5 Must-Have Qualities of a Great Rifle
Many hunters place a lot of value on a rifle’s accuracy. While it’s nice to have a rifle that can shoot a six-inch group from the bench, wind, and awkward shooting positions often have an outsized effect on your gun’s performance in the field. An excellent hunting rifle has to satisfy a trio of requirements: fit, function, and style.
A superb rifle needs to work the way it was designed to. A rifle that sways vibrates, or has inconsistent trigger pull can make it challenging to communicate with the rifle, and it’s impossible to take a good shot. A quality rifle, for example, Tikka Rifles United States, has a trigger that has no take-up or overtravel and a clean, crisp break.
This intangible feature separates a great rifle from a good one, but it is essential to consider when shopping for a rifle. A reputable smith will true-bed the rifle stock to ensure the action and barrel are secured and won’t compress or become spongy over time. Some factories use pillar bedding to cut costs, which differs from the accurate bedding process and may need fixing.
A rifle’s inherent accuracy is one of its most essential qualities. Shooting tight groups, even with standard ammunition, is vital to success. A good rifle should be able to consistently group five shots within an inch at 100 yards with premium ammo.
This is the minimum requirement for a hunting rifle, though some hunters prefer to achieve higher levels of accuracy. Often, a few essential tools can help fix common rifle accuracy issues. For example, saving empty brass casings from the range can reveal problems such as pitting in the chamber, a critical factor in rifle accuracy.
A gunsmith can also recut the barrel crown, a simple and inexpensive job that dramatically improves performance. Other factors, such as scope adjustments and trigger mechanisms, can enhance a rifle’s accuracy.
A great rifle will feel good in your hands, allowing you to relax behind it and peer through the scope. These qualities are essential because hunting rifles are not safe queens that stay locked up but are instead used in rugged environments where they are exposed to moisture, grit, and grime.
The rifle should be well-built to resist these damaging conditions. Features like adjustable stocks, chassis systems, and improved metal coatings (like Cerakote, nitride, and Parkerizing) help protect the gun. Another essential feature is a good trigger.
Your primary interface with your rifle is the trigger, so you cannot communicate effectively if the trigger feels gritty, inconsistent, or has too much take-up and overtravel. A good trigger can be bought aftermarket and installed on most factory rifles today without needing a gunsmith.
A great rifle will be versatile enough to adapt to the hunter’s needs. It will have a safe and effective trigger mechanism. It should also allow the shooter to adjust the trigger pull weight for a comfortable, consistent, reliable shot.
Another essential feature of a great rifle is its durability. Most hunting rifles are not “safe queens” that stay locked up in a safe all day; they get used in rugged conditions where moisture, grit, and dirt can damage the rifle.
Finally, a great rifle will have a stock that fits the shooter. The stock should have a comb that positions the eye perfectly behind the scope and be light enough to reach the trigger with minimal effort.
There are many ways to become a better shooter, such as drills and practice. However, one of the most significant factors determining rifle accuracy, speed, and recoil management is how well the firearm fits you.
A poorly fitting rifle will rob accuracy in several ways. It will impede the ability to acquire a natural point of aim and may make it harder to shoulder, shoot, and manage recoil. The most crucial fit dimension is the length of pull (LOP)- the distance from the butt stock trigger to the front of the trigger.
Ideally, the LOP will be a good match for the shooter’s arm’s length and should feel comfortable with a relaxed cheek weld and head position. Fortunately, many manufacturers offer a variety of lengths and customization options to find a good fit for every shooter.