When you're heading out hunting, there's obviously nothing more important to consider than your rifle. There's no need to tell you that there are numerous choices available, but one of the most fundamental choices you're going to face is whether to go for a bolt-action or a semi-automatic.
Both rifles have their benefits, but semi-automatics are becoming more popular among hunters, and here are just a few reasons why.
Superior Rate of Fire
If someone starts talking to you about the benefits of a semi-automatic, rate of fire will almost always be the first thing they start talking about. A bolt-action needs attention after every shot. There may be some prodigies you've seen on the internet who can get off shots from a bolt-action as if they were holding a mini-gun, but most people aren't going to achieve a strong rate of fire. In contrast, a semi-automatic will keep firing until the magazine is dry.
Of course, hunters like to make the first shot count, but being able to follow up quickly is often crucial. You might be dealing with a larger, faster, or smaller animal, in which case being able to fire off more shots is going to be useful. You might be surprised and have to get off shots fast. You might even meet an aggressive animal that needs to be put down fast before it can get to you.
People will tell you that semi-automatics tend to be less powerful than bolt-actions. This is true, but the difference is rarely enough to make much of a difference to your game. What will notice the difference is your shoulder. Bolt-action rifles kick like a mule compared to semi-automatics. If you're going to be taking more than one or two shots, your shoulder is quickly going to feel that punch.
Evolution of Design
If you're still thinking that bolt-action rifles are the way to go, it's probably because you're familiar with certain issues that used to face semi-automatic rifles. For example, older semi-automatic rifles used to suffer from hefty trigger pull rates and trigger creep. They also used to jam up quite easily. In all honesty, anyone seeking a used rifle might indeed do well to lean towards a bolt-action. However, manufacturers have come on leaps and bounds, and today's semi-automatics aren't plagued by the same problems. If you're buying new, a semi-automatic rifle is where it's at.