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Choosing a beginner deer rifle

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by bobbo, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. bobbo

    bobbo Member.

    Apr 11, 2010
    Upstate NY
    I was thinking today about some good, small-caliber deer rounds for beginners (light recoil, low purchase price, cheap ammo, utility for certain small game/varmint shooting). What do you think of these options in a single-shot, lever-action or a cheap bolt-action:

    .357 Magnum (.38 special for practice, plinking)

    Also, which action:

    BTW, this is prompted by a hunter safety course I'm taking (felt like a safety refresher couldn't hurt anything, and there is free coffee, haha), and there's all these small kids I wouldn't want to hand a 300 Win Mag to.
  2. P.B.Walsh

    P.B.Walsh Senior Member

    Mar 11, 2009
    Bolt .243, but I'm kinda in love with bolt-actions.
  3. nathan

    nathan Mentor

    Feb 4, 2003
    A .243 WInchester is a good choice. Ammo is plentiful at Walmaart at $14 a box. More trigger time is more practice. With a good scope it s deadly at 200 yds .
  4. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Elder

    Jun 11, 2005
    I would look at a 243 > 25-06 > 7mm-08 calibers in a bolt action rifle. Visit gunshows for ideas and perhaps a fair price on a used gun. I would look at Savage as my No. 1 choice new.

    Caliber choice really depends on "how much" varmint hunting and what the varmints are. My first rifle was a Mossberg 243 which I used for both groundhogs and whitetail deer. I tend to favor the .243 win in general. If you do occasional varmint hunting (like a couple times a year) and the varmints are big or you're just shooting groundhogs around your house, I would lean toward the 30-30 win caliber, or my standard recommendation of something in the 270 > 308 > 30-06 power range. More recoil to be sure, but not bad when you consider that many use 7mm, 300 win mag and similar calibers for deer hunting.
  5. BossHogg

    BossHogg Active Member

    Dec 28, 2008
    An open sight 30-30 would be a great starting rifle for deer. Plenty of ammo choices, small size for going through brush and lever-action is just plain cool. Still one of my favorite rifles. Fun factor is , well FUN.
  6. Xytmnt

    Xytmnt New Member

    Nov 6, 2009
    I second (or third/fourth) the 30-30 comment. Level action gives off a old west feel for younger new hunters.. Gimmicky yes but if it's enough to keep them interested through their first bought of buck fever I'll take it!
  7. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Senior Member

    Feb 28, 2006
    Sullivan County PA
    A friend of mine, money in hand, asked me the same question. We went out and bought a new Savage synthetic stocked 7mm08 bolt action rifle for around $300. He has never regretted the choice. His first two years he nailed two bucks and two doe from varying ranges. It also can double as a groundhog rig.

    Of the choices you offered I would clearly choose the .243. It is a B choice for deer, but entirely adequate. I like slightly heavier bullets. I would rate the .30-30 as a C choice because of its more arched trajectory and available rifles. While I love lever actions they are lousy choices for beginners. The .357,in my opinion, is an F choice. It lacks both the energy and range for effective deer hunting.

    I use a 6.5x55 which I consider ideal for deer. In my ideal category are the .257 Roberts (waning), 7mm08, .260 Remington, 7x57 Mauser, 6.5x55 Swede. Good all around cartridges include the .308, .270, .280, and the venerable and uniquitous .30-06.

    Everybody has their own opinions. (mine come with years of shooting experience) Good luck to you. Picking a caliber and a rifles is part of the fun.
  8. Uncle Mike

    Uncle Mike Senior Member

    Nov 5, 2008
    never never land...never land here!
    Oooh, I'll play... Bolt rifle, .243, 257, 260 or one of the 6mm's. I like the 6mm Remington. You could migrate to the 6.5's also, they are pretty easy on you, the 6.5 Creedmoor is quickly becoming a deer hunting favorite, so I hear! Don't forget the 6.5X55 either.

    Lever... 243, 30-30, 32 Remington.

    Break Action... Same as the bolt rifle.

    I don't know, all my young'uns started doing deer around 10 or 12 IIRC, and I do remember what caliber they all shot, the 7mm-08, it was all we had for them to shoot that wasn't a pile driver on one end! They all shot it well, all the gals!

    The fit of the rifle is of the utmost importance, many a bad habit has been birthed from shooting a firearm that did not fit the operator correctly, and even stout recoil isn't felt as much IF the stock fits you correctly.

    Length of pull, comb height, (this one is probably the most important and the least adhered to) and the balance is important as well...too heavy on one end or the other changes everything, everything a young shooter cannot compensate for, be it from lack of knowledge or strength.
    And really, you should not HAVE to compensate for anything, if all is right.
  9. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Mentor

    Dec 19, 2006
    Marlin 1894 in .44 Remington magnum
  10. Tentwing

    Tentwing New Member

    Mar 26, 2010
    GA Dawg being held captive by the TN Volunteers

    I actually posted this response in another thread about lever action and truck guns, but I think it applies to your thread as well.

    I love my Marlin 336c 30-30. Cheap ammo, accurate with open sites, un-noticable recoil, and here in the Southeast it will put down every critter out there. ;)

    If I could only keep ONE game rifle out of all that I own that lever action 30-30 would be it. It may not be the best at anything, ( accuracy ,distance,power etc..) but it covers so many bases so well that it just might be the best all round :)

  11. kanook

    kanook Participating Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    357mag lever action

    you can go from 110grn all the way over 200grn.

    You have a wider choice of ammo, and it'll give you a reason to get a revolver in same.
  12. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Elder

    Oct 14, 2005
    Northwest Arkansas
    I will not start someone out on a levergun no way no how.

    Halfcock cafetys where the trigger must be pulled over a live round to put the gun on "safe" isn't something you want a child or novice doing. Which marlins crossbolt works around this issue but introduces problems of it's own. 9 tomes in 10 an excited beginner when confronted with a deer will drop the hammer on the crossbolt in the excitment thus not bagging thier deer and getting frustrated with hunting in the process.

    They might be inaccurate but Imo the best platform for the beginner is the break action single shot. Simply because such a rifle with an x-fer bar safety is safe by default and is only "hot" the moment before you shoot. All you have to do is teach em to not touch the hammer till they're ready to shoot
  13. DIM

    DIM Participating Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    .243 or 30-30 would be a wise choice, 357 would only be good for short distances. Have you considered 7.62 x39 Remington had bolt action 798 two years ago also CZ got their 527 chambered for it as well, also you can get semiautomatic SKS, they are cheap and durable and reliable.
  14. bpl

    bpl Active Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I like a bolt action or single shot in .243, .257 Bob, .260 or 7mm-08 for a beginner. I really like the 7mm-08. I'd avoid the lever actions for the same reasons as Krochus mentions above. Remember that nowadays you can buy reduced recoil ammo off the shelf, so larger cartridges (270, 308, 30-06) can be tamed for smaller shooters. You could take an adult rifle in a more substantial cartridge and cut down/change the stock for a shorter LOP.

    We're using a Remington Model 7 youth with a 20" barrel in 7mm-08 for our 11yr old. We took 2 deer with it this last season, both with one shot using Remington Managed Recoil. I picked the 7mm-08 over the .243 as I felt it was a better choice for black bear and could be used for elk if the opportunity ever arose.
  15. slowr1der

    slowr1der Active Member

    Mar 25, 2010
    The Savage Model 10 they sell at Walmart for right under $400 in .243 would be my choice. It's a great gun, has the amazing accu trigger, and is just a all around gun in general. Now the $400 package includes a cheap Simmons scope. It seems to be decent and get decent reviews. I say decent as it doesn't seem to be good but not crap either. They seem to work and will get you by until you can afford something nicer. They just aren't the clearest. It also comes with a sling. Overall, I'm just not sure that package can be beat.

    My second choice would be a Marlin XS-7 in .243 or a XL-7 in 25-06. With this you would have to buy a scope. It also has a trigger similar to the accu trigger although I'm not sure how good they are. This seems like a nice choice also but I think the Savage is a better choice.

    If you don't want to spend the money for a Savage you can get a Stevens 200 for cheaper without the scope and without the accu trigger. It's basically an older model 10 without the accu trigger. However, to me the accu trigger would be worth the extra price difference.
  16. StarDust1

    StarDust1 Member

    Jun 3, 2009
    Northwest Wisconsin
    Young & first time hunters should be limited to single shot firearms, bolt or break action being appropriate to the task.
  17. DIM

    DIM Participating Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    my 1st deer rifle was SKS :)) I got it at the gun show for 80 bucks, of course Florida deer are small but I think 7.62x39 is capable for northern bucks as well, ammo is cheap and abundant, don't like semiautomatics go for bolt or single shots
  18. chicharrones

    chicharrones Senior Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    Galveston Bay is an Hour Away
    Anyone know a young shooter under 18 that even cares about cowboy style lever guns? All the kids I know want to be a sniper these days. :scrutiny:

    I think bolt action is the way to go, but I wouldn't get a single shot. I'd get a detachable magazine rifle and give 'em one bullet at a time until the young shooter is competent. Plus, as much as scopes are apparently required on all rifles these days, I'd prefer to set up the rifle in question with an aperture sight. They can get a scope for Christmas if they still want one. :p
  19. Bud Tugly

    Bud Tugly Active Member

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ishpeming, MI
    An H&R single shot break open in .243 would be ideal for a beginner. Light weight, inexpensive, little recoil, fairly cheap and widely available ammo, and since you rarely get a second shot at a deer anyway why do you need a repeater?

    Another huge plus is that when the gun is broken open it's a positive proof to fellow hunters that the gun is in safe mode and unable to be fired. A beginner could easily forget to put the safety on or fail to eject all the shells from a repeater and that could be disaterous.
  20. Fremmer

    Fremmer Senior Member

    Oct 9, 2009
    I agree with krochus. No lever action, it doesn't make for a good platform with a scope. A beginner will do well to get a bolt action in .270, .30-06, or .308; you can always only load one round if you want to for safety.

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