By Scott Olmsted, American Hunter
The rifle in America dates back to our first settlers. Indeed the NRA National Firearms Museum displays a gun that came to our shores aboard the Mayflower. Throughout our history the rifle has shaped our course. It has helped us put food on the table, explore and settle a continent, and defend our homeland.
But as hunters we are primarily interested in its practical use as a tool.
Webster’s defines “practical” as: “of, exhibited in, or obtained through practice or action [practical knowledge]; usable; workable; useful and sensible.” To that end, a “practical” hunting rifle is compact, lightweight, powerful and accurate. It wears a short barrel so it comes to shoulder quickly and carries easily in thick cover. Proper weight contributes directly to the balance of the arm, its “feel” between the hands; in a standard caliber a hunting rifle weighs about 71/2 pounds; chambered for dangerous game it weighs about 9. It is chambered to fire a cartridge adequate to hunt all game one wishes to pursue with the arm. It has as much power as needed to dispatch game at your maximum effective range, or to deal with the charge of a dangerous animal. It is capable of delivering 1 MOA accuracy.
You’ll carry your rifle all day, maybe all week. You and your rifle must sometimes traverse severe terrain and suffer through terrible weather. But in the end, you’ll shoot for only a few seconds—and neither of you can fail to function. So it’s important to understand what your rifle represents in your hands. You can appreciate that only if you master your craft.