From Pascagoula on the Gulf Coast to Olive Branch on the Tennessee line, the Magnolia State is thickly covered in dense forests. In fact, over 19 million acres, some 65% of the state, is timberland. By extension, this puts Mississippi hunters, facing rough terrain, as some of the most diehard brush gun fans in the world.
Simply put, the characteristics of a good brush gun are small size, coupled with lightweight, in a caliber large enough to get the job done. Size is relative to the hunter’s own choice but generally, you see brush guns with barrels 18-22-inches with and overall length of 36-42. This keeps the rifle handy enough to not knock on every tree stump and branch in the forest while also aiding in storage on your ATV or behind the truck seat.
Weight is another factor of these guns with the rule of thumb being the lighter the better. Less than 8 pounds is good, while fewer than seven is great.
To make sure you bring enough punch to the party to make it worthwhile, brush guns typically use medium range large caliber chamberings such as.30-.30,.444 Marlin, and 7.62x39mm. In the dense mixed pine/hardwood forests of the state, it’s unlikely to get shots past 150 yards or so unless you are hunting power lines. Long-range hi-velocity rounds like.270, 30.06 and.300 Win Mags are squandered in such an environment.
With the advent of large caliber (over.30) single-shot rifles during primitive weapon season, a number of 35 Whelen, 44, 444, and 45-70 chambered H&R’s and Thompson Centers have been sold throughout the state. In some cases these guns have longer barrels than needed for a good brush gun, but the other basic tenets of lightweight portability with enough firepower to get the job done hold true.
Floating around the state are hundreds of classic old deer guns that were used by our ancestors over the 7.62×39 bulk ammo past century that are still viable brush guns. Our grandfathers had the same obstacles in front of them that we do today and they made good choices.
Compact lever-action rifles in large calibers, such as the Winchester 94, Marlin’s 336 and 62, and the Savage 99 were crowd pleasers for decades. These guns, in hard-hitting calibers such as.30-.30,.300 Savage and.256 Winchester, still fit the bill although ammo is a little harder to find now than in the 1950s.
On the same vein, good numbers of nice Remington Model 8 rifles, an early John Browning designed magazine fed semi-auto with an overall length of just 40- inches are around at affordable prices. Other classic semi-autos are the legions of M1 Carbines that date from WWII and just after. These hardy.30 carbines are lightweight (5-pounds) little game getters that have taken many a deer or hog.
Ruger’s Mini-14 and AR’s are popular with hog hunters, especially with heavier (62 grain and higher) bullets. These compact guns are easily complemented by the 7.62x39mm Ruger Mini-30 and AR platforms with 6.8 SPC uppers for better performance for against white tails. Whereas the M1 Carbine was your grandpa’s inexpensive truck gun 30 years ago, this title goes to the thousands of SKS rifles out there today. When coupled with modern soft-point hunting ammunition, these ten-shot imported carbines make handy brush guns that won’t break the bank.