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Interested in hunting both small and big game with as few guns as possible?
Are you the type of person who sees guns as nothing more than tools for hunting? What if, instead of spending all your money buying new hunting guns, you could just spend that money on additional hunting time instead? If that’s the case, this is the list for you.
I’m not the kind of guy who will ever try to talk you out of buying a new gun. After all, buying a new gun for an upcoming hunt is half the fun for some people.
However, other people don’t want to own any more than necessary. Well, if you own just the four hunting guns on this list, you can hunt any animal in the world under virtually any circumstances.
Pretty simple, right?
That’s right: with a collection of just four hunting guns, you can ethically take any animal from squirrels to elephants.
A good hunting shotgun is an important part of any hunter’s firearm collection. In addition to being a great home-defense shotgun, a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun like the Remington Model 870 (or the Mossberg 500 if that’s more your cup of tea) with a 3-inch chamber is an excellent choice for hunting, too.
Not only is the Remington Model 870 very reasonably priced and extremely reliable, but it’s super versatile. If you purchase a 3-inch model with interchangeable choke tubes, you can use both 2 3/4-inch and 3-inch shells to hunt basically any type of bird: doves, quail, chukars, grouse, pheasants, turkeys, ducks, geese, etc.
The Remington 870 is also a perfect choice for hunting small game, such as rabbits and squirrels. When loaded with buckshot, it’s a deadly hunting shotgun for pursuing big game, such as deer and feral hogs at close range.
Finally, you can also easily change out the barrel and install a rifled barrel with better sights. This quick modification turns it into an excellent slug gun capable of hunting big game at slightly longer ranges.
While a shotgun is very powerful and versatile, it does have a couple major shortcomings, chiefly a limited effective range. That brings us to the next two firearms on this list, though.
Although there’s a little bit of overlap in capabilities between the Ruger 10/22 and a good hunting shotgun, the 10/22 is still a solid addition to any collection of hunting guns and has some important advantages over a shotgun.
First, it has a longer effective range. Second, a .22-caliber rifle is generally smaller and lighter than a shotgun (the same goes for ammo). Third, it’s not nearly as loud as a 12-gauge shotgun.
In that same vein, there are also subsonic rounds available for the .22, which is ideal for people who don’t want to make too much noise when hunting or shooting. Though it’s not silent by any stretch of the imagination, a suppressed .22 rifle shooting subsonic rounds is extremely quiet.
Finally, it’s also just a good idea in general to keep some kind of .22-caliber gun in your collection. Though it’s not quite as easy or cheap to come by as it used to be, .22 LR ammo is still the least expensive ammo around, so you can buy a bunch of it without breaking the bank. It’s also easy to store without taking up much space.
There are a bunch of high-quality, bolt-action, single-shot and semi-auto .22-caliber rifles out there, but the Ruger 10/22 is a particularly good choice. Small, lightweight and very reliable, the semi-automatic 10/22 is great for small game and varmint hunting.
Some hunters might be tempted to substitute a more powerful varmint rifle in a cartridge like .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, or .204 Ruger in place of the Ruger 10/22. There’s not necessarily anything wrong making that switch (it is your gun collection after all), but while those cartridges are more powerful and have a longer effective range than the .22 LR, they’re also much more expensive and louder, too.
So, just make sure to weigh all the pros and cons.
There are plenty of rifles out there that are suitable for deer hunting. However, with a good .30-06 hunting rifle, one can hunt the vast majority of big game in the world. The Remington Model 700 is a perfect choice for a hunter who wants a practical and versatile, yet still reasonably priced hunting rifle. After all there’s a reason why the Remington Model 700 is the most popular hunting rifle in the United States: it’s accurate, affordable, reliable, and easy to use.
So, it’s fine if you don’t feel comfortable using a Remington 700. Fortunately, there are lots of other good choices out there for someone who wants a nice .30-06 hunting rifle. In fact, there are so many solid choices, it’s actually really tough to label any one of them as “the best .30-06 rifle.”
For instance, the Savage 110, the Browning X-Bolt, the Winchester Model 70, and the Ruger Hawkeye (just to name a few) are all very popular hunting rifles with good reputations.
Regardless of the exact .30-06 hunting rifle you choose, it is capable of ethically taking a wide variety of game animals like mule and whitetail deer, pronghorn, black bear, feral hogs, elk, mountain goat, sheep, moose, sheep, zebra, kudu, zebra, eland, red stag and dozens of other species.
Though the exact definition of long range hunting varies from person to person, in the hands of a skilled marksman, a quality .30-06 hunting rifle is also capable of excellent accuracy at long range. Indeed, 300-400-yard shots (perhaps even more) are well within the capabilities of this rifle.
Another advantage of the .30-06 is that there are a wide variety of bullet types and weights available on the market. While most .30-06 bullets are in the 150-180-grain weight range, it is possible to find them as light at 110-grain and as heavy as 220-grain, making it an incredibly versatile big-game hunting rifle.
There are few animals in Africa, Europe, North America, or New Zealand that can’t be hunted with a good rifle chambered in .30-06 Springfield.
While many hunters will never have a need for anything larger than the .30-06, the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum is a must-have for anyone thinking about hunting large or dangerous game and wants a gun they can trust. This cartridge is significantly more powerful than the .30-06, but still has a manageable amount of recoil.
A hunter armed with a .375 H&H is capable of taking down even the biggest, toughest animals in the world like cape buffalo and elephants in Africa or brown bears in Alaska.
However, a .375 H&H bolt-action rifle is useful on many other species of game as well. While the .30-06 Springfield will absolutely work for hunting moose, elk, caribou, red stag or similar-sized animals, the larger .375 H&H has much more stopping power and offers a little more room for error.
However, it is absolutely not “too much gun” for those animals.
In fact, a .375 H&H rifle shooting non-expanding bullets is a very popular choice for hunting the Tiny 10 species of pygmy antelope because it’ll ethically take these small and delicate animals, but cause surprisingly little damage to their hides. The same is true for many species of African plains game, like impalas or zebras, when using a controlled-expansion bullet.
If you only could take one hunting rifle to Africa to pursue the widest possible range of game, a bolt-action .375 H&H would be my recommendation.
What do you think about our choices for the four hunting guns you should own in order to hunt the widest possible range of game?
Like what you see? You can read more great articles by John McAdams on the Big Game Hunting Blog. Learn more about the Alberta bear hunts Big Game Hunting Adventures offers on their web site or follow them on Facebook & YouTube.
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