“What’s the best gear for hog hunting?” Ten plus years ago I didn’t know enough to ask that question. But last Memorial Day I decided it was time for me to answer it.
I guess you could say that Memorial Day is the “Unofficial” birthday of SHWAT™. A lot has changed in the 10+ years since I stepped into that golden wheat field with my grandfather’s 30-06 Remington 700 in slung on my shoulder. The biggest changes for me have definitely been the equipment that I now use, the tactics that we employ and my understanding of hog hunting. Knowing what I know now about hog hunting, let’s walk through what I would get today (in this order) if I just was getting started in the tactical hog hunting game.
Best Gun for Hog Hunting
We would purchase something in either an AR-15 or AR-10 platform. The main reason is so that we can quickly shoot without having to chamber additional rounds ourselves as the pigs scatter like disturbed fire ants. We will want to have a lot of ammunition, more than a typical bolt gun holds.
Ideally, this would also be in a pistol or SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) configuration because having a shorter barrel makes a big difference when getting in and out of the truck all night. We are also going to want a round with enough energy to drop a hog on the run. Yes, a great shot with almost any caliber will take down a hog but not all shots are great once the shooting commences. Any of the following guns would be ideal. They are different brands, different calibers, different prices. There’s bound to be one here that suits you:
- Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel Highlander Pistol (11” barrel) $1659
- LWRCI REPR MKII08
- Bushmaster ACR 6.8 SPC Pistol (12.5” barrel)
- Wilson Combat ARP Tactical 300 HAM’R (8” barrel) $2580
- Primary Weapons Systems MK111 MOD 2-M Pistol 7.62×39 $2049.95
Hearing Protection for Hog Hunting
Even though we will eventually shoot suppressed, I still like to wear ear pro. When hunting, I think it’s smart to have EVERY advantage over the animals and electronic hearing protection does just that. At the same time as protecting our hearing, I also want to be able to clearly communicate with anyone else in the hunting party.
Foamies really don’t work in this scenario because it is very difficult to communicate in the dark with them in. Electronic hearing protection is the only way to go! The electronic ear pro is awesome because it amplifies everything around you, except the shot.
It’s happened before where we have found a downed pig by listening to the pig kicking or snorting when the vegetation was so high that we could not visibly see them but we could hear them. Personally, I like my inexpensive Harold Leight Impact Sport that you can find for about $50 and you should definitely upgrade and buy some gel cups that will make them about 1000% more comfortable.
Optic for Hog Hunting
We’ve got to get a thermal. Once you hog hunt with a thermal at night, you’ll never want to hunt during the day. It’s tactics and tactical. Together, that makes you ridiculously cool. Or at least it the experience will make you feel that way.
If you don’t know, I am a huge Pulsar fanboy. I’ve enjoyed using lots of thermal optics in my hog hunting, but in my opinion, to date, Pulsar gives you the best bang for your buck. You can check out my review on the Pulsar Trail XP50, but since we are starting over, I think we would get a Trail XQ50 LRF. Yes, we would move from a 640 resolution to a 384 resolution but there’s more to it. The magnification starts at 2.7x on the XQ50 versus 1.6x on the XP50. This might not seem like much but when we digitally zoom in 2x, we are now at 5.4x with the LRF versus 3.2x. The Trail LRF models also include the laser ranger finder. I’ve found that this helpful when gauging how far away the pigs are from you in the pitch black.
Since you have to mount your thermal to your gun you should do so with the best mount I’ve ever been around: The DLOC. I’m kind of daring our Publisher Jonathan to include an ancient video he did back in the day when he first discovered these mounts. It’s not exactly the same level of production he insists on today, but you’ll see why we love these mounts. And why I wonder if Jonathan will show the video…! [Publisher’s note: Game on! Everyone starts somewhere, right?]
The brand name on the DLOC mounts changed a couple of times over the years, but the mounts are pretty much the same. Why does it matter? DLOC mounts allow you to pull your thermal optic off your gun and remount it without loosing your zero. Why would you pull off your thermal? Well, until we get a handheld thermal, this is the best option for scanning fields for hogs instead of waving a gun around the truck. Also, we might move our thermal between different guns.
Tripod for Hog Hunting
Tactical hog hunting can get expensive quickly but this is an area where you can get a good product and not break the bank doing it. Currently, I use the Primos Gen 3 Trigger Stick Tripod. Over the past 12 months of use the tripod made a huge difference for me. The body count definitely went up when using it, both for first shots and additional follow up shots. That’s why it’s number four on our list.
Suppressor for Hog Hunting
When it comes to suppressor (aka, Silencer) options, lots of good choices present themselves. I went years without a suppressor, but happily today I’m able to test cans and share what I like. I won’t hunt without one now. My preference for a single can is something in the 30 caliber family. It tends to move around from rifle to rifle and accommodates all the calibers I’ve suggested in the guns above. There are a lot of great suppressors out there and here are a couple that I recommend:
- Dead Air – Sandman S $1049
- The Official Q – Trash Panda $999
- SIlencerco – Omega 300 $1130
- Bowers Group – Vers 30T $1100
Handheld Scanner for Hog Hunting
While some might consider it a luxury, a handheld thermal scanner is a really nice item to have on a hunt. These are lightweight and can be passed around the truck between hunters. While you can detach your thermal optic from your rifle as described earlier (assuming you have a good mount), having a handheld is just better. It’s not magic, it’s just a dedicated tool for a dedicated job. While I really like my Pulsar Helion XP50 (about $4000), they’ve come out with the Axiom line earlier this year and the Axiom’s start out around $1900.
Night Vision for Hog Hunting
This really should be called “Night Vision Kit” instead of just “Night Vision.” There’s more that goes into it than just the tubes. Casey recently reviewed the FLIR BNVD’s. They certainly impress, and that’s the direction I would go. Night Vision is great for driving with the lights off but also allows you to watch the animals as you stalk. We have been using Team Wendy Helmets with Wilcox Mounts in conjunction with our FLIR Night Vision equipment. This setup will set you back about $13k.
Welcome to Tactical Hunting
If you are just getting into the tactical hunting game, or merely thinking about it, this is a pretty solid game plan. The gear, the approach and the mindset all add to some great adventures. We really didn’t discuss ammo options, but I’m pretty happy with Maker Bullets and Barnes Bullets. This Fall I will probably use some Norma Bondstrike ammunition. Please feel free to comment or if you have any questions about tactical hunting, we’d love to hear from you.