When I first started hunting, my husband bought me a .243 Winchester. I shot the rifle very well and took the time to learn everything about the rifle and the caliber. We were not hunting big animals, just Whitetail deer and lots of does. After shooting several deer, I discovered that the caliber was very “iffy”. Sometimes it would drop the deer in their tracks and other times the deer would run off and have to be tracked and found 100 or more yards later. I noticed Kerry’s rifle, a 35 Whelen caliber, never seemed to have this problem.
I decided very early in my hunting career that I needed a rifle that was capable of cleanly killing any animal that I was going to hunt. I asked Kerry to build me a 35 Whelen like his. Most women are afraid of recoil so they are told that they need a small caliber rifle. I think this is a myth and comes from men believing that a woman is not capable of shooting the same caliber as they do or a bigger caliber than they do. If a .300 Winchester is too much for a man then it should be too much recoil for a woman to shoot. Men can’t take recoil any better than I can. I shoot a .35 Whelen caliber for the big game that I hunt and a 7mm STW for any time that I might need to take a long shot. My best friend and hunting companion shoots a 375 H&H most of the time and also uses a .270 Winchester for the smaller game. One of my good friends, Sandra Sadler also hunts with a 375 H&H and has taken over 100 trophy animals with it. Another friend, Deb Cunningham, hunts with a 7mm STW and a 338 Winchester. Deb is about 5 feet 2 inches and weighs nothing, if she has no problem with recoil then no one will!
The fit of a rifle is very important to every shooter, especially a woman. I know if a rifle or shotgun fits me then it seems to have less recoil. If a rifle is too long and I have to stretch to reach the sight picture in the scope, then the rifle is going to kick me more. A rifle needs to feel comfortable and not be too long. I can shoot a rifle that is too short, but not one that is too long. Taking the time to have a gun properly fit to you is the first step in getting ready to shoot accurately and to hunt the game of your choice. Nice soft recoil pads don’t hurt either. If a lady is still afraid of the recoil from a rifle or shotgun, then consider having a muzzle-break installed on the rifle or have the shotgun ported. Muzzle-breaks are great and make it easy to control the recoil of any large rifle. I see lots of men using them too!
What is the perfect rifle for a woman to shoot? It is the same as any man would shoot. For general hunting in North America, I would pick a 7mm Remington Mag or a 300 Winchester Mag. For the real big stuff, I like the 375 H&H or the new 375 Ruger. Both the 7 Mag and the 300 Winchester are capable of cleanly killing most any animal in North America or Africa. Now, if you are hunting Big Bear (not Black Bear) then I feel the bigger caliber makes more sense. Any animal that can kill and eat me, commands a lot of respect and I want the biggest caliber I can handle and shoot well when I hunt them.
If you’re a woman, don’t be afraid to try a larger caliber. Make sure the gun fits you and that you are comfortable in handling it. Once you have accomplished the fit, all it takes is practice to get use to the gun and the recoil, then you will be ready to go everywhere and hunt anything.