A good multi-use rifle?


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nixdorf
November 21, 2010, 10:06 PM
I am interested in buying a good multi-purpose rifle. I'm relatively experienced with handguns and shotguns, but I'm still a novice when it comes to rifles.

I want a rifle for plinking and light hunting duty (varmint to deer). Its worth noting that there are no caliber restrictions in my state for deer hunting.

Here are the things I think are important to me:

--Accuracy at 50-100m. I'm not looking for a bench rifle.
--Ammo: easily found and inexpensive.
--Semi-auto action a must, 20+ round clip preferred.
--Budget: between 600-850 new or used (new preferred) with some flexibility.
--Easy maintenance, dependable, sturdy.
--Accessories: I'm not huge on accessories. I'll likely slap a scope on whatever I buy, but I'd like to have decent iron sights.

From what I've seen so far, I'm probably going to end up getting something chambered for .223/5.56x45mm or 7.62x39mm. I'm comfortable with the price of bulk ammo for these rounds (even if staying away from surplus 7.62 stuff), but I'm not dead-set on either round.

I've done a bit of research online for various rifles. I've also spent hours handling various rifles at a few local stores. From what I've seen so far, I really like the Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 (leaning towards the Mini-30). I've looked at a couple AR-15 style weapons, but was not very impressed with the only one I found that was in my budget (Sabre SR-15 light weight had too much plastic). I also looked at a Saiga, but wasn't impressed.

So, any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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dc.fireman
November 21, 2010, 10:09 PM
I am interested in buying a good multi-purpose rifle. I'm relatively experienced with handguns and shotguns, but I'm still a novice when it comes to rifles.

I want a rifle for plinking and light hunting duty (varmint to deer). Its worth noting that there are no caliber restrictions in my state for deer hunting.

Here are the things I think are important to me:

--Accuracy at 50-100m. I'm not looking for a bench rifle.
--Ammo: easily found and inexpensive.
--Semi-auto action a must, 20+ round clip preferred.
--Budget: between 600-850 new or used (new preferred) with some flexibility.
--Easy maintenance, dependable, sturdy.
--Accessories: I'm not huge on accessories. I'll likely slap a scope on whatever I buy, but I'd like to have decent iron sights.


So, any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

How about a Marlin lever gun?

texaz
November 21, 2010, 10:10 PM
In my opinion, the .223 round is too light for hunting deer by an inexperienced shooter, like you say you are. Maybe take a look at the .243. It's a good round for the variety of game you're talking about.

crazyivan
November 21, 2010, 10:27 PM
New WASR 10/63 $350 does 3-4" groups with $4/20rounds russian ammo. So easy to clean and does not need cleaning much. side rail for scopes. Get a tech sight or TWS rail sight for peep sights.
Just get a new one not a old one.

580 Minis are good guns.

velojym
November 21, 2010, 10:43 PM
In my opinion, the .223 round is too light for hunting deer by an inexperienced shooter, like you say you are. Maybe take a look at the .243. It's a good round for the variety of game you're talking about.

.243 is what immediately occurred to me, too.

BrocLuno
November 21, 2010, 11:13 PM
Most hunting is a one or two round shot business. OK, ground squirrels and prairie dogs are more a session, but a 20 round clip is not really doing you anything. There are some military style (or ex-service) rifles that will hold 5~20 rounds of larger caliber than the 223. But, a hunting rifle you'll pack all day and crawl with is not the same and a street sweeper.

I think .243 to .30 is the norm for deer. What about if you decide to go out of state to hunt? If you do many states require 1/4" or better. Can't really come up with a suitable rifle off the top of my head that meets your criteria?

nixdorf
November 21, 2010, 11:16 PM
Thanks for the replies so far.

Regarding shooing .243 or higher for deer, everything I read seemed to indicated the same thing. That's why I was leaning towards the Mini-30 in 7.62.

Just for my education, why do you want something heavier? In case you miss the deer's heart but still want a mortal shot? Shoot through bones?

How about a Marlin lever gun?
To be honest, I had never considered buying a lever gun. What's a good one to research for plinking/hunting?

New WASR 10/63 $350 does 3-4" groups with $4/20rounds russian ammo.
I looked at a couple new WASR's at a local shop (on sale for $350 with two 30-round clips). The rifle looked and felt okay for the price, but the price seemed to be the main attraction to me.

Kachok
November 21, 2010, 11:20 PM
R25 in 243 would be perfect except it runs a little more money. 308 are great for deer and larger, but for the spectrum of varmint to deer that is the 243's home turf there, and only the 25-06, 6mm rem, .260 rem and .257 Roberts can compete there.

Sky
November 21, 2010, 11:50 PM
http://forums.officer.com/forums/showthread.php?81462-So-you-want-to-buy-an-AR-15-huh

There are people who kill moose with the 223 just don't shoot them in the butt!

CMMG bargain bin $599 or $650 with chrome lined barrel.

7.62x39 Aks either will work it is just what you feel comfortable with. The 243 or 30.06 are awesome. You know you budget and your intended use.

Check ammo prices and figure out if your new weapon will be for the occasional hunting gig with paper targets sprinkled in between your great outdoor adventure or are you gonna get into range type activities and high ammo consumption?

What will he do?

Are there pictures to follow?

Will he join the tribe of the black rifle or is there a bolt in his future?

Stay tuned for;

Decission with buyers remorse

or

Happy days are here again!

P.S. Sorry I just felt like it!

sappyg
November 21, 2010, 11:50 PM
a multi use rifle is likely to come up short on some or may tasks. given the OPs criteria i would go with the mini 30. it seems to cover all the bases with enough power to ethically hunt deer with.
moving away from the 20 mag/ semi auto requirement and the field opens up a great deal. a 243 bolt gun is a great multi purpose rifle chamber that does a lot of things ok. i have to admit that i've never felt completely comfortable hunting deer with it.
a true multi purpose round to consider is the 308. it will punch paper with the best of em' and reliably take any game the OP might choose to hunt.
that said, the OP is more focused on the rifle than the chamber IMO. cut the mag down to 10 rounds and go for a nice marlin in 357. that's my pic.

Naybor
November 22, 2010, 12:05 AM
.243 is probably as low a caliber you should consider. .308m is a good choice for varmint to deer, a military cartridge, and reasonably priced.

If you could swing it, maybe consider a SECOND rifle for plinking.

A Marlin Model 60 .22 or a Ruger 10/22 would be a good reasonably priced choice, either new or used.

Consider that 500 or 550 .22 bulk packs are $16 ~ $24 each. A LOT of shots and bang for the buck.

Skylerbone
November 22, 2010, 12:31 AM
With consideration to ammo cost thrown in I vote for .270 or .308, for the yardage given, I'd go lever 30-30, for the mag. requirement I'd vote AR in .223 but as a whole, I'd be lost on this one.

Maybe a new .270 bolt action (OP's choice on brand) with a price tag in the $550 range (the Marlin XL7 runs less than $325) and a Ruger 10/22 ($220 or so) with two of those banana clips taped together. Under $550 for two decent rifles, one dirt cheap for plunking groundhogs et. all and one big enough to down a deer with confidence. Bonus money could be used for scopes and mounts.

Looks like Naybor beat me to the punch, good call, good Naybor!

Sheepdog1968
November 22, 2010, 02:45 AM
Based on OP, the mini-30 would work. Having said that, after shooting lever actions, I've been hooked on lever actions and would prefer a lever action over the mini-30.

Rifleman 173
November 22, 2010, 08:51 AM
An AK in 7.62 X 39 is a good choice. If you can get one, an SKS with a 20 or 30 round magazine attached to it might be another option, if you don't mind loading your rifle from the top down like an M-1 Garand.

An AR/M-4 in either 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel would be some more choices but probably not in the price range you set unless you get a used one somewhere.

A Ranch 14, a Mini-14 in 7.62 X 39, will probably fit in the price range you say. And they're easier to mount scopes on too. Yeah, consider a Ruger Ranch Rifle for general shooting use. That would probably be your best bet outside of the AK type rifles.

kaferhaus
November 22, 2010, 09:03 AM
Forget the Ranch rifle, AK or SKS for a dual use rifle.

All three of them are 3MOA rifles at 100m which takes them out of the 'varmint" catagory immediately.

you don't "need" a 20-30rd magazine for what you described you want to do... varmints to deer or paper punching.

Buy a bolt gun in 243, 7mm-08, or 270 winchester. you can get light enough bullets for varmint work and heavy enough bullets for deer.

or buy a used browning BLR or BAR for the money you have to spend in any of the above calibers.

GunTech
November 22, 2010, 09:21 AM
Buy what you like, but realize the limitation of whatever you select.

In my experience, and that of many, many others, the Ruger Mini-30 is only adequate in the accuracy department. You'll be hard pressed to hit smaller targets at anything other than pretty short range. Other than that, it's a decent rifle and particularly in 7.62x39 is certainly suitable for deer at reduced ranges. My son shot his first deer last year using a 223 mini and one round.

However, a tuned AR is easily capable of shooting with all but the most accurate bolt guns. It's not hard to get an AR to shoot sub MOA and it certainly can take any accessory you can imagine. It's also pretty easy to reconfigure the rifle, and you can even change barrels and calibers with a few tools and a little knowledge.

Since you specified semi-automatic and large capacity magazine, there no point in dealing with any bolt gun.

AKs are not known for their accuracy. A lot of this is due to crappy surplus ammo, but even with handloads, the best AK is going to shoot about as well as a mediocre AR. Adding accessories to an AK will require add-ons and the rifle was really not designed to be scoped. Adding optics is typically a compromise and may effect your ability to field strip and clean the rifle. And you are pretty much stuck with what you buy. You can change furniture and add stuff, but the AK is nothing compared to an AR in terms of modularity and the ability to customize the rifle.

hso
November 22, 2010, 09:36 AM
If you're going to want to hunt deer at 100 yards would you be expecting to put a telescopic sight on it?

If so, this will be a huge consideration for what you pick.

Also, as many whitetail have been taken with the venerable 30.30 out of a lever action rifle as with anything so you're smart not to overlook it as a choice.

If you're going to hunt out at 100 yards then stay away from cheap AKs that may not have the accuracy for hunting. Minute of bad guy is a lot less accurate than shooting consistently into a 4" circle at 100 yards to make reliable fast kills on deer. That doesn't mean there aren't AKs out there that won't shoot into a 4" circle all day long, just that they're not cheap plinkers.

BoilerUP
November 22, 2010, 10:06 AM
I know there are hundreds if not thousands of whitetail killed every year with .223, including many people on THR...but I don't think its an appropriate round for the AVERAGE deer hunter since shot placement is so much more important with it than any "traditional" deer chambering.

A .243 bolt gun would give you excellent accuracy, be deadly on both varmints and deer, be easy to find ammunition for, and be well within your budget even with a decent scope & mount/rings...but it wouldn't be semi-auto with large capacity magazines.

If you absolutely positively must have a semi-auto...look for a used Remington 7400 or the new 750 in 243 or possibly 308. You probably aren't going to find large-capacity magazines for it (there *may* be 10-rounders available aftermarket)....but it'll give you better accuracy than a Mini-30 for varmints & the other attributes you are looking for.

Bartholomew Roberts
November 22, 2010, 10:07 AM
I want a rifle for plinking and light hunting duty (varmint to deer).

When you say varmint hunting, exactly what did you have in mind? I ask because I typically think of varminting as hunting coyotes who may be bashful about coming close or prairie dogs. Both of those styles of hunting tend to favor, flat-shooting, fast cartridges with better than usual accuracy.

If you just mean shooting the odd skunk, pig, or creature you do not want around you place, then I think a 7.62x39 rifle of some kind probably would fill most of the roles you mentioned well. It will have a little more penetration for deer-sized mammals. The penetration will let you take shots that might not be humane with a .223 SP.

At this point, you need to define: "--Easy maintenance, dependable, sturdy."

Do you expect to have to replace parts on the rifle? Have you ever used a firearm enough that you had to replace parts due to normal wear and tear? Or did you just mean you wanted a rifle that was easy to keep functionally clean?

geologist
November 22, 2010, 10:14 AM
It only holds 10 rounds but an SKS is cheap, reliable, plenty accurate out to 100m with the crappy OEM sights, ball ammo is cheap and softpoint ammo for huntingt is available.

The SKS is catching on here in Canada as a low cost, short range, deer rifle, especially since Winchester stopped making the 94s and the prices for the used ones started creeping upwards.

nixdorf
November 22, 2010, 11:30 AM
Wow, thanks for all the suggestions. This forum is awesome. :)

To address some of the comments:

--Hunting: I may have over stated the deer hunting part. I don't anticipate taking this rifle out deer hunting, but rather its something I'd only do in a pinch. If I ever get serious about deer hunting, I'd probably buy a traditional bolt-action rifle. The varmint I'm thinking of are coyotes and the like.
--Round count: As mentioned in the OP, I'd prefer a larger clip size but its not a must-have. This desire is equal parts not wanting to reload every few minutes while plinking and also thinking of using this rifle for self-defense if needed. From the comments above, I am seriously considering dropping this completely. It sounds like its limiting my options.
--Easy maintenance, dependable, sturdy: I am a stickler for cleaning my guns, but I don't want to have to spend an hour cleaning the rifle after a session at the range. At the same time, I do want to be able to hand this rifle down to my 11 month old son some day.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I've got alot of reading and research to do. :)

Andrew Wyatt
November 22, 2010, 12:14 PM
AR-15.

sappyg
November 22, 2010, 12:18 PM
with that said i still lean toward a marlin 1894 in 357 mag. we're talking a fun gun that can be serious. this is a lot of gun to have fun with.
my 2nd choice is still the mini 30 which still meets all the criteria and feels comfortable to the OP.
3rd choice now would be a basic AR flat top in 223.

crazyivan
November 22, 2010, 12:20 PM
It has been shown on this forum that the Mini-30 does 1MOA with brass ammo.
A Yugo SKS does 2MOA with new Russian ammo, bet it would do 1MOA with better ammo.
Machined AK can do 2MOA as well.
All 3 are easy to clean and run dirty
The AK and the SKS will last 50+ years if taken care of.
Dont like the sights, stock or scope mounting options on the AK?
Get a TWS rail/peep sight for the scope and better iron sights and a there are many types of stocks for the AK, if you get a AK at $350 you still wont be up near $600 after the addons.
Only mags for the SKS worth using is the original 10 round mag.
Tapcos plastic lips spread out and it cant be loaded with stripper clips to well.
All other after market mag jam and break a lot.
Unless you get a Norinco that takes AK mags.

David Sours
November 22, 2010, 12:46 PM
Easy, A bolt gun in 243! Plenty available ammo in a variety of flavors, varmint, deer and some match grade ammo. I have grown to respect the 243 as a great white tail cartridge. I am a fond supporter of the 280 Rem which is my go to gun. But I purchased a 243 last year for the same reasons that you mentioned Target, Varmint and possibly deer. The caliber has filled my needs perfectly. Low recoil which makes it fun to shoot from the bench and enough power to target shoot at longer ranges as well. It is a great longrange varmint gun and I have taken 6 deer with it and none traveld more that 25 yds before expiring.

As far as turn bolts go take a look @ the T/C Icon and Savage!

Good Luck,
David

GunTech
November 22, 2010, 12:49 PM
Just keep in mind that "MOA" seems to have different definition depending on who you talk to.

When I say 1 MOA I mean that with the chosen ammunition will shoot 5-10 shot groups into 1.042 inches at 100 yards, day in and day out with no 'called shots' or 'flyers'.

The reality is that many people describe a guns as 1 MOA because it has done it on one occasion or another. The reality is that there aren't very many true, consistent production 1 MOA rifles. And those that can shoot 1 MOA invariably do so with a particular loading.

Keep in mind that most military ammunition is only capable of 2 MOA or worse, so no matter what rifle you use, the groups can never be better than the most poorly performing component. If someone tell you their rifle shoots MOA with surplus Chinese 7.62x39, you should be dubious, since testing by the US Army showed at typical variation within lots of 4.6 MOA.

Not that the US was much better. Many early M14 rifles were unable to meet the Army's 5.5 MOA acceptance standard (Yes, 5.5 MOA - Look it up), primarily do to ammunition.

Thankfully, ammunition both commercial and military is much better. But even commercial ammunition has enough variability that makers either load special match ammo, or in the case of rounds like 6.5 Creedmoor, create who new cartridges specifically to sell commercial ammunition to match shooters who don't reload.

BTW, if you go to precision rifle matches, see how many are shooting commercial ammo. The vast majority don't, because the precision of the ammunition is the limiting factor in the system. Big makers can't afford to weigh and sort brass, weight every bullet and powder charge and still sell at a price point people will accept.

JShirley
November 22, 2010, 01:27 PM
I think you might do well to lose your semi-auto requirement, and work on your skill with follow-up shots with a manually operated repeater.

I'd suggest a Howa .22-250. They have an inexpensive package rifle out now that should be very handy, and more accurate than you need. You can shoot cheap Wal-Mart 45-grain JHP for plinking, varmints, and self-defense, and get sturdy 62-grain soft-points (with more oomph than a .223) for deer. If you ever start handloading, you can load commonly available 40-62-grain .223 bullets. (This rifle can be had in. 308 too, but only surplus ammo will be cheap, and it'll kick twice as hard and probably be less accurate than one in .22-250.)

Alternatively, a CZ527 in 7.62x39mm will give you a slick and quick carbine that will work for anything smaller than elk out to 150 meters, and you can stock up on 150-grain Wolf SPs for all your needs. Not a cheap rifle, but the ammo could be.

OR, you could find an SKS for around $325. Figure another $80 for a Mojo peep sight. Perhaps $45 for a scope mount, and another $100 for a decent 1-4x or 2x scope. Probably not as accurate or good-handling as the CZ, but sturdy and fine for plinking and shorter-range deer.

I tried, but it's hard to find a "do everything" rifle. You'll have better luck becoming a "do everything" person. ;)

Good luck and have fun,

John

Bartholomew Roberts
November 22, 2010, 01:51 PM
--Hunting: I may have over stated the deer hunting part. I don't anticipate taking this rifle out deer hunting, but rather its something I'd only do in a pinch. If I ever get serious about deer hunting, I'd probably buy a traditional bolt-action rifle. The varmint I'm thinking of are coyotes and the like.

OK, you stated your range requirement was 50-100m. Some of the commonly available cheap centerfire rifle ammo is 5.56x45, 7.62x39, and 7.62x51.

5.56x45 is smaller; but it also benefits from having a lot of technology and money poured into its development. So in addition to being easy to shoot due to low recoil and a flat trajectory, it also has a wide array of bullet selections (from 35gr to 90gr) - including a lot of relatively new designs.

7.62x39 - old cartridge but still relatively common. It is an intermediate powered cartridge so it has less recoil; but the trajectory is not quite so flat. Also, not much in the way of bullet selection or new technology available in this caliber. However, the 123gr bullet gives you a little more to work with in terms of penetration.

7.61x51 - a full power rifle cartridge. Flatter shooting than 7.62x39 (with a good reach. Will outdo anything either of the previous two cartridges will do. The downside is that at the ranges you stated, it has the least advantage over the two other cartridges discussed; but still carries the recoil and muzzle blast.

Any one of those cartridges can do everything you asked it to do, the only question is about what compromises you want to make. If you don't want to think about it that deeply, then 7.62x39 is probably the way to go.

--Easy maintenance, dependable, sturdy: I am a stickler for cleaning my guns, but I don't want to have to spend an hour cleaning the rifle after a session at the range.

I haven't seen any general use rifle that needs a one hour cleaning session after every range visit. Some people may spend that much time cleaning them; but it isn't necessary to keep the rifle functionally clean. The purpose of cleaning in a GP rifle is to:

1. Remove as much gunk as necessary to inspect the parts for wear and tear, cracks, etc.
2. Remove large chunks of debris that can effect function (popped primers, gravel, mud, etc.)
3. Add lubricant as necessary for corrosion resistance and operation

Some might also add "Remove powder and copper fouling from the bore"

At the same time, I do want to be able to hand this rifle down to my 11 month old son some day.

Whether or not you'll be able to do that depends on how you use the rifle. A rifle is a machine and like any machine, it will break if it is used outside the parameters it is designed for. Buy an AK47 and use it like a general purpose machine gun and it will break. The other part is that all machines will eventually break down even under normal use.

For the criteria you stated in a 7.62x39 caliber semi-auto rifle, I am thinking AK/Saiga, SKS, or Mini-30. Anyone of those should serve just fine with the uses you described and still be around to give to your son. If you shoot 100-200 rounds a year, you probably won't even need to replace any parts.

The Mini-30 has the advantage of the best iron sights of the group and easier optics mounting. However, if you need to repair or replace parts, it is back to the factory. The other rifles are military rifles - they will last a while and parts supply is plentiful. It is just a question of doing the work yourself or finding someone who can work on it.

kludge
November 22, 2010, 01:56 PM
I want a rifle for plinking and light hunting duty (varmint to deer). Its worth noting that there are no caliber restrictions in my state for deer hunting.

Here are the things I think are important to me:

--Accuracy at 50-100m. I'm not looking for a bench rifle.
--Ammo: easily found and inexpensive.
--Semi-auto action a must, 20+ round clip preferred.
--Budget: between 600-850 new or used (new preferred) with some flexibility.
--Easy maintenance, dependable, sturdy.
--Accessories: I'm not huge on accessories. I'll likely slap a scope on whatever I buy, but I'd like to have decent iron sights.

From what I've seen so far, I'm probably going to end up getting something chambered for .223/5.56x45mm or 7.62x39mm. ...

...I really like the Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 (leaning towards the Mini-30). I've looked at a couple AR-15 style weapons, but was not very impressed with the only one I found that was in my budget (Sabre SR-15 light weight had too much plastic). I also looked at a Saiga, but wasn't impressed.


If you limit shots on deer to 200 yards or less (which BTW is most of them) the 7.62x39 is a great deer cartridge, and the SKS, IMO would make a great deer rifle... I would use mine if it were legal here. Accuracy with surplus ammo is in the 3" range at 100 yards, which is fine. Better ammo = better accuracy. You want the soft points for hunting.

A Mini 30 is two or three times the price of an SKS and no more accurate, but it would be easier to get a scope on it.

I would avoid the .223/5.56 for deer hunting, unless you live in an area where the deer are 90 pounds, but the .223/5.56 would be better for varmints, unless all you want is dead varmints, then the 7.62x39 is fine.

There are a few bolt guns in 7.62x39 and Rossi makes a single shot, either of which would make it easier to get a scope on it. Getting a scope on an SKS is a bit dicey. But you said semi-auto is a must, and that doesn't leave you many options. The advantage of a single shot (H&R, Rossi) is that you can get a barrel for deer hunting and one for varmints and still be under your price limit. You could then also get a .22LR barrel for really cheap plinking, and it will take care of most vermin within 50 yards. If you go with a single shot or a bolt action, I would go for the .243 Win; it will be the best caliber for what you want to do. If a single shot, the second barrel I would get is a .22LR.

For plinking 7.62x39 is cheaper than 5.56

Anything like a .243 or .260 in semi-auto is going to require an AR-10 length action and that is a lot more expensive.

Another option is the 6.5mm Grendel or the 6.8 SPC in an AR-15 platform. I would take the Grendel. There are all kinds of 6.5mm bullets available and would make a good excuse to handload for deer and varmints. Plinking ammo isn't going to be cheap though, unless you reload. Probably over your price limit though.

dugasgunner
November 22, 2010, 07:26 PM
25-06 or 6.5X55 are my favorites all around. Keep us posted with your decison.

kbbailey
November 22, 2010, 08:22 PM
Don't rule out an H&R Handi-rifle. Available in many calibers. Cheap and accurate.

mgkdrgn
November 22, 2010, 08:34 PM
To be honest, I had never considered buying a lever gun. What's a good one to research for plinking/hunting?

Marlin, Rossi/Taurus, Winchester, Henry and some others all make lever guns that would suit your needs. Since you want to include deer, I'd probably stick to a cartridge that starts with a "4" ... 44 magnum or 45 Colt. If you have ever considered reloading, those are EXCELLENT cartridges to begin with, and will both cut your shooting costs by a LOT, AND give you the flexibility to load what you want for the job at hand.

I reload 45 Colt and with a 250 or so grain bullet can load for anywhere between 750 and 2100 fps (out of a rifle), depending what I'm looking to do. LOTS of versatility there! (PLUS, what I saved by reloading 45 Colt paid for ALL the reloading gear after the 150-200 rounds!)

As for the guns themselves .... I've had examples of all of the above come through my little consignment sales business here.

The Marlins are -really- slick, action wise, and the side eject makes adding a scope (if you want) a snap. Rossi/Taurus are cheaper ... and work very well. (I own one myself in 454 Casull/45 Colt.) However, not quite as slick in the action (out of the box) and are top eject.

The Winchesters and Henry's are not quite as slick as the Marlins, but generally very well made. If possible, you need to actually -see/feel- a number of them and pick one that seems to fit YOU. (gun shows are great for this)

FMJMIKE
November 22, 2010, 08:39 PM
A Ruger Mini-14 in .223 would work..............
http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e350/mbmphoto/Miniscope.jpg

22-rimfire
November 22, 2010, 08:40 PM
The 243 immediately came to mind to match your current requirements. But I found that you're better off with a 223, 22-250 or something in that area for varmints and a more powerful deer caliber such as 270 > 308 > 30-06. You can buy AR's in 308, but I think you are better off shooting better rather than having the ability to shoot faster for hunting just about anything other than hogs.

Russ Jackson
November 22, 2010, 08:55 PM
You said the Saiga did not impress but its simple, cheap, easy to find ammo, more than accurate at 100m, virtually industructable, cleans and breaks down in seconds, proven, and well made. You could buy it and a Marlin XL7 and be under your $850 cap....Russ

surfinUSA
November 22, 2010, 08:59 PM
For a true versatile rifle rethink the bolt gun. Any 308 or 30-06 bolt gun is good. These will take any North American game and their ammo can be found anywhere. Also I like that every American manufacturer makes plain jane practice ammo in both of these calibers.

All of their derivatives such as the 7-08, 243, .270 .280 etc are great but there is no cheap practice ammo for them.

However, based on your criteria I would go with an SKS it will easily take deer or pigs. ammo is cheap and hunting softpoints are readily available. No it doesn't have a 20 round mag but with stripper clips and a little practice it doesn't need them.

I know people that can reliably take a deer with a .22. And in a survival situation I would use a .223, but most folks really aren't capable of ethical kills on deer with a round that small and thats why most states, even if yours isn't one of them, don't permit 223 for deer hunting. the 7.62x39 will work if you do you part.

juk
November 22, 2010, 10:54 PM
With your requirements, I would look into the Saiga rifles. I have heard many good things about them. If I am not mistaken, they are more accurate that your typical AK. They also come in 308 flavor. It is pretty much an AK, so reliability and ruggedness is up there.

Sev
November 23, 2010, 12:48 AM
Another vote for the Saiga in .308. Plenty round for a deer or larger. And if your state is anything like mine you can only have a a 5 round magazine when hunting...Fortunately they have those for the Saiga as well.

When people generally think of the AK/Saiga being inaccurate thats usually with the surplus ammo. What do you expect?

And you can also get it in 7.62x39! Why that size? Because you can get a 1000 rounds shipped to your door for less than $250 easily! Still plenty enough gun to take a deer at 100 yards with match grade ammo.

Ignition Override
November 23, 2010, 02:30 AM
The (my) older Mini 30 from '04 is a very fun rifle and reliable, having an aperture sight.

The problem with those iron sights is that the front post sight is very thick, with a short sight radius;
much thicker than that on my Garand and Lee-Enfield #4, #5s.
Otherwise, it's a very handy rifle, with some power and easy to carry for quite a while.

Even though the SKS is not as attractive-the bolt cover is no beauty-it costs much less than a Mini, is more reliable, and can have the Tech Sights.

Sev
November 23, 2010, 02:42 AM
And I am not saying the Saiga is as accurate as a bolt action 700 but it will kill a deer every time.

GunTech
November 23, 2010, 11:36 AM
After rereading the OP post, I am amazed that so many people recommended guns that did not fit the requirements. Certainly everyone has their own favorite, but that doesn't necessarily cross over to the OP.

I really like the Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 (leaning towards the Mini-30). I've looked at a couple AR-15 style weapons, but was not very impressed with the only one I found that was in my budget (Sabre SR-15 light weight had too much plastic). I also looked at a Saiga, but wasn't impressed.

So basically, it sounds like the OP is asking if the gun he really likes fits his operational parameters. I'd say the answer is yes. Frankly, I am always surprised at the number of posters who suggest a lever action when someone asks for recommendations for a semi-automatic rifle. Aside from the fact they aren't even vaguely the same system of operation, they aren't aesthetically in the same species. Some of us find them awkward to operate and not very appealing - a large percentage of the gun buying public in fact.

The Mini-14/30 will fill the OP's requirements. If you understand that it's not going to be a hyper-accurate target rifles, it will serve well.

http://guntech.com/m14/father-son.jpg

Balrog
November 23, 2010, 12:02 PM
Hey I have a question about the mini in the above photo. How do you have the Aimpoint mounted to it?

Skylerbone
November 23, 2010, 06:12 PM
GT, I think the suggestions are to let the (by his own admission) inexperienced shooter know that his order is tall and may benefit from some modification. Sort of the difference between the Happy Meal and Dollar Menu, same amount of food but you get what you want and save a bit in the process.

To the OP: if you're looking for a good solid shooting first rifle a good number of us started with a .22 LR (long rifle). The aforementioned 10/22 comes with a 10 round magazine but larger are available (50 round for sure, maybe more?).

It is likely the most customized rifle on the planet and starts at around $200. The standard sights are quite nice, ammo is the cheapest of all the rifles listed and will give you some time to practice while you consider your options for a centerfire.

nixdorf
November 29, 2010, 03:36 PM
Clearly, I've gone nuts.

I went by my local gun mega-mart to take a look at a few Mini-14/Mini-30 rifles. While there, I noticed they have a huge sale going on, but nothing for the rifles I was giving serious consideration to. Further, they didn't even have the rifle I wanted to get in stock (Mini-14 Ranch with wood stock and blued barrel). Rats.

I started looking around at some other rifles and found some incredible deals. I ended up really liking the Smith and Wesson M&P-15 (Standard rifle, model 811000). It doesn't feel at all cheap like some of the other AR's I looked at (there's more metal than plastic). It can do most of the things I'm interested it (basically everything except deer hunting). The ammo isn't terribly expensive, but it is plentiful. And it was on sale: $799.99 brand new.

I figured spending that little on a brand new M&P-15 that retails for $1406 would put me in a position that if I buy it and don't like it, I could sell it and not lose much money (or maybe even break even).

Anyway, I ended up putting it on lay-away with a sizable down payment. I should be able to swing the rest of the cost in a week or so without plastic. I'll be sure to post a newbie's range report as soon as I can get the gun and shoot it.

Thanks for all your help!

MrOldLude
November 29, 2010, 04:16 PM
I'll just leave this here.

http://www.everydaynodaysoff.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/ClipMagazineLesson.jpg

GunTech
November 29, 2010, 06:21 PM
Balrog, the Mini-14 shown is equipped with an Ultimak rail.

http://ultimak.com/BuyMini.htm

mashaffer
November 29, 2010, 08:12 PM
OK, I am going to add my voice to the chorus suggesting the marlin 1894 in .357. Capacity is 10+ rounds. The huge plus for the levers is (and not many folks recognize this) you can top up the magazine with the weapon in firing condition and even trained on the threat. Also, in a prolonged fire fight loading a semi-auto after using up all of your loaded magazines is very slow. Most of these rifles are reasonably accurate as is and can be improved upon. Certainly accurate enough for hunting and SD purposes.

If big game hunting were the primary use I would go for the .44mag but for small game the .357/.38 would the better choice. The .357 from a rifle is more than adequate for deer at reasonable ranges. You could go with .30-30 (Marlin 336) which could be downloaded for small game with the right powder and bullets but the ammo expense goes way up (not good for plinking purposes) and the magazine capacity is also reduced compared to the pistol cartridges.

The lever is much better than bolt action for quick shooting IMO for any position except prone and in reality is just as fast as semi-auto. The lever is easier to maintain and more tolerant of variations in ammo (very light loads for small game will still function when a semi-auto would not).

There is a potential area of trouble with the Marlins regarding the carrier when used hard a lot but the fix is easy. I think you can get a linky at Paco's Leverguns.com for the modification.

Another possible option is one of the imported pump actions also in .357.

mike

Eb1
November 29, 2010, 09:38 PM
skip the .243, and get a .25-06 if going for a bolt gun.

if going for a fun gun Marlin Lever or Model 60. Choose your caliber in the lever gun. A .44 Mag or .357 are way fun, and are great at many jobs. A 30-30 is a great gun. Load for it though so you can take advantage of the Sierra 125 grain HPFN bullets. Really makes the 30-30 shine like the sun.

Balrog
November 29, 2010, 10:13 PM
The huge plus for the levers is (and not many folks recognize this) you can top up the magazine with the weapon in firing condition and even trained on the threat.

I am pretty sure I can load a fresh magazine in my AR as quickly as I can load a single round in my Marlin.

Also, in a prolonged fire fight loading a semi-auto after using up all of your loaded magazines is very slow.

It is highly unlikely any of us will be in a prolonged fire fight that would require reloading. If we ever are, I surely would rather have a magazine fed rifle than one I have to load one round at time.

I like lever actions and own three or four, but I in no way think they are a superior fighting weapon to a magazine fed semi auto.

jeepguy
November 29, 2010, 10:14 PM
i would say mini 14 except imo its to small for deer but it meets all your other requirements. however if you want it to hunt deer you should get the mini 30. they also make a mini 30 tacticle now in case you want the flash hider. after the mini series i would go with the saiga rifle in 7.62x39 or one of your better ak's. for whats it worth i love my mini 14.

Skylerbone
November 29, 2010, 11:37 PM
Nice choice with the M&P, keep in mind MSRP from S&W is always crazy high but with a fun stick like the AR most guys tend to keep 'em. Do yourself a favor and grab some PMAGS from Magpul. Don't forget the rebate from Smith, and DO NOT buy any UMAX remanufactured crap to shoot through it.

Make sure to ask questions about anything you're not sure of be it cleaning or field stripping and have fun.

One more tip, don't get crazy with accessories or parts changes, save that for your next rifle. Best of luck and stay safe.

mashaffer
December 1, 2010, 11:31 PM
I am pretty sure I can load a fresh magazine in my AR as quickly as I can load a single round in my Marlin.

More than likely. However, I was kind of thinking along the lines of keeping it topped off rather than running it dry and then reloading.

mike

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