Choosing a hog hunting gun is serious business.
You'll want to choose wisely or an angry boar might have the upper hand. With these tips, you'll be ready to choose the right hog hunting gun.
Feral hogs are truly impressive when you think of how truly adaptive they are to every environment. This adaptability makes them invasive competition for native wildlife.
These destructive hogs need to go, and for that reason, you need to pick a gun with enough horsepower to get the job done.
Shotgun, handgun or rifle?
In thick cover, a heavy-hitting handgun (at least 10mm in caliber) will be handy for fast-and-furious, sometimes-defensive shooting. When running dogs a handgun will be safely out of the way until the moment it's needed. Large-caliber handguns are the most difficult to shoot proficiently. Shotguns at moderate ranges with either Brenneke slugs or a sabot slug will take the fight out of any hog. Rifles of large-enough calibers offer better range, more accurate shots and many times much more power.
Caliber or gauge to pick?
For a rifle hunter, a well-placed .223-caliber bullet can drop a wild hog with the right shot. Calibers as small as the .22 LR have been doing that for years for skilled shooters. We, however, recommend a rifle caliber with more power. Feral hogs are built to take punishment and large doses of high-speed lead. A classic Winchester .30-30 rifle will make quick bacon from a lever-action rifle. The powerful Marlin or Henry Arms .45-70 rifles are steam locomotives that'll stop any hog no matter the size. A bolt-action rifle in .270 Win. or .30-06 Springfield has been a popular choice for decades. You can't go wrong with the deer hunting rifle you're already proficient with. A military classic like the Springfield M1 Garand Rifle will lay the smackdown on some wild pigs. If the shots are really far, even the powerful .338 Lapua cartridge with 300-grain bullets will drop them.
For shotgunners, the hands-down choice is the 12-gauge. Pick a magnum slug load for that old Mossberg or Benelli shotgun that'll penetrate the thick hide and heavy build of a mature wild boar. Penetration and knockdown power are your best friends when that mean old hog decides to come after you. While a 10-gauge is larger than the 12-gauge, slug load offerings aren't as prolific. And, both the recoil and shotgun weight increase dramatically.
Handgunners require a large-bore, hard-hitting handgun. This is where heavy revolvers overshadow semi-automatic pistols in power in many instances. True a Glock 10mm pistol loaded up with deep-penetrating loads can and will get the job done, especially at close range. More powerful revolvers of .44 magnum, .454 Casull, .460 S&W Magnum or the .500 S&W Magnum revolvers offer a lot more punch. Ruger and Smith & Wesson are very popular brands when it comes to ultra-tough revolvers in these calibers. Try them out first and hunt with the most powerful handgun you can shoot well under hunting conditions.
Classic or modern hunting rifle?
In many circles of seasoned hog hunters, the thought of a modern hunting rifle like the AR-15 is just incomprehensible. The synthetic stock, 30-round magazines and the Picatinny rail instead of iron sights (how dare they!) much different than your traditional hunting rifle. Add a night vision scope to the mix, and you have an exceptional hog rifle.
In many instances where feral hog populations have exploded, a fast-shooting semi-automatic rifle is necessary to ethically reduce populations.
The answer as to which rifle style to buy comes down to your own decision (unless you live in a State like California that has decided for you). No matter what, just make sure you're proficient with it and that it's legal in your game management area. Practice makes perfect!
Do you like articles about the outdoors? Click here to view more articles by Eric Nestor. You can follow him @ericthewoodsman on Twitter, The Classic Woodsman on Facebook, and @theclassicwoodsman on Instagram. You can view more Nestor Photography photos at Nestor Photography.