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Build the Complete Rifle Setup: Small and Large Game on a Budget

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In this post we’ll go over what two rifles you should get started with and why, how to protect them, and how much will it all cost?

This setup offers the most reliability and the ultimate protection for your investment.

Build the Complete Rifle Setup

Hunting is an age-old tradition, a harmonious dance between man and nature that spans countless generations. As you embark on this timeless journey, it’s not just about the skill, you need to make wise choices in what equipment you start with too. The right rifle can make all the difference, especially for those just starting out. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to two reliable and cost-effective rifles: the .308 Winchester (Win) and the .22 Long Rifle (LR). While these may not be included on any high-end lists, their consistent performance speaks volumes. A rifle is a tool and these two get the job done every time.

But a good rifle is only part of the equation. Protecting your investment with a sturdy case is equally crucial. Think of it as a reliable shield, safeguarding your gear from the elements and the rigors of travel. As we navigate through the essentials of a beginner’s hunting kit, this guide aims to provide you with the most dependable options without stretching your budget.

Let’s embark on this journey to find quality, affordability, and reliability rolled into one. Let’s do this.

The .308 Winchester (Win)

The .308 Win is a powerful and versatile rifle that’s ideal for hunting larger game. Its impressive range and stopping power make it a favorite among many hunters. Here’s what you need to know:

Rutger American 308 Win
  • Types of Game: The .308 Win is best suited for medium to large game. This includes deer, elk, moose, and even some larger predators like bears. Its powerful cartridge ensures a humane and quick kill, provided the shooter places their shot accurately.
  • Range and Accuracy: With the right optics and ammunition, the .308 Win can be effective at ranges exceeding 800 yards. However, for hunting purposes, most shots will be taken at shorter distances, often within 300 yards.

What is “stopping power” when referring to the .308?

“Stopping power” refers to the ability of a firearm or ammunition to cause enough trauma and damage to a target, particularly game animals in the context of hunting, to immediately incapacitate or kill it. In the context of the statement about the .308 Win, it emphasizes that the rifle’s cartridge has sufficient energy and force to quickly and humanely bring down medium to large game. The idea behind “stopping power” is to ensure that the animal does not suffer unnecessarily and is taken down as swiftly and painlessly as possible when hit accurately.

The .22 Long Rifle (LR)

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the .22LR. This small-caliber rifle is perfect for beginners and offers a more affordable and less intimidating introduction to the world of hunting. Here’s what you should know:

Ruger 10/22 Rifle
  • Types of Game: The .22LR is designed for small game hunting. This includes animals like squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and birds. While it lacks the power of larger rifles, its accuracy and affordability make it a favorite for many. This rifle is also a great option to help protect your smaller livestock from predators, grab it quick, it’s accurate, not too noisy.
  • Range and Accuracy: The effective range of a .22LR is much shorter than that of the .308 Win. Typically, hunters will take shots within 50 to 150 yards. Its smaller cartridge also means less recoil.

What does recoil mean and why does the .22 (LR) have less recoil?

“Recoil” refers to the backward movement or kick of a gun when it is fired. It’s the result of the law of conservation of momentum; as the bullet and expanding gases move forward out of the barrel, the gun itself is pushed backward in the shooter’s hands or against the shooter’s shoulder. The force and feel of this backward push is what we commonly refer to as recoil.

The .22LR has less recoil compared to many other cartridges for a few reasons:

  1. Smaller Cartridge Size: The .22LR is a smaller caliber cartridge, meaning it has a smaller diameter and typically uses a lighter bullet.
  2. Lower Powder Charge: The amount of gunpowder in a .22LR cartridge is significantly less than what you’d find in larger cartridges. The explosion from this smaller amount of gunpowder is less forceful.
  3. Bullet Weight: The weight of the bullet itself in a .22LR is much lighter compared to many other rounds. Since recoil is a function of both the bullet’s weight and the speed at which it’s expelled, a lighter bullet contributes to less recoil.

To Scope or Not to Scope: Making the Right Choice

When it comes to rifle shooting, the decision to use a scope can significantly influence your shooting experience. Each rifle and its intended use can dictate the necessity of a scope. Let’s delve into the considerations for our two rifles in focus: the .308 Winchester (Win) and the .22 Long Rifle (LR).

.308 Winchester (Win)

For the .308 Win, a scope is almost indispensable. Given the rifle’s capability to shoot at longer distances, especially when hunting larger game, a scope enhances accuracy, ensuring a humane and precise shot. The magnification allows for better target identification and shot placement, crucial for ethical hunting.

.22 Long Rifle (LR)

On the other hand, the .22LR is often used for closer range shooting, typically targeting smaller game. While a scope can be beneficial for pinpoint accuracy, many shooters find the iron sights sufficient. However, if you’re looking for that extra edge in precision or are engaging in activities like target shooting, adding a scope can be advantageous.

Spotlight: The Ideal Scope for Your .308 Win

Consider the Crossfire II 3-9×50 Straight Wall BDC Riflescope. This scope is tailored for those who appreciate the nuances of straight-wall cartridges. It boasts a BDC reticle that’s fine-tuned for straight-wall hunting, ensuring you have accurate holdovers and swift target acquisition. Its one-inch tube strikes a balance between adjustability, size, and weight, making it versatile for various hunting situations. And, true to the Crossfire II lineage, it promises consistent performance, ensuring it remains a trusty companion during your hunting expeditions. However, there are many choices, pick whatever suits you best.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Second Focal Plane

The Importance of Protecting Your Equipment with the Right Case

In the world of outdoor activities, especially hunting, the equipment you use is an extension of your skills and passion. It’s not just about having the best rifle or the sharpest knife; it’s about ensuring that these tools are always in optimal condition, ready to perform when you need them most. This is where the significance of having the right protective case comes into play.

The Pelican V800 Vault Double Rifle Case exemplifies the essence of top-tier equipment protection. Built for hard use, high impact, and supreme weather resistance, this case stands out as one of the most rugged and secure in its class. Here’s why investing in such a case is invaluable:

Pelican Vault Case 2 Rifle
  1. Versatility and Capacity: The V800 Vault is designed to carry two scoped rifles with absolute confidence. This means you can transport multiple firearms safely, ensuring they remain undamaged and ready for action.
  2. Durability and Resistance: Made from high-impact polymer, the V800 is crushproof, dustproof, and weather-resistant. Whether you’re traveling by road, trail, or air, this case guarantees the protection of your firearms against the harshest conditions.
  3. Ergonomic Design: The heavy-duty handles are not only durable but also ergonomically designed. This ensures that carrying the case, even when loaded with heavy equipment, remains comfortable and manageable.
  4. Premium Protective Features: The case boasts six push-button latches that offer secure closure while still providing easy-open access. Inside, four layers of protective foam cradle your rifles, absorbing shocks and preventing any internal movement.
  5. Specifications to Note: The interior dimensions of the case are 53.00 x 16.00 x 6.00 inches, making it spacious enough for most rifles. The case also features two wheels for easier transportation.

Customizing Your Pelican VAULT Case: A Step-by-Step Guide to Foam Cutting

Ensuring your rifles fit snugly and securely in your case is paramount for protection, and the Pelican VAULT case offers the perfect platform for customization. To enhance the fit for your specific rifles, we’ve provided a detailed guide, complete with illustrative pictures, on how to precisely cut out the foam to match the contours of your firearms.

Why Customize the Foam? Custom-cut foam ensures that your rifles remain stationary during transport, reducing the risk of scratches, dings, or more severe damage. By tailoring the foam to your rifles, you’re guaranteeing maximum protection and a professional look.

Layout & Marking: Begin by placing your rifles on the foam, positioning them as you’d like them to sit in the case. Using a chalk marker, trace around the rifles, ensuring you leave adequate space between them and the case’s edges.

Chalk Line for Rifle Case Prior to Cut

Cutting: Using a sharp utility/box knife/cutter or specialized foam cutter, carefully follow your markings. Ensure your cuts are vertical for a snug fit. It’s always better to cut conservatively; you can always trim more if needed.

Note: there are multiple layers of foam that come with the case. You’ll only need to cut the top.

Blade Cut for Rifle Cutout in Case

Test & Adjust: Once you’ve made your initial cuts, test the fit by placing your rifles into the cutouts. If adjustments are needed, trim the foam accordingly.

Rifle Cutouts in Pelican Vault Case

Final Touches: After achieving the perfect fit, you can further customize by cutting out compartments for accessories. I’ve not done this yet… not sure if I will or not. Let me know in the comments if you would (and what would you add?).

Build the Complete Rifle Setup

Commonly Asked Questions (when getting started with a new rifle)

  1. What rifles should I buy if I’m new to hunting? If you’re new to hunting, consider starting with two versatile and cost-effective rifles: the .308 Winchester (Win) and the .22 Long Rifle (LR). These rifles are reliable and perfect for all skill levels, offering a balance between power and ease of use.
  2. Why would I want two rifles? Having two rifles allows you to be prepared for a variety of hunting scenarios. The .308 Win is ideal for larger game, given its range and stopping power. On the other hand, the .22LR is designed for small game hunting, making it suitable for animals like squirrels and rabbits. Together, they ensure you’re equipped for both big and small game hunts.
  3. How do I keep my kids away from my guns? Safety is paramount, especially when children are around. Investing in a sturdy rifle case is good idea (unless you want to invest in a safe). Not only does the case protect your rifles from external damage, but a good case (like the Pelican VAULT) can also be locked, ensuring unauthorized access is prevented. This way, you can ensure your kids stay safe and away from your firearms. I like both options (safe and sturdy case) but at the end of the day, the case will get all the use.
  4. Where do I store my ammo? It’s advisable to store your ammunition separately from your rifles. Instead of keeping it in the rifle case, consider storing your ammo in a dedicated ammo box. This ensures added safety and reduces the risk of accidental discharge.

The Cost Breakdown: Investing in Your Hunting Setup


1. Ruger 10/22® CARBINE – 22lr: $439

Importance & Usefulness: The Ruger 10/22® CARBINE is a legendary rifle known for its consistent and reliable performance. Its detachable 10-round rotary magazine ensures smooth feeding, while the cold hammer-forged barrel guarantees precision. The combination scope base adapter is a bonus, offering flexibility for mounting. Its design, combining the receiver and stock, gives it a classic yet stylish look. This rifle is a perfect blend of form and function, making it a must-have for small game hunting.


2. Ruger American Rifle Standard .308 Win: $599

Importance & Usefulness: The Ruger American Rifle is tailored for those who seek accuracy and reliability. Its adjustable trigger allows for a crisp release, ensuring that perfect shot. The ergonomic, lightweight synthetic stock is designed for quick handling, and the soft rubber buttpad aids in recoil reduction. The patented Power Bedding™ system enhances accuracy, and the cold hammer-forged barrel ensures longevity. This rifle is essential for hunting larger game, providing the power and precision needed.


3. V800 Vault Double Rifle Case: $229

Importance & Usefulness: Protection of your investment is paramount. The V800 Vault Double Rifle Case is built for durability, ensuring your rifles are safe from external factors. Whether you’re traveling by road, air, or trail, this case offers crushproof, dustproof, and weather-resistant protection. The ergonomic heavy-duty handles and the four layers of protective foam ensure your rifles are secure and easy to transport. This case is an essential component to safeguard your rifles.


4. Crossfire II 3-9×50 Straight Wall BDC Riflescope: $165

Importance & Usefulness: A scope can significantly enhance your hunting experience, especially for long-range shots. The Crossfire II 3-9×50 is designed to optimize straight-wall cartridge shooting. With its BDC reticle, you get accurate holdovers and rapid target acquisition. The one-inch tube balances adjustment, size, and weight, making it versatile for various hunting scenarios. This scope ensures you get the most out of every shot.


Total Cost: $1,432

What You Get & Benefits: For a total investment of $1,432, you receive a comprehensive hunting setup tailored for both small and large game. This package ensures you’re equipped with reliable rifles that have stood the test of time, a protective case to safeguard your investment, and a scope to enhance your shooting accuracy. Each item in this setup has been chosen for its balance of quality, reliability, and affordability. This combination ensures that you’re ready for any hunting scenario, providing you with the tools needed for a successful and enjoyable hunting experience.

Build the Complete Rifle-Setup Small and Large Game on a Budget