deer rifle for the beginner


July 16, 2010, 08:50 PM
I'm interested in trying some deer hunting here in PA. Although I have plenty of handguns, ak type stuff, etc. I don't have anything suitable for hunting. What would be a simple, hopefully inexpensive way to dip my toe?

I'm a bit overwhelmed by whats available out there so sorry the question is vague. I'd need to put a scope on it and it can't be semi-auto here in PA. Obviously in a caliber suitable for deer. Hopefully not an expensive set up so I'd have some ammo money to get proficient. I don't have a particular preference in action.

What do you folks think?

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July 16, 2010, 08:53 PM
How about a bolt action Savage, they have a new rifle called the Edge, it's only $329 MSRP!

Right now it is listed in the Featured section on their site:

I think a 243 would be a great choice for a newcomer!

July 16, 2010, 09:06 PM
Buy a used bolt action .30-06.

July 16, 2010, 09:06 PM
I would go with a Ruger M77 270 Win. There rifles are quality and shoot very nice. Bullet is great for all deer.

July 16, 2010, 09:08 PM
The Tikka T3 in 7mm-08 would be a good starter.

July 16, 2010, 09:08 PM
He wants to dip his toes, you give him a rifle that doesn't recoil much so he can become a proficient shooter. A 30-06 or even 270 is not a good choice for a new shooter. My friend in the army bought a 30-06 for his first rifle. He's pretty big, and he would flinch when he shot it. Could not shoot it and sold it within two months.

Not a good first choice!

July 16, 2010, 09:14 PM
A 30-30 doesn't recoil that much.

July 16, 2010, 09:24 PM
Recoil sensitivity is different for everyone. If Mooseman is not bothered by big booms, the a .308, 30-06, .270 or one of the 7mm rounds is a great choice. For a lesser recoil rifle a .243 is great, although most will say the shot needs to be better placed (but any shot should be well placed).

A Mosin-Nagant, while not pretty and new, can certainly dispatch a deer.

Something else to consider is a good shotgun. For not a lot of money you can buy a slug gun that will be effective to 100-150 yards.

Whatever you decide to get, look at the used market. Bargains abound, especially if someone thinks a 30-30 (or any similar gun) is no longer a good deer gun.

July 16, 2010, 09:34 PM
I've personally never seen anything as devastating on a deer as this.

A roughly .75 caliber entry hole with a more than double exit hole. They don't go far. But to each his own.

If I were to pick a rifle, I would select it by the terrain I plan on hunting. Is it open or wooded? Both?

Since you are familiar with shooting and desire a rifle, I would suggest either .30-30, .270, .308, or .30-06. Those are pretty standard calibers.

Lever action marlin in .30-30, you can scope it. For the rest, go with a bolt action.

July 16, 2010, 09:38 PM
thanks for all the replies so far, to clarify I'm not new to shooting just new to hunting/hunting type rifles. I'm not recoil sensitive.

Pony Express
July 16, 2010, 09:49 PM
Buy a used bolt action .30-06.
Bingo. 30-06 is by far strong enough for any deer you would find here in the USA. Plus, the ammo is everywhere and you have a wide selection to chose from.

July 16, 2010, 09:49 PM
Need to know a dollar amount before anything can be suggested. For the entire setup (rifle/scope/base/rings).

July 16, 2010, 09:50 PM
the lee enfield would be a great rifle to start with a nice one can be had for 200 dollars easy. (i got mine for 100 last year at the gun show and it more than accurate enough to make a clean shot on a deer at 300 yards. Hornaday make a great 303 british load, it is a 174 grain hollow point. it has plenty of power to kill deer without alot of recoil. you can buy scope mounts from b square that dont require drilling. i wouldnt want sportize one and ruin a fine piece of history, the stock iron sights are plenty good for hunting though. my .02

July 16, 2010, 10:02 PM
Hey Pretender,

All I use on deer is 20GA Core Lokt Ultras. They are insane when you look at how fast the deer go down and then see the damage. With a through lung hit, it's like the life is just sucked out of them in 20 feet worth of sprint!

July 16, 2010, 10:18 PM
If you think you will likely be hunting off and on (or mostly on) for a lot of years, I'd just get a Remington 700 in 270-306-30-06 depending on what you find. Ammo is reasonable and the effects are all you will ever need for any kind of big game hunting in PA (including Elk). Savage makes an okay rifle.

You will see a lot of Marlin 336's (30-30 or 35 Rem) and Winchester 94's (lever action) in the woods. You will also see a fair number of Remington 760's, 7600's and the newer 750's (all pump action) and certainly popular in PA.

You're very lucky in PA with all the State Game Lands even though deer can sometimes seem scarce. It didn't used to be like that. Deer herds are increasing based on what I have been hearing and reading.

July 16, 2010, 10:18 PM
Lots of options... it's more a personal decision than anything. There is no special combination that is perfect for anyone, deer are relatively easy to kill and most popular centerfire cartridges will do the job, your ability with the rifle is far more important.

I would recommend keeping it simple...

Decent used or inexpensive new bolt gun in a standard caliber... .243, .308, 30-06, .270...etc

Lever action 30-30 (Marlin 336, Win 94, even the Mossberg 464... pick your poison they all will get the job done)

A 12ga or 20ga shotgun, rifled barrel and quality sabot slugs.

Picking a popular caliber and action will mean you'll have lots of options on the used rifle racks and also normally mean you can practice with the ammo you'll use to hunt without breaking the bank. Going with a less popular caliber normally means the price of ammo goes up.

My own personal Bias is for a Marlin 336 in 30-30 with a low power scope or any number of good quality inexpensive bolt guns in 30-06.

July 16, 2010, 10:36 PM
I really like the .30-30Win., .45-70Govt., .260Rem., 7mm-08Rem., .280Rem., and .30-06 for deer. The .260 and .280 are pretty much unobtainium in a factory rifle, so the .30-30, .45-70, 7mm-08, and .30-06 are the only real choices. The .30-30 and .45-70 are short range punkin' chunkers available in a handy lever action, while the 7mm-08 and .30-06 are fairly flat shooters that are more suited to a bolt gun. If you reload I like the .45-70 or 7mm-08 a little better, if you want something more readily available in the local WW the .30-30 or .30-06 is the ticket. The lever gun of choice is a Marlin (either 336 or 1895) as is the budget friendly bolt gun (the XS-7 or XL-7). If you decide a lever is the best choice, you may want to look for a used rifle as they tend to cost a bit more.


July 16, 2010, 11:32 PM
My rifle for deer hunting is a 30-30 with a williams peep sight. Great setup! However, I've seen several nice deer out of comfort range for my setup I could have shot if I had been carrying a 30-06 or a 270 with a scope. Consequently, my preference for hunting if I wanted to take advantage of most situations and have the fire power for it I'd go for a 30-06 or 270 or perhaps 25-06. And a nice scope. Then I'd get out there and learn to hit my target at ranges from 10 yards to 200 hundred. Lately, I've heard deer aren't as easy to come by in Pennsylvania as they use to be. If the intent is to harvest one get the gun that can handle the most opportunities.......that'd be a 30-06 or a 270

July 16, 2010, 11:37 PM
100 dollar mosin.

July 17, 2010, 01:44 AM
Actually, I'd change my answer: buy a used rifle in .30-06, .270, or .308. As long as it fits you well and you like the rifle, any of those calibers will clobber deer. See if you can find a rifle that has a decent scope on it, too, and save yourself even more cash. If you can get a gently used bolt action rifle with a good scope for 3 or 4 hundred dollars, you'll be set.

I wouldn't buy a mosin or some other gun like that. Get a dedicated bolt action hunting rifle that's made for hunting and that you can easily mount a scope on. And it won't kick like a mule and roar like a dragon, either. Although I kind of dig the dragon roar.... :D

July 17, 2010, 02:07 AM
Savage 110 30.06 Marlin 30-30 lever.

July 17, 2010, 02:18 AM
My first Deer rifle (and I still use it for that purpose today) is a Marlin .30-30 Lever action. 3-9x cheap Bushnell scope, and takes deer up to 150yds with pinpoint accuracy.

Never had a reason to buy a bigger one. Not a lot of flat, open land to shoot more than 100yds in my area.

July 17, 2010, 02:33 AM
The prototypical Pennsylvania deer rifle is a Remington 760 (or the modern equivalent model number) in .30-06.

The barrel is floated and these things are surprisingly accurate.

Here's one already set up with a scope base for $250 (if you win bid). For another $100 you could put a Nikon 4X scope on it.

I used to live near Pennsylvania and I saw a lot of these being used. From what I heard when I was a kid, they worked. I'll bet that's still true.

July 17, 2010, 05:01 AM
A few questions...

Have you taken your Hunter's Safety Course? Do you have a friend/mentor to go with to learn the ropes?

Do you have any idea of the terrain where you will be hunting? A Marlin 336 30-30 is a great choice for wooded terrain.

For a mix of wooded and more open terrain like fields and powerlines, you may want a bolt action rifle in a flatter shooting cartridge. .243, 308, 270 and 30-06 are the most common and least expensive options. If you anticipate a lot of hiking and mountainous terrain, a lightweight short action rifle such as a Remington Model 7 or Winchester M70 Featherweight (or for more $$ a Kimber 84M) are great choices, but may be more $ than you want to spend.

If mainly hunting from a treestand with minimal hiking, a full size sporter in .270 or 30-06 would be fine, although the short actions are still handier IME in the treestand.

Relatively inexpensive rifles with a decent reputation include the Savage/Stevens line, Marlin XL/XS7, or Weatherby Vanguard/Howa 1500.

If I were you, I'd focus on .308, .270 or 30-06, with 30-06 being probably the best choice for the single do it all big game rifle.

July 17, 2010, 10:14 AM
The OP clearly stated he has AK's and such so he's not a new shooter, he just doesn't have a deer gun.

I would suggest a common easy to find caliber which is not too expensive unless you like to reload yourself.

You can find an old savage bolt in 30-30 or any various lever guns in the same caliber. You can find scope mounts easily for these also. 30-06 would be great and so would a lever gun in 44 magnum. The cheaper the ammo the more you will practice.
12 and 20 guage are also very popluar in the north east.

On the other hand if you reload, it opens up your world.

30-06, 8mm mauser can be loaded hot, or even down loaded to 30-30 levels
260 rem or Swedish Mauser
44 magmun reloads will give you a chance to select your choice of bullet and load it to suite your gun.
270 and 7mm are also popular.

Good luck -

Taurus 617 CCW
July 17, 2010, 11:21 AM
I personally use a 30-06 and chose it mainly because of the availability of loaded ammunition, component availability, caliber versatility, and decent ballistic range. The 30-06 is not for everyone and those that are recoil sensitive may find it uncomfortable. A good recoil pad can good a long way. Short action calibers are usually easier on the shoulder (Super short magnums excluded).

My hunting buddy has used the .243 caliber for over 40 years and he gets his deer every season. He also hunts elk with it and they have not argued when shot. Bullet placement is more important than bullet diameter. I would recommend picking a caliber you can find on most ammo shelves unless you reload.

The calibers with a * next to them are very common on store shelves.

.243 Winchester (short action)*
25-06 Remington (long action)
.270 Winchester (long action)*
7mm Remington Magnum (magnum action)*
.280 Remington (long action)
.308 Winchester (short action)*
30-06 Springfield (long action)*

d vader
July 17, 2010, 12:33 PM
You might want to look at the marlin xl-7 bolt action rifle,good reviews for an first rifle,recommend 308 winchester caliber ,Regards marc

July 17, 2010, 05:51 PM
cool, I'll be keeping my eye out for a used 30-06 or 308. To answer BPL, I took a hunter safety course ages ago so I'll be retaking it whether or not it's required. I have no idea where I'd go hunting at the moment but I know some folks who won't mind me picking their brains.

July 17, 2010, 07:36 PM
Take a good look at the 30-06. In compact world of today there's something comforting about the roominess of the long action rifles and the long tall shells. Speaking of such, find a box of 100 grain .270 ammo to take a look at one of the cartridges. It almost looks like a piece of art to me.

I don't live there now but I hale from philly vicinity..... Glenside.

Jerry M
July 19, 2010, 06:05 PM
Don't limit yourself to a shotgun for those across-the-field shots. Get a Remington 700 in 7-08 or .308 Win. You will have plenty rifle for PA Whitetails.

Good luck


July 19, 2010, 06:30 PM
+1 for a 30-30 lever action Marlin, every house should have one, I am willing to bet that rifle has taken more deer than any other.... For $500 you can get one with a good scope....

July 19, 2010, 09:07 PM
If you decide on shotgun then get something with riffled barrel, I had luck shooting slugs out of my 870 on 100 yards and grouped them in 8" using open sights, there is also option to go with optics, unless you hunting in the corn field I see no reason for you to shoot far then 100 yards in PA, I live right on the border with PA along Chemung river, and all of my hunting usually done in the woods, the longest shot I made in the woods was probably 70 - 80 yards, where I used 270 win from Savage, tell you one thing at such speed 3160 FPS Sierra Game King never had a chance to expand so exit wound was smaller then a quarter, then a thing ran for another 100 yards, I think in the short range like 20 - 80 yards you'll be fine with anything like 12 ga, 20 ga, 410 ga, 223, 243, 270, 30-30, 7,62x39, 308, 45-70 :-)))

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