Some 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.
BEST GUN FOR 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.
BEST GUN FOR HUNTING SMALL GAME (1)
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.
If 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.
BEST GUN FOR HUNTING SMALL GAME (2)
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.
BEST GUN FOR HUNTING LARGE GAME (1)
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.
BEST GUN FOR HUNTING LARGE GAME (2)
There 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.
BEST GUN FOR HUNTING LARGE GAME (3)
MY PERSONAL TOP PICS
This could go in a thousand different directions but I’ll try to keep it fairly simple.
- Glock Model 23 .40 S&W semi-automatic pistol
- Marlin Model XT-22MVSR .22 WMR bolt-action rimfire rifle
- Remington Model 700 .30-06 bolt action centerfire rifle
- Remington Model 870 Wingmaster 16 gauge pump-action shotgun
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!
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