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First Firearms to Buy After Getting your PAL

Congratulations! You’ve got your PAL. Now, what gun do you get first?

The very first thing to think about before even thinking about buying your first firearm, is where will you store it? I advise all my students to purchase a gun safe before even going to their local gun store. A decent safe can be had for about $700 brand new. Surprisingly enough, Costco has them for a couple months of the year and they are fire safe as well to keep any other important documents safe and secure even through a house fire. Every once in a while, Cabelas or Bass Pro Shops will also have good sales for a decent safe for about the same price. Now that that's out of the way, lets get to the guns!

In my humble opinion, there’s 3 types of firearms every gun owner/hunter should have. And they should be the first 3 a new licence holder should be adding to their gun safe before anything else.

1/ A rimfire rifle that’s shoots .22LR.

-The first rifle I ever bought was a CZ 452 American in .22LR, its also one of the few that I would never sell. The .22LR cartridge is probably the most inexpensive round to shoot, making practicing easy on the wallet. Its also my go to cartridge for not only light target shooting and plinking, but for small game hunting as well. There are countless different rifles available in .22LR but my favourites are the bolt action rifles. They are dead reliable with any brand of ammunition and in my experience, the most accurate right out of the box. CZ is my favourite brand for these, but the Tikka brand of rifles in the rimfire calibers are a very close second. Savage makes some inexpensive models, but I find you get what you pay for in terms of fit and finish and performance. I have no doubt my old CZ will survive being passed down to my sons, and their kids after that.

2/ A 12-gauge Shotgun

-The second rifle I bought was a Remington 870 Express pump action 12-gauge Shotgun. I believe the shotgun is the most versatile firearm on the market today. It can shoot small shot for shooting small game or birds out of the air and shoot larger buckshot and slugs for any larger game or even bear defence while in a hunting camp. Now, I’m not suggesting you use a 12-gauge shotgun as your primary big game rifle, they aren’t terribly accurate past 50 meters. But in a pinch, it is possible. These days, I use my shotgun for duck and geese hunting almost exclusively. I have since switched to a semi-automatic shotgun but recently picked up another old 870 for my backup shotgun in case my semi-auto decides it wants to stop working when I need it in the duck blind. There are other smaller gauges available if you are not a big fan of the 12-gauge recoil, but for ease of finding ammo, and for the versatility of being equally effective on a duck or a charging bear, Ill take the 12-gauge.

3/ A Medium/large game caliber rifle.

-The third rifle I bought, was a used Remington 700 XCR Compact Tactical in .308 Winchester. At the time, I would have described myself as more of a range shooter than a hunter, and I was obsessed with having a “Sniper Rifle”. I blame Hollywood. Anyways, I soon found out that my “Sniper Rifle” was really heavy and lugging around a 13-pound rifle and scope through the woods looking for a deer was not as enjoyable as I thought it would be. I did manage to harvest my first deer with it though and quickly ended up getting a more hunting style rifle which I still use to this day. There are many different types of rifles to choose from. Semi Autos, Lever Actions, Break actions or bolt actions just to name the main options. I personally prefer the bolt actions for hunting, I find them the most accurate and reliable. There are many entry-level bolt-action rifles on the market for under $800 that would work just fine, but I find the sweet spot to be about $1300-$1600 for best value for what you’re paying. Just remember not to cheap out on the scope, as scope quality will often make or break a hunt.

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