17 Best Rifle For Small Game

Hunting is part of an off-grid lifestyle if it is legal to hunt small game animals. However, you should have the best tools for the job.

Whether you want to hunt for fun or bring dinner home, you need the best rifle. Different brands from various manufacturers exist.

These can enhance your experience and increase your success, but decision-making can be challenging.

We will highlight features of some of the best rifle for small game hunting in the market. Read on for details!

More About Small Game Hunting

More About Small Game Hunting

Small game hunting is an activity that can supplement your off-grid food. However, you should only practice it within the state laws.

Some animals are protected and should never be hunted. The following are a few things to know about small game hunting.

What Is A “Small Game”?

A small game is a group of smaller animals usually hunted for sports and meat. They include some bird species, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

The distinction between a small and large game is not clear. In essence, the term small game is relative.

It can be misunderstood. States or countries can have different animals grouped as either small or big game animals.

As a result, small game hunting requires a license that states  the animal species you are allowed to hunt in a particular state.

Small game mammals include rabbits and hares, prairie dogs, marmots, groundhogs, woodchucks, muskrats, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, etc.

Small game birds include grouse, dives, quails, partridges, geese, ducks, woodcocks, swans, cranes, and upland birds such as turkey and pheasants.

Small game reptiles and amphibians include frogs, turtles, etc.

Remember, you need a license to participate in small game hunting, and what you are allowed to take down varies from state to state.

Protected Wildlife

Protected Wildlife

Protected animals can never be hunted. They are usually endangered species at the risk of becoming extinct. So, don’t even think of taking it down.

Protected wildlife may also constitute animal species that balance the ecosystem.

Hunting them down can significantly affect the food chain and lead to the migration or extinction of other species.

Protected wildlife varies from state to state or country to country. In North America, the list is quite long.

The following are some of the endangered or threatened animal species under the protection program:

Mammals:

  • Coiba Island howler
  • Mantled howler
  • Guatemalan black howler
  • San Joaquin antelope squirrel
  • Baja California pronghorn
  • Sonoran pronghorn
  • Mendocino County Mountain beaver
  • Guadalupe fur seal
  • Black-headed spider monkey
  • Geoffroy’s spider monkey
  • Cuban solenodon
  • Bowhead whale
  • Sei whale
  • Blue whale
  • Fin whale
  • Wood bison, etc.

Birds:

  • Yellow-shouldered Blackbird
  • Imperial amazon
  • Puerto Rican amazon
  • Ridgway’s hawk
  • Ivory-billed woodpecker
  • Whistling Warbler
  • Cuban kite
  • Zapata rail
  • Grenada dove
  • Red-cockaded woodpecker, etc.

Reptiles:

  • Culebra Island giant anole
  • Loggerhead sea turtle
  • American crocodile
  • Aruba rattlesnake
  • Turks and Caicos rock iguana
  • Bolson tortoise
  • Callous least gecko
  • Giant garter snake, etc.
  • Amphibian:
  • California tiger salamander
  • Barahona rock frog
  • Houston toad
  • Tiny robber frog
  • Barton Springs salamander
  • Southern crested toad, etc.

General Regulations About Small Game

General Regulations About Small Game

Once again, the rules and regulations governing small animal hunting vary from state to state. So, you should be careful if you recently relocated to another state because things may significantly change.

For example, the small game hunting season in Alaska is long. It starts in late summer and goes on through the winter. That may not be the case in other states.

In Tennessee, wildlife general management area regulations prohibit disorderly conduct and possession of alcoholic beverages and other narcotics when hunting.

Baiting is also not allowed. Hunters should also never harass any animals not hunted and not destroy any trees.

However, they are allowed to possess handguns and other hunting equipment.

The general small game hunting regulations cover land access, license types, restrictions, and legal definitions. Before you start hunting, read and understand the rules.

17 Best Rifles for Small Game Hunting

17 Best Rifles for Small Game Hunting

Rifles make small game hunting efficient and fun. You can aim at your target at close range and take it down.

However, choosing the right rifle may be challenging. Consider the following recommendations from experts:

Ruger 10-22 Takedown (Model 11100)

Specs:

StockBlack Synthetic
Front SightGold Bead
Rear SightAdjustable
Barrel material Stainless Steel
Barrel featureStandard
Thread patternN/A
Capacity 10
Twist1:16″ RH
Barrel FinishClear matte
Overall length 37 inches
Barrel length18.5 inches
Weight4.6 lbs
Grooves6
UPC7-36676-11100-8
Cost$539.00
Ruger 10-22 Takedown (Model 11100) Specs

Ruger is a known brand for quality and reliability, as reflected in this gun. The gun is designed with an easy takedown for portability. 

You can easily disassemble it for easy storage and transportation. Also, it is easy to reassemble for your small game hunting activity.

The gun can fire up to 10 rounds. The rotary magazine feature ensures smooth and constant feeding while separating cartridges.

It also has a heat-stabilized, glass-filled, polymer housing assembly for high resilience against weather elements.

Pros:

  • Splits into two subassemblies for portability and storage
  • Fire up to 10 rounds
  • Semi-auto action
  • Adjustable, folding rear sight
  • Accurate and reliable
  • Excellently resists rusting

Cons:

  • The safety could have been better
  • No sling swivels
  • A bit pricey

The Ruger 10-22 Takedown (Model 11100) is an indispensable, first-choice firearm for emergency self-defense, small game hunting, and survival situations.

It has 10 and 25-round magazines available from the manufacturer. However, you can also use aftermarket magazines. You can also replace the barrel band to give you an attachment point.

Also read: 16 Best Guns For Home Defense

Marlin Model 60

Specs:

StockWalnut-finish hardwood
Front SightRamp 
Rear SightAdjustable open
Barrel material Blued steel barrel, black coated receiver
Capacity 14
Twist1:16 inches
Overall length 37.5 inches
Barrel length19 inches
Weight5.5 lbs
Grooves16
Cost$149 to $179
Marlin Model 60 Specs

The Marlin 22 rifle became popular in the market for its affordability and performance.

Almost every household had it for one reason or the other. The manufacturer has reported selling over 11 million models since it first debuted about 5 decades ago.

The rifle is semi-automatic, using a tubular-feed system that only accepts long rifle ammo.

The tube can hold up to 14 bullets. After firing the last shot, the bolt automatically opens so you can check the chamber and reload.

Pros:

  • Accurate shooting
  • Very reliable
  • The build quality is high
  • Stock available in multiple finish options
  • Affordable
  • Auto-loading tube-style magazine

Cons:

  • Right-handed only
  • Ammo-finicky from gun to gun

Marlin Model 60 is the most successful of all guns made by Marlin. That speaks volumes about its quality and reliability.

Users have also come out to say the same thing. It is the safest option for hunters to bring home dinner and mentors and parents to introduce juniors and kids to a real firearm.

The gun offers the best value for money. Despite the low price, it has the best features and quality. It can last a lifetime if well maintained.

Also read: Top 11 Cheapest Rifle Ammo: Quick Complete Guide

Allen Rifle Case, Mossy Oak Break-Up Country, Fits Rifles with Scopes up 50in

Sale
Allen Rifle Case, Mossy Oak Break-Up Country, Fits Rifles with Scopes up 50in
  • Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo
  • Fits scoped rifles up to 50"
  • 3 external pockets for calls, cleaning supplies, and other accessories

Remington 572

Specs:

StockAmerican Walnut, gloss
Front Sightdrift-adjustable bead
Rear SightAdjustable U-notch
Barrel material Satin blue metal, low-gloss wood
Capacity 15
TwistN/A
Barrel FinishPolished Blue
Overall length 40 inches
Barrel length21 inches
Weight4.75 lbs
Cost$614.6
Remington 572 Specs

Remington 572 is one of the popular pump-action 22 rimfires in the American market today. It can handle 22 short, 22 long, and 22 long rifle cartridges.

It is also famous for other features such as big-game sights, a cross-bolt safety, and a grooved receiver with pre-designed scope mounts.

Remington 572 is an ideal option for small game hunting. It also features an ergonomic design with a classic look and feel.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Ideal for small game hunting and self-defense
  • Relatively high capacity

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Single-stage trigger

Users praise it for its deluxe look. The walnut wood appears classy with an excellent gloss finish.

However, some have not found it satisfying, mainly complaining of the poor condition of the shipped product.  

Marlin XT-22

Specs

StockMonte Carlo-style, walnut-finished hardwood
Front SightRamp
Rear SightAdjustable
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featurePolished Blue
Capacity 7
TwistN/A
Overall length 41 inches
Barrel length22 inches
Weight6 lbs
Grooves16
Cost$337
Marlin XT-22 Specs

Marlin XT22 is solidly built and is dependable and accurate, making it the best choice for small game hunting, plinking, target shooting, and other activities.

Its fluted bolt design reduces surface area and drag.

The rifle uses Marlin’s Pro-Fire® adjustable trigger and a 22 barrel with Micro-Groove® rifling.

These features allow it to obtain the precision and accuracy needed to hit small targets. It also has a detachable box magazine, making it easy to load and unload.

Pros:

  • 2-position thumb safety
  • Very accurate
  • Firm grip and comfortable to the hand
  • Pro-Fire Adjustable Trigger

Cons:

  • Ejecting problem is common

Users are particularly praising this rifle for its reliability, accuracy, and design. However, some have ejection problems. Otherwise, it is a good choice for small game hunting.

Savage MK II FV-SR 

Specs

StockVarmint, synthetic, black, matte finish
Front SightRamp
Rear SightAdjustable
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureMatte
Capacity 5
Twist16
Overall length 35.25 inches
Barrel length16.5 inches
Weight5.5 lbs
Grooves16
Cost$289.00
Savage MK II FV-SR

The main highlights of Savage MK II FV-SR include user-adjustable AccuTrigger™ technology that gives it crisp, customized trigger pulls.

This rifle is generally heavy with a fluted 16.5-inch barrel paired with black synthetic stock. It can fire up to 5 rounds. You can also get optimum accuracy with this rifle.

The receiver also comes factory drilled with rail to attach aftermarket optics or reflex sights. There is also an oversized bolt knob for smooth operation.

Pros:

  • Delivers precision accuracy
  • Heavy-contour, fluted barrel
  • Rugged synthetic stock
  • Detachable magazine
  • 2-stage safety
  • Threaded muzzle with protector
  • Factory-installed Picatinny rail
  • Fully adjustable AccuTrigger

Cons:

  • None

Users praise this rifle for its shooting accuracy. Regardless of your experience with guns, Savage gives you the best small game hunting and sports experience.

CZ455 American in .17 HMR

Specs:

Stocksolid-wood
Front SightRamp
Rear SightAdjustable
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureMatte
Capacity 5
Overall length 40.2 inches
Barrel length22.5 inches
Weight5.5 lbs
Cost$395.78
CZ455 American in .17 HMR Specs

This is the new CZ 455 bolt-action rimfire. It consolidates all receivers in 452 models into a single platform. That allows users to change the stock configuration and caliber of their rifles.

The CZ 455 still boasts the accuracy and quality of its adjustable trigger, hammer-forged barrel, and billet machined receiver.

New features introduced in this model include a new manufacturing technology and tighter tolerances to improve accuracy and handling. The operation has now become smoother.

Pros:

  • Smooth operation 
  • Very accurate
  • Ergonomic design
  • Interchangeable barrel system

Cons:

  • The lacquered finish can be too shiny

Overall, CZ 455 is an excellent rifle that gives you the best performance regardless of the activity.

Users praise it for the interchangeable barrel, smooth operation, and accuracy of the shorts.

If you want to buy a new rifle to improve your small game hunting or plinking in the yard skills, consider CZ 455 American. It is one of the best you can find in the market today.

Mossberg 802

Specs:

Stocksynthetic, black
Front SightRamp
Rear SightAdjustable
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureBlued
Capacity 10
Twist1:16
Overall length 35.25 inches
Barrel length18 inches
Weight4 lbs
Grooves16
Cost$217.00
Mossberg 802 Specs

Mossberg 802 is a small-caliber rifle best suited for teaching the gun handling basics, plinking, sports, and hunting.

It comes equipped with sighting devices and a strap-type dovetail for mounting optics.

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Reliable locking bolt gate for a better shooting performance
  • Good ergonomics
  • Easy to load and unload

Cons:

  • Occasional feeding problems

According to the user reviews, the initial shooting is pretty good. However, some have experienced mag issues. It occasionally fails to feed while shooting, but that is not a dealbreaker.

Overall, the rifle has good performance. It is safe enough for you to teach your kids and siblings how to handle a real gun. These guns are also easy to handle.

The weapons are ideal for recreational shooting, sports, small-game hunting, and other activities.

Small Game Rifle & Carbine

Specs:

StockAmerican Walnut
Front SightBrass Bead
Rear SightSkinner Peep
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureOctagon Blued Steel
Capacity 10
Twist1:16
Overall length 35 inches
Barrel length17 inches
Weight5.75 lbs
Rifle grooves6
Cost$580.00
Small Game Rifle & Carbine Specs

Small Game Rifle & Carbine features a lever-action design that has been popular with rifles over the years.

It is fitted with a solid steel rear base and fully adjustable aperture dimensioned to line up perfectly with tall brass bead front sight.

The mentioned features make it easy to zero on the target, enhance visibility, and provide more precision.

These are all ideal attributes of any rifle for small game hunting and other activities involving small targets.

Pros:

  • Very accurate
  • Aesthetically appealing
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive

Small Game Rifle & Carbine is a serious hunting lever for serious lever gun hunters.

It is one of the new models in their extensive catalog of rifles to keep customers engaged in various outdoor activities. Despite the slightly high cost, the gun offers users everything they wish to have.

MTM 100 Round Flip-Top Rifle Ammo Box 22-25, 308 W, Blue,3.05-Inch

MTM 100 Round Flip-Top Rifle Ammo Box 22-25, 308 W, Blue,3.05-Inch
  • 100 Round Rifle Ammo Boxes
  • Scuff-resistant textured surface
  • Snap-lock latch; Stacking feet

Classic Lever Action .22

Specs:

StockAmerican Walnut
Front SightHooded Blade
Rear SightFully Adjustable
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureRound Blued Steel
Capacity 15
Twist1:16
Overall length 35 inches
Barrel length18.5 inches
Weight5.25 lbs
Rifle grooves6
Cost$405.00
Classic Lever Action .22 Specs

As the name suggests, Classic Lever-Action Rimfire Rifle uses lever action. It may seem like an old technology, but that distinguishes this brand from others. It comes with a groove for mounting scope.

The main highlight is the ease of loading the rifle. It does not have a loading port, meaning ammunition is put right into the tubular magazine from the top.

The gun also uses an internal transfer bar safety that acts as a barrier between the hammer and firing pin. It won’t accidentally fire, even if dropped on the ground.

Pros:

  • Side ejection
  • Grooved for scope mounts
  • Internal transfer bar safety
  • No manual cross-bolt safety

Cons:

  • A bit heavy
  • Price is slightly above that of competitors

This rifle is famous among small game hunters. It is designed for outdoor activities and has all features you need to aim at your target.

If you have large hands or your hand gloves on, this is the ideal gun. Its large loop lever was designed with you in mind.

Classic Lever Action .22 Carbine

Specs

StockAmerican Walnut
Front SightHooded Blade
Rear SightFully Adjustable
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureRound Blued Steel
Capacity 12
Twist1:16
Overall length 34 inches
Barrel length16.125 inches
Weight4.5 lbs
Rifle grooves6
Cost$436.00
Classic Lever Action .22 Carbine

Like all rifles from Henry USA on this list, Classic Lever Action .22 Carbine features a large loop lever and compact design. However, this particular product is lighter than the ones already discussed.

This gun delivers high performance [in different conditions and is best suited for any outdoor activity. Whether you want it for hunting, recreational shooting, or other reasons, it will satisfy you.

Pros:

  • Very accurate
  • Aesthetically appealing
  • Durable
  • Versatile

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive  

The gun is well-received by users who praise it for operation smoothness and safety. Undoubtedly, this gun is a perfect choice if you want to train your kid to handle real weapons. It offers the best safety feature and more.

Classic Lever Action .22 Magnum

Specs

StockAmerican Walnut
Front SightHooded Blade
Rear SightFully Adjustable
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureRound Blued Steel
Capacity 11
Twist1:16
Overall length 34 inches
Barrel length19.25inches
Weight5.5 lbs
Rifle grooves6
Cost$580.00
Classic Lever Action .22 Magnum Specs

Classic Lever Action .22 Magnum features a deluxe checkered American walnut stock and a grooved receiver for mounting a scope.

Additionally, the barrel is large enough for the shooting accuracy you need for small game hunting.

The rifle’s projectile travels fast and produces more muzzle energy than other lever-action guns in this series. It is the best choice for you if you need more stopping power for small games.

Pros:

  • More firing power
  • Grooved for scope mounts
  • Internal transfer bar safety
  • Very accurate
  • High curb appeal

Cons:

  • Pricier

If you have the budget, this is a good weapon for you.

Many users appreciate it for different reasons, but the most apparent one is its accuracy and firepower. You can also get it for your outdoor adventure.

Lever Action Octagon Frontier Model.22 S/L/LR 

Specs:

StockAmerican Walnut
Front SightBrass Bead
Rear SightFully Adj. Semi-Buckhorn w/ Diamond Insert
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureOctagon Blued Steel
Capacity 8
Twist1:16
Overall length 38.5 inches
Barrel length20 inches
Weight6.5 lbs
Rifle grooves6
Cost$525.00
Lever Action Octagon Frontier Model.22 S/L/LR  Specs

The weapon has a more modern look and is expandable with a scope of your choice. The barrel is grooved to make mounting any aftermarket optics easy.

The rifle has an octagon barrel that adds weight for more accurate shooting. It also dissipates heat faster, just like the modern-day bull barrels.

Pros:

  • Deeply blued octagon barrel and receiver
  • High-capacity tubular magazine
  • Walnut stock and fore-end
  • Machined steel receiver
  • Semi-buckhorn rear sight

Cons:

  • A bit expensive.

The rifles in this series are very accurate when shooting. Many users like it as their favorite rifle to pick up when going into the jungle for small game hunting.

Frontier Model Threaded Barrel 24″

Specs

StockAmerican Walnut
Front SightBrass Bead
Rear SightFully Adj. Semi-Buckhorn w/ Diamond Insert
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureOctagon Blued Steel
Capacity 10
Twist1:16
Overall length 42.5 inches
Barrel length24 inches
Weight7.00 lbs
Cost$688.00
Frontier Model Threaded Barrel 24″

Out of all Henry USA rifle models discussed, this one features a 24-inch long unique Frontier Threaded Barrel. That makes it possible to fix a suppressor or silencer without consulting a gunsmith.

Additionally, the muzzle end of the barrel has threads, making it possible to fit any of your favorite rimfire silencers. Its shorter magazine tube gives enough clearance for reloading without removing the suppressor.

Pros:

  • Industry-standard muzzle threads for fixing a silencer
  • Very accurate
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Dovetail for mounting

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • A bit heavy

If you are looking for something a bit higher up in the chain, just buy this rifle. It can take down larger small games from a considerable distance. The weapon is ergonomically designed, and handling is also excellent.

Single Shot Shotgun

Specs

StockAmerican Walnut
Front SightBrass Bead
Rear SightNone
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureRound Blued Steel
Capacity 1
Twist1:16
Overall length 43.5 inches
Barrel length28 inches
Weight6.65 lbs
Cost$552.00
Single Shot Shotgun

There are products under the single shot shotgun by Henry. The specifications in the above chart do not apply to all.

Specifically, they are for a single shot shotgun 12 gauge. Others may be longer, heavier, or even pricier.

However, they both share many features. You will find the rebounding hammer safety feature, brass bead front sight, and black solid rubber recoil pad in all of them.

Pros:

  • Simplistic, reliable design
  • External, rebounding hammer
  • Non-ejecting extractor
  • Oil-finished walnut stock

Cons:

  • One round is not enough

Henry’s one shot shotguns are built for safety and outdoor activities. Users prefer them for hunting, recreational shooting, etc.

If you have the budget and are comfortable with a single shot, buy one of these.

Also read: 6 Best Home Defense Shotgun Ammo

Side Gate Lever Action .410 Shotgun

Specs:

StockAmerican Walnut
Front SightRamp w/ .062″ Ivory Bead
Rear SightFully Adj. Semi-Buckhorn w/ Diamond Insert
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureRound Blued Steel
Capacity 6
TwistN/A
Overall length 38.1 inches
Barrel length19.8 inches
Weight6.65 lbs
Cost$1,166.00
Side Gate Lever Action .410 Shotgun

This rifle has a fully adjustable semi-buckhorn rear and ivory bead front sight to ensure high shooting accuracy. Its unconstructed cylinder bore has a wider end for making a wider short.

It also features a standard removable tube magazine for easy loading and unloading.

Pros:

  • Easy aiming at the target
  • Easy handling
  • Safe unloading

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • A bit heavy

The rifle is best for close-in hunting, where point-and-shoot is the game plan. You can also use it to burst clays, hunt grouse, or show off your new weapon to friends.

Lever Action Magnum Express

Specs:

StockAmerican Walnut
Front SightNone
Rear SightNone
Barrel material Carbon steel
Barrel featureRound Blued Steel
Capacity 11
Twist1:16
Overall length 37.5 inches
Barrel length19.25 inches
Weight5.5 lbs
Cost$653.00
Lever Action Magnum Express

Lever Action Magnum Express is no doubt every small game hunter’s dream. As a lever-action rifle, you get a fast follow-up shot. You also have 11 shots.

These rifles also use a rock safety mechanism, ensuring safety without external switches or toggles.

Pros:

  • The long firing range of up to 125 yards
  • Reliable
  • Unique ergonomic design
  • Function flawlessly
  • Very accurate

Cons:

  • There are cheaper alternatives

This rifle is best for hunting squirrels, groundhogs, rabbits, beavers, prairie dogs, and other small game animals. Shooters praise it as a great little rifle that enhances hunting success.

Some Thoughts

Before buying the rifle, think of your safety first. Proper handling and storage also ensure the safety of everyone close to you.

Inappropriate use of a gun can cause fatal accidents. Lastly, no rifle is better than the other. The performance mainly depends on who pulls the trigger.

Thank you for reading this article at Em Offgrid. We invite you to explore the site for other off-grid survival articles.

Also read: 19 Best Guns For Off-Grid Living