Hunt – Outdoor Empire Gear Up and Get Outside! Thu, 03 Aug 2023 23:16:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hunt – Outdoor Empire 32 32 Shotgun Shot Size and Shells Explained (What to Use When) Fri, 09 Jun 2023 13:08:41 +0000 Shotguns are suitable for all sportsmen, from novice hunters to experienced sporting clay shooters. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you first head to the gun store and see all the information presented on a box of shells. I have a box on my desk of Winchester Universal shotshells. Here’s the information presented: 20 ... Read more

The post Shotgun Shot Size and Shells Explained (What to Use When) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Shotguns are suitable for all sportsmen, from novice hunters to experienced sporting clay shooters. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you first head to the gun store and see all the information presented on a box of shells.

I have a box on my desk of Winchester Universal shotshells. Here’s the information presented: 20 gauge, 2-3/4 inches, 2-1/2 dr. eq., 1200 velocity, 7/8 oz., 8 shot.

Once you understand what these numbers mean, it’s easy to tell that this is a good load for shooting clays, doves, and other small upland birds.

“8 shot” refers to the shot size. The larger the number here the smaller the pellet, so 8 means the pellets are pretty small. “7/8 oz” refers to how many ounces of shot are in the 2-3/4-long shotshell. Both “2-1/2 dr. eq.” and “1200 velocity” tell you how fast the shot will travel.

Of all that information, the shot size is the most important. Let’s learn why so you’ll know how to choose the shotgun shells you need.

Shotgun shell boxes stacked up showing labels and numbers on side of boxes
Below we’ll explain what all the numbers mean on boxes of shotgun shells like these.

Shotgun Shot Size Chart

Shot Size

Shot Type


Pellets per Oz

Used For


12 Dust shot .05” 2400 Pest control Rats, snakes, small birds
10 Rat shot or snake shot .07” 848 Pest control Rats, snakes, small birds
9 Birdshot .08” 585 Sport shooting, bird hunting Clays, doves, quail, small pests
8-1/2 Birdshot .085” 497 Sport shooting, bird hunting Clays, doves, quail, small pests
8 Birdshot .09” 410 Sport shooting, bird hunting Clays, doves, partridge, quail, snipe, small pests
7-1/2 Birdshot .095” 350 Sport shooting, bird hunting Clays, doves, partridge, quail, snipe, rabbits
7 Birdshot .10” 291 Sport shooting, bird hunting Clays, doves, grouse, partridge, pheasant, quail, rabbits 
6 Birdshot .11” 225 Bird hunting Doves, grouse, partridge, pheasant, rabbits, squirrel, turkey, small ducks 
5 Birdshot .12” 170 Bird hunting Grouse, partridge, pheasant, rabbits, squirrels, turkey, small ducks
4 Birdshot .13” 135 Bird hunting Geese, grouse, pheasant, rabbits, squirrels, turkey, small ducks
3 Birdshot .14” 108 Bird hunting Geese, turkey, all ducks
2 Birdshot .15” 87 Bird hunting Geese, turkey, large ducks
1 Birdshot .16” 72 Bird hunting Geese, turkey, large ducks
BB Birdshot .18” 50 Hunting Coyote, geese, turkey
BBB Birdshot .19” 44 Hunting Coyote, geese, turkey
T Birdshot .20” 36 Hunting Coyote, geese, turkey
#4 Buckshot .24” 21 Large game hunting, self defense Deer, coyote
#3 Buckshot .25” 18 Large game hunting, self defense Deer, coyote
#2 Buckshot .27” 14 Large game hunting, self defense Deer
#1 Buckshot .30” 11 Large game hunting, self defense Deer
0 Buckshot .32” 9 Large game hunting, self defense Deer
00 Buckshot .33” 8 Large game hunting, self defense Bear, deer, hog
000 Buckshot .36” 6 Large game hunting, self defense Bear, deer, hog


Shotgun Shell Basics Explained

shotgun shell reloading materials
The main components of a shotgun shell: hull (yellow), shot (silver), wad (clear white), gun powder (pink).

A shotgun shell, or shotshell, is constructed of multiple components that contain the load you’ll shoot at your target when you pull your shotgun’s trigger.

A tube called a hull holds everything inside. These are typically plastic with a brass base nowadays, though historically they were also made of plastic or brass.

Inside is the projectile, which is either a metal slug or a large number of metal spheres called shot.

The shot sits atop a wad, which has multiple purposes. A wad cushions the shot from the rapidly expanding gasses that expel the load from your shotgun’s barrel.

The wad also prevents all of the shotshell’s components from bouncing around and even helps control the pressure curve so firing your shotgun doesn’t blow it apart.

Under the wad is the gunpowder, ignited by the shell’s primer to give the force necessary for your shot to strike and knock down your target.

Those are the basics of how shotgun shells work.

If you’re not loading your shells, then the most critical parts of the shotshell are its gauge, shot size, shot weight, and–to a lesser extent–its velocity.


You absolutely must match your ammo’s gauge to your shotgun’s gauge.

That’s because, much like a rifle’s caliber, the measurement dictates whether or not the ammo even fits in your gun.

If you have a 12 gauge shotgun (the most common gauge), you must use 12 gauge ammo.

A 10 gauge shell won’t fit in your gun’s chamber. A 20 gauge shell is too small and may slide forward far enough in your barrel to allow you to load another 12 gauge shell, which will explode your gun if you try to shoot!

Past that, though, gauge does not have as much of an effect as some people think it does.

However, larger gauge shotshells have a larger capacity than smaller gauge shotshells. This can be taken up with more shot, a larger wad, and/or more gunpowder.

This means a 12 gauge shotgun can accept a larger variety of load weights than a 20 gauge shotgun.

Bonus: How Gauge Affects Shotgun Shell Effectiveness

A load of an ounce of 8 shot fired at 1,200 fps will hit basically the same whether it’s fired from a 12 gauge shotgun, 16 gauge shotgun, or 20 gauge shotgun.

Some people will argue that using a larger barrel diameter (such as 12 gauge) will result in a wider shot cloud, increasing your chances to hit.

Others will argue that the narrower shot cloud from a smaller bore (such as 20 gauge) means you’ll put more pellets on target, increasing the damage you do.

In practice, though, the differences are small enough that almost nobody will be able to tell.

Shot Size

Shot size is the second most important factor to consider because it strongly affects what type of targets you can shoot.

The smaller shot has more pellets per ounce. However, each pellet carries less kinetic energy, so the smaller shot won’t hit as hard as the larger shot.

Shot size is given by a number or letter. The smaller the number, the larger the pellet, the larger the animal you can shoot.

Shot is divided into two categories: Birdshot and buckshot.

This gives you an idea of what you can hunt with that specific shot size.


Birdshot ranges from 12 shot to 1 shot. Then, to represent pellets larger than 1 shot, you use the letters B, T, and–very rarely–F.

The more letters, the larger the shot size, so the BBB shot is larger than the BB shot.

You can calculate the pellet’s nominal diameter for the numbered birdshot sizes by subtracting the number from 0.170″.

So, each 8 shot pellet is about 0.090″ wide, though manufacturing tolerances mean that the actual size will deviate slightly.

Extremely small birdshot sizes are often called snake shot, rat shot, or even dust shot. You’ll find this type of shot loaded in handgun cartridges or .410 instead of shotshells because they are meant for short-range pest control.


Buckshot only uses numbers, starting at #4 and getting larger from there. Annoyingly, #4 buckshot is larger than 4 birdshot, having a diameter of 0.240″ versus 0.130″.

Note: This is why I’m not using “#” before any numbered birdshot. Remember that when talking about shot sizes, people typically say “number four birdshot.”

Buckshot sizes larger than #1 start at #0, go on to #00 buck, and so on. Rather than “number zero,” call this “ought,” “double ought,” etc.

Double-ought buckshot is the most common load with a nominal diameter of 0.330″.

Shell Length

As you can guess, shell length is the longest measurement of the hull, typically given in inches.

Longer shells have a larger internal capacity and can fit more shot and propellent for longer-ranged, harder-hitting loads.

2-3/4″ is the most common shell size and is more than adequate for clay shooting and small game hunting.

3″ shells are popular for hunting to get a bit more power for just enough of an edge to turn the occasional miss into a good hit.

3-1/2″ shells have also become common for hunting waterfowl and turkeys as they can deliver devastating impacts on large birds at long ranges.

Modern shotguns will have their maximum chamber length stamped on the barrel. You can load a 2-3/4″ shell into a shotgun with a 3-1/2″ chamber just fine, but the reverse won’t fit.

The development of 3-1/2″ shotshells effectively obsoleted 10 gauge shotguns, by the way. They both fulfill the same purpose, but a 3-1/2″ 12 gauge shotgun is more versatile than a 3″ 10 gauge shotgun.

Ounces or Shot Weight

Rather than telling you the number of pellets in a load, shotshell manufacturers give you the weight of the load.

This is partially conventional and partially because the size of each pellet can mean that small shot sizes have hundreds of pellets per ounce.

A heavier shot weight means you’ll fire more lead per shot.

This results in hitting your target with more pellets, making heavy loads popular for hunting. You don’t want to hit that bird and merely wound it!

However, thanks to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, heavier loads will also produce more recoil, so light loads are commonly used for recreational shotgunning.


Rather than telling you how many grains of gunpowder are in each shell, ammo manufacturers tell you how fast the load travels in feet per second.

The higher the velocity of your load, the farther the shot cloud will travel before expanding. However, it’ll also produce more recoil.

Also, some high-velocity loads will “blow out” in some shotguns, meaning the pattern will open up much faster than you want.

Plus, some trap fields won’t allow you to fire loads past a certain maximum velocity.

There’s not a huge difference between a velocity of 1,150 fps and 1,250 fps in practice, so you should practice patterning your shotgun to figure out which velocity puts the most pellets on target rather than just going for the fastest load you can find.

Dram Equivalent

“Dr. eq.” means “dram equivalent,” which is an old way of approximating velocity still used by some shotgunners.

It comes from the days when shotguns were loaded with black powder. Back then, shot and powder weights were measured in drams. 16 drams equal one ounce.

Nowadays, most people don’t use drams to measure how much propellant is in a shotshell, especially since smokeless powder isn’t equivalent to black powder.

All you really need to know is that the higher the dram equivalency, the higher the velocity of the load if all other weights are equal.

When to Use What Shot Size

birds and shotgun

The takeaway from the above information is that shot size is the most important consideration when trying to figure out which shotshell to buy for what animal you’re hunting.

However, ask three hunters about the best shot size for any specific animal, and you’ll get six different answers.

Truthfully, neighboring shot sizes are generally close enough that it doesn’t matter which specific size you’re using so long as you use one in the right size range.

So, we’ll suggest a range of shot sizes for each animal.

However, there is some information to keep in mind.

Since larger pellets carry more kinetic energy, they have more momentum than smaller pellets. This means you can get a longer effective range by increasing the size of your shot.

Conversely, you’ll get more pellets by using a smaller shot size, so you’ll hit the animal with more projectiles by going with a smaller shot size. This can be advantageous if you get closer to your prey.

So, let’s talk about specific animals.


As the name indicates, birdshot is for the birds.

You get many small pellets, which is excellent for ensuring a hit on a small, quick animal.


Waterfowl refers to birds that spend a lot of time in and around water.

They are typically hunted at medium-to-long range and can be surprisingly tough birds.

This includes coots, geese, swans, mergansers, and many duck species.

Most waterfowl hunters will reach for a medium or large birdshot load. This lets them hit those animals hard despite the range.

The most common waterfowl hunting loads use loads from 3 to 1 shot. Even a 4 shot load will cover almost any duck species, including those pesky geese.

Dedicated geese hunters prefer large shot, from 2 to T.

Small ducks at closer ranges can be hunted with shot sizes down to 6.

Upland Birds

Sometimes called landfowl, this category covers birds hunted on land rather than water.

They are generally smaller and less tough than waterfowl, so you don’t have to use as heavy a pellet.

This is good because these birds tend to be more unpredictable in their flight paths so you may want to get the improved hit chance provided by the larger pellet numbers from using smaller shot.

This covers birds from doves to pheasants and includes chukar, quail, grouse, woodcock, and partridges.

Shot sizes from 7 to 4 are great for hunting most upland birds.

Chukar and pheasants, since they are larger in size, should be hunted with 6 to 4 shot.

Doves and quail, since they are so small, can be hunted with even smaller shot, down to 9 shot, though 8 to 6 is more common.


Though technically a landfowl, the size and toughness of a turkey mean they are their own category.

Some hunters will go as heavy as possible when hunting turkey, using BBB or T shots.

However, many hunters have taken turkey with shot as small as 6 shot, so long as you get close and make a good hit.


Snipe and rails are shorebirds, flirting with the boundary between waterfowl and upland birds.

However, they are quite small birds, so 8 shot is commonly used on them.

Small Mammals

Rabbits and squirrels are sometimes hunted with a shotgun. 6 shot is the sweet spot when hunting these skittish mammals, though some hunters go smaller.


shotgun shells

Your shot choice when shooting clays depends on your discipline, skill level, and handicap.

Generally speaking, the most common clay load uses 8 shot. 7 is also popular.

The argument for 7 shot is that it’s more likely to break the clay if you hit it with even a single pellet.

Most sporting shotgunners won’t see any difference in scores between 7 and 8, though.

Pests and Snakes

Shot used for pest control is fired at close range, typically around 10 yards or closer, so you don’t need heavy pellets to kill the animal.

This category also includes snakes, as the same shot size is often used for defense against rattlesnakes.

Honestly? Whether 10 or 12, shot size doesn’t matter. Use whichever is available.


Buckshot is used against medium and large mammals, which are less maneuverable than birds and rodents.


“Buckshot” gets its name from hunting male deer bucks.

Which buckshot size you should use depends on the size of the deer in your region and how close you can get to the animal.

00 buck is an excellent all-around choice. However, you can use down to #4 buck against small deer at close ranges, such as in forested mountains.

Other Large Game

Depending on local laws, buckshot can also be used against other large mammals, such as boar, bear, and coyote.

With coyote, you can use small buckshot and even large birdshot and still put the animal down. The hard part is getting close enough to the yote to hit it with a shotgun in the first place.

For bear and boar, though, you want large, heavy-hitting pellets. These can be dangerous animals, so you must ensure a single-shot kill that deals devastating tissue damage and shatters bones.

I wouldn’t use anything smaller than 00 buck against these mammals.

For Self Defense

The proper size of buckshot to defend your home is a much-debated topic.

If you don’t want to delve deep into this conversation, then 00 buckshot is an extremely common choice for self-defense.

However, with only 9 pellets in the typical 12 gauge shell, it’s possible for none of your balls to hit the target.

With smaller shotgun gauges or when over penetration is a factor, you can go down to #4 buck.

Personally, I keep the #2 buck for my 20 gauge in case I ever need to grab it to defend my home. This provides me with eighteen 0.27″ pellets per shot.

How Steel Affects Shot Effectiveness

The recommendations given above default to using a lead shot.

Because of its harm to the environment, though, many hunters use alternatives. Some, such as bismuth, are just about as heavy, so you don’t have to adjust for the different metal.

Steel, however, is the most common alternative to lead and the most different when it comes to mass.

This means you must use a larger shot size to get the same knockdown power.

A good rule of thumb for adapting to steel is to use shot two sizes larger than you would with lead.

Keep in mind that this adjustment has already been made for you when it comes to waterfowl species, as it is illegal to hunt ducks and geese with lead shot.

How to Choose the Right Shotgun Shell

man loading shotgun

Choosing the right shot size is essential when you want to hunt and knock down your prey in one shot without injuring the animal.

There seems to be an overwhelming variety of choices to make when choosing the right sporting, hunting, or self-defense load.

Thankfully, you don’t have to choose the perfect shot size. There’s a range to choose from. So if you’re hunting, say, pheasants, both number 4 shot and number 6 shot will help you achieve success.

I recommend starting with a shot size about in the middle of the suggested range and then experimenting with larger or smaller shots depending on your results.

Good luck shooting!


How Many Pellets Are in a Shotgun Shell?

The number of pellets in a shotgun shell depends on the shot size and the amount of shot in the shell, which is given by telling you the load’s weight in ounces.

You can calculate this by finding the shot size in the above chart and multiplying it by the load’s weight.

For example, a load with 7/8 ounces of number 8 shot will contain approximately 359 pellets.

How Big Is #4 Shot?

“#4 shot” can refer to either #4 buck or number 4 birdshot.

#4 buckshot pellets are 0.24″ wide, and number 4 birdshot is 0.13″ in diameter.

What Is 12 Gauge 7.5 Shot Used For?

7.5 shot is commonly used for shooting clays, rodents, and small birds.

The post Shotgun Shot Size and Shells Explained (What to Use When) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States) Tue, 09 May 2023 07:52:19 +0000 Shed hunting is a great hobby that gets you close to the thrill of the hunt without all the fuss of getting a hunting license, lugging around a gun, etc. Plus, most places let you pick up shed antlers outside of deer hunting season, allowing you to extend your adventures. But where are the best ... Read more

The post Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Shed hunting is a great hobby that gets you close to the thrill of the hunt without all the fuss of getting a hunting license, lugging around a gun, etc.

Plus, most places let you pick up shed antlers outside of deer hunting season, allowing you to extend your adventures.

But where are the best places to find these sheds?

The best place to find shed antlers is where there is a high deer population, low human population, and lots of food for the deer to eat.

In the USA, you’ll have the best success shed hunting from Nevada & Utah to Illinois & Iowa. Virginia and West Virginia are suitable for people in the eastern half of the US. In Canada, people tend to have the most success in northern Alberta.

However, you can find shed antlers anywhere bucks spend their late winter and early spring.

What State Has the Best Shed Hunting?

Shed hunting is a thrilling outdoor activity that requires skill, patience, and knowledge. However, choosing the best state to go shed hunting can be a daunting task due to various factors.

One such factor is the fluctuation in deer populations, which can result in a great shed hunting spot one year being barren the next. Additionally, some states have imposed regulations that limit shed hunting during certain periods, restricting access to prime shed hunting areas.

For instance, Colorado could be one of the top states for shed hunting, but unfortunately, the activity is prohibited on public lands from January 1st to April 30th. However, if you have connections, you can still explore the state’s potential for shed hunting.

Wyoming also has similar regulations but boasts some of the best shed hunting in the US, especially if you can find private land. Here, you can discover a diverse range of antlers, including elk, moose, mule, and whitetail deer sheds.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a state with an abundance of sheds, Nebraska is the place to be. With its vast fields of corn, soy, hay, wheat, oat, and peas, deer thrive and leave behind many antlers for you to find. Coupled with Nebraska’s low human population, you’ll have a higher chance of discovering more antlers.

Choosing the best state for shed hunting can be tricky, but with the right information, you can increase your chances of finding impressive antlers.

Where to Go Shed Hunting in Canada?

The same criteria used to pick out the best shed hunting states in the USA also apply to Canada: You want to visit areas with lots of food and little human activity.

This means that you’ll want to head farther north of the border. Most shed hunters find success in Alberta, especially the northern portion.

The province has a suitable environment for deer and other animals to thrive. Plus, the fish and game departments are relatively permissive when it comes to picking up shed antlers. You can keep and sell them without a permit so long as you didn’t gather the sheds in a protected area.

Northern Saskatchewan and northwest Ontario also have great shed hunting opportunities.

Despite having similar specs, Manitoba is the best place to live, but not visit, if you’re hoping to pick up antlers. That’s because non-residents are prohibited from possessing shed antlers. Manitoba residents don’t have any such restriction, though!

Remember that bringing wildlife parts across the border may not be worth it (or legal) for American tourists.

You’ll have to follow the regulations of your home residence and the location where you’re picking the sheds. Also, you may need to file an expensive wildlife import/export permit if you’re transporting more than a few antlers across the border.

Where Should I Look When Shed Hunting?

shed antler during spring

An excellent way to understand where you’ll find sheds is to learn where the bucks spend their time.

After all, sheds are antlers that have fallen off of male deer. If a deer doesn’t visit an area, you won’t find any sheds!

This means you’ll want to prioritize areas that provide food, water, safe bedding, and also warmth.

7 Places to Look for Shed Antlers

  1. The southern-facing sides of hills and clearings are commonly-suggested areas to find sheds for a good reason. It’s often cold out when deer lose their antlers, and these locations attract deer that want to gather as much of the sun’s warmth as possible.
  2. Also, check out creeks, streams, and even rivers. Deer will visit running water to stay hydrated in winter because other drinking zones are likely to freeze over.
  3. Deer need food, too, and will travel to find plants that are still green even in winter. These are sometimes called late-season food sources.
    If you find such an area, then check around the edge for sheds. Deers prefer to stay at the boundary between food and safety whenever possible.
  4. As for where deer bed down, you will want to find areas where deer feel safe that are also close to food and water.
  5. Look in thickets, around evergreens, and in areas where trees and foliage provide protection against sight and wind.
  6. It’s also a good idea to search along the trails deer travel between these areas. Antlers can get knocked off as the deer travels through areas thick with branches.
  7. Similarly, fence lines can be a surprisingly effective location to find sheds. That’s because antlers can dislodge when the buck jumps over a fence or lands on the other side.

States to Avoid When Shed Hunting

Now that we’ve discussed the tips on where and how to find shed antlers successfully, let’s take a closer look at some states that may not be the best option for shed hunting.

While deer hunting is prevalent in the Sunshine State, Florida may not be the ideal location for shed hunting due to several factors. In fact, many of these reasons are common throughout most southern states, but particularly apply to Florida.

I’ve already covered the advantage of certain crop types. In a state like Florida, you won’t find nearly as many large corn and soy fields so the deer won’t be as well-fed.

And Florida is full of people.

But it gets worse!

Florida has a climate that is very friendly to deer. The mild winters mean bucks won’t spend as much time on warm southern ridges, so some of the best shed hunting tips won’t help you find shed antlers in the South.

And those warm winters mean that smaller mammals, from squirrels to coyotes, will be more active. This is bad for you because antlers are a great source of calcium and other nutrients. It’s hard to find good sheds when they get all chewed up by other little critters.

The South is also known for its denser foliage, which can make shed hunting much more annoying. Plus, all the extra underbrush will keep the antlers hidden from your view.

It can be quite challenging to find an uncrowded spot for shed hunting in southern states, as there is a limited amount of public land available.

And did I mention that shed hunting in the South can be dangerous? While venomous snakes may be hibernating during shed hunting season up north, they’ll be out and about when you’re tromping through their woods. They’re out even as early as March!

Add in the swamps and alligators, and it’s no wonder shed hunters don’t head to Florida to collect sheds.

The US’s Eastern and New England regions are also poor shed hunting areas because of their dense human populations.

The wild areas of Virginia and West Virginia are the best places to look for sheds if you’re on the East Coast.

The Best Places to Shed Hunt

The best places to find shed antlers are, annoyingly enough, far from most people.

If you’re in the United States, you’ve got a dozen states or so that are great for shed hunting.

And for our neighbors up north, you’ve got some prime locations if you’re willing to venture a bit farther north from the US-Canadian border.

You don’t have to limit yourself to these states to find sheds, though. Bucks will leave their antlers behind anywhere they spend the late winter and early spring.

So, if you have a monster buck in your backyard, that’s a good place to start looking!

The post Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

How Much Shed Antlers Are Worth & How to Make Money on Them Sat, 22 Apr 2023 12:31:44 +0000 Shed hunting is a fun hobby you can add to your usual outdoor adventures, whether hiking or hunting. Did you know that you can also make money off of your finds? Shed antlers are used as decorations, knife handles, dog chew toys, and furniture. Naturally, the people selling those products must get the antlers from ... Read more

The post How Much Shed Antlers Are Worth & How to Make Money on Them appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Shed hunting is a fun hobby you can add to your usual outdoor adventures, whether hiking or hunting.

Did you know that you can also make money off of your finds?

Shed antlers are used as decorations, knife handles, dog chew toys, and furniture.

Naturally, the people selling those products must get the antlers from someone. Why not be that someone?

On average, shed antlers can be sold for roughly $10 per pound. Since antlers weigh three pounds or more, that’s good pocket change with just one rack!

Where Can You Sell Shed Antlers

To sell antlers, you have to connect with people who want to buy them.

This can be easy or hard, depending on your existing hobbies.

Selling Deer Antlers Online

Perhaps the easiest way to get started with selling antlers is to put them up for sale online. There are several websites you can use that already have a large and willing audience of people seeking antlers.

If you’re willing to ship the antlers, then the two best websites are eBay and Etsy. Both are easy to use.


I’ve sold products on Etsy before! Before you’re ready to sell, you’ll have to sign up with the website and connect some financial information to pay fees and get paid.

Etsy has a listing fee for every item you sell, though it’ll cost you less than a quarter for a four-month listing. They also have transaction fees, roughly half the amount eBay charges.


eBay is free to use until you sell your antlers. Then they’ll charge a moderate fee based on the sale price.

Both websites will track your sales so you can accurately handle your taxes.

Once you’re notified of the sale with a *cha-ching!* noise, you’ll have to package and ship the antlers. Don’t worry. That’s easy, too.

Local Pick-up Websites

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of packing and shipping your antlers, then Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are good resources for selling to people within driving distance.

You’ll probably have less competition this way, too.

Your own website or social media accounts

Another option is to use a platform like WordPress to host your website.

This lets you avoid paying fees to eBay or Etsy. However, you’ll have to drive traffic to that website yourself, and that’s not easy!

You can also use social media, such as Facebook groups and hunting forums, to connect with potential buyers.

For example, I’ve seen antlers for sale on Hunt Talk’s classifieds forum.

Selling Deer Antlers in Person

Of course, you can make money selling antlers the old-fashioned way: By making social connections with people interested in buying antlers.

This can take many different forms.

As a hunter, you’ll probably meet people with knife-making as a hobby. They might be interested in buying antlers.

Historical reenactors often need antlers to make their period-accurate products, especially people engaged in “living history” because they demonstrate old crafting skills to the public.

I’ve also seen tables of antlers for sale at gun and knife shows.

You can also connect with companies that use antlers for making rustic furniture and offer to supply them with antlers. They tend to be more interested in bulk sheds than fancy antlers.

How Shed Antlers Are Valued

How much shed antlers are worth depends on the species, condition, color, and how much you’re selling.

Generally speaking, the larger the animal, the more valuable the shed.

Moose antlers are worth the most, followed by elk, caribou, then mule deer. Whitetail antlers tend to be worth the least.

However, this also depends on whether that species is common in your area. What’s common for you may be rare for a buyer in another part of the country!

Darker coloration tends to bring in more money. That’s because lighter antlers have faded from the elements. A darker antler is both fresher and tougher.

Somewhat faded sheds tend to be labeled Hard White. Fully faded antlers are called Chalk antlers.

And, naturally, perfect antlers will be worth more than ones with evident damage, such as chips, missing tines, and bite marks.

This is why some people use a 5-step grading system: Grade A Brown, Grade B Brown, Grade A Hard White, Grade B Hard White, and Grade C Chalk.

Symmetrical sheds are worth more, but only when sold as a rack.

Larger antlers are also worth more, of course. A large, symmetrical rack of brown moose antlers can sell for a grand or more!

Finally, whether you’re selling in bulk as a supplier or selling retail to a consumer will affect the price.

These factors make it difficult to convey how much any particular shed will sell for accurately. However, here are some guidelines:

  • Whitetail Deer: $6 to $18 per pound
  • Mule Deer: $7 to $20 per pound
  • Elk: $7 to $16 per pound
  • Caribou: $7 to $20 per pound
  • Moose: $6 to $15 per pound

(Though the above numbers make deer antlers look like they’re worth more than moose antlers, deer sheds are much lighter than moose sheds, so the larger species are worth more in the end.)

A Caution Regarding Antler Selling Legality

As with any animal product or any business endeavor, there are legal restrictions you may have to follow.

Some states have laws regulating how you can harvest sheds and whether or not you can sell them. Some states don’t.

Look up your local fish & game department’s regulations to learn if you can even go shed hunting, let alone sell the antlers for a profit.

For example, Missouri requires you to record detailed information about every antler sold and identify who purchased them.

Speaking of profits, the government will want its due. Make sure to record each transaction so you can pay the tax man his money.

Staying on the side of the law will help both you and the deer enjoy their antlers for generations to come.


Can you make money selling deer antlers?

Yes, though it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Anybody who can hike can make a few dollars finding and selling antlers.

Making an income with shed antlers requires just as much work as any other occupation, though.

The post How Much Shed Antlers Are Worth & How to Make Money on Them appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Sitka Camo Review (3 Items I Regret Not Buying Sooner) Thu, 20 Apr 2023 22:42:44 +0000 Sitka Gear has long been regarded as a top-tier brand in the hunting apparel market, known for its high-quality products that come with an equally high price tag. As an eager hunter, I’m always on the lookout for gear that enhances my outdoor experience. And I’m okay with spending more money for quality gear that ... Read more

The post Sitka Camo Review (3 Items I Regret Not Buying Sooner) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Sitka Gear has long been regarded as a top-tier brand in the hunting apparel market, known for its high-quality products that come with an equally high price tag.

As an eager hunter, I’m always on the lookout for gear that enhances my outdoor experience. And I’m okay with spending more money for quality gear that serves multiple purposes and will last a long time. But does Sitka Gear stand up to the hype?

In this Sitka camo review, I’ll share my hands-on experience with six different Sitka Gear products, focusing on the three that I now regret not buying sooner: the Sitka Mountain Pant, the Sitka Core Lightweight Long Sleeved Crew, and the Sitka Jetstream Jacket.

If you just want to know what the best Sitka gear is and what’s worth getting vs leaving behind, keep reading because I won’t waste your time with fluffy opinions about junk.

And if you’re more of a visual person, check out my Sitka Gear video review on YouTube!

DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on a link we may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Why Trust Our Sitka Camo Review

I got a whole new set of Sitka camouflage clothing gear last fall and put it to the test. I wore it all season long on multiple hunts, some successful and some not. From warm days in the early season to late season mornings in near zero degree temps, I formed a few opinions about what I was wearing all that time.

Hunter wearing Sitka Gear camo and talking on walkie talkie
I hunted in this Sitka Gear camo in both early and late season hunts.

I evaluated each item based on features, camo pattern effectiveness, noise levels, weather resistance, durability, versatility, and comfort (including fit, sizing, and mobility).

In short, I have used all the gear I talk about extensively and I test gear for a living. My only objective here is to provide firsthand insight based on my own experience. I hope it helps you make a decision to buy or not to buy, either way is fine with me.

Sitka Mountain Pant

The Sitka Mountain Pant is a true jack-of-all-hunts. Although it’s not waterproof, I found it comfortable in both the heat of late summer and the cold of winter.

Best Pants
SITKA Gear Mountain Pant
Why We Like It: It's versatile and works for almost any hunt.
  • Comfortable with some stretch
  • Two-way zipper on fly is brilliant
  • Works in warm and cold weather
  • Durable and abrasion resistant
  • Quiet when rubbing against brush
  • Not waterproof
  • Kneepads are annoying to put in
  • Belt loops too small
View on Amazon View at SITKA Gear

Compare prices at: Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Black Ovis, Sportsman’s Warehouse

My favorite feature of this pant is that it has two zippers on the fly. The top zipper tucks underneath the button, providing a secure fit and preventing you from getting ribbed by your hunting buddies for having your fly down. There’s a second zipper at the bottom that you can open upwards, allowing you to answer nature’s call without unbuckling your belt or your backpack. I think every pant should have this feature.

The fabric feels excellent both inside and out. It’s smooth, yet durable. Most importantly, it’s quiet! Accidentally spooking a deer when brushing against some alder is far less likely in this pant than others I’ve worn, including those from Pnuma or generic brands.

The pockets are well-positioned with good closures, including low-profile zippers that are quiet and don’t dig into your leg. The cargo pockets, in particular, are spacious. They have plenty of room for gloves or snacks. They even have an outer zipper pocket that’s suitable for your tags or wallet. There’s only one back pocket, but I think that’s smart since I dislike sitting on bulky items during all-day spotting and stalking.

The Sitka Mountain pant is not waterproof or insulated, but I didn’t miss that feature. A light sprinkle sheds off the pant well enough, but a downpour will undoubtedly leave you wet.

Man wearing Sitka Gear camo and sitting on a Yeti cooler
The Sitka Mountain Pant was comfortable enough that I didn’t bother to take it off even after a hunt.

Ultimate Comfort and Mobility

The Mountain pant doesn’t restrict movement at all like a stiffer pant would. The fit is relaxed but not loose. It has somewhat of an athletic fit, yet I still found them extremely comfortable, even with a bit of a belly these days. They stay up and in place, which can be hard to find, thanks to the numerous belt loops.

Speaking of belt loops, some of them have MOLLE loops to attach gear, which is a neat feature. However, one drawback of this pant is that the belt loops are rather narrow. It makes it difficult to run my belt through them (I suppose it’s thicker than some). That’s a bit annoying, but not a dealbreaker.

These pants fit true to size in my experience. At 6’1″ and 220 lbs, I ordered a 36R, which is what I normally get, and they fit perfectly.

The pant has kneepads if you like those. I don’t use them, but they are functional, albeit a bit of a hassle to get in and out. You pretty much have to take your pants off to do so.

Sitka Core Lightweight Crew LS: Breathable and Silent

The second piece of Sitka Gear that I would definitely recommend is the Core Lightweight Crew Long-Sleeved shirt. This is a very simple piece of clothing. Admittedly, my first impression was that it was overpriced – a simple polyester long-sleeve shirt for 80 bucks?!

However, there are a few key aspects I love about it that I think make it worth the price.

Best Shirt
SITKA Gear Core Lightweight Crew Long Sleeve Shirt
Why We Like It: It's useful from the hot early season through the cold winter season.
  • Functional year-round
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Thumb loops
  • Long tail in back
  • Fabric catches on rough surfaces
  • Pricey for a polyester shirt
View on Amazon View at SITKA Gear

Compare prices at: Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Black Ovis, Sportsman’s Warehouse

Firstly, the main reason I wear camouflage when hunting is to try and conceal myself from game. If I were a highly skilled hunter, I probably wouldn’t need camo. But I’m not, so I do. The Sitka Core Lightweight LS covers my entire upper body while remaining comfortable, even in hot weather.

When it’s cooler, I wear this shirt as a base layer.

The fabric is nothing remarkable. In fact, it can get caught on rough surfaces like wood, which can pull threads and cause wear. But it truly is lightweight and comfortable while still maintaining a consistent appearance of the camo pattern.

Even after wearing it several days in a row it didn’t smell funky. It does an admirable job at scent control.

I got a size XL, and it fits snug, but not too tight. In my opinion, it’s between a relaxed and an athletic fit. I’d probably get an XL-Tall next time. It’s nice that they even offer tall sizes, and I have a long torso.

The tail of the shirt is longer than the front, which is great for covering up a well-fed man’s backside like mine.

The little thumb loops at the end of the sleeves make it easy to keep from bunching up when adding layers on top.

Despite not being fancy or ultra-technical, the Core Lightweight Crew is so comfy and practical that I found myself putting it on every day I went hunting, even though I had alternatives.

Sitka Jetstream Jacket

The final item I would definitely recommend is the Sitka Jetstream Jacket. Just like the other two items I recommended, I find the Jetstream jacket to be highly versatile. Ultimately, that’s why I’d be willing to fork out the substantial sum it takes to buy it.

This is not a single-purpose piece of gear like a rain jacket or a waterfowl jacket. This jacket can be taken on every hunt you go on, all year round.

Best Jacket
SITKA Jetstream Jacket
Why We Like It: Quiet, versatile outer shell for all-season use.
  • Makes almost no noise
  • Water and wind resistant
  • Uses real Gore-Tex
  • Comfortable with max mobility
  • Great for layering
  • Pricey for a softshell jacket
  • Not as durable as first gen Jetstream
  • Not warm enough on its own in cold
View at SITKA Gear View at Sportsman's

Compare prices at: Black Ovis, Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops

Features I appreciate include:

  • Waterproof taped zippers (also camouflaged themselves)
  • Soft bill inside the hood for shedding water and sun
  • Numerous adjustments on the hood and waist for the right fitment
  • Well-positioned pockets with quiet zippers (including an inside pocket)
  • Effective pit zip vents that are in the right place and do the job well, and even zip from either end

Perhaps my favorite aspect of this jacket compared to others I have used in the past, like the Pnuma Waypoint, is that this jacket is incredibly quiet. It makes it easier to sneak up when you’re stalking a deer. There’s no jacket-on-jacket noise, and the jacket-on-vegetation noise is minimal. Plus, the fabric is soft and comfortable inside and out, ensuring maximum mobility.

The Jetstream jacket has a relaxed athletic fit like the Mountain pant and Core Lightweight Crew. It also has a longer cut tail like the latter. I got an XL and find it true to size. They have tall sizes available too.

Washing the Jetstream jacket was no issue. Not much dirt really even stuck to the material, but even blood came off easily in the washing machine after a hunt.

Hunter sitting down with back to camera and hunting pack sitting next to him
The Sitka Jetstream jacket took the edge off in cool weather without being too warm.

Weather-Resistant Protection

This jacket is quite popular, and I have the second-generation version. Many of the original fans are not happy that they slimmed it down with newer, thinner materials and claim that it is not as weather-worthy, wind-resistant, or waterproof as the old version. I can’t speak to that directly, but in my experience, this hunting jacket does everything I require.

I always had this in my pack this year, even on warmer days. It was just right to fend of the chill of early mornings out West in early fall, and I could add a puffy jacket or layers underneath in winter. I found that it kept the wind and rain out sufficiently well. It does have a real Gore-Tex membrane, after all. I didn’t feel a need to carry another shell all year. This was always my outer layer.

Despite what some advertisements say, one thing this jacket is not is super warm. It’s warm enough for cool weather, but not for cold weather. It’s a soft shell, not an insulating layer. If you use it like that, you’ll be happy. However, I would have been freezing my tail off if I didn’t add layers underneath when temperatures dropped below about 40 degrees.

Take It or Leave It on This Sitka Gear

Of all the Sitka Gear I acquired, here are a few items I found a bit underwhelming.

Sitka Gear Mountain 2700 pack sitting on ground with rifle in side pocket
I was pleased to stash my rifle in the Mountain 2700 pack at times, but it was overkill for day hunts.

Sitka Traverse Cap

I actually really liked how this cap fits. It’s comfortable with a bit of stretch to it. It’s cool enough when it’s hot out and doesn’t get that salty sweat band that a lot of hats do. And unlike most of Sitka’s products, it’s relatively inexpensive.

Compare prices at: Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, Black Ovis

However, one thing that irritated me was the Velcro strap at the back. The “hook” part of the hook and loop strap faces outward. When you put on a hood with a fleece or soft material inside (like the Jetstream jacket hood), the hat sticks to the hood. It’ll stick and unstick, making an unpleasant noise right by your head. And when you turn your head, your hat doesn’t always turn with it because it’s stuck to your hood. Dumb.

Sitka Traverse Gloves

The Sitka Traverse Gloves are nothing to get excited about. They are also one of the cheapest items on the Sitka menu, but there’s a reason for that. They have no frills and really only put camo on your hands.

Compare prices at: Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Bass Pro Shops, Black Ovis

I may still use them for that during spring turkey season, but I find them inadequate for big game season. They’re not warm, the seams at the ends of the fingers are a bit uncomfortable, they have little to no grip, and they’re not durable. Next time I’ll either opt for an off-brand at the same price point to get something better, or just save up a bit more money for a more versatile glove.

Sitka Mountain 2700 Backpack

The Sitka Mountain 2700 is a worthy hunting pack, but it’s as noisy on a hunt as my kids are at church. All kinds of heads are twisting around to see what’s making a racket when everything else is dead silent.

Compare prices at: Black Ovis, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops

The design is simple enough, with a big main compartment, a hydration bladder pouch, a top pocket, and two optics pockets. It has the necessary features like a waist belt, chest strap, and lightweight frame. But it’s pretty lackluster for the price point and the first thing I thought of after using it was, “I need a different pack.”

It would be fine for a long weekend backpacking or scouting trip, but it’s too underbuilt to pack out game and it’s too bulky and loud for day hunts. Something like a KUIU Pro Bag might be a bit more versatile than the Sitka Mountain 2700 pack.

Go With the Subalpine Camo Pattern

Selecting the right Sitka camo pattern can be overwhelming, but if you’re unsure, the Gore Optifade Subalpine pattern is a versatile choice. It blends well in both deserts and forests throughout the year.

While it’s difficult to objectively test camouflage patterns, I have anecdotal evidence of the Sitka Subalpine pattern’s effectiveness.

Hunter wearing Sitka Gear camo and hiking
The Gore Optifade Subalpine pattern of Sitka Gear blends in well with all kinds of environments.

Just after sunset, but during legal shooting hours, I found myself with both a fall turkey and deer tag, carrying a rifle and shotgun.

I was positioned against a tree on a hill near a turkey roost. Hearing movement behind me, I stood up to see two does browsing, unaware of my presence. Within seconds, a group of turkeys appeared 60 yards ahead, and a mature 4-point whitetail buck stood 120 yards in front of me. I was standing up like a prairie dog with my shotgun in hand.

Frozen, I decided to go for the buck who was staring right at me. Despite my lack of stealth, he continued browsing, unaware of my presence!

I crouched, put the shotgun down, and reached for my rifle. Adrenaline surged, and I made a hasty, shaky shot.

The buck jumped and escaped, the turkeys flew to their roost, and I was left alone with my regret.

My camo did its job, but I didn’t do mine.

Price Considerations and Recommendations

Sitka Gear makes great hunting camo clothing, but it comes at a steep price. The three items I recommend have a combined cost of almost $700. For about half the price you could set yourself up with a good quality camo outfit from TrueTimber, MossyOak, or RealTree.

You don’t have to spend that kind of money to get out and hunt. But if Sitka Gear fits your budget, I’d start with the Mountain Pant, the Core Lightweight Crew LS, and the Jetstream Jacket, all in Optifade Subalpine camo. That covers your whole body in comfortable, capable camo gear that can be used in pretty much every season, any environment, and for any game.

The post Sitka Camo Review (3 Items I Regret Not Buying Sooner) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

3 Pieces of Sitka Camo I Regret Not Buying Sooner nonadult
How To Shed Hunt: A Complete Guide With Tips Wed, 08 Mar 2023 13:05:26 +0000 Hunting is a great sport enjoyed by many. It’s an enjoyable challenge between you and the beast. However, regular hunting requires certain skills and equipment. And you’re limited to specific hunting seasons. Plus, you have to pay for licenses and fees, and… What if I told you there’s another type of hunting that just requires ... Read more

The post How To Shed Hunt: A Complete Guide With Tips appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Hunting is a great sport enjoyed by many. It’s an enjoyable challenge between you and the beast.

However, regular hunting requires certain skills and equipment. And you’re limited to specific hunting seasons. Plus, you have to pay for licenses and fees, and…

What if I told you there’s another type of hunting that just requires you to go into the woods armed with nothing but your wits and some sturdy footwear?

Shed hunting, also called antler gathering, is a “hunting” method that’s been taking off in recent years. It’s fun, challenging, and free. All you need is some dedication and knowledge about where to find sheds. They are typically spotted in and around places where the deer bed down or where they eat and drink. You don’t need any special gear to gather them, just some hiking boots and a good set of binoculars.

Let’s look at what goes into this sport so you can go from beginner shed hunter to expert in just a few hunts.

What is Shed Hunting?

deer with one antler

The word “shed” can be used as a noun to refer to an animal part that’s fallen off the animal, whether it’s a snake’s skin, your dog’s winter coat, or a deer’s antlers.

So, when most people say they are going shed hunting, they’re telling you about their plans to search for discarded deer antlers.

That’s why some people refer to this activity as antler gathering. The word “hunt” implies more adventure, though. And some people call it bone-picking!

Any animal that sheds its antlers can be the subject of this activity, not just deer. Some people are lucky enough to find elk or even moose antlers!

Why Go Shed Hunting?

People can go shed hunting for a variety of reasons.

For some people, it’s a way to hunt deer without dealing with the expense or legal hurdles of actually hunting deer.

Plus, you can pay attention to where you’re finding antlers to learn the animal’s behavior so you can be more successful with a traditional hunt in the fall.

Other people find it to be an enjoyable hobby. It encourages you to head outside. And finding a high-quality set of shed deer antlers is satisfying.

There can be an economic purpose, too.

An antler makes excellent material for everything from knife handles to jewelry to chandeliers. This is great for craftsmen and DIY enthusiasts.

But deer antlers are also worth money.

A good set of whitetail antlers can sell for over $10 a pound. Some people make hundreds of dollars, or more, selling shed antlers to crafters and rustic furniture manufacturers.

Don’t expect shed hunting to be a get-rich-quick scheme, though. Finding enough antlers to make the big bucks takes a lot of time and effort!

Does Shed Hunting Hurt Deer?

A good question is whether hunting for shed antlers can harm the animals.

Well, antler shedding is a natural part of a deer’s life. They grow and then fall off every year. You won’t physically harm an animal by picking up its shed antlers.

However, shed hunters can disturb deer who are just trying to survive the harsh winter. Deer feel stressed when they’re disturbed by large numbers of shed hunters. They’ll expend precious calories trying to get away.

If repeated, this can reduce the animal’s chances of surviving the winter.

That’s why some states have limited antler gathering seasons. It’s also possible your state can shut down shed hunting across the state to help reduce the stress experienced by wintering animals.

Pay attention to your local laws when you go shed hunting and, whenever possible, avoid disturbing wildlife.

How to Start Shed Hunting: Beginner Skills

shed hunter

Antler gathering is the easiest possible way to go hunting.

At its easiest, you go for a hike and keep your eyes open for lost antlers. But you won’t find many if you stay close to the trail.

Put on some good hunting boots and grab a hunting backpack and prepare to go off the beaten path. You’ll find antlers where the deer, caribou, or elk spend their time, and these animals do not like to hang out around people.

This means you should look for feeding areas, bedding areas, drinking zones, and frequently used travel corridors.

But first, let’s look at when antlers are even available.

When Should You Look for Antlers?

While it’s theoretically possible to find shed antlers any time of the year, they degrade over time and are chewed up for their protein content. This means you should look for them when they’re freshly fallen.

Antlers are grown so the male animal can engage in mating behaviors. Once the rut is over, those antlers are excess weight so they fall off and a new pair grows.

The specific time when the animal starts to shed its antlers depends on the species and your part of the world.

Generally, though, antlers start to fall off in December and can continue into April. February and March are generally considered to be the two best shed hunting months.

Earlier is better for finding higher-quality antlers. They’ll have less time to be damaged by weather and other animals.

Later in the season is better for sheer volume. More deer will have lost their antlers so it’s easier to find some. If you’re new to shed hunting, I’d recommend starting later for this reason. It’s frustrating to tromp all over the forest and not find a single antler. You’ll still find good antlers from deer who delay dropping their rack, even late in the season.

However, if you’re in an area where the woods will be crowded with other bone pickers, you’ll want to start your search earlier in the season to avoid competition.

Where Do You Find Shed Antlers?

Deer love places where tree cover meets wide open areas. This lets them keep an eye out for predators as they eat or drink. This environment also lets them swiftly escape into the safety of the woods.

But they won’t hang out in an open field just because. They have needs to be fulfilled: food, water, and shelter.

Food sources are scarce in winter, and deer will search for as many food remnants as they can get.

Related: Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States)

Crops such as soy and beans are frequent feeding grounds for deer. Corn is even better. Deer love corn and any stalks left over can help knock off old antlers.

Later in the season, though, look for areas of new greenery. Deer will snack on the freshest greens they can find when winter starts to give way to spring.

Hydration is necessary at all times of the year so make sure to check out all watering holes for freshly-dropped sheds.

Deer also spend a lot of time sheltered down in their bedding areas. Be careful when investigating known beds, though, since you don’t want to stress out the animal and force it to relocate.

What connects food, water, and shelter?

Travel corridors!

It’s worth finding need zones even if you don’t see any shed antlers because this lets you find the trails deer will make from point A to point B and back.

Follow these trails and you may find where a low-hanging branch has knocked the perfect rack off a buck.

How to Spot Fallen Antlers

Just like the deer that bears them for part of the year, antlers can be surprisingly tricky to spot.

They’re brownish or whitish objects found in nature, which is full of brownish and whitish objects.

Training your eye for spotting antlers in the woods takes a while. A big help is not actually to look for antlers.

Instead, look for specific antler parts.

Keep an eye out for tines. It can be easier to recognize a point instead of a whole antler, especially when there’s just a little nub sticking out of the snow.

Also, watch for the types of curves antlers take. An antler may be buried tine-down in the ground, tricking your brain if you’re trying to spot a whole antler. But that distinctively textured arch can draw the eye if you’re looking for a part of the antler, not the whole.

Binoculars can be helpful in your search so you can identify whether that bone-white object across the creek is an antler or something not worth your time. You can also use optics to glass a field for antlers.

And some people recommend going shed hunting during prime deer hunting time. The low morning sun can help cause an antler’s tines to pop out amongst its drab surroundings.

Once you’ve found one antler, chances are the other half of its set is nearby. Antlers come in pairs, after all. Stop where you’ve found the shed and look in a slow 360 degrees around you.

If you can, identify the deer’s direction and search in both directions. You may have found the first shed antler or the second one.

And if you can’t find that antler’s mate?

Well, sometimes a deer loses one antler and keeps the other one around for a day or two.

Tips to Help You Become a Better Shed Hunter

shed antler on the ground

You must get out into the wild to become the best shed hunter. There’s nothing like real-world experience for learning the intricacies of antler gathering, especially since animal behavior varies by location.

However, you can boost your knowledge by learning from other shed hunters’ experiences.

Tip #1 – Look Where Deer Jump

For example, a good bone picker will look over the land and take note of any features that will make a deer jump.

Rough terrain, fences, creeks, and anything that causes deer to leap or stumble can be the perfect spot to check for antlers. The impact can jostle antlers and cause them to fall off.

Tip #2 – Look Where It’s Warm in the Morning

Deer often prioritize warm areas in the morning to help fight off the chill of the night. This means the savvy shed hunter will look to the south and east of large geographical features.

Southern slopes tend to be excellent sources of sheds.

Tip #3 – Look From Up High

Speaking of high areas, don’t be afraid to climb boulders to take advantage of the height.

Being farther up lets you glass your surroundings better. You may spot a shed that you’d miss right next to you!

And, unlike when hunting animals, you don’t have to worry about spooking your quarry by being too visible.

Tip #4 – Map What You Find

If you’re serious about shed hunting, you will want to track everything you find, from bedding areas to individual sheds. This will allow you to build up a body of knowledge that you can reference in regard to the movements of deer in your area.

You can do this manually with a map or GPS unit and notebook. Or take advantage of a hiking or hunting app on your smartphone.

This will help make your antler gathering trips more and more successful in succeeding years.

Plus, with enough tracking, you can identify individual bucks and catalog their development.

Deer are animals of habit. Use this to your advantage.

Tip #5 – Train Your Dog to Shed Hunt

Speaking of animals, dogs can be trained to sniff out and recover antlers.

You’ll want to start training them when they’re young. Partly to teach them that antlers aren’t chew toys!

Many professional hunting dog trainers can teach your canine this skill. It’s one they can learn alongside other hunting skills, too.

Tip #6 – Wear Soft Soles

Finally, I recommend wearing footwear with a thinner than usual sole when shed hunting.

You won’t need a thick sole to handle the heavy weight of carrying out a deer carcass. Instead, you want to be able to feel what’s under your feet.

This is because sheds can be surprisingly hard to see. However, they do not feel like a stick or rock when you step on them. More than one shed hunter has found great antlers with their feet instead of their eyes.


All the gear you need to go shed hunting is the same type of clothing you’d use for a hike.

Add a good backpack, a pair of binoculars, and a phone or GPS, and you’re as well kitted out as a bone picker can be, especially if you have your trusty dog by your side.

Shed hunting is a fun and rewarding hobby. Get out there and you’ll find the perfect rack lying there, just waiting for you!


Can You Make Money by Shed Hunting?

It is possible to make money shed hunting but it requires a lot of time, effort, and luck.

Antlers can be sold on eBay and Etsy. Also, some companies advertise online when they are buying antlers.

Is Shed Hunting Hard?

Shed hunting is easier than usual hunting but is harder than hiking, though not by much.

Are Shed Traps a Good Idea?

Shed traps are a bad idea. They are designed to catch a deer’s loose rack and pull it off. However, bucks can get stuck in a shed trap before their antlers are ready to fall off and they can injure themselves as they try to escape.

The post How To Shed Hunt: A Complete Guide With Tips appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Where to Shoot a Black Bear: 6 Shot Placements with Graphics Wed, 15 Feb 2023 13:41:44 +0000 Bear hunting is quite different from deer hunting. You might expect me to delve deep into how one animal is a predator and one is a prey and how that affects their behavior to make them different. Actually, the main difference is their anatomy. Deer are lean, with thin fur, and easily-hit hearts. You can ... Read more

The post Where to Shoot a Black Bear: 6 Shot Placements with Graphics appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Bear hunting is quite different from deer hunting.

You might expect me to delve deep into how one animal is a predator and one is a prey and how that affects their behavior to make them different.

Actually, the main difference is their anatomy.

Deer are lean, with thin fur, and easily-hit hearts. You can pass a bullet or arrow through them at an angle to hit several vital organs. They also bleed a lot.

Bears, on the other hand, are filled with fat and are covered in thick fur. It’s harder to get good penetration. They’re also notorious for leaving a poor blood trail.

So, some good shot angles at a deer are a horrible idea when you aim at a bear.

The best shot angle for a black bear is a broadside double-lung shot. This applies to both rifle hunters and bow hunters. That’s not the only shot you can take, but it is the safest.

DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This article contains affiliate links. If you click on a link we may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Good Black Bear Kill Zones

Bears have thick, loose hides, varying amounts of fat, and thick, shaggy fur. This makes it hard to conclusively identify a bear’s anatomy when you’re out in the woods.

They also have thick bones and dense muscles, which reduces your projectile penetration, whether a bullet or a broadhead.

No matter the type of large game you’re hunting, your goal is always to deliver a singular strike to the largest number of vital organs you can devastate at once.

So, you want to hit the bear with a shot against the narrowest portion of its body, aiming to devastate one or more vital organs.

1. Double Lung Shot: Behind the Shoulder

With black bears, this means going for their lungs with a broadside shot.

If you can get a bullet or arrow to penetrate both lungs and then exit through the bear’s far side, you’ll be in a great position to kill the bear and be able to track it down.

Having both an entrance and an exit wound will increase the size of the blood trail you have to track. Additionally, hitting both lungs will ensure the bear can’t run far.

Graphic of black bear walking broadside with crosshairs just behind the shoulder
This is arguably the most certain way to take an ethical, clean kill shot on a black bear.

The lungs are comparatively large on a bear. This is part of why such a shot is recommended.

Another reason is the proximity of other vital organs to the lungs.

A bear’s heart is just below its lungs. Though that organ is hard to aim for normally, it being close means you have a larger margin of error when aiming for the lungs.

The liver and front of the gut are also right next to the lungs. Though a gut shot is not ideal, putting an arrow through a bear’s liver is better than barely penetrating the animal’s thick shoulder.

When taking a broadside shot to a bear’s lungs, the main consideration is to wait for just the right part of their stride.

You want to take the shot when the bear’s front leg is far forward. That’s because the upper leg and shoulder have a lot of dense muscle and can otherwise block a shot from penetrating the lungs.

You can find this area by observing the bear as it walks. Find the rearmost area of its shoulder (with the leg straight down) and aim about six inches rearward.

With perfect aim, this will put your projectile in the middle of the bear’s lungs, ensuring a quick kill.

2. Broadside Shot: Middle of the Middle

A phrase most commonly used by Canadian hunting guides is to aim for the “middle of the middle” of the bear.

This puts your sights farther behind the shoulder, reducing your chances of striking the muscles without getting through to the lungs.

Graphic of a brown colored black bear standing broadside with crosshairs on the center of its body
Bears have big lungs so aiming at the middle of the middle is generally good shot to take, especially at longer ranges or for hunters with less experience.

However, aiming for this point is not recommended by some hunters for two reasons:

1. This puts your aim at the rear of the lungs, lowering your chances of a double-lung hit and increasing your chances of a gut shot.

2. It’s confusing! Where exactly is the middle of the middle of a bear? The answer changes as the bear moves and angles toward or away from you.

However, if the bear is perfectly perpendicular or broadside to you, then you can identify the middle area of the bear as being between its legs. Then aim for about six inches forward of the point halfway from one leg to the other.

This isn’t exactly the middle of the middle but it’ll get you more into the lungs for a better shot.

3. High Shoulder: Break Their Bones

Another tactic by some rifle hunters is to purposefully aim for the shoulder.

There is a lot of blood flow through this area. If your rifle is powerful enough, you can penetrate through these blood vessels and pass your bullet through both lungs.

This works best in a quartering-toward shot, so you have the angle for the bullet to hit the shoulder and lungs.

graphic of crosshairs over front shoulder of a black bear walking toward you
When a bear is quartering toward you, a high shoulder shot works well with the right cartridge.

This does require a bullet with greater than average mass, though.

For example, I would feel comfortable hunting a black bear with my 6.5 Grendel rifle, but only with a broadside shot.

However, with my .45-70 Government Marlin 1895 and a hard cast 500-grain bullet? I’d feel comfortable taking the high-shoulder shot.

Not with the lighter 350-gr bullets, though.

Another reason to take the high shoulder shot is to shatter the shoulder bone.

The thought here is that doing so immobilizes the bear. This prevents it from running away and causes a large amount of blood loss, making recovery easy.

Shattering the shoulder bone also means the bear cannot attack you in reprisal.

However, this is more of a brown bear hunting technique, not a black bear technique. Black bears are not nearly as likely to attack humans.

Note: If you’re an archer, never aim for the shoulder!

4. Facing Presentation: Square Shot to the Sternum

Another rifle-only place to shoot a black bear is to put a bullet into its heart through its sternum as it faces you.

Graphic of a black bear standing up with crosshairs centered on its sternum
This presentation may not occur often, but aiming straight at the sternum is the best shot placement when it does.

Bear hearts are lower than you think. To complicate matters, a bear has a lot of loose skin and fur under its chest so if you aim too low you won’t cause any real damage.

However, sometimes a bear will notice something odd and stand up to try to see or smell you better.

This gives you a nearly perfect shot at its heart.

Its lungs will be between its shoulder and elbows and its heart just a bit above its elbows.

Aim at the bear’s midline above its elbows, but below the middle of its bicep, and you’ll break through its sternum and into its heart.

I wouldn’t take a sternum shot with the bear on all fours, though.

Black Bear Angles and Shot Placements to Avoid (Most of the Time)

Now that we’ve covered the best angles and places to shoot a bear, let’s go over some places that seem tempting but are a bad idea to aim at when hunting a black bear.

5. Quartering Shots

If you’re an archer, then it’s a bad idea to aim at a black bear that’s quartering away from you. If you have a particularly heavy arrow, then you may be able to hit both lungs. However, you’ll likely fail to pass through and cause an exit wound, reducing the blood trail.

Graphic of black bear quartering away with crosshairs on the center and a do not shoot symbol over top
Quartering away shots pose too great a risk of a non-lethal hit.

A rifle hunter can take a quartering-away shot but it’s not as sure a shot as the good ol’ broadside double-lung hit.

A bow hunter should never take a quartering-toward shot. The muscles are too thick and the bones too big to guarantee you’ll be able to penetrate through to both lungs.

6. Headshots

Bears have large heads. This means that it’s easy to shatter their skull and lethally damage their brain, right?

Not so fast.

Whether black or brown, any bear has an excessively thick skull.

Graphic of a black bear facing camera with crosshairs centered on its head and a do not shoot symbol over top
Bear skulls are super thick which makes headshots largely ineffective. Most hunters would consider this unethical.

I know a hunter who took a shot at a bear that was facing directly toward him at close range. It was an easy headshot.

He pulled the trigger and the bear charged. His second shot broke the bear’s shoulder, causing it to stumble. He put his third bullet through the bear’s lungs.

Once he started cleaning the bear, he investigated his entry wounds to see why the headshot didn’t knock the bear down.

He found that the bullet had struck the bear in the forehead, directly in line with the brain. Then it curved over the skull through the fat layer, passed along the neck, and exited over the bear’s left shoulder bone.

Don’t try to headshot a bear. Take out its lungs or shoulder.

Arrow and Bullet Construction Considerations

Because bears are tougher than deer, you don’t want to use the same projectile against both animals.

You want to prioritize penetration over expansion when choosing your weapon for bear hunting. Black bears are smaller and lighter than brown bears, but because of their tough anatomy, it’s still a good idea to err on the side of penetration.

For Rifle Hunters

Five hunting rifle cartridges with red and silver tips sitting on a table close up
Be sure to use large caliber hunting rifles and the right cartridge to shoot a bear.

Generally, you want to use a heavy bullet for the caliber. More mass means more penetration, even if you’re using hollow point bullets.

And you can use hollow points against black bears. However, remember that HP hunting bullets will reduce the angles you can use to put down a bear confidently.

Controlled expansion hunting bullets are great for black bear hunting as they let you take both broadside shots and quartering-away shots.

Maximum penetration bullets, however, let you shoot through the shoulder and into the lungs. Examples include hard-cast lead and all-copper bullets that don’t have petal cuts.

These are sometimes called “dangerous game” loads.

For Bow Hunters

Close up of fixed blade broadhead on an arrow
Heavy, fixed blade broadheads are the preferred choice of many bear hunters.

If you’re hunting a black bear with a bow and arrow, you want to maximize penetration.

Use the heaviest arrows you can for your bow’s draw weight and length to get as much mass behind the arrowhead as possible.

Also, use a fixed broadhead instead of an expanding mechanical broadhead.

A black bear’s thick fur can gunk up a mechanical broadhead’s works and prevent it from swinging out the blades properly. This will cause you to lose much killing power, potentially letting the bear live.

Or allow it to escape and then die slowly, far from where you’ll give up even after you search for a tiny blood trail into the wee hours of the morning.

Where to Shoot a Bear in Self Defense

Circumstances are different when a bear is charging you.

Even if you’re not bear hunting, you may find yourself facing down a hungry or irate bear.

These animals can learn that gunshots mean dead deer. So what if you’re between them and having that deer carcass as dinner? Everyone enjoys an appetizer.

What are usually good targets when hunting bears, the lungs and heart, are a poor choice when you have to stop a bear in a matter of seconds. That’s because even a heart shot won’t drop a big bear.

And your priority during an attack is to stop the bear from moving toward you.

Generally, a bear charges straight at its prey, whether it’s hunting or trying to defend itself.

Black bear charging toward you

There are two places you can shoot a bear to get it to stop moving: the nervous system and the shoulders.

The best way to neutralize a bear is to kill it instantly and the only way to do so is to deliver a bullet into its skull.

I’ve already covered why it’s a bad idea to go for a headshot, but there is a difference when the bear is looking straight at you:

Its nose hides an opening to its brain covered by cartilage, not bone.

A bear’s nose is a tiny target that bounces up and down as it comes at you, but this is generally regarded as the best place to aim to put down a bear.

Another option is to break its shoulder so it can no longer run toward you. This is also a hard target against a charging bear.

Your best chance to defend against a bear attack with a firearm is to use highly-penetrating ammo and lots of it. Take aimed shots but get them out as quickly as possible.

10mm Glocks are common in Alaska because they can be worn in a chest harness. When drawn, you have 15 or more rounds of 220-gr hard cast lead to throw at the aggravated beast.

Even if you don’t hit the bear’s nose, enough lead will injure it to dissuade it from continuing the attack or break a bone and prevent it from moving toward you.

Semi-automatic hunting rifles and shotguns loaded with slugs also make great bear-defense firearms.

And if you’re ever deer hunting in bear country, never set your rifle outside of arm’s reach when cleaning a deer.


A black bear is a mighty predator but it’s no match for you.

With a good projectile and smart shot placement, you can put down your dream bear with a single shot.

Your best chances are waiting for it to go broadside and to take a step forward so you have a direct line through both lungs.

Have patience and you, too, can snack on bear sausage and show off your new bear rug!

Related: Where To Shoot A Deer: Kill Zone Shot Placements with Graphics

Bear Shot Placement FAQs

Where Do You Aim at a Charging Bear?

The best place to aim at a charging bear is its nose, and the second place is its shoulder. Putting a bullet through its nose, into its brain, will kill it. Whereas shattering the shoulder blade will immobilize the bear.

How Far Will a Bear Run after Being Shot?

A black bear can easily run at over thirty miles per hour. It’ll likely drop within fifty to one hundred fifty yards with a double lung shot. But with a less lethal shot, a black bear can travel for miles before dying.

Where Do You Shoot a Bear with a Bow from a Tree Stand?

The best area to place an arrow is through one or both lungs. Aim behind its leg, to the side of its spine, and you can angle that arrow through a lung and into its lower chest, potentially striking the heart.

Can You Shoot a Bear in the Head?

Thick bones protect a black bear’s brain and spine. It’s recommended to aim at the lungs instead.

The post Where to Shoot a Black Bear: 6 Shot Placements with Graphics appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

The True Cost of Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo (Worth It?) Mon, 13 Feb 2023 10:02:13 +0000 6.5 Creedmoor is an effective cartridge for a rifle that can touch targets hundreds of yards away, whether a deer or paper target. However, it’s not the cheapest round to shoot which may lead one to consider reloading. But understanding the true cost of reloading 6.5 Creedmoor ammo might surprise you. If you’re lucky, you ... Read more

The post The True Cost of Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo (Worth It?) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

A hand inserting a 6.5 creedmoor rifle casing into a reloading press

6.5 Creedmoor is an effective cartridge for a rifle that can touch targets hundreds of yards away, whether a deer or paper target. However, it’s not the cheapest round to shoot which may lead one to consider reloading. But understanding the true cost of reloading 6.5 Creedmoor ammo might surprise you.

If you’re lucky, you may find soft budget points for $20 per box of 20 cartridges. But you’re going to spend $30, $40, or even more for a box of good ammo!

And we don’t even want to talk about precision match-grade ammo.

Loading your own seems like an easy way to save money. But is this really the case?


Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor will save you money whether you’re hunting or making 1,000-yard shots at the range. The cost is about even when you’re plinking.

Let’s look at what goes into reloading this exceptional cartridge so you can see if the savings are worthwhile for you.

How Much Does Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor Cost?

6.5 Creedmoor is like any other necked rifle cartridge, which means there are only a few components you need to load a case:

  • Bullet
  • Powder
  • Primer
  • Case

Bullet selection is essential when reloading because it affects case capacity, how much powder is required to attain the desired velocity, your shot’s terminal ballistics, etc.

But for our purposes, we only need to know how much a single 6.5 Creedmoor bullet costs. This is so we can calculate your total cost per round, which is an excellent way of comparing reloaded and factory ammo.

Most .264/6.5 bullets now cost around $40 for a box of 100. And they often cost more for higher-quality bullets.

We’ll use $0.40 as a generic price for now, though we’ll go over several more specific loadings later.

To push that bullet, we need some powder. 6.5 Creedmoor likes medium burn rate powders, so we’ll use a pound of Hornady Varget in this calculation.

At the time of writing, that powder is $54.99.

The powder charge depends on many factors but ranges from 32 to 42 grains, so we’ll use 37 grains in our generic load.

To ignite that powder, we’ll need a primer.

Whether you use a large rifle primer or a small rifle primer depends on the case. But both types are the same price, starting at $5 per 100 primers.

So, we have a $0.05 primer, $0.29 worth of powder, and a $0.40 bullet to cap it off. Our generic load costs $0.74 per round.

Not bad!

That’s just under $15 for a box of 20 rounds, which is an excellent deal for a hunting or target load.

However, this presumes you’re reloading used cases. New 6.5 Creedmoor brass will set you back anywhere from $0.33 to $1.20 each.

How Much Money Do You Save Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor?

If you’re using new brass, then you don’t save anything the first time you load that case when you’re making plinking or hunting loads.

If you’re making precision target loads, however, you’re still coming out ahead on your first load.

Medium-quality precision cartridges will set you back $2 or more per shot when you buy factory ammo and you can make them for $1.93!

Once you’ve started reloading used cases, the price drops astronomically.

You can typically reload 6.5 Creedmoor about 6 to 9 times before the neck starts to split or the primer pocket loosens, depending on how much powder you use and whether or not you anneal the case.

This means that $1.16 new brass will cost you about $0.19 per reload. That generic load now costs you $0.93 or less.

The cheapest hunting load I found costs you $1.50. And factory match ammo starts at $2.

So, you can easily save $0.50 – $1 per shot when you reload 6.5 Creedmoor. I call that worthwhile.

The savings only gets better when you compare your hand-tailored reloads with high-quality match ammo.

What About the Reloading Equipment?

Of course, the costs above only take into account an individual round’s cost.

You need a reloading press, die set, and more equipment to start loading that first round.

This can easily cost you $600.

However, if you’re using this equipment to load match ammo, you will save $1 per shot or more.

Since a 6.5 Creedmoor barrel lasts 2,000 rounds or more before needing to be rebarreled, you’ll save that $600 and then save enough money for a new rifle by the time your old one is shot out if you reload instead of buying factory 6.5 ammo.

Comparing Reloaded 6.5 Creedmoor with Factory Ammo

Now let’s compare reloading and buying factory ammo using three types of loads:

  1. Plinking
  2. Hunting
  3. Precision target shooting

To do this, I’m using components sourced from Sportsman’s Warehouse. Compared with their competitors, I’ve found them to more consistently have reloading components in stock whenever I visit.

For factory ammo, we’ll use Sellier & Bellot as the cheap plinking ammo, Hornady American Whitetail for hunting, and Hornady Match ELD as the target shooting option.

These are all quality yet inexpensive choices.

For reloading, let’s use Speer Hot-Cor, Hornady InterLock, and Hornady ELD bullets.

The powder will remain Varget, and we’ll use CCI #200 Large Rifle Primers in Lapua cases.

The reloaded cost per round with a reused case is only for the bullet, powder, and primer. The case’s price isn’t included.

Factory Load Cost per Box of 20 Cost per Round
Sellier & Bellot 140gr SP $16.99 $0.85
Hornady American Whitetail $29.99 $1.50
Hornady Match ELD $41.99 $2.10
Reloaded CPR w/New Case CPR w/Reused Case
Budget Plinking $1.79 $0.63
General Hunting $1.89 $0.73
With Hornady ELD Match Bullets $1.93 $0.77

*Prices current as of spring 2023

Conclusion: Is It Worth Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor vs. Factory Ammo?

There are two more factors that can go into whether it’s worthwhile to reload 6.5 Creedmoor and both still favor reloading:

Due to manufacturing tolerances, every rifle is unique ballistically.

Unless you get super lucky, no factory load will be able to match the tight groups you can get when you’ve dialed in a great hand load.

As for the time you spend at the reloading bench, even if you’re a slow reloader who only gets 100 rounds done in an hour, you’re still saving $50, $100, or more per hour.

I wish I made $100 per hour!

So, go ahead and reload 6.5 Creedmoor.

You’ll get tighter groups and save money at the same time.

The post The True Cost of Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo (Worth It?) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Best Coyote Calibers and Cartridges (Including Long Range) Sat, 04 Feb 2023 11:29:29 +0000 Coyote hunting has become more popular in recent years for various reasons. Some hunters want to harvest them for their beautiful fur pelts. Others appreciate the challenge these clever varmints provide. And some hunters try to cull the number of these predators to relieve pressure on livestock populations. There are many ways to hunt coyotes, ... Read more

The post Best Coyote Calibers and Cartridges (Including Long Range) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Coyote hunting has become more popular in recent years for various reasons. Some hunters want to harvest them for their beautiful fur pelts. Others appreciate the challenge these clever varmints provide. And some hunters try to cull the number of these predators to relieve pressure on livestock populations.

There are many ways to hunt coyotes, from calling them to stalking them at night. But what’s the best gun to use so you will humanely and effectively put down a yote with one shot?

The most popular and best caliber for hunting coyotes is .22, especially .223 Remington and .22-250 Remington. .243 Winchester is the perfect long-range coyote hunting round. The .357 SIG is a coyote-capable handgun round and the .17 HMR is the best rimfire cartridge for short-range coyote hunting.

Let’s go over why these cartridges are so popular, then delve into more options.

Top 5 Best Coyote Hunting Cartridges

  1. Overall Best Cartridge for Hunting Coyotes: .223 Remington
  2. Best High-Velocity Cartridge for Hunting Coyotes: .22-250 Remington
  3. Best Long Range Coyote Hunting Cartridge: .243 Winchester
  4. Best Rimfire Coyote Hunting Cartridge: .17 HMR
  5. Best Pistol Cartridge for Coyote Hunting: .357 SIG

Why these cartridges? I’ll explain.

1. Best Overall: .223 Remington/5.56 NATO

5.56 NATO.223 Remington and its military version, 5.56 NATO, is probably the most common coyote hunting round in use today. It’s not the most effective cartridge for taking yotes but it’s more than good enough.

The main advantage of .223 Rem is that it’s already a common round. Whether you have an AR-15 or a Winchester XPR, you have an excellent gun for harvesting coyotes.

Effective ammo is common and inexpensive, making this cartridge the best choice for most coyote hunters.

2. Best High Velocity: .22-250 Remington

.22-250 Remington

While the .223 Remington wins the overall best slot because it’s a common and versatile cartridge that’s effective against coyotes, the .22-250 Remington can be considered an upgrade pick.

.22-250 Remington is the second-fastest commercial .22 cartridge, losing out only to .220 Swift, with over 4,000 fps performance!

This means the .22-250 is flat shooting and carries lots of kinetic energy past the yardage at which .223 loses oomph, about 300 yards.

Despite the added power, .22-250 rifles don’t have much recoil and aren’t known for damaging pelts, so I recommend this cartridge if you want a dedicated rifle for hunting coyotes.

3. Best Long Range: .243 Winchester

.243 Winchester

If you want to tag yotes at extreme ranges, 500 yards or more, then the .243 Winchester is a great choice. It uses a 6mm bullet for better ballistic performance than .22 caliber bullets at long ranges. Plus, it’s a common cartridge, so you can find a variety of hunting loads at your local store.

There may be other 6mm cartridges with slightly better velocity but that’s not necessary when taking a 30-lb animal, even at 400 yards.

Plus, you can use a .243 to take deer, giving your rifle more versatility!

4. Best Rimfire: .17 HMR

.17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire

.17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire is the smallest I’d go when hunting coyotes.

Rimfire cartridges are not known for their knockdown power. However, keep your shots within 50 yards and wait for the perfect shot, and a .17 HMR will put down a yote with minimal damage to the pelt.

The only other rimfire I’d consider using to take a coyote is a .22 Winchester Magnum, though you will lose out on some needed velocity.

5. Best Pistol: .357 SIG

.357 SIG

According to Massad Ayoob, the .357 SIG is well known for stopping violent dogs with one shot, something 9mm Parabellum cannot claim.

Load a pistol with Underwood ammo and the .357 SIG is a high-velocity, flat-shooting pistol round, well suited for taking coyotes at ranges farther than any other pistol cartridge.

What Caliber is Best for Coyotes?

Coyotes are varmints and medium-sized pest animals. They’re smaller than deer, so the best deer calibers may be too large for hunting coyotes.

Your local coyote can range from 20 to 50 pounds, depending on where you are in the United States. The average yote stands 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 30 pounds.

So, you don’t need something powerful to take one down. And if you use something too big, well, you can damage the pelt past the point of usability.

.30 cal is the largest caliber I’d use against a coyote.

These predators are small enough that it’s actually hard to have a caliber too small to take them. Many coyotes have been harvested with .17 cal rifles, though at short range.

Light bullets just don’t hold enough kinetic energy for effective terminal performance at mid to long ranges.

A heavy .17 Hornet bullet is 30 grains and travels at about 3,000 feet per second, delivering about 800 foot-pounds of force right after the muzzle.

.223 Remington can send a 69-grain bullet at about the same speed, resulting in 1,340 foot-pounds. More than twice as heavy as the .17 caliber bullet and over twice the kinetic energy (KE).

Momentum equals mass times velocity so that heavier bullet will also have more momentum.

Go up to .308 Winchester and you can get the same speed with a 125-grain bullet. It’ll put out 2,600 foot-pounds at the muzzle, an excessive amount of energy to dump into a 30-pound animal!

So, if you want the best combination of effectiveness and lack of damage to the pelt, you want a .22 caliber firearm. (Not a .22 long rifle!)

Best Long-Range Caliber for Coyotes

However, if you want to shoot past 300 yards, stepping up in caliber will give you a boost to your ballistic performance. Longer, heavier bullets maintain velocity longer and buck the wind better.

You don’t want to go too big because big bullets mean big holes, excessively damaging the coyote’s pelt.

.243/6mm caliber is the sweet spot for long-range coyote hunting.

You can go larger, but then you risk devastating the animal if you have to take a short-range shot. .30 cal goes a bit far as the bullets get wider but not longer, so many coyote hunters will actually lose hunting range by using .30 caliber rifles.

Remember, you want to harvest animals with a clean kill, not blow them apart.

Next Best Rifle Cartridges for Coyotes by Caliber

Now that you have an idea of how caliber will affect your coyote hunt, let’s look at specific cartridges.

I’ll go over my favorite cartridges in each caliber and explain why you may or may not want to use them.

Smaller than .22 Caliber

It’s perfectly valid to shoot a coyote with a gun chambered in a cartridge smaller than .22 cal.

However, keep in mind that you’ll have to get awfully close to the yote to deliver enough kinetic energy for a swift kill.

.17 Hornet

Perhaps the most famous .17 caliber cartridge, the .17 Hornet is great at taking down coyotes if you have great shot placement and the patience to let them get close.

A .17 Hornet rifle will be light and relatively quiet.

However, you’ll have to pass on shots that could only be accomplished with larger rounds.

.204 Ruger

If you aim to minimize damage to the coyote’s pelt, then you want to consider using a rifle chambered in a .204 Ruger.

This cartridge is actually based on the .222 Remington Magnum, which is larger than the .223 Remington, so you’ll get blazingly-high velocities (up to 4,200 fps!) and tiny entrance wounds.

.22 Caliber

As mentioned before, .22 is the sweet spot caliber for coyote hunting for most folks. Every .22 bullet below will give you good velocities and small entrance wounds while dumping enough energy into the coyote to drop it, provided you do your part.

.223 Remington and .22-250 Remington are among our top 5 picks for best coyote cartridges, but they aren’t the only good options in this caliber.

.22 Hornet

The larger cousin of the .17 Hornet cartridge, the main reason to use a .22 Hornet over other .22 options is the lack of recoil.

It carries only slightly more KE than .17 Hornet, so keep in mind it’s still a short-ranged hunting round.

.224 Valkyrie

.224 Valkyrie was developed to maximize the distance one can shoot a .22 caliber rifle.

The round succeeds at this task and has even greater velocities than .22 Nosler, even with heavier bullet weights, making it a fair long-range hunting round.

.224 Valkyrie gives you the best performance you can get with a .22 caliber round in an AR-15.

However, this cartridge suffers from being overhyped. Ammo can be expensive and hard to find in stock.

.220 Swift

One of the most powerful .22 caliber rounds out there, the .220 Swift lives up to its name by being able to push a 50-grain bullet almost 4,000 feet per second!

This makes it a flat-shooting .22, great for hunting coyotes at longer ranges than people who stick to .223 Remington.

Of all the .22 caliber coyote hunting options, the .220 Swift will be the most effective at the longest ranges, almost making it the best choice.

.220 Swift has a reputation for burning out barrels, though. It’s also somewhat expensive to buy and reload.

Dishonorable Mention: .22 Long Rifle

Some people have used .22 long rifles to harvest coyotes.

This underpowered round requires you to get very close to the animal and is likely to just wound it even with the perfect shot.

Never use a .22 LR gun to shoot coyotes unless you’re in a survival situation and there are no other options.

6mm Caliber

Jumping up in caliber increases bullet width, allowing you to load more massive bullets for greater momentum.

This gives you both better knockdown power and a farther range, making the various 6mm cartridges perfect for hunting those pesky yotes.

As previously mentioned, the .243 Winchester is my top pick for the best long-range coyote cartridge. But here are a couple more worthy options.

6mm Creedmoor

“Creedmoor” is a well-known name for maximum-range shooting. However, it’s only a good, but not great, coyote hunting round.

That’s because the 6mm Creedmoor is a necked-down 6.5 Creedmoor developed as a target shooting cartridge. Maximum velocities but lower barrel life and excessive power when used on yotes.

If you already have a target or deer hunting rifle like the Ruger American Predator in 6mm Creedmoor then you can use it for coyote hunting.

However, if you’re picking up a rifle specifically for coyote hunting, I’d recommend one of the other 6mm choices.

6mm ARC

My favorite coyote hunting round is the 6mm ARC, also called the 6mm Advanced Rifle Cartridge.

Hornady developed this round to fit .243 potential in an AR-15 platform.

It’s a great long-range shooting round for both target shooting and hunting and has comparatively low recoil.

6mm ARC doesn’t reach .243 Win velocities because it fits the 6mm bullet into a shorter case.

This is an advantage for coyote hunting because the slightly weaker energy potential means you’re less likely to blow apart the animal’s hide.

The main problem with 6mm ARC is that it’s a new round so it can be hard to find commercial ammo.

For reloaders, though, I’d recommend 6mm ARC over any other coyote hunting cartridge!

6.5mm Caliber

Here we start to get into the realm of too effective.

You’ll put down the coyote at extreme ranges. Expect a damaged pelt, though.

6.5 Creedmoor

When people think of long-range shooting today, the 6.5 Creedmoor is what pops into their heads.

Like .243 or .308 Winchester, you can use 6.5 Creedmoor to hunt coyotes. And you can do so at ranges farther than either of those rounds.

If you want to brag to your friends about taking yotes farther than anybody else, 6.5 Creedmoor is a good choice.

But if you want to recover the fur, consider something weaker.

6.5 Grendel

My favorite hunting rifle is chambered in 6.5 Grendel, which I believe to be one of the most versatile chamberings possible for AR-15-style rifles.

6.5mm bullets are a bit big for coyotes, though.

However, since 6.5 Grendel is weaker than 6.5 Creedmoor, you can use it as a very effective coyote-hunting round at extreme ranges with less pelt damage.

.30 Caliber

Here we get into the largest bullets I’d recommend for coyote hunting.

Any bigger and you shouldn’t expect to recover much of the carcass!

7.62×39 and .30-30 Winchester

Some say that the venerable .30-30 Winchester cartridge has taken more deer than any other cartridge.

.30-30 and 7.62×39 are almost identical ballistically and both will knock down a coyote with one shot.

However, their medium-velocity, heavy bullets will limit your range and potentially spoil the animal’s hide.

If you’re going to use a lever-action rifle for hunting coyotes, then .30-30 is a great choice. If you already have an AK, it’s a capable coyote hunting rifle.

In other words, using these cartridges is fine if you already have them. If you’re looking for a coyote gun, pick something else.

.308 Winchester

.308 Winchester is a great all-around hunting cartridge because it can take a large variety of game and, due to its popularity, has a large variety of commercial loads available.

The main problem with the .308 Win is that it’s a full-size rifle cartridge and thus can be too powerful for 30-pound yotes.

However, Federal and Underwood both manufacture dedicated varmint loads that turn your .308 rifle into a great coyote gun.

.300 Blackout

My favorite .30 cal cartridge for hunting coyotes is .300 Blackout, and it’s not because it’s the most powerful or the farthest shooting.

Instead, it’s because this cartridge is optimized for suppressed shooting.

Whether you’re hunting at night or just want the advantages of a suppressor during the day, .300 Blackout will let you take advantage of this advanced hunting technique.

Unsuppressed, .300 Blackout is still a fair coyote hunting round, roughly equivalent to 7.62×39 or .30-30.

Next Best Pistol Cartridges for Hunting Coyotes

pistol and bullets on wood

Because of their high mass and low velocity, Pistol rounds are only good hunting rounds at short ranges. You can still hunt with pistol cartridges, though, with some caveats.

While .357 SIG is my preferred cartridge for coyote hunting, here are a few more capable options to choose from.

9mm Parabellum

Please don’t hunt coyotes with a 9mm pistol.

However, a 9mm carbine can make for a good, if short-ranged, coyote hunting platform.

.40 Smith & Wesson

.40 S&W is slightly more powerful than 9mm, though it’s only a good coyote round when used in a carbine.

10mm Auto

In contrast to 9mm and .40 S&W, 10mm is an acceptable cartridge if you want to hunt coyotes with a pistol.

Use full-power loads and stabilize your arms against a solid object.

.38 Special and .357 Magnum

If you’ve got a revolver, both .38 Special and .357 Magnum are good at knocking down coyotes.

Keep your shots within 75 yards for .38 SPL and 100 yards for .357 mag, use hunting (not high-penetration lead round nose!) ammo, and your wheel gun will serve you well.

Larger revolver cartridges, such as .44 Magnum, run into that too-powerful problem where you’ll blow through the coyote instead of making a clean kill.

Quick Note: Shotguns for Hunting Coyotes

Basically, any shotgun can take down a coyote if you load it with a slug or buckshot. #4 buck is recommended for shorter ranges and 00 buck if you want to maximize your range

This applies to .410 as well, though I’d stick with slugs only.

However, larger-gauge shotguns will let you load more pellets, increasing your chances of striking the animal with a pellet.

Remember that “long-range” for 00 buckshot is 75 yards. With #4 buck, stick to 50 yards or less.


Coyotes are tricky yet satisfying to hunt.

They’re smaller than many expect, so .22 caliber rifles are perfect for taking down these smart predators.

.223/5.56 is one of the most common coyote hunting cartridges.

If you want a better yote-taking cartridge then try .22-250 Remington.

.243 Winchester is an excellent choice if you want to stretch your legs and take coyotes past 300 yards.

You can go down as small as .17 HMR to put down this wily varmint, though keep in mind that you need perfect shot placement at less than 50 yards.

What’s your favorite coyote hunting round?


Is 6.5 Creedmoor Too Big for Coyotes?

6.5 Creedmoor is not too large to take coyotes, though it’s on the large side and can damage the pelt more than a smaller round.

Is 5.56 Good for Coyotes?

5.56 NATO is a great round for hunting coyotes. It has enough power, low recoil, and is inexpensive.

Is a .223 Big Enough for Coyotes?

.22 caliber bullets are a good size for harvesting coyotes. .223 Remington has more than enough power to put down a yote with a .22 bullet.

Can You Hunt Coyotes with a Rimfire?

Rimfire cartridges tend to be on the weak side, though you can still hunt coyotes with .17 HMR and .22 Magnum if you let the animal get close and have a perfect shot placement.

Is a .22LR Good for Coyote Hunting?

.22 long rifle is too weak to hunt coyotes ethically. It’s more likely to wound a yote than kill it.

The post Best Coyote Calibers and Cartridges (Including Long Range) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Folding vs Fixed Blade Knife (Which to Get When) Fri, 03 Feb 2023 10:28:51 +0000 Fixed or folding, and no, we aren’t talking about chairs. There is a constant debate on whether fixed blade or folding knives is the better choice in the world of knives. However, much like a good pair of shoes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. Depending on the context, either of these blades ... Read more

The post Folding vs Fixed Blade Knife (Which to Get When) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Fixed or folding, and no, we aren’t talking about chairs. There is a constant debate on whether fixed blade or folding knives is the better choice in the world of knives.

However, much like a good pair of shoes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem.

Depending on the context, either of these blades could be a viable option for you. For camping or hunting, fixed blades give you unparalleled stability while folding knives give you a compact option for fishing or EDC.

This article covers the differences between a folding and fixed blade knife, when to use them, and a few pros and cons for each model.

DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Some links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on a link we may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Fixed Blade vs. Folding Knives

Fixed blade knives are made of one solid piece of metal that forms the blade and runs through the handle. This model is less compact than a folder but sturdier and incapable of mechanical failure.

Common types of fixed blade knives include:

  • Boot Knife
  • Camp Knife
  • Dagger
  • Gutting Knife
  • Skinning Knife
  • Drop Point
  • Bowie
  • Buck Knife

A folding knife hinges so that the blade folds into the handle. Often assisted with a spring, this knife can be more compact but lacks the stability of a fixed blade.

Common types of folding knives include:

  • Clip Point
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Butterfly Knife
  • Assisted Opening Knife

Fixed Blade or Folding Knife for Hunting

A common question among first-time hunters and outdoorsmen is which knife is better for hunting, a folding knife or a fixed blade?

The short answer to this is, why not have both?

I find that the more options you have, the more likely you will come up with the right solution.

Four different types of hunting knives laid out on a camouflage fabric
There are endless options for hunting knives in both fixed and folding blade configurations. Some even have replaceable blades that are disposable once dull.

Folding knives are easy to conceal and store and take up less space than fixed-blade knives, making them a great option to keep in your pocket or jacket in the woods. They can do all sorts of tasks in the woods, from marking trees, cutting rope, tightening screws, or opening plastic-wrapped hand warmers quietly (I learned this the hard way).

Fixed-blade knives are sturdier, faster to deploy, and usually heavier. These knives are an excellent option for skinning and cleaning animals, self-defense, and use as a camp tool if necessary.

There is a time and place for both knives, but overall I prefer the fixed blade for hunting for several reasons.

Concealing a weapon or tool, such as a knife, when hunting is not as crucial as having quick access to it.

In the woods, if something can go wrong, it probably will, so removing the chance of mechanical failure with a folding knife is a good idea.

Skinning and cleaning an animal with a folding knife is a great way to get blood, guts, and hair in the inner workings of the knife. This can cause a malfunction. Stick with the sturdier fixed blade that you can rinse off after.

In a survival or self-defense situation, I prefer the most rugged and robust tool, usually the fixed blade.

That said, folding knives are great to carry in your hunting pack or pockets, and it’s usually the lighter of the two blades. If you’re looking to shave off ounces in a backcountry hunt with lots of hiking, consider going with the folding blade.


EDC or everyday carry is a phrase we frequently toss around in today’s outdoor and tactical communities. Simply put, it stands for the items you carry on your person throughout everyday life.

A part of people’s EDC is a blade, used as a multi-utility tool or as a line of defense if someone’s life or their loved ones are threatened.

Man's hand pulling folding blade EDC knife out of pants pocket
Folding blade pocket knives are generally the most popular for every day carry because they are so easy to pull out of your pocket when you need it.

While folding knives tend to be the most popular for EDC, fixed blades have their advantages too.


When it comes to size, folding knives tend to have a smaller footprint, making them ideal for EDC. A fixed-blade knife with the same blade length as a folding knife will be nearly twice the size of a folding knife since it cannot collapse on itself.


Fixed blade knives are already in their position of power when deployed from their sheath. Folding knives require you to remove them from concealment and then deploy the blade. Although there are folding knives with mechanical advantages, such as spring-loaded blades, as a whole, it is much faster to draw a fixed-blade knife.


Many individuals don’t want to sacrifice blade length for concealment. This gives folding knives an edge as you can have a folding and a fixed blade with the same overall length, but the folding knife is half the size when closed.

However, plenty of fixed-blade knives come with sheaths that fit inside the pant or belt line and maintain a remarkable level of concealment for small daggers and drop-point knives.


Probably the most overlooked component of everyday carry when it comes to a blade is the stability of your tool. Folding knives will always be at a disadvantage because the lock could break, the blade could fail to stick in place, or a number of the inner workings could fail.

Fixed-blade knives cannot have a mechanical malfunction as they are one solid piece of metal, usually with a wooden or polymer handle, giving them the advantage.


When it comes to camping, there are several factors to consider when choosing between a fixed blade or a folding knife.

  • Are you hiking to your campsite?
  • What other tools are you bringing with you?
  • Are you planning on overtly carrying your blade or stowing it away?

When backpacking into your campsite, it’s important to remember that ounces equal pounds on the trail or in the backcountry. Because of this, you may want to consider a folding knife, which frequently takes less space and weighs less than its fixed blade cousin.

If you are bringing other tools to the campsite, a folding knife is an excellent option for backpackers or car campers. The multi-utility blade can be stowed away for easy access and used in situations such as cutting rope, trimming bark, or even as a kitchen utensil.

However, if you don’t plan on bringing multiple camp tools, getting a fixed blade or knife may be a good idea. It can double as a small ax, shovel, or can opener for example.

A Gerber survival knife laying on dirt with sheath and ferro rod
Knives like this Gerber Ultimate make great camping knives because they are multipurpose. This one can be used to cut, saw, hammer, start a fire, or whistle for help, among other things.

Finally, if you plan on tucking the knife away in your pocket, backpack, or other carry-along, a folding knife is an excellent choice due to its compact size. However, if you plan on carrying overtly throughout the campsite, a folding knife will provide easy access, faster deployment, and a better option for self-defense.


Unlike many other situations where a fixed blade is preferable, a folding knife is the best option for fishing. While this doesn’t completely discount any merits that fixed blades have for fishing, folding knives have several advantages for anglers.

Folding knives often have a clip that helps them retain their position in cargo pockets, pants, or on a belt and are usually lighter than fixed blades. They are often cheaper than fixed-blade knives, and many folding knives have polymer, rubberized, or some textured grip for when things get wet.

For those reasons, folding knives are the better option for angling, in my opinion.

Final Thoughts

The age-old debate on fixed blades or folding knives hasn’t been solved in decades and won’t be solved anytime soon. While folding knives are often smaller, more compact, easy to store, and lighter, they lack the stability and rapid deployment of fixed-blade knives.

Depending on the situation, a fixed-blade knife may serve you better around the campsite or in a deer stand. In contrast, a folding knife may be the most concealable option for everyday carry and an excellent choice for any angler looking to cut line.

No matter what blade you choose, keep it sharp and oiled. If you take care of your life, it will take care of you. As always, good luck, and stay safe out there.

The post Folding vs Fixed Blade Knife (Which to Get When) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

You're Using the WRONG Hunting Knife! nonadult
Everything You Need to Know About Scope Ring Torque Fri, 03 Feb 2023 09:18:28 +0000 Whether you are tightening down the mount on your first scope or confirming the seating of the optic of your favorite hunting rifle, understanding scope ring torque is essential. My first time tightening down my scope rings was done with the mindset of the tighter the better, and crank it until it doesn’t turn anymore. ... Read more

The post Everything You Need to Know About Scope Ring Torque appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Whether you are tightening down the mount on your first scope or confirming the seating of the optic of your favorite hunting rifle, understanding scope ring torque is essential.

My first time tightening down my scope rings was done with the mindset of the tighter the better, and crank it until it doesn’t turn anymore.

However, this is the wrong way to look at setting up your scope in its mounts.

Torque is vital because loose rings cause the scope to move after each shot because of recoil. This will cause your optic to lose zero and cause you to miss shots without realizing your scope is off. Alternatively, if the scope rings are too tight, the scope can be damaged or screws stripped, making removal impossible.

However, there is much more to properly torquing down your scope rings than we’ve covered so far. In this article, we go over why properly torquing your scope rings is essential, how to torque down your scope rings properly, and a few helpful tips to keep your scope intact and zeroed.

DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on a link we may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Scope Ring Torque Basics

Before we go any further, it’s important to answer the question: what is torque?

Torque can be defined as the force used to twist an object on an axis. In a screw, the torque is the force applied to turn the screw into the wall. Torque is measured in inch-lbs or feet-lbs.

Because torque is defined as twisting an object around an axis, it can apply to everything from swivel desk chairs to securing scope rings. In this article, we define it as the amount of force used on the bolts or screws to secure a scope ring or base in place.

Although we previously mentioned the consequences of failing to torque your scope rings properly, let’s take a deeper look into what can occur if done incorrectly.

Under Torqued

Several things can occur when you under-torque your scope rings or scope bases.

  • A shift in zero
  • A loose scope
  • Damaged scope
  • Repeated recoil damaging a shifting scope

Over time, scope ring screws and bolts that are not checked or Loctited will loosen, and in the most extreme cases, I have seen scopes fall out of the mount and break.

Over Torqued

Because most amateur hunters and shooters assume the tighter the better for scope ring mounts, a common mistake is to over torque your scope mount screws, which can lead to several issues.

  • Stripped screws
  • Tube bends
  • Damaged scopes
  • Water and fog entering the scope

Before we delve into torquing down your scope rings, you will need a few things.

Recommended Tools

While a torque wrench is not required to mount your scope correctly, it is the most accurate way to secure it.

Alternatively, you can use other wrenches or bits to tighten it down, but these often lead to over or under-torque.

There are two main styles of torque wrenches.

1. Driver-style torque wrenches: These resemble a screwdriver and can be set to a specific torque. When you use this torque wrench, you can turn it until it reaches the designated torque, at which point it will stop turning.

2. Lever-style torque wrenches: These resemble a socket driver and feature a torque setting gauge. Though these torque wrenches are more common in the automotive industry, smaller bottles can tighten your scope rings or base.

Popular models of torque wrenches used to torque your scope rings down include.

Wheeler scope ring torque wrench in case with bits
The Wheeler scope ring torque wrench is among the most affordable and well-liked by reviewers.

When purchasing a torque wrench, there are several things to look for.

  • The torque value is inch-lbs
  • It’s labeled for gunsmithing
  • It’s accurate
  • A clear, readable display

While the first two are self-explanatory, accuracy is paramount when torquing down scope rings. Most models of quality scope ring mounts have a designated torque level for you to reach. Exceeding this by even the slightest margin can cause damage to the scope’s integrity.

For the same reason, an easy-to-read display is essential so you know where you are in the torque process. Over or under-tightening due to misreading the display can lead to a loose mount or damaged scope.

Tightening scope rings with torque wrench with bubble level in lower right of frame
Besides a gunsmithing torque wrench, some basic bubble levels (lower right) are helpful to get your scope aligned properly on your rifle so your crosshairs are not slanted one way or the other.

Best Scope Ring Torque

There is no one size fits all torque for all scope ring mounts. As I said, most manufacturers explicitly state the intended torque to their scope base and scope rings.

Below is a chart of common torque numbers you will see on common scope rings.

Brand Scope Ring Torque Base Torque
Vortex 20 inch/lbs 20 inch/lbs
Leupold 15 inch/lbs 14 inch/lbs
Badger 15 inch/lbs 65 inch/lbs
Nightforce 15 inch/lbs 68 inch/lbs
Warne 25 inch/lbs 25 inch/lbs
Nikon 20 inch/lbs 35 inch/lbs
Hawke 16 inch/lbs 30 inch/lbs
Talley 15 inch/lbs 20 inch/lbs
Meopta 23 inch/lbs 40 inch/lbs
Riton 18 inch/lbs 45 inch/lbs

WARNING: This chart is not all-encompassing, and you should check the guidelines for your specific model of firearm, scope, and rings as listed by the manufacturers before starting the mounting process.

Scope Base Torque

Torquing down your scope base is a little different from your scope rings. For bases, you should always follow the recommended torque specs from the firearm manufacturer, not the mount or scope manufacturer.

The type of metal used to make the receiver may require different base torque specs. For example, steel receivers generally demand greater torque than aluminum.

The suggested torque for scope bases is often much higher than that of the scope rings. Additionally, you want to ensure your base is level and evenly spaced for your scope model.

Despite the frequent difference in inch-lbs torque between base and scope rings, the process is similar when mounting a base to your rail or gun.

If you improperly mount your base onto the gun, no amount of scope ring torque will be able to fix what is probably a canted base.

How to Torque Down Your Scope

After seeing all the specifications, tools, and disclaimers about over or under-torquing your scope, you are probably wondering why anyone would do this themselves in the first place.

However, it doesn’t take a gunsmith to torque down your scope correctly. Below, we take the guesswork out of the equation and will walk you through the torquing process.

Step-by-Step Process to Torque Down Your Scope

  1. Clear and safe your firearm.
  2. Place your rifle in a rest where it is sitting in the same position you would shoot in (trigger down, rail, and barrel up.)

    RIfle on gun vise on bench with scope ring torquing tools
    A decent gun vise will help in this process.
  3. First-timers must install the scope base onto your rail. Then you must follow the rest of the process to ensure the scope base is ready for use. (For more on this, see our “How to Install a Scope Base” article.)
  4. If the scope is inside the rings, with the top halves on, insert the screws into the holes.
  5. Most new scope rings come with an L-shaped hex key. Stick the long end of the key into the screw head while holding onto the short end of the hex key.
    Tightening scope ring base with l-shaped hex key
  6. Begin to tighten down the screws until you feel resistance. It’s essential not to continue tightening at this point and instead switch to your torque wrench.
    * Note: If each ring has one screw on each side, tighten them evenly, as tightening one side more than the other can pull the scope or rings off center. If there are two screws on each side, tighten them crisscross to avoid pulling the mounts one way or the other.
  7. Using your gunsmithing torque wrench, set the torque level to the manufacturer’s prescribed number.
    Hand using gunsmithing torque wrench to tighten scope rings on a rifle
  8. Tighten the screws down according to the manufacturer’s suggested inch-lbs. (DO NOT immediately Loctite after tightening!)
  9. Check all the screws again.

Once you have successfully installed your scope rings, I suggest taking your gun to the range and zeroing it. If you can successfully sight it in without any issues from your base or scope rings, take it home and then use Loctite if you choose.

While this takes up more time, another trip to the range, and spending ammo on sighting in your weapon, it allows you to check your work and correct any errors before making them permanent.

Should You Put Loctite on Scope rings?

Can you? Yes.

Should you? In my humble opinion, no.

Loctite is an anaerobic adhesive that, when applied to screws, hardens into a thermoset plastic on the threads of screws. It drives out the air bubbles and any moisture in the screw hole and solidifies the screw in place.

To be removed, regular Loctite must be treated with chemicals or heated to somewhere in the range of 500°F. Both of these methods can damage a scope badly.

While regular Loctite can help you retain the right torque on your scope rings, there are a few reasons I don’t recommend using it.

  • If you mess up the torque, it’s permanent.
  • Swapping scopes is complicated and messy.
  • If your scope breaks or needs repair, it’s a pain to remove.
  • Loctite acts as a lubricant when first applied and can often cause over-torque.

Instead, I recommend regularly checking your torque after every couple of range sessions or after each hunt. If you notice a shift in zero or licenses in the scope, it’s a good idea to grab your torque wrench and give everything a once over.

According to Warne, however, some scope ring bases may benefit from a small amount of blue thread locker in some cases. This may apply in cases where you intend for the bases to remain on the rifle permanently and the screws attaching the bases to the receiver are short and few in number.

Though it is not a good idea if you are using a single piece, direct mount scope rings are made to fit your particular rifle.

Which Loctite to Use for Gun Sights?

If you insist on using it, Loctite’s product is designed for scope rings and bases that avoid much of the mess and are much easier to remove. While I don’t use it, I’ve seen it used and heard zero complaints about it.

Loctite Purple Threadlocker (222) was designed to be used on and around scopes without the complicated removal process. Its non-wicking formula is easy to install, and the screw can be removed with a screwdriver, the same as if you had never applied it.

Blue Loctite may be used for scope bases, though confirming with the firearm and base manufacturers is recommended.

Never use red Loctite on riflescope rings.


If you plan on installing a new scope on your rifle or purchasing a new base and set of scope rings, it’s essential to know about torque.

How it affects your scope, how to use it properly to secure your optic, and what tools you need are all vital information for any shooter or hunter looking for a well-mounted optic.

Ensure you don’t over or under-torque your scope rings, as this can lead to misses and scope damage. Before you torque your scope rings down, purchase a torque wrench and follow the above steps to ensure your scope is on target and not going anywhere.


Do I need a torque wrench to set up my scope rings?

While it’s not required, it provides a more precise torque level to ensure you meet the manufacturer’s recommendation. Removing the guesswork on this will not only keep you from having a loose scope but also prevent you from over-torquing and damaging your optic.

Will Loctite keep my torque the same?

Maybe not the same, but it will keep it relatively close. Make sure to use the Loctite Purple Threadlocker (222), which was explicitly designed for scope rings and mounts.

However, I prefer to keep most chemicals and adhesives away from my scopes at all costs, so I check the torque every few range sessions, which usually takes less than a minute to confirm.

Which head or bit do I use to torque down my scope rings?

Some companies will send a bit with the scope mount, but most screws can be torqued with standard bits.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Scope Ring Torque appeared first on Outdoor Empire.