Choice of Rifle?


March 26, 2008, 05:10 PM
Ladies and Gents,

I am about to purchase a hunting rifle.

I already have an old 22 semi auto, and a couple of shotguns. When I was younger, Dad and I deer hunted with the shotguns and slugs. When he got older and developed eye problems, he quit hunting. We would still shoot some, but he just couldn't perform to his standards and quit.

As a teen my friends and I would hunt some, but when I went to school, I sort of lost the connection. My nephew is now 12, and I decided to teach him about the proper use of guns, so we cleaned up the old 22 and took them and my new SW 686P and went shooting. We had a blast!

We have some friends who are hunters, and he (and I) have now been invited to go when the season is in, a perfect excuse to buy a new gun!

I found THR when researching which pistol would suit my needs, and once I decided to buy a rifle, began to read and read. The amount of information and knowledge on this site is a bit overwhelming, so I thought if I put my thoughts out in this way, I could get some input. Thanks in advance.

While shopping, I was looking at Henry and Marlin lever guns in the 357 mag/38 sp caliber to complement my pistol. After reading THR for awhile, it appears that this is a shorter range weapon, and while it would be fine for home defense, it might not meet my needs for a longer range hunting rifle.

I still like the lever action guns, but would not rule out a semi-auto, as I love to shoot my old 22.

I would not be expecting to hunt anything larger that Whitetail deer, but you never know, once I start again, I might want to go for larger game, short of big bears, or maybe not, I don't know.

I read many good things about the 30-06, but would consider other calibers.
So, my questions are: what is the best multi purpose hunting rifle? is 30-06 good enough for my needs? Semi auto or lever? I do want my nephew to be able to shoot the rifle with me also.

Sorry for being so long winded, but I tried to get it all out.



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March 26, 2008, 05:11 PM
I almost forgot, my budget is 500-750 ish.


March 26, 2008, 05:48 PM
In that price range, and in 30-06 the only thing that comes to mind is a used Remington auto such as the 7400. The lever guns in that chambering are expensive as well.

If it is only semi-autos and levers you are interested in there is really nothing wrong with a Marlin in 30-30. It will not have quite the range of the 30-06, but will kill deer just as well at normal ranges.

Have you completely ruled out bolt actions? While there is nothing wrong with the other actions, I own and hunt with them as well, but there is a reason why bolt guns are the most popular.

March 26, 2008, 05:55 PM
You should be able to pick up a Remington 700 in .308 or .30-06 for $700

March 26, 2008, 05:57 PM
No, I haven't ruled bolt actions out, just kinda like the lever guns. Are the bolt actions more reliable? That is why i bought the revolver.

Sounds like my budget may be low, I can go to the baloney sandwiches for lunch for awhile. If I step up to $1,000.00 is that going to make a big difference?

Thanks for the input. What is the range for the 30-30?

young hunter
March 26, 2008, 06:28 PM
I would recomend a 270 if you reload, it is a 30-06 cartrage that is necked down to .277 instead of a .308 .

A 270 with a slug has a mzl. vel. of an avrage of around 2519 fps . That is what i am getting out of the loading data of the speer # 13 reloading manual using 14 standard loads for the 150 gr. bt spitz slug from speer . that is 2082 ft-lbs of enegry at the muzzle and 936 ft-lbs energy at 500 yds .

A 30-06 with a 180 gr. slug has a mzl. vel. of an avrage of around 2491 fps . That using the same speer reloading manual and the same type of slug . the energy at muzzle is 2498 and at 500 yds it is 673 .

So with a 270 you lose a little bit of energy at the muzzle but make up for it as you get longer shots it evens out and surpassed the 30-06 at longer shots. They are about even at 200 yds for energy .

The only propblem is that i dont know of any made in a lever gun . if dont mind a bolt action this would be my recomendation . The information above might not be perfect because of human error but I believe i did it correctly if not someone will comment on it and correct me .

Good luck this hunting season hope you and your son have a great time and some good stories to share with everyone .

March 26, 2008, 06:29 PM
If your heart is set on a semi- auto or lever gun I don't want to try to talk you out of it but you can get a quality bolt action within your budget easily. Probably have money left over for a scope with careful shopping.

A bolt action is usually more reliable, more accurate, and can be lighter in weight than semi-autos and levers. Most levers are limited to lower pressure rounds such as the 30-30 whigh generally used at ranges from 100-150 yards. Modern semi-autos can be quite reliable and shoot more modern rounds like the 30-06, but they tend to be expensive and heavy.

The 30-06 is an excellent choice for an all around gun that can cover alot of bases. The .308 is another good choice. It is slightly less powerful but I can often find good deals on ammo in .308 and can shoot it a little cheaper.

March 26, 2008, 06:45 PM
I've been thinking of getting one of the Marlin XLR series in .45-70. I'm not so sure though. I've only shot that ammo through a handgun (Magnum Research BFR with 10" barrel). The rifle runs about $700. Check out the link.

Marlin 1895XLR (

It looks and sounds like a decent gun to me. I've never heard anything bad about a lever action Marlin and I've heard alot of good about models other than this one. I have not heard anything either way about this rifle. I just thought it might be worth looking into.

Molon Labe,

March 26, 2008, 06:49 PM
IMHO...... for the both of you, the Marlin 336 (now $319 @ Walmart) would be my choice. the 30-30 will do whatever you need. Ammo is inexpensive and with the Leverevoluvtion stuff, you'd be good past 200 yards.. Corelokt's @ <150 will never disappoint... That being said: the 30-06 is truly the definitive "do anything" caliber, but not nearly as much fun as a 30 caliber levergun.

March 26, 2008, 07:05 PM
jmr , glockman, young gun, and bearhands,

Thanks a lot. Those very informative replies are exactly why I came to THR for help.

Sounds to me like I would be better off with the bolt action, for much the same reasons I chose the revolver. Not to mention the accuracy factor, which is very important to me, as I am not an expert shooter.

I don't reload at this time, although I know a gentleman who has the equipment, and I don't think he is doing too much with it. Frankly I know very little about reloading, but I have been saving all my brass from the pistol when I shoot.

Sounds like I would do well to find a good bolt action to hunt with, and then maybe my next gun will be the fun one, perhaps the Marlin lever in 357 (or 30-30 thanks Bearhands)

And Glockmann, I have already check the Remington site, and love the look of the Model 70.

At my price range, is the Remington the best. Their website seems to say they are "the most accurate out of the box".

Bear, what is this "leverrevolution"? Does it have to do with the issue raised by JMR regarding lower pressure rounds?


March 26, 2008, 07:45 PM
My Savages have been the most accurate out of the box. I haven't pulled a Remington out of the safe in 2-3 years. A 3006 will kill anything in North America, but a different (smaller) caliber will also kill deer, and be more fun to shoot at the range. And cheaper. Then if you have a chance to go hunting for something larger, you have a good excuse to buy another rifle.

March 26, 2008, 08:37 PM
Browning BLR lever-action .243

All the rifle you'll ever need.


March 26, 2008, 08:39 PM
The limiting factor for traditional lever guns is that they must use flat or round nose bullets to avoid the possibility of the sharp point of one bullet detonating the primer of the cartridge ahead of it in the magazine. The new lever evolution ammo made by Hornady uses a soft rubber tip that comes to a sharp point. This is more aerodynamic and helps the 30-30 keep more velocity at longer ranges.

March 26, 2008, 10:45 PM
If you like a bolt action, a 30.06 will take any size game in north america.
If you like a lever action, a nice old skinny light smooth sided winchester in 3030 is absolutely fabulous. and is fine out to 200 yds. If you want longer reach, get the same thing in marlin, that will fire the leverevolution rounds, which give you another 100 yds of action.
If you plan on not shooting anything bigger than deer, a 25.06 or a 270 is all the weapon you will need, and either of these kick significantly less than the 30.06 , or even the 3030 in my opinion.
Oh yeah, a 308 is right up there with the .06, but the .06 will have a larger availability in diff weights, all the way up to rounds over 200 grains.

March 26, 2008, 10:46 PM

The .30-30 is a fine cartridge, used within it's limitations. The primary limitation being range. The typical 170 bullet doesn't start out particularly fast, & in comparison, has the ballistic coefficient of a barn door. The leveroution round will improve the B/C, but still. I'd regard 200 yards as an absolute max range to humanely take game with the pointy bullets.

The .30-06 is regarded by most as the most versitile caliber you can own. Many, many, people who are one-gun hunters use it & do so with great success from coyotes to black bear. However, in the Carolina's, I can see where a shorter, quick handling gun might be better for you than a bolt gun with a 22 inch barrel.

What are your expected hunting conditions? Open areas, shots to 300 yards? Pine forest, very thin underbrush? Dedicious forest, dense, short sight lines? It can all be important when deciding what to get.

Or, perhaps, a carbine-length bolt gun such as the Remington model 7 in .260 Remington could be ideal.


Savage Shooter
March 26, 2008, 10:53 PM
Get yourself a classic marlin 336 thutty-thutty lever action can't beat it for classic deer gun.

March 26, 2008, 11:34 PM
My response it going to "spray" back-and-forth.

A 30-30 has killed more dear than any other caliber. I do like the wide variety of lever actions offered in 30-30. For good sized game at under 200 yards you can shoot a 30-30, 30.06, 45/70 (and variants) a .357, a .44, etc. That being said, I'd still recommend a 30-30 or a 30.06.

I too would suggest a bolt gun for your purpose.

There are more 30.06 bolt guns and ammo options on todays market than others.

March 26, 2008, 11:40 PM
I second the BLR. My cousin has one in .243 and its a pretty cool gun.

Essex County
March 27, 2008, 01:40 PM
Simple tends to be best. A bolt gun is simple. I do, however regret parting with a Belgian BLR in.308.......Essex

March 27, 2008, 03:27 PM

This photo was taken in Pennsylvania. As you can see, long shots are not common in heavily forested areas. Of course there are some exceptions.

The hunters I know in this region do real well with plain 30-30 carbines or much more powerful slide action 30-06 rifles. A quick second shot is the plan. Bolt actions are becoming more common but a quick second shot is unlikely with this type.

30-30 carbines are easy to master due to moderate recoil, low cost ammo, and plain fun of target shooting.

Shotgun only is mandated where I hunted in Pennsylvania last year.

Hope this is helpful.

dagger dog
March 27, 2008, 04:02 PM
Make it 3 for the BLR they also come in .308 Win. can load it up or down from antelope to elk prarie dogs to hogs

March 27, 2008, 04:05 PM
As fairly inexperienced shooters, I'd not recommend a heavy thumping cartridge... they tend to teach bad habits. .308, 30-06, even 270 from a light hunting gun can hit you pretty hard. The only reason I would recommend any of these if if you think you're going to be shooting at long range. In my part of the country, a shot over 200 yards is very rare.

The grand 'ole 30-30 has probably accounted for more venison than any other caliber on the shelf... no reason it can't continue to do so. As others have said, there's some better ammo available for it now. It's soft on the shoulder, available by many makers in a lever gun, and should fit your bill very well.

I'm a bolt gun fan. I don't believe that a lever gun is really any faster than a smooth bolt gun with a practiced shooter behind the bolt.

For a low cost, accurate hunting rifle, I'd have to say you should look at the Savage line. Great shooters, available in most any caliber, inexpensive, reliable... what's not to like? (other than that cheap plastic stock) A savage in .243 would likely serve your purposes very well, and would keep the price down.

The Browning lever gun is a _very_ nice rifle... a little pricey, but worth it.

Whatever you get... enjoy it!

March 27, 2008, 04:38 PM
Ok I just gotta be different... well slightly. I am going to be using my Marlin 1895G in 45-70 for hunting... one day... long story. Yeah it's like chucking a Buick at the deer but it's compact and a perfect thick brush/ woods gun. At no more than 200 yards you'd be fine. Plus you get to hear that nice thump when that 300- 400 grain bullet finds the target. You do your job right and put the shot in the right place and it's a one shot wonder. Plus you get to brush up on your stalking skills to get in range. Just my $.02

March 27, 2008, 05:03 PM

The pic you posted looks alot like the old growth forest on the old Marshbanks farm where I used to (and probably will again) hunt. The guys that have invited me and my nephew are from another area of the county, and I know that they often work in and around the power line runs, so longer distances could come into play.

To be frank, I do not consider myself to be a crack shot anymore, although I intend to go ahead and get equipped this summer, so I can practice and be ready next winter. I think that 200 yards would probably be as far as I can imagine taking the shot, as I want to insure a clean kill, but I do love some slow cooked venison, so I don't know.

You know, my buddy has a nice bolt action, so I think I'll talk him into a little range work, so I can check it out. I really do like the lever guns, but as accuracy is key for me, I am seriously looking at a bolt action.

I am going to show my ignorance, but I am familiar with 270 how does it compare to the 243? That Browning 243 is sweet looking.

By the by, last year I was at a friends, and he had just bought his son a Savage 22. So we all went out and shot the gun. That was really sweet, nice balance, and very accurate, at 25 yards or so, I was able to shoot into or close to the bullet holes on the uh ... "drink" cans. I didn't know of the accu trigger, but now having read about it, it might have been equipped with that feature. It sure beat my old Sears and Roebuck circa 1974 semi auto ( I still love that old gun, though, and it shoots pretty good too).


March 27, 2008, 07:05 PM
Welcome to THR. We really dont grow monster deer here. I would suggest a .243 (with 100gr bullets only) or a .270. Both are very good deer killers. The .270 will keep much more energy out to 300 yds but the .243 can kill one there too and it would be great for a young hunter. I def suggest getting a bolt action. You can expect better accuracy than an semi-auto or lever gun. Maybe the Remington sps series would be a good choice for you. I see that you are in NC i've got some big deer leases and might be able to put you on a deer if you'd like. I enjoy getting people interested in the sport. What part of the state do you live in? Here's two 9 pts that i killed in NC.

March 27, 2008, 07:07 PM
I can't believe you didn't pass on those, and let them grow up.......:neener:

March 27, 2008, 07:48 PM
I'd love to hunt a place one day where i would pass these two haha. But here it'd be a sin to let them walk. I'd love to hunt Texas but those prices are out of the question. But i am hunting north Missouri next year.

March 27, 2008, 08:58 PM

Now, I'm prejudiced on this matter, but it's with information: The .270 is nothing more than a necked down .30-06. It was popularized, read over-blown, many years ago, & the reputation has remained. However, it's really nothing more than the red-headed illegitimate step-child of the .30-06. Hmmmmm, is it getting warm in here?

Heee! Now go find a Ruger M77 in ultralight .257 Roberts & go have some serious fun. Or, maybe a Remmie 788 in 6mm Remington. The cartridge the .243 wants to be when it grows up. Don't overlook a nice Swede carbine in 6.5 X 55 either.

But if larger game might be in the cards down the road, stay the course with the .30-06.


March 27, 2008, 09:08 PM
Isn't the 257 Roberts just a necked down 7X57? It was romanticized, read over-blown, many years ago? Just kidding, I like mine. Almost as much as the 2506

March 27, 2008, 09:17 PM
well if you want to include the .257 roberts, i have a winchester model 70 coyote chambered in a .25wssm(.257). hard to find many places but its an excellent gun. almost identical ballistics to .25-06.

March 27, 2008, 09:26 PM
After reading the thread and understanding the OP's territory a little better I'd still go with the bolt action as a first choice. Why? Because when you look at the energy and Velocity of the 30-06 to the 30-30 the drop betwen 100-300 yards then I'd choose the bullet with the flattest trajectory and the most energy @ 100-300 yards, the .30-06.

Now Ballistics aside the:
Marlin 336, 20" barrel, 6 round, 7 Lb, 38.25"
MSRP: ? Buds Gunshop $365-$423,
Remington 70, 20" barrel, 4 rouond, 6.5lb, 39.25" avilable in .308, and 12 other calibers.
MSRP:$929- 997, Buds Gunshop $730,

IMHO, I'd still get a 700 CDL/BDL in .30-06 with a 24" barrel over the model 7.

March 27, 2008, 09:38 PM
well if you want to include the .257 roberts, i have a winchester model 70 coyote chambered in a .25wssm(.257). hard to find many places but its an excellent gun. almost identical ballistics to .25-06.

Yeah, but I can still buy ammo at Walmart!

March 27, 2008, 09:46 PM
Look for a good condition Savage Model 99 lever action. They are a little pricey due to overblown demand as a collectible, but you can still get one well within the $$ range you mentioned. You get a classic deer killer that shoots spitzer (traditional pointed tip) bullets because it uses a rotary magazine. It's available in 300 Savage, 243, 308, as well as several other calibers. Great rifle.

Zouave Rifle
March 28, 2008, 01:50 AM
Get an M-1 Garand and you can hunt with it as well as do the target competition thing. It's a .30-06. It doesn't kick all that much either. It's close to 10 Lbs., and the gas system reduces the recoil a lot.

March 28, 2008, 04:51 PM
Hey guys thanks for the continued input.

1/4 moa, those are some fine looking deer, I can taste in my mind a fine cut grilled in foil with onions, peppers etc. I am in Harnett County, between Fayetteville and Raleigh.

I had my hands on a couple of Model 70's today, one was a shorter version, mountain? maybe, felt really fine. When I cycled the bolt, I had a little trouble getting to the top position, but I adjusted.
Do these bolt actions have external mags? Most of what I saw seemed to be internal.

I definitely feel more comfortable with the shorter guns, and still like the feel and weight of a lever gun, but I did see a used Savage, with a sling and scope mount rings (no scope) for 350? It was bolt action in 270, as I recall. I don't know if it had the accu trigger or not.

I also found a couple of Marlin 30-30's lever guns at Jim's in Fayetteville, I doubt they are compatible with the "leverrevolution", as they seemed to be older, for about 300 400 as I recall.

As I told the gent and his grandson I was talking with at Gander Mountain, I just want to but about 3 and be done with it. He recommended a 270, but then said his grandson, age 11 (and smaller than my nephew) was shooting a 308, and wanted to move to a 30-06!

The gentleman said the 270 was very flat shooting, and also recommended bolt action.

March 30, 2008, 04:34 PM
deac... actually i used to play college ball with some boys from that area, I've seen some nice deer from those parts.

March 30, 2008, 05:40 PM
I personally am a fan of the .308. But the biggest thing you need to look at is the shooting distances you may encounter in the areas you hunt. Most long guns are capable of fairly long ranges but most people are not. I am included in this category. The areas I hunt are heavily wooded and my longest ranges are no more than 200 yards and on average 75 yards or less. So for me the .308 is a great choice for Deer and Elk both. It is really hard to beat the 30-06 or the .270 and both are great choices and ammo is available for all three at any place that sells ammo. I will say the 30-06 will handle the heavier 180 and 190 grain bullets better if this is what you feel you need to shoot. Because of the distance I hunt I use the Remington 180 gr. round nose and have had no problem feeding in my semi-auto and performance has been great.

Sense this is your first general-purpose hunting rifle I would suggest a bolt action. They are less expensive, there is more of a selection to choose from and require less training to clean shoot and have less moving parts to break. But I also know what it is to want a hunting rifle that you just want even if it is not the norm. I hunt with a DSA SA58C (an FNFAL clone made in the US)
I am not a fan of the .243 even though I know a lot of people who hunt with them and do well. I just prefer a heavier bullet in the 165 or 180 range but this is just a personal preference.

Have fun making your choice and enjoy hunting.

Jeff F
March 30, 2008, 05:49 PM
If you really practice with a bolt gun you can get a second aimed shot off pretty quickly. I've been out with a few hunters that did not train themselves to make their rifle ready to fire again after the trigger was pulled the first time with bad results. I've seen it with lever guns also.

Vern Humphrey
March 30, 2008, 05:53 PM
As the late, great Townsend Whelen was wont to say, "The .30-06 is never a mistake."

March 30, 2008, 08:13 PM
Most long guns are capable of fairly long ranges but most people are not.

very well put.

i can understand the need for heavier bullets in western places where the deer could be 300lbs possibly. but here in NC the thread starter is from, an average 4 year old buck will only weight 160. ballistic tips work great here. however the slightest twig will blow the shot. Maybe a partition, interlock, or a-frame would suit better in thicker cover. All of these types are available most any caliber (except 30-30). But i agree, .308 is a great round. I'll throw another one out there that i dont think that i have heard. A .270WSM, great ballistics from what I have read.

March 30, 2008, 08:45 PM
Accuracy is an overblown thing for 90% + of the shooters out there. A quality lever gun like a Marlin or a Winchester in 30/30 will shoot as accurately as almost every hunter who has ever killed a deer can shoot. If you think you'd like the lever gun for its aesthetic and quick-handling value then go for it and don't feel at all undergunned. Personally I enjoy the classic feel of the lever gun as much as I do any rifle. The benefits of the 30/30 include cheap available ammo anywhere, a relatively light kick, and long history of being a proven cartridge.

I do carry a bolt gun up here because they don 't make a .338 Win Mag in a lever action gun. I've also hunted elk in Idaho with my H&K 91 in .308 and deer in Colorado with a Savage 99 in 250-3000. Nothing wrong with either of those choices but I'd still recommend a Marlin lever in 30/30 for what you say you like.

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