Hello, Frank here.
Hope everybody is doing well and has survived the holidays. Today I’m going to talk about firearms that can commonly be used around the farm.
|Not a farmer’s firearm
I’m going to break this down into six parts: rifles, shotguns, pistols, ammunition, the law and safety. At a later date, I’ll post about trapping and other methods used to control undesirable pests. I don’t want to appear negative, but this post is not going to be about: armor piercing bullets, grenade launchers, and I think you get the drift here. Some people will say an assault rifle works great on a farm, and they’re right, they do. But the perspective coming out of this post is going to be for farm use, not dealing with biker gangs, zombies or the golden horde. If that’s what you’re looking for, this ain’t the place. This post is a very basic idea about guns around the farm. Keep that in mind when you’re looking through this list. I am by no means an expert in firearms. This is just one man’s opinion. And always remember safety first.
Okay, let’s start with rifles. I’m a big fan of American made products, so you’re going to see a tremendous slant towards American made. There are excellent foreign made products, and if that’s to your choosing, please go right ahead. The 22 LR, has probably killed more animals than any other rifle in modern times. It can be deadly accurate and bring down any size game with a precise shot, which means, it will bring down a coyote, or any animal going down in size. It’s excellent for rabbit, squirrel, crows. Most people that are professional gun folks would tell you that a 22 is too small for a coyote. But if you’re living out in the country, and you’re just starting your firearm collection, a 22 LR with a well placed shot will drop a coyote, or for that matter, a deer. You cannot reload a 22 LR. There is very, very little kick and it’s an excellent rifle to start kids on with adult supervision. My favorite 22 rifle is the Ruger 10/22. This does not mean that other manufacturers don’t produce an excellent 22 rifle. This is just the one that I choose to use. We’ll talk more about 22 later, when we talk about pistols and ammunition and the law.
Continuing with rifles, there are a number of calibers larger than the 22 that will do what you need. Everybody has their favorite. I’m going to talk about two of the larger rifles. The first will be the 223, or in the metric system, it’s 5.56. Now there is a difference between these two ammunitions. If you have a rifle capable of shooting 5.56, then it will also shoot the 223. But a 223 only rifle, will not shoot a 5.56. This is very important. The 5.56 has a little more pressure than the 223. If you are buying a rifle, just go ahead and get one that is 5.56 rated. These rifles come everywhere from Remington, Ruger, almost all manufacturers make a 223/5.56. Let me explain what the numbers mean. 223. The bullet has a .22 inch diameter bullet that comes out the end of the barrel. The 5.56mm, has the same dimensions. The grain of the bullet is the weight. The most common 223/5.56 is the 55gr FMJ, which means full metal jacket. This is your standard NATO round, which is used by militaries around the world. Do more research on your own here and understand what this data means. Again, when buying a new rifle, make sure it will shoot both 223/5.56.
What type of rifle will shoot this round? There are standard looking Remington bolt actions and your military M-16 version. The civilian version of the M-16 is the AR-15. There are numerous manufacturers of the AR-15, Bushmaster, Remington, Ruger. These are common manufacturers, there are many more. This round is commonly used for coyotes, dogs, and in many cases, it is a deer rifle. If you want an AR-15 type rifle, you can get these with multiple size magazines, but there are lots of people that are afraid of these military looking guns. So, be aware of that. Ruger makes a nice mini 14, but be advised, your Colt, Bushmaster and other common AR-15 magazines will not work in the Ruger Mini 14. I like the Ruger Mini 14. And if you want to make it look like a military machine gun, then you can. If not, you can get it with a standard wood stock.
Next a little bit larger rifle. The caliber will be called a 308. The 308 is also a NATO round and a popular gun. It hits hard, travels a long distance and is a proven stopper. There aren’t many things on the North American continent that this rifle will not stop. Now the number 308 is a .30 inch diameter bullet that comes out the end of the barrel. In the military world it’s called a 7.62 x 51mm. In the metric world the diameter of the bullet is 7.62mm. Some confusion here. A 7.62 also comes in many other sizes. There is also a very popular round, the 7.62 x 39mm. But these two rounds are not interchangeable, and they are by no means the same. Remington, Ruger and other quality manufacturers make a 308 rifle. This is considered to be a large gun. The ballistics are very similar to a 30-06. Ammunition is easier to find than most because it is a NATO round and is the big gun used by countries around the world. But, again, when you buy a rifle, make sure it is chambered for 308/7.62. This is the bullet that the M-14 used. It was replaced later on by the M-16, which we now know is a 5.56 x 45mm. The 308 is an excellent round for deer, and is a long distance shooter. Many militaries use this round. But because it is a more powerful round, then your weapon weighs more, that’s why some countries have switched to a 5.56, it is lighter.
If your farm pest problem is an 800 pound bear, the 308 will work, but many people would recommend a bigger rifle. If that is your case, then you should already know what to use. A 338 works well. Like any rifle, any bullet, any caliber, everybody has a different opinion. What I’m giving you are just standards here. If everybody in your family shoots a 270, and it’s deer season, and you’re out late at night hunting and you’ve run out of ammunition, then you know you can go to Bubba’s house and steal some of his. We’ll talk more about ammunition availability later.
Shotguns. I’ve heard many people say a shotgun has no place anywhere. Wrong. It is my favorite gun around the farm. It’ll bring down a bird, it will stop an opossum, skunk, raccoon, big cat, little cat, great big dog and other size critters. Now it is a short distance gun. As my wife just reminded me, it works great on snakes. There are single shot shotguns, pump shotguns which will carry about five rounds and semiautomatic shotguns. There are other specialty shotguns, some real nice double barrels, rifle shotgun combinations, but here, I’m going to talk about a pump shotgun. Mossberg and Remington both make good pump shotguns. The Remington 870 is probably the most popular pump shotgun of all times.
One of the best features about using a shotgun is that it doesn’t travel a long distance. It comes in all different size pellets and slugs, for that matter. A slug is one solid projectile. I’m not going to talk about slugs, but I am going to talk about 00 buckshot. Birdshot pellets can be very, very small and go up in size to a 00 buckshot, which is about .30 inch diameter ball. The smaller the pellet, the shorter distance it will travel. 00 buckshot, for that matter, is lethal to about 50 yards, and a well placed shot, about 100 yards. In my opinion, 100 yards is really stretching it. But at 50 yards, 00 buckshot will knock down an animal the size of a large dog. Birdshot at 50 yards, in most cases, is not going to make it to the target. There are a lot of factors to play in here: wind, rain, distance, size of pellet, caliber of shotgun shell, and other factors. Speaking of calibers. There is the 410, 20 ga (guage), and 12 ga. 12 ga kicks the hardest, 410 kicks the least. There are other calibers, yes, but these are beyond a doubt, the most common. Everything I have made reference to is a 12 ga, 2 3/4″ bullet. There is a 3″ shell, commonly referred to as a magnum, it has a little more power and a few more pellets. An example here: A 12 ga, 2 3/4″, 00 buckshot has nine .30 inch pellets that come out of the barrel. This is a deadly round for larger animals, in my humble opinion, up to 50 yards. Any of the birdshots will work well on small and big targets at close range. I keep shotguns loaded with both. If you’re a smaller framed person, look at a 20 ga, it’s just a little less powerful which translates into less pain on your shoulder.
Pistols. The only pistol I’m going to talk about is the 22 LR. About the only time I use a pistol for farm type work is when I’m butchering animals. The 22 LR comes in revolver and semiautomatic. Most manufacturers that produce pistols produce some type of 22 LR pistol. This post is not about home protection. But if you are afraid for your families’ lives, a pistol could be an excellent choice, but that’s your call. I would check out Glock. The reason being, I spent a number of years as an active reserve police officer. I carried a gun 24/7 and the Glock line of firearms are proven performers. They just work. There are some things that you want to work when you need them. Check out Glock.
Okay. Back to the farm. Ammunition. Common caliber rounds are easier to find than specialty bullets. Now days it is difficult to locate ammunition. I would still stay with common caliber rounds. That’s why I recommended the 223/5.56. It is the most common bullet on the planet. The 308 is a common large rifle round. The 30-06 is another common large caliber rifle. The 12 ga shotgun is the most common 12 ga round. It is also an excellent home protection weapon. The 22 LR will stop almost any predator, whether it’s rifle or pistol, bolt action, semiautomatic or revolver. Store your ammunition in a dry place. If properly cared for, it will last for many years. You can’t have too much ammunition. That’s my opinion.
The law. As most of you are aware, we have 50 states. Different states have different laws. Different counties have different laws. Some big cities have their own laws, also. All I can address is Oklahoma. Example. You can use a 223 to hunt deer with, but it has to be a 55 gr or larger, and cannot be full metal jacket. If using a magazine, it cannot hold over five rounds. That’s just one example. You cannot use buckshot here. In some states you cannot use a rifle to hunt deer, and only use buckshot. This rule normally apply to states that have a larger per capita population, in other words, way too many people. Knowing the law, is your responsibility. Here in Oklahoma it is against the law to shoot an owl, or a hawk even if it is in the act of killing your livestock, baby goats or sheep. It is against the law. So, know your local laws.
Safety. If you have read my radio posts, and you should, there is no excuse for doing something that is unsafe. A unloaded gun will kill you just a fast as a loaded gun. There are safety rules everywhere written about guns. Being stupid with a firearm, might cost your little blond haired, blue eyed girl her life. That image of finding her cannot be erased. Take a hunter’s safety course, in many states it’s the law. Don’t ever, ever drink and handle a gun. In Oklahoma you can be out on your property and if you’re not bothering anybody, you can blast your gun all day and all night. But if you are drunk and blasting your gun on your property, you’re committing a felony. Now, I’m not talking about having a few drinks and hearing an opossum in your chicken house. I’m talking about being STUPID. Don’t drink and drive or shoot.
I mentioned earlier that my favorite gun around the farm is the shotgun because when I walk outside with a 22 rifle, rabbits just look at me and laugh. A few years back I started wearing bifocals and the rabbit population in my area went up. Somebody, somewhere told me, use a shotgun. The rabbit population has decreased which is good for our garden.
I want to remind you that everybody’s brother and cousin has a different opinion about firearms, calibers and what I’ve said here today is just one man’s opinion. But if you need a firearm for your homestead, I would not wait much longer to get it. Please remember safety. Every gun manufacturer on their website has a section about safety. Know your local laws. Guns are a useful tool in properly trained hands. Guns can be a fun hobby. Guns can be deadly, don’t forget that.
We’ll talk more later. Frank