Trying to decide on caliber.


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Stu77047
July 12, 2010, 06:13 PM
I am trying to decide on a rifle to purchase. This will be my first rifle. I have had a 12 gauge shotgun, and a 22 forever. I have had a handgun for the last few years. I have so far decided on a Weatherby Vanguard rifle and a Leupold Rifleman 3-9X50 scope. I put this in in case I am missing something obvious with these two choices. I would like to find a caliber that I could use for whitetail deer hunting in the future, but the main use will be shooting at the range. I would like to find a caliber that I could use to learn to shoot up to around 300 yards. Of the available calibers suitable for white tale deer hunting ,which ones will offer the accuracy at range, with the lowest ammo cost? From what I can tell from internet research (0 practical knowledge) is that the calibers I am looking at have a comparable recoil to what I get from my 12 gauge loaded with bird shot. I do not think any of the calibers listed below have enough recoil to cause a problem, but please let me know if they would.

Calibers that I am thinking about:
.223 (Maybe a little under powered)
.270
.308 and
.30-06.

I am currently leaning towards the .30-06 or the .308 because of the cheaper ammo cost. What would some of you guys with a lot more experience suggest?

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gb0399
July 12, 2010, 06:54 PM
I think you are right on with .308 and 30-06. Not to expensive and a good all around cartridges.


OH... and welcome to the HR

Stu77047
July 12, 2010, 06:59 PM
Thanks. I have been lurking for a month or so. Decided I would have to go ahead and join. :)

jleyring
July 12, 2010, 07:02 PM
I would go with the 270 Win. Great Deer rifle. Flat and fast shooting bullet. Im not sure on the current cost of bullets due to the fact that I reload my own 270. Ive had a 270 for years and it has never failed me.

Just my .02

Abel
July 12, 2010, 07:05 PM
The 223 is out. The 270 is a great choice. That would probably be what I'd opt for. But since the Vanguard comes with a 24" barrel, I'd look closely at the 25-06. The 25-06 really does well from the 24" barrel.

Maverick223
July 12, 2010, 07:11 PM
Depends upon where you live. If you are in the south like myself, and it will be a Whitetail rifle, you might want to consider a lower recoil option such as a 7mm-08, .260Rem., or 6.5x55mmSwede. I consider these cartridges near perfect for such quarry in this region. For larger game up to and including Elk, the .280Rem. is about as good as it comes IMO. The .30-06 isn't a bad alternative (the basis for the .280Rem.), and would be my pick of the ones you mentioned, however I much prefer the 7mm (or 6.5mm) bullets.

:)

CaliCoastie
July 12, 2010, 07:11 PM
personaly i would look at the 270 your choice but i have been eye ballin it for a while. flat and lower kick, and if you reload have heard of people shooting up to elk, not saying i would but....

wyocarp
July 12, 2010, 07:12 PM
I'm curious as to how you settled on the Weatherby Vanguard.

stsimons
July 12, 2010, 07:16 PM
If this is mainly a range gun I would suggest a .308 as you can get factory match grade ammo for target work as well as dirt cheap milsurp for basic target practice, plinking.

I would also urge you to take a look at Howa, Savage and the Marlin Xs7. These are all known to be wallet friendly MOA rifles. The Howa heavy barrel varmint (20 inch barrel) with the hogue stock in .308 is a nice package for pulling dual duty at the range and in the woods... not too long or heavy to be cumbersome in a stand or hiking but accurate enough at the range to shoot out to 5-600 yds with good results.

I have a Marlin Xs7 in 7mm-08 that shoots cloverleafs at 200 yds if you dont get it too hot... its also easy to carry in the woods and I don't worry about knocking it around... only downside is ammo availability/cost...

Maverick223
July 12, 2010, 07:16 PM
I'm curious as to how you settled on the Weatherby Vanguard.Me too, not a bad rifle, but have you shouldered several to find a good "fit" for you?

Also, if you haven't already budgeted in good quality optics (which typically start at about $200.00) you may want to consider a less costly rifle...not less costly glass. The Marlin XL-7/XS-7 is one such rifle.

:)

Abel
July 12, 2010, 07:24 PM
Its $438 dollars. That's not a costly rifle. And I'd much rather own a Howa-made Weatherby Vanguard than a Remington-made Marlin.

Stu77047
July 12, 2010, 07:37 PM
I settled on vanguard because I was looking for a low cost accurate rifle out of the box. I have looked at Savage and Tikka rifles. The vanguard just seemed to feel better than the Savage. It seems like the Tikka rifle was made a little too light. I am nervous about how they would hold up over time, but I have seen a lot of people that love them.

Maverick223 I am planning on purchasing a Leupold Rifleman 3-9X50 scope. It seems like a good entry level scope.

I have not even looked at the Marlin rifles. I think I will do that.

FMJMIKE
July 12, 2010, 07:46 PM
Sounds like a rifle that can shoot .308 Winchester and 7.62 X 51 would be ideal. You could plink with surplus 7.62 and hunt with .308.

Maverick223
July 12, 2010, 07:58 PM
The vanguard just seemed to feel better than the Savage.That is what is important.

I am planning on purchasing a Leupold Rifleman 3-9X50 scope. It seems like a good entry level scope.Just noticed that was in the OP, my apologies for missing that. I would suggest that you consider something with a bit clearer glass, but even the low end Leupolds are at least durable.

:)

Chainsaw2
July 12, 2010, 08:01 PM
.308 or .30-06 would be best for you. Until you start reloading stick with Winchester or more expensive ammo. I used to favor Remington ammo, but had too many failures in the field, so it's eaither Win. or reloads for me.

jim

brl150
July 12, 2010, 08:05 PM
If I were in your shoes, I'd opt for the .308. Other calibers mentioned here are fine calibers. But, some are better if you reload or don't mind more expensive ammo. The .308 has a great selection of ammo in any gun shop or online and you can buy surplus ammo at pennies on the dollar for plinking/practice.

As mentioned here, you may want to consider a step up in scope. You are paying more for that 50mm objective lens when you really don't need it. In a 3x9 and on a .308, or like caliber, 50mm objective is un-necessary, in my opinion. You could have a better quality scope in the same price range if you drop down to somewhere between a 32mm and 40mm. Just a thought. Do a little research on it to gain confidence in that selection.

http://www.chuckhawks.com/index2i.scopes_optics.htm *Not a bad place to gain a little insight.

Good luck!!

DIM
July 12, 2010, 09:03 PM
I have 308, 270 and 223, well for target practice I use 223 most of the time, but my range with it limited to 300 yards, all because I'm using light bullets because of the slow twist 1:12, my 2nd range gun is 308 with this one I shoot 300 - 500 yards, I wish my gun range was few hundred yards longer... 270 is great cartridge but expensive to shoot, by the way I reload for all of my rifles and feeding 223 with 25 grains of powder or 308 with 46 gr, then compare to 270 with 60 grain+ appetite. For whitetails I used 270 and 308, but I haven't tried 223, but I know few folks out there who shoot bucks dead with 223, the trick here is the bullet, your rifle mus be able to handle heavy 69 - 80 grain bullets and for that faster twist is required 1:9 or even better 1:8. So if you can find 223 barrel with fast twist and your state permits 22 caliber for hunting deer don't hesitate on 223.

Brad5192
July 12, 2010, 09:08 PM
308 great for the range and on deer.

351 WINCHESTER
July 12, 2010, 09:17 PM
Jim, Please explain your failures.

".308 or .30-06 would be best for you. Until you start reloading stick with Winchester or more expensive ammo. I used to favor Remington ammo, but had too many failures in the field, so it's eaither Win. or reloads for me."

jim

375shooter
July 12, 2010, 09:29 PM
.270, .308 and .30-06 are all fine choices. I agree about getting the best scope you can afford.

Abel
July 12, 2010, 09:39 PM
Yeah, you could get a nicer scope in a smaller size. 50mm is not needed. I like to mount a scope as close to my rifle as is comfortable to get a good cheek weld. I don't like to hold my head up to look for a sight picture, and I don't like to mush my face into the stock either...I have that experience when trying to look through the iron sights on a Remmy 7600 pump. The stock is monte-carlo, and you have to hold your face to the side to see through the irons.

Maverick223
July 12, 2010, 10:03 PM
WRT the optics choice, you would be hard pressed to find something better than a Sightron S-II 3-9x42mm for about the same price as the Leupold Rifleman. Others that perform well, have good glass, and fit your budget (+/- $50.00 of the Rifleman) include: Vortex Viper, Bushnell Elite 4200, and Nikon Monarch.

:)

gondorian
July 12, 2010, 10:11 PM
I agree with going .308 or 30-06. The main deciding factor between the two from an ammo cost standpoint would be whether or not you are comfortable shooting surplus 7.62x51 in a .308, if you are not than the ammo cost of newly manufactured non-corrosive brass cased ammo will be about the same for either .308 or 30-06 with fairly cheap '06 available from the CMP. If you are ok with shooting 7.62x51 in a .308 then that will give you the cheapest ammo.

slowr1der
July 12, 2010, 10:35 PM
I'd also consider a .243 Winchester. It's a great white tail round and the benefit to it is low recoil. The rest are fairly stout recoil wise. If you don't mind the recoil wise a 30-06 or .308 would be my choice. Really though all of the calibers you listed are fine choices. That's also a great choice for a rifle especially if it fits you well and you like it better than the Marlin or Savage.

As for the scope I think you can do much much better than a Leupold Rifleman. If you are going to go with a Leupold don't go with anything less than a Leupold VX-II. That's at minimum. If you don't want to spend enough to get into the VX-II line there are many other companies that offer quality optics that are way better than the Rifleman line or VX-I line for the same price.
Just noticed that was in the OP, my apologies for missing that. I would suggest that you consider something with a bit clearer glass, but even the low end Leupolds are at least durable.Not the two Leupold VX-I's I've had nor the one a friend had. Actually, the first one I had failed twice on me. The second one I had failed on a friend and I bought it from him and sent it in to get it fixed. A 3rd friend also had one and his also failed on him. All 3 of them failed to hold zero and seemed to jump around after each shot. The first one I had that failed twice also had the inside start shaking after a shot. This was when it was about 6 months old. Leupold fixed it, I sighted it in and put it away. When I got it out about 7-8 months later for hunting season to shoot it the thing wouldn't hold zero and was jumping all around. The second one I bought from a buddy he got it with a muzzle loader he bought used. He used it for a year or two, then last year we shot it to make sure it was sighted in. It was perfect. A few days later he shot it and it was about a foot off. He hadn't dropped it or anything. He tried to dial it back in and sure enough it wouldn't stay adjusted. Each shot seemed to adjust the scope to a different place. The third friend had one that from the start was adjusting each shot. He couldn't get a good group and thought it was the gun. In a last ditch effort he tried a Bushnell he had and got a group you could cover with a quarter.
IMO the cheaper Leupolds aren't durable nor clear. I can also go into these scopes comparing it to much cheaper optics and the clarity results. However, I've explained that many times so most of you have probably heard them. Lets just say the two Simmons I tested compared to the VX-I's the Simmons were a clear winner. That's not the say the Simmons are great, because they aren't. That's just how bad the Leupold actually is.

Make sure if you go Leupold to get a VX-II or higher like I said. If you don't want to spend that take a look at the Burris Fullfield II, Vortex Diamond Back, Nikon Team Primo's, or Bushnell Elite 4200. All are much much better scopes optically than the Leupold Rifleman or VX-I.

Maverick223
July 12, 2010, 10:43 PM
Not the two Leupold VX-I's I've had nor the one a friend had.Has not been my experience with them, though my experience was somewhat limited (and it was with VX-I series scopes, not the Rifleman, but per my understanding the construction is the same)...I just couldn't put up with that glass.

:)

slowr1der
July 13, 2010, 12:18 AM
Has not been my experience with them, though my experience was somewhat limited (and it was with VX-I series scopes, not the Rifleman, but per my understanding the construction is the same)...I just couldn't put up with that glass.Yeah the glass in the ones I had wasn't good at all either. The main thing I didn't like was the problems I had with durability though. I've heard of several others having the same issues. Yet I've also heard of a few people online claiming theirs work.

The Burris Fullfield II I use now blows the VX-I's away clarity wise and it's in the same price range. Actually slightly cheaper.

The Rifleman line is a step below the VX-I line, so I'm afraid to see how bad they might be.

benzy2
July 13, 2010, 12:53 AM
First, I think your rifle is a good pick. The sub-$500 market has become very competitive in the last few years. Most rifles in this range shoot well. You won't get the bells and whistles of more expensive rifles but you often get one that shoots at or under 1" groups at 100 yards.

As for the caliber. That is a tough call. The problem I have is that .308 and .30-06 ammo is everywhere. Surplus ammo is still available, if drying up a bit. Match ammo is also available as well as quite a few hunting loads. It really covers you for all the situations you could think of. That said, I think there are better rounds for the casual deer hunter who spends most of the time at the range. Many have already been listed. Basically, something with a 6.5mm or 7mm bullet. If you get into reloading there are many great match bullets in the 6.5mm and 7mm range. You also drop recoil a bit. While the .308 and .30-06 aren't monsters, they aren't a .22lr, especially out of a lightweight hunting rifle. For a shooter that is new to centerfire you could see recoil caused issues pop up with your shooting form. May not, but it is a consideration. The problem now becomes that you are stuck shooting hunting ammo in factory loaded form. Not quite the ideal paper punching load from an absolute accuracy and cost point of view. I think you need to weigh each of these and pick from there.

As for the scope:
WRT the optics choice, you would be hard pressed to find something better than a Sightron S-II 3-9x42mm for about the same price as the Leupold Rifleman. Others that perform well, have good glass, and fit your budget (+/- $50.00 of the Rifleman) include: Vortex Viper, Bushnell Elite 4200, and Nikon Monarch.
I just wanted to repeat this. The rifleman is a scope I wouldn't pay for and probably wouldn't use if it were given to me. That sounds bad, but for similar money there are scopes far nicer out there. All of those listed in this quote are great scopes, far better than the rifleman. I'm not up to date on where the Vortex fits but the Elite 4200 and the Monarch are on the same general tier as the Leupold VX-III line optically. You pay a premium for a Leupold and their bottom tier stuff just isn't up to snuff anymore. While the warranty is great, I would rather a better scope for the same money. I know Vortex has a great warranty as well.

Dr T
July 13, 2010, 10:18 AM
I would go with the 308. It tends to give higher velocities up to 165 gr bullets than the 30-06, there are a lot of bullets available for handloading, and a 150 gr. 308 does not kick that much more than a 130 gr 270.

I personally do not consider 223 adequate for small West Texas whitetails (and even more inadequate for the bigger deer in the Southeast and Northeast). It is not that a 223 cannot kill a deer, it is that most of the bullets for 22 caliber rifles are intended for varmints and will not give adequate penetration for a body shot. Thus, the kills are likely to be less humane.

DIM
July 13, 2010, 10:28 AM
It is not that a 223 cannot kill a deer, it is that most of the bullets for 22 caliber rifles are intended for varmints and will not give adequate penetration for a body shot. Thus, the kills are likely to be less humane.

That holds true when using varmint bullets which are 40 - 64 gr, but if you try 69 - 80 gr bullets your perspective on 223 might change. For instance 70 gr Barnes Triple-Shock X Bullets is not intended to shoot varmints or 80 gr Hornady A-Max...

unit91
July 13, 2010, 10:57 AM
The .308 has a great selection of ammo in any gun shop or online and you can buy surplus ammo at pennies on the dollar for plinking/practice.

Agreed. There's a lot to be said for shooting wildly popular rounds (.308, .270, .30-06), especially if you travel to hunt.

brianr23
July 13, 2010, 07:17 PM
.270 win. I have a tikka t3 lite stainless with a zeiss conquest 3-9x40. Best money I have invested in a rifle/scope combo. Total cost under $1K

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