What are the Most Popular Pennsylvania Deer Hunting Rifles?
No matter which deer camp you visit (in Pennsylvania or across the country), the debate about the best hunting rifle for deer is always a hot topic. Some people swear by a certain rifle or caliber that they’ve used for the last 20 years. Others have fired many different riflesand have a few models they keep handy during the season. Depending on where you hunt and what the habitat is like, the best rifle can change pretty dramatically. Deer hunting runs deep in the varied habitats across Pennsylvania, and hunters in the state definitely have their favorite rifles they choose to hunt with. Here are five of the most popular Pennsylvania deer hunting rifles that can reliably harvest a deer. All of the guns and accessories below can be found at Grice Gun Shop, the largest gun store in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s Most Popular Deer Hunting Rifles
Before we launch into this discussion, we should mention the difference between the best hunting rifle and the best deer rifle caliber. Most people automatically talk about rifle calibers instead of the actual rifle models. You hear them around the camp fire saying, “The .30-06 is the best rifle for deer!” But you also need to consider the top rifle brands and models. Some are more reliable than others, but can be chambered in multiple calibers. The best hunting rifles below take into account the most reliable and popular models as well as the time-tested deer hunting calibers. Alright, let’s dive into the two primary categories: short- and long-range guns.
Short-Range “Brush Guns”
When you’re hunting in dense thickets or swamps, you’re usually making short-range shots. Therefore, the cartridges you shoot can be smaller and short-range as well. This also applies when you are doing a deer drive or simply stalking mountain deer. In these cases, it helps to have a light rifle that you can easily carry around all day, but quickly mount it to your shoulder to pull off a snap shot. Consequently, these are the most popular deer hunting rifles for this category.
Many a hunter started their hunting career using this caliber, and it is probably the best small caliber deer rifle. This light hunting rifle is perfect for novice or smaller hunters because it is so light, the recoil is minimal, and the .243 cartridge is still lethal against deer. The bolt action is easy to use as well.
The Marlin .30-30 has been a staple “brush gun” for decades. Its short barrel allows you to easily navigate through thickets and up slopes without being a pain to carry. The open sights make it perfect for snap shooting at a running deer, and the lever action is just fun to use!
Long-Range Versatile Big Game Guns
If you hunt primarily in open agricultural fields or food plots where you have the opportunity to make longer shots, you need a rifle of the appropriate caliber to get the job done. These rifles are what most people call “stand guns” – meaning they are meant to be used from a tree stand or blind rather than carried through rough terrain all day. They are heavier to carry and can all be used on most big game species, but they are also some of the most popular deer hunting rifles because they are so reliable.
The .270 Win caliber is popular for deer hunting because it is powerful, flat-shooting, and yet doesn’t come with the recoil of larger calibers. Additionally, the Remington 783 has a great reputation for being a reliable and accurate rifle. These traits certainly make a case for this being the best all-purpose hunting rifle, as it can be used for deer, black bears, elk, and even moose.
The 7mm has steadily gained popularity over time because it nearly matches the ballistics of the .30-06, but is a slightly smaller caliber. The Browning X-Bolt is also a premium rifle that is built to last and will see you through any hunt.
Perhaps the most popular deer hunting rifle ever, the .30-06 bolt action rifle is the gold standard for big game hunting. It is the largest caliber on this list and has a heavy recoil compared to the others, but it is certainly capable of putting that hit-list buck down in a hurry. Also, the Model 700 has been one of the most popular deer hunting rifles for decades because it is rock-solid and high quality.
Deer Hunting Rifle Scope Choice
As mentioned, most Pennsylvania shots are in close quarters, especially if you’re hunting in the mountains or dense rhododendron/laurel thickets. As such, a basic 3-9×40 rifle scope should offer ample magnification and clarity for most situations. Quality matters with rifle scopes though. Luckily, there are many top-notch manufacturers when it comes to rifle scope optics.
Some of the rifles above come with a pre-mounted scope, making your job even easier. But if you are buying a separate rifle scope, you will have to install it yourself. If you’ve never mounted a scope before, don’t be intimidated. There are several guides online (based on the scope manufacturer) to help you through it.
Best Ammunition Choice
For deer hunting, you don’t need extremely heavy rifle ammunition – basically, the bullet should be able to penetrate deeply, expand moderately, and create a good blood trail. The heavier calibers above can also deliver a concussive force (kinetic energy and momentum) to knock a deer down. But each of the five popular deer hunting rifles above have cartridges that are more than capable of killing deer. And there are many cartridge options for these calibers as well. Start with a 140- or 150-grain load, which is good for most Pennsylvania shooting.
Hunting Rifle Accessories
After buying a rifle, you should decide which accessories you need to get. Regardless if you’ll be doing a lot of stand hunting or stalking, installing a sling on your rifle will make it easier to carry. Most slings easily attach to your rifle, and there are plenty of styles available.
You also need to buy a rifle case to safely (and legally) transport your firearm. You don’t need to break the bank on this, but if your travels will take you through airports or across rough country, investing in a hard-sided case will protect your firearm much better than soft-sided cases.
These hunting rifles are some of the best on the market for a reason. They are reliably accurate and deadly against whitetails, but they’re also cost-efficient for most people. If you don’t currently own one of these models and calibers, it might be time to join the party.
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