Picking The Right Gun by Shane Hurkmans
With all the new guns out on the market you have a wide choice to choose from. When looking for a new gun, you have several things to think about before you go and buy a gun. What are you going to use it for, whitetails or varmints? Do you want an all around gun to hunt everything on the North American content? This determines the caliber of the gun you’re going to look for. Another thing to think about is the kind of action you want, how the shell gets chambered into the barrel. Look at its ease of operation, cleaning and function. Most guys that have been hunting for a long time will have an old lever action that they have been hunting with for the past 30 years or so. The lever action is just fine for shooting whitetails but in this day and age, there is much more to choose from.
Before you go to the local gun shop to look at guns, do some research and read everything you can about the game you’re going to be perusing. Are you on a limited budget and want to hunt more than one game animal? This will help you choose a caliber. If you are just hunting whitetail you have to look at what kind of terrain you are going to hunt, open fields or brushy bottoms. In open fields you can go with a flat shooting gun that can reach out to 2 or 3 hundred yards. You have some choices for this, you can choose the calibers from a 243 to 7mm mag and they will work great. If you are hunting in the brush, you want a gun that has a heavier bullet and slower speed for shorter shots. I would recommend the range of 30 calibers to a shotgun slug. This also determines on how long your barrel is going to be. For hunting on fields or out west on the prairie you need a gun that is a little longer so you can reach further distances accurately. The longer the barrel the more speed you get out of the gun. But for shooting in the brush you want a gun that is smaller so you can manage it in the brush a little easier. You don’t need the barrel length if your shots are going to be short and you don’t need the speed.
If you are going to buy a gun to hunt everything from varmints to bears you need to look at the range of bullet weights any particular caliber comes in. For varmints to whitetails, and the optional out west hunt, I would look for a gun in the 30-06 to 7mm. You can get bullet weights ranging in size suitable for hunting varmints to weights that have the knockdown power for hunting elk.
Now you want to look at the action of the gun you want to buy. Maintenance is one thing to look at, are you mechanically inclined and like to work on guns that have a lot of parts to it, or do you need a simple gun that is easy to work on? Semi autos are great for a follow up shot but are harder to clean. Lever actions are good for the guy that needs a follow up shot in the brush but don’t offer the longer range you need for in open areas. A bolt action is a great gun for everyone because they are accurate, easy to clean and simple to use. We cannot forget the old single-shot, this gun is a great gun for the beginner, simple to use and safer then all the others for the new person that is just starting out. I cannot forget the old pump gun, these are great guns for some one that needs a follow up shot but does not need a gun that is hard to clean. You get a little more recoil from a pump but you have a gun that can be ready for the next shot.
One last thing to consider before choosing a gun is the recoil. Simply, how much the gun kicks back when fired. Recoil is energy that is measured in pounds per square inch that the gun gives you to the shoulder after you pull the trigger. This is energy that is released from the bullet when it leaves the barrel. For a beginner you want a gun that does not have a lot of recoil so they don’t start with bad habits such as flinching or get hit with the scope. This will make them dread shooting the gun. For a beginner you want a gun that has less than 30 pounds per square inch. Let’s take the 243 Winchester, the 243 has about 26 to 28 pounds of recoil compared to the 30-60 that has about 36 to 40 pounds of recoil. For someone with shoulder problems you don’t want a gun that pounds you. I would recommend a gun that has less recoil to it like in a 243, 7 mm-08 or 30-30. But if you can handle recoil then pick a larger caliber like the 30-06 or the 7mm mag.
I hope this gives you some kind of insight when you are looking for your next gun. Stay safe, have fun and always follow the rules of safety.