Help Choosing Caliber


April 10, 2010, 03:06 PM
Im looking at buying my first rifle. I plan on doing target shooting at long range, up to 500 yards. Ive narrowed down my choices of rifles to the marlin x7 series or the stevens 200. Im definitely leaning towards the marlin but ive read on many sites that it is discontinued. However, the main question is which caliber should i get? Im thinking 25-06, 243, or 308, but im still open to sugestions. Also Im on a tight budget also so im worried about the cost of 308 rounds. Thanks for your help.

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April 10, 2010, 03:16 PM
Get a 223 caliber Savage Edge if cost is a factor.

You can get it with a Bushnell scope or without:

April 10, 2010, 03:20 PM
Welcome to THR, mjaisit.

If you're concerned about being able to afford 308 ammo, perhaps you should rethink your first purchase and instead consider buying a 22 rimfire. Ammunition is much cheaper and you can learn proper firearm handling and sharpen your skills at the range, until your financial picture allows you to choose a centerfire rifle that you can afford to shoot.


April 10, 2010, 03:25 PM

April 10, 2010, 03:36 PM
Of the calibers that you mentioned, .308 is going to be the most economical. There's really no practice ammo for the other two that you mentioned. If you are shooting for no purpose other than targets and hitting the target is the only concern, there are other options to get started.

Getting a .22 was already mentioned. I know that it's a small round, but everything that makes a good shot still applies. If you have your heart set on a larger caliber, I'd go for the .308. I like the 25-06 better because it shoots flatter, but if you're on a budget, .308 is that way to go. Lots of guys shoot .308 for a number of reasons. The brass is plentiful and if you are serious about target shooting, you're going to have to start loading it yourself. .308, in my experience, is very accurate too. The slower moving projectile is also going to be easier on your barrel. Quite frankly, if I had to choose one rifle (larger than a .22) and could only have that one, it would probably be a .308. Very manageable recoil and everyone carries it.

Arkansas Paul
April 10, 2010, 04:21 PM
Welcome to THR.
As was mentioned above, if you're concerned about the cost of .308 ammo, you're really not going to like the cost of the other two. You can get mil surp .308 stuff for a reasonable price.
Take a look at the Weatherby Vangaurds. It's a little higher than the two you mentioned, but one can be had new for under $400 if you look a little. I've heard good things about the Marlins, but bad things about the Stevens' accuracy. This is not first hand experience, just word of mouth, so take it for what it's worth. Never heard anything bad about the Vangaurd. I do have one of those, and it's a tack driver.
No matter which of the three rounds you settle on, you're going to save a lot of $ if you handload. It's a little bit of an initial investment, but you'll make your money back quickly if you shoot much.

April 10, 2010, 05:08 PM
500 yds is A far piece for A mans first rifle. Buy A savage .223. cheap ammo, low recoil.
A very accurate starter gun. move up when you have mastered that.
you can't buy skill.

Ala Dan
April 10, 2010, 07:03 PM
While the .223 is very popular, I vote for the .25-06 for long range work;
as its highly accurate, and flat shooting~! ;) :D

Welding Rod
April 10, 2010, 09:34 PM
"Up to 500 yards" is well within the .223's ability for target shooting.

That is what I would go with. The ammo is very inexpensive compared to most other rifle cartridges. Ammo, including excellent match ammo, is readily available.

I just bought a bunch of Hornady 75 grain match ammo for less that $16 per box from Midway.

April 11, 2010, 08:50 PM
Stevens 200 in .308. the other calibers you mentioned may reach 500 yds, but their punch at that range pales to the .308. there is a reason the .308 remains as the miltary round when it is needed.

Jolly Green
April 12, 2010, 08:14 AM
Unless you are already an avid shooter, for your first rifle get a .22lr and spend some time at the 50 and 100.

For my first and (still) only rifle I bought a rather expensive caliber and started at the 100 and am working up. For me I think this was a mistake b/c of a waste of strong ammo at short range, but thats me. The money you use at the 100 with a .22lr will almost add up enough saved to buy your next rifle.
Once again, if your new, don't start at the 500. No matter what scope you have, you will be deficient in basic marksmanship and get frustrated and probably quit the sport/hobby/fun.

Good luck.

April 12, 2010, 11:20 AM
The .22lr is underrated for practice. For the amount of money you will spend on .308 ammo practicing in the first few months, you could buy a .22lr bolt (go to a gun show and pick up a Winchester 96, 96a, or 71, saw a dozen this last week for around $200 each) and a block of 22lr. Get both, you will be happy you have both. The skills learned on the .22lr will translate directly to .308 or any other longer range cartridge. I did it the other way (got my major caliber first and .22, uh much much later) and it cost me a lot more money, and time.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
April 12, 2010, 12:18 PM
500 yards is a long way, so, among those 3 you mention:

Im thinking 25-06, 243, or 308,

.25-'06 is the pretty-clear winner.

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