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Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting

Posted by Ryan Nafe 
Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
October 05, 2021 03:12PM
Last weekend I took some time to get my guns ready for the fall hunting season. For deer and squirrels specifically. This made me want to start a thread on the topic of guns for hunting. Their setup, results of zeroing and practicing with them in the preseason, and the logical arguments for the setups, cartridges, etc. that justify (or seek to justify) their uses.

Let’s use this thread to discuss the above stuff, leaving other firearm topics for other threads. I’ll start the thread with notes on the three different guns I’ll be using for deer and squirrels this year:

Picture of the trio:

In order of appearance in the picture:

1. Winchester 1895 in .270 (late 1990’s production)

2. Mossberg 590 Retrograde 18.5” barrel

3. S&W 629 Performance Center .44 Mag

The details of each of the setups:

Winchester 1895:

At the moment it’s using a Marble Arms tang peep sight in combination with the stock front sight. This has been zeroed to hit about 2.25” high at 60 yards, making 1” groups at that range, using Hornady’s Superformance 130 grain GMX load at a verified 3,220 FPS. This means that the rifle will drop deer where they stand at up to 250 yards, with no need for holdover or Kentucky windage, even in up to a 10mph crosswind. Impact velocity at 250 yards will be about 2,680 FPS, with 2,650 being the known cutoff for hydrostatic shock (knockout/instant collapse) with a shoulder shot on deer. Being that my maximum range in the woods is about 120 yards, I should have no trouble at all in getting extremely fast kills on anything I have a clear shot at.

This rifle is also extremely fast with follow-up shots and very smooth and quick to get on target and follow the movements of running animals. It should make an excellent woods rifle. More than adequate power, decent enough accuracy, good iron sights, and very good handling characteristics.

Mossberg 590:

This is a pretty basic pump 12 gauge that I’ve spent a fair amount of time patterning and practicing with. Nothing much to say here other than that I’ve outfitted it with a leather sling for ease of carrying, I’m using a very basic nylon/elastic shell belt that holds a full box of 25 for reloads in the field, and I’ll be using Federal Hi-Bird 2.75” 1.25oz #5 shot. The shells produce very consistent patterns and the #5 shot is optimal for a wide range of birds and small game at the exact distances that this gun’s pattern sweet-spot is, which is between 20 and 40 yards. Inside of 20 yards the little critters will be really torn up and too full of holes to eat, beyond 40 yards it’s starting to get a little low on per-pellet energy and pattern entropy is making cripples or outright misses a bit too likely for my tastes.

It’s a tactical gun by design but will make a simply wonderful gun for small game and birds at the above-mentioned ranges. With slugs or buckshot it would also make an excellent brush gun in shotgun-only deer zones and also a devastating defensive or combat weapon. As always it’s hard to beat the versatility of a good pump 12 gauge.

S&W 629:

This revolver is currently zeroed at 15 yards with Buffalo Bore’s 180 grain soft lead HP, which has a muzzle velocity of 1,295 average from this gun. Accuracy at 15 yards is about 1” from my hands. Despite the short barrel, the level of power from the current load is on the level of a full-size and full-power 10mm Auto or .45 Super, with the added advantage of these bullets being of soft non-jacketed lead and having a very wide and deep hollow point. Because of the level of power available, my ability to hit 8” targets out to 45 yards without missing once, and the very comfortable shoulder holster, this is going to be used for deer this year if they get close enough to give me a good opportunity for a clean shot. It’s worth noting that the ammo mentioned here is also what I’m using for CC and home defense. Big power, excellent accuracy, and revolver reliability.

Overall this a gun that’s very easy to carry, and even conceal if necessary, relative to the power it provides. This will likely be a gun I’ll never get rid of, it’s a really great sidearm and will handle pretty much all possible needs, from plinking to self defense to deer hunting and even bear protection.

That about covers it for my hunting season firearms this year. What do you guys have lined up?

Edited for spelling errors.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/05/2021 04:33PM by Ryan Nafe.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
October 05, 2021 05:54PM
I don’t hunt any more but if I did for the game listed it would be my Marlin 336 30-30 with hand loaded LEVERevolution powder and Hornady FTX bullets for deer/hogs. I plan to try some 250 grain round nose too, for a classic load.

For squirrels and rabbits it’s a toss up between a stock Remington 870 12 gage and a Marlin 60 22 LR. I’d consider my PA10 in 308 for deer as well as long as it was blind or tree stand. That thing is portly.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
October 09, 2021 02:33PM
For squirrels and rabbits it’s a toss up between a stock Remington 870 12 gage and a Marlin 60 22 LR.

The choice between shotgun and .22 for small game is an interesting one. Usually for me it depends on how badly I don’t want to miss and if they’re likely to be moving quickly.

For about 7 or 8 years, my grandpa and uncle and I would do a local rabbit hunting tournament in the winter each year. It was run by a group of local guys and hosted/sponsored by a bar that’s near the old family farm. Teams would go hunt for the afternoon at several different spots and scores/winners were determined by quantity and the biggest one. For that tournament we always used shotguns because they usually dart out of the brush and we couldn’t afford missing.

But if you can take your time and they’re not flushing quickly out of hiding places, a .22 can be better, especially if you and the rifle are accurate enough to get headshots.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
October 09, 2021 09:53PM
All the times I went rabbit hunting with my grandfather and uncle I never saw either use a shotgun. My uncle used a stick once and my grandfather carried a 22 revolver. People they brought with them would use shotguns and generally they were the only ones that would kill a rabbit.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
December 12, 2021 02:49PM
I managed to find a few boxes of HSM’s Bear Loads for the .44 Mag at a local store. They’re a 305 grain hard-cast wide-flat-nose bullet. Listed velocity is 1,260 from a 4 inch barrel, so I should get about 1,000 to 1,100 from the 629 PC’s short barrel.

This type of load, 300 plus grains in weight and a very wide meplat at 1,000 plus FPS, this is where the short barreled .44 Mag shows a very distinct difference in terminal performance from my .40 cal Glock. With hollow points of around 180 or 200 grains from the short barrel, bullet construction and muzzle velocity need to be distinctly different from the .40 in order to actually see any meaningful difference in terminal performance.

But these Bear Loads from HSM are in a completely different category of terminal performance from anything that can be achieved with the .40 S&W, they will make holes slightly above caliber size and they’ll do it through the heaviest bone in the biggest animals on the continent. They weigh 50% more than the heaviest available .40 cal bullets, they’re moving a little faster than the heaviest .40’s would be, and they’ve got a much wider meplat as well. A different class entirely.

Now I just have to check accuracy and velocity.

Side note, the thing keeping the ammo in line and not rolling off the chair is the empty tube from a Padron 1964 Soberano maduro. It’s a very good cigar but I’m somewhat torn on whether it’s worth the price. I have to smoke a few more of them before I decide and I definitely have to try the natural one as well, but regardless of if I think it’s worth the price or not, the ‘64 maduros are very very good cigars. No question there.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
December 12, 2021 10:06PM
Good luck trying those. They sound like a good way for me to develop a flinch if I don’t already have one.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
December 12, 2021 11:15PM
They sound like a good way for me to develop a flinch if I don’t already have one.

smileys with beer grinning smiley

Yup haha I’ll have to focus on the trigger finger and the sights instead of the inevitable kick, or I’ll be pulling shots off target big time. Realistically though they’re not as bad as either max pressure .44 Mag (same weight bullets at about 75 FPS faster), .45 Colt +P, .454 Casull, or (god forbid) .460 or .500 S&W.

So it could be worse in the recoil department for sure.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
January 09, 2022 12:34AM
I suppose the new 10/22 Target is worthy of inclusion here, it’s primarily going to be used for small game hunting in situations where I’d prefer a rifle to the 12 gauge.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
January 09, 2022 01:51PM
I’m very tempted to see if I can get someone to hunt with the Blackhawk. I’m not really interested but I’m sure it can do it even if it’s just the wadcutters for rabbits.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
January 11, 2022 01:50AM
It would be very effective on small game. The wadcutters in the .38/.357 hit like a hammer, much more potent than even a high velocity .22lr hollow point. But they don’t ruin nearly as much meat as you might imagine.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
January 11, 2022 03:12AM
I’m not sure about the total accuracy of my Ruger Wrangler yet because I haven’t fired it (too cold, 5 below right now) or how well the sights can be used in varying lighting conditions, but I’ve done the standard poor man’s trigger job and it should at the very least make a fun plinker and a gun to teach new shooters with.

Just dry firing (with aluminum snap caps) at random objects on the deck and in the backyard, I don’t think I’ll have any problems hitting squirrels out to 15 or 20 yards as long as the accuracy of the gun is there and the lighting conditions give a reasonably clear sight picture.

Part of the big problem right now with .22LR is just finding the variety of ammo that’s typically needed if you want to find the gun’s full potential and get something that hits to point of aim.
Re: Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns for Hunting
February 02, 2022 08:14PM
Awesome set up for hunting. I really like the shotgun! I have a Mossberg 500A Persuader with a Choate side folding stock on it, and a Uncle Mikes sling with a 9 capacity shell holder built in. I also have a Side Saddle (the old screw in kind, not the Velcro, and yes I used lock-tite!) that holds six shells. It is setup for home defense in a 500sqft apartment, so I am using Federal #8 Bridshot in the magazine. It holds 7 shells, has a 20" barrel. The Winchester .270 is very nice also, and the revolver is awesome!
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