You can find really good small game rifles for under $400.
Small game and varmint hunting is a great way to work on your accuracy and shooting skills while enjoying one of most fun hunting experiences in the woods.
Squirrels and other small game are abundant and quick. They aren’t incredibly hard to outsmart, but it takes a bit of accuracy to take one down.
However, since squirrels, rabbits and other critters are such small targets and are well-versed in the art of hiding from predators, it can be a challenge to get a good shot on one. For that reason, you need an accurate, dependable small caliber rifle to take on your hunts. Don’t worry; you don’t have to spend much to add a good squirrel rifle to your arsenal. In fact, with $300 or less, you can get a quality squirrel rifle that will last you a lifetime.
View the slideshow to see our picks for ideal small game rifles under $300.
One of the best rimfire rifles on the market, the Ruger 10/22 is a phenomenal squirrel gun and works just as well for target practice or plinking around.
These high performing rifles are well balanced, accurate, and built to last with a rugged design second to none. The Ruger 10/22 will take a beating and keep on rocking, making it a great field rifle. The fact that you’re packing a nice 10 round magazine doesn’t hurt when you’re knee deep in a batch of rabbits. Ranging in cost from around $370 to over $400, it is possible to find a mid-range gun for a really decent price.
Another great .22 rifle for small game hunting is the Marlin Model XT-22 Series rifle. These guns are designed for pinpoint accuracy with an ergonomic stock and a customizable trigger pull (the weight can be adjusted between 3 – 6 pounds). Buyers have a choice of purchasing a few models, all with different features.
For example, the XT-22TSR has a folding rear sight and a 17 shot tubular magazine while the XT-22 has a removable 7 shot magazine. Shooters have a variety of choices and can pick the style that fits their shooting needs best. All models range in price from around $220 to $270 making this an affordable and dependable choice for squirrel or possum hunting.
If you want to step it up a little and buy a rifle that packs a solid punch for varmints and predators as well, then the Marlin XT-17 series .17 HMR rifles are the answer. The .17 HMR is a slightly larger caliber that works perfectly for squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, and more.
Ammunition is relatively inexpensive and currently quite a bit easier to find than .22 LR ammo. This gun shoots faster and flatter than a .22 so beware where you’re aiming. No doubt you can bag your limit of squirrels with this bad boy. Just be careful what’s in the background.
Another brand that comes out with a nice small game rifle is H&R with their 1871 Handi-Rifle with Sights. It’s a single shot rifle that spits .444 Marlin or .45-70 Government.
A slide lever release and decent recoil pad make it great for beginners to learn from, especially kids.
The 597 Semiautomatic Rimfire Rifles from Remington have one of the most unique styles of a small game rifle you will find. The fast and reliable semiautomatic has an ambidextrous shape option, which looks a little bit like a video game gun, but provides great balance for quick shots on little creatures.
Taking care of rabbits and even smaller wild pigs is doable with the 597, and you’ll love its accuracy and minimal recoil.