New rifle for PA whitetail


June 3, 2009, 09:22 PM
I am going to be getting my first rifle for Pennsylvania whitetail, mostly. I am mostly a shotgun/sporting clays shooter and I shoot a Browning Citori 625 O/U, so I am pretty fond of Browning, so I was looking at the X-bolt. Thoughts?
But I mostly want opinions on caliber. I get people saying 30-06, 7mm, 7mm-08, 270??
A couple other details are that I don't reload, so I want a caliber that has a lot of available options and availability.

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June 3, 2009, 09:35 PM
How far do you think you will be shooting at deer? I love the handiness of a lever action in .30-30. It isn't the thumper that a .30-06 is but for 100 yard shots it will knock them just as dead. Around here (NW Ohio) our shots tend to be under 100 yards, or at least how I hunt they are, though we don't get to use centerfires. All the rounds you listed will drop a whitetail dead. Of those I like the .30-06 just because surplus ammo is available, though drying up, which lets me shoot for cheap at the range and great hunting loads are available as well.

June 3, 2009, 09:39 PM
Thanks Benzy, probably around 100 yds. on average.

June 3, 2009, 09:43 PM
7-08 excellent whitetail round.

June 3, 2009, 09:43 PM
A 336 in 30-30 is the perfect Northeast deer rifle.

June 3, 2009, 10:03 PM
I've heard that Remington 7600 is popular in PA because you can't use a semi-auto. I've got one and they're great.

justashooter in pa
June 3, 2009, 10:10 PM
i would choose 35 remington in a marlin 336 for anything up to 150 yards. a peep sight or 2X scope and 200 grain ammo. not gonna be splitting hairs, but will knock anthing you get a shot at down and is a lot easier to carry around in the woods than a bolt gun.

you might also look at remington pumps, if you're willing to buy a used gun. the 760 and 7600 come in 30-06 etc and can maximise a 4X and reach out to 300 yards reliably for powerline and cornfield shots.

Uncle Mike
June 3, 2009, 10:48 PM
Savage 16 Stainless.. Synthetic Accustock
Savage 14 Blued.. Wood Stock
Savage 11 Blued.. Synthetic Accustock Stock
Stevens 200 Blued.. Plastic Stock (Economy Model)
Tikka T-3 Blued or Stainless.. Wood or Synthetic Stock
Remington Model 7 Blued.. Wood Stock

Savage 116 Same as the Model 16
Savage 114 Same as the Model 14
Savage 111 Same as the Model 11
Tikka T-3 Same as above.
Remington 700 Blued, Black Phosphate, Stainless.. Wood or Plastic Stock

Either one of these calibers are a fine deer caliber, however the 30-06 will be more versitile as far as species are concerned.

That is not to say you couldn't bag a elk with a 7mm-08 but the 30-06 would be a smidgen better.

All the above models of rifles will do ya', however you might find the Savage models more accurate right out of the box with no need for aftermarket enhancements, the Tikka's will be a good choice also.

Happy Huntin'-:D

June 3, 2009, 11:45 PM
Being you don't reload I would stick with the basics .308,30.06,.270 and .30-30.
What part of PA are you hunting?

June 3, 2009, 11:55 PM
I just bought a Weatherby Vanguard in .243 Win for my Black Tail hunts this year. I would like to think I made a wise choice. It shoots Sub-MOA right out of the box. The target that comes with it has a 3 shot group that measures 0.28" center to center of the outside holes. I paid $349.00 NIB but I had to add scope. The .243 ammo has been quite available here so far. The recoil is pretty light compared to my 30.06 too. It's a well made tool for a specific job. Simplicity at it's finest.

I hope this helps!


Wesson Smith
June 4, 2009, 12:00 AM
I have the X-Bolt in 25-06 and it's probably the most consistently accurate bolt gun I own. It really likes the Hornady 117 gr. SST InterLock ammo. It's a flat, hard shooter and would make a fine deer rifle.

June 4, 2009, 12:23 AM
the 30.06 , is basically the end all-be all of rifle rounds; from 55 grain sabots; to 110 grain varmint rounds, to 220 grain softpointers, there is no game under elk or black bear size, you can't take down with a .06. Now then, a 270, is basically the same thing, with a bit smaller bullet, and will def recoil less, and is all the deer cal rifle you will ever need. and both ammo's are everywhere to be

June 4, 2009, 12:24 AM
Oh yeah, the x bolt is a most excellent rifle, have no fear in buying one, it will be a lifetime type rifle. Great choice.

June 4, 2009, 02:13 AM
I have an X-Bolt in 7mm-08. One word, AWESOME. She is a shooter and looks fine too. I like it and it did not break the bank. I would also mention Tikka, another fine rifle.

June 4, 2009, 07:33 AM
I would buy the rifle that best fits the terrain/cover of the are in which you'll be hunting. In PA, unless you're hunting on cleared farmland or in a very few other situations, your shots are probably going to be less than 200 yds. There's really no better rifle for that than a Marlin lever-action (I like .35 Rem, but .30-30 works just as well) or a Rem. 760/7600.

These rifles are not as flashy as the big sleek bolt-guns but they offer a LOT of advantages.

I see so many of both guns on the used racks at just about every gun shop that I can't imagine laying down $600-$1000+ for a brand new rifle just for deer hunting! The 336 or 7600 will be just as accurate as most bolt guns (and with handloads, amazing!) and WAY more accurate than you need to take deer sized game at our short distances. Plenty of power, too.

Sav .250
June 4, 2009, 07:38 AM
" around 100 yards average."......... Marlin 336 in 35 remington. :)

June 4, 2009, 10:09 AM
I live in Pa. I hunted with my 7mm mag. for years but I hunted farmland. When I started hunting northcentrel Pa. I got a 7mm08 in a rem. model 7. I went with SS do to rain and snow. It is light with a 20" barrel. shooting out to 300yds is not a problem. I use Hornady 139 gr. lite mags.

June 4, 2009, 10:18 AM
I would think a 308Win BLR in stainless would be an ideal choice for your needs. A little pricey but a quality firearm.


June 4, 2009, 10:20 AM
Get a 30.06, you'll be good for any game in NA.

Otherwise, a marlin 30-30 would be nice. With Leverution shells you should be able to reach out and touch deer at some good ranges

Last thought, 25-06. Never shot one, but I've never heard anywhere speak poorly of it as a white tail round.

June 4, 2009, 01:26 PM
What is your budget? Is it for just the rifle or for the scope and rifle?

Vern Humphrey
June 4, 2009, 01:35 PM
As the late, great Townsen Whelen said, "The .30-06 is never a mistake."

You can probably find .30-06 and .30-30 ammunition in any little crossroads store. More exotic fare, like 7mm-08 may be lacking.

The .30-06 is suitable for anything in North America -- from deer to pronghorn antilope to elk to bear. The .30-30 considerably less so.

June 4, 2009, 02:05 PM
I hunt deer in western PA, Bedford and Somerset counties. I am presently doing a project rifle for just that purpose. It is a Rem 760 in .35 Rem cut to 18 inch and with carbon fiber stock and slide. My range is always under 100 yds in heavy woods. Till now I have used a 336 in .35 Rem. If I were hunting more open areas with longer shots I would go with a 7mm-08 in whatever bolty you like. I assume few things but one of them is that I will remember to take my ammo so I don't worry about availability. Besides, I take a backup rifle too.

June 5, 2009, 11:09 PM

I used to live in PA and killed a lot of deer with the 30-06. I hunted out of a camp of 7 guys in a southcentral county that never got skunked in the seasons between 1972 and 1995. I moved here in 1995. I saw a lot of deer harvested with the '06, and it never failed. But, we also killed a bunch with 30-30s, 243s, and 32 Win special.

Since you lean toward the X-bolt, get it. For factory loaded ammo, you will have no complaints if you stick with a 270 or 30-06 and will find the ammo everywhere (when things are normal, that is).

June 6, 2009, 09:44 AM
I hunt in North Central PA and use a 308 with a 20 inch barrel and 2x7 scope. I have also used a Rem 760 in 35 rem with peep sites. I really like the first gun for stand hunting. The 760 is great if you are still hunting through the mountain laurel. The key for me is something light and handy. Any of the common calibers work fine. I would just avoid the uber mags with 26 inch barrels and 20x scopes. You'll get real sick up humping something like that up and down the mountains.

June 6, 2009, 11:21 AM
For deer, any of your choices will work well. I would stray from the 7mm magnum simply because ammo is expensive and recoil is harsher than the other rounds listed. 7mm-08 is a light, but capable round. The .270 is probably the most popular deer round: flat trajectory and ample power. The .30-06 is one of the more versatile rounds; you can shoot light loads for game smaller than deer and work your way up to 220grain loads for bear, elk, moose, etc. Take your pick. All will work for deer.

Joe Demko
June 6, 2009, 12:05 PM
Seek out a Savage 99 on the used rack. One of those in .300 Savage or .308 is a perfect PA deer gun. Due to terrain and forest, really long shots are not common here. There are sometimes opportunities on farmland, powerlines, or recently backfilled strip jobs. Even then, you aren't looking at anything that exceeds the effective range of a .308.
I've been hunting PA for 35 years and I fill my deer tags most years. The longest shot I remember ever taking was about 150 long paces across a backfilled strip job. I got the deer.
More often, deer hunting here has meant not being able to see the deer at all unless they were very close. That also meant learning to be still and quiet because anything that startles the deer causes them to nearly instantly disappear. Many, many hunters in PA see lots of deer each year but not long enough or clearly enough to take a shot. Unless you're hunting over something like cornfield from a blind, which has become common here in the last 10-15 years, there isn't a lot of opportunity to study the deer through binoculars like they do on the TV shows.
My dad is one of the most successful deer hunters I've ever known. He got deer when, due to weather or low populations, nobody else did. He used a Winchester Model 88 in .243. Learning how to hunt the area where you'll be is more important than the particular gun/cartridge combo.

June 7, 2009, 07:11 AM
I am going to be hitting the PA deer woods this year with my new Marlin 1895G in 45/70.

June 7, 2009, 09:16 AM

A few thoughts on your post. For hunting in PA, most shots are going to be on the shorter side, say under 100 yards. Shooting at 250-300 yards would be an extreme rarity. A 30-30 with a low power scope would be fine for probably 90%+ of PA deer hunting. If you want to be better prepared for a longer shot over a farm field or down a power line, a little bit more power would be reasonable. I would recommend a lightweight short action rifle in .260, 7mm-08, or .308 with a 20-22Ē barrel and low power scope, fixed or variable. I like 2-7x, 2.5-8x, and 3-9x scopes. You really want the low power end, otherwise you are handicapping yourself on the common quick shorter range shots. Long barrels and magnum calibers really offer no real benefit in PA. In fact, they are a handicap, in my opinion.

I personally like the 7mm-08. Itís a little lighter recoiling and flatter shooting than .308 and it kills deer like Thorís hammer! I find ammo to be quite easy to find, although usually a dollar or two more per box than .308. Lately, Iíve been hunting with 7mm-08 or 30-30, although this year I will have a new Kimber 84M in .257 Roberts to christen!

I have not handled an X-bolt, but I have an A-bolt in .243 and itís a great rifle, very accurate. The X-bolt looks like a good option. I like Browning as well and have several other guns made by them as well. Others to consider are the Remington Model 7 and new Winchester Model 70 Featherweight. One of the future purchases I am saving for is a Kimber 84M Montana in 7mm-08, which I think will make an awesome ultralight hiking and foul weather rifle for PA deer and bear hunting.

Just my thoughts!


June 7, 2009, 04:38 PM
Browning BLR is a modern lever action chambered for 30-06, 270, .308, 325 Win Mag and many more. Remover the magazine, turn the rifle upside down, and operate the lever. You'll see it's a bolt action operated by a lever. No kidding!

I've hunted in the Keystone State off and on for four decades. Most of my shots have been well under 100 yards. In my opinion, 180 grain round nosed ammo fired from .308 is hard to beat. You get fast expansion like a pointed 150 grain bullet but the weight and momentum of a 180 grain bullet. The round nose design shoots as flat as any pointed bullet out to about 225 yards. Beyond this distance, the pointed (spitzer) bullets are superior.

Beaver County has some huge racked bucks. Some big 'uns come out of Sullivan County each year, too.

Good hunting to you.

June 7, 2009, 04:42 PM
Lots of good ideas here and lots of combinations that will work. Just remember that many counties in PA now have antler restrictions, so make sure your eyes or sighting system are up to the task. My preference is a Remington Model Seven in .308 with a Leupold 2-7X compact scope. Just the ticket.

June 9, 2009, 08:23 PM

I agree, thats pretty close to an ideal all around PA deer rifle! Make mine in 7mm-08 though. Actually, after last season I bought a rifle to allow my GF's son to hunt with me this coming year. I bought a Model 7 youth in 7mm-08 and today I ordered a Leupold VX-II 2-7x33mm scope for it. Plan is to use Remington Managed Recoil or I may buy some dies and reload some soft shooting loads with 120 or 130gr bullets.

Uncle Mike
June 9, 2009, 10:32 PM
I agree with the 7mm-08. I hunted with a Remington Model 7 for quite sometime in West Virgina... shots ranging from 20 to 400 yards, never had to shoot one twice.

The 7mm-08 really puts the shubookie to em'!

I miss that rifle, since my oldest came of hunting age she packs it around the wood... and it has done for her as it did me!

Now... I'm forced to make the arduous decision between the custom Savage 30-06 or the Remington model 7 in 7mm short mag.... I like the 30-06 best!

You can't go wrong with the 7mm-08. IMHO

June 11, 2009, 09:44 PM
Thank you all for the info and in depth suggestions. I am leaning toward the 7mm-08.

June 11, 2009, 11:04 PM
7mm rem mag, it's always available where I live and maybe $1 or $2 more than .270.

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