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What Should You Check Before Choosing a Firearm for Hunting?

What Should You Check Before Choosing a Firearm for Hunting

Are you the prey, or are you the hunter? I don’t know about you, but l like to be the hunter. 

If you consider yourself the hunter, you will need to be able to equip yourself with the right tools.

Read on to find out what you should check before choosing a firearm for hunting!

What Should You Check Before Choosing a Firearm for Hunting?

Different hunting firearms have different applications, effects, and safety regulations.

It is important to note that you can’t just use any firearm for hunting. Here are some things to check before making a purchase:

1. Hunting Firearm Laws & Game Hunting Regulations

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Always be aware of the legal requirements for firearms in your area.

Every state has hunting firearm laws regarding the firearm’s gauge, caliber, and energy produced.

There are also legal requirements regarding what animals you can hunt and how many of them you can kill.

Not every gun can be used for hunting, and you may be fined or even jailed for hunting against regulations. 

Be aware of minimum legal requirements, wildlife management, and hunting safety regulations before doing anything.

2. Proper Hunting Education

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With the advent of the internet and all the information we need at our fingertips, no one has any excuse not to have proper hunting education.

Regardless of how seriously you intend to take hunting, you need to educate yourself to at least know the basics of hunting.

A hunter education course includes learning about:

  • Hunter ethics
  • Hunting safety
  • Firearm handling and safety
  • Tree stand safety
  • Overall safety techniques
  • Identifying various animal tracks
  • Various hunting seasons
  • And even issues regarding private property

As of late, there is also an emphasis on conservation, so you don’t destroy too much of the environment when you go out to hunt. 

Take note that you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on expensive hunting lessons.

You can get a good hunting education for free from experienced hunters on YouTube or even on TikTok. But we recommend getting most of your resources from the National Rifle Association (NRA), particularly their hunter safety course (click here), for the most updated materials.

You can even get it by just talking to an experienced hunter you may know!

Never start hunting without a proper hunter education course, and take your own experience, personal preferences and skill level into important consideration when choosing a firearm.

3. Hunting Firearms

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With the multitude of hunting firearms out there, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. 

Let’s look at the various types of firearm for hunting to determine which is right for you.

There are two main types of hunting firearms:

  • Single-shot firearm: from the name “single shot,” these let out only one shot at a time. These are available in various styles and mechanisms, such as a rolling block, falling block or trapdoor single-shot action.
  • Repeating firearm: from the name, it can shoot multiple shots. These are available with automatic actions and are great for beginners.

Let’s now look at the other classifications under these umbrellas:

Hunting Rifle

Hunting rifles have internal grooves cut into the rifle barrel to improve the accuracy and distance of ammo shots.

Of all hunting firearms, hunting rifles are the best firearm for range and accuracy.

Centerfire rifles are usually used for big game, while rimfire rifles are used for small game.

But whichever you use, you will probably need to install good optics on your rifles for the best performance.

The three most common classifications for this hunting firearm are based on their action.

The action reflects how the rifle handles ammunition cartridges.

Bolt Action Rifle

These firearms are operated using a rotating bolt design that unlocks the bolt from the receiver.

The receiver can then be pulled back to open the breech for the shooter to extract the cartridge case. 

They are usually repeating firearms and were popular for most military forces during both World Wars. Today, they are popular for their precision and accuracy.

They are mostly used for sport shooting, as well as for precision rifle and hunting applications.

This is a highly recommended firearm for hunting.

Lever Action Rifles

Commonly considered “cowboy guns,” lever action hunting rifles use a manually operated cocking handle to move the bolt through internal linkages.

Once the bolt is moved, it can cock the firing pin mechanism while feeding and extracting rifle cartridges in and out of the chamber.

Because of their moving parts, these types of rifle are more prone to failure than bolt action rifles.

The most famous of these rifles would probably be the Winchester Model 1873.

Pump Action Rifles

Pump action rifles use a mechanism borrowed from shotguns where a manual sliding foregrip cycles the rifle’s mechanism to eject spent brass and replace it with new rifle cartridges ejected.

This kind of rifle is rare nowadays, but you can still find some in circulation, like the Remington 7600 series.


Muzzleloaders are firearms loaded through their muzzle (the open end of the barrel).

This can make it difficult for hunters to handle.

As such, this is NOT a recommended firearm for hunting.


Unlike rifles, shotgun ammo comes in a shell.

This means that the barrel has to be smooth for slug ammunition.

Hunting shotguns are very versatile and are great for both small and large game and birds.

Note that this hunting firearm is usually prohibited in some states and at certain times of the year.


Handguns aren’t really considered hunting weapons. 

Rather, they are typically used for self-defense purposes as they can’t shoot targets over long distances.

Air Guns

Hunting air guns are generally considered more accurate than other types of firearms (at 50 yards>).

Best of all, they are quieter when compared to other firearm types.

If you miss your first shot, you are less likely to scare off other game.

4. Rifle Ammunition/Caliber

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Before you get started hunting, you have to be aware of bullet types and caliber.

Not all bullets can be used for hunting. The proper ammunition can make or break your hunt.

While more powerful cartridges can kill animals immediately, they can also cause serious damage to the carcass.

On the other hand, weaker rifle cartridges can preserve more of the carcass but cause the animal to suffer more.

For instance, a .22 caliber rifle can take down squirrels or rabbits, while whitetail deer will need more power.

Thus, the right ammunition and the right caliber are important for your target.

Most manufacturers have specific ammo for various animals and purposes.

Be sure that your chosen ammunition is compatible with your chosen firearm.

5. Recoil

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Recoil is the reactive momentum of the rifle.

This is equivalent to the velocity of the cartridges and powder gasses that are ejected from the rifle.

TAKE NOTE: The recoil rate is significantly affected by the rifle weight and design. More weight = less recoil

Look for rifles with moderate recoil (10-15 fps) to ensure that you’d be getting a sharp rap rather than an abrupt push.

6. Finding a Trusted Gun Shop

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If you’ve gone through all of the above and are ready to buy the right firearm for hunting, look for a trusted shop or firearms dealers.

Always buy your hunting firearm and hunting gear from a government-approved shop or reputable local vendor.

Don’t just buy from any shady shops or a friend’s recommendation unless you are sure that it is approved by the government.

You can face legal issues if you buy firearms from an unapproved shop.

Be sure that you have all the necessary legal requirements and use state-permitted firearms.

7. Gun Features

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Are you ready to buy a firearm for hunting?

Be sure to check ALL features when choosing a firearm.

Don’t just rely on the seller’s advice or the gun’s appearance.

It is best for you to ask the seller for written gun features and to read these features carefully.

Be sure to check the various features and be open to other versions that can match what you need.

This is especially necessary if you plan to shoot and hunt a specific animal.

Skills You Need to Learn for Hunting

We covered above what should you check before choosing a firearm for hunting.

Now let’s look at what you should check in yourself, the hunter.

Here are just some fundamental skills for all hunters:


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Patience is a virtue every hunter should have.

It can take hours to find the perfect target and position. All those hours and effort can go to waste instantly if you are too eager to shoot.

As a hunter, you must be patient and know when the right time is to move, shoot, or hide.

The success of your hunting depends on how patient you are.


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Not all animals move alike. Different animals move differently.

To make the best shot possible, you need to be able to time your shot perfectly.

You can figure out the best time to shoot your shot by carefully observing your target.

If you aren’t observant enough, you might miss the rabbit right in front of you simply because you did not catch on to its movements.

Mental Toughness

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Hunting is not for the weak. You’ve got to be mentally tough to be a hunter.

For beginners, aim for mental stability.

If you can’t handle yourself and your surroundings, you won’t be able to reach and shoot your target.

Physical Strength

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Physical strength is essential to being a hunter.

No, you don’t need to be on the level of Arnold Schwarzenneger (although it definitely would help!).

However, you do need to be fit enough to handle long treks, unpredictable terrain, harsh weather, and even the recoil from your firearm.

Be sure to squeeze in at least some exercise if you want to hunt. Remember to take care of yourself and your health.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Is Rifle Weight?

The ideal weight for a hunting rifle is usually within 6-7 ounces.

When buying a rifle, be sure that the rifle in question is heavy enough to maintain balance but light enough to carry for long periods.

How Many Shots Does It Take to Kill a Bear?

Bears generally need more shots to die.

While it varies from hunter to hunter, it usually takes 5-6 shots to kill a bear.

If you’re a beginner, you may need 10-13 shots to kill a bear or even more.

However, if properly placed, one shot can be enough to injure or half-kill a bear.

Why Is Firearm Fit Important to a Hunter?

One cannot run a marathon in shoes that don’t fit. The same applies to rifle hunters.

You must be comfortable shooting with the firearm that you buy.

Be sure to check its handle and size.

Don’t force yourself to use a gun you aren’t comfortable with just because it’s cool. The right gun is essential to your hunting success.

What Are the Important Rules of Firearm Safety?

There are several rules of firearm safety that all hunters should be aware of.


  1. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  3. Keep the gun unloaded unless you’re ready to use it.
  4. Be aware of your target and what’s beyond it.

Following these basic firearm safety rules is essential to prevent unnecessary injuries or death on your hunting trip.

Final Words

We hope we have helped you know and understand what should you check before choosing a firearm for hunting.

Trust your gut and keep an open mind, but NEVER lose sight of what’s essential (even if it’s invisible to the eye).



June 23, 2022 - Made major updates to content
May 26, 2022 - Made minor updates to content and formatting

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