The Essential Firearms for Every Hunting Household

The Essential Firearms for Every Hunting Household

Firearms are integral to the outdoor lifestyle, offering protection and a way to procure game for sustenance. Despite the vast array of firearms available, a select few can meet most needs..

As an advocate, I encourage you to explore beyond this introductory list. However, if you are just now jumping into the gun world, here is a list of guns that when combined, will cover every situation you may find yourself in in the great outdoors.


The 22 Rifle

The .22 rifle is perhaps the most significant firearm in the shooting world. They are affordable, quiet, have virtually no recoil, and are very practical tools in the outdoors. The 22 rifle has cemented itself as the single most influential firearm in history and serves as many people’s introduction to firearms each year. 

The 22 rifle is as practical as they come. Perfect for backyard plinking and developing the fundamentals of marksmanship. Aside from practice, the 22 rifle is perfect for small game hunting in just about every state and can handle most any varmint on the property. Lastly, there is nothing more fun to shoot than an accurate 22 rifle.

As with anything, there are a lot of options for 22 rifles. Many of the $200-300 options today are great and will no doubt last a lifetime. Almost all 22s on the market today, when combined with quality ammo, are capable of accuracy that was unheard of 50 years ago. If you can increase your budget a little bit, into the $500-600 range, you can really get a sweet shooter that you will feel confident with and will be passed down from generation to generation.

12 Gauge Shotgun

12 Gauge Shotgun

The versatility of the 12 gauge shotgun makes it indispensable for various applications. You can hunt everything from upland birds to deer with one while also using it as self-defense in the home. The uses of the 12 gauge shotgun are truly limitless.

As we mentioned briefly, the 12 gauge shotgun can be used for just about anything. This isn’t because of some major technological breakthrough in shotgun designs, but rather the incredible versatility of the ammunition that is available for the 12 gauge. Small game loads can effectively kill squirrels, rabbits, and ruffed grouse, while slugs are great for deer under 100 yards. Pick up a box of steel or bismuth shot and every species of waterfowl is on the menu. It is a true do-it-all all gun.

With all of the different options for shotguns, I highly recommend starting with a trusty pump shotgun like the Mossberg 500 or Remington 870. Add in the ability of interchangeable chokes, and you have a truly versatile setup that can hunt turkey in the morning and defend the home that night.

Centerfire Rifle

Bolt Action Centerfire Rifle

Bolt-action centerfire rifles are foundational to big game hunting. The strong lockup of a bolt action has allowed for incredible cartridge development over the last century. It is simple to use, functional, and accurate as can be. 

One centerfire rifle in a common caliber can cover everything you could come across in North America. While a 300 Win Mag may be a little much for the southeastern whitetail, it is a great option for everything up to and including Elk and Moose. The rifle should be light enough to carry all day but not so light that it can’t be steadied for an offhand shot should it present itself.

One last note on a bolt action rifle, don’t spend too much time on forums debating which caliber to get. Instead, do your research on bullet construction. Even the latest and greatest cartridge out there today sucks with a poor-performing bullet.

Admittedly, you could stop at the above three and have just about all of your hunting needs covered. However, the next few will have you covered for all of your scenarios outdoors.



A pistol serves as an excellent companion for outdoor activities, providing reliable protection. Perfect for everyday carry both in the woods and out, they offer a great level of protection. Both compact and robust, they are right at home on the hip of any outdoorsman or woman.

A pistol in a common caliber like 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP will have you covered for personal protection almost anywhere in the states. Most of the commonly found models on the market have been tested time and time again and have proven to be reliable. A pistol can serve double-duty offering personal protection at home as well as in the field.

I personally would recommend just about any Glock(the 19 is a favorite of mine) or any M&P series S&W. As with every firearm, your choice of ammunition will dictate how effective it will be against certain targets, so choose accordingly.



The AR-15 is America’s rifle. Plain and simple. Carrying a name like it should not be taken lightly. Although it is constantly portrayed in the wrong light, it is the single most versatile tool you can have in your arsenal. Self-defense, hunting, and warfighting are all within the realm of possibility when equipped with one of these. 

The AR-15 can be a little intimidating to the uninitiated but it really doesn’t need to be. Chambered in the 5.56 NATO it is almost identical to the 223 Remington that has made such an impact on the hunting world. While it may be considered a little light for big game,it has proven itself on deer with a well-placed shot. 

AR-15s are lightweight, reliable, and effective. There are tons on the market of varying degrees of quality. Be sure to find one made in the US and don’t forget to save money for an optic as well as spare magazines and ammunition. Every home needs an AR-15.

Closing thoughts

This selection of firearms offers coverage for a wide range of scenarios you might encounter. This is a great place to get started if you are just getting into the world of hunting. It is by no means a complete list but a mere starting point.

Written by Kurtis Martonik, Spartan Forge Researcher and owner of The Gunsmithing Journal