Off-Season, Non-Hunting Uses of Bolt Guns

The bolt-action rifle remains a popular choice in rifle actions. While semi-auto rifles have taken over a large portion of the market, I’d be willing to bet most hunters who are stepping into the blind or climbing the tree stand are toting bolt guns. This all-American game-getter has taken plenty of deer, hogs, and similar animals for many decades without fail.

Bolt guns are fairly simple firearms that are robust and reliable. They can chamber cartridges as small as .22 Long and as large as 20mm, although I doubt you’d use the latter for hunting anything but tanks. Bolt guns offer easy accuracy and top-of-the-line precision at a much more affordable price point than many semi-autos. Plus, they are legal in all 50 states.

While bolt guns are popular hunting options, what do you do with them when the season ends? For many, their bolt guns get thrown into the gun safe until next season. If you want to get more miles out of your bolt-action rifle, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s explore what you can do with your bolt-action rifle when hunting season ends.

Training: Readying for the Shot Never Stops

Any hunter worth their spit doesn’t let the season dictate his or her skills with a rifle. As hunters, you have a responsibility to be a good shot. A good shot can humanely take an animal and eliminate any chance of suffering. To take those shots, you need to be able to put a bullet into a fairly small target. This means you need to be out training with your hunting rifle at different ranges and angles to ensure you put the animal down quickly and efficiently.

Beyond training for hunting, bolt-action rifles tend to be excellent tools for training new shooters. The manual action keeps shooters going slow and often forces them to focus on their shots. A semi-auto often allows new shooters to just chuck lead downrange. If you’ve ever taught a new shooter, you’ll see that with a semi-auto, that occasional frustration of missing will result in several rounds fired in rapid succession.

ruger american predator rifle
Ruger’s American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor is a great pick for a bolt gun. It’s extremely accurate and has low recoil. [Photo: Jim Davis]
The single-shot design of bolt actions also adds a degree of safety to teaching new shooters. I’ve had several new shooters turn around rapidly when they finally hit the bull’s eye in excitement to look at me. When they do, they often bring the gun with them. The best cure is to be close at hand to stop them from turning with the gun. The bolt action ensures the chamber isn’t loaded with a live round if they break the 180.

Finally, bolt-action rifles are lighter and easier to carry for new shooters. The controls are very simple and intuitive, often much more so than those of a semi-auto rifle.

Precision Shooting Competition: Enhancing the Dynamic of Running a Hunting Rifle

Between seasons, your bolt guns don’t need to waste away in the gun safe, alone, in the dark, and forgotten about. There are plenty of reasons to take it for a spin, and if you want an exciting and challenging way to get your gun running, then precision rifle competition is one way to get it done. Admittedly, the sport gets very competitive at the higher levels, but your hunting rifle wouldn’t be out of place at a local match.

prs shooters gifts
PRS is an interesting way to use a bolt gun in the off-season [Photo: Armageddon Gear]
Sure, lots of guys might spend more money on their optic for PRS than you spend for your entire setup, but if you just want to have fun while building skills, I wouldn’t stress it too much. I would suggest good glass regardless of the rifle’s purpose, and maybe a bipod and sling, and you’ll be ready to get shooting at a local match.

These competitions often involve shooting in a more dynamic than usual environment. You can be in odd positions and in odd situations that break you out of your comfort zone. This will certainly make deer hunting seem like an easy day.

prs shooting
PRS involves shooting at a variety of distances from different positions. [Photo: Michael Kusenko]
Outside of the PRS side of things, there are plenty of other competitive fields you can cover. Basic bullseye contests, informal matches, and even numerous hunting-themed rifle matches can occupy your off-season shooting. Trust me, you aren’t the first person to wonder what your rifle can be used for outside of hunting season.

Bolt Guns: Great for Going Suppressed

If you ever dive into the world of suppressors, you’ll learn a lot about noise. You’ll learn about the difference between supersonic and subsonic, and you’ll discover the hidden noises guns make. The noise of a gunshot covers up all sorts of other noises, namely the action slamming back and forth as you shoot. Even that’s loud enough to ring your ears at times. Two pieces of metal meeting at several hundred feet per second can do that.

gemtech suppressor
Suppressors are fantastic tools for hunting. [Photo credit: Gemtech]
A bolt action is often an excellent option for a suppressed gun. Since the action is manually worked by the end user, there is no loud clacking sound as you shoot suppressed. You might still get the supersonic crack, but for many calibers, that can be tamed with the right ammo. If you combine a good suppressor with subsonic ammo and a bolt action rifle, you can get a very enjoyable experience.

It’s as close to movie quiet as you can get in many cases. If you want to shoot without making a ruckus, then a bolt gun is the way to go in and out of hunting season. A .350 Legend or .300 Blackout with the right ammo and suppressor is an enlightening experience.

Exploring the Living History of Bolt Guns

Since we are just talking about non-hunting uses of bolt guns, I can rightly assume not everyone owns just one bolt action rifle. If you enjoy bolt action rifles, then I highly suggest looking into the world of military surplus guns. Guns from the First and Second World Wars are a ton of fun to shoot and collect. The vast majority of bolt-action designs.

Some are more expensive than others. If you want a Springfield M1903, a Lee Enfield, or a KAR98, then be prepared to shell out some serious cash.

Yugoslavian M48 Mauser
The Yugoslavian M48 Mauser variant is my favorite of my surplus rifles.

However, if you are on a tight budget, the Russian Mosin Nagant rifles remain affordable, and the Italian Carcano rifles are also very affordable, but the ammo is a little more expensive.

These old bolt guns allow you to experience history. You are using the same rifle used by countless men in some of the worst conflicts ever fought. You can experience the accuracy, recoil, and power these old rifles contain. These rifles are certainly a bit brutish compared to your modern bolt-action, but you can at least reflect on how far rifles have come and what they used to be.

Work The Bolt

Bolt actions are the fidget spinners of firearms. There is something so utterly addictive about working the bolt on a bolt-action rifle. That’s my favorite reason not to tuck it away between hunting seasons. I enjoy the manual action too much to do that. What about you? What do you do with your bolt action rifle between seasons? Let us know below!

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap