Looking to buy my first rifle


August 3, 2009, 07:58 PM
I've been around guns/rifles for most of my life, but in every occasion where I was shooting, the rifle wasn't mine, and I want to change that.

I'm looking for a rifle that I can take to range on the weekend, and eventually go hunting with. For the most part it will most likely spend more time locked up than in my hands. I've been thinking about it, and I would really like a bolt-action. I've always enjoyed the feel and sound of them. After doing some looking around, I've got my eye on the M1903A4, but I ran into a few speed bumps. The first being... where to buy one from? I've found repro's at one place, but for almost $1000 I'm somewhat hesitant. Aside from that I haven't had too much luck.

I'm not looking for a collectors quality rifle. I just want a decent one that works, doesn't look like it's been used as a baseball bat, and one where the price won't make me regret getting it. I figure that's some pretty loose criteria to meet, yet I still can't find one.

With that said, has anyone owned one? If so, how hard are they to keep in working condition? How finicky are they with ammo?

I'm trying to do all this and find out the legal way to obtain one, so I'm a little overwhelmed with all this new info. I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction. Thanks!

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August 3, 2009, 08:03 PM
What is your budget and what are you wanting to hunt with it?

August 3, 2009, 08:58 PM
Less than $800, but not so low that I'm sacrificing quality. And I'm not really sure what I'll be hunting, thats something new to me. I've always been at the range.

August 3, 2009, 09:13 PM
Remington 700's are good/great rifle and are in your price range. :)

August 3, 2009, 10:00 PM
You could go to a gunshow and look at the mosin nagants they might have there. Those are cool guns, cheap ammo, and fun. But it'll bruise your arm. Probably a good deer gun.

August 3, 2009, 10:11 PM
Walsh - Took a look at the R700s... One variation caught my eye. The R700 SPS, nothing flashy. Guess my only gripe would be having to find a scope for it. I've never used optics before, always been iron sights.

August 3, 2009, 10:19 PM
You should look into getting a Remington 700 with an Xmark-pro trigger, their pretty good out of the box and are VERY nice once you adjust them, the SPS-V has one, their around $600-$650. :)

August 3, 2009, 10:30 PM
Go with a Remington 700 or a new Savage with the Accu-Trigger, both great shooters, many upgrades if you decide to change barrels, calibers etc. I'd say think about what caliber you want to shoot, and go from there. Short action or long action. You can never go wrong with a .308, tons of information, ballistics, and a very popular round for both hunting (well maybe not small game) and paper punching. Decide on the distance you think you will want to shoot, 300 yrds? 1000 yrds? and factor in the price of a decent piece of glass, which always is forgotten by most new shooters. I started out with a really good deal more of a fun gun, so I have a good base on what I want for a more serious gun.

August 3, 2009, 10:45 PM
I bought my first centerfire rifle last fall. My budget was not as much as yours but I think I got a pretty nice rifle that is good for about anything I want/need to do with a rifle.

I got a Marlin XL7 in 30-06 for $320 and put a Leupold VX-1 3-9x40 scope on it($200) and had a nice deer gun, decent target/plinking gun, and the ability to take a wide variety of other game. I think this setup will last me a long time and plus you would have plenty of money for ammo, better scope, or even another gun.

Also, I noticed this weekend that the Marlin XS7 (short actions) are in stores now for the same price.

Just throwing it out there.

August 3, 2009, 10:56 PM
i just got one of these.... just to give you something elese to look at


August 3, 2009, 11:18 PM
If you specifically want an M1903, I'd like at some companies that do a business in surplus and classic guns, such as AIM Surplus:

They currently have a refinished M1903 (link above) but it's $1000 and comments of others on here have indicated that the included scope is, at best, not very good by modern standards.

If you just want a good shooting rifle, I'd look at a Remington 700, Savage, or one of the FN PBR's currently at CDNN Sports (download their PDF catalog to see).


August 4, 2009, 04:31 AM
My first bolt action rifle was a Ruger 77 .30-06. IMO a Remington, Ruger, Winchester, Savage etc would all be fine choices as a first bolt gun. Savage also offers many rifle/scope combos that are good if you don't want to break the bank, I've seen them as cheap as $400. Caliber depends on what you want to eventually hunt. I chose a .30-06 because it is one of the most proven/versatile rounds out there. Ammo is plentiful and cheap compared to many other center fire rounds. If you want to hunt smaller game and target shoot a .223 in nice. Lots of cheap ammo and fun

August 4, 2009, 05:12 AM
check this baby out...

August 4, 2009, 07:35 AM
Wow, I'm really digging the 03A3' recivers, does anyone know where you can get a 03A4' action?


August 4, 2009, 07:45 PM
I took a look at some sites, and found these Savage packages. Pretty much what I'm looking for.



The 111 30-06 is cheaper, and I'm leaning more towards that one. It's no M1903, but I doubt I'll find one for that price.

August 4, 2009, 08:45 PM
Those are good bets. Depending where you are, you may find as good or better prices at a local store, especially one of the chain sporting goods stores.

If you decide you want the .223, Savage also makes a shorter action version that would be worth a look, the Model 25:

I don't think you would go wrong with the 111 in .30-06, as long as you're not planning on really high volume shooting. It would get pricey if you shoot a lot.

You can also find a Remington 700 in the same or slightly higher price range. It and the Savage are very comparable with minor pros and cons to each. I can't recommend one over the other, just thought I'd mention another option.

I would also take a look at the FN PBR (police bolt rifle) being offered at CDNN. A bit more money, but really good reviews for accuracy and overall quality.

Gadzooks Mike
August 4, 2009, 09:13 PM
Just a quick comment on the Savage 111 packages - get the gun without the glass, then buy a decent scope. To be honest, I haven't heard any other complaints, but the scope that came with my .270 stinks. Love the rifle, hate the glass. Soon as I can afford it, I'll be replacing it.

August 4, 2009, 09:57 PM
Gadzooks - That thought had crossed my mind. But I think I might just get it for now, then later on down the road when I decide exactly what ranges I'll be shooting at I'll find a good scope. I'll also probably have a better idea of the scopes available and their reputations, and picking one right from the start won't be such a shot in the dark (no pun intended).

If someone could also clarify this for me - is the AccuTrigger on the Savages worth the extra cash? I can understand the safety aspect, and I can see it affecting accuracy... but is it really something I would need for trips to the range on the weekend? I think it would be something nice to have... but the only real advantage to me I can see is not having to take it to a gunsmith to change the trigger pull.

August 4, 2009, 10:58 PM
OK, I will be the first to say it.....Buy an Mousin_Nagant 91/30 and you will never need another rifle. They are cheap too, usually less than $100 and ammunition is cheap too. They are so ugly that scratching them or rust on them won't matter much.

On the other hand, a Remington 700 is a very nice rifle to own.

August 4, 2009, 11:09 PM
You've shot them before, so you must have preferences. If not, handle as many as you can. And don't worry about making a bad choice ... Many of us here are afflicted with the "need" for more many rifles. You may not be able to afford that now. Eventually, that changes for most people.:)

August 4, 2009, 11:23 PM
You guys recommending a mosin nagant, do you really think it's in the same league with, say, the Remington 700? I'm not challenging you, just wondering if you have experience to verify that? The thought of buying a rifle at less than a quarter of the price that would accomplish the same task is hard to wrap my mind around. But i'm all for it.

August 4, 2009, 11:26 PM
It will kill a deer just as good as a 700, but will have no where near the accuacy of a 700.

August 4, 2009, 11:29 PM
You guys recommending a mosin nagant, do you really think it's in the same league with, say, the Remington 700? I'm not challenging you, just wondering if you have experience to verify that? The thought of buying a rifle at less that a quarter of the price that would accomplish the same task is hard to wrap my mind around

There really isn't anything about the two that are in the same league when it comes to a Remington 700 and a Mosin Nagant. 2 very different rifles. A Mosin Nagant was made to be battered, dropped, slammed and have a bore full of mud and still fire. A Remington 700 is more of a precision firearm and will give you much better results as far as accuracy goes.

I'm not a hunter, I'm strictly a precision shooter, so I couldn't tell you about the two when it comes to the hunt.

Buy the Remington 700 for your first rifle.

August 4, 2009, 11:33 PM
The accu trigger will pay for itself the first time you shoot it and want the trigger adjusted. Also I would like to add that there alot of other calibers between .223 and .30-06. Some states may not alow a .223 for certian types of hunting so you might want to look at your staes regs for deciding. Also my first bolt gun was a Rem 700 in .243 got it at age 11. Still have it and my 11year old can shoot the snot out of it.

August 5, 2009, 12:09 AM
If you like Springfields so much but prices make your head spin, try a Yugoslavian Mauser in 8mm. Still lots of surplus rounds floating around and most of them are in the 250-300 dollar range. Mine is a cheapie with a lot of surface flaws but it shoots Romanian surplus 8mm like a pro. Mosins are OK (I have one of them too) but to me they are ergonomically flawed.

August 5, 2009, 06:51 AM
I am a huge fan of my Tikka T3 Lite Hunter. Of all the various brands of rifles I currently own (see my list) the Tikka is the most accurate, has the smoothest action & the best trigger of all my "out of the box" rifles I own. My Ruger M77 in 338 Win Mag is as accurate and has a bit better trigger but that rifle was customized by George Vais a well known gunsmith and inventor of the Vais Muzzlebrake. In my not so humble opinion the Tikka is the best out of the box production rifle for under 600.00 on the market.

Gadzooks Mike
August 5, 2009, 07:41 PM
ChargerRT - Like I said, I haven't heard of others griping about the scope, so it's possible I just got a bad draw. In any case, I think it was a good deal for the gun. I've been a fan of Savage for years, and this is a fine gun. I'll pop a decent scope on it and smile.

August 7, 2009, 12:24 PM
Just got back from the gun shop. After speaking with the sales guy about the 111 and what caliber I wanted, he sold me my first rifle. On the way is a Savage 111 FXP3 .30-06. Paid $569 for it.

Thanks to all for your advice, really made this a heck of a lot easier than I thought it would be.

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