Shotgun vs Rifle


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Praxidike
November 9, 2013, 11:33 PM
I should mention that I've never hunted before in my life. I'm was born and raised in Liberal and urban New York with Liberal parents. I've lived in Virginia for the last 20 years now though. My soon to be wife's family who are from Minnesota hunt regularly, so it has sparked my interest.

My question is I would rather buy a hunting rifle to begin hunting deer and/or wild boar with, but from researching online, I hear that rifles are banned for hunting with in most places. Is this true in Minnesota, Virginia, and Arizona? Other than range, what's the real advantage over the other, and what key thing should I look for in making my decision?

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rcmodel
November 9, 2013, 11:56 PM
Every state has a Wildlife commission / Fish & Game website.

You can go on-line and pull up the hunting regs for any state and find out what is legal and what is not in all hunting areas of each state.

I don't have time to do that on-line research for you.


The advantage of a rifle is long range.

The advantage of a shotgun is short range, and/or, that's all you are allowed to hunt with in certain areas of the country.

Again, it's all spelled out in each states fish & game laws, which are on-line.
Or available in pamphlet form free, anywhere you go to buy a hunting license & permits in any state before you can go hunting there.

rc

Jorg Nysgerrig
November 9, 2013, 11:57 PM
I hear that rifles are banned for hunting with in most places.
You may wish to refine your research. Rifles are the rule, rather than the exception, for most big game hunting in the US. There are certainly places that restrict to shotgun only, so check your local laws.

You can find specific state regulations online.

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/hunting/index.html
http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/hunting_rules.shtml
http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/

Sam1911
November 9, 2013, 11:58 PM
Not "most" places. But yes, in some places. You actually have to check the regs in each state's game laws booklet as it actually varies from county to county, and even sometimes in smaller increments than that.

Primarily this is done around metropolitan areas or other high-people-density zones.

The real advantages of a rifle over a shotgun can be lighter recoil, flatter trajectory (which equals longer range shots possible), lighter weight firearms, and a wider variety of types of firearm available to shoot. Also, not many folks can handload the more advanced/accurate type of shotgun slug, but most of us can handload great rifle rounds quite easily and pretty cheaply. Finding the right slug load for your shotgun's best accuracy can be costly and then you're largely stuck with whatever the one best factory load is -- and so stock up on it when you can, even at $1-$3 a shot!

The primary advantage of using a shotgun is, well...that it is legal in "shotgun only" places!

Shotguns for big game hunting come in two basic flavors. Shotguns with smooth bores, which fire shot well and also forester type "rifled" slugs as well as other traditional styles. Shotguns with rifled barrels generally shoot sub-caliber slugs with discarding sabots. ("Saboted slugs.")

The sabot style fired from a rifled barrel can prove very accurate, often printing 1"-3" groups at 100 yards or even more.

Shotguns firing slugs tend to be notoriously recoil-heavy. There are ways to mitigate this and different options (try 20 ga!) to tame that recoil, but the more common magnum rifled slug loads will get your attention in no uncertain terms. With many loads a 12 ga. 1 oz. slug is generating more recoil than your average .300 Win Mag, or even getting up toward .375 H&H Mag. territory. When you consider that many folks feel a .243 Win. or .257 Roberts would be plenty rifle for a deer, you could be dealing with nearly three times the recoil energy of another perfectly sufficient round.

Praxidike
November 10, 2013, 12:38 AM
You may wish to refine your research. Rifles are the rule, rather than the exception, for most big game hunting in the US. There are certainly places that restrict to shotgun only, so check your local laws.

You can find specific state regulations online.

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/hunting/index.html
http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/hunting_rules.shtml
http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/

Not "most" places. But yes, in some places. You actually have to check the regs in each state's game laws booklet as it actually varies from county to county, and even sometimes in smaller increments than that.

Primarily this is done around metropolitan areas or other high-people-density zones.

The real advantages of a rifle over a shotgun can be lighter recoil, flatter trajectory (which equals longer range shots possible), lighter weight firearms, and a wider variety of types of firearm available to shoot. Also, not many folks can handload the more advanced/accurate type of shotgun slug, but most of us can handload great rifle rounds quite easily and pretty cheaply. Finding the right slug load for your shotgun's best accuracy can be costly and then you're largely stuck with whatever the one best factory load is -- and so stock up on it when you can, even at $1-$3 a shot!

The primary advantage of using a shotgun is, well...that it is legal in "shotgun only" places!

Shotguns for big game hunting come in two basic flavors. Shotguns with smooth bores, which fire shot well and also forester type "rifled" slugs as well as other traditional styles. Shotguns with rifled barrels generally shoot sub-caliber slugs with discarding sabots. ("Saboted slugs.")

The sabot style fired from a rifled barrel can prove very accurate, often printing 1"-3" groups at 100 yards or even more.

Shotguns firing slugs tend to be notoriously recoil-heavy. There are ways to mitigate this and different options (try 20 ga!) to tame that recoil, but the more common magnum rifled slug loads will get your attention in no uncertain terms. With many loads a 12 ga. 1 oz. slug is generating more recoil than your average .300 Win Mag, or even getting up toward .375 H&H Mag. territory. When you consider that many folks feel a .243 Win. or .257 Roberts would be plenty rifle for a deer, you could be dealing with nearly three times the recoil energy of another perfectly sufficient round.


I appreciate the detailed and helpful info. and pointing me the right direction. Good to know that my perceptions were incorrect as well.

Just out of curiosity, what do the both of you choose to hunt with?

Sam1911
November 10, 2013, 12:47 AM
Personally, I'd rather hunt with a rifle (probably a nice .35 Rem lever action these days), but have used shotgun or muzzleloader as well when laws required.

allaroundhunter
November 10, 2013, 01:01 AM
For big game my shots are usually greater than 100 yards so I always take a rifle, typically my .243 Winchester (unless I'm bow hunting). For feral hogs I use everything. Literally. I have killed them with bows, handguns, rifles and shotguns. My preference is for my AR-15 or a 12 ga with slugs (buckshot is a good choice as well).

You would probably be best served with a rifle and a 3-9x scope. For the rifle you don't need anything more than a .270 or .30-06, and I would look for something with less recoil than either of those. Perhaps a 7mm-08, .243, or .25-06.

Jorg Nysgerrig
November 10, 2013, 01:21 AM
Just out of curiosity, what do the both of you choose to hunt with?
For big game? Rifle, without a doubt. I've hunted on a shotgun only unit and had to pass up shots I would have easily taken with a rifle, even using a shotgun with a rifled barrel and a scope. Of course, I live in big, open country, so it might be different where you are.

No hogs here.

Jason_W
November 10, 2013, 08:41 AM
Right now, a smooth bore shotgun is my weapon of choice. Most hunting where I live is very close range (less than 50 yards) and a slug at such distances is very decisive. My gun sports ghost ring sights and is surprisingly accurate out to 100 yards, with even cheap, bulk slugs.

I also don't like deer hunting very much, so I like to have the option of sliding in a round of birdshot to take a small game target of opportunity now and then. Some times 1 rabbit or bird is more of a morale booster than 0 venison.

336A
November 10, 2013, 10:18 AM
It really depends on a few things. First and most improtantly is what does the state mandate as the legal hunting impliment. Second is what style of hunting do you prefer. Do you prefer hunting more open terrrain or densely wooded terrain. I hunt an area that allows either rifle or shotgun with slugs. However unlike the majority of todays hunters I don't hunt from a tree stand or a box blind over looking some vast open field. I like to hunt in the woods where the deer actually are and still hunt. Or I'll find a highly used travel corridor that the deer are using and sit off of that. Most of my shots are going to be 75 yards, usually much less. So like Jason_W above I prefer to hunt with my scoped Mossberg 12GA with a 20" field barrel installed.

When hunting close cover like this the last thing you want is to have your quarry run deeper into thick cover i.e. a swamp, or posted property. Especially if the land owner of said posted property is un-cooperative and won't let you recover your deer. Even at close range and with good shot placement behind the shoulder, a deer hit with a rifle will typically cover a good bit of ground. While a deer hit with a 20GA or 12GA slug will usually hit the ground RIGHT NOW, or cover only a short distance. This has been my experience, and a couple times when using a rifle it almost cost me my deer.

Loyalist Dave
November 10, 2013, 11:33 AM
+1 for the comments by 336A :D

Where I live you can't hunt deer with a rifle, so it's either shotgun without or with a rifled bore, or muzzleloader. Now my plain Jane, Remington 870, with the right slug in a smooth slug barrel shoots great out to 50 yards.

Depending on your location for hunting, you may find a shotgun with additional barrels will suit ALL of your current needs. NO, if you are going for Elk at 200 yards on a once in a lifetime hunt out west, or going for pronghorn sheep in the same scenario, you are going to want a scoped rifle. I'd look at something that shoots .35 Whelen for that..., but back to topic...OH and ask the folks in those other states where you have hunters in the family what they like to use and why...

I personally prefer a black powder rifle for deer or boar, in flintlock, but that's more of a tangent off of basic hunting, and for another time.

A good shotgun brand and model, with additional barrel options, is probably the best for many parts of VA. Where will you get most of your opportunities to hunt?

LD

gspn
November 10, 2013, 12:04 PM
If I could make a suggestion, it would be to talk to the folks you'll be hunting with. Ask them what they use and why. They might even have a gun that you can use while you're there.

Anytime I have a guest that wants to hunt with me I have a gun they can use...happens all the time. This would allow you to get some experience before you make a purchase.

If you decide you don't like hunting you don't want waste money buying a gun you'll never use again.

If you decide you do like it (and I suspect that you will) then you'll have some experience to guide your purchase.

Kayaker 1960
November 10, 2013, 12:24 PM
Here in California there is a small area down around Los Angeles that doesn't allow rifles for deer but California is a big state. We have small coastal blacktail deer that usually weigh about 100 lbs on the hoof. The inland blacktail get a bit bigger, maybe averaging 140 lbs or so on the hoof. In the High Sierras and northeaster part of the state we have Mule Deer that are much larger, 180-220 lbs. The best caliber may depend on where you want to hunt. If I were hunting on the coast only I'd get a .243 but I hunt mostly inland, including areas with Mule Deer so my go to rifle is a 30-06. I also have a very lightweight Ruger in .308 that I bought for my Dad who no longer hunts. I'd rather it were a .243 but not enough to sell it a buy another rifle.
I've been deer hunting for 40 years and so far haven't ever seen anyone hunting deer with a shotgun.

Sam1911
November 10, 2013, 12:30 PM
I guess I'd say find out what exact areas you'll be hunting in in each state. Look up the regs and see if a rifle will be lawful in any of them, most of them, all of them, or none of them. If "all," or "most," I'd get the rifle and ask if you could borrow a shotgun for the odd trips to the "no" zones.

But I do like the idea of borrowing for as long as possible to make sure you're really going to want to do this in the long term, can afford to do so and buy your own equipment for it, and that you really get a good "shake down" season or two under your belt before you start dumping cash into something you very well may regret in a year or so.

"12 ga. slug gun and scope and a box of 19 sabot slugs ... for sale, cheap."

sixgunner455
November 10, 2013, 05:33 PM
In AZ, most people hunt big game with rifles. Not uncommon to have to take what would be a hugely long shot here. Of course, others hunt with archery equipment as well, but I have not met anyone who uses firearms who uses a shotgun.

3212
November 10, 2013, 05:51 PM
I would definitely talk to your hunting hosts.Theres a good chance there is an extra rifle that is appropiate for that area.If they offer it,tell them you'll be responsible for any damages.Of course you'll want to practice with it before the hunt.

Patocazador
November 10, 2013, 07:21 PM
If you are going to small game hunt and bird hunt too, get a 12 ga. shotgun. That's how I started and shot doves and squirrels then used the same gun with slugs to kill deer up to 70 yards.
If I could only have one gun, my 870 would be it.

MCgunner
November 10, 2013, 10:14 PM
Simple solution, buy one of each...:D Oh, and buy you a .22 rifle to learn to shoot with. Marksmanship takes some level of practice to develop and hone the skills. It is a perishable skill set, too.

mboe794
November 10, 2013, 10:33 PM
I recently got into hunting as well. I decided to with a 12 gauge shotgun my buddy sold to me. Mostly because of its versatility. I have just started with bird hunting so far. Trap/skeet shooting is very fun as well and is great practice. Next year, after accuiring more gear, I plan to deer hunt with it. It came with a rifled barrel so it should offer plenty accuracy and range to a novice such as myself. Also, rifles arent allowed anywhere near me. Maybe if I knew somebody to show me around up north I would entertain the idea of buying a rifle. Now if I only had the equipment to reload shotshells! To increase the fun factor even more.

MCgunner
November 10, 2013, 10:42 PM
mboe794, reloading 12 gauge isn't really cost effective. I quit doing that years ago. I have a 10 gauge loader, that one's cost effective, but 12 gauge, not so much.

mboe794
November 10, 2013, 11:10 PM
Yeah, probably. Shells are cheap enough, aside for some of the sabot rounds. Its more of a fantasy. I'll probably never do it. I've got enough to keep me busy with reloading hangun ammo. Next on the list is casting.

MCgunner
November 10, 2013, 11:12 PM
Casting WILL save you money. :D

HOOfan_1
November 10, 2013, 11:18 PM
A bunch of counties in Virginia do not allow rifles. Buckshot or muzzle loader only. Never mind that a muzzle loader will carry just as far or farther than a shotgun slug.

Some counties allow rifles from elevated stands only. I always try to hunt only where I can use a rifle, but I have lost most of those places....

MCgunner
November 10, 2013, 11:26 PM
Buckshot or muzzle loader only.

Great reason to use my CVA. I like it in the woods here, anyway, even though I have the smokeless rifle option. I'm a little tired of shooting deer with smokeless unless it's from a pistol or revolver. Actually, black powder does have some advantages. My CVA Wolf is compact with a 22" barrel and no action length. It's a great gun for box blinds. I can't see more'n 100 yards here, anyway, and it'll shoot 2" groups at 100 yards with a 385 grain bullet moving at 1500 fps. Pretty formidable weapon, methinks, and the big slow bullet doesn't do a lot of meat damage. You can eat right up to the hole. :D My high powered rifles in .257 Roberts, .308, and 7 mag tend to bloody more meat at short ranges.

1911 guy
November 11, 2013, 12:29 AM
If you're looking specifically at deer, I'd choose a rifle if legal in your area. If for general hunting, start with a shotgun as it is the most versatile. If you do find that hunting is something you want to do regularly and multiple species, my suggestion is the classic three gun battery. This consists of a .22 caliber rifle, a shotgun (12 guage being the most common and versatile) and a centerfire rifle. .30-06, .308 and a couple others are the most common because they combine ease of availability, cost and performance in a single package.

brainwake
November 11, 2013, 11:05 AM
I think it was said already. But I would talk to the people you will be hunting with.

The terrain, distances and other scenario's may very well make the difference. If they expect 200 yards shots across open fields, or short range brush shots, then you will gear accordingly.

inclinebench
November 11, 2013, 12:57 PM
Where will you be hunting? Where in VA do you live? Have you looked into a hunter safety class yet?

yzguy87
November 12, 2013, 10:35 AM
Figured I'd put my .02 in since I live in a shotgun only state.

If I had the choice I'd choose a rifle. A buddy of mine uses Remington copper solids and has shot deer at 120 or so yards with them. My beef with shotgun slugs is that his copper solids are $15/5 rounds! Holy crap...$3 a shot!!! This makes sighting in $$$$mucho dinero$$$$! Even buying cheap slugs, you're still looking at $1 a shot for ammo that's not as accurate.

IMO you get more bang for your buck with a rifle. For example you can get a box of 30-06 for about $20/20 rounds. Rifles also give you longer range *as long as you are capable of making the shot*.

So if rifles were legal where I was going to hunt then that's what I would get.

d2wing
November 12, 2013, 10:01 PM
I live in Minnesota, part of the state is shotgun and part is rifle. The centerfire rifle is hands down superior to a shotgun in every way if you have a choice. A rifle is superior in accuracy, range and tissue damage resulting in kills. I hunt with either as the situation allows. After years of trying I finally have a slug gun I am happy with and hope to shoot a deer tomorrow with it.

Loyalist Dave
November 15, 2013, 08:04 AM
The centerfire rifle is hands down superior to a shotgun in every way if you have a choice. A rifle is superior in accuracy, range and tissue damage resulting in kills.

Not trying to drag this off of topic, but at 50 yards you think.. say the .30-30 ...damages more tissue in a deer than a .710 12 gauge slug? Both go right through the animal.... I'm not being critical, I simply didn't know that. Hmmmm....

LD

RMc
December 9, 2013, 12:48 AM
In general Virginia is shotgun country, more to the point, it is still dog drive and buckshot country. Although each county has its own hunting regulations, in general, those that allow rifles and shotgun slugs require their use from elevated stands only. This puts things in a different perspective. Unlike other states, VA hunters have to choose their deer gun, (notice - gun not rifle), on the basis of the county rules where they hunt.

T.R.
December 9, 2013, 03:50 PM
My buddy and I hunt near Manassas, Virginia on private land with permission. We've had very good luck using our crossbows and API climbing tree stands. Plenty of does and youngster bucks for trophies on the dinner plate!

We found it's significantly easier to gain permission when we state that we only hunt with our crossbows. Part of the reason is safety but quietness is another major factor.

PSE Copperhead is a very well made crossbow for under $300. thru amazon.com and other sellers. It has the speed and accuracy to take deer at 30 yards with decisive results. We have good luck with NAP Thunderhead 100 grain broad heads. No gimmicks - just predictable deadly results.

Please wear a body harness for safety when hunting and climbing from a tree stand.

Good hunting to you.

TR

Kahr33556
December 9, 2013, 06:04 PM
I never hunt with a shotgun.
Rifle or muzzloader only

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