For new hunters, and even skilled shooters, one of the most discussed topics to decide on is what is the best rifle, caliber, and cartridge for deer hunting? Poll a panel of experts and the answers will come back with strong opinions about why their choice is the only way to go. The scores of available cartridges are what stirs heated debates among savvy shooters. The truth is, it’s near impossible to get an actual count of how many cartridges there are anyway; new ones are introduced faster than the old phase out. Some, like the venerable .30-30 Winchester, are still around after 125 years.
The good news is the decision about which cartridge and rifle can be narrowed down to what fits your budget and hunting needs. Here are the basics to get you started on choosing a system best suited for you.
Choosing A Rifle
Rifles are classified by action, the functional mechanism that makes the moving parts work and cycles the rounds of ammunition. Bolt action, lever action and semi-automatic are the three types. Popular bolt actions operate on a simple design that requires manual cycling. They are easy to use and maintain. Lever action rifles also require manual cycling but usually sport shorter barrels, and are easy to swing, aim and fire. Semi-automatics like modern sporting rifles, are based on the popular rifle first made by Armalite, the AR-15, and offer the most versatility. Which choice you make comes down to personal preference. In reality, the next topic in this process is the most important for your decision.
Choosing A Caliber
Finding the right rifle for you is a somewhat reverse process presumably because you start from the barrel up. This is firstly decided based on what, and where you will be hunting. You make your selection primarily based on caliber, meaning the bore diameter of the rifle’s barrel. Calibers are diverse, offering different pros and cons depending on how they are employed, and each opens up the expansive cartridge conversation. What kind of ethical power and range do you need for the game? What terrain will you be hunting in?
Long shots are a given if your stand or blind faces wide, open country without dense timber. Long-range shots require heavier loads. Rifles with long barrels for delivering maximum velocity for a flat-shooting cartridge are a must. Bolt actions chambered for a range from .22-250 Rem to .338 Lapua Mag are ideal. Scope power should begin at a minimum of 5x and higher.
The most common hunting setup in whitetail deer country means choosing a rifle that is lightweight, compact and easy to swing and handle from a tree stand. Mid-range cartridges from .243 Win. and the trusty .30-30 Win. are suitable, although the 7mm-08 Rem. through .30-06 are better. A typical setup is an all-purpose bolt action in the 7-pound range with a 22” barrel and matched for the .270 Win. and 30-06. These versatile rifles are capable of reaching 400 yards, more than enough for the average distance shot. Add a 3-9X scope and you are set for most any scenario in the woods.
Hunting for the game is only one part of the fun. Think of exploring cartridges as a hobby. You can experiment at the range with how different cartridges perform for your rifle. Only use ammunition that your firearm is manufactured for. You can find that spec on the barrel. Above all else, remember there are laws in some states that prohibit the use of certain caliber cartridges. Check the laws before you hunt.
ATV & Side By Sides for the Hunt
Your shopping isn’t over after you determine the best rifle for your hunt. If you are traveling far and with a good amount of gear, an ATV or Side-by-Side is practically essential.
ATV & Side By Sides Accessories
Depending on your hunt, the necessities can add up quick. Plus transporting the goods to the woods requires hard cases that protect it all from damage. If you own an offroad vehicle, there are cases made just for your needs.Take these ideas into consideration:
Clamshell Gun Scabbard Case
This removable internal gun case gives you additional transport options for a TRACKER OFF ROAD ATV. Your gun is protected with a tough, high-density polyurethane outer shell, and the carrying handle fits left- and right-hand rifles. The case fits rifles up to 51" with scopes to 60mm.
Gun Scabbard Mount
Use this mount to attach the above case to the ATV. It bolts to the rear rack, includes hardware and can be mounted on either side of the vehicle.
Cabela’s Tac Gear UTV Double Gun Case
This tough case holds 2 shotguns, rifles or tactical rifles with 50mm scopes and bipods attached, along with extra ammo and other gear. MOLLE-outfitted back straps make it easy to attach this case to the ATV/UTV rack pad or rear luggage rack. MOLLE webbing on the front gives you an easy spot to attach spare magazine pouches, pistol cases and other MOLLE-compatible accessories. Large accessory pouches offer room for ammo, extra layers and other essential trail gear. Fits shotguns and rifles up to 52". Includes an integrated rain/dust cover. Price: $69.99
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