One deer hunter walking across field, John Day, Oregon, USA

Help a Beginner Choose Their First Deer Rifle, Pt. 1

Start with a Deer Rifle that Fits

Helping new hunters choose their first deer hunting rifle can be rewarding. It represents a pivotal moment for the individual in question. Regardless of their familiarity with the outdoors, their first deer hunting expedition may determine their enthusiasm for the activity. If you’re in a position to help them choose their first rifle, your advice will impact their experience.

The first factor one must consider when selecting a deer rifle is the fit. A rifle that is too long, short, heavy, or light for the individual will make carrying and firing the rifle less accurate and enjoyable. Ill-fitting rifles will increase recoil and create bad muscle memory habits in the hunter.

The ideal weight for a beginner’s deer rifle is around 7 to 8 pounds. Though a lighter gun could offer more mobility, some may find them more difficult to hold steady. Rifles with adjustable stocks can help you find that ideal size and weight for your hunter.

About that Action

Most deer hunters will tell you that a bolt-action rifle is ideal for an all-purpose deer rifle. When it comes to accuracy and reliability over long distances, a bolt-action rifle like the Ruger American is your best choice when shooting over plains or ag fields.

If your hunter is heading into densely wooded areas, you may want to recommend an AR or lever-action gun. These allow for faster follow-up shots and are accurate at shorter distances. 

Though new hunters may be drawn to an AR, you may want to caution them. They are not as effective at long range as a bolt-action, and some hunters feel that they encourage sloppy shooting. 

More to Consider

We’ve only scratched the surface by discussing the gun’s fit and action. There is so much more to think about when it comes to choosing that first deer rifle. Caliber, scopes, finish, and manufacturers all represent choices that will impact the user’s experience. 

We will have more tips for choosing a deer rifle in a future blog post. In the meantime, you may want to consider what kind of camouflage to outfit. What was your first deer hunting rifle? And have you found your ideal all-purpose rifle for deer hunting?

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