Getting my first gun


May 28, 2011, 06:40 PM
Hey everyone at The High Road, I turned 18 not too long ago and after some nudging from my grandfather and a rather convincing "opposing viewpoints" style debate on the Second Amendment and personal defence I obtained my "long arms" permit (I live in NJ and after reading the legislature it seems im kinda screwed in a way lol).

I have some experience operating, dissassembling and cleaning guns from the time I spent with granddad (mom's dad RIP). He showed me alot and always told me it's best to "die on your feet than to live on your knees" and to defend your way of life, your family, your friends and neighbors and your country.

Anyway, I am not sure as to what rifle/shotgun I want to get first. I like the lever action rifles like the Marlin 336 in 30/30win but a friend of mine who shoots said that I would love a Mosin Nagant 91/30 or M39. I have no idea as to what would suit me best. It would be incredibly helpful to have opinions and ideas presented. Im not asking to pick between the two rifles lol. What do YOU think a good "beginner" rifle would be for me?(shotguns are ok too)

Some considerations- I live in NJ, Im not small framed/weak, I plan on hunting eventually but I dont think my first rifle will have to fill all roles, I am LEFT handed, I have about 600$ saved for this specifically. Cheers.

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May 28, 2011, 06:51 PM
A .22 will do lots of good and should not be dismissed. You say you have some experience but that doesn't really describe what you know. Shooting isn't just squeezing a trigger, there is much more to it in my opinion, an experience that will constantly change. With $600 you can get a good .22 rifle, attend an Appleseed course and find out what you really know and what you will learn.

In the event that you are dead set on a centerfire as your first rifle, make a decent attempt at trying something before you buy it. If your friend recommends the MN I am thinking he may have one, see if you can shoot it. Go to a store and get a feel for various rifles.

One other thing that you have to think about at this point is what do you want this rifle to be used for since it doesn't have to fill all roles, you need to prioritize.

May 28, 2011, 07:12 PM
MDthanatos made a great point. Going and putting hands on would deff help.

First of congrats and happy late birthday.

As for the choices you named.

The lever action would be a very fun first rifle, and 30-30 would be a great all around load.

The mosin nagant is also a great rifle and fun to shoots. Cheap surplus ammo is a plus.(although I dont know where you shoot, some ranges may not allow this ammo)

The shotgun would also be a wonderful choice. You could hunt(i dont know your state laws, some dont allow shotguns from what I understand) deer or bird. You could sport shoot(sporting clays is very fun).

All three choices can very easily be fit into a 600 budget depending on brand. Heck you would buy 4 or 5 mosins with 600 bucks lol.

If you have the money saved already you may decide you want both of two worlds. But dont rush, as said before...go shop feel some guns and decide what you like.

Shotgun wg
May 28, 2011, 07:17 PM
I 2nd the 22 idea. Bullets are cheap and u can learn alot about handling and cleaning and accurate shooting. A 22 can be as much fun to shoot as any weapon. U can also find them pretty cheap 2nd hand. This could allow u to pick up a second rifle for hunting such as a marlin 30/30.

May 28, 2011, 07:17 PM
Thanks for the mention of the Appleseed courses. When I say I have experience I don't mean that i've handled every weapons platform under the sun, I just grew up around guns and have used them for most of my life.

I think that this rifle will just be for me to learn basic shooting practices like trigger control, breathing, positioning and the like. I'm not expressely worried about home defense as im still with my parents and they both have guns for it (not that i wouldnt like to have one for myself but thats a matter for a later date).

A centerfire rifle was just the first thing that sprung to mind when my grandfather(dad's dad) asked what I was getting. My friend actually has a Mosin and she likes it very much, ive seen her shoot it and it seems a bit much for a first gun (not to mention id be likely to punch myself in the face lol).

maybe that helps?

May 28, 2011, 07:34 PM
Ok, trigger control, breathing, positioning screams out .22 to me, but again that is me. I apologize for assuming your friend was a male, no offense meant by it in anyway. Ask your friend if you can shoot her Mosin. When I say shoot I mean put at least 20 rounds down range. I have my experience with Milsurps and some of them are not forgiving. You may not need the 20 rounds but I say 20 is a fair amount to shoot in that platform.

May 28, 2011, 07:45 PM
Yeah, I like the idea of a .22 now that you mention it. .22's are inexpensive as well right? likea box of 500 is $25~.

My friend isn't offended at all lol. She actually likes to make fun of me when I've gone to the range with her always something like "What? a big strong man like you can't shoot better than a lil lady like me?". She is one hell of a shot too. I'm sure she'd be delighted to have me shoot her Mosin and then her Kelltech rfb and her ruger vacquero... she loves her guns.

You wouldnt have any suggestions of a specific model of .22? hopefully one that is left handed friendly.

May 28, 2011, 07:54 PM
A really good quality one would be the CZ452, comes in left hand configuration, but it will be somewhat pricey. I have never had a problem with Savage rifles, they make some in left handed configs as well. I personally love my Marlin 75c, had it for close to 20 years myself, was my old man's before that. My first was an old Remington single shot that my uncle gifted to me but that is out of commission as someone broke the handle on the bolt.

May 28, 2011, 08:03 PM
Good luck in your quest.

I don't shoot long guns as much as I would like, and have a big bias toward .22. My first rifle was a .22 (a .22 Magnum ;)), and though I've bought a few more, that's still the one I've shot most. Cheap ammo is a great thing!

(I wonder how bad the Ruger 10/22 is for a left-hander, or if they make a left-handed version ... I have a Savage bolt-action, but have come to like 10/22s.)


May 28, 2011, 08:05 PM
Im liking that marlin 75, gunbroker has it for less than 200$ and thats well within my budget range. Although they are all used considering they are discontinued lol. The new models from Marlin look real nice too especially the model 60 which seems like an exact copy of the 75. they also have a model 795 that uses a detachable magazine.

Both look really good and solid and i can use them with my cursed left hand. I would say im going to go with one of them. You've been very helpful with my decision process lol thank you.

May 28, 2011, 08:27 PM
If you have $600 to spend, then get two!!!

Definitely get a .22. I have a Marlin model 60. It holds something like 15 rounds, and at $15 for a box of 500, the fun is endless. You could pick one up for $150 or less.

Then, you can get a hunting rifle with what is left over if you plan on eventually getting into that. There are plenty of threads on here about what gun to use for hunting. The reader's digest version is probably that most people would recommend a 30-06 if you are going to hunt big game. I have a .243 and .270 in Model 70 Winchester. Both are great guns too. A .270 will take down any kind of game in North American up to an elk.

May 28, 2011, 08:51 PM
Start with a cheap $100 .22 rifle- a used Marlin 60 or the like, then follow with a centerfire rifle and a shotgun.

Or blow half your budget on a Marlin 39 and be glad you did, and buy a good M39 and a case of ammo with the remainder. Basically, you're on the right track.

I would not personally advise buying a hunting rifle if you're a newb. Hunting rifles are for hunting, and not nearly as interesting as a military surplus rifle, as well as not having the option to use cheap surplus ammo. They're generally not meant for heavy use, and they're generally more expensive. Yes, they're generally more accurate, but you don't have to have a purpose-made "hunting rifle" to take game.

Regardless, the hivemind has served you well and your research and gut feelings based on that research are correct. Stay safe and remember to buy what you like and have fun with it.

And as a lefty, as long as you stay away from bolt-action huntin' rifles with super slick-down bent-back bolts, up-and-over isn't that terribly difficult. Straight-bolt milsurps are not bad at all. I'd almost suggest a K31 or M95 Steyr, but both of those use spendy ammo and the K31 doesn't agree with this lefty at all. And while I love my Ross Rifle, it wasn't cheap and other people have bad opinions of them.

May 28, 2011, 09:03 PM
Thanks, and if i decided to get an out of state tag to go take a whitetail in PA an m39 would be able to take the game humanely and efficiently out to 100~yds right? While my friend can get 3" groupings out to 200yds with her rifle im not that confident in my abilities (yet) although im sure with practice I could make those shots. I am not by any stretch of the imagination a "long range" hunter. I go by the teachings of my granddad to get as close to the animal as possible using what tools and skills you have at hand and making a safe, accurate and ultimately humane shot.

I am definitely picking up a .22 though for practice of my fundementals and just target range fun.

May 28, 2011, 09:36 PM
Man, people actually have to wait til 18 and/or get permits for long guns.........never knew, that's pretty bad.

I'll say 22 as well. My little brother's a southpaw, growing up with our 22's he didnt like my or my fathers semi auto, the expelled gas/shells from the chamber kept hitting him. He got a very nice Remington Pump, tubefed, held 15 or so rounds, of all but about wmr(short, long, long rifle) was quite accurate, dunno if it's me or the gun but I always shot better with my 22, Rem 597, super accurate.

Also yadda yadda, 22's are cheap, fun, easy to learn on. That Nagant could take a deer or so, but they aren't known to be quite accurate, I'd say since you're willing to spend up to $600, get something a little nicer you'll keep/last forever. Some 22's, not only the "tacticools" have rails for sights,scopes, so modding it once you get good on irons is good, less craving to get another gun so fast. But once you buy one, I'm sure you're gonna buy a few more, so maybe don't go all out.

May 28, 2011, 10:27 PM
I guess its just a different world kids grow up in these days. lol

I cant imagine starting out on a .22 at 18. As far as I can remember back as a kid I was always shooting a 20ga shotgun. I'm positive thats the first gun I ever shot. But its different times I guess.

Sorry dont take that wrong, not intending to sound like im demeaning the ideas in this post or anything else. Im just reminiscing for a moment lol. Although I am from know we're just a bunch of rednecks an awl. jk

Well let us know what you decide on. Now im really interested in what you decide on.

Btw. Are you interesting in joining any shooting sports or what not? Your never too young, and dont start too late. I didnt start trap shooting late in life and wish I started years ago.

May 28, 2011, 11:07 PM
Welcome to The High Road, and Happy Birthday!
With $600, here's my 2cents.
I'd get a .22 rifle, not real fancy, and a 12g pump shotgun.
That way, you've got the .22 to practice position shooting, trigger control, all that. Cheap ammo, tons of fun.
With the shotgun, you can shoot trap and other clay games, again, tons of fun.
When you go to the range, check out what guns the other shooters are using, and if you admire them out loud, lots of friendly folks will let you put a few rounds through them.
You'll probably buy lots of guns in your lifetime, these are two solid choices to start, develop technique, and enjoy yourself silly.:D

May 28, 2011, 11:23 PM
I have to agree on the .22 its cheap shooting and a lot of fun. Of course I love my 91/30 as well, but it ain't exactly cheap shootin'

May 28, 2011, 11:32 PM
I'm left handed and my first rifle was a Ruger 10/22.
Its accurate enough for Appleseed and semiauto helps in the timed portions. Also you don't break position to cycle it. Works great for lefties to.

Fred in Wisc
May 28, 2011, 11:47 PM
I agree with that .22 recommendation as well. I have a stack of guns, but the .22s get used the most. With $20 of ammo, you can shoot all day with a .22, or 20 rounds with a centerfire.

You should be able to pick up a good one for under $200 new or used if you shop around. I like the Savage or Marlin bolts (althought the Marlins have a wierd backwards safety), Marlin 39 or Henry levers, or the Remington 597 / Ruger 10/22 / Marlin 60 auto loaders. Try to shoot a bunch of them and see what you like best.

Most of the new shooters I take out prefer the 597- Volquartsen makes a $30trigger upgrade that makes it shoot a lot nicer, and get a couple of 30 shot magazines. We put about 450 rounds through it today shooting bowling pins without a hiccup.

Bolt 22's seem real common at gun shows, at least in the midwest, and you can usually get them for about $100-$125.

Levers are cowboy cool, but you will pay for it. The marlins are seldon under $400 used, and the Henry is $250 ish new. The Marlin is more because it's better.

If you are planning to use a scope, Cabelas has a great deal on some of the Nikons right now, you can get a 2-7x variable for under $100. That will cover hunting, plinking, and informal target shooting. Or an inexpensive holographic sight- fun and cool, but not quite as precise. If you wait for them to go on sale you can get one for about $50.

Then buy a couple bulk packs of ammo, a big pack of Shoot-n-See targets (on sale at right now) and you should still have a couple hundred dollars left over.

Congratulations on your first firearm purchase, stay safe out there.

May 28, 2011, 11:56 PM
With $20 of ammo, you can shoot all day with a .22, or 20 rounds with a centerfire.

At the drop of a hat I can name multiple center fire cartridges you can shoot around 100 rounds worth of for 20 bucks. You thinking of 300 win mag or something?

May 29, 2011, 10:22 AM
Btw. Are you interesting in joining any shooting sports or what not?

Skeet shooting always looked interesting to me but to my knowledge there aren't any places in NJ to do so (except a private range that requires an invitation to shoot):banghead: I'm not aware of other shooting sports that I could be an active participant in because I have to wait until I'm 21 to own a handgun so 3-Gun and Cowboy action is out of the question.

Man, people actually have to wait til 18 and/or get permits for long guns.........never knew, that's pretty bad.

Yeah I have a few friends in PA that've had their own long guns since the beginning of high school. I unfortuneatly live in the wonderful state of New Jersey and even owning an airgun is an issue with people around here. I am personally glad that I can at least have some opportunity to exercise my RKBA. However, first chance I get, Im going to move elsewhere like Vermont, New Hampshire or maybe Idaho. Unless of course things change.

As to the exact model of firearm I'm going to purchase, thats still being debated. I like the marlin model 60's and Henry .22s, I don't know why but I love the lever guns. Any of the AR-15 style .22s are out of the question as it is illegal to own any firearms with a reasonable resemblance to them or Kalashnikovs and a whole manner of other firearms (there's a list).

May 29, 2011, 03:54 PM
Well, if you're going to spring for a lever .22, go for the Marlin 39. Try for a used one, and yes they're pricey, but they are damnawful fun and (I think) a much better rifle than the Henry models.

I sent you a PM about where to go shoot, I have people.

The M39 should be good on deer out to about 500 yards, if you're good enough with the iron sights. But practically speaking, in the northeast, you're unlikely to be taking shots past a hundred yards, and a M39 is more than capable. You could probably make hits with a thrown rock at the average range a deer is shot with.

And a shotgun wouldn't be a bad idea. An old pump like Winchester model 12 or the like, any basic pump shotgun, is maybe $200 tops used if you look around- they're common as dirt, and a great practice tool. If there's any dairy farms around you, ask about shooting pigeons- as long as you're polite and pick up your empties, most places welcome it. I grew up on a dairy, and most of my shooting skill comes from blasting cowbirds with a Winchester 1300 I got for Christmas at eighteen.

And yes, I know this can get to be an expensive hobby kitting up, but it's fun!

May 29, 2011, 05:06 PM
The Marlin 39A is a great idea. Classic design that dates back to 1894 or earlier, accurate, collapsible. Just very few downsides. Price is the only one I can think of; I think they're $500 now.

I suspect they'll stop making it some time soon, because it is expensive to manufacture, and cheaper guns sell most these days.

Speaking of which, the recommendation for a Marlin 60 is a good one too. I have one, and it is a much more accurate gun than a 10/22 out of the box. More reliable too, in my experience. But it is not in the same class as the 39A.

Try one of your friends' Mosin Nagants before buying one. They're a cult rifle, and their main advantage is that they're cheap at the moment. Hard to mount a scope to. They're not for everyone.

I bought into the hype and bought an SKS when they were cheap. They're reliable and tough-looking, but not accurate, and again, hard to mount a scope to a non-moving part. (upper receiver doesn't count on this gun)

Deer hunting isn't for everyone either. It takes some commitment. Try it with a borrowed gun first time, or maybe a convertible shotgun than can be used for other things. (skeet, trap, home defense) I went a couple winters ago and froze my butt. It was 7 degrees that morning, and it was not worth the suffering.

May 29, 2011, 05:07 PM
Buy a 22 and earn to shoot I mean muscle memory, sight memory, etc. Go to a shooting range and observe. Someone may give you invaluable knowledge. You may find a good deal on a gun at the range. If you want a lever action look around, Winchester, Henry, Browning and Savage. I have a Mosin M44, they do recoil a bit and the modern guns are, in the long run, a better choice. 30-30 is OK for hunting but ammo might be costly. 243 is a very nice caliber for your part of the world.

May 29, 2011, 06:21 PM
You list a great choice as far as I am concerned. (if not the perfect 1st gun)

A Marlin 336 or 30AW in 30-30 is a great choice and one that you would cherish for a lifetime.

Your budget allows you a lot of good choices actually.
I like the idea of .22 as well.

A model 60 and the 30-30 fits the budget. If you shop local gun shops you could actually aquire a pair of Lever guns....I just looked locally and they have a browning .22 lever and many marlins for $250-$300

A Marlin model 39 .22 would probably take all your money and a Model 336/30 in 30-30 is typically running $300 used. These prices go up around Sept. almost everywhere.

I just bought the 30AW below for $249.00 and feel like I stole it! (My Opinion) It just came out of pawn at local pawn shop. He was getting ready to price it and let it go for $249.00 (said he was going to put $299 on it).

I myself would not reccomend a Mosin for a first gun...just me!

You can go dreaming here and look at guns and prices (general idea)

He showed me alot and always told me it's best to "die on your feet than to live on your knees" and to defend your way of life, your family, your friends and neighbors and your country.

Sounds Like your Grandpa Walked "The High Road" In Life and has left you with a Legacy to carry forward.

Good Luck with your purchases and always keep the Firearms Safety In Mind!

Rule # 1
Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
Rule # 2
Never let the muzzle of a gun point at anything you do not want to destroy or kill.
Rule # 3
Keep your finger straight and off the trigger.
Rule # 4
Be absolutely sure of your target, and what is behind it.
Here is a good link

May 29, 2011, 06:47 PM
Congratulations! I am so happy for you. :)

Don't let any one, or even any three guys here convince you of what you need!

What I will tell you is that your first desire for a 30-30 is not a bad thing! That cartridge is not only capable of much, it is low recoil, and one of the cheaper / more common centerfires! You would be served well by one.

As another poster said a quality .22lr rifle is always useful, whether you are a new shooter or a vet. CZ rifles can no be beaten at their price point. You would have to pay at least double the money for a better built, better quality gun. My CZ 453 'American' is one of my most treasured possessions.

A quality 12 or 20 gauge shotgun is another indispensable long arm. The Browning BPS and Remington 'Wingmaster' are probably the best quality guns for their price points.

My recommendation is to buy all three. :D

May 29, 2011, 06:59 PM
I would like to thank everyone that has posted on this thread. The information you guys have presented is invaluable, appreciated and firmly accepted.

For those of you that are interested in the exact firearms I will be purchasing (I have in fact made a decision)

1)Used Marlin Model 60C for 185$ from a friend of the family that is selling it. I checked it out today and it is very clean and the bore is excellent, no rust or pitting.

2)Used Marlin 336 Big Lever Loop model for 430$ from a gunshop in Glasboro. I was looking at the rifle and its metal parts had an odd look to them (not ugly or bad just not in character for the rifle) and asked the guy at the counter about it and he said the last owner (whom he referred to as an "idjiut") took the blueing off and Duracoated it black. He said it degraded the value of the rifle significantly and that was his reasoning for the low price. I took a likeing to the so called "ugly rifle" and made it mine. If you ask me, it looks quite nice with that hard black contrasting to the laminate stock and with the winters we've had in the tri-state area that big loop may come in handy.

All in all I'm very satisfied with my selection and though it came in a little bit above budget (615$) with a 200$ "grant" from my uncles for ammo I was able to stock up. Now I just need to expend some brass so I can learn how to work the RCBS reloading kit my Granddad left me.:)

Again, thank you everyone for the input and I think I'm gonna like my travels along The High Road.

May 29, 2011, 10:38 PM
congratulations on the buy! I bet you will be very pleased with the 30 30.

May 29, 2011, 10:46 PM
good choices on the rifles...shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot

May 30, 2011, 02:23 AM
C'mon man, ya gotta show of your new toys, pics ?

May 30, 2011, 02:26 AM
Like a lot of people have said, get a .22 My nephew is left handed also, and just today he was showing me his latest toy, a highly customized Ruger 10/22, he bought a heavy barrel version from the local Wal-Mart about a month ago for around $250, and has added custom left hand stock, left hand safety, red dot sight, etc. I think he has about $700 into it now, 10/22 is very popular, base model is under $200 new, used for less than that, while it would not be my first choice in .22's to learn to shoot on as it is a semi-auto, it is a great bang for the buck and easy to resell for around what you pay for it if you buy used, also if your into customizing there are an incredible number of parts available to fit it.


May 30, 2011, 09:29 AM
I can only get a pic of my 336, I have yet to receive the Model 60.

Sorry for the bad image quality lol I don't have a quality camera and I had to crop my feet out.

May 30, 2011, 04:17 PM
Congrats! (Both on your birthday and your purchases) And Welcome.

I a huge fan of levers too. You can do anything that needs doing with your choices. Don't forget to download the Owner's Manual: (

May 30, 2011, 08:29 PM
Way to go!

May 31, 2011, 03:36 AM
The matte black/wood combo doesn't look too shabby, congrats, both should last at least your lifetime.

May 31, 2011, 08:35 PM
30-30 marlin lever action will not beat you up and allow you to concentrate on sight picture, breathing and trigger squeeze, the basics of marksmanship. You should be able to pick up a good used one for $300-$350 and have enough left over for a pair of electronic hearing protectors (ALWAYS use hearing protection when shooting, even .22's) some ammo (30-30 cheap compared to other calibers, and a membership in a shooting range.

June 1, 2011, 01:27 PM
Just my opinion, everyone should start with a .22 single shot.

June 2, 2011, 09:02 AM
Even though I have owned many different types of rifles and still have quite a few, I always go back to my ol' beater Glenfield 60. I was at the range two days ago and the only long arm I shot was the Glenfield; it's just too fun to ignore. If you can't find an older Glenfield, then get a newer Marlin 60. Tip: The older ones hold more rounds and are built a bit better. See if you can get one with the metal trigger guard; the plastic ones break a bit near the rear screw hole.

June 3, 2011, 08:44 AM
Start off right , get a .30-30 lever action , or (my preferance) .45-70 lever , you get good quick or you lose your shoulder !!!

On the pistol front , get a 1911 .45 ACP, no question!

Wheel gun , SW model 66 .357 mag

Shotgun , I think this is the best quality/ price market for weapons anything by Mossberg,Ithaca, Remington ,Winchester ,you cant go wrong , I want the new Kel-Tec!

June 3, 2011, 12:46 PM
I think the 10/22 is fine for left handers. None of the lefties who've fired mine have complained about getting hit with brass.
I also like the CZ-452 option but they aren't cheap and the magazines for them are also not cheap. One of them could eat up half your budget or more without any ammo being purchased. Were I looking for a good learning/general shooting .22 rifle today I think I'd seriously consider a detachable magazine bolt action from either Marlin or Savage. I suppose a tube magazine would as well, but I generally just don't like them. I think the Savage or Marlin option would get you a decent .22 rifle and several thousand rounds of ammo for about $300.
If you like centerfires, I can't argue against a Marlin 30-30. I've had a couple and while I don't own them now, I'd like to own a couple more Marlin lever actions at some point. Ammo is fairly inexpensive and they're good hunting rifles that could be pressed into service for defense. I see used ones going for $250-$300 locally here.
I noticed that the OP mentioned the Mosin. One thing on Mosins is that you have to be good and determined if you're going to use the safety. It's as safe as a safety gets IMO, but it's kind of tough to get off. It would take some work to get used to it for hunting but it could be done. But it's not as user friendly as just pulling the hammer back on a Marlin. I was also concerned that a lefty might not be able to work the bolt so I grabbed my brother's 91/30 and tried it. I am right handed but I was able to work the bolt acceptably well from the shoulder left handed by reaching over top of the action. If the OP has Mosins available to handle he should try this before buying, but I think it could work. My favorite Mosin is by far the Finnish M-39, but 91/30's are also serviceable and about a third the cost.

Now that I read your choices were already made, I'd say you made some solid decisions.
However, it sounds like the Marlin Model 60 is overpriced. I think they're less than that new locally. I'd put a good price on a used one, even in excellent condition, no higher than $125-$150. Even that might be too much, because something is telling me they are less than $150 new. So if possible, I'd do some research and renegotiate that deal first. Just because they're friends doesn't mean you need to overpay.

June 3, 2011, 01:05 PM
Nice choices and happy birthday. As someone who just got into shooting recently I think you will find there are just too many guns you "have to have". A Mosin would be a nice addition and at around $100 with cheap surplus ammo you cant go wrong. Milsurps in general are a lot of fun and they're not very expensive. Its always a good idea to start with a .22. A lot of people dismiss them but they are cheap, build skill and if you look around youtube, can be accurate at quite a long range. Have fun.

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