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A good multi-use rifle?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by nixdorf, Nov 21, 2010.

  1. nixdorf

    nixdorf New Member

    Nov 10, 2010
    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!
  2. dc.fireman

    dc.fireman Member

    Dec 13, 2008
    Manassas, Va.
    How about a Marlin lever gun?
  3. texaz

    texaz New Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    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.
  4. crazyivan

    crazyivan New Member

    Aug 30, 2010
    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.
  5. velojym

    velojym Active Member

    Apr 9, 2006
    .243 is what immediately occurred to me, too.
  6. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Participating Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    ********** Kollective
    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?
  7. nixdorf

    nixdorf New Member

    Nov 10, 2010
    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?

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

    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.
  8. Kachok

    Kachok Senior Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Palestine TX
    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.
  9. Sky

    Sky Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2010

    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


    Happy days are here again!

    P.S. Sorry I just felt like it!
  10. sappyg

    sappyg Participating Member

    Nov 6, 2010
    South Carolina
    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.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2010
  11. Naybor

    Naybor Member

    Nov 5, 2010
    Was South East Oklahoma ~ Now Southern Ohio
    .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.
  12. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Senior Member

    Feb 5, 2010
    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!
  13. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Senior Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    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.
  14. Rifleman 173

    Rifleman 173 Member

    May 24, 2007
    Central Illinois
    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.
  15. kaferhaus

    kaferhaus Active Member

    Nov 26, 2004
    Mobile, Alabama
    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.
  16. GunTech

    GunTech Senior Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    Helena MT
    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.
  17. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    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.
  18. BoilerUP

    BoilerUP Active Member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Clark Co, IN
    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.
  19. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 26, 2002
    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?
  20. geologist

    geologist Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    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.

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