How to choose your first hunting rifle? Or current trends in the hunting market.

What is the best caliber to choose?

It’s worth first understanding what the caliber of a gun actually means. The caliber determination system was invented in England. Identical spherical bullets were cast from a piece of lead weighing 453.59 grams, and their total number was considered the caliber. For a gun with a smaller barrel diameter, the bullets must be correspondingly smaller, which means the caliber must be larger.

The most commonly used guns are the following calibers:

12 gauge

It is the most common caliber; almost every hunter has shot from such a weapon. It allows the shooter to change the powder charge over a wide range. This caliber also allows you to use any buckshot and shot. It is with such a gun that you can effectively hunt all types of birds and animals.

16 gauge

Such guns were often used by Soviet hunters, since they did not give strong recoil and were lighter themselves, and this was not unimportant during hunting. With the help of a 16-gauge weapon, you can hunt both small and large game very effectively.

20 gauge

Shotguns of this caliber are usually small, which is why they began to be called women's. Since this weapon has a very small powder charge, it is almost never used now.

24, 28 caliber

These weapons are used even less frequently than 20 gauge shotguns for the same reason. Yes, it is quite light, practical and has high accuracy, but it takes a long time to learn how to shoot in order for its use to be highly effective.

Modern market of hunting weapons. Development trends

If quite recently a young hunter was deprived of a choice and went hunting with his grandfather’s “double-barreled shotgun,” then today the young guard is betting on convenience, comfort and results. Hunter Dmitry Chernushevich

advises beginners
to give preference to smooth-bore semi-automatic weapons
“Why bother with a double-barreled gun when you can immediately get used to a quality weapon. You can easily select collimator or optical sights for it, which help you make an accurate shot. For beginners, we can recommend Turkish “five-shot” guns; they have a good, trouble-free mechanism and a reasonable price,” advises the hunter
“But I want to note that domestic double-barreled guns are still popular and do not go out of use. Moreover, there are more such weapons in our country than semi-automatic ones and especially rifled ones. However, everything is going to the point that the situation will soon change, because those who have already tried to shoot from semi-automatic or rifled weapons will no longer return to double-barreled weapons,” shares Dmitry Chernushevich

Pros of semi-automatic weapons

  • Semi-automatic rifles can save your life when hunting ungulates. After all, it often happens that the animal does not fall after several deadly shots, but continues to run further. Don't you agree that a couple of extra shots wouldn't hurt?
  • Such a weapon will be an excellent assistant for you in bird hunting. It will give you the opportunity to shoot down, for example, not one, but four or five, or even six ducks.
  • You can install collimator or optical sights on a semi-automatic machine without any problems. This is a new weapon and it is designed for the use of optical devices. Even attaching such devices to a double-barreled weapon will not be easy.
  • Rate of fire is a huge plus for semi-automatic weapons.
  • Less recoil.
  • Replaceable barrels.

Pros of double-barreled weapons

  • Easy to unload, load and change cartridges.
  • It is easy to clean the barrel of foreign objects: snow, water, dirt.
  • Can be easily disassembled into two parts for transport.
  • Different types of cartridges can be used.

Today the market offers you to choose a gun also taking into account who you will be hunting. Some guns are designed for hunting birds, others for ungulates, and others for fur-bearing animals. But a novice hunter, as a rule, has not yet decided on his desires and preferences. Therefore, this trend applies to experienced hunters who can afford to purchase several guns at once.

Today, 16 gauge has faded into the background; most people use 12 gauge. The choice of cartridges and bullets of this caliber on the market today is huge. “ You must strive to shoot with a bullet. All of Europe has switched to bullets; buckshot is prohibited there. After all, on a collective hunt it is very dangerous to shoot with buckshot, there is a high probability of a ricochet and as a result of an accident. Buckshot is not able to stop a boar. The 12 gauge does not even affect him; the beast, mortally wounded, continues to run. Often, after a hunt, they opened up a boar and found buckshot, which was covered with meat. Some private Russian hunting grounds have already banned shooting buckshot. It's even easier to shoot a bullet. One accurate shot is enough to defeat the beast. Thus, the hunt is not disrupted and the animal does not suffer

“Dmitry Chernushevich told us.

Vertical or horizontal arrangement of trunks?

This issue is quite controversial. The vertical arrangement of gun barrels (in short - vertical) is more convenient when shooting at flying targets than the horizontal arrangement (horizontal), which is better used when hunting ground targets. Also, the horizontal rifle weighs a little less, and its fore-end is not as massive as that of the vertical rifle.

Many shooters choose shotguns with horizontal barrels, thereby affirming their commitment to hunting traditions. In any case, each buyer should listen to his own feelings when choosing a weapon, because each person is comfortable with his own type of gun.

Choosing a gun: hunter's advice

photo by Anton Zhuravkov
The first thing a novice hunter faces after receiving a ticket and license to purchase a smooth-bore weapon is the question: what kind of gun to buy. The first gun, of course, is not purchased for the rest of your hunting life. But I would like to make the right choice, the kind that real, right hunters make, and not just shooters, so that for many years the word “yours” will be added to the word “first.”

Buying your first gun is usually something you remember for the rest of your life. In past times, a novice hunter followed the usual path: a single-barreled shotgun (most often IZH-17) - a hammer-operated double-barreled shotgun (usually TOZ-BM, low price) - a decent hammerless shotgun (from domestic ones this is the vertical IZH-12, later its modification IZH-27, and the horizontal - “famous” IZH-54 or modest IZH-58).

Very rarely the “path” ended with the first domestic self-loader MTs21 or a commission Browning model “A”.

If such a change in hunting rifles in general contributed to the establishment of a certain culture of shooting during hunting, then at present there is no need to repeat this path, although a novice hunter should draw some conclusions for himself.

You should not chase ultra-modern new products that have proven themselves only on the first pages of catalogs. Reasonable conservatism in the hunting business, when purchasing a gun and equipment, albeit relatively modest, but worthy of attention and strictly to the point, will emphasize your awareness and will not allow a newcomer to be suspected of ignorance of hunting traditions.

Here we will not bother listing them, but there are two favorites - 20 and 12. Leading arms companies have already finally decided on this, as well as with a chamber length of 76 mm for most modern hunting rifles. Based on the set of cartridges offered by stores, 12 gauge will be preferable in terms of price. Typically, the mass of a modern gun rarely exceeds 3.0 kg. So, by and large, you shouldn’t “confuse” yourself when it comes to weight parameters.

Among the “budget” shotguns in the category of double-barreled shotguns with horizontal barrels, the choice is quite limited. The Fausti Stefano horizontal bars look very decent and are quite affordable. At the same time, they are far ahead in terms of price-quality ratio of double-barreled shotguns with horizontal barrels from other manufacturers.

It should be noted that horizontal guns in hunting shooting, especially in the dark, can turn out to be much more convenient than guns with vertical barrels and look more attractive.

Among side-flip guns (double-barreled shotguns with vertical barrels), the “budget” range includes a wide range of shotguns, where Italian manufacturers have some competition from mainly the domestic IZH-27 and TOZ-34. But if the quality of domestic guns turns out to be close to imported ones, then in price they will be almost comparable.

So you should think twice before deciding to save a few thousand rubles. You need to understand that you are unlikely to be able to purchase a quality product for up to 30 thousand. As you count the bills in your wallet, remember “that you are not rich enough to buy cheap things.” This proverb fully applies to the purchase of a hunting rifle. The price range of decent imported vertical speakers starts from 70–90 thousand rubles.

photo by Anton Zhuravkov

Today, most hunting rifles are made with replaceable choke constrictions, which allow, depending on hunting conditions, to have a shot load with acceptable characteristics. Of course, interchangeable nozzles are a useful thing, but it should be noted that really expensive piece guns always have barrels with constant choke constrictions.

And achieving the desired fight with a modern range of ammunition and some experience or the right advice is not at all difficult. So choke tubes should not be the determining factor when choosing a gun.

Self-loading semi-automatic shotguns. If financial capabilities allow, self-charging should be a second purchase. But, unfortunately, today’s “hunting” fashion makes a semi-automatic almost a mandatory and primary purchase. Although in most hunts a reserve of five rounds is far from a panacea for a miss, rather the opposite.

And if you count the number of cartridges per head of game, then believe me, the count will be far from being in favor of self-loading. However, it must be admitted that with good shooting training in duck or goose hunting, the results can be impressive, but let me remind you once again: if the “machine gun” is in the hands of a skilled shooter.

There is no need to separate or place in front self-loading guns with inertial or gas-operated reloading systems. Each type of weapon has its own pros and cons. Although if the manufacturer is a well-known company, the hunter will not have problems, of course, if he thoroughly studies all the features of his gun.

Here you need to focus more on brand recognition (Browning, Beretta, Benelli, Bernandelli) than on tempting commercial offers. It’s difficult to call the guns listed a cheap purchase, except that the Bernandelli can be classified as a budget weapon - of course, in terms of cost, and not in quality.

Domestic semi-automatic devices have been deliberately ignored. Comparing in price, but not comparable in quality, heavier Russian five-shot guns sometimes turn into single-barreled guns, and the once glorious MTs21 in today's version can leave the hunter completely unarmed. Here, someone will be lucky with their purchase, while others will get an “unlucky ticket.”

A review of pump-action weapons, saiga and other small-arms security weapons is not needed for the needs of a normal hunter, since these weapons themselves have a very distant relationship with a hunting rifle.

A novice hunter can begin to independently load cartridges, but only theoretically. Even hunters who are experienced in “rolling their own cigarettes” are forced to admit that a factory-made cartridge is not only better in price, but also in quality, than one equipped with individual components, and most often they are not available for sale in the desired type.

We have decided on the choice of gun, all that remains is to purchase equipment. A rifle shoulder strap with a rubberized “lining” will not come off the shoulder. A jacket (hunting suit), if it is from a well-known manufacturer of hunting clothing, will not only be comfortable, but will also replace a bandoleer; it will have pockets for a walkie-talkie, binoculars and other small items. It will protect you from bad weather and will not interfere with properly raising the gun.

You should always wear good shoes on your feet. Nothing can ruin a hunt and your mood more than poor-quality “footwear,” which can turn a hunting trip into real torture. And you don’t have to look for uniforms in a “work clothes” store and dress in the first camouflage pattern you come across. Traditional hunting clothing looks much more dignified and nicer in all respects.

Yuri KONSTANTINOV August 19, 2012 at 00:00

Is it worth buying a self-loading gun?

Currently, almost any gun store can provide the buyer with a huge selection of self-loading shotguns. They may have a gas recharge system or an inertial one. The advantage of the gas exhaust system is the lower recoil force, which provides the hunter with more comfortable shooting. And the indisputable advantage of the inertial system is its ease of maintenance.

But, despite the ease of use of self-loading weapons, experienced hunters will not advise a beginner to buy them, since this does not contribute to the development of discipline in the shooter. If a person was unable to hit his target with the first or second shot, then with the fourth and subsequent shots, he is unlikely to hit it. But when newbies miss, they begin to release their entire magazine in the hope that they will hit, even by accident. Therefore, beginners are advised to take a classic double-barreled shotgun, without reloading systems.

If you feel that a certain gun is difficult to use, then you definitely shouldn’t take it. The stock has various properties: length, hem, retraction, which can be adjusted if desired, if the stock itself allows it, but this should only be done with the help of an experienced shooter.

Modern smooth-bore weapons are, as a rule, suitable for only 75% of hunters. After all, sometimes the hunter’s parameters differ slightly from the standard ones, and there are also shooters who shoot from the left shoulder. It depends on which eye a person has: left or right.

There are often hunters who write with their right hand, but at the same time point the gun with their left, and for this they specially trained, because then the efficiency of using the weapon increases significantly. Beginner shooters are not advised to take a weapon with an adjustable stock, since the beginner immediately begins to look for ideal parameters for himself, and in the end makes the gun even more inconvenient.

Lateral release of the butt plate of a hunting rifle towards the aiming line.

The protrusion must exactly match the lower part of the face, otherwise it will only get in the way. For fast shooting, a straight and fuller comb is desirable. If the ridge is too high, the cheek will be pressed tighter, which means it will receive a stronger blow. At the same time, the hunting rifle will “raise.”

It is bad if, when shooting, the shooter tilts his head too much to the right or left of the aiming bar. It is necessary that the leading eye is located along the axis of the gun rail. A strong lowering of the ridge in the heel is disadvantageous. It is desirable that when moving the head back and forth along the ridge, the line of vision always coincides with the aiming bar (aiming line).

Some people remove the front and back of the ridge to achieve uniform cheek pressure. The comb should not interfere with the movement of the thumb back when firing the second shot from a double-barreled hunting rifle (with two triggers).

Which brand is better to choose?

Undoubtedly, this question depends on the personal opinion of the buyer himself and, naturally, on the size of his budget planned for the purchase of a gun. If we talk about the overall picture, it is worth noting that domestically made smooth-bore weapons are highly reliable and can last for a long time without breakdowns.

Also, guns of Turkish origin have become increasingly popular recently, as their quality has increased significantly over the past few years. Don’t forget about the guaranteed survivability of the weapon, which is indicated by the manufacturer.

Most often, the manufacturer indicates survivability within ten thousand shots. Thus, the plant guarantees that before the first breakdown of the gun, the hunter, with the necessary care of the gun, will shoot about ten thousand times. For professional shooters, this may not be enough, but for those who go hunting only twice a year, this amount will be enough for a couple of decades.

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