Feel Like Buying a Shotgun Rather than Rifle??


July 13, 2010, 09:44 PM
Alright, so this year I have my drivers license and plan on doing some hunting. I've been turkey hunting with my buddy(he shot the turkey, I just stalked with him), and shot some varmints around the house. I'm about to take the hunters course so I can legally hunt. I currently have a 870 20 gauge and an older 22lr. I've been shooting skeet lately with my buddies and plan on dove, squirrel, rabbit, duck, and hopefully deer hunt. My 20 gauge can take care of everything now, but I'd like something a little better for deer. So I'm thinking of saving some money and getting like a 243 rifle and a decent scope. The only problem is the prices. All remington, rugers, etc are overpriced because with a $600 rifle, $200 scope, and various accesories I would end up with $1000 in it. So what I can afford is a used rifle or a Handi-Rifle. I could get the cost down to under $500 for everything. But for some reason I can't justify getting a rifle. With bullets $20 or more and its not as fun to shoot at targets. I wouldn't shoot but a couple times a year and the occasional varmint and a deer or two. But I've been looking at getting an autoloader shotgun instead because skeet shooting is fun. Can someone talk some sense in me or are rifles just overpriced?

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The Deer Hunter
July 13, 2010, 09:54 PM
Go look at used rifles. You can probably find something with a scope already mounted or try and save a few bucks by getting something with open sights.

July 13, 2010, 10:28 PM
I would hesitate to use the term overpriced, as there is a lot that goes into building a quality rifle. That said, they are not cheap.

I have been in (what I believe to be) your shoes not too long ago though. Centerfire rifle ammo is not cheap at all, especially when youre used to going to Walmart and picking up 250 rounds of 20ga for about $55.

I would think long and hard about dropping money for a rifle (dont get me wrong, they are great fun). Yes, it allows longer shots on deer than your 20ga with a slug, but can you utilize that extra range? Also, it sounds like your primary goal is deer hunting with it and not too interested in just shooting stuff at the range. Do you know anyone (dad, grandpa, uncle, neighbor?) who might trust you enough to let you borrow a rifle for the few times a year you would use it to deer hunt? This would save you a bunch of money, and give you a good idea of whether or not you really want one.

Just some ideas, good luck whichever way you go.

July 13, 2010, 10:45 PM
I greatly prefer a rifle to a shotgun for most hunting. While a scattergun can do nearly any job, the rifle can perform some tasks much better. Particularly when it comes to longer range or more difficult shots (like varmints, where precision is often required). I would go ahead and get a new rifle, besides you already have a nice shotgun in your stable. If you choose the right rifle, I think you will find it to be a very enjoyable gun; heck you might even hesitate to pick up the shotgun next time you head out for a little target shooting.

There are several very competitively priced rifles available right now. It is very much a buyers market, but first it helps to know the type of hunting that you want to do. Mainly what is the largest quarry that you plan to seek (you mention deer, but not what type, this can matter), also your region is important to gauge the size of your deer as well as know the typical ranges from which you will be hunting. Without knowing these details, I would say a good all-around choice would be a Marlin XS-7 chambered for 7mm-08Rem. It isn't the cheapest cartridge, but it isn't terribly expensive either, is readily available, and capable of most game at moderately long ranges. This rifle can be picked up for sub-$300.00, which leaves you at least $200.00 for optics.

I would suggest a Sightron S-I 2.5-10x44mm, Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40mm, or Nikon Buckmaster 3-9x40mm with this budget, but you can almost squeak into a Sightron S-II 3-9x42mm which is a better scope and worth the extra investment IMO.


July 13, 2010, 11:25 PM
+1 on what Maverick said...

The Marlin X series are great guns... and the Savage Edge... while not the belle of the ball as far as looks are concerned... will definitely put out on prom night... so to speak....

July 14, 2010, 12:07 AM
Maybe a Marlin .30-30 would be a good place to start. They are relatively cheap and have iron sights, so you wouldn't have to immediately spring for a scope, too. Later, if you need one, a good low-power scope could be had for $150-$200.

July 14, 2010, 02:18 AM
I've done quite a bit of deer hunting with a shotgun. I think you will quickly learn that a rifle is much much better. If you are using slugs you can get a little further out. However, if using buckshot, you have to be really really close to the deer. 40 yards max. Then you have to have a just about perfect hit on it. I've shot at several deer with a shotgun, but I'm ashamed to say that I've never killed one. I've seen lots of deer killed with a shotgun, but I've also seen it usually take several guys shooting it before it finally dies. We do a lot of hunting with dogs so it's hard to get a shot quickly when a deer runs across a path with a rifle. That's when we use shotguns. If you plan on hunting from a stand the rifle is for sure the way to go.

Not to mention the rifle to me is a lot more fun target shooting anyway, and you already have a shotgun so why not get a rifle next?

As for budget guns the Marlin XL-7/XS-7 is a great gun from what I've read and it can be had for right at $300 sometimes even cheaper brand new. You could put a Burris Fullfield II on it for under $200 and have an awesome combo. Or you could get a Savage package deal at Walmart on the Model 10 rifle that's $400. It's got the accu trigger which is a huge plus and comes with a Simmons scope already on it, plus a sling. These are great rifles. The scopes seem decent, but not great. It's something you probably will eventually want to upgrade, but it should be okay for hunting for a year or two as long as it holds zero. It's no telling how many deer have been killed with one of those scopes in the group of guys I hunt with.

July 14, 2010, 08:21 AM
If you were to take a Saturday to ride around and visit every gun shop in your area (say a 30 mile radius) you'd probably see 400 or more used rifles sitting on the dealers' racks. With a little bit of knowledge about what you're looking at, you could probably find that at least 350 of those 400 would make a perfectly fine hunting rifle. And probably 300 of those 400 would be very inexpensive, compared to a new-production gun of equal quality -- and would likely come with a serviceable scope and maybe a sling, too.

The never-ending quest to sell more new guns -- plus the shrinking of the population of hunters -- means that there are tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of great older rifles that have been sold off when "Dad" or "Grandpa" passed away and no one in the family hunted anymore. Or just traded off when Joe-Average-Hunter just had to have the newest SuperUltraShortRemLinChester Uber-Magnum that came out last year.

There's nothing wrong with most of them, they just aren't the coolest newest greatest thing.

I'd look for a Marlin 336, or a Remington 760/7600, or a well-built sporterized Enfield, Springfiled, or Mauser (these are usually VERY cheap), or any bolt-gun from Remington, Winchester, or Savage. I'd go looking with an open mind -- any of these rifles will be acceptably accurate with a good load, any common caliber will do (.30-'06, .270, .30-'30, .243, .308, etc.) -- and I'd easily expect to find something I could enjoy for many years without spending more than about $400 (again, probably with a scope already on it).

Then, I'd buy a simple, Lee reloading kit for about $95 and learn how to make better ammo, cheaper than factory stuff.

But that's just me. ;)

Good luck!

July 14, 2010, 09:13 AM
Want something really cheap to get you started? Find a good Mosin Nagant. 7.62 x 54R is =very= capable of knocking down anything that walks in North America. The Mosin will only set you back $100 or so, and be a nice bit of history to boot. Little heavier than a modern hunting rifle maybe, but if the Russians lugged them all over Europe and Asia every day in WWII you ought to be able to handle a couple of hunting weekends.

July 14, 2010, 10:14 AM
My main problem right now is I don't know exactly were I will deer hunt. I might go to my grandpas, or my buddys place. Both have tree stands setup in both wooded and open places. I thought about buying a 30-30 lever, but honestly I don't think its any better than a shotgun with a slug. I also thought about buying a shotgun barrel with rifle sights so it would be more accurate. I want to buy in the next month, because once fall gets here all the guns are going to be picked over.

July 14, 2010, 10:35 AM
I thought about buying a 30-30 lever, but honestly I don't think its any better than a shotgun with a slug.I don't agree with that, but you are limited a bit more than other cartridges. Since you mention possibly using it for varmints, I would skip the .30-30Win., but don't overlook other used rifles (especially the Remington 760 that Sam1911 mentioned, which handles like your 870).


Art Eatman
July 14, 2010, 10:41 AM
A big round of applause for Sam's comment, above.

To go further: I used to do the table thing at gunshows, taking trade-ins. I occasionally got rifles with bad cosmetics. I'd test them at my home range, and found that 95% or more were as good a shooter as anything "new'n'purty".

If the crown of a rifle isn't dinged and the bore is clean and shiny, it doesn't matter if there are scratches on the stock and/or the bluing is worn. But you can sure do some bargaining and get the price way down. Same for many of the sporterized Springfields and Mausers out there. Never be afraid to offer some ridiculously low amount for them, either.

July 14, 2010, 11:14 AM
Gun shop near me has two Mossberg ATR rifles...like new (but used) with scope for $199. Marlin 336 .30-30's start at $229 to $350. Winchester Model 70's from $299 to $400...except that I got the $299 one yesterday! Love them Winchesters. Bought my son an XL7 .270 for $250 there.

Wally world has new H&R Handy rifles from $299, ATR's for $339, Weatherby's from $400 (300 Weath. mag for $350), Savages from $379, and Remington 700's from $450 and so on.

If you decide you really want a rifle, this is a wonderful time to pick one up.

Near me, the Sabine River Authority has land we can hunt on...(bow and shotgun only)...lots of deer and hogs...an 870 with slugs or buck works well. I am prejudiced...I love guns, most anything that goes bang!

Learn as much as you can, select the firearm according to the terrain and distance...shotguns and buck are more limited, slugs a little better up to say 100yds or so. But sometimes there is no substitute for a good rifle.

July 14, 2010, 11:20 AM
Never be afraid to offer some ridiculously low amount for them, either.

+1 Much like in dating, you don't get anything without asking. You've got to do the asking. Most everything i've bought at gun shows had a sticker price of 50-100% more than i paid, but i asked the vendor if he'd consider half the asking price: some say yes, some counter offer, and some are gruff and don't get my business; but i wouldn't know without asking.

Cal-gun Fan
July 14, 2010, 11:41 AM
Ill find out what its called, but there is another option for you. Its a rifle that you can change the barrels out on to make it different calibers OR even shoot shotgun shells. Its pretty neat, not TOO expensive and looks like it would serve your purpose.
This is similar, but not the same thing:

July 14, 2010, 12:09 PM
Here in Southern Indiana it is only legal to gun hunt with shotguns or straight walled pistol cartridges(.357 mag, 44 mag, 500's, etc).

I personally use a 20 ga 870 with a rifled barrel and sabot slugs. They are consistently accurate out to 150 yards or so and are pretty devastating at those ranges. I also have a 12ga with a rifled slug barrel but I still usually use the 20ga.

I will agree a 20ga doesn't have the range of a 30 06 but a 265gr partition slug traveling at 2000fps is nothing to sneeze at either and generally in the terrain I hunt most shots out of a stand are fairly close with in 60 yards or so. I've taken deer out to 125 yards no problem with the 20ga and rifle sights and the only shots that I would have taken that were farther with a rifle would have been across a field or something.

I can't say I wouldn't use a rifle if it were legal here but I get along fine with the shotgun. The rifled slug barrel and sabots have pretty much doubled or tripled it's effective range since the old pumpkin ball days.

If you think a rifle may be the answer for you and have a limited budget I would look for something used like suggested or maybe something like the new Savage Edge or Marlin XL7 rifles in 30 06 and I would throw a Nikon Prostaff on top. You could get that set up with some decent rings for around $500.

July 14, 2010, 02:28 PM
You've opened a can of worms on this one. For hunting purposes I'd go with a bolt action rifle 30-06. If you have thought about a semi auto a Saiga would be a good choice, SKS's used to be cheap and would fill the bill for a 30 cal semi-auto but there just not as acurate as a bolt action rifle.

July 16, 2010, 03:39 PM
So i've been looking at the suggestions a Savage Edge and the Marlin XL7. Are these guns accurate and dependable? Which is more perferred? Also with these being my first centerfire should I get a 243, 25-06, 7mm-08 or what? I don't want a gun with alot of recoil but anything comparable to the 20 gauge with birdshot.

July 16, 2010, 05:13 PM
I like the Marlin XS/XL-7 much better than the Savage Edge. Neither are benchrest target rifles, but the Marlin exhibits good hunting accuracy (sub-MOA when you find a good load for it), and from all accounts the Savage does pretty decent as well (though I haven't any 1st hand experience testing it). The Marlin has a better stock and just feels more solid than the Savage. Additionally the Savage just looks too much like a Remington 770, which is an utter POS, and while I seriously doubt it is that bad, it is hard for me to ignore.

WRT chambering, it really depends upon what you want to do. For a informal target gun that you will use for hunting game up to large deer, the 7mm-08Rem. is an outstanding round with little recoil (far less than 20Ga. birdshot which I find is similar to .308Win.), and solid ballistics. The .25-06Rem. is similar in the recoil department, but I don't like it as it is hard on barrels, has a poor bullet selection, and is very inefficient, but some folks love it. The .243Win. is a decent multi-use cartridge with near non-existent recoil, but you lose quite a bit with a shorter barrel (even the Marlin's 22" isn't quite long enough IMO), it too is inefficient, and it doesn't perform any task all that great (unless you live in a locale where deer are small, in which case it is pretty good).


July 16, 2010, 05:21 PM
If you already have an 870 20 gauge let me make a suggestion.

Buy a new barrel & scope for your shotgun.
If you get the rifled barrel with the cantilever scope mount, the scope stays attached to the barrel and stays sighted in when you put the shotgun barrel back on.

With sabot slugs it should be nearly as accurate as most off the shelf deer rifles at typical deer ranges.
It would be hard to beat for once a year deer hunting with the lowest cash outlay.



July 16, 2010, 09:10 PM
Yeah I thought about getting a barrel, but time I buy the barrel for $200 and a good scope for $150, I can about by a rifle that I could go varmint hunting with and even shoot a little further. I'm thinking about going with the 243. I live in NC so the deer aren't that big. My buddy currently hunts with a 243, he hasn't had many problems nothing a 2nd shoot wouldn't do. But he wants something bigger now. I'm leaning more towards the Marlin now. Will the 1 in 9 1/4 twist rate be better for a 100 grain bullet?

July 16, 2010, 09:14 PM
Mossberg ATR bolt gun can be had at REALLY good prices. We buy several every year to give away at a local event. Brand new & scoped for well under $400. It not gonna win any beauty contests or drive tacks at 300 yards, but it will be a good entry level rifle for you that will kill anything you can see good enough to hit.

I would stick with traditional calibers....30-06 or .270 will easily drop whitetails (assuming thats what you are hunting) out to 250-300 yards. Thats going to be about the max range for the typical casual hunter. And you can pick up ammo for these calibers just about anywhere.

Take that remaining $100 and do what Sam1911 said. Buy a simple reloader & start making your own rounds. Cheaper to shoot & MUCH better consistency.

July 16, 2010, 09:23 PM
Though I prefer something a bit larger, the .243Win. would be fine for small deer here in NC. Head and neck shots are the ticket. A 1:10 will stabilize most 100gr. projectiles, but no more; OTOH a 1:9.25 twist is fine for projectiles slightly beyond 100gr. and typically will stabilize the 105s just as well. Note that the 7mm-08Rem. has a better twist and better BC bullets available, if you want larger bullets this is the ticket. With a 1:8 twist the .243Win. will whip it, but those aren't available on most factory rifles.


Al LaVodka
July 16, 2010, 09:27 PM
I would not buy a used rifle and rely on it if I didn't absolutely have to. And if you are shooting within the ranges of a 20 ga.? What the heck -- stay with it!

July 16, 2010, 09:33 PM
Alright. Well if you were in my situation what would you do? I've personally narrowed it down to the 243, 25-06, and a 7mm-08. I'm not to worried about ammo prices, because I'm not going to be shooting very much. I've never shot a scoped rifle so I want to develop good shooting habits and everything. I guess I'm more worried about spending all my money on a rifle, and I don't enjoy shooting it because it kicks like a mule and scopes me.

July 16, 2010, 11:00 PM
I'm not to worried about ammo pricesThat said, the 7mm-08 would be perfect. I worry more about a poor shot loosing game due to smaller caliber cartridges than I do cost of ammo or recoil (none of the ones mentioned have unmanageable recoil), so I am not the biggest proponent of the .243Win for deer (though it is great for varmint). Honestly I think you would be surprised by the lack of recoil of all of your choices. The least is the .243Win., having about half the recoil of your 20Ga. with birdshot, the other two having about 3/4 the recoil of the 20Ga. If you were worried about ammunition cost you would be better off looking at cartridges with more recoil, namely the .308Win. or .30-06.


July 17, 2010, 01:37 AM
The first deer I ever killed was with a 20 gauge. Rifled slugs.

Get what you really want, but know you have what works. If you can't get closer than 50 yards, I'd go rifle.

Art Eatman
July 17, 2010, 11:42 AM
Well, I'll stand by my earlier comment about my gunshow trade-ins working well. :)

No flies on the 7mm08; I like mine. I've tagged over 20 bucks with my .243, and I never had to do any trailing. Mostly neck shots, though.

Scopes make life easier. Once dialled in, it's simply a matter of putting the crosshairs in the right place.

July 17, 2010, 11:48 AM
Mostly neck shots, though.That's my problem with the .243Win., head and neck shots are the only reliable way to anchor a deer. If you can do that every time, then it is a great choice that you can rely upon to get the job done just as well as anything else. Larger caliber cartridges tend to be a bit more forgiving (especially if a good neck shot doesn't present itself), but shot placement still counts.


July 17, 2010, 12:42 PM
If I bought A new rifle I would want to shoot it A lot. A nice 30-30 for around $300. Ammo $11 to $16. per box. Cheap hunting to around 200yds.

Al LaVodka
July 17, 2010, 02:07 PM
In that case, the .243 is the obvious choice. Common, popular, friggin' VERSATILE necked-down .308.

July 17, 2010, 03:50 PM
Yeah, ammo isn't to big of a concern. I live 10 minutes from a gun shop and want shot but probably 3-4 boxes a year. I called around today to get some prices and Dicks Sporting Goods wants $330, while another gun shop want $299. The gun shop has a couple in but its about an 1hr away. I probably will go their in a couple weeks when I have close to enough money to handle it and everything. He said that everybody that has bought them has come back and gave great reviews on them. I'm still in debate about the right cartridge. I'd like to get the 243, but the 7mm-08 is in the back of my mind. One of the questions I was wondering was with the twist rate 1 to 9 1/4, if later I get a bigger rifle will the 243 shoot some lighter 55-70 grain bullets accurately? If so after a year or two I could get a bigger caliber rifle and step the 243 down to my varmint rifle. With my luck, I'd get the 243 and go hunting and a big 10-12 pointer steps out and I shoot at him, but the 243 doesn't leave a good blood trail or nothing and I'll just be out of luck. Once I get some money and am dead set on getting a rifle, I'm going to try and shoot my buddies 243 and maybe my uncles 270. Then I'll know where am at as far as recoil and what I can handle.

July 17, 2010, 05:17 PM
and [won't shoot] but probably 3-4 boxes a year.Keep in mind that you will want to shoot more than 3-4 boxes of ammo to gain proficiency with most any gun, particularly a rifle.

One of the questions I was wondering was with the twist rate 1 to 9 1/4, if later I get a bigger rifle will the 243 shoot some lighter 55-70 grain bullets accurately?Even with a 1:10 twist 70gr. projectiles are questionable, but you could be alright; anything lighter is doubtful. A 1:9.25 would fare even worse.

Once I get some money and am dead set on getting a rifle, I'm going to try and shoot my buddies 243 and maybe my uncles 270. Then I'll know where am at as far as recoil and what I can handle.A splendid idea.


July 17, 2010, 06:14 PM
That's my problem with the .243Win., head and neck shots are the only reliable way to anchor a deer

I shot three or four with a Remington 700. Wasn't exactly the pinnacle of magnum power or anything but with lung/heart shots they didn't make any further than about 25 yards. A couple were bedded down when I shot them and got up to run which made me think a second shot was in order. Not really a fan of the cartridge but I won't say it doesn't work just fine on whitetail.

If I had lost an animal I would be pretty angry and never use one again, but it reliably took them out in an ethical manner. Not much more to it.

July 17, 2010, 07:37 PM
Wasn't exactly the pinnacle of magnum power or anything but with lung/heart shots they didn't make any further than about 25 yards. A couple were bedded down when I shot them and got up to run which made me think a second shot was in order. Not really a fan of the cartridge but I won't say it doesn't work just fine on whitetail.I didn't say it wouldn't work, just that it isn't reliable enough IMO, especially for larger deer (in my experience NC deer is moderate in size). It is just too small of a bullet for my taste. No doubt that many a deer have been killed with a .243Win.


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