February 12, 2013
Forget about the mythical zombie apocalypse for a moment, and let's focus on the real invasion currently in progress: the millions of feral hogs over-running our country. Some estimate hog populations have doubled in the last decade or so, and some put the total as high as 5 million feral hogs nationwide. Texas is home to at least 2 million of them — maybe more — and the prolific, smart and adaptable wild pigs keep spreading north and west across the continent.
Hogs, therefore, provide a far more abundant hunting opportunity than anything offered by the living dead.
More hunters than ever now have hog on the brain and are thinking about what it takes to bag one. Yes, any firearm of decent caliber and good accuracy can do the job. At the same time, though, a lot of hog hunting is done in rather specific field conditions, including the thick brush these wary porkers often hide in. So there may be some better choices of guns to consider for your next hog hunt. To help you in your quest to put that black hog down and place some fresh pork on the table, let's take a quick survey of some of the latest hog hunting guns available to us.
Rossi Rio Grande .45-70
For taking on large hogs in thick brush, you'll have a tough time beating a big-bore lever-action like Rossi's Rio Grande
, now offered in the popular .45-70 caliber. As one long time Texas hog hunter told me about his .45-70, 'You hit 'em anywhere in the middle or up further, it's all over. '
The Rio Grande has classic lever-action looks, with authentic buckhorn sights and beautiful Brazilian hardwood stock and fore end. The 20-inch barrel is handy in heavy cover, while the side ejection allows you to easily mount a scope. Cushioned recoil pad with a spacer is included, as well as scope mount base and a hammer extension. The Rio Grande weighs just 5.8 pounds and is available in blue or stainless steel finishes. And that John Wayne-looking large loop on the lever is an eye catcher, as well as functional.
Savage Hog Hunter
'Utilitarian ' is the best one word description for Savage's new Hog Hunter rifle
— but don't confuse utilitarian with 'mediocre ' or 'sub-standard. ' Far from it. I've used this rifle in the field and it is accurate, employs Savage's fine AccuTrigger, is tough and kills hogs fantastically — including a West Texas boar I tagged on the run as he headed for the thick mesquite cover.
Introduced last year, Savage's Model 11/111 Hog Hunter sports a 20-inch barrel and a green synthetic stock made for hunting in all sorts of terrain and weather. Available in .223 Rem., .308 Win., and .338 Win., the end of the barrel is threaded and suppressor ready. Suppressor use is growing around the nation (currently some 39 states have made suppressors legal), and in many states, hog hunting is specifically allowed with suppressors.
With its carbine-length barrel, the Hog Hunter is a great bolt to hang in the back of your pickup truck window, too.
S&W M&P10 in .308 Win.
Smith & Wesson's
line of M&P rifles has been hugely popular with shooters, but the company did hear from hunters who wanted an M&P with a beefier cartridge. The result is the new M&P10 in .308 Win
/7.62 x 51mm, capable of taking down the biggest of the big boars.
This semi-auto rifle has an 18-inch barrel made of 4140 steel. A chromed gas key, bolt carrier and firing pin are housed inside a 7075 T6 aluminum receiver. Currently done up in a camouflage finish, a black model will also be available soon.
The M&P10 is the same size as its 'little brother, ' the M&P15, though it is heavier, weighing in at 8.1 pounds (the standard M&P15 weighs just 6.74 pounds).
I was hog hunting in East Texas last year, and one of the smarter moves I made was to take an ArmaLite AR-10(T)
chambered in .308 Winchester. It truly is a great hog hunting rifle. At the shooting range, the AR-10(T) grouped on paper like a champ, and the two-stage National Match trigger
is a real treat. In the field, it gave me .30-caliber punch in a carbine-sized package.
ArmaLite re-introduced the AR10(T) three years ago (it was out of production from 2004 to 2010), sensing it would find a home with hog hunters. It did.
Arthur Steadman, ArmaLite's Communications Director, said 'the AR-10(T)s are selling like popcorn at the movies. The barrel is target grade to take down the hogs, its carbine length to keep down the weight and it's sleek so it doesn't get caught on brush. '
The rifle has a 16-inch stainless steel barrel and a free-floating black handguard, as well as a forged flattop upper receiver with Picatinny rail and forward assist. At 8.6 pounds, it's solid enough to bounce around in your truck and come back for more, but is light enough to carry for extended periods.
Para USA Elite Hunter
Another new handgun option for hunting hogs is Para USA's Elite Hunter
, a 6-inch-barreled 1911 chambered in 10mm. This gun is designed for the hunter who wants a potent cartridge for game. The Elite Hunter uses a slightly longer barrel to increase sight radius, bullet velocity and improve terminal performance.
The Elite Hunter is built around a stainless steel frame and slide and has a full-length guide rod. It comes with a fully adjustable rear sight and a green fiber optic front sight. Beavertail Grip safety and ambidextrous thumb safety come standard, and it is coated with a tough Ion Bond finish. The Elite Hunter weighs in at 41 ounces and comes with two nine-round magazines.
Weatherby Hog Reaper
Another rifle introduced at the latest SHOT Show in Las Vegas
, the Hog Reaper, is Weatherby's entry into the hog market and part of its new WBY-X line, which is designed to appeal to a younger generation. The Reaper is actually a Vanguard Series 2 with a shorter barrel (20 inches versus the standard 24-inch Vanguard barrel) and a love-it-or-hate-it hog skull camouflage pattern on the injection molded stock. The Reaper also comes with Weatherby's sub-MOA guarantee (an inch or better groups at 100 yards, with Weatherby or other premium ammunition).
I've actually used this rifle more than once. It's a lot of fun to shoot, kills pigs up close and further away, has a two-stage creep-free trigger, and a Mauser-style bolt-action with dual-opposed lugs that works smooth and locks tight. It's just 7 pounds, too. Available in .223 Rem., .243 Win., 7mm-08 Rem., and .308 Win.
King's Arsenal XKaliber 50 BMG
Looking to do some long-range hog sniping? You might consider the new XKaliber 50 BMG
bolt-action repeater made by King's Arsenal of Abilene, Texas.
Built on a skeletonized chassis using the new McMillan-style action, the XKaliber comes in at 25 pounds (un-scoped). King's bills it as the lightest tactical .50-caliber on the market. The XKaliber has a 28-inch long, lighter contour Lija barrel tipped with a McMillan brake. The stock also folds for ease of transport.
King's Arsenal CEO Jordan King is a long-time hog hunter and says he's done sub-MOA grouping with the new rifle out to 800 yards.
'You can do a 'minute of pig' out to 800 yards, no problem, probably 1,000 yards, ' said King. 'We designed the rifle around the Hornady 750 grain AMax round, and it works better than we could have imagined. Just waiting for the opportunity and we'll be taking out some hogs long, long distance for sure. '
Hog hunters looking for an edgier experience can do an up-close stalk and shoot with a handgun, like Heckler & Koch's recently released HK45 Tactical
, a semi-auto pistol in .45 ACP. H&K originally developed the HK45 for the U.S. military's next generation handgun competition. It comes standard with a threaded barrel for suppressor and Metroplight
three-dot tritium night sights.
The full-size HK45 Tactical uses an ergonomic grip design that includes changeable backstraps with molded finger grooves to instinctively position an operator's hand for optimum shooting. The HK45 utilizes a 10-round steel magazine and has a Picatinny MIL-STD-1913 rail molded into its polymer frame for mounting lights and accessories.
The pistol also features H&K's proprietary internal mechanical recoil reduction system, which employs a flat recoil spring in tandem with a polymer bushing sleeve to better harness the .45 ACP recoil. An O-ring on the threaded barrel means better slide-to-barrel lockup and enhanced accuracy. It comes with a choice of three frame colors — green, tan, or black. With empty magazine, the HK45 weighs just 1.82 pounds.
SIG Sauer 556R
Last year, SIG Sauer introduced the SIG 556R carbine
, chambering it in the time-tested 7.62x39mm AK round. It uses standard AK-style magazines and comes with a two-stage trigger. The SIG 556R also features a distinctive folding stock, an M1913 rail for accessory attachments and a 16-inch barrel with four-groove rifling and a twist rate of 1:9.5 inches. At full extension, the SIG 556R measures 36 inches, but can fold to 26 inches, making it ideal for situations where maximum maneuverability is required — like stalking through thick brush while a sounder of hogs feeds and grunts just ahead of you.
Why this rifle hasn't gotten more attention from hunters is a bit of a mystery, though in a world awash with AR-style rifles, it may be that a lack of promotional effort has left this fine hog killer relatively in the dark.
Introduced in January at the 2013 SHOT Show in Las Vegas
, the IWI Tavor
is the civilian version of the bullpup-design rifle used by Israeli Defense Forces. The Tavor is chambered in 5.56 NATO and comes in 16 1/2-inch and 18-inch barrel configurations, for a total length of 26 1/8 inches to 27 5/8 inches total. (For comparison, most Colt M4 carbines
available to civilians are 35 1/2 inches long with stocks extended.) It also uses standard AR-15/M16 magazines.
Don't be fooled by the relatively tiny size — the Tavor packs all the punch of a full-length AR. Jonathan Owen, co-founder of Special Hog Weapons and Tactics (SHWAT) uses bullpups on his hunts and finds their ease of transport a huge plus.
'The Tavor gives the high-speed tactical hog hunter greatly added mobility and maneuverability, ' Owen notes. 'If you're moving from field to field and in and out of vehicles, the bullpup design makes getting in and out of a vehicle faster and simpler. We often use four wheelers, where a 16-inch barreled AR can get in the way — not a problem with a bullpup Tavor. '
The Mil-Spec cold hammer forged barrel of the Tavor is encased into a high-impact strength polymer uni-body. Accuracy's enhanced by a long stroke gas piston system.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.