In Colorado, kids are eligible for hunting licenses at the age of 12. It’s a special time when mothers and fathers introduce their sons and daughters to a new rite of passage.
Now, women and girls as young as preteens are getting into hunting to learn a skill, bond and have fun, thanks to family tradition and passionate advocacy. When they do, many parents and shooters want to know, “Which choices are the best rifles for women?” When this time arrives, however, questions may come up about which one to choose.
Most women and girls are smaller than men, so they often choose lightweight rifles that are easy to maneuver. To find a rifle with lower kickback that won’t wear out your shoulder after a long day of hunting and fun, however, you need to do a little research.
Women Behind the Trigger
Some women fall in love with hunting by osmosis through their spouses and family members’ passion for the sport. Eventually, however, it gets to the point when a girl wants a rifle to call her own.
Borrowing or sharing is no longer acceptable, but where do you begin? First, think about comfort. If your rifle isn’t a good fit, you’re in for a very uncomfortable day of hunting. To test the waters, head to your local gun shop to try on as many rifles as you desire.
Don’t worry about caliber just yet. Start by looking for a rifle that feels right.
Rifles are typically set up for male hunters, so you may find it tough to find a comfortable fit with the excess distance from the pull to the butt. Try to overlook this, however. You can change this distance by adding or removing spacers.
Now that you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s time to head down to the range. Male or female, everyone has a different recoil tolerance. At the range, you can try out different calibers and figure out what’s to your liking.
There’s one thing you should think about while trying out your chosen models at the range. Rests, sticks and sleds are great for lining up the sights, but you want to shoot off hand to get the feel of the kickback. This way, you can gauge your tolerance for different calibers during a day of hunting.
Also, remember to practice the bolt action with each model. Make sure that you can capably access the safety and cycle the bolt. Note that there are rifles for lefties, but with enough practice, lefties can still use right-handed ones smoothly.
Rifle Qualities to Consider
When narrowing down your choices, think about what game you’re going to go after. Start by learning the local hunting laws. Take note of what calibers are legal in your area before you start your search. Now, let’s answer the question, “What are the best rifles for women?” The answer is “the one that fits and feels good.”
There is no gender-specific rifle. Some manufacturers may dress up firearms to make them look like deer rifles for women, but the only difference is the appearance.
Before you worry about caliber, look for something that shoots flat and has less recoil. As far as the fit from pull to butt, try youth models for a better fit. Manufacturers ship them with shortened stocks for people with smaller builds.
Most women have longer necks compared to men. Some manufacturers do make stocks that cater to a woman’s build. Stocks that manufacturers design for women have raised combs. Also, the grip circumference is smaller and fixed so that they don’t twist.
In some instances, you may find a rifle that you like, but it doesn’t fit quite right. No worries. Companies such as Aero Precision can provide you with a range of options for fitting your favorite rifle to perfection.
Expert Caliber Choices
Now we can talk about caliber! Marti Davis is a hunting expert and sportswoman who’s well up to snuff on American hunting. She’s also a youth mentor who introduces bright, young Americans to the world of hunting. Recently, she shared her favorites.
Marti’s favorite deer hunting cartridge is the Remington 7mm-08. It’s also suitable for other game that’s roughly the same size as deer.
Many people like this caliber because it comes in a good variety of factory loads. Weights range from 100 to 175 grains. The variety allows you to pick a round that works well for the range, hunting, nuisance animals and target practice.
If you’re familiar with the recoil of a. 243 Winchester, the Remington 7mm-08 hits just a touch harder. This caliber works well for women, new shooters, and youth.
The second-best favorite on Marti’s list is the Remington .25-06 round. It has the characteristics of the .270 Winchester cartridge, but it’s necked back for a .257 round. Remington .25-06 weights vary from 75 to 120 grains.
Marti confesses that her affinity for the Remington .25-06 is because it’s the caliber of the rifle given to her by her grandfather as a child. Over the years, she’s customized it and holds fond memories of the rifle to this day.
The Winchester .243 is a multipurpose round that’s good for more than deer hunting. It started as a varmint round in the 1950s. Now, it uses the well-known .308 casing necked down to a .243 cartridge.
Nearly every manufacturer offers .243 caliber rifles. Weights may range from 55 to 105 grains.
This round has a light recoil. It performs well for a range of prey, including groundhogs, coyotes, antelope and deer. The Winchester .243 is a good choice if you want to try a different caliber for deer hunting.
The Winchester .30-30 round is a classic caliber that’s been around since 1895. The manufacturer made it for the 1894 Winchester lever-action rifle. The cartridge features a rimmed casing, a departure from most .30-06 rounds.
It usually comes loaded with 150 to 170 grain weights. Of the two, the 150 grain is the most popular.
Winchester .30-30 have flat noses because the primary use of this round is for tubular magazine rifles. The flat design keeps the nose of one bullet from hitting the charge in the next.
Another good deer hunting caliber is the Springfield .30-06. It’s the most popular sport hunting round in the world.
The Springfield .30-06 cartridge comes in weights between 110 to 120 grains. It does, however, have a stronger recoil.
The Springfield .30-06 may not serve as the best cartridge for women, youth or small-framed shooters. If you prefer this round, you can go with the 150 grain load to lessen the recoil.
A Couple of Choice Rifles for Women
Field & Stream writer and hunting expert Kim Hiss tapped the opinions of her male co-workers to see what their top picks are for the best deer rifle for women. The standout choices of Kim’s Field & Stream buddies were the Remington Model Seven Youth Rifle in 7mm/08 or .260, and the Tikka T3 Hunter with 6.5×55 rounds.
Remington Model Seven Youth Rifle in 7mm/08 or .260
The Remington Model Seven Youth Rifle is their first choice. It’s a good fit if you’re shorter than 5’2”. For most women, it will fit much better than a full-sized rifle.
The stock is an inch shorter than standard issue, and the barrel is just 20 inches long. Remington doesn’t make the Model Seven Youth Rifle for looks. It has a synthetic wood stock and a dull black finish. Nevertheless, it gets the job done.
Tikka T3 Hunter in 6.5×55
The second choice for the guys at Field & Stream is the Tikka T3 Hunter. Tikka manufactures its rifles in Finland.
They’re among the most advanced rifles on the market. Tikka rifles are well-known for high quality, accuracy, and a hair trigger.
The 6.5×55 has served as a favorite Swedish military cartridge for years. It’s also popular among European hunters. Now, however, the popularity of the round is reaching the United States. The cartridge delivers very little kickback and effectively takes down game.
Good Luck on Your Search!
Finding the best hunting rifles for women is all about preference. Some women prefer a lightweight rifle. Other ladies want a rifle with less kick. It all depends on your habits in the field.
If you’re looking for the best rifles for women, it takes time and patience to find one that makes you happy but is also compliant with local hunting laws.
If you want to learn more about outdoor sports from a woman’s perspective, visit Estilo Tendances for another excellent read.