Ruger 10:22Some time ago, I published a post on whether a woodsman needs a gun for camping.  The comments and opinions were strongly divided.  Even now, I’m not going to provide a personal opinion here as it is just that, personal.  That being said, I get a lot of questions as to what gun is best for camping and several questions as to what guns are best for hunting.  If you’re interested in those answers, keep reading!  Also, I’d love some feedback here.  These answers are based off of years of experience and research but I’m always open to other ideas and opinions.


The Glock Model 27 (.40 S&W) is an excellent all around handgun well suited to camping.

The Glock Model 27 (.40 S&W) is an excellent all around handgun well suited to camping.

I get asked this question a lot more than I had anticipated.  To answer properly, I’m going to have to assume that you are wanting a gun for personal protection from other people, perhaps bears, and maybe a few other animals native to your area.  If this assumption is correct,  I would recommend a large caliber handgun.  I would also recommend that you use a small handgun (even large calibers can be of varying sized frames) so that it is easily carried, lightweight and easy to keep secure.  It doesn’t much matter whether it is a revolver or semi-automatic pistol as I can argue convincingly for either.  If you are looking for a specific model or manufacturer, I am a fan of  Glock pistols and enjoy my G27.  I prefer the G23 as it is a bit larger and fits my hand much better.  But the G27 has proven incredibly reliable over the years.  Both are .40 S&W.  There are quite a few manufacturers that are making great pistols these days.  You can’t go wrong with Glock, SIG Sauer, or Smith & Wesson.  Although gun enthusiasts argue about calibers as much as liberals and conservatives argue about balancing the budget, here is a list of a few calibers that I think are worthwhile to consider:

If your main reason for wanting a gun is snakes, I recommend a fiberglass or wooden-handled, carbon steel… shovel.


The Ruger 10/22 (shown here with Glock Model 27) is a reliable, accurate and versatile rifle for small game hunting.

The Ruger 10/22 (shown here with Glock Model 27) is a reliable, accurate and versatile rifle for small game hunting.

Again, making a recommendation like this could open a very large can of worms so I’ll provide a disclaimer here.  This is just my opinion and I am open to a lot of other manufacturers, calibers, etc.

Squirrel_Eating_a_peanutIf you are very competent, are hunting late season and are able to turn down a lot of shots because of safety concerns, I recommend a small caliber rifle.  The .22 LR has been and is still a great round.  Not only is it (somewhat) cheap to shoot, you can purchase quality hollow-point rounds that are more than capable of taking most small game.  I’ve been hunting with a Ruger 10/22 .22 LR semi-automatic rifle for several years and have found it to be a worthwhile squirrel gun.  Even though I’ve never fired one, the .17 HMR gets great reviews and is said to be incredibly accurate.  However, it seems to be greatly affected by wind.  Overall, if I could only choose one caliber, I would go with a .22 WMR (.22 Magnum.)  It costs a bit more to shoot than a .22 LR.  But it is an incredibly accurate round capable of more distance and accuracy than the .22 LR.  Additionally, in a survival situation, the .22 WMR is capable of taking larger game with properly placed shots.


Winchester Model 1200

Photo courtesy of FinlayCox143.

Photo courtesy of FinlayCox143.

If you are an early-season hunter, if you want faster action than the slow and cautious pace of a small caliber rifle, or are a bit less confident in your shooting abilities, there are few guns more capable than a 20 gauge shotgun.  That being said, 12, 16, and even 410 gauges all have their positive attributes.


I’ve been in the woods many times with either a .22 LR or .22 WMR and left empty handed (often without firing a shot) where if I had a shotgun, I could have killed my limit.

In truth, I prefer the 16 gauge over the 20 gauge.  However, 16 gauges have become difficult to find and ammo is either difficult to find or incredibly expensive.

I’m not a turkey hunter but it seems to me that the 12 gauge is much more suited to this quarry.


"Old Reliable" Marlin Model 336 in .30-30 Winchester

“Old Reliable”
Marlin Model 336 in .30-30 Winchester

For the VAST MAJORITY of hunters, a lever-action .30-30 Winchester is probably the best all around rifle for hunting big game.  The .30-30 has plenty of stopping power and accuracy out to 100 yards.  It’s capable of more distance but MOST of the time, the average hunter doesn’t need more than 100 yards.  The .30-30 is nearly perfect for whitetail deer and is fine, although a little small, for bear.  It’s typically a shorter rifle so it is easy to carry and maneuver through the woods and it is reliable.  Even when neglected, it seems to continue to function flawlessly.


November Buck- Quivira NWRThere are so many manufactures, calibers and actions available, this becomes a very personal and opinionated topic.  I’ll provide my input but ultimately, you should do some serious research and consider your hunting tactics, landscape and quarry.  I personally prefer a bolt-action rifle.  However, I have seen semi-automatic rifles that are every bit as accurate and reliable as bolt-actions.  I prefer Remington Model 700’s but Winchester, Ruger, Savage, Tikka, and Weatherby all make fantastic rifles as well.

As to caliber, here are my top three pics – .30-06 Springfield, .25-06 Remington, .308 Winchester.  The .30-06 takes the number one spot as it is powerful, accurate, very common, and can be “grained down” for medium sized game or “grained up” for larger game.  The .25-06 is a bit less common but is an ideal whitetail deer caliber.  The .308 is another common round that seems to be well-suited for longer distance whitetail deer hunting.  All three are capable of taking all species of deer and should work for most bear.


Big_brown_bear_ursus_arctosIf you want to play sniper and shoot very long distances or you are an avid bear hunter, consider the larger Magnum calibers.

7mm Remington Magnum, and .300 Winchester Magnum stand out but there are quite a few that you can research.


This could go in a thousand different directions but I’ll try to keep it fairly simple.

As hunting season approaches, I’ll be publishing a post about firearms safety as a primer to newcomers and as a refresher for the old-timers.  Be sure to read it and brush up on your safety skills.  It could save your’s or a loved one’s life!

Do you have other ideas about the ideal gun for camping or for hunting?  Did I leave out your favorite caliber or manufacturer?  Is there something better that I’ve not heard about?  I’d love to hear about it.  Let me know your comments, concerns or questions!

If you enjoyed this post, you should “follow” via WordPress or email.  Not only will you receive notifications for new posts about camping, hunting, fishing, canoeing, guns and general outdoors enjoyment, you’ll also be eligible for future giveaways.


  1. Great post! Like you said, talking guns is apt to bring out those whose preferred flavor wasn’t mentioned. Everything you suggested are great guns. Others to consider for caliber would be 9mm and .357 SIG. For handguns, I prefer S&W M&P over Glocks, just because of feel, not because I dislike Glocks. Also, shotguns can be used for large and medium game hunting if set up right. In Southern MI we can’t hunt deer with rifles, so I hunt almost exclusively with a 12 gauge set up with a rifled barrel and saboted slugs. Very accurate to 100 yards. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks a lot! I listed the .357 SIG under the handgun calibers but omitted the 9mm as the only experience I had with them was in the military. Poorly maintained pistols with poor quality ammo didn’t make for an enjoyable experience. I’ve not used the S&W M&P but I remember reading about it on your site and it seemed like a great pistol. I like SIG’s a lot as well. I was fortunate to work with a guy who was trained as an armorer and in tactics with Glock. He sold me one of his G23’s years ago and since then, all I’ve owned is Glocks. I can do extensive maintenance and minor repairs on them and I’ve worked with them a lot in tactical situations – I suppose we stick to what we’re comfortable with. I did leave out any mention about large game hunting with a rifled shotgun. I’ve only been around a few hunters who use that set up. Honestly, I completely forgot about mentioning it. Good call. I don’t have any experience hunting with them but I’d love to hear about it sometime! Thanks for the great input!

      • Sorry about the SIG .357, I somehow missed it. I like Sig Sauer’s as well, but for carrying they are heavy, to shoot they are a dream. Again great post.

    • Thanks a lot! I like the MARPAT pattern pretty well. I’ve not performed any tests to see how it blends into our environment but I imagine it does pretty good. The one in the pic is actually my bowhunting pack. I use it all season then pack all of my gear (release, broadheads, extra field tips, climbing rope, etc.) in it for the rest of the year. So far, it’s worked out well. But I’ve yet to kill a deer with it on. BTW, there’s a few indirect references to you (think semi-rifle, SIG, etc.) in this post. lol

  2. I thought the sig part might have been for me lol. I do like my sig pretty well. It handles well and has a good look to it, not to mention it’s pretty accurate. I like my 1911 colt pretty well also and it’s even more accurate than the sig however it’s more of a pain to disassemble and clean. I was having trouble from my .30-06 loading as you witnessed but I purchased a new clip, or disassembled my old one and cleaned it well, and that seems to have corrected the issue, I believe the spring was bad/dirty. I agree with all your points and calibers as you noted you’ll always have some disagreement when it comes to gun owners brand specific preferences. Although you didn’t mention the desert eagle. That’s one great big ol pistol made by badass Hebrews!

    • I like the 1911 pretty well – maybe more for the range, tactical or home defense than camping. I had forgotten about the clip problem. When I do my safety, storage and transportation post, I’ll make sure to point out that when cleaning the firearm, the clip should occasionally be removed, disassembled, and cleaned.

      The Desert Eagle is a fantastic piece of work. I’d like to shoot one but I’d also like to shoot some tracers from an old BAR.

      • It’s the old British / Aussie military round. Big old thing but not used that much except by the military buffs. Look fwd to reading your posts in the future.

      • Thanks a lot. I know a guy who likes hunting with less common rounds and I’m pretty sure he has one. Maybe I’ll try to check it out sometimes.

  3. A gun isn’t necessary for camping. It’s just extra weight to carry. When you need to hike up the side of a mountain with everything you need (your tent, sleeping bag, food, warmth, etc) to survive for several days, you learn what’s essential and what isn’t, and only bring the things that will benefit you.

    Bears like to eat; keep a clean camp, hang your food from a tree away from your tent, cook away from your tent, and you’ll have no troubles from them. The most dangerous animal in the woods is a human. And the best defensive tool (or offensive tool) is the one between your ears.

    • Thanks for the input! If you’ll notice in the first paragraph, I leave that decision open to the reader. I get a lot of questions about it so I decided to tackle the issue head on. In the first line of the post, I mention a previous post that discusses the question of whether a gun is needed for camping. Some argue that it is essential and others argue that it is dead weight. I made it a point on that post that it is entirely up to the reader. I’ve never needed one but often have one when alone in the backwoods of West Virginia. Either way, stay legal and stay safe. Sound advice as far as keeping the bears (and other animals away.) Some time back I did a post about the real and not-so-real dangers of being in the woods and covered this topic as well. Other people are mentioned in this post as well and I agree, using some basic logic is the best way to handle the possibility of dangerous people – even though they are few and far between.

  4. Y 87 yr old father just sold two on the list I have always liked. A military sporterized .06 and his all time favorite Remington 16 ga. Never had pursued and hand gun permit and st this point I won’t. But I have the 30-30 a bolt .22. What I’m excited about is his blonde stock lever action .22 Mag. It was always my fave. And as embarrassing as it is to say I missed my one and since, only elk shot with a borrowed 7mm mag. But it was a fun 400+ yard shot for my first attempt. Good article.

    • Thanks a lot! I like the old military guns. Good call on the .22 mag. It is probably my favorite caliber out of all of them. 400+ yards is a long shot. I wouldn’t sweat the miss too much. lol. The furthest I practice or shoot is 300 yards. IDK how I’d do past that but I’d love to be in a scenario where I could try it out. There’s not many shots more than 100, much less 300 yards here in the mountain state.

  5. I’ve always wondered what good it does to hang food in a tree to keep it from bears as they’re pretty good climbers. I know we’ve done this several times but it seems as if the bear would climb the tree take the food and then come to see what else was laying around your camp that may interest them. Actually putting it in a tree may get the scent out there better than on ground not sure curious for your thoughts.

    • I’ve thought about the scent issue as well. As it goes, I always try to tie it high enough that bears can’t reach it and far enough away from the tree (or others) that they can’t climb to reach it. In theory, they won’t climb out on the limb and reach down to get it. The logic is that even if they smell it, not being able to get it will discourage them from bothering you or future campers. I think that if it is far enough away from camp (I don’t know how far is enough,) at least I’ll hear them and be awake when they venture into camp. I’d much rather face a bear awake as opposed to snuggled up in a sleeping bag beside the fire. All that being said, I may do some pretty intense research and provide a post about it. Thanks for the idea.

  6. Bears are pretty smart though. There has to be a tie off point and I know 550 is tough but it is no match for a hungry black bear. I’ve had them tear into coated steel cable to get to a deer feeder that I had out at one point. In my opinion the fire is more likely to keep the bears away than putting food etc in a tree. Would make for an excellent post as you noted.

  7. Pingback: BEAR-ANOID! How Do You Keep Bears Away from Camp? |

    • Thanks a lot. I have a buddy who only shoots and carries 10mm’s. I have yet to shoot one or do much research on them but I’d love to have a chance to get one out on a range. Thanks for the input!

  8. My father just gave me my favorite rifle from his collection. I fired plenty of rounds at woodchucks in my teens. The Ithaca Saddle rifle 22 mag. In a blonde stock. Now to find some ammo. Lol

    • Thanks for the question!  I actually published a post about whether or not you need a gun for camping and left it open to the reader to decide.   You can read that post here.  Even so, I get a lot of questions about which guns are best so I decided to provide an educated answer so that if you do choose to have a gun for camping, you’ll be able to pick the best option possible.

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