You might not think of a shotgun as the go-to firearm for deer hunting, but there are plenty of arguments that suggest otherwise.
In fact, we’re going to talk about how to choose the absolute best shotgun for deer hunting. And what are some of the most important factors to consider when buying your slug gun. See some of our favorite options below if you’re in a rush.
- Remington 11-87 Sportsman Black Synthetic Semi-Auto Shotgun
- Browning BPS Rifled Deer Hunter Pump Action Shotgun
- Winchester SX4 Cantilever Buck Shotgun
- Remington 870 SPS SuperSlug Pump Shotgun
- Savage 212 Slug Gun Bolt Action Shotgun
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How to Choose a Shotgun for Deer Hunting
In many states, the shotgun deer hunting season doesn’t last very long. That’s why those who think ahead know that you need a powerful deer hunting shotgun to successfully carry you through the season. Here are a few of the most important features to consider if you’re not sure how to start looking for the right shotgun.
Choose the Right Firepower
Let’s not forget that the deer is a large animal. As a kid, you might have imagined hunting for deer with your BB gun or .22 rifle, but that’s just not going to work. The truth is that a 12 gauge shotgun is probably the best choice for deer hunting. But a 16 gauge will do the job just as well.
However, if those kick just a bit too hard for you, or if you’re getting the first weapon for your teenager, a 20 gauge shotgun will also work. The thing about the 12 gauge slug gun is that it’s incredibly versatile.
After the deer hunting season, you can use it to pursue the smaller game. Loaded with the right birdshot, you can hunt for rabbits, quail, and even squirrels.
Determine the Preferred Action
More than any other firearms, the shotgun is built with a number of actions and barrels. You’re likely to skip the double-barrel shotgun for deer hunting because it’s much more suitable for birds and other small game.
Another unlikely choice is the bolt-action because it’s pretty rare among shotguns, and the other is that it’s a bit slower than other action choices. When you’re trying to aim at a deer, you need something handier.
One of the most reliable deer hunting shotguns, the pump action shotgun is the most common. You must know a lot of people who have one and you can shoot multiple rounds without having to move your position, which is a feature much appreciated in deer hunting.
Like the pump action, semi-automatic shotguns are a reliable choice and they also load much faster. While that’s usually a great thing, particularly for less experienced hunters, a semi-automatic can also be a more overwhelming choice.
The Hunting Ground Matters
You already know what animal you’re hunting (save for perhaps the exact species of deer), but when choosing your shotgun, you need to consider the hunting ground as well. Because if you’re going to aim from an open field, you probably want to invest in a gun that has a range of more than 250 yards, which will take shotguns out of the equation.
But if you’re going to sneak your way through thick woods with minimal visibility, investing in a shotgun with that much power doesn’t make much sense.
Advantages of Using a Shotgun for Deer Hunting
Most hunters know that some of the best deer hunting locations are in states that outlaw the use of rifles for deer hunting. That leaves them with just a muzzleloader or a shotgun.
When presented with these two choices, the shotgun stands as a clearly better choice, primarily due to the extra firepower. Also, muzzleloaders are more likely to misfire and are overall less versatile.
But even in areas where you could potentially use a rifle, you can hit the target more easily with a single shot slug gun or any deer hunting shotgun, provided that you can get close enough.
How to Use a Shotgun for Deer Hunting: Beginners Guide
Before jumping into details, I want to reiterate that it’s imperative to always treat any gun as if it was loaded. Before you fire the first shot, you need to practice holding your shotgun correctly. Your non-firing hand should be on the stock, somewhere in the middle.
And of course, the firing hand should be holding the grip of the shotgun. To develop proper aim, you’ll need to work on your cheek weld. Another essential aspect of learning how to use your shotgun for hunting is to lead it properly.
You’ll always need to be careful about having the safety on until it’s time to shoot. Finally, pulling the trigger should feel as if you’re giving the shotgun’s grip a firm handshake.
Also, closing your eyes while you’re learning how to shoot is a common mistake. It’s actually important to keep both your eyes open so you can focus on the moving deer.
Cleaning Your Shotgun
If you want your slug gun to deliver all its might, you’re going to need to clean it after every use. Most hunters enjoy this process as it gets you better acquainted with your firearm.
You’re going to break the shotgun into parts and degrease them with a professional solvent. Make sure to use a clean cloth to swab the barrel and wipe down the entire shotgun for any gunpowder residue.
Best Shotguns for deer hunting
If anything, a Remington is famous for accuracy. This incredible deer hunting shotgun comes with the semi-automatic action, which is the perfect choice for large game hunting.
If you’re worried about the firepower, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s available in both 12 gauge and 20 gauge options. The barrel length is available in three sizes of 21, 26, and 28 inches. In terms of round capacity, you have 4+1, which is just adequate for a semi-automatic shotgun.
Another great feature of this slug gun is that it has a self-compensating gas system, which means that there’s less recoil upon firing. Overall, this could easily be the best shotgun for deer hunting for some. The Sportsman 11-87 epitomizes the spirit of deer hunting and offers a very smooth operating action.
- Excellent point ability
- Very fast
- Extra strength and durability
- Occasional mechanical glitches
For deer hunting, you may appreciate the reliability and power of the pump-action shotgun. And that’s exactly what you get with the Browning BPS whether you’re going with the 12 gauge slug gun or the 20 gauge slug gun.
This amazing shotgun provides so much value with its steel receiver and bottom ejection. It also has a top tang safety and durable parts that allow you to enter every deer season with a formidable weapon and pleasurable shooting.
This Browning also has a bluish finish that looks very refined. The stock material is black walnut with a satin finish. If you’re looking for a shotgun that’s capable of highly competent follow-up shots, the Browning BPS may just be for you.
- Dual-action bars
- Quality components
- Relatively heavy
For what it does best, the Winchester SX4 Cantilever may just outperform almost any rifle you compare it to. I’m talking about a soft-shooting slug gun that’s going to be very reliable and steady when you’re hunting deer.
It features a soft recoil pad that uses proprietary technology that knocks the recoil down and away from your face. What makes the Cantilever unique is that its base is mounted not on the receiver but the barrel.
This allows for a good cheek weld when you’re trying to make that shot. The semi-automatic Winchester SX4 has a self-regulating gas system that the gunmaker has managed to improve from the previous model.
- Soft recoil pad
- Self-regulating gas system
- Low-mounted base
- Extremely accurate
- Top-tier shotgun price tag
When you’re looking for the best shotgun for deer hunting, but you also want to use it for small game, the Remington 870 SPS is an option to consider.
It’s a short slug gun that provides excellent ergonomic features for those who care how their shotgun feels during the hunt. This is a 12 gauge slug gun with a 4-round tube magazine. It’s a pump-action and precisely what many deer hunters need.
It has an AR-style grip and a polymer cut-out stock. On top of the shotgun, you get a 1x optical scope that will provide enough eye relief when you’re aiming.
The Remington 870 SPS makes extracting rounds very easy, which cannot be said of some other shotguns of its class. The overall length is 47 inches and the receiver is finished in matte blue.
- Mossy oak stock
- Excellent ergonomics
- 20-inch smoothbore barrel
- Not everybody will prefer the grip
The Savage 212 is a bolt-action shotgun that’s an excellent choice for someone just venturing into the world of deer hunting. Essentially, the manufacturer has redesigned its MasterShot bolt-action shotgun discontinued over ten years ago.
And with the new 212 came a few changes. The previously inconsistent ejection has been addressed. while not perfect, the Savage 212, is a significant improvement through and through.
Moving on, the 212 has a 3-inch chamber and a round capacity of 3+1. It’s available in 12 gauge only, but you can choose certain customization features for the stock, choke, and finish.
- Custom options
- Excellent starter shotgun
- Classic design
- May still have some ejecting issues
Going Into Deer Hunting Season with a Bang
The best shotgun for deer hunting is the one that suits your hunting grounds, needs, and experience. Having said that, there are universal parameters that impact your decision. If I’m to recommend the best slug gun from the list, it would be the Remington 11-87 Sportsman Semi-Auto Shotgun.
This is a shotgun that will deliver everything you need for deer hunting. It’s semi-automatic, extremely fast and reliable, and it’s also not going to break the bank. If properly cared for, it can be the shotgun that you take with you on every hunting trip.