Choosing a beginner deer rifle


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bobbo
April 22, 2010, 10:03 AM
I was thinking today about some good, small-caliber deer rounds for beginners (light recoil, low purchase price, cheap ammo, utility for certain small game/varmint shooting). What do you think of these options in a single-shot, lever-action or a cheap bolt-action:

.243
.30-30
.357 Magnum (.38 special for practice, plinking)

Also, which action:
break-action
Levergun
Bolt-action

BTW, this is prompted by a hunter safety course I'm taking (felt like a safety refresher couldn't hurt anything, and there is free coffee, haha), and there's all these small kids I wouldn't want to hand a 300 Win Mag to.

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P.B.Walsh
April 22, 2010, 10:05 AM
Bolt .243, but I'm kinda in love with bolt-actions.

nathan
April 22, 2010, 10:13 AM
A .243 WInchester is a good choice. Ammo is plentiful at Walmaart at $14 a box. More trigger time is more practice. With a good scope it s deadly at 200 yds .

22-rimfire
April 22, 2010, 10:13 AM
I would look at a 243 > 25-06 > 7mm-08 calibers in a bolt action rifle. Visit gunshows for ideas and perhaps a fair price on a used gun. I would look at Savage as my No. 1 choice new.

Caliber choice really depends on "how much" varmint hunting and what the varmints are. My first rifle was a Mossberg 243 which I used for both groundhogs and whitetail deer. I tend to favor the .243 win in general. If you do occasional varmint hunting (like a couple times a year) and the varmints are big or you're just shooting groundhogs around your house, I would lean toward the 30-30 win caliber, or my standard recommendation of something in the 270 > 308 > 30-06 power range. More recoil to be sure, but not bad when you consider that many use 7mm, 300 win mag and similar calibers for deer hunting.

BossHogg
April 22, 2010, 10:18 AM
An open sight 30-30 would be a great starting rifle for deer. Plenty of ammo choices, small size for going through brush and lever-action is just plain cool. Still one of my favorite rifles. Fun factor is , well FUN.

Xytmnt
April 22, 2010, 10:21 AM
I second (or third/fourth) the 30-30 comment. Level action gives off a old west feel for younger new hunters.. Gimmicky yes but if it's enough to keep them interested through their first bought of buck fever I'll take it!

Hokkmike
April 22, 2010, 10:32 AM
A friend of mine, money in hand, asked me the same question. We went out and bought a new Savage synthetic stocked 7mm08 bolt action rifle for around $300. He has never regretted the choice. His first two years he nailed two bucks and two doe from varying ranges. It also can double as a groundhog rig.

Of the choices you offered I would clearly choose the .243. It is a B choice for deer, but entirely adequate. I like slightly heavier bullets. I would rate the .30-30 as a C choice because of its more arched trajectory and available rifles. While I love lever actions they are lousy choices for beginners. The .357,in my opinion, is an F choice. It lacks both the energy and range for effective deer hunting.

I use a 6.5x55 which I consider ideal for deer. In my ideal category are the .257 Roberts (waning), 7mm08, .260 Remington, 7x57 Mauser, 6.5x55 Swede. Good all around cartridges include the .308, .270, .280, and the venerable and uniquitous .30-06.

Everybody has their own opinions. (mine come with years of shooting experience) Good luck to you. Picking a caliber and a rifles is part of the fun.

Uncle Mike
April 22, 2010, 10:56 AM
Oooh, I'll play... Bolt rifle, .243, 257, 260 or one of the 6mm's. I like the 6mm Remington. You could migrate to the 6.5's also, they are pretty easy on you, the 6.5 Creedmoor is quickly becoming a deer hunting favorite, so I hear! Don't forget the 6.5X55 either.

Lever... 243, 30-30, 32 Remington.

Break Action... Same as the bolt rifle.

I don't know, all my young'uns started doing deer around 10 or 12 IIRC, and I do remember what caliber they all shot, the 7mm-08, it was all we had for them to shoot that wasn't a pile driver on one end! They all shot it well, all the gals!

The fit of the rifle is of the utmost importance, many a bad habit has been birthed from shooting a firearm that did not fit the operator correctly, and even stout recoil isn't felt as much IF the stock fits you correctly.

Length of pull, comb height, (this one is probably the most important and the least adhered to) and the balance is important as well...too heavy on one end or the other changes everything, everything a young shooter cannot compensate for, be it from lack of knowledge or strength.
And really, you should not HAVE to compensate for anything, if all is right.

jimmyraythomason
April 22, 2010, 11:00 AM
Marlin 1894 in .44 Remington magnum

Tentwing
April 22, 2010, 11:09 AM
bobbo;

I actually posted this response in another thread about lever action and truck guns, but I think it applies to your thread as well.

I love my Marlin 336c 30-30. Cheap ammo, accurate with open sites, un-noticable recoil, and here in the Southeast it will put down every critter out there. ;)

If I could only keep ONE game rifle out of all that I own that lever action 30-30 would be it. It may not be the best at anything, ( accuracy ,distance,power etc..) but it covers so many bases so well that it just might be the best all round :)

.........Tentwing

kanook
April 22, 2010, 11:16 AM
357mag lever action

you can go from 110grn all the way over 200grn.

You have a wider choice of ammo, and it'll give you a reason to get a revolver in same.

R.W.Dale
April 22, 2010, 11:25 AM
I will not start someone out on a levergun no way no how.

Halfcock cafetys where the trigger must be pulled over a live round to put the gun on "safe" isn't something you want a child or novice doing. Which marlins crossbolt works around this issue but introduces problems of it's own. 9 tomes in 10 an excited beginner when confronted with a deer will drop the hammer on the crossbolt in the excitment thus not bagging thier deer and getting frustrated with hunting in the process.

They might be inaccurate but Imo the best platform for the beginner is the break action single shot. Simply because such a rifle with an x-fer bar safety is safe by default and is only "hot" the moment before you shoot. All you have to do is teach em to not touch the hammer till they're ready to shoot

DIM
April 22, 2010, 12:11 PM
.243 or 30-30 would be a wise choice, 357 would only be good for short distances. Have you considered 7.62 x39 Remington had bolt action 798 two years ago also CZ got their 527 chambered for it as well, also you can get semiautomatic SKS, they are cheap and durable and reliable.

bpl
April 22, 2010, 12:20 PM
I like a bolt action or single shot in .243, .257 Bob, .260 or 7mm-08 for a beginner. I really like the 7mm-08. I'd avoid the lever actions for the same reasons as Krochus mentions above. Remember that nowadays you can buy reduced recoil ammo off the shelf, so larger cartridges (270, 308, 30-06) can be tamed for smaller shooters. You could take an adult rifle in a more substantial cartridge and cut down/change the stock for a shorter LOP.

We're using a Remington Model 7 youth with a 20" barrel in 7mm-08 for our 11yr old. We took 2 deer with it this last season, both with one shot using Remington Managed Recoil. I picked the 7mm-08 over the .243 as I felt it was a better choice for black bear and could be used for elk if the opportunity ever arose.

slowr1der
April 22, 2010, 12:32 PM
The Savage Model 10 they sell at Walmart for right under $400 in .243 would be my choice. It's a great gun, has the amazing accu trigger, and is just a all around gun in general. Now the $400 package includes a cheap Simmons scope. It seems to be decent and get decent reviews. I say decent as it doesn't seem to be good but not crap either. They seem to work and will get you by until you can afford something nicer. They just aren't the clearest. It also comes with a sling. Overall, I'm just not sure that package can be beat.

My second choice would be a Marlin XS-7 in .243 or a XL-7 in 25-06. With this you would have to buy a scope. It also has a trigger similar to the accu trigger although I'm not sure how good they are. This seems like a nice choice also but I think the Savage is a better choice.


If you don't want to spend the money for a Savage you can get a Stevens 200 for cheaper without the scope and without the accu trigger. It's basically an older model 10 without the accu trigger. However, to me the accu trigger would be worth the extra price difference.

StarDust1
April 22, 2010, 01:44 PM
Young & first time hunters should be limited to single shot firearms, bolt or break action being appropriate to the task.

DIM
April 22, 2010, 01:53 PM
my 1st deer rifle was SKS :-)) I got it at the gun show for 80 bucks, of course Florida deer are small but I think 7.62x39 is capable for northern bucks as well, ammo is cheap and abundant, don't like semiautomatics go for bolt or single shots

chicharrones
April 22, 2010, 02:03 PM
Anyone know a young shooter under 18 that even cares about cowboy style lever guns? All the kids I know want to be a sniper these days. :scrutiny:

I think bolt action is the way to go, but I wouldn't get a single shot. I'd get a detachable magazine rifle and give 'em one bullet at a time until the young shooter is competent. Plus, as much as scopes are apparently required on all rifles these days, I'd prefer to set up the rifle in question with an aperture sight. They can get a scope for Christmas if they still want one. :p

Bud Tugly
April 22, 2010, 02:13 PM
An H&R single shot break open in .243 would be ideal for a beginner. Light weight, inexpensive, little recoil, fairly cheap and widely available ammo, and since you rarely get a second shot at a deer anyway why do you need a repeater?

Another huge plus is that when the gun is broken open it's a positive proof to fellow hunters that the gun is in safe mode and unable to be fired. A beginner could easily forget to put the safety on or fail to eject all the shells from a repeater and that could be disaterous.

Fremmer
April 22, 2010, 02:21 PM
I agree with krochus. No lever action, it doesn't make for a good platform with a scope. A beginner will do well to get a bolt action in .270, .30-06, or .308; you can always only load one round if you want to for safety.

scythefwd
April 22, 2010, 02:55 PM
action bolt - they are more accurate than a break action in general, lever action just weighs you down.

Caliber - low kick, either the .243 (longest effective range) or the .30-30 are pussy cats. Don't think your going to find a .357 mag in a bolt gun... but it would have the shortest effective distance.

the .243 will be the most common gun, but bolt .30-30's are out there for you to fine. I like mine.

That said, a bolt .243 will be the most accurate AND easiest to find while having the longest legs. I'd prefer the .30-30, but the bolts are getting more difficult to find.

nathan
April 22, 2010, 04:16 PM
.243 will not break your wallet esp ammo is cheap at Walmart. And its freaking accurate to say the least. Light recoil , too.

slowr1der
April 22, 2010, 04:34 PM
I'm not a fan of getting people single shots as their first gun. Everyone seems to think that's a great idea for their kids or even spouses. Sure they are cheap but are the kids going to really like them? Yet something I see way too often is almost new single shots for sale. It seems like a lot of people try to buy their kid one because they are cheap. Then it turns out their child doesn't want or even like the single shot and wants to sell it relatively quickly to get a bolt action or semi automatic. Instead of doing that and taking a loss on it I'd just get him a bolt action or semi auto to start with.

I'm just not a huge fan of single shots and the above seems to be something that happens way too often.

Mp7
April 22, 2010, 04:48 PM
... according to slow1der it might be a good idea to
buy a used single-shot :) .. in any of the above caliber.

:)

DIM
April 22, 2010, 05:12 PM
and I know rifle just for this, it's TC Encore, and get few barrels like 243, 30-30 30-06 whatever you like :D

http://www.tcarms.com/firearms/encoreCenterfire.php

Guiding101
April 22, 2010, 05:18 PM
I like the Savage model 11FYCAK in .243 and .308. The guns comes with a shortened stock for a youth, and a coupon for an adult size stock when the shooter grows into one. The gun also has a muzzle break that can be turned on and off. The break is extremely effective and in .308 the gun witll recoil much like a .243. Ammo is cheap and readily available, and mil-surplus ammo can be used for cheap plinking. So my vote goes Savage 11FYCAK in .308 and a decent scope.

Abel
April 22, 2010, 05:58 PM
Anyone know a young shooter under 18 that even cares about cowboy style lever guns?

Yes. Most youngsters that I know are happy to just be invited to go hunting. You are projecting your own preferences here, I think.

Halfcock cafetys where the trigger must be pulled over a live round to put the gun on "safe" isn't something you want a child or novice doing. Which marlins crossbolt works around this issue but introduces problems of it's own. 9 tomes in 10 an excited beginner when confronted with a deer will drop the hammer on the crossbolt in the excitment thus not bagging thier deer and getting frustrated with hunting in the process.

Any dimwit, wet behind the ears kid can learn. You are certainly not giving them much credit here. If they can't overcome those small obstacles, they don't belong behind a gun.

No lever action, it doesn't make for a good platform with a scope.

Hogwash. The Marlin 336 is perfect for a scope. Side-eject, drilled & tapped, accurate. What are you talking about?

A Marlin 336 with a good scope in 30-30 would make a fine starter deer rifle.

Badlander
April 22, 2010, 06:47 PM
A Marlin 336 with a good scope in 30-30 would make a fine starter deer rifle.

Would make A fine deer rifle for anyone1

Dallas Jack
April 22, 2010, 06:58 PM
Bolt action .243. Good choice for young or old.
Dallas Jack

Fremmer
April 22, 2010, 08:29 PM
LOL. I'm talking about the stock, hammer, and balance of the gun. Just a matter of personal preference, I suppose. A bolt gun is easier to use, more accurate, and with a much better stock. And it'll fire a better performing round, at that.

mutt
April 22, 2010, 09:00 PM
Lever action .30.30 , Tough , fit well , easy to carry, fit well , Pretty to look at ( mag tube same length as barrel ) , I own 8 I think! :)
I reckon you can tell, I don't really like'em ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,:evil:
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Mutt

jimmyraythomason
April 22, 2010, 09:06 PM
Halfcock safeties where the trigger must be pulled over a live round to put the gun on "safe" isn't something you want a child or novice doing. I learned to shoot with a single barrel shotgun using an exposed hammer. The FIRST thing I was taught was how to lower the hammer on a live round. It ain't that hard,

Fremmer
April 22, 2010, 09:10 PM
It can be if the scope gets in the way, and a bolt action is easier for a beginner to work. A little bit, anyway. But if you like the lever, a beginner can certainly kill deer with 'em.

wcwhitey
April 22, 2010, 09:11 PM
+1 for the Savage Model 10. They are usually packaged and heavily discounted around Hunting Season. A good solid bolt gun. My personal choice in caliber would be .243 as well.

Arkansas Paul
April 22, 2010, 09:17 PM
They might be inaccurate but Imo the best platform for the beginner is the break action single shot. Simply because such a rifle with an x-fer bar safety is safe by default and is only "hot" the moment before you shoot. All you have to do is teach em to not touch the hammer till they're ready to shoot


I agree. And the accuracy is plenty good enough for deer hunting. We're not talking about bench rest shooting here. My Handi Rifle in .280 will shoot 1 1/2" groups if I'm on my "A" game.
I like the idea of single shots for beginners and veterans alike. Put the first shot where it'll do the most good and you won't have to worry about a second.

slowr1der
April 22, 2010, 10:30 PM
So what really is the advantage to a single shot other than price?

Why buy a single shot when it will shoot 1.5" groups as you said, when you can get the Savage package deal for not all that much more and shoot .5" groups. As well as have a gun that you wont outgrow and want to replace in a year or two and a trigger than wont suck.

pmeisel
April 22, 2010, 11:06 PM
Blondes, brunettes, or redheads? all good choices....

Nathanael_Greene
April 22, 2010, 11:09 PM
Savage bolt gun in .30-06.

Start with Remington's Managed Recoil ammunition, and you've got a low-recoil, accurate, deadly rifle.

As the shooter progresses, he can upload to sterner ammunition and use the same rifle for about anything that walks.

You'll never be sorry...

DIM
April 22, 2010, 11:15 PM
TC Encore's single shot rifles shoot better then 1.5"

Arkansas Paul
April 22, 2010, 11:21 PM
Why buy a single shot when it will shoot 1.5" groups as you said, when you can get the Savage package deal for not all that much more and shoot .5" groups.


Because I like single shots.
I was giving my opinion. It's okay if yours is different.
I also think that they teach youngsters to make the first shot count. It is true that you could do this with any action type by only loading one round at a time. Personal preference.

chicharrones
April 23, 2010, 12:44 AM
You are projecting your own preferences here, I think.


I own a lever gun and I love it. I'm 45 though, and own no EBRs.

My 4 kids (ages 11 to 19), their friends and all that I personally know that are 30 and younger are influenced these days by video games and the Iraq/Afghan war. This is in southeast Texas and we have plenty of lever guns around, but the only people I know around me that appreciate lever guns are a bit older.

The only reason I wrote what I did is because it would be good to get a rifle the young shooter is interested in. 2010 is much different than the 1970s, Remington sells ARs for hunting after all*. I sure didn't think that would ever happen just 10 years ago.

*However, that is NOT what I recommend to a new shooter.

oldfool
April 23, 2010, 02:06 AM
"small-caliber deer rounds for beginners"
post #27 ditto

what worked for me
(3 generations of newbies, and will be working on generation #4, if I last a few more years)...

NEF single shot in 243, scoped low X
Remington model 7 bolt carbine in 243 (with and/or without scope)
Marlin 18" in 30-30 lever action (with and/or without scope)
Marlin 1894 carbine in 357
(generation #4 will get their choice of that flavor w/ low X scope or red dot.. or a '92 lever action 357 w/ open irons)

but we shoot at whitetails <50 yards, not at antelope at 300 yards, because we won't even see 'em in places I take 'em, not even at 50 yards
(not knockin' any long range hunters here, but this ain't Montana, and if they can't do a one shot kill at 50 yards, they don't need to try a 300 yard shot, nor a followup shot on the run.. and they won't try, not unless they do not plan on me taking 'em out again to learn how before age 37)

never had any complaints, did have a lot of safe well supervised hunting fun, and whichever one they carried, I carried one of the others on that short list (or none)
no reason to carry other than, for where/what/how we hunt together
a whole lot more goes with hunting than length or caliber or action type
hardly anything matters as much in gun selection as "fit" and "hit", newbie or oldie

all of those guns mentioned are still in the family.. none of 'em likely to disappear from family either, because too many of those people are standing in line to see who gets what (knowing that in the meantime they are all welcome to borrow any of 'em for a day in the woods, or maybe two guns, if it's them with wife or child, and they do sometimes do that)

but they pretty much all are cursed with "bad attitude", and prone to teach theirs like I was taught way-back-when T-Rex ruled, no matter what caliber or action you carried

you get told ONCE
be it single shot, or bolt, or lever action, pay attention
or plan on your next hunting trip with me, shooting "my" guns, when you are 37 years old

but whatever we pull out of the safe, we are first going to see how it fits you, and then find out if you can hit a paper target unstressed before we ever go for a walk in the woods.. but if you cannot load, unload, or safely drop a hammer as taught.. consider fishing, it's a really great thing, too, it really is

single shots have been around a lot longer than ARs and AKs
so have lever actions
so have bolts
if they can't learn basic safety with any one of those three, somebody is doing it wrong, maybe you or maybe them, but a different gun is not the answer
(nothing against ARs, mind you, but newbies don't need a 30 round clip to shoot a whitetail, and they just might ougta' learn how to hit with one shot, before they get into hittin' with 30 round mag dumps)
no whitetail I ever met in the woods ever waited around long enough to see if I could miss twice in a row anyway... bambi be smarter than me, I guess

worse things can happen to a newbie than dropping a hammer on a hammer block, or finding out how stiff a trigger pull can be with the safety still on (it's a learning experience, but if the lesson learned is "don't use safeties, or bambi will run away", somebody has their priorities seriously screwed up)

never yet met a newbie I would be inclined to start out with black magic
never yet met one I would hesitate to start out with any of the others
which one to start them with is about fit, not action type
which caliber to start them with is about game & distance, and practical expectations of a quick kill at that distance with a good kill zone hit

YMMV
but if it does, do be safe, and do remember that it's not about you, it is about them.. we have a real serious shortage of newbies these days, especially in hunting
do it your way, not my way, but bring just one more into the fold, and we can both be happy

PS
if you keep that in mind, they won't even get upset when you say "hey kid, go drag bambi up that #*&% hill, I am going to go sit down and rest myself a while"
(they might laugh, but they will do it, trust me on that much)
helps a bit if they are 6'3" tall and only 30 years old, of course ;)

Uncle Mike
April 23, 2010, 04:24 AM
Savage bolt gun in .30-06.

Start with Remington's Managed Recoil ammunition, and you've got a low-recoil, accurate, deadly rifle.

As the shooter progresses, he can upload to sterner ammunition and use the same rifle for about anything that walks.

You'll never be sorry...

This is sound advice, IF you have a child that would cherish 'his deer rifle', shucks, we thought our rifles were the holy grail, cleaning and polishing...my goodness.

It was exciting, as I remember, to move on to bigger and better firearms, and at the same time it was a bit saddening to leave your old trusted rifle behind on opening day!

I don't know....maybe we all would have been happy with having and using 'just one gun' for many years, but as we can see by our love of firearms and the shooting sports, moving on to bigger and better, newer and different firearms did have its perks! lol hehehehe

Abel
April 23, 2010, 06:21 AM
A hammer only gets in the way of a scope if you don't install a hammer spur. I can understand a teenage boy not wanting a lever action & wanting a cooler rifle. But we were always invited hunting way before our teen years. By age 12, I had learned how to let a hammer down to half cock on live ammo & all other safe gun handling, years before I sat in a deer stand. And when you're ten or eleven years old, you're excited just to be invited to the dance! I eventually did grow out of my beginner rifle and bought a big, bad 7mmRM...at age 14! But I bought it with my money that I earned. The most important thing to teach a novice is safety, shot placement, shooting technique, and his/her rifle/cartridge's limits. There's a ton of good rifles out there.

Dr T
April 23, 2010, 07:04 PM
For a starter, I would go with a plain, accutrigger Savage in .243. It will be easy to learn to shoot it well. I have found the 100 gr. Federal ammo (from Walmart at $14/box) to be very accurate (1 MOA). With this rifle and a decent scope (e.g. Burris Fullfield II 2-7x) and a little practice, it won't be the rifle to blame if you miss.

A problem I had when starting (some 45 years ago) with a lever 30-30 (Model 94 Winchester with the steel butt plate) was that it kicked me hard enough to give me a bad flinch. This was exacerbated by my Dad's 30-06. It was not until I got a 6 mm Rem that I was able to learn to shoot properly and get rid of the flinch.

Hangingrock
April 23, 2010, 09:38 PM
Young & first time hunters should be limited to single shot firearms
That could be said for experienced also!!!!!!!!!!!

22-rimfire
April 23, 2010, 10:00 PM
A Marlin 336 with a good scope in 30-30 would make a fine starter deer rifle.

I agree with that. But I don't think a Winchester 94 is a good rifle to scope.

Most of the posts keep focusing on "deer hunting". But you know the OP wants to use it for varmints too. Just keep this in mind. But, we don't know what kind of varmint hunting they are likely to do which affects the choice of rifle caliber and probably the rifle choice as well.

xcgates
April 23, 2010, 10:15 PM
I know that if I had ever been invited hunting, I'd be thrilled with something that went bang!

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