Choosing a hunting rifle for the lady

Update! I’ve since included hunting rifles for ladies as well as women’s hunting gear at my YouTube channel. View below, and please head over there to subscribe..~ Mia

I’ve been asked many 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.

What will you be hunting with or carrying for your little lady?
Me during elk season, carrying my composite stocked  .270 and my Little Gal’s wood stocked 7mm-08 because it was too heavy for her to pack around all day. Note: A good sling is also important.

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 make a custom shorter stock. 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 the ocular of the scope on their hunting rifle.

Little Gal packing a Youth Model 7mm-08 for an elk hunt

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 the shooter should decide. You can also purchase butt pads to reduce recoil, or buy a rifle that has a muzzle break to reduce recoil. All are personal preferences.

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.

Bull elk taken with .270 Winchester rifle.

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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Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast. 

Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.

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Mia Anstine
MAC Outdoors LLC
PO Box 31
Ignacio, CO 81137-0031 

9 Replies to “Choosing a hunting rifle for the lady”

  1. I first quoted the 243.. because of its flat shooting ability, and it too can drop deer at long ranges,, The 270 would have been my second choice, again as you state, flat shooting round with a kick when you go with composite stocks.. Congratulations on such a Nice Bull too.

  2. I love my .243, but I also agree that it is vitally important to try out different guns (no matter what the type- rifle, pistol, shotgun, etc.) before you purchase one. It is miserable trying to shoot a gun that is uncomfortable, and preventing this is so simple. Great article!

  3. Thank you so much Caroline. Yep! We have to try out lots of guns. I also am happy with my .243, BUT it isn’t legal to use in our state for taking elk. Happy hunting!!!

  4. You are correct s far as a rifle for a lady hunter ,they should choose one that they can shoot with comfort. And you are also correct about the 270 more laddies would be alot happier with this gun then some other calibers,it will kill anything on four legs.

  5. well, perfection followed by thrill is what is expected of us. what matters in the woods is your cucumber like coolness (controlled breath) duly supported with zero-hand-shake to take the kill. I know of many hunters
    bagging big games with a simple vintage that just looks odd and out of sync; precisely what matters is your enthusiasm, poise and obsession with hunting. ladies holding guns must realize their compatibility with that of the gun. they look awesome when armed with a suitable rifle or shot gun more so when they take a chin rest on the butt while zeroing in on the broadside. a savage 11/111, or win .243 or a Remington bdl 700
    are ideal for a passionate hunting regardless of a fussy hubby by your side.

    R.K. bhandari,
    new delhi

  6. Very good point rajubhandari1957. I’ve seen many people who choose larger caliber rifles, to compensate for poor marksmanship.
    Thank you for your comment.

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