From Cottontail to Crockpot: Shotguns for Hunting Rabbits (VIDEO)

Small game season conjures memories of squirrels in the tree tops, snow on the ground, Beagles on the chase, and lest we forget, bunny hunts. More family memories have been built around rabbit hunts and the subsequent country game feeds for decades. That’s a tradition we’d love to see preserved for generations. In the spirit of organic white cottontail meat for the stew pot, brings you three of our favorite guns for bagging bunnies.

Henry .410 Lever Action

Should you choose to go the route of the baby .410 bore, there are more options today than ever before. Aside from the single-shot .410 with which I claimed my first small game, my current favorite is the non-traditional among the bunch: the Henry lever action.

The 24-inch round-barreled Henry holds five shots of 2.5-inch .410 and ships with a single Invector-style full-choke tube. Patterns are solid and true, more than enough to make a clean snap shot on a moving rabbit. Weighing in at 7.5 pounds, this lever gun is the heftiest of the three, yet balances and shoulders very well.

Though MSRP on the Henry .410 is steep at over nine bills, the guns are still selling as fast as they hit store shelves even several years after release, because, well, they’re just plain fun to shoot. Though the .410 bore is often considered too small for longer-distance rabbit shooting, it excels inside 30 yards, especially with the full choke installed in the Henry from the factory, and the five-round tube blows single-shots out of the water — and rabbit woods.

CZ Woodcock 28 gauge

For some reason, the 28 gauges just never seem to get their due. It is an excellent, low-recoiling round, and with the right load, can nearly reach the potential of the 20-gauges. Further, while we’re speaking of over-unders, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a fine looking — and performing — double in the field.

The CZ shotgun is ideal in both ways.  Our Woodcock O/U wears 28-inch vent rib barrels and shipped with five interchangeable chokes.  The single trigger, pistol grip stock style, and a safety doubling as a selector all suit my personal preferences. Best of all, this small-framed marvel weighs in under 6 pounds, making it a joy to tote through the brush lines.  It is one of the best-balancing doubles I’ve hunted with, fits me well with its LOP and looks good doing it.

While the Woodcock has since been discontinued — it can still be found on the used market — CZ still offers a full line of O/U’s and SxS shotguns from affordable to elegant, with plenty of middle ground as well.  The company has everything from wing shooting to bunny-busting covered, and in every gauge besides.

TriStar Viper G2 Bronze 20 gauge

If you fancy slide action shotguns and can run a pump quickly and remain on target, that is fantastic. Many shooters, however, would be much better served with a semi-auto, but rule out these rapid actions because of assumed higher cost.  Companies like TriStar, however, offer incredibly budget-friendly options.

The Viper G2 line of semi-automatic actions is not only cost-effective, but crock-pot effective as well.  If looks are important too, step up to the Bronze model we have here, with the subdued golden finish and high gloss Turkish walnut furniture, making the shotgun attractive as well as efficient.

Our G2 Bronze swings and points well with a 26-inch ventilated rib barrel. Three interchangeable chokes make adjusting to different hunting scenarios and even clay shooting a breeze. A red fiber optic front sight is quick to acquire in the field. Having a 3-inch chamber means the gas gun is capable of handling most any 20-gauge load. At just over 6 pounds, the G2 Bronze is easy enough to carry at the ready, and larger shooters will welcome the included shims for adjusting the length-of-pull.  In the end, a gun that fits well and is inexpensive enough to beat around brushy rabbit-territory is a win all the way around.

Get that Wascally Wabbit

Single shots are grand, and so is granddaddy’s hand-me-down beater pump shotgun. The aforementioned trio of actions—lever, break double, and semi-auto—in three different gauges are all more than capable of pulling their weight in rabbit country. The nice thing is, there’s no singular answer to the best gun to use for any game. Regardless of each individual hunter’s choice, the most important thing is that the gun fit the shooter, and that it be lightweight and comfortable enough to carry at the ready all day afield, to make a clean shot on oft fast-moving prey.

We hope you enjoyed a look into a few of our favorite modern selections. No matter your choice of long gun, when you hit the small game woods this season, you’ve already won. We’d enjoy hearing about your choice of make, gauge, and small game memories. Happy Hunting!

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