Author Topic: One rifle for rabbits and deer?  (Read 30383 times)

Offline Bigredmt

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One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« on: March 20, 2013, 08:41:05 PM »
Hello sorry if this has been answered a handful of times in the past.

I'm looking to buy a rifle. This would be the first firearm I would own, my goals are to be able to use it for small game and deer. Is that possible?

Do you need two different rifles typically to hunt rabbits and deer? I'm not looking for anything fancy just to get the job done without destroying the rabbit or not fatally wounding a deer.

Actually how can I get better educated about purchasing a rifle? I have listened to a couple of jacks shows on firearms and they are sadly still a bit over my head, also most of the discussions even in this firearms for beginners are above me.

Thanks for any advice or steering in any direction.

Offline ChrisFox

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2013, 10:40:47 PM »
If I had to choose just one it would be a 12 gauge shotgun. Any rifle you choose will either be overkill for one or under powered for the other. 6 or 7 1/2 shot for the rabbit, slug for the deer.

I use a .22 Hornet for killing smaller stuff around our place.

nelson96

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2013, 11:35:39 PM »
Why one rifle?  Why not purchase two and buy the best suited for each?

Most will answer that question with "I don't have the funds to purchase two" but if that's the case you don't have the funds to learn to use a rifle.  If this is true for you, make friends with someone who hunts and let them shoot the animals.  Ask if you can join them and learn.

Sorry to be so candid and not really answer your question, but purchasing the rifle is the least of which that you need to consider and there's not really a good and quick answer to your question if it's all hard for you to comprehend at this time. . . .  I would start with finding a mentor and/or taking a class and worry about purchasing a rifle much later.

That said, ChrisFox had a good suggestion in the shotgun.  Good for many one-gun applications.
.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 11:48:17 PM by nelson96 »

Offline trekker111

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2013, 12:24:55 AM »
With your level of knowledge of the subject matter, I would find and take a hunters safety course.

As has already been said, a shotgun is your only option for a 1 gun solution. Even though plenty of deer have fallen to a 22 rimfire, it is illegal pretty much across the board.

Basically, if a rifle is legal to use for rabbit, it's not legal for deer, and if it's legal for deer, then it's not for rabbit. The shotgun is the only exception to this.

I highly suggest going to a friend, coworker, relative, or even a gun store and honestly telling them, "I know nothing about guns, but want to learn, can you help me?". I will pay attention to this thread, and will answer your questions as best I can, but being able to look, touch, and see will help your understanding

Offline rustyknife

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2013, 05:42:10 AM »
You might also consider an over/under kind  of  arrangement. Say a 22LR  over 12GA. 

Offline NorIDhunter

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2013, 08:33:32 AM »
my goals are to be able to use it for small game and deer. Is that possible?

Do you need two different rifles typically to hunt rabbits and deer?

Actually how can I get better educated about purchasing a rifle?

Thanks for any advice or steering in any direction.
Jmtc - Yes it is "possible". But just because one "can" do something, doesn't always mean one "should".

I like to look at guns like other devices; hammers, pliers, screwdrivers etc as they're all "tools". There's tack hammers for small jobs, framing hammers and sledgehammers. One isn't generally well advised to use a sledge for a tack job but it "could" be done if you REALLY had to. Would you use a Phillips on a slotted screw? basically, using the right tool for the job at hand. The legalities of your particular locale will also dictate what you are allowed to use as well. For example, many game regulations require a minimum of .243 caliber for medium/big game hunting.

I would suggest that you find a gun shop or shooting range near you and ask for a reference to a NRA qualified instructor before buying anything. Similar as one might rent clubs and take golf lessons before plunking down a big chunk of change on a set of clubs. There is such a wide range of types of rifles out there, that one should get at least a working familiarity with them before picking one. Plus, different rifles have different "feels" and it is very important that a person is comfortable with the firearm and that it fits them.

Imo, if I HAD to pick just one firearm to to do the job that you describe, it would likely be a Savage Model 24 S over/under combination gun, in .22 LR & 20 ga. .22 would be acceptable for small game, pests & varmints, as well as a finishing shot on a deer that was fatally wounded but not dead; the 20 ga barrel would good for running rabbits, game birds and waterfowl with the appropriate shotsize and could take deer with buckshot/slugs.

nelson96

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2013, 08:53:03 AM »
Imo, if I HAD to pick just one firearm to to do the job that you describe, it would likely be a Savage Model 24 S over/under combination gun, in .22 LR & 20 ga. .22 would be acceptable for small game, pests & varmints, as well as a finishing shot on a deer that was fatally wounded but not dead; the 20 ga barrel would good for running rabbits, game birds and waterfowl with the appropriate shotsize and could take deer with buckshot/slugs.

I have to disagree with the over/under.  This exagerates the terrible "one-gun" solution.  Having one gun is bad enough, but having one gun that is a bad representation of each caliber is worse. . . .  If you're going to hunt deer with a shotgun you want a minimum of a 12 gauge using slugs.  And having a single shot shotgun or .22lr isn't handy for any use.

Pic a caliber for each task and choose the right rifle to shoot it with. 

Offline NorIDhunter

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2013, 10:59:16 AM »
I have to disagree with the over/under.  This exagerates the terrible "one-gun" solution.  Having one gun is bad enough, but having one gun that is a bad representation of each caliber is worse. . . .  If you're going to hunt deer with a shotgun you want a minimum of a 12 gauge using slugs.  And having a single shot shotgun or .22lr isn't handy for any use.

Pic a caliber for each task and choose the right rifle to shoot it with.
@ nelson96  - I don't disagree with you that the "one gun solution" is not really the best. And if you will, I did note the "picking the right tool for the job" and "just because one can...should". I referred to the Savage in the "if I HAD to pick" vernacular, you know the way Jack says "if someone had a gun to my head and I was forced to choose".
But - Bigredmt asked, "is it possible?", and it IS, despite not being optimal.
I know a guy that shoots the heads off of grouse & rabbits with a .30-06, that doesn't mean it's optimal either, though it is "possible". :o
And legality not withstanding, more deer than we can count have been taken with .22 LR.  :-X

I have to disagree with you about "a single shot shotgun or .22lr isn't handy for any use". I've got a 24 and it does have it's "handy" applications. It's especially been useful for training beginners on proper firearms handling. The break action is very simple for most newbies to operate and it's extremely easy to check on if it's loaded or not. And the weight of the gun makes the recoil of a 20 load tolerable for first timers, even when it's not held "quite" right, as can be the case.
 I often take the Savage out in the woods/garden as a work gun when doing other chores and it's brought home it's fair share of grouse and squirrels for the pot, with both barrels.

Also, in regards to the 12 ga w/ slugs "minimum" for deer statement. What you "want" and what you can "have" are sometimes very different critters. There are several areas where one is required to use buckshot for deer hunting. And a carefully placed 3/4 oz slug from a 20 can kill a whitetail when ranges are respected, like 30-40 yds.

Big, I'm sure this is getting confusing and I know that's not what you intended, so I apologize for that. As you can see, "the right gun" is a very personal choice. That's just another reason, imo, why you should get a mentor/instructor and more hands on time before you make your initial purchase. I hope you'll post back and let us know how things progress.
Take care, stay safe and good shooting!  :)

nelson96

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2013, 11:10:43 AM »
@ nelson96  - I don't disagree with you that the "one gun solution" is not really the best. And if you will, I did note the "picking the right tool for the job" and "just because one can...should". I referred to the Savage in the "if I HAD to pick" vernacular, you know the way Jack says "if someone had a gun to my head and I was forced to choose".
But - Bigredmt asked, "is it possible?", and it IS, despite not being optimal.
I know a guy that shoots the heads off of grouse & rabbits with a .30-06, that doesn't mean it's optimal either, though it is "possible". :o
And legality not withstanding, more deer than we can count have been taken with .22 LR.  :-X

I have to disagree with you about "a single shot shotgun or .22lr isn't handy for any use". I've got a 24 and it does have it's "handy" applications. It's especially been useful for training beginners on proper firearms handling. The break action is very simple for most newbies to operate and it's extremely easy to check on if it's loaded or not. And the weight of the gun makes the recoil of a 20 load tolerable for first timers, even when it's not held "quite" right, as can be the case.
 I often take the Savage out in the woods/garden as a work gun when doing other chores and it's brought home it's fair share of grouse and squirrels for the pot, with both barrels.

Also, in regards to the 12 ga w/ slugs "minimum" for deer statement. What you "want" and what you can "have" are sometimes very different critters. There are several areas where one is required to use buckshot for deer hunting. And a carefully placed 3/4 oz slug from a 20 can kill a whitetail when ranges are respected, like 30-40 yds.

I think in reality we both agree with each other, at least part way. ;)  My comments were geared toward the fact that he wanted help choosing a "hunting" specific weapon (for both small and large game) and I just think that choosing one gun, one that offers a single shot, or is less than the optimal caliber or projectile is the wrong way to tool up. . .  To be legal and most effective.
.

endurance

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2013, 11:57:13 AM »
There's a handful of options that I see:

1)  Savage Model 24 with a .22LR barrel over a 20 gauge shotgun barrel.  You could use it as a two shot small game rifle with one  round of .22 and one round of #6 shot.  Obviously slugs could be used on large game.

2)  357 lever action and carry .38 squib loads you've loaded to about 550-600fps and full house .357s.

3)  There's somebody out there that, at one time, made a .22 over a .308, so the stories go, but I've never laid eyes on one and I'm not sure it's anything more than a rumor at this point.

4)  Carry two guns.  I've shot squirrels and rabbits with my handgun while carrying a hunting rifle.  Since most of the meat on a rabbit is in the hind legs, if you're good enough to hit the heart/lungs/head of a rabbit with whatever caliber of handgun you carry, you won't lose much meat, regardless. 

Offline The Professor

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2013, 12:02:59 PM »
Of course, I have to take a different route to answer this as I guess I looked at the original post through survival-tinted lenses.  The following statements relate directly to a survival situation, not otherwise legal harvesting of game.

First, like some, I would recommend a dedicated firearm for each size of animal.  I do know of people who have taken (illegally) white-tail deer with .22 magnums.  I, myself, have taken rabbits with the .22 mag, but would not take anything much larger than, say, a raccoon with it.

Similarly, I've taken large game, including deer, with .308, .30-06 and .30-30.  I could take rabbit with it, but they'd have to be head shots and, even then, that'd be, if you'll pardon the term, overkill. . . an inefficient use of resources.

As ChrisFox suggested, I'd most likely recommend a 12-guage shotgun due to it's versatility. One gun using different types of ammo should address your problem.

However, I would also recommend the Savage 24 combination gun, under certain circumstances.  I have a couple combinations of these.  one is a .22 magnum over a .410 shotgun.  The .410 shotgun could be used to take deer with buckshot.   I would recommend against it in all but the most dire situations.  I've used the heck out of this combo gun and wouldn't have a problem taking it anywhere but Alaska as a survival/subsistence gun if a selection of .410 ammo were carried (i.e., birdshot and buckshot).

Finding one of the .22 magnum/.410 combos is difficult. It was a short run through, I believe, Sears. . .when they sold such things.  The  more common .22 LR/.410 shotgun combo is more easily found.

What I'd recommend, but haven't seen with my own eyes, would be a .22 (LR or Magnum) over 12-guage.  This would not only allow me to take small and large game, but offer protection against bear.

Another variation is the .30-30/12 guage combo.  IMHO, this would be a less-than-ideal combo.  Mainly because despite the rifle caliber being able to take large game, the shotgun is really too small to take bird or small game unless you got very close.  To do so would require a modicum of hunting/stalking skills and experience, something which is not indicated here.

And, taking a quick sojourn into Fantasyland, there is the option of getting a custom-made combination/drilling gun.  I'd recommend a 24" side-by-side 12-guage with one barrel having either a rifled or slug bore and the other with either a modified choke or threaded to take choke-tubes.  Centered above this, I'd put a .22 LR barrel.

Sadly, this wouldn't be optimized for anything. The rifled slugs would do well against large animals and the .22 would do pretty good for small game.  The smooth-bore barrel would be too short  for most anything but birds flushed at close- to medium-ranges and ground-based birds such as the turkey.

Probably not what you wanted to hear, but there it is in a survival-based format.

The Professor



Offline The Professor

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2013, 12:05:04 PM »
4)  Carry two guns.  I've shot squirrels and rabbits with my handgun while carrying a hunting rifle.  Since most of the meat on a rabbit is in the hind legs, if you're good enough to hit the heart/lungs/head of a rabbit with whatever caliber of handgun you carry, you won't lose much meat, regardless. 

I'd have to probably go with this as the best solution, so far.

Then the problem changes to which longarm to carry.  If it's this case, I'd go with a Savage 24 in .30-30/12-guage and a .22 revolver or pistol.

The Professor

Offline Adam Campbell

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2013, 12:10:11 PM »
I would always pick a 12 gauge for an all-purpose firearm...

However — even that dingbat who hiked to that old bus in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness who died of starvation (can't remember the name now) killed a Moose with a .22 — but then of course didn't know how to preserve the meat which went bad.

Not saying that it was a GOOD idea, but if you had to survive... I guess you could make a .22 work!

Offline ChrisFox

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2013, 12:20:01 PM »
Can also look at this at a different way. Yes I have fourteen bazillion guns at home but how many will I be carrying with me when I hunt? If you are going out to hunt a specific animal then you know what to bring. If I'm out hunting deer one day and I come across turkey or quail or a rabbit, easy enough to carry few different shotgun shells than 3 different rifles.

zanedclark@att.net

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2013, 12:46:20 PM »
I have taken a lot of small game with a 30-06.  You have to learn how to handload however.  100 grain 30 caliber bullets with small pistol power charges work just fine. 

then 150 or 165 or 180 grain bullets with rifle powders for large game.
z

endurance

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2013, 01:16:13 PM »
Another thing I forgot about is using a 12 or 20 gauge with a .22LR adapter: http://www.gunadapters.com/20-gauge-to-22-lr-rifled-standard-length/

You could use one of those in a double barrel coach gun and have one barrel loaded for small game, the other for large game.

I've been hunting for big game and twice taken small game with my 9mm.  One rabbit and one quail.  I hit the quail in the neck, so no meat loss and hit the rabbit in the lungs, so no meat loss.  A .22LR handgun would make a lot more sense, but that's not what I had with me at the time and putting a .270 round through either seemed silly.

Offline Bigredmt

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2013, 04:42:28 PM »
Wow lots of input in here.

To take a hunter safety course do you have to own a firearm? and how does one find a gun class?

Would it be more practical to learn to shoot with a shotgun or a rifle? cost of ammo/gun itself limitation where I could shoot either?

Bonnieblue2A

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2013, 05:59:46 PM »
Wow lots of input in here.

To take a hunter safety course do you have to own a firearm? and how does one find a gun class?

Would it be more practical to learn to shoot with a shotgun or a rifle? cost of ammo/gun itself limitation where I could shoot either?

For Hunters' Safety courses check with your state Dept. of Conservation/Fish & Game. No, you do not have to own a firearm to take hunter safety.

Many ranges rent firearms. I suggest finding a introductory course where firearms are provided.

Check out programs like the NRA's First Steps:   http://nrainstructors.org/CourseCatalog.aspx
and
the NSSF's First Shots:  http://nssf.org/firstshots/

Offline NorIDhunter

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2013, 06:04:32 PM »
Wow lots of input in here.

To take a hunter safety course do you have to own a firearm? and how does one find a gun class?

Would it be more practical to learn to shoot with a shotgun or a rifle? cost of ammo/gun itself limitation where I could shoot either?
Ask a question, you're gonna get answers! ;)

In Idaho, no, you don't have to have a firearm. The instructors will supply the guns needed to perform the shooting qualification. (At least as of 5 years ago).
You can most easily find one through your state's fish & game/natural resources dept.

All the shooting ranges around here have "new shooter" classes. Another thing you could look into is the Project Appleseed http://www.appleseedinfo.org/ Jack had a TSP about this a few months ago. I'd highly recommend you listen to it!!

As far as practicality/cost in learning to shoot., a box of 20 shotgun shells is generally less than 20 centerfire rifle cartridges, though you may find rifle rounds on sale, esp for reloads. You can also get target loads which will have less recoil than say magnum waterfowl ones.
 
As mentioned elsewhere, a 12ga shotgun is widely considered to be the most versatile survivalist weapon, both for self/home defense and game procurement. A lot of folks recommend getting your shotgun first, then a handgun, followed by the rifle.
Different strokes for different folks!

Feel free to ask more. 

Offline Bigredmt

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2013, 06:42:03 PM »
Thanks for all the input from the forum, I will download the Appleseed podcast and look for a range around me for a new shooter class/training with rented guns or instructor provided.

Ha I feel better having this as a plan then running to a store buying a .22LR and then trying to figure out what to do.

Again thank you all for the advice.

Offline Adam Campbell

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2013, 10:57:46 AM »
I know that all of the stores that sell guns (aside from Wal Mart and the general sporting goods stores) have lists of classes, or information related to them.

It is getting more popular now, I even saw a giant billboard from the Sherrif's dept where I live saying they are holding some gun safety seminars etc on my way into work this morning.

Seems with the rise in popularity of guns in the recent months, safety classes, and those willing to make some extra money teaching them are quite plentiful.

endurance

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2013, 11:10:56 AM »
There's also the NRA.  They have basic handgun, rifle and shotgun safety and introduction classes listed on their website for all across the country.  Good classes for a reasonable amount of money.

Offline liftsboxes

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2013, 07:59:17 PM »
Since it sounds to me like you don't already own a gun, my next question would be where do you live?  What kind of ranges/open spaces are available to you to practice?

Offline 16onRockandRoll

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2013, 11:48:25 PM »
My first instinct is to also suggest a shotgun, 12 or 20 ga would work fine.  12 is a little better for deer, but with Brenneke slugs, I would have zero compunction taking a 75 yard shot on a medium sized deer with a 20 ga (with practice, slugs have a tricky trajectory), and if you add a rifled slug barrel and use saboted slugs, you can double that distance.  But I also agree with the sentiment to find some training, perhaps starting with the hunter safety course, and then appleseed or something similar.  Maybe even post where you are, and if there are other members in your area, they may be willing to take you shooting and help mentor you a little.  If you're in the central/northern CA area, I would be happy to.

On the hardware side, I wanted to add there is a new Savage model 42 that is an updated version of the 24 in 22/410 (maybe other combos, but that's the only one I've seen).  There is also a pretty nice Over/Under from Baikal that combines various calibers and gauges, the one I've seen is a 12g over a .308.  Still probably not the best solution, but they both seem like pretty nice pieces, and I thought it would be fitting to add. 

Offline PistolWhipped

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2013, 08:19:03 AM »
Bit late to the party here . . .

I would suggest checking local laws. 

Some states allow deer to be harvested with any centerfire round, so a .223 could be used, then WAY downloaded for squirrel.  Then I realized if someone is so new they want one gun to do it all, then I'm assuming specialty handloading is a bit advanced. 

Shotguns can do both, but I've never been a big shotgun fan.  That's a personal preference though.

What's your budget?  You might be acquire both.  Maybe an inexpensive Mossberg, Marlin, or Savage .22 and something like a Mosin Nagant.

Offline chrisdfw

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2013, 09:49:37 AM »
Get you a 308 or 30-06 rifle with a 32acp chamber adapter. That is about as close as you can come to a rifle for both other than the combo rifles.


Offline fnfalguy

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2013, 08:14:25 AM »
Another potential option, although a bit more expensive is to go with something like a TC Contender/Encore where you can swap out the barrels.  I dont know if you can do something similar with the NEF rifles.

Offline Mexican_Hippie

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #27 on: May 07, 2013, 09:44:02 AM »
.22lr is a great place to start learning.  Most people start learning to shoot with a .22 because its more affordable, more fun and you can do a lot with it. 

I'd start with a .22 and hunting rabbits if I was just getting into it.  That way you also learn to clean and butcher a much smaller animal first.  Besides, you won't ever "out grow" the .22, you just build up additional capabilities.  I still love using the first .22 I got as a kid.

As you learn more about shooting and hunting you can make better decisions about where you want to go from there.


Good luck, I think you'll really enjoy it once you're comfortable with it all.

Offline trekker111

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2013, 05:44:52 AM »
If one really feels the need to go the route of an over/under combo gun for a 1 gun, make sure tou check the game laws of your state. Some states, including my home state of South Carolina, have laws against having a rimfire afield during big game season, or a center fire rifle during small game season, which shoots the idea right in the butt.

The most common combos are going to be a 22lr/410 combination, followed by 22/12ga. There have been others, including some 223remington/12ga, 30-30/12ga. There was even a company at one time that sold a 223/12ga where the 223 was semi-auto and fed from an AR-15 magazine, and the 12guage was pump and fed from a 4 round magazine, all in a bullpup configuration with 1 trigger and a selector switch.

This is what it boils down to for me: I actually prefer a shotgun for small game over a 22, especially for squirrel and rabbit. A 22 works for small game, as does a 12ga with small shot. A 12ga with buckshot or slug will work for big game, so I would go with a pump shotgun. The only "combo" gun I own is a 45colt/410, which technically isn't a combo gun per se.

A used remington 870, especially a police trade in, can be picked up cheap (around $100), and can pull double duty until a decent rifle can be purchased. Curio and relic bolt actions can be picked up fairly cheap. A mosin nagant is probably the cheapest option, but better hunting ammo can be found for old mausers and enfields, which reminds me there is an enfield jungle carbine at the gun store that I had managed to forget about until now, which means I will look at it next time I'm there, and it will probably follow me home, especially if it's a 308.

Offline MississippiJarhead

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Re: One rifle for rabbits and deer?
« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2013, 07:17:26 AM »
Get a 12ga pump, $300ish. It can do both but more importantly it is great for home defense. Later, get a good rifle, for hunting a single shot is fine, $250ish. One gun solutions suck for both, deer and small game, and isn't much for defense either.