Aside from the obvious necessity of rifle ammunition, the three most essential rifle accessories for any hunter or hobbyist shooter are a rifle scope, a rifle sling, and a rifle cleaning kit. While sporting goods stores and gun shops typically have some fully outfitted rifle packages available, most rifles are sold without accessories so that the buyer has an opportunity to individualize the gun with just the add-ons that meet his or her needs. The scope is likely to be the most important of these three essential rifle accessories and will require some careful thought and research before settling on a particular model. The rifle sling and the cleaning kit are easier to select, though there are a range of options available in these case as well.
While most rifles are equipped with a standard open-sight setup that allows very accurate shooting at short to medium range, installing a good scope is essential for fast, precision targeting at all ranges. Indeed, most hunters and hobbyist shooters consider the selection of a rifle scope to be just as important as the selection of the rifle itself. You should plan to spend some time identifying your particular needs and researching scope options that meet both those needs and your budget.
The selection of a rifle scope depends on a variety of factors specific to your hunting or target practicing needs, including your typical shooting distances, whether weight is an issue, and the common environmental conditions in your area when you plan to use the rifle. You’ll also have to consider whether you need a fixed or variable magnification scope, what kind of reticle, or crosshairs, is best suited to your needs, and whether the scope is equipped for easy attachment to your rifle’s mounting system (which can typically be replaced or modified if necessary). Also note that there are very good, inexpensive scope options available for those who are just looking to shoot for fun from time to time or are beginners just getting started with rifle shooting.
For help considering the rifle scope options available to you, visit your local sporting goods store or commercial shooting range. Many areas also have hunting or shooting clubs where you’re sure to find many knowledgeable hobbyists happy to give you advice.
Whether you are a hunter or a target shooter, a rifle sling is essential for carrying your gun securely and comfortably out in the field or on the shooting range. An assortment of slings are available, from the simple nylon strap variety to the extra comfortable non-slip, molded foam models. Virtually any durably constructed sling will be adequate for those rifle owners who don’t need to carry their guns over long distances. For backcountry hunters, however, a high quality, super rugged sling is vital. While most new rifles come equipped with standard sling swivels for attachment of the sling, it’s important to confirm this before choosing a sling model.
A rifle cleaning kit is essential to ensure the durability and safety of your rifle over time. Regular cleaning of your rifle will eliminate powder residue and other deposits that build up inside the rifle barrel after shooting, causing progressive accuracy problems, and, in severe situations, safety issues. Rifle cleaning kits are widely available from a variety of reputable manufacturers. Most include all the essential tools that you’ll need to keep your rifle clean, accurate, and safe, including a cleaning rod, cleaning patches, solvent and lubricating oil, and other essential maintenance tools.