June 06, 2022
By Ian Nance
Hunt wild hogs long enough and you'll learn plenty about firearms and ammunition. These are tough critters capable of absorbing a wallop. They're not immune, however, to a well-placed bullet from almost any caliber with stoutly constructed projectiles. While thousands of hogs are bagged each year with scoped rifles from treestands, hog hunting is at its purest form when stalking. This sport requires mobility, often in thick terrain. This, in turn, inspires portability in hunting guns—lighter-weight arms with shorter barrels that won't hang on vines and capable of quickly acquiring swine skating through the palmettos.
With that in mind, here are three favorite firearm types perfect for the joys of still-hunting Florida's hogs.
AR-Platforms – AR-15s and AR-10s were designed for the thick woods and serve their purpose well on hogs. The .223 Remington is a suitable round, but I do prefer the bigger .308 Winchester found in AR10s. Either way, these rifles carry well and are quick on the target. Immediate follow-up shots on a scattering sounder are appreciated, too.
The trouble with the ARs, as far as hunting is concerned, is when folks show up to camp with guns befitting a SWAT entry team, not a guy slogging through cypress swamps. The superfluous accessories strangle the utility of these firearms. Ditch the heavy, laser-equipped optics for a lighter 3-9x40 scope and the 30-round magazines in lieu of a 5- or 10-round replacement.
Lever Actions – Going in the opposite direction, lever actions are fantastic hog medicine for two strong reasons. One, they're portable and fast-acting. Shy of shooting across cow pastures, they're comfortable fits in the tighter areas hogs inhabit. After all, they were dubbed “Brush Guns” for a reason.
Two, lever actions are typically chambered in rounds that, while pedestrian in speed, are dynamite for bagging boars. Whether discussing the venerable .30-30 Winchester or .35 Remington or .45-70 Gov't or .444 Marlin, they will not, as often advertised, reliably penetrate brush; however, these plodding rounds poke big holes, vital for tracking wounded boars.
For those familiar with bolt-actions, these rifles, especially open-sighted models, can be tricky. But lever actions have a personality all their own which shines when hog hunting.
Revolvers – Handgun hunting with revolvers is a little-appreciated art form. Their holstered, hands-free utility can't be matched when glassing hammocks or palmetto flats for hogs. Distance, though, is the enemy. Fifty yards is about the maximum most should feel comfortable when shooting a .44 Remington Magnum; 35 yards is probably more appropriate when .357s are involved. These calibers don't travel far but pack a punch.
One critical accessory when handgun hunting is a comfortable shoulder holster. These heavy-hitters aren't Saturday night specials to be tucked into a waistband. Also, scopes look cool on a revolver but require a steady rest or the crosshairs will bounce all over the place with those short barrels. A shooting stick or collapsible bipod is handy in this situation in the event a tree branch isn't available.
Published Florida Sportsman Magazine June 2020