Help a potential gun convert!

Someone online, at my encouragement, asked me some gun questions. Her text is below. I’m more of a target shooter than a hunter. Please let me know what you all would say to her! Thanks in advance for your help.

“My current 5 year plan is to set up a small homestead in northern Minnesota. Moose, bear, wolves, deer and other such critters are commonplace.

As a nearly middle aged woman who has never held a gun – whats the best starter weapon for me? I’m thinking some kind of rifle, something that would be good for property protection as well as eventual hunting.

My husband was an expert marksman with the military, so I’m sure he could help me learn to use it well. That said, he never used guns before the Army and not since, so its not an area we know much about.”

13 Comments

  • Lokidude says:

    The best starter weapon is almost always a rifle chambered in .22lr. Negligible recoil and minimal noise make it far easier to learn the fundamentals of shooting, and it’s always useful to have around for small game hunting and varmint control. I’m personally partial to the Marlin 60 for semi-auto and the Henry for leverguns, but a Ruger 10/22 is never a bad choice.

    For a big-game rifle, I wouldn’t go any lighter than .30-06 or .308 (she mentions moose and bear, and if she’s serious about those, she’ll need a heavy caliber) with a lighter intermediate rifle for medium game, and to transition to the bigger boomer. Something in a .243, .257, etc., would probably be a good call there. Savage and Remington are my personal favorites, but Weatherby, Howa, Winchester, and Ruger all also make excellent rifles.

    • girlsloveguns says:

      Thanks for the advice Loki. I copied it to the person in question and included a link to your blog. She was impressed with the information you gave her and your willingness to help!

  • jenny teague says:

    Definitely start out learning your fundamentals on a .22 lr. Ruger 10/22 is probably the most popular, but a Savage 64 is an inexpensive and equally good alternative. Practice, practice, practice.

    Later on, move up to a “hunting” caliber. .308 is a really good round for everything. Actually, most women shoot .308 best when it comes to hunting rifles. Again, back to Savage, I just bought a Savage Axis XP in .308 and that thing shoots like butter! Its got a nice smooth bolt, the trigger is a good weight (not too light, not too hard), it’s relatively a lightweight rifle, fits me (average female) well. You want to make sure your rifle fits you well. That is essential. Definitely hold a lot of rifles and find what fits you best. If you have friends with rifles, try them out and find what you like. FYI, I reviewed the Savage Axis XP for July on my site. Love it. I’d marry it if I weren’t already married. Haha.

    Hope she has good luck with a rifle hunt and gets lots of great game!

    • girlsloveguns says:

      Thank you so much for the hunting info. I’ve only shot a shotgun once, I fired one shot and I missed. LOL. I passed along your comment and a link to your blog to the potential newbie. She was very grateful for your comments and willingness to help.

  • James says:

    Were I stuck with choosing only two firearms, I would choose a 20 gauge shotgun and an AR 15.

    Depending on your budget, you could buy any of the previously mentioned rifles, or you could just buy an AR15 lower, then have your choice of uppers for it.
    Start out with a .223 upper for very low recoil, and an effective round for small to medium game, then look into a .50 beowulf upper for really large game. The lower receiver is the “gun”, while the different caliber uppers are not considered firearms and can be purchased through the mail. You can also buy a .22 LR conversion kit to fire .22LR out of the .223 upper for about 150 bucks.
    Parts about for these rifles, recoil is easy to manage in most any caliber, and you will save money in the long run over buying several different rifles. The basic lower is about 250 dollars and the uppers run in the 500 dollar range.

    A pump 12-or-20 gauge from Wal Mart will run about 150 bucks, and normal birdshot to buckshot to slugs can drop just about anything you needed to drop. A shotgun is almost a necessary thing for living in the country, coming from someone who grew up in the deep woods of Texas. Snakes, skunks, opossums, foxes, coyotes, feral hogs, birds, etc. were the norm and I shot several of each with nothing more than a 12 guage pump shotgun. The shotgun has a bit of recoil, but is pretty easy to manage after enough practice.

    • girlsloveguns says:

      I passed on your comment to her. Haven’t heard back yet, but she has been happy with all of the help so far, so I think she’ll enjoy what you had to say too.

      I don’t own either of the two guns you mentioned. LOL. I better get hopping!

  • Good advice so far. My wife and son have to avoid shotguns due to retina problems, and a good bit of the population must do the same. A .22 rifle is a necessity, and a Ruger 10/22 with several magazines is a decent choice. Any good .308 bolt action that you like is a good first choice for a centerfire rifle. Put a good scope on it, and be sure to check out ‘all weather’ choices while shopping. Engineering Johnson and I would both go for a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Mag for a sidearm. My personal preference is one with a 5 1/2 inch barrel. You can load moderate loads for deer and self defense needs, or load it hot for bear, moose and elk. Buy reloading equipment to stoke your rifle and sidearm with ammo to suit your needs.

    • girlsloveguns says:

      Thanks for the reply. I just sent your comment onto her.

      What retina problems cause people to need to avoid shotguns? I don’t have much experience with them, I’ve shot one, exactly one shot. I’m curious!

      • The Mrs and EJ both have Stickler’s Syndrome, which is caused by a dominant gene. It causes myopia, joint defects, facial deformities, and retinal detachments. Both of them have had retina surgeries, and EJ has extremely limited vision in one eye from his first detachment. He shoots pistols right handed with his left eye, so he uses a scrunched up stance to make that work. He has to shoot rifles left-handed. There is a lot of this in the upper Midwest, and before retina surgery techniques were developed, Stickler’s caused a lot of piano tuners.

  • cj says:

    I’ve found that spouses teaching spouses doesn’t tend to work very well…someone tends to get frustrated and things go downhill from there. I’d HIGHLY recommend finding a class that will start you from the ground and work your way up. This helps to generate comfort and confidence with arms. I’ve seen plenty of shooters who are great shots, but not especially great or comfortable carrying or using a firearm off the range. I believe these courses can help to build a complete foundation including safety, confidence, and marksmanship which can all be used for the purposes you describe.

    • girlsloveguns says:

      Good point on the hubby-teaching thing! I didn’t even think to tell that to her since it worked out so well with GB and I. I have heard from other couples that it was a nightmare for them. I passed on your comment to her, so she has a good warning there! Thanks again. 🙂

  • SharkWhisperer1988 says:

    Yes, I love this question – especially since you’ve got time on your side and you didn’t use the word “budget”
    Let me first just say that since you’ll be out in the sticks from the sound of things, think RUGGED and RELIABLE more than latest and greatest. Okay, top 3 most practical guns for your particular situation:

    * Lever-Action Rifle – first and foremost, everyone out in the county should own a reliable rifle. There’s a million options out there but allow me to put forward one that will never let you down – the Lever Gun. Simply put, they’ll last forever and the 30/30 Winchester round is the most popular deer killer in North America, wouldn’t bet against the moose though. They also come in handgun caliburs, too. Investigate Winchesters, Marlins, and Rossi guns first.

    * 12 or 20 Gauge Shotgun – it is essential to own a reliable shotgun out there. For durability and shooting confidence, I still prefer the old double barrel, but virtually all pump actions are up to standards these days, it’s hard to go totally wrong. The real issue at hand is stopping power; do you want maximum punch, but with an awful kick to boot? Get you a 12 gauge. As generally the sole service shell of virtually all police and armed forces, they’re always available. However, if you can settle for, say 75% of that power with mearly half the recoil, get you a 20 gauge. Arguably a better self defense gun, if not self defense round and more likely to put fowl on the dinner table still intact. I recommend the good folks at Mossberg.

    * Single Action Revolver – possibly your most important gun if not most frequently required. You both need a reliable sidearm, but since we’re talking Top 3 here, I like many folks, would want a good single action wheelgun, yall can just swap-off while out on the property. Now 22s are great since you’ll never run out of things to shoot, but they’re just not enough for northern critters. In moose/bear country I would not usually suggest less stopping power than a solid Colt .45 or .44 Mag, but again if it’s down to a compromise then I suggest, above all others, a .357 Magnum. With this gun you truly get the best of both worlds; the amazing stopping power of a .357s and also the conveniance of the humble yet respectable .38 Special capabilities to save money during target practice. I suggest either a Colt Peacemaker style or Ruger New Vaquero, maybe a Blackhawk. Take care of your single action revolver and it will take care of you and yours for generations!

    Happy Trails!

  • DonnyP says:

    Since my gf has fell in love with guns (she’s now purchased 4 hand guns, one being the Taurus Judge, a combo .45colt/.410 shotgun pistol), and has her eyes on several rifles, I’ve had to assist her in shooting and make suggestions to her purchases. For your needs, here’s what i suggest(and goes along with much of what everyone has already said above)

    1)Ruger 10/22-its a .22LR, shorter so its easier to handle, and will take small game AND its the cheapest ammo available. A common theme should be usability but also AFFORDABILITY. Doesn’t do any good to have a gun if you can’t afford to practice. Also, it takes a scope easily, and in no time you can plink cans from 100 yards away or more, not to mention squirrels, rabbits, etc.

    2)Ruger Mini-14- you may actually confuse the two in looks and size. its a little bigger in thickness, but about the same lenght as your ruger 10/22. it shoots the .223/5.56 nato rounds, which, again, very available if not always as affordable as the .22LR rounds. As a rule of thumb, the higher the caliber the more the bullets cost, for the most part. I suggest this also because once you’re used to the 10/22, its almost teh same gun just with more stopping power. Some may argue, but this will take down a deer and most larger game. I wouldn’t go bear hunting with it, but it will do for all game besides a moose or a bear.

    3).30-06— I won’t make a suggestion for the specific brand of gun, just find a good rifle that shoots that round. the Savage brand makes very good affordable rifles, but you can always pick up a good used one from your local gun stores for a lot less. I just bought a used remington model 740 woodsmaster for $200 with a scope. : ) the .30-06 is a large enough round to take a moose or a bear, and you can always find the ammo at wal mart or anywhere, and its affordable.

    Hope this helps out.

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