Hunting is a sport that is available to everyone, without discrimination, and the options of rifles and hunting equipment are endless.
Yet, not all hunters are built the same, and big or small, male or female, young or old, the equipment you choose needs to be suited to your specific physical capabilities.
For us vertically challenged and yet avid hunters, let’s examine some of the discerning factors that influence which rifle we favor.
We are going to look at some rifles from reputable manufacturers that are ideal for a petite woman and highlight their main features against the considerations mentioned.
Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor
A lightweight, adaptable rifle stock with muzzle brake and buttstock features to reduce recoil
- Folding, adjustable length of pull and comb height
- 10.7 lb. weight
- The barrel features a Ruger Precision Hybrid Muzzle Brake to reduce recoil and direct noise to the side, away from the shooter.
- Adjustable trigger with a trigger pull range of 2.25 to 5 pounds
- Improved accuracy from the In-line recoil path. Recoil is managed from the rear of the receiver directly to the buttstock, as opposed to the conventional bedding system
- The barrel can be replaced easily by a gunsmith if you need to further reduce the weight
- Rubber pad to soften the butt
A popular rifle not only for women but amongst male shooters too. Tikka has developed a solid reputation amongst hunters from all walks of life.
- Comes in a fairly lightweight 7.5 lbs.
- Reduced stock size with recoil padding features to assist in recoil
- The four grooves of the 20” barrel allow for more stability
- Option of pistol grip modification to fit your hand size
Savage 110 Lightweight Storm
This type of rifle is a perfect example of dynamite coming in small packages with solid knock-down power and low recoil.
- Adjustable stock from 12.75 to 13.75 inches
- Possibly the lightest rifle at 5.65 lbs.
- Short in overall length at 39.75 to 40.75 inches
- The stock has comb height spacers which are interchangeable
- Adjustable trigger with Savage’s trusted AccuTrigger
- Can be chambered in .270 Win, 7mm Rem, .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .243 Win.
Sako 85 Carbonlight
An iconic brand that prides itself on innovation and reliability. Two very strong characteristics to look for in a rifle company
- Built from similar technology used in aerospace design which makes it extremely light and durable
- Reduced double feed or cartridge jams through a controlled feed
- Turn-bolt handle places the hand in a natural position during bolt operation
- Twist rates of Sako rifles are chosen for each caliber to optimize accuracy and bullet performance
- Each rifle stock is built for an optimal shooting posture
- The weight of the pull is adjustable from 2 – 4lbs on the trigger.
What a Petite Woman Looks For in a Rifle?
There are specific challenges that petite women face when choosing a rifle, each has its importance but when you consider all these characteristics in one rifle, it will make for the perfect fit.
Carrying a heavy rifle for an extended period will put fatigue and stress on your arms. The benefits of a lighter rifle are that you will have better maneuverability, the ability to walk farther, and a steady hand when it comes time to shoot.
One way in which rifle manufacturers achieve a lighter gun is by using synthetic stocks and replacing traditional steel barrels with carbon-wrapped alternatives.
By selecting a lightweight rifle you could be compromising your accuracy, as they tend to experience more recoil.
For the petite woman, it is all about testing your limitations until you find the perfect balance for yourself. Your rifle should be light enough not to rapidly fatigue your arms, while not going so light as to lose control or develop a recoil-related flinch.
Keep in mind that synthetic stocks can mean anything from plastic through to carbon fiber composites. You can expect to pay more for higher-quality aerospace-grade materials.
The most important thing for me is to be able to find my prey in my sights and then hold my rifle steady while I aim. As such, I will accept the tradeoff of a lighter gun and have found other means to overcome the recoil.
As touched on in the previous consideration, I don’t believe that avoiding recoil should be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a rifle for a petite woman.
There are numerous options to help one overcome its effects, such as adding a suppressor or muzzle brake, practicing until you are desensitized to it, wearing a shoulder patch, or adding extra cushioning to the end of the rifle.
A decent set of earmuffs will go a long way to help to reduce the effects of the recoil and associated noise.
Customizable rifles are increasing in popularity and for good reason. Small, simple changes to a rifle can mean the difference between a steady shot or letting one fly completely off target.
A petite woman wanting to purchase a rifle should consider one that has an adjustable cheek rest and length of pull. Having the correct cheek placement will mean a clear vision through the scope. The proper pull length will determine whether the butt of the rifle fits snuggly into your shoulder or not.
There have been many times when I have had to use a larger man’s hunting rifle and been unable to initially see the animal through the scope due to the incorrect cheek placement. I have to scoot my cheek closer to the scope and compromise my stance.
It takes time for me to make my adjustments, find the animal in my sites again, and it is frustrating when the perfect opportunity for a shot has long since passed.
An obvious decision may be to go with a smaller caliber because they are associated with lighter rifles, have less recoil, and are not as loud. That may be true in principle but going for a smaller caliber just because you are afraid of the recoil is not a wise choice as it may leave you “under-gunned” when it comes to hunting.
Rather choose a caliber that is ideal for the animal you want to target. If elk, bear, or caribou are going to be your main focus then a caliber of .308 and higher is the better choice. A lighter caliber will just lead to problems such as wounding through under-performance and hours of tracking or even having to recover the animal from less than ideal terrain.
Shooting your rifle needs to be a comfortable process from start to finish. From loading the bullet, looking through the scope, right up until pulling the trigger. The whole sequence needs to be completed in a relaxed and smooth manner.
I have found external aids such as the use of shooting sticks to be very helpful when shooting with higher-caliber rifles. They allow me to go after bigger prey and not worry about my arms starting to shake while aiming. Sticks bear the weight of the gun so that you can concentrate on your target without circling it in the sights.
The most important thing is to find the rifle that is most comfortable for you, while still capable of carrying out the job you need it for. Don’t be intimidated into choosing a bigger, heavier gun if it compromises your accuracy, but if you must go bigger, use the correct equipment to compliment your hunting ability.
Why settle for guns made for larger builds when we now have options better suited to our unique body types?
You can achieve this by selecting a smaller gun especially customized for you, women, or youth in mind, or by using equipment such as a suppressor, muzzle brake, or sticks. You will be judged on what you hit and not how you look doing it.
Don’t sell yourself short just because you are petite, there are options and choices out there for you. The ideal rifle for a petite woman does exist.