Better Starter Centerfire Caliber: .270, .308 or .30-06?


May 2, 2003, 11:12 AM
I have decided that I am going to purchase a 'Starter' rifle to get my wife to make the jump from a .22 to a centerfire caliber. The platform I have settled on in the New England Firearms Handi-rifle. I have a buddy with a few of them, and it seems like and ideal rifle, if you are okay with the idea of a single-shot.

I am trying to get people opinions on what would be the better caliber to start my wife on: .270, .308, or the one I would LIKE to get, .30-06. I would like to be able to use this gun for hunting also, and I just like the versatility of the old -06.

The thing is, I have no real personal experience with .270 or .308...what is the kick of these like compared to -06? I don't want my wife to develop a flinch from going too big, too fast.


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May 2, 2003, 11:20 AM
They all pretty much recoil as much as the '06. I love all three calibers but I would recommend the .308. This is for the simple fact that this round is cheap in factory loadings. Cheap=more rounds=more practice=skill=:D

Try this stuff for recoil control:

Jim Watson
May 2, 2003, 11:26 AM
Those rifles are cataloged as weighing 7 pounds.
A seven pound .30-06 will kick like a SOB. A .308 won't be enough less to notice. A .270 will recoil less but not enough to help a novice.

What will she do with it?
Hunt or just make more noise and bigger holes in a target?

How about a nice .243?

What about going shooting with your buddy with the selection?

May 2, 2003, 12:07 PM
:what: unless she is in no way AT ALL recoil senitive, you need to think about either a heavier rifle or a lighter round!!

i'm 6' tall and built like a gorilla and I cringe at the idea of a 30-06 or .308 in a handi rifle! you want your wife to move up the power scale, not "get beat" by her own rifle.

my personal suggestion for a starter centerfire would be a .223 for the same reasons Daniel listed for .308.

but you also said you wanted to be able to hunt with it... and .223 isn't legal in some areas (assuming you meant Deer hunting) and is a bit "placement critical" for a novice hunter, even where it IS legal.

someting in between, .243, 30-30 or Even something in 7.62x39 would be better than the 30-06 or .308

or if you wanna be REALLY nice to her get one of this years Remington 700 Classics in .300 Savage :D do most anything a .308 will with a noticable reduction in recoil. just too bad that no one seems to chamber for it any more.

well that's my take on things, milage varies i know.

May 2, 2003, 12:08 PM
There is hardly a dime's worth of difference between your choices. Your wife is probably not going to thank you, but then, maybe that's the plan? ;)

Mal H
May 2, 2003, 12:08 PM
Gotta agree with Jim. Any of those will kick a lot. However, it is impossible to say that they won't be the right choice for her since we, obviously, don't know much about your wife. If she grooves on noise and recoil, then go for the 30-06 since it sounds like it will be used by both of you.

If she is in the average group of newbies and you don't want her to get recoil shy off the bat, I would go for a smaller caliber that would still be useful for hunting - a .223, 22-250 or a .243. All of those are lots of fun to shoot, but won't kick anywhere near the 3 you mentioned.

On the other hand, if you reload, then almost any caliber can be loaded up or down to a manageable kick for just about anyone's taste.

Brian Williams
May 2, 2003, 12:21 PM
Ditto on the 243 in a handi rifle, great gun, lightweight and very scary accurate. I have two in my house mine and my son's and both will keep inside of 1.25 MOA all day.

My son had a Rem mod 7 in 7mm-08 that he did not like cause of the recoil, but the 243 in a Superlight Handi he loves. I am thinking of removing the scope from mine and putting on some ironsights to make it even lighter, with a nice gold bead front and a WGRS peep rear it will be a nice woods deer gun.

May 2, 2003, 01:58 PM

May 2, 2003, 02:44 PM
Well, I guess I never really thought of 7 pounds being really light for a rifle...I may need to re-think things somewhat..

May 2, 2003, 03:01 PM
I guess it depends on what it’s going to be used for. They pretty much will all do the same job within 250 yards. If you don’t need the range, there’s no reason to have to take unnecessary recoil. You may want to check out Chuck Hawks’ recoil table at

My wife and I went out to the range last weekend, because she wants to hunt this year. She had not shot a rifle in a couple of years, and it was a .243 with almost no recoil. She shot my son’s Rem. 700 youth in 7mm-08 and my Rem 700 Ti in .308. The former weighs about 7-1/2 lbs and the latter 6-1/4 lbs. On the first three shots out of the 7-08, she put all 3 into 1.75” at 100 yards, so I know she wasn’t having trouble with recoil. I then let her shoot a round from the Ti, and she put a round right into her 7-08 group. She was shooting Remington 140’s in the 7-08 (chrono 2717 fps) and a 150 South African surplus in the .308 (chrono 2634). She said the recoil was more, but not a problem, in the Ti. Personally, knowing the recoil difference between a .30-06 and the .308, I think she would have noticed the difference if she had shot a full house ’06, even in a heavier gun. Knowing that my wife probably won’t shoot at anything over 150 yards, she has no need for a .270 or the .30-06, so we’ll shop for a 7-08 or .308 that she likes. I’m partial to the .308 because the surplus ammo is almost as cheap as reloading, and my free time is pretty filled up. But, it’s her decision. YMMV

Edited to add:
I forgot to mention that a friend who is a rifle instructror and hunter extraordinaire got his 12ish daughters the Savage rifle packages in .308. They don't have any trouble with those.

Art Eatman
May 2, 2003, 03:35 PM
My two pet rifles for some 30 years have been a 7-pound .243 and a 9.5-pound '06. (That's ready to shoot, with sling.) To me, the .243 has always seemed like "negligible recoil" at the benchrest. The '06 is classified as "Aw, tolerable..." I'm about six feet tall, weighing around 180.

Lotsa guns; hopefully, just one wife.

Put an eight-pound package together, in 7mm08 or .243, with a 1.5x5 or thereabouts scope on it...

:), Art

May 2, 2003, 06:29 PM
I never really thought of 7 pounds being really light for a rifle

Most who've been shooting for a decent portion of their lives don't. but if you are a new shooter or are buying a gun for one, it's best to play it safe and stay on the lighter end fo the recoil scale, and/or heavier end of the rifle specs.

better to have a heavier than normal rifle and be able to more comfortably shoot it. than have a "normal" weight gun and feel as if you've been hit by a Mule everytime you pull the trigger (first centerfire rifle i shot was like that, a remington 600 in .308 thing was right around 7 pounds). comfort with that first gun makes a HUGE difference.

also regardless of round used be aware of stock fit. one of the reasons i don't like handi-rifles is, they don't fit me right and tend to recoil into my cheek more than my shoulder.

May 2, 2003, 06:59 PM
The recoil is about the same in all of them. If I had to choose between the calibers listed, Id take the 308. Military surplus ammo is cheap, and plentiful. If you reload, you can load any of these down to a "Pussycat" level. That might be the answer for you, if you have your heart set on those calibers, to get her started on. Good luck-

Jim K
May 2, 2003, 08:46 PM
If she is recoil sensitive, I agree on the lighter calibers. I like the 7mm-08, myself, and .243 would also be a good choice.

But the rifle choice should be reconsidered. A single shot is not a good idea unless finances are severely constrained (in other words, you are about broke), since there is little can be done in the way of improvement and she will soon tire of the awkward loading. IMHO, there is little point in spending money on a rifle that will probably be outgrown and traded off within a year or so.

I would suggest visiting some gun shops and gun shows and look for a low ticket Remington, Winchester, or Ruger or a good used rifle in the caliber of choice.


Dave R
May 2, 2003, 08:58 PM
My vote would be .223

Big step down from .30-06, .270 and .308, while still able to shoot accurately out 200-300 yards. You do plan on teaching to shoot that far, right?

I have not shot .243, but from what I've heard, that would also be a good option.

May 3, 2003, 09:40 PM
.223 would be the next sensible step but most don't want to slowly step up and spend all the money on rifles, .243 is a good choice for more recoil than the .223 but less than larger calibers

May 4, 2003, 12:04 AM
None of them will be pussycats in the recoil department. I think the idea of a 243 is a good one. It's still effective on game up to medium whitetails.

My wife is 5'2" and about 135 lbs. She shoots my 7.9lb with scope 700ADL in 270 just fine. We do usually use slightly down loaded loads with a 130 Gr bullet at 2700 fps. Different folks are different and I would probably shy away from the 30-06 and really probably from the .308 and .270. I think the 243 is the ideal stepping stone to centerfire for someone not used to or seeking out significant recoil. They also made a limited edition 25-06 a while back but not sure if that's offered any longer. That might offer a bit more versatility than the 243, but not much. And the recoil won't be way less than the 270 or 308 but probably noticable.

May 4, 2003, 05:27 AM
I'd go for the .308

I started out on airguns, and then one day decided to try out a "real" gun. Went to the range, picked up an M1-A, and have been in love with .308 ever since.

May 5, 2003, 12:59 AM
6.5x55mm would be a better starter caliber

May 5, 2003, 09:40 AM
On the subject of new shooters and recoil, do not fail to factor in the weight of the shooter !

I built my son a 6mm Rem. and custom fit the stock to him when he was 8 years old. He soon developed a flinch, all the while assuring me the rifle did not kick.

If you wish to see the evidence, set up a video cam beside a shooting bench and compare the recoil of a small caliber (6mm) with a small (light) shooter as compared to a larger caliber fired by a shooter weighing 175-200 lbs. The 6 mm recoil pushes an 8 year old back as far as a 300 Win Mag does a 175 # man.

Someone suggested letting your wife shoot various friends guns to determine recoil sensitivity prior to making your decision.......very good advice.

Good luck with getting the wife involved.


May 5, 2003, 11:27 AM
I haven't seen any mention of a recoil pad for the but stock or a padded shooting vest like Past or others. That would go a long way to making the gun livable.

Caliber recommendation is based on what your wife might do with it.

If she's going to hunt small game/varmints then a .223 would be good.

Hunting deer? A 243 should do at any ranges a novice should be shooting at.

Larger than deer? the .308 would be minimum then. And like others have said, something heavier than a handi rifle.

Sleeping Dog
May 5, 2003, 01:12 PM
Bostonterrier hit a good one. 6.5x55 Swedish is accurate, light recoil, and will take out a deer with no problem. .223 is accurate and even lighter recoil, but I don't know about shooting deer with it.

I've never shot .243, I wonder how it compares with 6.5x55?


May 5, 2003, 03:54 PM
I'd opt for the .308. Cheaper to shoot, and it will do almost everything a .06 would.

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