Seasoned hunters usually have a list in their minds of the firearms they want to own. Ideally, the guns you own will give you a wide array of options to hunt both small and big game.
It’s also helpful to have firearms that use common and inexpensive calibers, and having guns that aren’t chambered in typical self-defense calibers is also beneficial. You don’t need dozens of guns for hunting: You just need the right ones.
Popular Hunting Firearms
12-Gauge Shotgun (Any Action)
Virtually every hunter puts a 12-gauge shotgun at the top of their list because it’s reliable and suitable for shooting small and big game.
These shotguns are also inexpensive and easy to maintain, and the ammunition is easy to find. A 12-gauge shotgun is versatile because of the interchangeable chokes, shot, and barrels.
You can swap out various components depending on whether you’re hunting turkey, deer, rabbits, or birds. You can also configure the shotgun for your size and skill level.
.22 Long Rifle (Any Action)
Smith & Wesson introduced the .22 short rifle in 1857, and the long rifle followed a short time later. The .22 long rifle is one of the most popular and widely used types of cartridges.
Double-deuce guns are available in many actions, including bolt action, semi-auto, lever, and pump. Bolt guns tend to offer more accuracy, but semi-autos are ideal for hunting squirrels and rabbits. As long as you’re within 60 yards of your target, a .22 rifle will successfully take down anything up to about a coyote-sized animal.
Positioning yourself farther than 100 yards away will result in issues such as wind drift, bullet drop, and decreasing velocity. These rifles are also nice for novice shooters who need to learn how to use a gun. A .22 caliber suppressor and CCI sub-sonic ammunition will result in whisper-quiet shots.
6.5 Creedmore (Bolt Action or Semi Auto)
For those hunting medium to large animals, the 6.5 Creedmore is a trending favorite. This gun performs well when hunting deer and antelope, and bear and elk aren’t out of the question, either, if you’re using good hunting bullets and shooting at a moderate range. The 6.5 Creedmore also works well when hunting smaller game such as hogs.
This gun shoots a 120-grain bullet more than 2,900 feet per second, and a 147 grain bullet will go about 2,700 feet per second. The light recoil of the 6.5 is helpful, and it’s also relatively easy to find in stores.
.300 Winchester Magnum (Bolt Action)
For those times when you’re hunting big game at long distances, the .300 Win Mag is an excellent choice.
Many hunters like to own both this gun and the 6.5 Creedmore because the .300 Win Mag is ideal for the biggest game at long range and the Creedmore is good for medium-size game. The .300 Win Mag will accommodate a wide array of bullet weights, and it will move a 200-grain bullet almost 3,000 feet per second at the muzzle with almost 4,000 foot-pounds of energy.
.50 Caliber Muzzleloader
Big-game hunters will appreciate having a .50 muzzleloader in their arsenal, even though it won’t outperform the 6.5 Creedmore or the .300 Win Mag.
You can buy .50 caliber muzzleloaders in all states, and they enable hunters to shoot within 150 yards in the field. Find out whether your state has early and late muzzleloader-only hunting seasons, which are usually right before or right after the main deer hunting season. Hunters using muzzleloaders tend to enjoy the challenge of taking game with this type of gun.