Ask the experts: Foxing with a single-shot .243 rifle?

Q I am new to fox shooting and my father has said I can have his rifle that he’s had for years. It’s a .243 that he has used for deer, but what’s bothering me is that it’s only a single-shot model. I don’t want to hurt his feelings but I feel that it may not be suitable for fox shooting. What do you think about single-shots?

A Mike says: I once had a Heym break-action rifle. I bought it because it was really such a beautiful little rifle. Like you, I felt slightly undergunned, but gradually as I used it more and more I realised it really wasn’t quite the handicap I thought it initially was.

For a start, if you have had some practice with the rifle and have zeroed it, it is just like any other rifle with a magazine (except it hasn’t got one!) When you take a shot at a fox with a rifle of this calibre, and assuming you hit it, it really isn’t going anywhere. The shock a bullet of this calibre imparts on a small animal like a fox is enormous, so even if it doesn’t drop on the spot, it won’t go far.

Let’s assume you miss it. Will the fox stand still waiting for you to have another go? Highly unlikely. Chances are it will do a runner, and whatever rifle you are using, it’s again unlikely you will take a shot at it. So during the time it’s running off, you will reload, and hope it stops as they often do and you can redeem yourself.

In real terms, with a bit of practice, a single-shot rifle can be reloaded in a short space of time. Hardly any different, in fact, from the time it takes to work a bolt. I can honestly say that in the time I used my little Heym, I can’t remember losing a fox because the rifle was a single-shot model.

I’m sure you will keep your dad happy, and if in time you still feel undergunned, get yourself another. To sum up, the problem is more likely to be psychological than practical.

Mike Powell, Professional gamekeeper and foxing expert

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