One Shot, One Kill: In Defense of the Single-shot Rifle

5 reasons the single-shot rifle endures in the age of high-capacity and high-tech

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There’s a certain appeal in life’s simplest things. And when it comes to selecting a hunting rifle, nothing’s simpler than the single-shot.

Automotive companies often boast about the latest, greatest features in their new cars and trucks: fancy little updates that enrich the driving experience, such as backup cameras or heated seats. But strip away all those superfluous add-ons and you find that every vehicle, at its core, performs essentially the same function: It transports you to where you want to go. The same can be said for hunting rifles. Sure, not all rifles are created equal, and in many cases those neat little updates and modifications have a tangible impact on accuracy or functionality, but if you put even the simplest of guns in the hands of an experienced marksman, he or she will get results. And it doesn’t get much simpler than the single-shot rifle.

We’ve identified what we believe to be the five primary reasons single-shot rifles—the economy model of the firearms world—persist in the modern age.

1. They’re accessible.

Most of us started out learning how to shoot on single-shot rifles and shotguns. There’s a reason for this: Just about anyone can pick up one of these guns and instantly have a pretty good idea of how they operate. They’re easy to master, with no bolt releases, magazine releases, forward assists, or what have you to clutter the works.

2. They’re reliable.

The actions of most single-shot rifles are exceedingly strong and, largely due to their simplicity, very reliable. If you can close the action on a live round, that baby’s going off—regardless of inclement weather, dirt, or grime.

3. They’re affordable (generally).

When it comes to price, there are always exceptions. The falling-block Ruger No. 1 (shown above), perhaps among the most iconic single-shot rifles on the market, can fetch a tidy sum surpassing the price of many standard bolt-action or semi-automatic rifles. That said, there are a number of affordable single-shots sold by companies such as Rossi, New England Firearms, Harrington & Richardson, and Thompson Center that retail for $500 or less.

4. Using one reflects a confident and experienced marksman.

Much like the old expression, “Beware the man with one gun; he probably knows how to use it,” one should respect the man with only one shot; he probably only needs the one. A guy rolling into deer camp with a patinaed single-shot rifle he’s been hunting with for the past 40 years is likely pretty damn confident he can get the job done without the comfort of an extra round or two in the magazine.

5. They’re reminiscent of a simpler time.

Single shots, particularly those designed to emulate rifles of the distant past (a Sharps, Remington Rolling Block, or Farquharson, for instance), are evocative of the epoch of mountain men, plains hunters, cowboys, and fur trappers. Carrying even a replica of one of these classic rifles (many of which are now available due to the cowboy action community and their long-range competitions) enriches a hunt by facilitating a connection with our collective history and hunting in a bygone era.

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