Simple, economical, bolt/semi/lever rifle with common/cheap ammo..


May 29, 2008, 11:10 PM
I'm rearming with practicality in mind. I've got my 1911 which is what I'm best with, have means to reload for, and 45ACP is available everywhere. Also have many parts on hand to replace ones that wear out.

Now I need my rifle. I should know the answer to this question already, but in the last 6 months or so all I've cared about is acquiring my CCW piece and totally neglected everything else.

Here's what I need this rifle to do - Be less than 400$, have good iron sights, I don't care about the action as I'm proficient with bolt guns, semi autos, and lever guns. I've got extensive experience with an AKM but I decided to sell the one I had because of a few key factors - The ammo is sometimes hard to get ahold of, with a lot of it being made overseas and the inherent "evil image" of the AK makes me a little nervous around a crowd. My intentions are not to draw a crowd.. However, I still have a lot of x39 on hand and a VEPR or a Saiga has not been totally ruled out. The WASR-10 had to go.

What I'd prefer is a rifle in a caliber larger than .223, with readily and cheaply available ammo. magainze capacity, form, and function are not disqualifying traits. A good American rifle is what I have in mind, but I'm open to all options.

One thing that will rule out the purchase is if I can't find lots of ammo in just about any gunshop/academy I visit, and if I can't find atleast one cheap (wolf, blazer, et al) alternative to brands such as Winchester, Remington, PMC, Federal, etc etc. Other aspects I will consider is extreme savings via reloading.

What am I looking for?

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May 29, 2008, 11:15 PM
well a Marlin or winchester 30-30 would be sheeple friendly, have easily found ammo, and more power than the 223, a used one in good condition is well within your price range, maybe even new if you shop around.
the 30-30 isnt a long range cartridge though, the leverevolution ammo does add range but not a whole lot, the tube magazine isnt high capacity but it should get the job done.
Hope that helps

May 29, 2008, 11:34 PM
Mauser k98 or yugo. You can find ones that have been rechambered to like 30.06 or 308 or something of the sorts. Most are under $250.

May 29, 2008, 11:40 PM
I was thinking that transformer.. How do they handle new ammo?
How's the accuracy?

May 29, 2008, 11:48 PM
I like the Marlin / Winchester 30/30 recommendation. However, you already have reloading components for .45 ACP. Have you thought about a Winchester or Marlin 94 in .45 Colt, .44 Magnum, or .357 Magnum? With .45 Colt you can use those same 230 grain bullets you use in your .45 ACP, though they're on the lighter side of .45 Colt loadings. Powders like Tite Group, Lil' Gun, and Power Pistol will let you use the same powder across the board. Loading .44 Mag cases to .44 special levels, or .357 Mag cases to .38 Special levels, will give you cheap and fun shooting. Many of the lighter .357 and .44 loads only call for a large pistol primer, rather than a large magnum primer, so that's another common component.

Also, some of the hotter .357 Mag loads out of a 16" carbine are right up there with the .30-30. Additionally Hornady is offering .357 Mag and .44 Mag in the the LeveREvolution line.

May 29, 2008, 11:51 PM
Sounds like an SKS, in good shape and with a little "de-fanging," is right up your alley. A good Yugo, grenade-launcher sight and bayonet assy. removed and cleaned up, with a new stock that fits. Maybe even a Tech-Sight. You said you already have a bunch of 7.62x39 still laying around.

Failing that, a Marlin 336 is about perfect.

May 29, 2008, 11:57 PM
Mosin Nagant is another option. 7.62x54R is still cheap and plentiful around hear, and the rifles can be had for under $80, with a nice carbine going for about half that. They can be tuned up and some are quite accurate. Simo Häyhä managed to rack up over 500 confirmed kills with one in less than 10 months during the winter war. No a personal favorite, but many like them, and at the price you can afford to buy 2.

May 30, 2008, 12:06 AM
Good suggestions.

I will chime in on the side of a levergun. I think you can find .30-30 just about everywhere. Furthermore, since you already reload .45acp you could get one in 45LC (or even .45-70) and use some of the componets you aready have.

May 30, 2008, 12:18 AM
However, I still have a lot of x39 on hand and a VEPR or a Saiga has not been totally ruled out. The WASR-10 had to go.

I might be mistaken but I dont think one can find a Vepr for under $400. It will still have the AK image "problem" you are looking to skirt.

I do like Saigas. I think you lose a lot by not converting them (trigger quality, ergonomics, balance, mag capacity), but that said an uncoverted Saiga is still fun to shoot, reasonably accurate (particularly if you are going to use iron sights), very very affordable in 7.62x39 and super reliable. You will be familar with it already and have ammo on hand. Ammo is relatively inexpensive in 7.62x39 still.

What is the intended use of this gun? It seems that there are many many options that meet the requirements listed. Some more info might help with suggestions.

What ranges do you intend to shoot at? Is its puposes paper targets or will it be used for hunting? What game? Deffense? etc.

I love my pistol caliber lever gun but it is not what I would use to shoot elk. I love my 22-250 bolt gun but it is not what I am reaching for if there is a bump in the dark. What roles does this rifle need to fill and since a gun that must fill multiple roles is bond to comprimise in some of them which ones are the most important?

May 30, 2008, 12:24 AM
I'd go for an SKS if I were you, especially since you seem to have given into the "evil" appearance of AK's.
Same caliber, similar reliability but greater accuracy.

May 30, 2008, 12:26 AM
My goal is to get a cheap rifle, and stock up on ammo on a budget of ~150$ a month. 30-30 runs around a buck a pop, x54r I haven't seen in any gunshop or sporting goods store ever. I did love my nagant, but I picked it up for 50$ and sold it to a guy who would not take no for an answer for 300$. I'm not in the business of ripping people off, but he asked for it, literally. Probably will replace it, but I wanted to get something a little more practical than that.

The SKS is OK, but they're not much cheaper than AKs and if I were gunna go back down that road I'd much rather have a decent AK.

The .308 is pretty in-line with what I'm looking for, but the rifles that shoot it I've never really paid attention to. The milsurp converts seem alright, and if I got a few of them I could shoot them til their barrels were spent, rinse, repeat but there are aspects I don't fully understand (such as, can these rifles handle 7.62 NATO as well as .308? What does the barrel life typically come out to? Does hot ammo destroy them? Is there a better option, such as the m44 whereas I'd have a lot of the ammo already, and the rifles are cheaper, ammo's cheaper, etc etc)

I really appreciate the suggestions so far, and hope to keep em coming so I can rebuild my knowledge of rifles and find one that'll suit me well.

A little clarification - I'm looking for a rifle that'll last generations without much fear of early confiscation (within the next decade or so), with ammo that's not likely to be banned/banned from importation. Intended ranges are from 0-300 yards, legal to hunt with where rifles are permitted, ammo that's easy to find nationally, and within the next couple of years - capable of being bought in bulk and at less than 50 or so cents a round. Preferably legal in any state that allows a firearm.

The VEPR isn't less than 400$, but it is a favorite of mine that I've always wanted. I'm known to splurge for the good stuff, but at the same time, ammo is usually what I splurge on. I hate having firearms I can't shoot, and love having a firearm I can't stop shooting.

The whole deal with the AK is.. I love em, but they attract a lot of attention.

Also - I've gotten good with iron sights recently and want to train that further, however I started out on optics and am most comfortable with them as I have fairly poor eyesight. Either option is fine, but the option of both wouldn't be bad either. Unfortunately, that raises the pricetag.

May 30, 2008, 01:55 AM
such as, can these rifles handle 7.62 NATO as well as .308? What does the barrel life typically come out to? Does hot ammo destroy them?
.308 / 7.62 is the opposite of .223 / 5.56. The commercial .308 Win is about 10k CUP hotter than the 7.62 NATO round. Barrel life isn't the issue, so much as action strength. Spanish CETME is considered a bit weak for .308 Win. Actual HK-91s will usually run .308 Win fine because they're built a little better, at least according to the research I've done. A '98 Mauser should be fine with .308, but a '96 Mauser, which lacks the rear locking lug, should be limited to 7.62 NATO. Two commonly seen rifles are the Spanish FR-7 and FR-8, which are Mauser 96s and 98s, respectively, converted to 7.62 NATO.

May 30, 2008, 12:10 PM
I think I'll try for the converted 98ks. Thanks a lot for the replies everybody =)

May 30, 2008, 12:17 PM
Mini-30? Use that X39mm ammo you have?

May 30, 2008, 12:22 PM
The not drawing a crowd requirement means nothing military.

I agree with the .30-30 crowd. Not scary. More power than the 7.62x39. six or seven fast shots. ability to top off the magazine without shutting down the rifle.

Down side: not that long ranged with traditional ammo. On the other hand who really shoots beyound 150-200 yards?

You might want to look at one of the CZs meantioned on similar threads.

Just about any .30/7.62 center fire rifle ammo is going to be more expensive that the 7.62x39.

The local Walmart carries 7.62x39 in commercial loadings in both FMJ and SP loadings. Didn't look yesterday but they have carried 7.62x54R.

Every gun shop I have visited in north Central FLorida in the last decade has had 7.62x39 on hand. SOmetimes by the pallet load.

IF you insist on more powerful and more expensive ammo and do not want to stand out in the crowd you might look for a decent used Remington 760 or 7600 series pump. I believe someone still makes ten shot magazines for them if you feel you need higher capacity than the guns offer normally.

-Bob Hollingsworth

May 30, 2008, 01:54 PM
Pick up a Finnish Mosin and order 54R off the Net in bulk. $150 will get you 800 rounds of surplus 54R, and if you're going through that much in a month with a bolt gun, you practice too much or don't spend enough time aiming. :p If you don't, you'll be able to shoot to your heart's content and still build up a nice stockpile of ammo. We do have domestic and foreign civilian ammo manufacturers producing 54R; Remington, S&B, Wolf and probably a dozen others. You may not see it on the shelf at Walmart, but any gunshop worth its salt will either have a few boxes on the shelf, or be able to order it in for you. It will probably be upwards of $0.40/rd, but what else is new?

The K-31 is another option, though ammo's pricey (but also noncorrosive and nearly match grade); you should still be able to swing enough for $150/mo to keep you shooting a few magazines every afternoon, if you so prefer. Ammo is strictly GP-11 surplus, but if you reload, you can resize something-or-other brass to 7.5x55. Ask around here and someone far more knowledgeable than I will have a better answer for ya.

If I were going for a ban-weathering rifle, honestly, I'd go for a milsurp bolt gun. That way, you can make sporting-purpose and collectible arguments. Can't really do that with a contemporary rifle. Surplus ammo should be cheap and relatively easy to lay in a good stock of (certainly cheaper than "civilian" calibers, which are getting hard to find for under $0.50/rd - and look at .308, et al) and you'll have an interesting piece of history to boot.

May 30, 2008, 02:36 PM
Intended ranges are from 0-300 yards

For me that would rule out the pistol caliber lever guns, the 30-30s and the 7.62x39.

I would say a that a good bolt gun in .308 would meet your needs. I haven't shopped bolt guns in the lower price ranges for a few years and so I will forgo attempting to suggest a particular model. You ought to be able to find a good accurate gun that isn't too far from the that $400 range. You may want to consider getting set up to reload. Which will allow you to have quality ammo tuned to your rifle but more in line with the price you are looking to pay. That said, the equipement I use was purchased many years ago and I have no idea what it costs to get started today.

Saiga makes a .308. See my above comments on unconverted saigas. Also with I will add that I am not sure what the availability of lower capacity mags that you would need is nor there price. Also you would need to check your local laws to see the legal capxity for hunting. It is probably a bit more than $400 but you should be able to get one for less than $500. I typicaly see people claiming they shot 1-2" groups at 100 yds. The saiga is a good rifle and I have heard people report there saiga does what their FALs and PTRs will do for a fraction of the cost. I would also have much much more faith in a NIB or used Saiga than a century built FAL, CETME, etc. If you want a semi auto in .308 it is probably you best bet for the $400 price range.

May 30, 2008, 03:50 PM
Have you considered a CZ 527 in 7.62x39? It will use the easily found surplus and since you indicate you reload you can also load your own and not lose the brass with a bolt action set up.

Go to and read the article "Unintented Consequences" and you will find that Paco Kelly had the same delema.

The only thing wrond with the CZ is the price is over you max allowance for price. After a year the price will be forgot after you realize what a fine rifle you bought.

May 30, 2008, 04:28 PM
Starting to get a feel for what I'm lookin for now.

Savage has some decent stuff from what I've read, but what's special about the accutrigger?
Savage 11f hunter .308 <500$
Savage-stevens 17748 .308 <400$
Remington 770 .308 <400$

May 30, 2008, 04:31 PM
One thing that will rule out the purchase is if I can't find lots of ammo in just about any gunshop/academy I visit, and if I can't find atleast one cheap (wolf, blazer, et al) alternative to brands such as Winchester, Remington, PMC, Federal, etc etc. Other aspects I will consider is extreme savings via reloading.

What am I looking for?

You my friend are looking for .30-06 and nothing else. .308 isn't bad but there are so many more choices in '06 it's not even funny.

Not to mention all that cheap surplus '06 out there while the surplus .308 prices go through the roof.

'06 brass is also dirt cheap if you are gonna reload.

May 30, 2008, 04:48 PM
Is the greek m2 surplus good stuff? ~32 cents a round isn't bad, but the prices seem to be right around .308 for everything else.

I'm definitely considering 30-06, but I'm afraid if I buy too much of that I'll have to have a garand to go with it..

If ya'll don't mind, I'd like to discuss another topic along the lines of barrel life. I intend to shoot the rifle I get at the frequency I shot my m44 when I had it and less like my weatherby vanguard in .270 which I shoot about 7 times in a year, which is a range session of ~500 rds once every couple of months.

It's my understanding that high velocities are what increase the rate at which the rifling is broken down. Is this correct? If so, how many rounds could I expect to put through a .308 and 30-06 before it's more or less a smoothbore rifle? Is this really something of concern, or moreso an inevitability I'm not likely to notice?

Red Tornado
May 30, 2008, 05:06 PM
I'm definitely considering 30-06, but I'm afraid if I buy too much of that I'll have to have a garand to go with it..

And there's your answer. Really, what goes with a 1911 better than a Garand? Maybe a 1903, but I think the list ends there.

1911 in .45, M1 in 30-06, that's the All American combo right there.

May 30, 2008, 05:37 PM
How does a 1903 hold up to modern 30-06 ammo?

I could easily go for one of those if I could get one for a bargain. The more beat up the better, but the only gunstore I've been to that had old American rifles wanted ABSURDLY high prices for rifles that looked so rusted and beat up that function might not have been safe, let alone possible.

Red Tornado
May 30, 2008, 05:49 PM
I think there was an issue with some of the earlier S/N models being improperly heat treated for modern ammo. I don't remember the exact details, but it's been covered here several times. A search should turn it up, or just wait a little while and somebody who remembers the details will turn up. :) I'd search it out but I've got to go pick up my daughter. I'll check the details tonight if nobody else has come up with it.

May 30, 2008, 05:58 PM
I'm in a researchy kinda mood ATM cuz I've always wanted an accurate, old American rifle so I'll do some digging myself.

I'm especially getting interested in casting my own ammo. When I was a kid I used to build molds out of plaster to create ammo for spitball guns (using hot glue as the material).. Can't be too much different using lead/alloy.

May 30, 2008, 06:33 PM
I basically can't add anything.
Milsurps, SKS, or Lever action 30-30's all would fit your needs.
The 30-30 still only has two feet of drop at 300 yards.
You'd be just beginning to lob them in at that range, but at the same time a .308 has about the same amount of drop at 400 yards and it's still considered effective quite a distance past that.

I've had Mosins before - I found them to be reliable, durable guns but quite archaic. Way more so than an Enfield or Mauser. The only one I'd consider again is an M-39.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
May 30, 2008, 06:35 PM
Savage 10 FCM Scout. Good irons; meets all the other criteria too. The levergun in .30-30 ain't a half bad l'il plan either.

May 30, 2008, 07:38 PM
Scratch that idea... he want's irons... my bad...

May 30, 2008, 07:43 PM
schlepro, I think you might have just found my new rifle... I really like the looks of the specs on that rifle, and most noteably - the price =)

Red Tornado
June 1, 2008, 09:43 PM
Okay, I've been out of touch a couple of days, but I'm missing something. Did Schleprok have a post I cant' find or did he change his original comment? At any rate, what gun did he recommend? The suspense is killing me and there's nothing listed.

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