These are the Only 3 Hunting Guns You’ll Ever Really Need

Shotguns in a row

You need to have the right firearms to hunt the game that you want to kill. Don’t go out in the field ill-equipped. The right gun can make all the difference, and part of being an ethical hunter is getting the job done quickly and with the right round.

With that said, you don’t have to have more firearms in your safe at home than the local gun store. While buying, shooting, and hunting with new and different guns is part of the fun of the sport, all you really need are three guns to hunt just about anything. Here’s a look at the three guns I recommend you own.

1. A Rifle Chambered in .22 LR

Ruger 10/22 .22 LR

There’s a saying among the hunting community that I’ve heard a few times: just about everything has been killed with a .22 LR round. Large game, small game—it doesn’t matter. As small as a .22 LR bullet is, a well-placed shot can do some serious damage.

Now, that’s no reason to try to hunt large game with a .22 LR gun, and you’d actually be breaking the law in most cases. However, the point is that .22 LR is a versatile round. You can hunt all kinds of small game with a rifle chambered in that round.

It’s also a fun gun to shoot and ammunition is extremely cheap. The guns are very affordable, too. The Ruger 10/22 (under $400 depending on the specific variant) and Marlin Model 60 (under $200 depending on the specific variant) both have a very strong reputation. With that said there are several other high-quality models out there, too. In all honesty, I think this should be your first gun.

2. A 12-Gauge Shotgun

Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun

Every home needs a good 12-gauge shotgun. I said the .22 LR is a versatile round, but a 12-gauge shotgun is even more versatile. It works well for both small and large game, and it can double as a home defense gun.

My first shotgun was a 20-gauge, and it continues to be a good gun, but sometimes I wish I had something packing a little more punch. If you buy a 12-gauge as your first shotgun, you’ll never need to buy another shotgun. You can spend several thousand dollars on one, but you can also spend just a few hundred bucks. At both ends of the spectrum, there are quality firearms.

One that comes highly recommended by most hunters is the Remington 870. It’s often called the best shotgun ever. If the Remington 870 doesn’t do it for you, the Mossberg 500 is almost equally well-liked. Both guns can be found for under $400 depending on the specific variant.

3. A Rifle Chambered in .30-06 Springfield

Ruger American

Are there more modern rounds out there than the .30-06? You bet, but the venerable .30-06 Springfield has endured for one simple reason: it works. This is what makes it one of the most common rounds in North America, and it’s also used around the world to hunt large game.

You can hunt all kinds of large game with this round. Some people consider it overkill for whitetail deer, but you can’t say it doesn’t work. People have been killing deer with it for decades, and if you have a .30-06 in your gun safe, you have all the big game rifle you’ll ever need.

There are plenty of options for rifles chambered in .30-06 Springfield, too. That means you’ll have no problem finding a good gun. In the past, I’ve recommended the Savage Axis II XP, Ruger American, and Remington Model 783.

With these three guns, you can successfully hunt just about anything. While other guns out there might be better in certain applications, if you have limited funds or limited firearm storage space, then these three should be your go-to’s.

Have a caliber you’d suggest instead of the ones listed? Leave a comment below and say why. 

These are the only 3 hunting guns you'll ever really need



  1. I couldn’t agree more. I have put more meat in the freezer with a 12ga than anything else. The .22 speaks for itself. The ‘06 is even better now than it was 25 years ago. With all the newer powders, vast arrays of newer bullies for anything from antelope up to the largest big game, it has just continued to get better.

    1. Rand, thanks for the comment. Yep. If I could only own one gun, it’d be a 12-gauge shotgun. It’s the best and most versatile weapon out there. The others fulfill specific needs, but the 12ga is the gun to own if you can only have one.

  2. I’m glad that if you get a 12 gauge shotgun for your first hunting gun, then you wouldn’t; ever need a new one. I am considering trying hunting with some friends, but I wouldn’t want to have to spend a lot on having all sorts of different guns if I end up wanting to go more. I’ll have to just pick up a 12 gauge so I can at least be able to do any basic level hunting.

    1. Hi Tyler. At some point, you’ll likely want another gun, but you can do it all with a 12-gauge. If you’re new to hunting, make sure to get the proper training.

  3. What about feral hogs it would be faster and greater amount with a semi/AR you could argue that you can load a bolt action in second I wouldn’t doubt that but an AR with a 30 or 50 round mag would be quicker and more efficient and for Texan it isn’t about who can put the food on the table it now also who can get rid of the infestation and reduce damage to the land

    1. Andrew, yep for hog hunting an AR is certainly the way to go. You could use one of the three guns listed here to do the job, but an AR would certainly be preferable.

    2. AR with a 30-50 round mag isn’t legal everywhere (such as Canada where I am). Also a 12g slug pump with an extended magazine would easily do the trick for hugs as well. Clearly you can argue specific guns for specific situations. You could argue a .270 or a 6.5CM are slightly superior to any of these for whitetail hunting, but they aren’t so superior to a .30-06 or a to make up for their inferiorities in other scenarios. You could argue that a .30-30 is superior to a 12gauge slug for brush hunting, but the 12g has a much wider range of animals you can hunt with it. A .17WMR or a .223 are likely superior to a .22LR for coyote hunting, but the .22LR again can be used for smaller game more easily and has far more available and affordable bullets.

      In essence I agree with this article, and not just because my gun cabinet has a 12g Mossberg, a .22LR Winchester, and a .30-06 Ruger in it. There isn’t a land animal in North America I can’t hunt efficiently and safely, even if there is always a another gun that is slightly more efficient in a specific scenario.

  4. Very practical advice in this article. Aside from maybe a handgun(preferably 45acp),
    one would be thoroughly covered to handle any task with a shotgun, center fire and a rim fire as their collection.

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