Things sure can get messy when you start debating things like the “perfect” deer gun. This is largely in part because perfection is relatively unattainable as a standard, and because hunters can be a finnicky bunch when it comes to choosing their deer rifle. There are plenty of old-timers out there who refuse to shoot deer with anything other than the old 30-30 they’ve had since the teenage years. There are also more than a handful of gear gurus who swear by the newer rifles being churned out by rifle manufacturers even as you read this. So, how would one distinguish what the “perfect” deer gun would be? We’re not sure, but the true payoff is in the search for such a gun, as it significantly ups your gun knowledge and firearms IQ. We’ve taken the time to toss our hat in the ring when it comes to what the “perfect” deer rifle should entail. Here’s what we came up with.
The “perfect” deer rifle needs to be chambered in a caliber that is capable of dispatching a deer as humanely as possible while at the same time leaving enough meat to take home. While there can be a great deal of misplaced hoopla and bravado that comes along with shooting big caliber bullets for big game, it sure doesn’t help at all when it comes time to putting meat on the table. There’s nothing fun about cutting off big chunks of bloodshot meat that could have been put to use on the BBQ grill. The “perfect” deer rifle should be chambered somewhere in the neighborhood of .243, .270, and 25-06. The goal is to shoot a bullet that has a legitimate ballistic coefficient, dropping your deer cleanly and providing an ample supply of venison at the end of the hunt.
How much the “perfect” deer rifle should weigh can be a bit tougher to nail down. This is because deer are hunted in a variety of habitats and in different ways. For example, the tree stand hunter from the Midwest who climbs into his stand and sits patiently for his big old whitetail hit the food plot does not need to worry so much about the weight of his rifle. Conversely, the backcountry, backpacking blacktail hunter from the Pacific Northwest definitely cares how heavy his rifle is, as a hefty rifle only adds to the potential misery of heavy hiking. We’re going to go ahead and say that the “perfect” deer rifle should weigh approximately 8 pounds.
Accuracy is a department that, similar to weight, is somewhat dependent on habitat. If you’re chasing deer in the coastal mountain ranges on the West Coast, a lever-action brush gun with iron sites will work just fine. If you’re looking to drop a mule deer on the plains, you’re going to need a gun that can reach out further. But in terms of rifle accuracy from a manufacturing standpoint, the “perfect” deer gun needs to be able to produce a 3-shot grouping with a 1-inch spread between the shots at 100 yards.
NOTE: Most modern deer rifles are capable of shooting better than the shooters who operate them. That just comes down to practice. Accuracy in and of itself comes down to the time you put in on the range.