Ask Hunt & Shoot: What is the Best Pig Hunting Rifle?

Lachlan Asks:

I am 18 and I am looking to buy a rifle that i could use to hunt pigs. I was woundering what would be the best gun to buy and would a lever or bolt action be better. I dont want anything more powerful then 270 calibre or over $1500.




Hi Lachlan,

The question you have asked is a big one and certainly a controversial one. I’ll start by asking you a question:

What sort of pig hunting will you be doing?

Will you be crawling around in thick scrub? Will you be working with dogs? Will you be on foot and watching over dams to find them?

If you are going to be shooting pigs within short distances under 75m it really is hard to go past a Winchester or Marlin lever action in 30-30 these can be picked up for well under $900 used and I don’t think they cost more than that new. The 30-30 is a proven pig hunting cartridge under 100m and the lever action will allow you to perform quick follow up shots.

If you are hoping to come across pigs at a bit more of a distance, lets say 100-200m then consider a Ruger GSR with a 2-7 or 3-9×40 scope, it is a short, lightweight and accurate bolt action rifle in .308win with a big 10 shot mag which is handy when you come across a big mob of pigs, this will allow you to carry the GSR around all day as well as giving you a rifle that will comfortably take a pig out past 200m. It will also be good for taking pretty much everything but the largest of game Australia has to offer.

Now I know you said you didn’t want anything more powerful than a .270 but both the 30-30 and the 308 are less powerful (but a larger projectile) than the .270 and the .308 has the advantage of being one of the most popular cartridges in Australia so you will never not be able to find ammunition for it as every ammunition retailer will carry a boatload of .308 but likely lesser quantities and variety of .270win and 30-30 ammo.

I hope this helps.

What do you think is best for Lachlan readers?



Jason Lownds with a Good Size Pig.

13 thoughts on “Ask Hunt & Shoot: What is the Best Pig Hunting Rifle?”

  1. im just about to take my ruger GSR over to kangaroo island this weekend with the hope of gettin a couple pigs. i have a 1x tasco red dot sight for close range shots in the scrub using remington 180gr should stop em in there tracks, at the range with the tasco sight its good for under 2″ at 60-70m standing. great rifle

  2. I agree with both of Keith’s recommendations as I would like to add both of these rifles to my collection. :)

    The Marlin 30-30 can be had for around $800 (base model) and is very handy for pig hunting (so I’m told). I also love lever actions…

    The Ruger Scout is also on my want list. It’s being advertised in magazines approx $1100 and would be a great all round rifle.

    If you want a bolt action rifle that won’t break the budget then the Marlin XS7 (under $500 at my local gun shop) or Savage Axis/Edge ($600-800 advertised) would be good. These aren’t as short barreled as either the Marlin (model 336W) or the Ruger but, both would also be suitable for other shooting/hunting tasks.

  3. why buy a 308 bolt action when you can get a remington 7600 police with 10 round mag? pump action sounds much better for pigs over a bolt

  4. If recoil is an issue, 7mm/08?
    Though i’ll admit, finding ammo in a small town might be more than difficult

  5. Sam,

    I only suggest a bolt action as another alternative. A traditional hunting rifle may not be as suitable for pigs as other types but,I suspect more pigs have been shot with bolt actions than anything else.

    As for pumps, I don’t know what the regs are in each state but I don’t think Vic is very ‘pump action friendly’. At least not in any decent mag capacity. I’m happy to be enlightened on the subject though.

  6. I’m already lucky enough to have a S&O Shorty Wilderness bull-pup in 308W with 2 x 5 shot mags. They’re not made any more, so if I was left to choose I’d go a Browning BLR stainless with pistol grip with 2 spare mags. With a drop out mag you can shoot pointed projectiles. Almost bolt action accuracy and extraction with the reloading speed of a lever action! I’d recommend getting a gunsmith to give it a trigger job though.

    I like 308W because I have plenty a of spare brass and its a proven round. 308W is a 20″ barrel in the BLR. I would also consider the 30/06 with a 22″ barrel in the BLR. You can always load it down to 308W velocities to reduce recoil if you need and if you’re hunting the big 120+kg pigs its a bit more assurance for an off angle running shot. I think you would get a similar effect with a copper penetrating type projectile in 308W anyway?

    Get a variable scope with a lower power setting of no more than x3. The high power setting can be as big as you like, for long range shots out to 600m in 308W for example. Keep the scope mounted as low as possible to the bore to avoid shooting low at short range.

  7. hey mate

    i had a ruger gsr. and this is a good firearm, and i’ve shot many pigs with it. but to me its sort of like using a sledge hammer when all you need is a mallet. realistically who regularly shoots pigs at ranges beyound 200m? i haven’t shot one yet at that range. the longest shot i’ve had is 150m. if i see one at over 200m…. stalk closer. and if you can’t get that close then learn to stalk, pigs aren’t hard to stalk.

    my opinion is this. the 308 is a good all round calibre, but for hunting pigs to me its just to big for what you need. plus to practise with and can get expensive really quick, even hand loading. you don’t need all that power and recoil. especially pigs, they’re aren’t that tough

    what i did is i got rid of my gsr in favour of a CZ carbine in 7.62x39mm, which is the ak47 round. this is a small little highly underated cartridge, that is cheap to shoot and will do anything a 308 will out to 200m, with hlaf the cost and half the kick. people will tell this round is inaccurate. its more like the rifles there using are inaccurate. mostly auto loaders of suspect quality. the cz527 carbine is a high quality firearm. and is very accurate with ex-mil and russian hunting ammo.

    plus this rifle is very cheap to run, russian sp hunting ammo will cost you 50cents a shot. and ex-mil fmj will cost you 25cents a shot. so you can go to the range and practice and practice without selling your first born child, so that when you get out to hunt your a very effiecent shooter with that rifle.

    just my two cents.

  8. Rhett makes a good point in his comment regarding calibres and power but available bolt rifles in 7.62×39 are uncommon and are more likely to cost more than a 30/30 or budget brand 308. The 30/30 is very similar in power to a 7.63×39 anyway as these cartridges essentially duplicate a lightly loaded 308. I have had total success on pigs with the 150gn Corelokt and 130gn HP Speer in 308 and 130 FN Speer and any 150gn bullet in 30/30. Premium bonded bullets or Barnes X type are unneccessary for pigs. The 243 Win also does a good job, particularly with 87 or 100gn projectiles.

  9. As a pig hunter you’ll likely be shooting pigs under all sorts of conditions over the years…..long shots across open plains, close up shots in thick lignum where you can only see the dim outline of the pig, snap shots at pigs racing through sorghum crops….you name it.
    Good shot placement is simply not possible under some conditions – and won’t need to be if your caliber has enough hitting power at all ranges. I’ve never seen any point in limiting myself to relatively short range shooting by using a 30/30 or a 44 magnum. A harder hitting flatter shooting caliber like 270, 308 or 30.06 will perform superbly on pigs at all ranges, good shot placement or not. One solid hit in the body with my 30.06 at any range, and almost every pig drops in its tracks. I aim for the ribs just behind the shoulder if possible, but even if I hit them in the rear end as they’re running away, or through the belly as they race between lignum clumps, the result is a dead pig pretty much on the spot.
    I’ve also had excellent results with a 25.06 on pigs. In fact his might be the best caliber of all for you, bearing in mind that just about every pig hunter shoots varmits as well – foxes, crows, rabbits. A 270 or 30.06 is too much rifle for crows and rabbits, but a 25.06 with the lighter and faster projectiles is just about perfect for this type of shooting, and perfect for pigs also when loaded up with heavier projectiles. The 25.06 is about as close as you’ll get to a true all round caliber for Aussie hunting.

  10. Great thread guys completely agree with everything said. Except for the comment about 3030. Under 100m you say. I quite often take pigs out to close to 200m. With deadly results it is a very under rated round. And out to 200 you won’t tell the difference to 308

  11. I agree with you Rob – the 30/30 is a better caliber than to be rated as suitable for shots under 100m. A hunting mate of mine regularly takes pigs at close to twice that range with his 30/30.

    Another comment is must disagree with is that a 308 is unnecessarily big for pigs.
    Large boars can be very dangerous animals and are often hunted under conditions that allow no time for a second shot if you don’t put him down with the first. The extra power of the hard hitters like 308 or 270 or 30.06 is worthwhile insurance.
    I know some blokes swear by their 222 or 223, but I did quite a lot of hunting with a 222 and I can tell you I hit plenty of pigs in vital positions like through the ribs, and they squealed and ran away. No doubt they died, but not on the spot like any decent hunter hopes for.
    Twice I’ve been charged at close range by large boars with dangerous tusks. The first time I dropped the pig on the spot with a chest shot at about ten metres from my 30.06 using 150 grain Silvertip bullets.
    The second time I was using a 270 with 130 grain hollow points – another chest shot at very close range, another dead pig on the spot. In those two situations I wouldn’t have fancied my chances of coming out unscathed if I’d been using a 222 or similar.

  12. I shoot 308 & 30-06. On pigs with Lapua Naturalus projectiles.
    I have also a lot with a 264 win mag with 130 swift Scirroco bullets
    My Pont is bullet performance, followed by marksmanship are more important than anything else, shoot rifles to suit the country. And projectiles to suit the game. If it’s close quarters stuff in the marshes I shoot the 308 with a 165 Swift A Frame. It’s its mountain country I shoot the 39-06 kimber with 170-180 grain Lapua Naturalus. If it’s plain country sitting off water holes I shoot a .264 win mag with a 130 swift scirocco. It also depends on what else is there. I have passed up taking Sambar in mountain country withe the .264 Win mag because I only had a 100 grain bullet in the Mag! So don’t go underguned and choose the right bullet for what’s likely to be there. Little bullets sometimes don’t expand , big bullets never shrink!

  13. I grew up using “sporterised” Lee Enfields in .303. Killed the porkers just as dead as a .308; the ten-round mag “as issued”, and the super-slick Lee action kept the Mauser drivers at bay.

    I then graduated to goodies like the L1A1, SiG AMT and the M-14; accurate, rugged and reliable, they got “expensive” and I downsized to Mr. Simonov’s little carbine in 7.62 x 39. Except for the occasional “brag” shooting at 300+, these were the BEST pig rifle ever sold in Oz. IF you did your daily “clean and service”, they would just keep on delivering the goods. Taipan HPs loaded into pulled Ex-Mil cases. NEVER needed a second shot. The Chinese factory-made soft-point ammo was pretty good, but hard to find.

    Sic transit gloria………

    So, in these “enlightened” times, I use two rifles.

    The first is a .25-303; Lithgow built for Sportco, topped with a 2-7 Leupold. Head-shots on goats at 200 yds? No problems with a steady rest. The “proper” 87gn “Super” soft-points are getting a bit hard to find though.

    For bigger beasties like deer or the nasty grunters that roam the river channels of western Queensland, I use a basic .303 on a No4 action. Ten-round mag, hits hard. Ammo still available (at a price) almost anywhere, easy to reload for.

    As quick as a pump, once you learn the correct bolt technique, decent mag capacity and as rugged as they come.

    I can cycle it faster than my straight-pull Schmidt Rubin, and MUCH faster than a Mauser type action.

    The other option is the AIA M-10 series bolt actions. These are built on NEW receivers that take “modern” detachable mags and come in 7.62 x 39 or .308Win. Not sure what the production status is at the moment.

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