But before you buy a riflescope, learn why you should even buy a riflescope in the first place.
Some are built for tactical purposes while other sniper/hunting scopes specialize in longer-range targets.
Purchasing a riflescope is only the beginning. You should properly mount and sight in your scope before you ever think about shooting it.
You may be shooting a .22 all the way up to a high-powered rifle, so it’s important that you have the right scope for the job. Be sure to read reviews on the scope you have in mind before purchasing. Reviews (like this Scope for Ruger 10-22 Reviews) can be very helpful in helping you decide how to spend your hard-earned dollars.
A quick pro-tip here is that it’s generally better to have too much scope than not enough. So, if you must err on the side of caution, err in favor of the scope.
You might find it is easiest to sight your rifle at a local shooting range. However, if you live far from one but have a lot of land nearby, just make sure you’re shooting in a safe direction where there is no chance of passing hikers, campers, etc.
Your eyes take a little time to adjust, so the view through the scope can be a little blurry for a few seconds.
To eliminate this lag, look away from the scope and let your eyes focus on something else at a distance. Stare at it for a few moments, then quickly look through the scope and in the brief moments before your eyes adjust, determine if the picture appears blurry. Keep doing this until the image is sharp and in focus immediately upon looking through the scope.
Step 2: Boresighting
When boresighting your riflescope, be sure that what you’re aiming at down the barrel is the same thing your reticle is aimed at.
Boresighting your rifle first will save a lot of time and ammo.
This will take just a few minutes and will ready your weapon for the fine-tuning we are about to do.
First, securely mount the rifle to aim downrange at a highly visible target 25 yards away. Then, remove the bolt so you can see straight down the barrel at the target.
Look through and aim the barrel center mass. Next, look through the scope to ensure the reticle also lands center mass. You will likely need to adjust the scope’s turrets to achieve this. The turret on top adjusts the scope’s elevation (up and down) and the one on the side adjusts its windage (to the left and right).
Once your reticle is adjusted center mass, replace the bolt and get ready to start shooting.
Pro-tip: There are even specialized zero targets you can use that are gridded to help precisely determine the adjustments you need to make. You’ll see why that might be useful later.
Sighting requires great precision, so make sure the rifle is either mounted or thoroughly supported for this step.
Replace the bolt, insert your high-quality ear protection, and fire three rounds directly at the bullseye of your target at 25 yards. You will probably not hit the bullseye, so focus more at the consistency of the shot group.
If your three shots are really close to each other, but the whole group is about 1 inch south and 2 inches west of the bullseye, you need to adjust the elevation for 1 inch and the windage for 2. It looks complicated, but it’s really simple.
Use your scope turrets to fine tune your riflescope. 1 click typically changes shot location by 1/4 of an inch at 100 yards.
The turrets we were playing with earlier in the article are what we will now use to fine-tune your scope.
But before I go in-depth, here’s a quick primer on elevation and windage adjustments:
Usually one click changes the location of the bullet’s impact by ¼ inch at a target 100 yards away. The way we represent that is “1/4 MOA,” where MOA stands for Minute Of Angle. Four clicks will move the bullethole one inch in the direction indicated.
But, if the target is only 25 yards away, we need to move the dial 4x as many clicks to move the bullethole the same 1 inch. If the target is 200 yards away, conversely, 2 clicks move it 1 inch. Four hundred yards away, 1 click for 1 inch.
So, for the example above, we need to rotate the turret 16 times to elevate 1 inch and another 32 clicks to the right. The turret itself will indicate which direction to turn and the MOA (although most are ¼).
Once your scope is sighted for the target at 25 yards, it is time to extend the range to 100.
Fire another three rounds for your shot group, then determine how far off the bullseye the group is located.
Measure the deviation and adjust your elevation and windage in the same way we just did, bearing in mind that 4 clicks at this distance will equal 1 inch.
Fire another shot group at your 100-yard target, and if they hit where you wanted them to, you have successfully sighted your scope.
One of the most common questions many hunters ask is, “what shell do you recommend for (insert gun) with (insert choke)? Without hesitation, the most immediate follow-up question usually results in, “What do you define as best?”
You should ask the question what will my shotgun setup be used for?
To us, the perfect shotgun setup is a result of the ultimate satisfaction and confidence when you pull the trigger. The “Best” setup then, more often than not, is a result of personal preference.
Since there are so many factors in determining what shotgun setup to go with, we’ll dive into a couple that allow you to develop some thought and help guide your decision for your next hunting season or day in the field.
#1: What are you going to use this shotgun for?
While many customers call already owning the shotgun they intend to use, they often can also be in the market for a new one as well, possibly even in a different gauge.
The first question we might pose is, “what do you intend to use this gun for the most?”
For example, when hunting waterfowl, semi-automatics are the most commonly used. Occupying the most weight, these guns rely on either gas or recoil driven systems to cycle the shells, allowing the shooter to stay more focused on the target, thus reducing the need to cycle the next shell.
In upland hunting (i.e. pheasant hunting), over/under or semi-automatic shotguns are king and its no coincidence these are favorites, as hunters can switch barrels and utilize multiple chokes at once for selected ranges.
For larger type people, a bigger gauge may feel more comfortable, as it has added size and length of pull. Smaller-framed individuals, or people looking for less recoil, may opt for a sub-gauge gun such as a 20, 28 or even a 410 bore. These gauges offer less weight, recoil and ease of maneuvering. A smaller gauge may also provide an additional level of challenge.
Whatever the situation, premium performance and effectiveness are available to all outdoor enthusiasts.
Tungsten Super Shot shells yield maximum pattern efficiency at various ranges.
#3: Choosing the right shell for your shotgun setup
With your next shotgun in hand, what shells do you intend to use?
With such advancements in technology and metallurgy, there are vast amounts of lengths, payloads and shot materials to choose. The most widely used shot materials are often steel for non-toxic and lead (where allowed) due to their mass availability and affordability.
Large pellets hit with a magnitude of force. However, they usually lose pattern counts at extended ranges.
To make up for this, smaller shot sizes are used. But, the setback here is that these smaller pellets lose vast amounts of energy, thus decreasing their range regardless of pattern count.
To combat decreasing range, increasing the density of the shot material increases the mass of the pellet. This results in saturated, hard-hitting and efficient killing patterns, resulting in more success and less cripples.
With the recent rise in tungsten based alloys, a new pinnacle in the shotshell community known as, “Tungsten Super Shot” yields the maximum in pattern efficiency at a multitude of ranges.
Referring back to our most commonly received question, many customers ask us what shell works best for their previous setup. A choke, aftermarket or not, is merely an additional forcing cone to optimize pattern efficiency.
In short, your choke should complement your gun and cartridge, not the other way around. The best aftermarket chokes cannot allow the shell to optimally perform if they are chosen incorrectly.
The type of game you are hunting impacts which choke you might consider using with your shotgun setup.
First and foremost, it is the utmost importance to consult the ammunition and choke manufacturer you are considering for both their recommendations and any safety warnings.
Chokes that are not designed to handle heavier-than-lead-type products, or over-constriction, could result in severe damage to the gun or even injury to the shooter.
Tighter constriction doesn’t always mean tighter patterns. In fact, it can result in an inconsistent blown core pattern that leaves it looking “splotchy.”
When selecting the right choke, consider the make and gauge of your gun.
The backbore of your shotgun, coupled with shot material, payload and shot size, will ultimately dictate which choke is right for your setup as it will ultimately culminate in your desired best pattern.
Your shotgun setup is almost complete. But, there are a few accessories and modifications you can add to increase your comfort and performance.
A reflex sight, (not to be confused with a rifle scope) which is most commonly referred to as a “Red Dot,” is a great addition that can improve your accuracy, and ensure that your point-of-impact/point-of-aim is true. It can also provide ergonomic relief to your neck and eyesight.
In short, if your sight is dialed in, the gun will hit what it points at.
Shot shell selection is a critical part of the deciding what the “best” shotgun setup.
You can also improve your setup by lengthening the forcing cone of your shotgun. This results in a smoother transition as the pellets travel down the barrel, reducing stray pellets or, “fliers.”
Lastly, if you desire to provide the ultimate level of protection for your setup, there are options like Cerakote that virtually eliminate the wear and tear from the elements that allow you to prolong your investment.
Choosing your best setup is the result of what you want to achieve. As it has been said before, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” In this case, perfection is just what you envision it to be.
As outdoorsmen and women, and conservationists, we all strive to achieve the most lethal and efficient method of take. After all the effort we put in to become successful, our equipment should be at the forefront of our mind and we should accept zero compromise in their performance.
Remember, with any setup, practice and patterning are critical to fine tuning your outcome. Maximum confidence in your abilities and equipment will ultimately lead to most memorable hunts you will ever experience.
There is often a dispute on what hunting method yields better results; bow hunting or rifle hunting?
As long as you have the basic knowledge on how to hunt with either, you will likely succeed.
But, if we zero in on rifle hunting for deer, the decades-old (and often heated) debate is, which caliber is best? Well, just like bow hunting vs. rifle hunting… if you know your calibers well, there are many that can be effective.
Best Deer Hunting Caliber?
There is probably no single best cartridge
for deer hunting that can be agreed upon by all hunters. However, there are
many great deer hunting calibers out there. Many hunters also expand their
variety of calibers over the years.
In choosing the best hunting rifle caliber for you, it is important to find a balance between something that is easy on both the shoulder and the wallet. Below are a few of the best.
The .30-06 Springfield cartridge is one of the most commonly used calibers for deer hunting. Dr J.Y. Jones had successfully taken all the North American game species with a Remington rifle in .30-06! This alone is a huge testament to the cartridge.
The .30-06 is not only popular in taking big game in North America, but it is also one of the most popular cartridges worldwide.
What is best rifle caliber for deer hunting? Well, that depends on your shooting distance, how much recoil you can handle and other factors.
The reliability of this cartridge has remained for many years. It was introduced to the United States Army in 1906 and served the United States in both World Wars as well as the Korean war.
The .30-06 was introduced after the .30-03. The case was shortened from the ‘03 case of 2.540” to 2.494” and topped up with a 150-grain flat base bullet at 2,700 feet per second.
Rifle hunters often compare other cartridges to the .30-06 because of how famous it still is even after all these years.
The muzzle velocity is 2700 feet per second with muzzle energy of 2719 ft. lbs. It works efficiently within a range of approximately 575 yards. Hence, it is good if you plan to hunt deer from long range.
This cartridge has been used in famous rifles like the bolt-action M1903 Springfield rifle, the semi-automatic M1 Garand and many machine guns.
The .30-06 is one of the most versatile cartridges as well. Its power and versatility make it a popular choice for rifle hunting in North America, especially for larger game like deer.
The .243 cartridge has faithfully served its role in hunting game since 1955. It is popular among many new deer hunters today.
The .243 Winchester is one of the better calibers that yields excellent results. It has a muzzle velocity of 2960 feet per second with an energy level of 1945 ft. lbs. The most efficient range is within 350 yards.
Since the 1960s, the .243 Winchester has been by far the most widely used caliber for shooting small and woodland deer in the UK.
One of the advantages offered is that it has mild recoil compared to the other cartridges. This is especially good for beginners who are still getting the hang of hunting and is also a good caliber for the experienced hunter, as it helps avoids bruising of the shoulder or cheek.
Since it has gained substantial popularity
among hunters internationally, the ammunition and components are universally
available which makes it easy to buy. They can be found in almost any gun shop
and they are also not high in cost.
The only setback is probably that the maximum hunting bullet weight is up to 100 grains in most factory ammunition. This cartridge produces a velocity of 2960 feet per second with a 100 grain projectile from a 24 inch barrel.
The .270 Winchester is one of the world’s best deer hunting cartridges. It is likely the leading rifle for harvesting whitetail deer and has got the job done for over 90 years with few complaints. It is a classic caliber that can take down deer quickly.
The cartridge is based upon the .30-06 Springfield but the case is slightly longer by 0.050.”
To learn about the basic knowledge you need when hunting with a firearm, you can check out this guide.
The .270 Winchester shoots small diameter bullets at a high velocity with a manageable amount of recoil. The recoil of the cartridge can also be mitigated with the addition of using a reliable recoil pad.
The 130 and 150 grain slugs are the most popular choices of projectiles.
Although the .270 does not have as much power as the .30-06, it is still powerful enough for deer hunting at all reasonable hunting ranges.
It also has a very flat trajectory and offers great accuracy in good bolt action rifles. Furthermore, the caliber is available in many different rifles and its affordability and abundance for high-quality bullets are great.
Among calibers larger than 6mm, the .308 Winchester is the most popular short-action big-game hunting cartridge among hunters worldwide. Its relatively short case makes it especially suitable for short action rifles.
Short action rifles chambered for the .308 Winchester tend to be lighter in weight than long action rifles. This makes it easier on the shoulder.
The .308 was introduced when Winchester released it in 1952 in their Model 70 bolt-action rifle and Model 88 lever gun. There was instant success following their release. This is because of the accuracy delivered by this shorter rifle with a compact receiver.
Will you be shooting on open ranges or in the woods and forests? These are important factors to consider when choosing the rifle caliber and cartridge that’s right for you.
Some still feel that the .30-06 is more superior for deer hunting because of the larger case and slight velocity advantages, but others appreciate the lighter weight of a short-action rifle.
The accuracy and squat powder column also make up for the slightly slower velocity.
The .25-06 was designed as a “dual-purpose” cartridge and is suitable for hunting all game whether small or big. The one rifle/cartridge combination is designed to cover a variety of hunting and shooting situations.
The .25-06 benefits from the newest premium bullet designs such as the Remington Core-Lokt Ultra Bonded, Barnes-X and the Swift A-frame. With these bullets, it becomes adequate for hunting larger animals like elk.
It has a remarkable big game shooting potential with any number of bullets from 100 to 120 grains. This caliber also offers mild recoil. It is hence said to be suitable for women and kids for hunting.
Being a .25 caliber, it also has an effective bullet weight range between 85 and 120 grains. This makes it a perfect rifle for double duty on game.
Having been considered a good cartridge back in the 1920s, the .25-06 is more so a good cartridge today thanks to modern slow-burning powders and premium projectiles.
Stiffer projectiles can handle the biggest deer and some rifle hunters use it for hunting elk.
The .35 is another valuable caliber used in deer hunting. It can be used to hunt deer at approximately 135 yards so it is ideal for taking a mid-range shot. Its muzzle velocity is 2080 feet per second and energy of 1921 ft. lbs.
It is good for hunting in the woods and is a pleasure to carry around because it is light.
Remington marketed this cartridge as a
superior alternative to the .30-30 Winchester. Though it only produces slightly
more muzzle energy, the bullet sported is 18% heavier and has 35% more frontal
surface area. This contributes to the difference in power of the
Although it is a powerful cartridge when used under the right circumstances, the .35 Remington is one of the most underrated cartridges in the United States. The sad part is that the ammunition has started to fade away. It seems that there are fewer choices each year, which is bad news for those who love hunting with it.
The .30-30 was the very first smokeless powder cartridge for sport produced by Winchester.
In the modern era of hunting rifles, you would think that a cartridge with the performance level of a .30-30 would have already faded into obscurity because of how long ago it was produced. However, there is a reason why the .30-30 still appears in the top ten of the sales list of many ammunition companies.
The reason is that the .30-30 still works well today. In fact, it still remains the favorite of many deer hunters. It still yields good performance with cast lead bullets and generates low recoil, which is suitable for young hunters to hunt with. Some hunters may also continue using it for nostalgia sake.
Getting in touch with the hunting rifle heritage and using a lever-gun from our great grandfathers’ era has a special appeal to it.
Though it may be outperformed by other calibers in muzzle energy, the .30-30 Winchester has a high shooting ability. The downside is that it is lacking when it comes to longer range and open field settings.
It only has an effective range of 180 yards. But, if you hunt in the woods or forests, there is no reason not to shoot .30-30 if you are inclined to do so.
Overall, there is no single best caliber for hunting deer, but there may be one that is best suited to your preference.
Be sure to always practice proper firearm safety, which involves not only smart handling of your gun or rifle, but also being sure your firearm is cleaned and maintained properly. Visit your local gunsmith for maintenance and repairs. Or, if you do the maintenance yourself, you can utilize a gun vise for quick, easy and safe cleaning.
In choosing the best deer hunting caliber for yourself, make sure to look out for minimal recoil, maximum accuracy, aerodynamics and perfect striking energy. (The standard striking energy is 1000 ft. lbs which will be sufficient to kill a deer.)