Uses for guns in the country


August 14, 2008, 02:16 PM
I just said hello earlier today in the new member thread. I didn't think I'd post anything so soon, but here I am already.

My situation is this. I'm not much of a shooter. I just inherited a handful of old family guns (nothing special, I expect) and I'm living in the country for the first time. I want to polish up my shooting skills and maybe trade some of the old guns for new ones eventually.

But I ran across this Massad Ayoob article, "Do rural homeowners need guns for self defense?" ( It made me realize I need to think more about what purposes I might need guns for before I do anything more about getting guns or building shooting skills.

Besides hunting (which I've never done) and home defense, what uses for guns should I expect to have in my new country life?

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August 14, 2008, 02:22 PM
Hello and i guess welcome to THR.

First, you should tell us what guns you have so you don't sell off something of really high value for a price that doesn't match it. I'd think you would want your money's worth out of what you have. I know i'd go out and shoot them all before selling them for sure.

For living in the country i think you should at least of a shotgun of some sort, preferably a 12 gauge. And some rifles if you ever intend to hunt or just shoot. And of course you need some pistols because, well their pistols.

I know if i were you i'd be out shooting if i had just moved to the country, if it was legal that is.

lee n. field
August 14, 2008, 02:35 PM
It made me realize I need to think more about what purposes I might need guns before I do anything more about getting guns or building shooting skills.

Oh, man! I feel like giving you a standing ovation for that. Most people start with "what gun for $X" before they get around to looking at exactly what they want to do.

Besides hunting (which I've never done) and home defense, what uses for guns should I expect to have in my new country life?

Varmint control.

For living in the country i think you should at least of a shotgun of some sort, preferably a 12 gauge. And some rifles if you ever intend to hunt or just shoot. And of course you need some pistols because, well their pistols.

Shotgun, .22 rifle, maybe a decent air rifle. Whatever centerfire rifle is appropriate for hunting where you're at.

Stump Water
August 14, 2008, 02:35 PM
Besides hunting (which I've never done) and home defense, what uses for guns should I expect to have in my new country life?

After those two about all that's left is casual plinking and target shooting.

The most appropriate gun always depends on the task. For example, a shotgun might be the best for defense against a two-legged home intruder but probably isn't the best defense against a four-legged garden raider.

If your inheritance includes a .22 rifle or pistol (that doesn't have collector value) get some ammo and begin developing your shooting skills.

I would also recommend that you enlist the help of a knowledgeable assistant to get you started on the right foot.

Stump Water
August 14, 2008, 02:38 PM
Varmint control.

I had that under Home Defense. :)

Could also go under Hunting.

August 14, 2008, 02:42 PM
You will probably just use your guns for critters that'll pop up here and there. One way to develop your shooting and have fun is by plinking. If you have a 22 it will even be fairly cheap. Whatever you shoot at (coke cans, bottles, etc.) just make sure you have a backstop esp. if you have any neighbors.

August 14, 2008, 02:42 PM
lee n. field has it right, critters. I've lived my entire life in the country. Hunting is big and target shooting is fun, self defense is certainly something you should be prepared for, but by far the most practical use is for the pesky critters. Stray dogs kill our cattle, have even lost a foal to them. Feral cats are probably the most aggravating, the list goes on.

You will need a couple dozen various calibers and configurations for the various critters that you'll encounter :).

August 14, 2008, 02:50 PM
I grew up out in the country in northern Arkansas, during the 1940s and mid-'50s. This was when "rural" meant "rural!"

Most people around there had a 12 gauge shotgun, and everyone I knew also had a .22 LR rifle. Those two were everywhere!

There was a variety of long guns around. .30-40 Krags, old Springfield .30-06s, Winchester and Marlin levers, some other bolt action rifles, etc. Not too many people owned handguns, but it wasn't unusual for some people to own them. At that time, no one I ever heard of used a handgun for hunting, so those owned were mainly for self defense.

My uncle who ran cattle on his 650 acres, always carried a Win. 97 12 gauge, and a Remington bolt action repeater .22 LR in his truck. He used them for varmint control, if he had to put down a sick or badly injured cow, etc. He'd also use the Win. 97 to shoot a few Bobwhite quail out on the farm when the season was on. (His English setter was always with him in the truck.)

Those were the type of uses for firearms out in the country where and when I grew up.


August 14, 2008, 02:53 PM
People in the country do a lot of plinking. It's not uncommon around here to hear a lot of shots on a Saturday afternoon.

Depending on what you already have, I'd recommend that at the very least you keep a good handgun, a centerfire repeating rifle, and a .22LR rifle from your collection. You may or may not want to also keep a shotgun.
For my uses my lever action 30-30 fills the defense role that the shotgun would have filled but it adds another hundred yards of effective range.
If I really need a shotgun for something I still have my little $60 NEF 20 gauge single barrel.

Your mileage may vary.
Keep us posted.

And welcome.

August 14, 2008, 02:53 PM
I don't know if you have a good centerfire rifle, but you will likely like to have one. I'm assuming you don't have any livestock to protect. One of the biggest issues on our farm, especially in recent years, has been coyotes.

I used to use a bolt action 30.06 on them because it was the only centerfire rifle I had when I was growing up. If I was out on a tractor, I would usually only have a .22. So that would get pulled out in a pinch.

Ideally, I would use something like a .223 for a varmint gun though.

What part of which state do you live in?

August 14, 2008, 02:55 PM
the .22 rifle is very important out in the sticks, and then there are other things that are important depending on what larger pests you might have.

August 14, 2008, 02:58 PM
Different critters require different calibres.

It's kinda a basic livin'-in-the-country assumption that you will have at least a rifle in .22 LR.

A .22 LR rifle will be right handy for a lot of critter work, but some critters need a little more punch. For those, you'll want something more along .223 lines. Now, if the stuff you just acquired has a .22 Hornet included, then that will pretty much do medium critter duty -- as will the .22 Magnum.

A rifle in .30-30 or .30-06 or any of those larger cartridges will do for game type animals, but are usually a bit over-the-top for critters.

It would be interesting to have some idea what calibres you currently have.

We could be giving you all kinds of inappropriate advice, or recommending a gun that's simply equivalent to something you already have.

Oh, BTW, welcome to The High Road.

August 14, 2008, 03:19 PM
I've thought about moving to the country several times... someday I will. I may be different than most, but I'd want to know what your furthest line of sight is? If you are in the country in a wooded area or you are amongst hills but in a narrow valley, then a rifle with long range capability might not be useful to you. If you are in a larger open space, then you might want something with a good flat trajectory.

August 14, 2008, 03:24 PM
You will need a couple dozen various calibers and configurations for the various critters that you'll encounter

Or you can just shoot everything up to wild pigs with your .22, like the miserly Ohio farmers I grew up around. (Of course they shot everything in the head...)

Anyway by far the most-used gun will be an accurate .22 rifle. Quiet, cheap, and cheap. Did I mention cheap?

August 14, 2008, 03:28 PM
MyRoad's question is pretty relevant.
In my area we have a lot of heavy brush and wooded areas and hills. For most uses a rifle that shoots well out to 100 yards is plenty.
So I chose a 30-30 because it's got enough range for what I wanted. It's also got enough power to reliably drop a predator up to the size of a black bear (which is about the biggest thing I can imagine needing to shoot at).

So what is your situation?
What kind of animals do you think you might have to shoot at?

Larry Ashcraft
August 14, 2008, 03:48 PM
I use a 17 HMR scoped rifle to plink rock squirrels from the porch (the little varmints dig under my barn). We also have a few 22 rifles around that serve various duties, from plinking to teaching the grandkids how to shoot to dispatching varmints too close for the 17.

A Mini-14 or AR makes a nice truck gun for drives down to the river. For walking the property, I prefer a Winchester Trapper in 30-30 (mainly during deer season). Most coyotes show up at distances up to 500 yards. I use a scoped 25-06 for those.

Of course, I'm always carrying either a 1911 in 45 ACP or a snub nose revolver in 38 Special. Speaking of which, last summer I was out by the garden when I saw a rock squirrel standing by the barn laughing at me. I didn't have time to run to the house for a 22, so I pulled out the 38 and fired at him.


My wife said: "Did you get him?"

I said: "What?"

I don't recommend doing that. :)

August 14, 2008, 04:04 PM
I grew up in the country, and honestly, used a shotgun or a handgun for any critters I had to kill. a 12 guage worked great on anything that I ever killed as far as "critters." That was pretty much limited to Woodchucks, Possums, and Coons. The handgun was nice for any of the above when I was killing them at night, but wasn't really necessary. I keep a handgun for CC, but I like having the shotgun for dealing with the critters most of the time, and I really enjoy trap shooting. If you've never been much of a shooter before, I reccommend trying trap shooting after you've been out plinking for a little bit. It's a great time.

Also, wanted to add that where I lived in the lower peninsula of Michigan, hunting with Rifles is illegal. Whether or not that applies to critters, I was never quite sure, as I never bothered with having a rifle, since it was illegal for hunting. Also something to look into for you.

August 14, 2008, 04:14 PM
Besides hunting (which I've never done) and home defense, what uses for guns should I expect to have in my new country life?

-recreational shooting at clays, tin cans, whatever

-varmint control. I know you said you were grouping this under 'home defense' but it is siginficantly different in my book. Home defense is about keeping you or your loved ones from being harmed, varmint control can often be about eliminating pests that are chewing up your wiring, digging up your garden, or otherwise making life less than pleasant.

-humane intervetion. There may be times when you are confronted with a sick or injured animal. This could be a deer hit by a car, or a dog someone dropped off to 'live a happy life in the woods' who is now heavily into the end stages of starvation. Many times these animals are too far gone, and you need to end their suffering. Other times they are strong enough to thwart any attempts at capturing them so you can aid them, yet you know the condition will only worsen and weeks of suffering lay ahead for the animal. The moral action in my opinion is to shoot such animals and end the suffering

762 shooter
August 14, 2008, 06:26 PM
Shooting is fun.

Any legitimate other uses are gravy.

August 14, 2008, 06:39 PM
762 shooter said:

"Shooting is fun.

Any legitimate other uses are gravy."

Ditto. I have guns for a variety of reasons, but just plain shooting them is number one. I live in the country and shoot several times each week. Except for three or four months in the fall, most shots are fired just for fun and the challenge of improving my skills. A typical week might include shooting my .22 bench gun for tiny groups, other .22s at metal swingers on my range, shooting revolvers into a bullet trap from my deck, shooting clay birds, plinking with my centerfire hanguns, etc.

August 14, 2008, 07:40 PM
Uses for guns in the country

Well, primarily - you need a rifle or shotgun to lean in every otherwise unoccupied corner of your house ;)

August 14, 2008, 08:20 PM
Peace of mind!

August 14, 2008, 08:22 PM
Besides hunting (which I've never done) and home defense, what uses for guns should I expect to have in my new country life?

Not necessarily politically correct these days but I've put down several animals that were otherwise going to die suffering.

Animals injured, caught in illegal traps (fought that one for years), wounded beyond help by coyotes, etc.

I'd rather shoot a rattlesnake than try to fight it with a shovel, if it came to having to kill one.

There's plenty of uses in rural areas that don't exactly come up much in town.

Having a firearm handy made that stuff a little easier.

August 14, 2008, 09:27 PM
Besides hunting (which I've never done) and home defense, what uses for guns should I expect to have in my new country life?
Pure fun!!!!
Also pay close attention to your trading idea. A lot of old guns are highly prized over the newer ones.

August 14, 2008, 10:32 PM
As a country boy bred, born and raised, I'll just add to the chorus of voices telling you to get:

Shotgun--12 gauge, good for soooo many critters.

22 Rifle--excellent for so many little critters and vermin. Problem is, most are over 18 inches long and it's tough to aim and kill bad critters in the garage, hen house, hay barn...etc.

.357 or .44 mag. as these calibers can fire so many different rounds. I use rat shot in my .357 for snakes and ground squirrels that are up close--like in my garage!

30-06/30-30 or other, heavy caliber rifle. Used for feral dogs, coyotes, mountain lions, and the occasional two legged predator.

That's about all you need! P.S., catch the rattle snake and turn it loose unless you're just over-run with them! They catch all sorts of rodents that I just don't want around. I caught about a two-footer the other night, dumped it in a box and took it a few miles away, then turned it loose. The little ones aren't hard to catch!

Gary Frost
August 14, 2008, 11:01 PM
A 22 cal pistol and rifle are good to have, same ammo for both.

A shotgun is more useful. A running skunk is hard to hit at night with a pistol or rifle. There is a wide varity of ammo you can have on hand for a shotgun.

I've used #8 shot to knock ice off of tree limbs that sagged into power lines, up to slugs for larger vermin.

August 14, 2008, 11:10 PM
I also grew up in the country and think loneviking is right on the money. I would also add a j frame Smith & Wesson in .38 bc there just ain't no better drop it in the pocket gun.

August 15, 2008, 04:51 AM
The type of "country" requires different tools. The plains of Nebraska has more use for prairie dog and antelope medicine. Idaho mountains might need something for elk, deer, wolf, bear, cougar and coyote. Close-in woods of the southeast or northwest may lean toward slug guns and .30-30 whereas as Colorado may need a nice bolt in a fast cartridge like .270.

I am assuming living in the country you will want to try hunting various types of game. And you need to control pests small and large, protect your isolated home, protect yourself in remote areas while exploring or doing chores, and perhaps fend off a large predator. I grew up in a rural area in SW Washington and we only needed firearms for hunting (duck, pheasant, deer and elk mostly) and protecting the home (shotgun or .30-30 was favored for defense). I have relatives in NE Washington that regularly run into black bear and cougar while roaming around on their ATVs and they favor a .357 and a shotgun for those, and just about any bolt gun for the whitetails.

In general though, you probably want
- .22 rifle for practice and small pests or game up to rabbit.

- 12 ga. shotgun is mandatory for fowl, self-defense and and possibly for cougar, bear or deer.

- A scoped bolt gun is pretty handy for most medium and large game. A .243 rifle is fine for hunting up to deer, wolf, coyote, but you want a .270 or larger for hunting bear and elk. A .30-30 lever carbine is handy in heavily wooded areas for just about anything from a coyote to a bear, and pretty decent for home defense. A .308 or .30-06 rifle is general purpose for all-around hunting in just about any conditions for everything up to elk and black bear.

- You still need a handgun for two-legged pests so what ever you like for that ( I like the Glock 23). A compact .38 loaded with snake shot is handy if you are in an area infested with poisonous snakes.

- If you hike around or work in remote areas with lots of black bear then I would want a 4" revolver in .44 magnum.

My personal choices are:
- Ruger 10/22 or Marlin 60 .22LR carbine
- Ruger Mark III .2 LR pistol
- S&W 642 .38 2" revolver (snake and pocket carry)
- Glock 23 .40 for general defense
- Ruger Redhawk 4" .44 mag
- Marlin .30-30 or AR15 in .223 for home and large varmints
- Any .30-06 bolt gun scoped with a 3x9 (Ruger, Remington, Winchester, Savage), but could be a semi-auto.
- Rem 870 with 28" barrel for birds and 18" barrel for defense.

If I had to narrow it down I would have:
- .22 carbine
- Ruger SP101 3" .357, OR a G23 in .40 if snakes not an issue
- Remington 700 in .30-06 and scoped (still would like a handy .30-30, too)
- Remington 870 12 ga.

But, if I lived where prairie dogs or such were a nuisance, then I would want a good .223 rifle and scope. If moose or grizzly were opportunities or problems then I would opt for a .338 mag rifle for them and a .243 for large varmints and medium game.

August 15, 2008, 07:17 AM
I've used a gun for poking holes for better air flow in a 55 gallon drum burn barrel.

August 15, 2008, 07:52 AM
They also make a dandy lock pick while in the back 40 realizing you forgot your gate keys........:D Been there, done that, bought that t-shirt

August 18, 2008, 12:44 PM
You guys are great! Thank you. I hope I never have to use a gun for a lock pick or barrel aerator, but you've really helped me adjust my brain.

I spent the weekend shooting and Googling and it turns out that the guns I inherited are very close to what you all have been recommending.

I have a very old pump action .22
A .30-06 Mauser (not sure what model. There are SO many Mausers!) with a cheesy scope on it
A 12 gage Mossberg 500 shotgun
A German air rifle

The area I live in is woodsy and has a lot of game and other wild animals. No grizzlies, just black bear. But being out there in the woods shooting made me realize the big thing I'm missing is a handgun for self defense.

Shooting also made me remember how much fun shooting can be!

August 18, 2008, 04:42 PM
Looks like you're pretty well set.
I'd say you may need two handguns - a larger one for carry in the woods and a smaller one for CCW.

I'm still sorting out my own handgun situation.

August 18, 2008, 06:21 PM
Where are you (state)? And how "country" is it? Be aware that a lot of towns have their property/city limits lines many miles outside the main part of town. In some places, even though you're "in the country", you may very well be hassled for discharging a firearm in the city limits. It's happened before.

FWIW - I hope you're in the sticks in a good place, I'm very jealous! I'd LOVE to live out in the country! I'd have a private shooting range to DIE for, and room for my Beagles to run.

762 shooter
August 18, 2008, 06:31 PM
What make German air Rifle?

August 18, 2008, 06:49 PM
I've used a gun for poking holes for better air flow in a 55 gallon drum burn barrel.

Ha, thats a use i'd never thought of. I hope you were obeying the 4 rules though.

Old Grump
August 18, 2008, 07:40 PM
How do you ventilate your burn barrel if you aren't using a large caliber centerfire.

I have your needed list if you really want it, just check off what you have and get the rest as you can, it involves 13 calibers and 23 guns...or was that 23 calibers and 31 guns, gotta check my list again.

Seriously where you live, your experience with guns and to a lesser extent what is common in your area. In my wooded area a guy could get along just fine with a 22 rifle, a shot gun 20-12 gauge, your preference and a centerfire on the order of 30-30 on up. For in house the shot gun and 30-30 will do unless you are comfortable handling a hand gun. a 38 spcl or a 357 mag loaded with 38's will do anything you need to do for SD in house. In my area we have a few bears, no problem yet, and a lot of feral pigs, big problem. 30-30 is enough for them and live stock stealing coyotes.

If you want a good outdoor gun instead of packing a rifle or carbine everywhere then a minimum of 357 or 44 spcl, I often carry a 44 magnum and have 38 and 44 specials for both it and the 357. The 41 which is easier to carry than the 44 is magnum only and I doubt if you are going to need it unless you are plagued by Big Foots and Tigers. Be careful about the Big Foot it might be my youngest brother and he's mostly harmless.

August 18, 2008, 09:33 PM
Killing empty coffee cans ;)

August 18, 2008, 09:48 PM
I've used a gun for poking holes for better air flow in a 55 gallon drum burn barrel.

Around here there's a guy everyone calls Burn Barrel Bob.
He drives around the county and writes tickets for illegal burn barrels.
They are outlawed in this county.

August 18, 2008, 10:11 PM
I was looking at the Ham Radio site ARRL where they posted the death of two Ham operators during a home invasion in rural Nebraska, outside Lincoln.

The perp does not look smart enough to have gotten their address from their Ham license registration. Probably just bad luck plus perhaps, unarmed victims.

August 18, 2008, 10:25 PM
I have found that a good hard swing with a pick is more effective at ventilating burn barrels than shooting them.
One swing with the pick makes a bigger hole than any gun I own and it draws a lot less attention.

I like guns a lot but they're not the right tool for every job.

Jeff F
August 18, 2008, 10:58 PM
I just use 5 or 6 12 Gauge slugs and my barrel is well ventilated.

Area 52
August 28, 2008, 11:14 PM
Evey, don't sell any of those guns, you will just end up buying something newer in the same caliber. Clean up the pump .22 and use it for everything mentioned above. Also, pumps are more fun to shoot than a bolt action, in my oppinion.

August 28, 2008, 11:46 PM
My choices would be ....
12 ga shotgun, I would have 2 barrels for it, a short rifled sight and the standard length.

22 Rifle, probably a 60SS Marlin. A 22 pistol, probably a Ruger auto, and a 38/357 4" revolver.
Those would be first on my list, after I got those I would add a hi cap 45 Auto (XD) a Mini 14 ruger and a 30-06 bolt action.

All of those with the exception of the 12 ga can be gotten in stainless and thats what I would recommend.

August 29, 2008, 12:41 AM
I loaned my saw to someone who then moved. There was a 10 inch thick tree that needed cutting down.

Shot 30 .22 solid points in a circle around it.

Waited for windstorm.

Tree blew down, problem solved.

Use larger calibers as appropriate for your foilage.

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