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Do You Really Need a “Brush Gun” for Hunting in Thick Cover?

brush gun

Is there any reason behind the old saw about preferring a “brush gun” when shooting in thick cover? Here’s an unusual field test that tries to answer that question.

Eric from iraqveteran8888 tries to answer that old conventional wisdom that says when you hunt thick cover, you want a slow-moving, heavy-cartridge rifle, or a “brush gun.”

Theoretically, the larger cartridge will better equip you to bust through thick brush to hit the target without breaking up or veering off target.

He runs through progressively larger rounds here shooting at a steel target obscured by around 15 yards of heavy undergrowth. The results are pretty darn interesting, as are his attempts to sight the target through the brush.

Here’s the video (you can also read a few notes on the highlights below).

Starting with a .22 caliber just to set up a baseline, Eric tests out several different, progressively larger calibers. The .22 did break up or veer off target as it traveled through the undergrowth. That result seemed like a given, but it was good to test it out anyway.

Next, he shoots a 5.56 caliber using basic 55-grain shells. He should have been able to stack these rounds on target pretty handily, but because of the brush he got some significant deflection using this round.

Next up is the .308, which Eric fires from a BM59 rifle. He got some significant tumbling with this round as well. It made it to the target area, but only one of three shots actually hit steel.

Stepping up to a 1951 Marlin 336 rifle firing .35 Remington ammo. Eric’s conclusion on this classic round is, “If you can see it, you can kill it.” The cartridge did well, making a nice little triangular group even though one of the rounds fell just outside of the gong. The .35 qualifies as a true brush gun.

At this point, we should emphasize that no one should fire at a target, be it steel or deer, that they can’t completely see. Eric is shooting a little blind here for the purposes of the test, but in a “real” situation, that should never be done. Be completely sure of your target, every time.

brush gun

Next in the chronology is a 1972 Marlin 336 in .444 caliber. Firing 240-grains, this is a big round.

“A .44 magnum on steroids,” Eric says. This cartridge did the job beautifully, including busting through a finger-sized branch of privet hedgecut it clean in halfto hit the target.

Okay, the final cartridge that everyone’s been waiting for is the Henry .45-70 shooting 350-grain Horady ammo. This gun performed beautifully as well, powering through the brush and making a nice little grouping. This round made Eric smile. “I don’t know if that privet knows what to think,” he grinned.

“Yes, there is such a thing as a brush gun. And yes, everyone should have one,” he says. “If you hunt in the thick stuff for Bambi, you need a .45-70 lever action rifle, or some type of .45-70 that you can get in there and really lay down the law in the deer woods.”

As a bonus, Eric brings out his breechloading single shot Snider .577 with 560-grain .58 caliber flat point bullets. Needless to say, this gun performed like a champ, with all three bullets making a sweet five inch group. I have to admit, watching him fire this vintage rifle (c.1875) was pretty awesome.

Anyway, yes, the myth of the brush gun isn’t really a myth. It looks to be a reality. So, if you’re deer hunting in thick woods, get yourself a brush gun. And again, be sure that you can see your target completely before pulling the trigger.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

NEXT: The Henry .44-40 is a Blast to Shoot

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Do You Really Need a “Brush Gun” for Hunting in Thick Cover?