What is the Best Rifle for Deer Stalking & Management?
Best Hunting Rifles for Deer - For those just getting started in deer stalking, professional UK Deer Stalker and big game hunter Peter Jones considers how to choose the best hunting rifle.
As a professional Deer Stalker I am often asked to recommend a list of popular, top hunting rifles for those that wish to get into UK Deer Stalking & Management.
To help clients arrive at a sensible informed decision, there are a few criteria worth considering.
Firstly, my initial question is to enquire politely as to the likely budget? With hunting rifles such as the Tikka T3x available for less than a thousand pounds to high end hunting rifles such as the Blaser R8 Ultimate and Rigby's Highalnd Stalker rifle costing many thousands of pounds, there are rifles to suit all pockets.
The second feature of the hunting rifle, on which the client needs to arrive at a decision, is in relation to the type of stock material and design.
Here, the choice is firstly between a wood or synthetic stock and secondly between a variety of traditional stock designs and a thumbhole design. In relation to the material the choice will usually be made on the basis of a) Appearance and b) Function. However, the decision between traditional or thumbhole stock, will be based on 'feel' i.e. how comfortably the shooter can hold the rifle and to some degree application.
(Above: The new Sako S20 hunting rifle with Synthetic thumbhole stock and traditional turn bolt action)
Whilst it is not always the case, synthetic stocks are usually considered to be harder wearing than wood, whilst wooden stocked rifles, especially those made from expensive, rare and beautifully grained wood, are often considered to be more aesthetically pleasing.
The third feature of the rifle which need some thought, is in relation to the action. Do you want a 'straight pull' bolt action rifle such as a Blaser or Merkel Helix or a 'turn bolt' rifle such as a Sako 85 or Tikka T3X.
To arrive at the right conclusion, it is worth considering what you are accustomed to and for what purpose you will be using the rifle. Are you familiar with the turn bolt action of a Sauer 404 for example? Or do you need the speed of a straight pull, because you predominatly shoot driven Boar? These are important questions to ask.
(Above: Its important to decide if you want a 'straight pull' bolt action rifle like the Blaser or a 'turn bolt action rifle like a Mauser M03)
It's worth knowing, that pretty much all full bore deer stalking rifles sold these days, by reputable gun dealers, will be up to the job and capable of producing tight enough groups at ranges over which we are realistically likely to be hunting deer, say out to 300 yards. For this reason, rifle choice is a highly personal and subjective one. Nonetheless, opinions can run high, with favoured makes and models sometimes being formulated on the basis of apparent prestige, rather than function and technical features. This can result in hunters acquiring rifles that are not best suited to their individuals needs.
(Above: Peter Jones in action with the hugely popular Tikka T3x hunting rifle)
Here at 'County Deer Stalking' we take time to assess our clients needs, and having done so are able to recommend hunting rifles that are fit for purpose. This way when the rifle is finally acquired, our clients are able to concentrate entirely on their field craft.
Of course whilst reams of text have been written reviewing various rifles, it is worth remembering that the choice of rifle is often eclipsed by a more important factor - that of calibre.
Here again, it is crucial to make an informed decision based not just on the requirments of UK deer stalking legislation, but also the purpose for which you are going to use the rifle and calibe, the topgraphy over which you will be shooting and the deer species that you will be hunting.
Many new comers to the sport of Deer Stalking are at first unaware that unlike with Shotgun certificates the number of rifles that can be held by an individual is carefully legislated and specified on each Firearms Certificate. Typically individuals are required to possess only one rifle in a specific calibre and this will often result in the choice of rifle and calibre being a highly considered one.
Once again, here at 'County Deer Stalking' we have seen a host of different rifle, calibre combinations, with guests having arrived for an outings deer stalking with anything from a beaten up, old, second hand Remington 700 to a highly prized and valuable double rifle.
At 'County Deer stalking' we are therefore well placed to offer assistance and advise and can do so in the field with a variety of firearms.
To help you still further, we have compiled a list of Rifle Reviews that are designed to give you an insight into some of the most popular hunting rifles available and it is our intention to add to this growing list of reviews every time we manage to get our hands on something new.
To visit this page simply follow this link to our 'Rifle Reviews' page: rifle-reviews
Alternatively if you'd like to read about the best calibre for UK deer stalking, then please follow this link: what-is-the-best-calibre-for-deer-stalking-management