Adding a New Deer Rifle
Dr. John Woods 10.07.19
You want a new deer rifle this year? Who doesn’t? Frankly, there is nothing really wrong with your old standby. It’s been a good deer gun for many seasons, but like an old truck it is getting a little outdated. You just have a hankering for something new, updated, different. Nobody wears white socks every day, I hope.
Reviewing the announcements, press releases, websites and other sources, the current count of new deer hunting rifles for 2019 is 61. Many of these were showcased last January at the SHOT Show. However, quite a few more were introduced quietly, then were brought out of hiding in new advertisements or hunting television shows. So with all those choices, how in the world do you pick one?
Start the selection process with what you want: bolt action, semi-auto, lever action, or even a single shot. Undoubtedly more deer hunters are going to pick the proven and reliable bolt action. It is the most popular, but lever action rifles have been having a resurgence, hence many new models being introduced.
Think of the profile of the rifle you want. Long-barreled rifles are in vogue now up to 26 inches, mainly for long range shooting. If you have ever tried manipulating a super-long rifle barrel in a tree stand, ground blind, or shooting house, you probably would not select a long tube. The average barrel length for most deer rifles is 22-24 inches, though carbines might have an 18- or 20-inch barrel.
Do you want open sights or a receiver ready to accept scope mount bases and rings for a traditional scope? Some rifles give you both options, so consider that. You won’t see many hunting rifles these days without a riflescope.
Consider stock type; wood or synthetic. A whole book could be written on those choices. Wood is pretty and traditional, while synthetic is tough and withstands the elements better. Wood is warm and easy to handle. Synthetic stocks can be cold, slick, and noisy. When you bump one on a metal tree stand, every deer in the woods might know.
Caliber-wise, stick with a choice you can shoot well. There are plenty of choices out there. Pick one that will get the job done. Above all else, handle a lot of rifles. Shoulder mount them, feel the weight, sight down the barrel, examine the safety and other features. Then pick the one that fits best and you like best.