .30-30 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield at any Wal-mart and K-mart at good prices. Other calibers that are not hard to find are .270, .243 and .308. Most other calibers will require a trip to a specialty store. My dad has an old British .303 that is a real nice shooting gun, but it was always difficult to find ammunition for it so it was seldom used.
Some people are either small of stature or afraid of the recoil. There is no use shooting a gun that you do not find pleasurable to shoot. It does not take a magnum caliber to kill a whitetail deer even though magnums can be used. You can go here to view a recoil chart of many of the popular deer rifle calibers.
Many states have restrictions on minimum caliber sizes that can be used to hunt whitetail deer. Check your state guidelines to determine what they are in your particular state.
Another factor in finding your best deer rifle, of course, is the expected shot distance. Where I hunt, shots less than 100 yards are common and a shot over 200 yards is rare. On the other hand, in many western states, shots over 200 yards are probably common and shots less than 100 yards rare. For me the trusty old .30-30 could handle all of my shot scenarios, whereas this gun would not be a wise choice where the expected shots exceed 200 yards. You can go here to view a ballistics table of many of the popular deer rifle calibers.
Whatever you do, do not expect any caliber to beat it's way through brush. The term "brush gun" is a misnomer. Any bullet will deflect when it tries to go through any brush. Wait for the clear shot.
Best Deer Rifle Action
The most recognized action is of course the venerable bolt action. Generally when accuracy and sturdiness are discussed it is the bolt action that receives most of the accolades. This is likely well deserved since the bolt action has proven itself in the whitetail deer woods over and over.
Pros - Bolt Action Rifles:
* Are available in a wide range of prices.
* Are available in the widest range of calibers.
* Have been proven in the deer woods and even on the battlefield for decades.
* Well known for accuracy.
Cons - Bolt Action Rifles:
* Cycle time between shots.
* Can be awkward for left handed shooters if not available in left handed models.
Many deer hunters, including myself, have started their hunting adventures with a lever action rifle. The lever action has it's critics but it appears that the biggest downfall is the tubular magazine that limits the caliber selection. Even still there are and will continue to be many deer harvested with lever actions chambered in the good old .30-30 Winchester.
Pros - Lever Action Rifles:
* Generally not the most expensive of the available deer rifles.
Cons - Lever Action Rifles:
* Can be prone to mechanical problems with the lever action mechanism.
* Limited caliber selection - round nose cartridges.
It doesn't get much more reliable or sturdy than a single shot rifle. In recent years there has been resurgence in good quality single shot rifles.
Pros - Single Shot Rifles:
* No mechanical wizardry to go wrong.
* Quality single shot rifles are very sturdy.
* Some brands have interchangeable barrels.
* Good selection of calibers available.
Cons - Single Shot Rifles:
* No follow-up shot without reloading.
* Not as widely available as the other actions.
Semiautomatic and pump action rifles are also well represented in the deer woods. One advantage of these actions is that they have the same feel as a shotgun. You can switch from small game to deer hunting and still be using the same style of gun. This familiarity helps when buck fever hits. I have been told that accuracy suffers with these guns, but have not proven this myself. To shoot a whitetail deer you do not have to be able to place three shots within a dime. My best deer rifle is a Remington semiautomatic chambered in .30-06.
Pros - Semiautomatic and Pump Action Rifles:
* Available in most popular deer hunting cartridges.
* Similar handling with same action shotguns.
* Quick follow-up shots.
Cons - Semiautomatic and Pump Action Rifles:
* Complicated mechanics as compared to the other actions have higher probability of mechanical difficulties.
* Not known to be tack drivers.
Just like the caliber selection, the action that you choose is a personal choice that depends on your circumstances. The best action for you is the one that you can shoot well and safely.
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