Pros and Cons of Hunting with Single-Shot Rifles


Single-shot rifles are mechanically simple

The design of a single-shot rifle is straightforward. It typically consists of a barrel, trigger, and breech mechanism. There’s no magazine or complex feeding system, which reduces the number of moving parts, making it less prone to mechanical failure. Plus, single-shot rifles eliminate the guesswork of how many rounds you have left. And with no feeding issues to worry about, they offer a straightforward and reliable hunting experience.

Single-shot rifles are inexpensive

When it comes to cost-effectiveness, single-shot rifles usually take the trophy. Because single-shots are mechanically simple, they are typically more affordable than repeaters. This makes them an excellent choice for beginners or those hunting on a budget.

Let’s take Henry rifles in .357 Mag as an example. We have Henry Single Shot .357 Mag with a 22-inch barrel priced around $500. On the other end, we have Henry repeaters in .357, such as the Big Boy lever-action, the price of which can range from $800 to $1,000.

Single-shot rifles have a separate hunting season

Hunters often use single-shot rifles to take advantage of special regulations, such as certain big game muzzleloader-only and primitive weapons seasons. This allows them to extend their hunting season and enjoy more time in the great outdoors.

The general whitetail deer hunting season here, in Texas, typically begins on November 4 and extends through January 7 for the northern region of the state. However, for southern Texas, the season is slightly longer, continuing until January 21. Following the general season, there is an additional opportunity for hunters in northern Texas. The muzzleloader season starts on January 8 and concludes on January 21. During the muzzleloader season, hunters can extend their hunting activities, allowing them to further contribute to deer population management while enjoying the sport they love. 

Single-shot rifles are iconic


For many hunting enthusiasts, the appeal of single-shot rifles extends beyond their simplicity and reliability. These firearms hold a special place in the history of hunting and shooting sports, often associated with legendary figures and historical events. Models such as the Sharps, Springfield, Remington Rolling Block, and Browning/Winchester single-shot models hold a special place in the hearts of those who appreciate the romance of 19th-century firearms.

The Sharps Rifle, for instance, is one of the most iconic single-shot rifles. It gained fame during the era of buffalo hunting in the 19th century and was favored for its long-range accuracy. The Sharps Rifle was also famously used by the Union’s sharpshooters during the American Civil War. The Springfield, particularly the Model 1873, known as the “Trapdoor Springfield,” was another popular single-shot rifle. It was the first standard-issue breech-loading rifle adopted by the United States Army. And, of course, we couldn’t but mention the Winchester Model 1885, a product of the Winchester–Browning collaboration. It became one of the most popular single-shot rifles among sportsmen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Single-shot rifles can handle heavy loads

While bolt-action rifles are also renowned for their simplicity and reliability, not all of them can withstand the recoil produced by heavy loads. This harsh recoil can cause numerous problems. For instance, during the repeated firing of heavy rounds, the recoil can cause the sights on some bolt-action rifles to get loose. Another potential issue is that the magazine floorplates might spring open under the impact of powerful recoil.

Despite being chambered for heavy rounds, not all sporting repeaters can dependably handle the abuse of high-pressure rounds. In such cases, a well-constructed single-shot rifle might be a more reliable choice. Single-shot rifles, which require the shooter to manually load each round, are often built robustly to handle the recoil of powerful loads. Their simplicity can be an advantage, as there are fewer mechanical parts that could potentially fail under stress.

Single-shot rifles make you careful


Single-shot rifles require a certain degree of precision, patience, and skill. The knowledge that you only have one shot, with no full magazine to fall back on, should naturally inspire care and certainty when you pull the trigger. In many ways, this characteristic is one of the unique advantages of a single-shot rifle. 

An impatient shooter might struggle with the constraints of a single-shot rifle and yearn for the reassurance of a second shot. However, the limitation of having just one shot makes the shooter to slow down, take their time, and ensure they’re aligning, aiming, and firing correctly.

This deliberate approach not only increases the chances of a successful shot but also promotes more mindful and focused hunting. It’s a reminder that every shot counts and that careful preparation can often make the difference between success and failure.

Single-shot rifles are great for long-range hunting

Single-shot rifles shine in long-range situations, for instance, when hunting mule deer or pronghorns. Often, these animals remain unaware of a missed first shot or the sound produced by the gun’s report, affording the hunter time to reload, reassess the distance, and carefully aim once more.

Single shots are great for teaching basics of gun handling

Single-shot rifles in .22LR are often the preferred choice for introducing young and novice shooters to the world of firearms. Their simplicity allows for a more focused and safer learning experience.

Safety is the cornerstone of any firearm instruction, and single-shot rifles allow new shooters to focus on this aspect without the distraction of managing a full magazine. As there’s only one round to be fired, learners can concentrate on handling the firearm safely and understanding how to load and unload it. Aiming is another vital skill that can be more effectively taught with a single-shot rifle. Because each shot must be carefully considered and cannot be quickly followed by another, learners are encouraged to take their time, align their sights correctly, and aim accurately before pulling the trigger. Shooting techniques, such as proper stance, grip, and breath control, can also be honed with these rifles. The lack of rapid-fire capability forces the shooter to reset after each shot, allowing them to pay attention to these crucial elements and improve their overall technique.

Single-shot rifles are generally lighter, shorter, and easier to maneuver

The compact and lightweight design of single-shot rifles makes them easy to handle and maneuver, especially in dense forests or underbrush.

Single shots allow for easier caliber change

With a single-shot rifle, changing calibers is often as simple as swapping barrels, offering hunters more flexibility in choosing the right ammunition for different games. With just one shooting platform, you can hunt everything from squirrels to deer and even switch to shotgun shooting.

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