Keep reading to learn all about the 6 guns every hunter should own.
At their most basic level, guns are tools for hunters. Like tools in a tool box, some guns are better at various hunting tasks than others. Depending on the animals you plan on pursuing and the location where you hunt, it is often necessary to own several different guns to ethically and legally hunt the animals you are after. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a needlessly complicated undertaking and by owning the guns on this list, you can hunt virtually any animal anywhere in the world. Read on to learn about the 6 guns every hunter should own.
.22 Caliber Rifle
First on this list of guns every hunter should own is a .22 rifle. There are a number of different .22 rifles available in cartridges like .22 Long Rifle or .22 Winchester Rimfire Magnum these days ranging from single shot bolt action rifles to the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22. Some models are better than others, but they are all generally inexpensive, lightweight, and great choices for hunting small game like squirrels, rabbits, and grouse as well as some varmints.
12 Gauge Shotgun
A good 12 gauge shotgun is perhaps the most versatile of the guns every hunter should own. A hunter who owns a high quality 3″ 12 gauge shotgun with interchangeable choke tubes, such as a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500, can hunt virtually any type of small game or bird, including rabbit, squirrel, quail, dove, grouse, ducks, geese, and turkey.
The same shotgun can be used with buckshot to hunt big game animals, like deer and bear, at close range in thick cover. Mount a slug barrel with good sights or a scope and the shotgun can now be used to hunt big game at longer ranges.
Because it is so adaptable, no hunter’s gun collection is complete without a 12 gauge shotgun of some kind.
To learn more about shotgun gauges in general like their naming conventions and which bore size is best suited for various hunting situations, read the article below:
Shotgun Gauges Explained: 10 vs 12 vs 16 vs 20 vs 28 vs 410
If varmint hunting is something you plan on doing, then you should consider a purchasing a dedicated varmint rifle. While any rifle and cartridge will work if you don’t care about salvaging the animal’s pelt, small bore rifles are the most popular among varmint hunters.
Bolt action rifles chambered in .223 Remington or .22-250 are probably the most common, but by no means the only, choices for varmint hunters. However, AR-style rifles are becoming extremely popular among all hunters, particularly varmint hunters. These rifles really come into their own when conditions allow multiple shots on several different animals (mainly coyotes) in rapid succession. In either case, it is essential that a dedicated varmint rifle be accurate, reliable, and be chambered in a flat shooting cartridge.
If you’d like to learn a little more about the .223 Remington as well as some bigger cartridges that are also available in modern sporting rifles and suitable for varmint hunting, read the articles below.
6.5 Grendel vs 6.5 Creedmoor: Which Is Right For You?
6.8 SPC vs 6.5 Grendel: What You Need To Know
22-250 vs 223 vs 204 Ruger vs 220 Swift: Clash Of The Speed Demons
223/5.56 vs 7.62×39: What You Need To Know
243 vs 308 vs 7mm-08: Which Is Right For You?
6mm Creedmoor: Everything You Need To Know
Brush or Woods Rifle
The vast majority of hunters in the United States do most of their big game hunting in relatively thick conditions where shots past 100 yards are uncommon. When hunting in heavily wooded areas, shots are not only taken at short range, but the hunter may only have a few seconds to take the shot. Because of this, a good brush or woods gun must be handy, quick pointing, and have sights that enable rapid target acquisition by the hunter. In addition to deer and bear, this is a great hog hunting gun.
At short range, cartridges like the .30-30 Winchester and .35 Remington really excel and countless deer, feral hogs, bear, and even moose have fallen to them over the years. The Winchester Model 1894, Marlin 336, and rifles like them, are ideally suited for hunting under these conditions and are another essential member on this list of guns every hunter should own.
Though it’s not usually thought of as a “brush gun”, the AR platform also lends itself well to that sort of hunting, especially when chambered in a cartridge more powerful than the .223 Remington. Fortunately, there are several very good rifles chambered in .450 Bushmaster, .458 SOCOM, and/or .50 Beowulf these days. All of those cartridges are devastating at short range and are available in compact and easy to handle rifles.
To learn more about those heavy hitting AR cartridges, read the article below:
450 Bushmaster vs 458 SOCOM vs 50 Beowulf: Battle Of The Big Bore AR Cartridges
Long Range Rifle
Sometimes, due to terrain or some other factor, you won’t be able to close the distance and will have to take a longer range shot. This is especially common when hunting in the western portions of North America for animals like mule deer, pronghorn, elk, or sheep. In this case, you need to have a rifle that is up to the task and a long range rifle occupies the next spot on this list of guns every hunter should own.
This usually calls for a bolt action rifles sporting a good quality scope. Luckily, there are many good quality bolt action rifles available on the market that are up to the task, like the Remington Model 700, the Ruger 77, and the Weatherby Mark V, just to name a few. The 6.5 PRC, .270 Winchester, the .270 Winchester Short Magnum, 7mm Remington Magnum, 7mm Winchester Short Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum are all good quality, flat shooting cartridges that are common choices by hunters to fit the bill here.
They will also do in a pinch for shorter range shooting and there is nothing wrong with using these rifles and cartridges for hunting whitetail deer, hogs, black bear, or moose either.
This is the second most versatile and important gun for a big game hunter to own (only behind the 12 gauge shotgun).
If you’d like to learn more about a couple of heavy hitting cartridges suitable for longer range shots, read the articles below:
270 vs 280 Remington vs 280 Ackley Improved vs 7mm Rem Mag
270 vs 308: Which Should You Hunt With?
308 vs 30-06 vs 300 Win Mag: Which One Should You Hunt With?
300 Win Mag vs 338 Lapua vs 338 Win Mag: Picking The Right Heavy Hitter
7mm Rem Mag vs 300 Win Mag: What You Know May Be Wrong
Big Bore Rifle
A big bore rifle is the final entry on this list of guns that every hunter should own. For the purposes of this article, we’ll include cartridges such as the 9.3x62mm Mauser and the .375 H&H Magnum in this category, along with more traditional big bore cartridges like the .416 Rigby and the .458 Winchester Magnum.
A hunter armed with a good big bore rifle is capable of taking the biggest and toughest animals in the world, like brown bear, cape buffalo or even elephant.
This allows the hunter to safely and ethically hunt large, thick skinned animals in circumstances far beyond the capabilities of smaller cartridges like the .30-06 Springfield or .300 Winchester Magnum. Most hunters won’t need a big bore rifle many times in their life, but when you need one, you really need one.
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7 thoughts on “6 Guns Every Hunter Should Own”
I am new to hunting and i feel i read the right article. Very informative
Man that is a cool article. I love big game hunting and always have a problem finding the best gun for me
Very simple breakdown and as a hunter for five decades, I agree.
Agree with the above but you need 7, 177 air rifle for shooting mice pest birds in the fruit trees cheap practice in the back yard and teaching the kids.
Thanks for your comment. That’s a very good point.
Glad to see I was practical minded when I started building my rifle collection in the early 90’s. My grandfather left me an 870 Remington and a 30-06 Mannlicher Model 1956. I duplicated those by purchasing more recent rifles of the same caliber and make. I made sure I then got .22lr. More than one(I believe in back up)-lol. Just had to have a couple of 30-30’s(no collection would be complete without one). The AR15 covered me in the varmint category and the AK was just plain curiosity-lol. I allowed myself to go trendy and added a couple of 325wsm rifles. I wanted more energy and flatter shooting caliber out to 600 yards. The only thing left is a big bore just to feel like my collection is complete. I’m thinking 404 Jeffrey. Well maybe a .223 Sako,maybe Model 70 cause it’s so classic. And a few others. Of course I got the itch for a custom GA Precision. So maybe not one more-lol. We love our toys and you can never own too many guns. Unless the wife gets overly treacherous about it. LMAO. This site has by far become one my favorites after finding it. You guys do a great job with the info you provide. Extremely practical! Thank you-keep up the great work.
Sounds like quite the collection Vince! Glad you’re enjoying the blog!