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How To Choose the Best Rifle for Target Shooting

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The best rifles for target shooting will help you learn much faster, improve accuracy, and reduce wayward shots. This article will discuss multiple buying factors in choosing the best rifle for target shooting. 

Here’s how to choose the best rifle for target shooting: 

  1. Choose a solid frame rifle.
  2. Make sure the rifle has a comfortable grip.
  3. Choose a gun that shoots the right caliber ammo.
  4. Choose a rifle that matches your experience level.
  5. Choose the best rifle scope. 
  6. Make sure the rifle is safe and durable.

Let’s dive into the details.

1. Choose a Sold Frame Rifle

Man choosing a rifle in a gun shop

Target shooting is gaining popularity as an entertaining and relatively safe sport. Some people practice target shooting to get better at hunting, while others do it as a hobby. 

Always look at the rifle frame before choosing a new shooting rifle. The rifle’s frame will affect its recoil, shooting accuracy, and comfortability. If you’re an experienced shooter, you may prefer rifles with heavier frames. However, if you are a beginner, go for a lightweight but solid frame. 

Rifle frames will usually fall into two categories, namely: 

Forged Frame Rifles

These frames are forged by experienced rifle makers. More work goes into making these frames, and they are usually made with more robust materials. However, buying a forged-frame rifle from a shady manufacturer can be disastrous. 

Cast Frame Rifles

Most rifles are made with a cast frame. Cast frame rifles have better accuracy and are more lightweight than forged frame ones. Although many professional shooters love the reliability that cast frames bring, they are more suited to beginners. 

Try a forged frame rifle if you’re an experienced shooter looking to grow your shooting skills. Otherwise, the cast frame rifles are best for target shooting. 

2. Make Sure the Rifle Has a Comfortable Grip

Wooden grip of a gun isolated on white background

New shooters often make the mistake of choosing a rifle on how it looks instead of checking the comfortability first. Always check the grip and trigger features of any rifle before choosing. A good rifle will be easy to grip and come with a reliable trigger. The last thing you want is to squeeze your finger through the trigger to get a reliable grip! 

It’s recommended to set the trigger settings lower for more accuracy, but this will depend on your experience. More experienced shooters shoot with a 1.5 to 2.5 pounds (0.6 to 1.13 kg) trigger weight. Beginner shooters usually shoot with trigger pressure in the sweet range of 3.5-5 pounds (1.5-2.26 kg). 

You can practice shooting with a lower trigger pressure as you get more experienced, but start with the trigger pressure at the factory settings. 

3. Choose a Gun That Shoots the Right Caliber Ammo

Two men practicing at a shooting range

If you’re shooting in target practice, choose an air gun that can handle ammo of different calibers. However, if you choose a gun tuned in to shoot a specific type of ammo, there’s no harm in that. The most common ammo used for target shooting will be: 

  • .20 caliber
  • .22 caliber
  • .25 caliber

Some .177 caliber guns are also popular for target shooting. 

You may want to go with higher caliber ammo when you’re hunting. However, if you’re practicing for accuracy, it’s better to go with a gun that shoots lower caliber ammo. Most Olympic and professional shooters will use .22 caliber ammo, but some may go as low as .20. 

However, the .25 caliber is more suitable for beginners. Some rifles can shoot the whole range of ammo from .20 caliber to .25, so you shouldn’t have trouble using smaller ammo as your shooting skill improves. 

4. Choose a Rifle That Matches Your Experience Level

Military Father and Son isolated on white background

If you’re a beginner, always choose a rifle that’s easy to use and more comfortable. You may have to compromise on accuracy for comfort, but it’s a trade-off most shooters are willing to make. Once your skillset advances, you can try out some of the more complex rifles. 

Some rifle shooting clubs have muzzleloading rifle competitions, but these aren’t for beginners. An experienced shooter can achieve similar accuracy with hunting rifles, muzzleloading rifles, and air rifles. Yet, it’s best for beginners to start off with a hunting rifle and move on to air rifles.

If you’re unsure which rifle is best for you, visit your nearest gun shop and try several types. You could also visit a shooting range that provides equipment to get a feel for target shooting rifles before buying one. 

5. Choose the Best Rifle Scope

Young Man Shooting Camo Bolt Action Rifle

In many ways, the riflescope is more important than the rifle itself. Always choose a quality rifle scope for accuracy and comfortable shooting. Experts recommend having a scope that’s worth almost as much as your rifle since it can be the difference between getting consistent good shots and shooting all over the place. 

When target shooting, you may be tempted to go with more magnification, but these scopes aren’t the best. More magnification will disrupt your shots if you’re a beginner since you’ll have to hold the rifle quite steady. Rather, go for rifle scope with 4x to 6x magnification. This will allow for decent accuracy when shooting over 200 yards. 

When choosing a rifle scope, the reticle style is another option to consider. Modern rifle scopes come with reticles that use military-grade technology, but you don’t need to go into such complexities when target shooting. The “fine crosshair” reticle is ideal for target shooting, more affordable, and requires less practice. 

You can practice with different rifle lenses, but make sure it’s correctly fitted before trying it out on the shooting range. A slight difference in lens adjustment can make most of your shots haywire. 

6. Make Sure the Rifle Is Safe and Durable

Gunsmith examining a rifle

Accuracy isn’t everything when target shooting. Even if you’re shooting plastic pellets with an air gun, a misfire could seriously harm you or those around you. Thus, always make sure the gun safety authorities approve the rifle and do your research on its track record. 

Nowadays, you can find many cheaper air guns for target shooting online, but most have a short life. Learn how to use the safety features on your rifle, service it regularly and have it checked by a gunsmith when you feel something is off. 

Remember, rifle safety should be a priority, so don’t shy away from spending a few extra dollars on a reputable brand. 

Which Rifles Are Best for Target Shooting?

The rifles that are best for target shooting are those that pass a safety test, shoot a range of ammo types, and have an accurate range of over 200 yards (182 m). Most target shooting ranges will provide air guns to shoot with. 

Air guns can shoot smaller ammo and are specifically designed for target shooting and small game hunting. They are also more accurate over long distances and may be cheaper than many hunting rifles. Air gun ammo is also much cheaper, making it ideal for practicing target shooting. 

Final Thoughts

Target shooting can be fairly easy or difficult depending on your rifle. Choosing the best rifle for target shooting mostly depends on your shooting experience and where you buy from. Ideally, you should choose a rifle with a durable frame, comfortable grip, and accurate scope for the best results. 

You can practice target shooting with a hunting rifle, but it’s better to use an air rifle instead. Practice makes perfect, and spending time at the target shooting range will help you sharpen your shooting skills.

For more, check out Typical Shooting Range Costs | Pistols, Rifles, and Skeet.

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