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I’ve been asked a number of times what hunting rifle would be best for a lady. Husbands call, text or write and ask what rifle they should purchase for their wives.
First and foremost, I think you should assess what the lady intends to hunt with the rifle. Research the regulations in the area you intend to hunt. Determine what caliber is a legal method of take in your state or hunting area.
My opinion in this post is based on the fact I am a Colorado resident and based on hunting elk, mule deer and black bear.
The “best” rifle for a lady is the one that fits. You need to take her to the range and try several models. You want to shoot from a shooting rest, stick or off-hand when you are trying the rifle. Shooting sleds are perfect for sighting in, but when you are practicing for a hunt or testing a rifle, you will not get the true feel if you have it anchored in a sled. Remember to practice working safety and action in between shots. Make sure it is not awkward or hard to get to. If you are left-handed, there are models available designed for you.
A few men have said their wives are very small. They are worried about getting her to large caliber when they purchase her rifle. What should they get?
I recommend a .270, a 7mm-08, .300. These are good all-around hunting caliber. They are flat shooting. Depending on the stock you choose, they have relatively little recoil.
I am 5’2″, 120# and shoot a .270.
Some women are more petite than me and have shorter arms. What should they get? The .270, a 7mm-08 and .300 are all available in Youth Models (YM). The youth models come with a shortened stock for shooters with smaller arms and frame. If you already have a rifle in your safe you can purchase a new stock or have a custom shorter stock made. It is imperative that a shooter be able to reach the trigger with comfort and also reach the forearm to support the rifle during a shot. The YM rifle or shortened stock will also help acquire a proper eye relief from ocular of the scope on their hunting rifle.
With the talk about standard or short stocks, comes the issue of what type of stock. I mentioned recoil above. What I didn’t mention was packing around a hunting rifle. Some seasons are as long as nine days. We all hope to bag our elk in the first days of season, but what if you hunt until the last day of season? What do you want to be carrying around with you in the woods? Right off you may think “I’ll get a lightweight composite stock” so you don’t have to pack a lot of weight. Good thought, BUT with the lighter stock comes more recoil.
What do you do about recoil? Wood stocks are heavier thus reducing recoil, but then you have added weight to carry around in the woods. It is a trade-off and one that should be decided by the shooter. You can also purchase butt pads to reduce recoil, or buy a rifle that has a muzzle break to reduce recoil. All are personal preference.
As I told you, I shoot a .270. When I got it, I was told “Awe. That’s not big enough to kill an elk.” I have thoughts of the tool guy “Grunt! Grunt! Grunt! Bigger is better”. Well. That’s simply not true. I’ve shot plenty of elk, mule deer and bear with my .270. I’ve taken animals with it at 100 yards and I’ve taken some at 300 yards. It packs a good punch and is a flat shooter. It has a composite stock and I’ll admit it kicks more than my wood stocked 7mm-08 YM. I chose the lighter weight because “kick” is not important to me when I’m hunting. I also use a very good sling that does not cut into my shoulder. I packed my rifle and took this bull with ONE shot on the last day of a nine-day season. Yes, the .270 can take an elk.
Bottom line: Choosing a lady’s hunting rifle is all about personal preference. Assess the style of hunting, the legal methods of take and trade off’s that may need to be done. REMEMBER LADIES You can have your OWN rifle. You do not have to borrow your husband’s.
Best of luck on all your hunts!
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