Choosing a Hunting Rifle

In emergency situations, hunting is a skill that can mean the difference between thriving and merely surviving. However, there are many factors that you need to consider when choosing a hunting rifle and it can be a bit daunting. So we created this guide to help you find your perfect hunting rifle and effectively hunt game in any situation.

What type of game will you be hunting?
The first question you want to ask yourself is what type of game you will be hunting. Big game like deer, elk, and bears provide more meat but require more skill and patience to hunt. You may spend multiple days or even weeks hunting one animal if you are in a vast area or somewhere that is heavily wooded. You will need to have more hunting equipment then you may want, although a lot of hunting equipment can also work as general survival gear.

If you are in the city or a suburb, small game (like rabbits, squirrels, and birds) will be your best bet. You will not get as much meat per animal but small game is easier to hunt and is typically more abundant. When hunting small game you will not want to use a high power rifle; you’ll want to use a shotgun or a .22.

How many firearms do you want for hunting?
Another question to ask is how many guns you’ll reasonably want to carry with you. Are you going to want multifunctional guns that can be used for defense as well as for hunting? Or do you want guns specific for hunting? As mentioned above, you’ll need to think about what you’ll be hunting. Will you be hunting just big game or small game or do you want to hunt both?

Who will be using the firearms?
Will it just be you using the firearms or will your family? Do you have kids or a spouse that you plan on hunting with? Choosing a firearm based on who will be using it is very important when it comes to the safety as well as comfortability with the firearm.

The best all-around hunting gun

Before we delve into the specifics of hunting guns for different types of game, it’s crucial to highlight a versatile option that can cover a wide range of scenarios—an all-around hunting gun that combines power, accuracy, and adaptability.

All-Around Option: The AR-15 Platform

  • Model: Various manufacturers (e.g., Colt, Ruger, Smith & Wesson)
  • Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO or .223 Remington
  • Weight: Approximately 6.5 to 8.5 pounds
  • Size: Barrel length of 16 to 20 inches

The AR-15 platform epitomizes versatility and customization. Its modular design allows users to tailor various components, from stocks to optics, to suit their preferences and needs. The choice of the 5.56x45mm NATO  or .223 Remington cartridge provides an optimal balance between manageable recoil and effective range, making it suitable for hunting game of different sizes.

Hunting guns for big game

Hunting large or big game requires firearms that can deliver power, accuracy, and stopping force. Here are some top recommendations for big game hunting, complete with their specifications:

Bolt-Action Rifles: Remington 700

    • Caliber: .308 Winchester
    • Weight: Approximately 7.5 to 8.5 pounds
    • Size: Barrel length of 22 to 24 inches

The Remington 700 is celebrated for its pinpoint accuracy and versatility. The .308 Winchester caliber strikes a balance between manageable recoil and stopping power, making it an excellent choice for various big game species. The rifle’s relatively compact size and lightweight construction enhance its maneuverability across different hunting environments.


Semi-Automatic Rifles: Browning BAR Mk3

    • Caliber: .30-06 Springfield
    • Weight: Around 7 to 7.5 pounds
    • Size: Barrel length of 22 to 24 inches

The Browning BAR Mk3 is known for its rapid follow-up shots and comfortable shooting experience. The .30-06 Springfield cartridge offers the necessary power for larger game, and the rifle’s lightweight design ensures ease of movement in various hunting situations.


Single-Shot Rifles: Ruger No. 1

    • Caliber: .300 Winchester Magnum
    • Weight: Approximately 7 to 8 pounds
    • Size: Barrel length of 24 inches

The Ruger No. 1’s single-shot configuration allows for precise shot placement. The .300 Winchester Magnum cartridge excels in long-range performance, making it an ideal companion for hunting large game in open landscapes.


Hunting guns for small game

When targeting smaller game, hunters need firearms that offer accuracy and minimize damage to the meat. Here are some top choices for small game hunting:

22LR Bolt-Action Rifles: Ruger 10/22

    • Caliber: .22 Long Rifle (LR)
    • Weight: About 5 to 5.5 pounds
    • Size: Barrel length of 18.5 to 22 inches

The Ruger 10/22’s enduring popularity for small game hunting stems from its quiet operation, low recoil, and cost-effective ammunition. Its lightweight design and compact size make it highly maneuverable in wooded environments.


Shotguns: Mossberg 500

    • Gauge: 20-gauge
    • Weight: Around 6.5 to 7 pounds
    • Size: Barrel length of 24 to 26 inches

Opting for a 20-gauge shotgun provides versatility when hunting different small game species. The gauge accommodates various ammunition types, from birdshot for avian game to buckshot for larger small game.


Pistol-Caliber Carbines: Henry Big Boy Carbine

    • Caliber: .357 Magnum
    • Weight: Approximately 6.5 to 7 pounds
    • Size: Barrel length of 16.5 inches

Pistol-caliber carbines, such as the Henry Big Boy Carbine, offer enhanced maneuverability and reduced noise. The .357 Magnum caliber delivers ample stopping power for small game without the recoil associated with larger calibers

Other Considerations

For preppers, choosing the right hunting rifle involves more than just weight and size. Here are additional factors to consider:

  • Maintenance and Durability: Opt for firearms with simple designs and rugged construction. Ease of disassembly and cleaning is crucial, especially in survival scenarios where specialized tools might be scarce.
  • Ammunition Availability: Prioritize firearms that utilize widely available ammunition types. Ensuring a consistent supply of ammunition is essential, particularly during times of scarcity.
  • Multi-Caliber Options: Explore firearms with interchangeable barrels or conversion kits. This flexibility allows for the adaptation of different calibers based on the situation or game type.


Part of being a responsible prepper is having the right tools to provide for you and your family. And having the right hunting gun could mean the difference between you putting food on the table or going hungry. Choosing the right firearm is an important decision that involves a delicate balance of weight, size, and practicality. But with some skill and the right gun, you’ll be able to effectively hunt game in just about any situation.