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Which Rifle Action is Best for Deer Hunting
Article provides information on whitetail, blacktail, and mule deer hunting guns as far as choosing between bolt action, lever action, single shot, double, semi-automatic (auto loader), and pump action rifles.
For deer hunting, the bolt action rifle is probably the most popular rifle action. The bolt actions advantages are that it usually the most accurate, strong enough to handle any cartridge made, reliable feed and extraction, and simple to use. The disadvantages of the bolt action rifle for deer hunters is a long length (especially longer barrels to take advantage of magnum cartridges), slow second shots, and weight.
The lever action rifle for deer hunting has some advantages over other actions as well. Shorter overall length (often due to shorter barrels), fast follow up shots, and they generally handle and point well. Disadvantages include action weakness (most will not handle magnums), shorter effective range, and a lack of pinpoint accuracy.
Single shot rifles for deer hunting have the advantage of being super simple and reliable, easy to use, short length, and single shots are perhaps the safest gun (due to being able to unload the gun completely very quickly). Disadvantages are that single shots are the slowest to get off a second shot and are often heavy for their size.
The double rifle is uncommon, except for dangerous game. Whether you are looking at side by sides or over unders, the advantages of doubles are similar to single shots with the added bonus of a quick second shot. Double barrel rifles often have difficulty shooting to the same spot with both barrels and are heavy. As they are uncommon they are expensive as well.
Pump action rifles for deer hunting are an overlooked but highly effective platform. They are able to chamber high power rounds, shoot very quickly (without the automatic reload of the semi-auto), and are easy for most to use due to experience with pump action shotguns. Disadvantages are that pumps are generally less accurate than other actions, often are heavy, and can be hard for smaller hunters to use well.
Semi automatic or auto loading rifles for deer hunting are more popular than perhaps they should be. Their primary advantage is quicker follow up shots than any other type of rifle, accurate (second only to the bolt), and due to their actions movement the felt recoil is reduced in a semi-automatic. Disadvantages are that they are the most complicated to use, difficult to unload, and are most prone to reliability issues with feeding and extraction.
Regardless of your choice the key to a good gun is a good user. Become familiar with your gun inside and out. Have problems worked out by a gunsmith when they appear and be able to shoot the gun well.