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If you can afford only 1 Bolt action, which caliber should it be?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Razor_J, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Razor_J

    Razor_J Well-Known Member

    I'm in the market to buy a new bolt action rifle. I have $400 to spend and I am set on a savage either used or a new axis or a Stevens 200. I just wanted to make that clear so no brand wars will occur. I have a 22 magnum that covers me out to 300 yards are so. it is light, accurate and I know it well. I also have a mosin that is minute of deer vitals out to about 150 yards. I am looking for a rifle that I can scope up and shoot out to about 1k. I want to do this for fun and to have a rifle that delivers accurate, and very respectable energy from a football field away to way the heck out there. My problem is that I dont know what caliber to get.

    At first I wanted a big boomer for the fun factor and flatness of shooting at long range such as 7stw, 300 mag, 6.5x284 etc. Then I thought that those rounds would be to bulky and way too loud in a post socio-economic collapse setting. I have been told that magnums would be beacons when you really dont need that kind of company not to mention brass availability and current expense of stocking up components. I then though that 308, 30-06, or 243 would do me fine but again that brought me to a question of availability of reloading components and weight/size constraints of transporting several hundred rounds of ammo along with components for several hundred more.

    My current idea is that a 223 with the 1 in 9 twist would be the best option. I can buy ammo components for relatively cheap and I can stock up while staying on my limited budget. The rifle will be light as this is a light caliber, the recoil is also light which is good. I hear that you get a moderate amount of life out of these barrels so long as you clean them well and dont burn them with too hot loads or string too many shots close together. I hear that specificly in the savages folks are seeing great results with bullets that range from the 52 grain a-max to 72 grain bergers. This would mean that I could use bullets scavanged from 223 semi auto ammo that I happen to run across meant for semi autos, or I could conserve my heavier weighted bullets for shots beyond 500 yards. I could also carry several hundred rounds in a fanny pack which I couldnt do with any of the above calibers.

    Thoughts on the subject?
  2. chaser_2332

    chaser_2332 Well-Known Member

    .223 is a great caliber, it will get to 1000 but it doesn't like it. I would go Stevens 200 anyway over the savage axis. I would rather have a faster twist barrel if you did want to shoot bullets made for longer ranges. Look for 1-8 or 1-7 twist.
  3. cal30_sniper

    cal30_sniper Well-Known Member

    My vote would be the .308. Go anywhere, do pretty much anything, and be able to find ammo when you get there. It'll perform a lot better at the longer ranges than that .223 will, yet its still not that expensive to reload, and milsurp ammunition will be available again when the scare is over.

    I grabbed a Savage 110 in .30-06 for exactly the purpose you're talking about. I chose the '06, because I already have several hundred rounds laying around for the Garand. I've got a Savage 10 in .308 back home, but it doesn't have enough scope for long range (only a Weaver K2.5 for moderate range hunting). It still shoots sub MOA with commercial ammo though, and about 1.5MOA with the surplus 7.62 I have.
  4. john wall

    john wall Well-Known Member


    Ruger Gunsite Scout, 308.
  5. tarosean

    tarosean Well-Known Member

    30-06, still one of the most popular rounds in America.

    JSNAPS Well-Known Member

    30-06, just a little more than a .308. Love both, prefer the 06
  7. Jasper1573

    Jasper1573 Well-Known Member


    30-06 is also a viable option with a bit more recoil than the .308 and costs a bit more to reload, but shoots the same projectiles as the .308 Win
  8. Andrew Leigh

    Andrew Leigh Well-Known Member


    There is a reason why the calibre has been around for over 100 years, 'cause it is an excellent choice. Happy with 130 to 200gr, bullets, great for close bush hunting, enough energy for deer further away.

    Ammo readily available in a wide selection, great cartridge to reload with numerous options available. Proven our far where heavier bullets work well.

    There are many pretenders to the throne but only one King when it comes to a "go to" rifle for most occasions.

    The only caveat is that the 30-06 is widely considered to be on the threshhold of many a shooters recoil tolerance. If you are recoil averse then a .308 or 6.5mm may well be the stuff.

    When shooting out that far it is crucial to have better than MOA accuracy, practice, careful reloading and the performance of a .300 calibre round can give you this.
  9. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

  10. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Well-Known Member

    I'm getting a Savage Axis in .30-06 as my go-to bolt action. I know folks bag on the Axis for being a 'disposable' gun, but whatever. It's also one of the only affordable left handed bolt guns out there.

    I thought about other caliber, but I've got a buddy that reloads for the 06, so I can save on ammo costs there.
  11. Water-Man

    Water-Man Well-Known Member

    6.5x55 SE.
  12. B!ngo

    B!ngo Well-Known Member

    +1 again. Another vote for .308.
    Greater range and mass versus .223; a bolt-action aids the accuracy that a longer-range shooter may require. Yet it's the 'other' commonly available (read lower-price) rifle caliber (due to it's military spec and scale). If budget allows, I'd look for a rifle model whose magazine design is a standard/volume design (e.g. AI, perhaps others) so you can ride the cost curve of both the cartridge spec and the mag spec as well.
    I just bought a Tikka in .308 but there are lots of others to choose from closer to your specified constraints.

  13. Browning

    Browning Well-Known Member

    .308 Win.
  14. lefteyedom

    lefteyedom Well-Known Member

    Nothing wrong with the Axis for the price, that said, a used simple savage 10 or Stevens 200 would do you great and you can upgrade stock, barrels, triggers,optics as you want.

    The ability to swap barrels out yourself is one of the better parts of having a Savage.

    308 will do about everything you asked, if you want to reach out 1000 meters then get a target grade barrel in 260 Remington.

    A Savage model 10 can be a switch barrel rifle for
    338 federal
    358 win
    With only a wrench and set of go, nogo gages.
  15. wyohome

    wyohome Well-Known Member

  16. slowr1der

    slowr1der Well-Known Member

    If I could only have one caliber it would be a 30-06.
  17. Zach S

    Zach S Well-Known Member

    I look at the .30-06 as the "standard" for bolt action rifles, like the 12 gauge for shotguns.
  18. Centurian22

    Centurian22 Well-Known Member

    I'll vote .308 axis as I'm very happy with mine.
  19. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    25-06 you can bust varmints to elk with it effectively. Another great choice but have to reload is 6.5mm-06. More bullet selection in .25 though and nice varmint ammo to big game ammo off the shelf. I own around 30 turn bolts and this caliber is my go-to more than all others combined.
  20. TooManyToys

    TooManyToys Well-Known Member

    .308 or 30.06

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