In this Norma Academy video, we talk about the most commonly used driven hunting weapons systems and why we use them to maximize our hunting performance.
In the video, Steffen Foullon from @hunting_biggame_worldwide will walk you through the specific features and strengths of each weapons system. On a driven hunt, you have to be ready for many different situations and be prepared to be surprised. In such a demanding hunting environment, the hunter needs to be able to rely on his equipment and the rifle is arguably one of the most important components for the hunter. For those of you who would rather read about the topic, the content can be found below in an article format.
What is the best weapons system for driven hunting?
This question is not quite posed correctly, as there is usually never one best fit. To see why, let's review the basics of what a rifle should accomplish for you as a hunter on a driven hunt.
Firstly, on a driven hunt the game is usually on the move as you introduce some element into the wild to chase the game, like a dog, or to initiate movement of the game by sound, noise and the presence of some foreign element like a beater. Especially on moving game the hunter should be thinking about being able to get off 2 good shots rather than 1 perfect shot. This means that a good driven hunt rifle should not only be accurate, it needs to be quickly reloadable without losing sight of the game. Several rifle systems exist out there that can aid in such a task.
The semi-automatic rifle system
The semi-automatic rifle will execute the entire reloading procedure for the hunter, allowing the hunter to completely focus on the wild game and the process of identifying, aiming and firing. Because the semi-automatic rifle system has some additional parts that are internal to the rifle that also move around upon firing, the rifle has somewhat less inherent accuracy than other rifle types. For quickness and target acquisition, there is nothing quite like a semi-auto however. A downside to using a semi-automatic hunting rifle can be the legal restrictions in your country of origin however, in some countries they are banned completely, while most others impose strict regulations on the magazine capacity which limits the ammount of ammunition you can load. Usually that number is around 3 rounds of ammo, which should not be a problem for the responsible hunter.
The bolt-action rifle system
What you can sometimes also see referred to as the Mauser-system is the standard bolt-action rifle. This rifle will be the inherently most accurate and reliable rifle type, as everything is manually operated by the hunter. As it is 100% manual, it is also the slowest to reload, and many hunters have to practice a lot in order to master reloading without losing sight of the game through the scope. A bolt-action rifle will also have an advantage in that it is suitable for all types of hunting, not just driven hunts. A disadvantage of bolt action rifles, particularly on some low end models, is that the cocking of the bolt can introduce some upward movement to the whole rifle and therefore your point of aim. As the hunter tries to bring the rifle in line with the wild game again, he has to bring the rifle downward in addition to the sideward swing. This additional movement is not good for accuracy.
Straight-pull bolt action rifles
A recent development to the regular bolt action rifle is the introduction of the straight-pull mechanism. It essentially works the same as the regular bolt action except the twisting moment is removed from the equation. You pull the bolt back and push it forward to chamber a new round which is a lot quicker and mechanically efficient. By simplifying the movement needed to chamber a new round, there is less disturbance introduced to the point of aim and the hunter is more easily able to stay on target while reloading. A disadvantage of straight-pull bolt actions can be the reliability as sometimes the feeding and chambering is not as smooth as with a regular bolt action rifle. In order to avoid this, use high quality ammunition with excellent cartridge brass that wont jam your action.
Drillings and double-barrel rifles
On the more classic and high end, we find drilling rifles and double-barreled rifles which offer the hunter the option to fire two or more successive shots without reloading. Because of cost, these rifle types are not as common on driven hunts, but make for fine alternatives that are worth mentioning in this article.
Summary on rifle types for driven hunting
So which one is the best? Again, there is no one perfect answer. Rather, you have to figure out which strengths and weaknesses suit your hunting style and shooting skills the best. As long as your rifle allows you to get 2 good shots on moving game reliably and repeatably, under any conditions, then that rifle should be considered a good driven hunting rifle for you.
Below we list some excellent choices of ammo for your driven hunting in various calibers.