Help me pick a rifle. I don't even know where to start.


February 25, 2009, 04:20 AM
First and foremost, this is my first post here, so go easy on me:)

Last week, I picked up a new US made AMD 65. I got a great deal at national retail chain store and the ability to put it on layaway, plus I knew it would be gone fast and I would have regretted it if I didn't, so I jumped on it. And although I knew that 7.62x39 is scarce, I had NO idea it was to the extent it is. I live in Altoona, PA, which is a decent sized town of 20-30,000. Yesterday, I spent 5 hours driving all over creation to every gun store, sporting goods store, Wal Mart, and just about every ammunition dealing establishment that I could think of, in search of 7.62x39. I ended up finding TWO boxes of 20 Winchester white box at the Wal Mart in my town(I went to two other wal marts around the region too) out of everywhere I had checked. East Coast Gun Sales, one of the better stores around here, and was told that they had recently had two pallets of the stuff, and that it was gone in under two weeks. Even the little hole in the wall type places were dry.

And after spending 10 minutes in the woods putzing along at a snail's pace, trying to stretch 40 rounds as far as they would go, I came to the conclusion that this is not going to work. Although I have a Mossberg .22lr semi auto, and a Mav 88 12 gauge 18" BBL to hold me over until this nonsense (hopefully) passes, I have came to the conclusion that I need a rifle in a caliber that I can actually use.

The only problem is that I have very little knowledge on the subject, and I haven't a clue where to start. Ideally, I want a decent bolt action in a more plentiful caliber like .243/.308/30-06 for under $400 new or used. I have a Bushnell 3-9x40 scope on my .22, and I plan on using it for this rifle instead, so I have that covered. It does not need to be a .1 MOA tack driver at 1,000,000 yards or anything. I would prefer something in black, but I am not going to be picky.

I am open to all suggestions, so even if it's something that doesn't fall into this category, don't hesitate to recommend.


EDIT: I forgot to add that I will mostly be target shooting, and have no intentions of hunting with it. I have been going through some tough times, and shooting has become the one thing that keeps my head on straight, and the excess stress at a manageable level, so I feel it necessary.

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February 25, 2009, 04:32 AM
Several choices for a rifle within your price range. Best bet is to go to your local gun shop or even Wal-Mart and look at some Savage/Steven's rifles and some Remington models. Remington and Savage are going to be on the high side, probably right around $400 if not more. Stevens can be bought brand new for around $300. Please note these prices are for new rifles. Shop around for used ones too, if you have access to a gun shop that sells used rifles.

You can't go wrong with a .308. Reloading will make it even easier to get out to the range, another consideration if you don't do so already.

Best thing with a Remington, Savage, or Stevens is that they are accurate for their money.

February 25, 2009, 06:32 AM
30-30 is a good ol American stand by

February 25, 2009, 06:48 AM
Have you thought about a handgun, or a rifle in a handgun caliber? Kel-tec makes the SUB 2000 ( in 9 mm or .40 and Hi-point makes a carbine ( in the same calibers. It seems like everyone is sold out of 7.62x39 these days, but 9mm and .40 are still readily available in my area, so you can blast away with one of these until stock levels come back to a reasonable level on everything else.

BTW, I know what you mean about shooting. It's one of the most relaxing things I know... Good luck.

February 25, 2009, 08:06 AM
Ammo comes and goes , as far as availability is concerned , don't panic .

But here is something for you to consider when on a tight budget ;

Red Tornado
February 25, 2009, 10:08 AM
Online is the way to go for x39 ammo. You're going to want bulk to lower the cost, and few local dealers sell ammo by the tins anyway. Don't abandon the gun you like because of ammo difficulty. It's there, but has gone up like everything else.

Now as to the question, while waiting for your order of x39 to come in ;) maybe a Mosin. They are still around $100 and you can get 440 rounds of ammo for $100. They still give the most shooting for your shooting dollar outside of .22LR. And in recoil/dollar, they rule the roost!

Be warned, your basic Mosins are NOT tack drivers, but they ARE a lot of fun.

That still leaves $200 for x39 ammo online.

BTW, welcome to THR.

February 25, 2009, 10:13 AM
Howdy, Neighbor! (Sort of.) I shoot a lot of IDPA matches over at Hollidaysburg Sportsmen's Club, so I know East Coast and some of the other local shops pretty well. Sorry they don't have ammo for you.

Just wait, though. Sooner or later this post-election fallout will die down and the ammo will be back on the shelves. Remember that 7.62x39 is probably the most common rifle ammo in the world. We're just in a supply slump. It will be back.

If you want another rifle to tide you over, consider this: there are MILLIONS of great old used rifles collecting dust on dealers' shelves -- rifles sold off by guys looking for the next SuperUltraMag, or non-hunting families after grandpa passed away, etc. Sure, you could spend under $400 on a low-end new rifle (Savages are nice) BUT INSTEAD you could get a GREAT value for your money on a used rifle if you broaden your search a bit.

What I mean is, since you're not looking for a specific caliber, or even a specific rifle type, the are PLENTY of great guns that would make you happy for short money. I'd suggest taking a weekend and hitting all the shops (especially the little ones) to pick through their used racks. Instead of looking for a specific gun and/or caliber, your search criteria can be the highest quality, best condition rifle you can find for under $400.

Personally, I'd keep my eyes open for a Rem 760 or 7600 pump-rifle. I see a lot of them in .30-'06 for right around $300 and they're accurate and super reliable. Just not the hot new thing, so they sit on the shelves. Same with Marlin lever-actions. And if you trust yourself to appriase the quality of a gunsmith's work, there are TONS of "sporterized" Mausers, Springfields, and Enfields that were very well customized on rock-solid actions, but are worth pennies anymore. Even if you had to put a new barrel on one (in the caliber of your choice!) you'd probably not have much over $400 in it.

Good luck and let us know what you choose!


February 25, 2009, 10:19 AM
I know you don't see a lot of 7.62x39 around your area, but have you actually looked to see what ammo is in stock in your AO? Where I live you would be hard pressed to find any ammo in any caliber.

But when this run an ammo stops below are some very plentiful calibers.
.223 (but not really in the same league)

February 25, 2009, 03:46 PM
Thanks for all the advice! I will be taking this all into consideration when I go looking.

And lightbulb, I have been paying attention to what is plentiful in my area, and I can find .308, .243 and 30-06 just about everywhere, and that is why I am gravitating towards them.

I hope to hit Jim's Army & Navy surplus in State College this weekend, and hopefully I will find either lots of relatively inexpensive x39, or a cheap rifle of some sort.

Gator 23
February 25, 2009, 09:01 PM
Hello Marcus. Sam gave good advice on used rifle options - that may be the ticket for keeping under the $400 budget. The new market does have options for you. I shopped the "new" market for a bolt action recently. The Howa 1500's caught my interest for their quality, accuracy, and affordability. Guy at the local outfitter store advised me about Howa based on his personal satisfaction with his Howa 30-06 - none were in stock, which added credibility to his recommendation. Do a few forum searches on them - people like 'em. A new Howa 1500 .308 or .243 with a black Hogue stock can be had from Bud's Gun Shop online for $422 delivered - close to your budget. (Note Howas are made in Japan...)

Savage makes a nice rifle, and people like the new accutrigger - except for some guy who got snow/ice b/w the trigger components which caused some sort of a dangerous misfire - that steered me away. Not a concern for your application though, plus they have a new "accu-stock" of some sort coming out this year that is causing some buzz.

I read inconsistent positive and negative remarks about Ruger bolts relative to accuracy/fit finish...

Rem 700s are great rifles. Their new no-frills SPS line can be had for the low $500 range.

Regarding caliber, I do not own a .308 bolt rifle, but it would seem to suit your target shooting interests. If you would prefer less recoil, the .243 would be the pick of your stated three and a good starter caliber. I own 30-30, great for the woods/hunting, but not a caliber I enjoy shooting at the range (100-200 yard range really). Your three caliber choices will give you flatter trajectories and distance shooting enjoyment.

For me, I went with a Rem 700 left hand .270 instead of the Howa - Howa is not making bolts for southpaws. Hope this info helps you out a little.

February 25, 2009, 09:28 PM
not just for commies.

February 25, 2009, 09:36 PM
well, if you are open to suggestions. i'm basing this on a money IS an object.
i recently got a 7.62 39 based in good part on the cheaper ammo prices than most all other cal's. yes, it is temporarily sold-out for good prices.
i saw many cases at a local gun show going at reasonable prices. e.g. 260$ and up for wolf brand ammo. 1000rnd cases. thats the decent market price nowdays. i know i know, back a year ago it was much cheaper etc.

online, soldout and price raises due to scarcity. here's a few good sites i used:
ableammo . com
cheaperthandirt . com
ammoman . com
cabellas . com

the last one on the list, i have some backordered for a month, but they still haven't gotten too crazy on their price raises like all the others. but yes still soldout-backorder.
If you rarely shoot, sure get a more expensive caliber, but note many of the common ones are sold out on the shelves too.
9mm hi point 995b carbine is a inexpensive one. sold out mostly. DD's ranch . com is a good online place to order one when it comes in. yep, 9mm mostly sold out, just have to keep trying or backorder or pay higher prices for it, like 14$ a box when it used to be as low as maybe 9$ a box or less.
I would do that, and keep your rifle, and maybe plink with a .22 for grins while waiting for the 7.62 to come in, or get the 170$ 9mm carbine and find rounds for that at.
a saiga .308 win is an option... like i said more expensive ammo tho. and the rifles are mostly sold out. dd's ranch . com or thegunsource . com
or others.
good luck

February 25, 2009, 09:52 PM
it sounds like your only real issue is the lack of ammo, right? if that is the case, you just need to shop online for it. there are many different places that have it. around here, it is rather plentiful right now. but i wouldnt have you drive all the way to michigan just to buy ammo!. try cabella's, midway (although they are in a bad place right now, many out of stock items), cheaper than dirt, midsouth, sportsmans guide, etc. when you do find it, buy as much as you can afford. right now, ammo is a premium. i dont know when people are going to think they have enough. heck, i am haveing trouble finding bullets, let alone ammo! at this point, it is a sign of the times.

February 25, 2009, 10:35 PM
If your not hunting the how about the 223 it is cheap to load and can be found. It will kill paper out to 350 yards or more (depending on the size of paper) and I agree shooting is GREAT for getting rid of stress!!

February 25, 2009, 11:24 PM
My only problem is that ordering online is a huge pain in the ass. For one , I am 19 years old and I don't have a credit or debit card, and I still live with my parents. My mom is a militant anti, and although my dad does not mind, he has to agree with my mother to avoid serious conflict. When I bought my first gun last year, I thought I would do the right thing, and tell my parents immediately, since I live in their house, and have a very good relationship with them. My mom would not speak to me for about two weeks, and that was not because of a fight. That is how anti gun she is.

My mom does not know I own guns, and my dad turns the other cheek and doesn't even go there, just so he doesn't feel guilty keeping something from my mom. My point is that ordering online is an absolute last resort for me. I can probably get away with getting ammunition shipped here, but I only want to do that if I have to.

And moving out is not an economical option at this time. I run a recording studio, which is in the house, and although I make great money doing it, business is not steady enough to rely on for bigger financial obligations yet.

February 25, 2009, 11:33 PM
Even .223 is getting hard to find at least for me.

I would reinforce a couple of suggestions that the Stevens or Savage rifles are very nice for the price. Wal-mart of all places is one of the least expensive places to buy one. Remington is not bad either. I'd steer clear of the 770 line and choose the 700 if you go that route. Also the Mossberg ATR series isn't bad for the money. .308 ammo is usually pretty plentiful but everything seems to be getting scare lately. All of the above rifles come in .308.

I am waiting for the Hi-Point 995 carbine in 9mm to come back in stock at a local place near me. They have often sold them on sale at $170 which is a great price. 9mm ammo is reasonably priced and since you aren't hunting this might be a great choice.

February 25, 2009, 11:40 PM
Do yourself a favor and google the new Marlin XL7. Check reviews as well as user info. It's being reported as being very accurate. People are saying it's excellent for the money. The Savages are good also but cost more money unless you buy used. 30-06 ammo can be found in out of the way places and everywhere else.

Here's some good advice: If you buy a high powered rifle don't cheap out on the scope. Buying a 300 dollar scope for any decent rifle including a 300 dollar one I don't think is overkill. You want to hit what you aim at. The optics quality on low end scopes leaves a lot to be desired imo. It saves money in the long run because once you look through a decent scope and compare it to your own it will be clearly obvious.

February 26, 2009, 07:34 AM
I hope to hit Jim's Army & Navy surplus in State College this weekend

I don't think Jim's carries guns & ammo. I could be wrong, but I spent 5 years there and they didn't have an FFL during that time.

I could be wrong, but I'd definitely call them first.

I know there's lots of shops scattered all across PA, but have you tried up in Clearfield? Grice's has lots of good stuff and Bob's Army Navy is a lot of fun as well. Again, since it's a bit of a drive, I'd call first to see if either has what you want.


February 26, 2009, 07:45 AM
Cauberallies, this may help you find something locally as per your original request:
Just type in your zip code and desires I want a decent bolt action in a more plentiful caliber like .243/.308/30-06 for under $400 new

February 27, 2009, 08:08 AM
I just picked up a M69, Romanian trainer, in 22lr. Both the weapon and ammo are cheap, yet my local Wally World doesn't have any. But the sporting goods store across the street does.

February 27, 2009, 12:14 PM
thanks for those suggesting researching the Marlin XL7. i had been looking at the savage, but not quite pushed to buy it with the included scope. I had already bought a cheap e bay bushnell. Not sure yet if it's a great scope but the price was good. and I'm excited at the prospect of matching it with a xl7 sometime this year. i need to find one of those <270$ places here in nor-cal to get one. from the sounds of it, this is exactly what I have been wanting for a longrange target rifle. :o
cool forum, just wanted to point out that other people get help besides the person asking the question! even if we didn't expect to be thinking of a bolt- action in a semi-auto "AW" thread ! thanks again

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