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I’ve got my firearms certificate, what rifle should I get?

The .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR) is the cartridge of choice for general small vermin shooting at ranges up to about 75 or 80 yards and there are a huge number of excellent rifles on the market, both new and second hand.

They all shoot perfectly well with the brand of ammunition that suits them so choice is really a matter of personal taste.

Look at and handle as many as you can before deciding. If we assume the standard set-up of a bolt-action rifle fitted with a sound moderator and telescopic sight, that means there are four things to consider.

First is the rifle; just choose one you like. Then there’s the sound moderator and here I would definitely go for one of the Reflex type, which only increases the length of the barrel by about four inches.

It makes the rifle shorter, better balanced and easier to handle, especially if you are trying to shoot out of a vehicle window.

Note that sound moderators do NOT need to be sent for proof, regardless of what anyone may tell you, though some dealers may feel it politic to submit them to proof after fitting to the rifle (don’t ask; it’s a long story).

The last two elements are the telescopic sight and its mounting system. Buy the very best rings and mounts. The most expensive telescopic sight is useless if its mounting is anything less than perfect.

As for the sight itself, the .22 LR cartridge, especially with the subsonic ammunition you must use if you want the sound moderator to work properly, doesn’t put any recoil stress on the ‘scope so, unless you are prone to bashing your kit on the side of your truck, on fence posts or whatever, you don’t need a totally bomb-proof ‘scope.

By all means buy a Swarovski, a Schmidt and Bender or whatever else takes your fancy if you can afford it; they are an absolute delight and you will never regret the expense.

But you can buy perfectly good ‘scopes nowadays for a fraction of the price.

I am currently using one of the new Sabre range, imported by ASI, and find it absolutely brilliant in the half-light, when rabbits first appear, or later when I use a lamp.

My Sabre 4.5-14 x 50 seems incredible value at a recommended retail price of less than £100.

It would need a book to cover this subject properly and I would recommend Robin Marshall-Ball’s The Sporting Rifle for more in-depth information.

However, I hope these few words will be of some assistance and that you will enjoy dipping your toe into the merry world of rabbiting.