Hunting rifle setup

You read my “Big game hunting – CO” or “Gear” articles and you decided to get into hunting. Outstanding, this is the article for you. You have decided that you want to rifle hunt. Good for you!

The questions now are –

  1. What do I need for this?
  2. What should I expect to spend (or how to spend the money I have)?
  3. What do I want to hunt?
  4. How far am I comfortable shooting?
  5. Which rifle do I get?
  6. What caliber should I choose?
  7. Open sights or scope?
  8. Should I get a rangefinder?
  9. How does this all work?
  10. What’s next?
  11. Other components?

You thought this was going to be easy. Sorry 😦

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have some direction and answers to the questions above.

  1. Obviously, a rifle is needed for rifle hunting. You will need ammunition to match the caliber of that rifle. You may want a scope to enhance your vision and increase the accuracy of your shots. This only provides the short list,  a lot more as we move forward. See bullet #11.
  2. The rifle itself should be between $250-500 depending on brand name and model type. It is the glass/scope that you put on it that cranks the price WAY up. I would recommend you go with a midpoint in that price range for the rifle and spend the leftover on a good quality scope. The scope will make or break you in the field while hunting.
  3. Now that is the question of the day. Ultimately the decision is up to you; however, depending on where you are located, what is available, will you be traveling to hunt or what is in the season for hunting will dictate what you have the opportunity to hunt. North America and depending on the state you have the chance to hunt moose, elk, deer, antelope, caribou, buffalo, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, bear, coyote, rabbit and numerous other mammals.
  4. Plinking targets at 50 yards is one thing, reaching out across a mountain valley at 600+ yards downhill is a totally different shooting skill. Knowing what your shooting skill limits are can also provide some direction as to which rifle caliber to choose. Different calibers shoot differently at longer distances, you may want to review this.
  5. Rifle choices are like shoes, there are lots of brands, with lots model types within those brands and even different caliber sizes within the model types. Wow, so many to choose from. The easiest answer, is much like your shoe selection, find what fits comfortably, meets within your price point and fulfills your hunting requirements.
  6. The animal that you plan to hunt will partially determine what rifle caliber you should purchase. You don’t want to hunt squirrel with a big game rifle (sorry, there just won’t be anything left of the squirrel), and vice versa you don’t want to hunt a moose with a .22 caliber rifle. Most states have minimum caliber sizes for the larger game so you will need to be aware of what those requirements prior to purchasing.
    1. Just because your local store carries the rifle, doesn’t necessarily mean it is legal to hunt with, that is for you to know.
  7. Scopes, while this is an option, it’s not really, get a scope! A scope will extend your vision farther and allow you to get a better shot on the target. Scope prices vary widely from under $100 to well beyond the $5000 mark. It may be a good option to keep an eye on here for discounts on scopes.
    1. Much like your rifle, find one that you like the visibility through, that meets your price point/budget, and meets within your hunting requirements.
  8. Is that elk 285 yards out or closer to 400 yards out? “He looks close” isn’t a good enough distance call for an ethical shot. Knowing the actual distance to your target will make a dramatic difference in your shot placement and ethical kill of an animal. Using a rangefinder will help you key in to accurately determining the distance. There are a wide variety of rangefinders to choose from, selecting one that meets your needs (distance viewed, weight, angle finder) is the key here.
  9. Rifle, scope, bullets, shoulder, target in sight (and range) and squeeze the trigger. All of the pieces have a purpose for a successful hunt. It is up to you to ensure they work for you and your upcoming hunt.
  10. Take your gear to the range.
    1. From the bench, get your scope sighted to the rifle.
    2. Ensure that you can get within 1″ groups with three shots at or near the bulls-eye of the target. Adjust until you are on the bulls-eye.
    3. At some point, you should shoot your rifle off the bench so that you understand what it feels like from shooting offhand. Be ready and hang on. Go for the same shot group off hand.
    4. Prepare your mind and body, the get your gear for your upcoming hunting adventure. See previously mentioned articles.
  11. As far as other components that may be needed for your rifle setup, you can go with items like –
    1. Stock bullet sleeve
    2. Bipod
    3. Sling
    4. Shooting stick
    5. Case

While this should be enough information to get you started, you may need more information. I am not the only authority on this, please talk with hunting mentors, guide services or recommendations from pro shops or division of wildlife officers.

Hope you found this article helpful and enjoyable. If so, please Like, Share and Comment.

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