Skip to comments.Guns for Small Game Hunting
Posted on 10/22/2019 8:31:42 AM PDT by w1n1
For rabbits and squirrels, the most efficient and humane gun is a 12-gauge shotgun with number 6 shot. This provides the quickest and cleanest kills with the least chance of a wounded animal escaping to die a lingering death. It is by far the surest way to bring home dinner.
The semiautomatic shotgun is popular, as it tends to mitigate recoil, while the pump shotgun can be had at very reasonable prices. While they hold more shells than a double, their rate of sustained fire is actually less than the fast-reloading double.
WHILE .22 LONG RIFLE is the most popular small game rifle caliber, it requires absolutely perfect shot placement for quick humane kills. Ever since it was first used on game, there have been hunters condemning it as inhumane on game due to the large number of wounded game that escapes to slowly die from their wound.
The .32-20 in the M1873 and M1892 Winchester, as well as in the Remington Rolling Block and other rifles, was considered the ultimate small game round, as it was the perfect balance between clean fast kills and not ruining too much meat. The .38-40 (which is really a .40-caliber and by all rights should be called the .40-40) and the .44-40 did excellent service as well.
THIS BRINGS US to the Army M1 carbine. While the case of the M1 carbine cartridge bears no resemblance to the .32-20, ballistically they are equivalent. Anything the .32-20 high-velocity load will do in a M1873 Winchester, the .30 carbine will do in the M1 carbine. These rounds are as fast as you can go without ruining a lot of meat.
All of these calibers could be and were used on anything else that came along. They were the true all purpose cartridges, able to take both small and large game. Of course hunters exclusively after big game generally chose a heavier caliber more appropriate for big game, but for those just hunting for their dinner, the smaller calibers were the best answer.
PISTOLS HAVE TAKEN a vast amount of small game over the years because they are there when the game is encountered. The old Colt Single Action Army probably brought more game to bag than any other pistol in America because of its widespread use on the frontier, where a ready meal was not to be wasted. A very easy gun to hit with, it proved a ready provider of meals to many a hungry frontiersman. You cannot have a rifle handy at all times when you are working, but the pistol can always be in its holster at your side.
THE BEST DOUBLE-ACTION hunting revolver I have encountered is the 4-inch-barrel .45 Colt Ruger Redhawk. This gun can be fired single action, but its double-action trigger pull is so superb that it can be fired just as accurately double action with practice. I certainly can't say that about every revolver. This gun has virtually no felt recoil thanks to its weight and well shaped rubber grips. It is extremely pleasant to shoot. Read the rest of small game hunting.
.410s and 20 gauge’s are a blast. .22 WMR is smoking.
“22 WMR is smoking.”
I think the .22 mag is a bit too much for squirrel. I always use CCI Stingers (screaming fast .22 cartridge) on squirrels, and I go for head shots (most humane, and minimal damage to the meat, if any). I use a Marlin 25 with a 3 x 9 scope.
“For rabbits and squirrels, the most efficient and humane gun is a 12-gauge shotgun with number 6 shot.”
That’s what .410’s are for.
I dont eat squirrels but we’ve almost always have pest issues with them tearing stuff up. I’ve probably killed >100 with pump air rifles, 22 cb caps, and as a kid my 30# recurve bow probably took 200+
Grew up knowing and taught 6 shot was good for squirrels and rabbits...but it’s a bit hard to find it. Not sure why.
[[[Grew up knowing and taught 6 shot was good for squirrels and rabbits...but its a bit hard to find it. Not sure why.]]]
Go to #5. No problem. We used it for virtually everything in the Eastern woods for small game. Pheasant, Squirrel, Rabbit, Grouse, etc. 12 gauge 2 3/4”.
The type of hunting I did as a kid I chose #5 shot. One type of game called for #6 and the longer duck shots #4’s.
I did a lot of walking in different terrain and never knew what I would encounter.
I’ve never had a squirrel hang from a branch using a 12 gauge, 6 shot. I have with .22s.
#5 should work fine too. I only use #4 for turkey. But then again, I’ve never strayed from the 2 3/4 shotgun. Still haven’t gone to the 3 inch/3.5 chambers—which is popular for turkey these last couple of decades.
My first real gun I got was a 20 gauge double barrel. It was for my 12th birthday. I still have it. Hunted many years with it. Even kept it in my high school locker on the days I would go hunting after school. My principal always wanted me to bring him back some squirrels.
[[Ive never had a squirrel hang from a branch using a 12 gauge, 6 shot. I have with .22s.]]
I was never mad for firing 22’s up into the air. Miss and you don’t know where the heck its going in settled areas.
I got a lot of game with the old 2 3/4” shells. The type of hunting I do now is more chaotic. Large geese, large and small ducks and snipe. Steel shot has made me add a couple size to shot and go to 3” shells. I have some of the bismuth and other shot mixes but they are spendy.
The 12 gauge seems to blow them off a branch. But with a .22 sometimes they may not and they just dangle off the branch (maybe eventually they fall, maybe they don’t). So a fried squirrel, biscuits and gravy dinner forfeited.
Squirrels are one of the most tenacious small critters going. We used to call them tree rats.
[[[So a fried squirrel, biscuits and gravy dinner forfeited.]]]
I can still see the Italian gentleman that lived next door when I was a kid frying them up in red wine. Also made a nice Brunswick stew from them.
Also glazed pheasant steamed in the crock pot. Yummy.
I used to use my shot gun with small game shells.
Never could find all the shot that was scattered throughout the meat. Loved biting down on those shot balls.
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