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TOTALLY newb type of question - help me understand and also to start shopping

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Sproles, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. Sproles

    Sproles Active Member

    Alright - I am new to this "long gun" stuff. I have a good friend that has quite the selection of handguns and also rifles and this has gotten me interested in the search for my beginner rifle. I love to shoot and would like to find something that has multiple uses. One goa lof mine is to add a good scatter gun for the house and home defense, so the MAIN purpose of this weapon would not be to defend INSIDE my home, but outside at longer ranges...maybe. Plinking and accuracy shooting would be another bill this gun would fit. Varmit hunting would be another possible activity. NOW, I know that you all will tell me to buy two or three different weapons to fit ALL those bills perfectly, but time, money and the appearance of "excess" is something that I fight and that is not an option.

    I am an avid member on bladeforums.com and have people ask for advice like this over there re: knives all the time and there are people who want to tell them to go out and buy a $300 custom knife as their entry into the world of knives...typically not practical. There are also some people who say to buy this one, and that one and the next one to fit ALL their needs - also not practical, but there is the ocassional responder who gives some GOOD solid aadvice for the entry (nice quality) suggestion that will come close to fitting most of the needs. Is it the nicest knife in the world? NO. Is it the hottest thing off the R&D line of the nicest manufacturer? NO. Is it the cheap junk knife at Wal-Mart? NO.

    So, I say all of that to ask for your help in this endeavor.

    FIRST: caliber?
    --Self defense and hunting round COUPLED with the ability to shoot it for plinking and for fun without breaking the bank.

    SECOND: style?
    --"AR" type of weapon or something more like a bolt action, etc? (again, I am ignorant in this arena...)

    THIRD: accessories?
    --Can this thing be added to and adapted to grow with my love and need to for more.

    My next request is to talk to me like I am an idiot, and also PLEASE provide pics, websites, etc to help describe and differentiate these issues. Prices would be helpful also. Since I am new to this search, I have not yet set a budget. It might be $300 or $900 - who knows. I might find out that this is a love that I cannot afford and will move on to something different.

    Are you up for this challenge? Can you help me in my ignorance? I hope so and I TRULY thank you for your help.

  2. dakotasin

    dakotasin Well-Known Member

    caliber: 25-06
    rifle: bolt action
    - make/model: remington 700 (get it off the used rack).
    accessories: yep, you can make it grow, and grow, and grow. scopes, mounting systems, bipods, stock, trigger, simple gunsmithing, etc.

    prices... a savvy shopper can pick up a used rem 700 in real good shape, possibly w/ a cheap scope mounted on it, for around $250-400.

    scopes... the sky is the limit. i would say plan to spend $150-200 for a solid first scope. more money gets a better scope, but it takes a discriminating eye to catch the differences once you cross into the $300 area.

    bolt guns are easy to operate, easy to upgrade, and tend to be easier for early shooters to achieve accuracy from than semi-autos.
  3. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member


    That's really open ended. An AR would be fine, but a basic AR isn't much of a varmit rifle. A heavy barreled .223 bolt action would a great varmit rifle, but I'd classify it as more of an offensive than defensive weapon. Either would be great fun as a plinker and the ammo cost is very modest. You're looking at about $900 to set up either right.

    You might reconsider dividing your requisites needs between 2 rifles. Rifles tend be specialized beast, rather like knives. An inexpensive rifle like an SKS might serve the defensive/low cost plinking role while a single shot or inexpensive bolt might be serve the varmint hunting/skill development/long range plinking role. You could do both for the same $900.

    Whatever you decide, buy quality and think in terms of systems. You will not get the full benefit of an accurate rifle with cheap glass or mounts. Spend a little more to get sights the equal of the rifle you pick and save yourself some frustration.

  4. jobu07

    jobu07 Well-Known Member

    I think you are a candidate for an ak clone in the flavor of your choosing or a cheap sks or two, again, in the flavor of your choosing. Cheap to buy cheap to shoot, and a ton of fun without breaking the bank!
  5. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member

    Single Shot (Break Action)

    Not as strong as bolt action or falling block
    Fairly slow reload
    Low-Moderate cost
    Additional Barrels/Calibers

    Harrington & Richardson

    Single Shot (Falling Block)

    Good Accuracy Potential
    Compact size
    Slow Reload
    Moderately expensive

    Ruger No.1
    Winchester 1885

    Bolt Action

    Good Accuracy Potential
    Better rate of fire than single shots

    Ruger Model 77
    CZ 550
    Remington Model 700
    Winchester Model 70
    Savage Model 10/110
    Weatherby Vanguard
    Howa 1500

    Lever Action

    Slightly faster rate of fire than bolt action
    Not as strong as bolt action or falling block
    Greater potential for mediocre accuracy
    Some designs incompatible with optics
    Limited range

    Marlin 336
    Winchester Model 94


    Fastest rate of fire
    Fastest overall reload
    Variable accuracy
    Variable compatibility with optics
    Variable cost

    AR15 type
    Kalashnikov type
    FAL type
    M1 Garand
    Ruger Mini 14/Mini 30
    Etc. Etc.

    This is brief, general and incomplete. I'll add more late.

    Last edited: Mar 3, 2005
  6. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy Well-Known Member

    For a starter combo (not in one rifle)

    An NEF (New England Firearms) Handi-Rifle in .223 or .308 would make an excellent accurate gun (the rifles only run about $150 but are very accurate break-open single shots) with a scope would handle the target work and varmint hunting since you're not gonna get hit by a wave of pissed-off woodchucks or prairie dogs, it's a single-shot affair. For the price they're hard to beat.

    An SKS ($200) would cover your longer-range defense (10 shots of 7.62X39mm like the AK shoots, loaded by stripper clip) and is a fairly handy rifle and easy to learn to use, it makes a good truck gun, pig hunting or coyote gun, and the two guns and a scope would cost you under $500 or so.

    A "one-gun" option would be an AR-15, but that would run you $700-900 for a flattop reciever 20" barreled model or 16.5" barreled model, which would be both a fun range toy, a fairly accurate rifle out to 300+ yards, and a good defensive weapon, however, it's more expensive to buy.
  7. Bwana John

    Bwana John Well-Known Member

    A good .308 bolt gun (M70/700 ect), with open sights, and scope.

    major caliber, good for anything in North America.
    cheap surplus ammo (~$0.15/round).
    available used in most sporting goods stores.
    accurate, and dependable.
    very PC, not the "Evil Black Rifle" look.
  8. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

    OK, you are new to shooting so reloading is probably out of the question. This basically means that if you want something affordable, you are looking at military calibers such as .30-06, .308 (7.62x51), .223(5.56x45), 7.62x39, or 7.62x54R.

    The Russian calibers are the cheapest to shoot (7.62x39 and 7.62x54R) and the rifles that shoot them are typically cheaper to own. The 7.62x39 would be suitable for short range (100-200yds) hunting and self-defense. The 7.62x54R is a heavier caliber suited for longer ranges; but the heavier recoil will mean follow-up shots are slower in self-defense scenarios.

    All of the American calibers are more expensive (as are the rifles that shoot them usually); but they are a little more common and there is better variety of ammo types offered in each caliber. The .30-06 and .308 have very similar performance; but there is less variety and more expense in .30-06 usually. .223 (5.56x45) is a very popular and affordable caliber and a very accurate flat shooting caliber that is friendly to new shooters; but will demand more attention to shot placement than the larger calibers for hunting anything above small game.

    Already a good discussion the various actions.

    The problem is that your question is still very broad. It would take pages and pages to give you the detail you desire over such a broad subject. Anything you can do to narrow the topic down by explaining the criteria you want in the rifle would help get you better responses.
  9. Clean97GTI

    Clean97GTI Well-Known Member

    As a first long gun, I'd say go with a Ruger 10/22. CHEAP to shoot, fun to shoot and it will teach you the basics without breaking your shoulder or the bank.
    You said you wanted something more powerful, so I guess the beloved 10/22 is out for now.

    That being said, the SKS sounds like an ideal rifle. 7.62x39 is cheap for a rifle cartridge, it is widely available and packs enough punch to stop humans and small-midsize game. I wouldn't hesitate to take a shot at a small deer with a 7.62x39 caliber weapon.
    The SKS is cheap as well and is very robust. Shooter grade Yugo SKS are running a little over $100 depending on where you go. Prices may be higher in your area, so shop around. The weight of the rifle also absorbs the light recoil of the ammo.

  10. HankB

    HankB Well-Known Member

    If I had NO long guns at all right now, a good first pick would be an SKS or AK-pattern rifle. The SKS ought to be available for under $200, the AK probably twice that. They both fire the CHEAP 7.62x39 cartridge and with softpoint ammo, are perfectly fine to hunt game up to deer in size. Both are durable, reliable, have very light recoil, and are fairly economical. The disadvantage is that they don't exactly provide pinpoint accuracy and they aren't all that easy to put a 'scope on.

    Good AR15-pattern rifles start at around $750 and go up from there. They are normally chambered for the .223/5.56mm cartridge, and good ammo can be had for less than $4 for a box of 20. Accuracy is likely to be noticeably better than SKS/AK rifles. Stick to the name brands here - Armalite, Bushmaster, and Colt

    If you're looking for something a bit more powerful, look around for a used Winchester Model 70 or Remington Model 700 in .308 or .30/06. There's plenty of reasonably priced .308 ammo around (same as 7.62 NATO) and you can still find .30/06 surplus ammo cheap . . . though neither is as cheap to feed as an AK or SKS. Accuracy is likely to be much better, and putting a 'scope on is a piece of cake. (Look to spend at least $200 for a decent 'scope if you buy new.)

    Autoloading rifles such as the FAL variants, the M1A, and the M1 Garand start at around $500 . . . some are easier to 'scope than others. The only commercial autoloader I'd recommend in a large caliber is the Browning . . . I've seen too many Remington jammamatics.
  11. Ash

    Ash Well-Known Member

    Get a Savage 110, Remington 700, Winchester 70, or something similar in a comercial bolt gun (Savages are as good or better than Remington or Winchester and tend to be cheaper). Get it used (I bought a Stevens 110 in .243 for $200) but in good shape. Look it over and you'll know if it is good. Get it in .30-06. Ammo is only marginally more expensive than .308, but you can hunt anything up to Elk with .30-06 without trouble (just vary your bullet weight). Lighter .30-06 won't be a bad kicker, either. Get a decent name-brand scope, but don't waste your money on high-quality glass until you are sure you're into it. A Tasco, Simmons, or Bushnell will do the trick. These are not the best scopes, but they are good all the same (certainly not Pakastani in the knife world).

    I am a Mosin fan and they are excellent rifles. Any milsurp would be fine. But, you are limited more in hunting so I would recommend starting with that Savage. But, any of the reputible manufacutres would make a good gun. If you have heard of the company, their rifle will do you fine. One exception would be to stay away from the piece of total trash Remington 710. You can get a much better rifle for the same price or less. It is made by Remington, but it is still crap. It is to Remington that the Kamp King is to Schrade.

    So, to recap, I would recommend:

    Savage 110 in .30-06 with a name brand scope. This will be the lowest entry cost, the Savage is a fine rifle, as accurate or more than the others but cheaper, and will grow with you. If you choose, you can later add a nicer scope, better trigger it it isn't already adjustable (many Savage triggers are adjustable), etc. You can upgrade or modify the Savage as it meets your needs, and the same action would be suitable regardless of your level of use.

  12. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member


    This is a whole other thing all on its own. I prefer to buy quality and avoid gimmicks. There is lots of cheap glass out there, but don't be tempted. You rifle is only as goods as your sights.
    Look to spend $200-475 on decent glass. Buy as much quality as you can afford.

    Suggested lines (note that quality can vary between models in a line):

    Sightron S2
    Bushnell Elite 3200
    Burris Fullfield II
    Leupold VX-II
    Bushnell Elite 4200
    Burris Signature
    Leupold Mk4 PR
    Leupold FXII
    Leupold FXIII
    Leupold VX-III

    Pick a scope that matches the rifles capabilities. You don't need $400 of glass on a Marlin 336. Conversely, a $189 2.5x compact scope is not going let you explore the full potential of a heavy barreled varmint/tactical rifle. Also consider size and weight. While I don't consider mildot recitals a gimmick, they are always an extra cost option. Burris’s Ballistic Plex is little additional money and very effective once you know the subtension. You can also stretch your budget by choosing a fixed power scope
  13. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member


    For your stated purpose I'd look at 223 Rem/5.56x45 and 308 Win/7.62x51. They offer a good mix of low cost plinking ammo, factory loaded match ammo and are commonly available where nothing else can be found. I recommend the 223 due to its total lack of recoil. People tend to learn faster when they can shoot all day without fatigue.

    The 30-06 and 7.62x39 aren’t bad choices, but neither are they especially good varmint rounds. The 7.62 has tons of cheap ammo and the 30-06 would extend hunting options to cover most American game.

    Other suitable rounds that may be of interest in a bolt action are the 243 Win, and 22-250. They tend to be cheaper than medium power rounds like the 250 Savage, 257 Roberts, 6.5 Swede, 260 Rem., etc. that are a bit more expensive/difficult to find feed for.

  14. Ash

    Ash Well-Known Member

    I disagree about the glass. Ultimately, you may want better glass. However, a $50 scope will start you off and, should you decide you are a once a year guy and not really into long guns, then you won't have wasted money on a scope better than you will need. A $50 Simmons won't give bragging rights and spending as much on a scope as you spend on a rifle is certainly good practice if you make it to that level. But this is a starting out situation and the cheaper scopes will give yeoman service until you decide if its right for you. There is no need to spend $800 for a rifle and scope if you find you aren't that hot for long guns or that a once a year shot is all you want. When the time comes that you decide to upgrade, upgrading optics will be the only need you have, assuming you started with a decent rifle. And, with practice on a $50 scope, you won't really be out any money as you will be ready for something better and will understand how to use one. Once you are ready, then you'll also know better which scope you will want.

  15. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member


    I've haven't even got to the part about $125 mounts and rings! :neener:

    Last edited: Mar 3, 2005
  16. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member


    Nothing wrong with disagreement and you do have a point. (I think more people get disgusted and quit shooting seriously over bad sights/scopes than any other cause. I can't prove this, but that’s my feeling. Problems like a wandering zero can be hard to trace back to a scope and be extremely frustrating. A $50 scope is like a $500 car. You know there is something wrong with it, but you never know if it going to keep you from getting where you need to go at any given time. I wouldn’t be worried about buying good glass that holds its value. You can always sell it. The cheap scope that pops it’s guts loose after the second or third round of what should have been an afternoon of shooting, that’s what I’d be concerned about. A decent scope cost me money, a cheap scope will cost me time. The money can be partially recouped, but the lost time is gone forever.

    By the way, I completely agree with the Savage 10 or 110 as a great first rifle.

  17. cracked butt

    cracked butt Well-Known Member

    Cartridge: .308
    Rifle: Remington 700 SPS http://www.remington.com/firearms/centerfire/700sps.htm

    Glass: Leupold Vari-X II 3-9 x40

    I chose Leupold because of their excellent reputation, lifetime warranty, and from the experience of owning other leupold scopes including the Vari-X II.
    This rig will cost you ~$800 or less. It will likely to be very accurate, will fit most purposes, and will be affordable to shoot with surplus 7.62 NATO ammo.
    As far as accessories go, there really isn't much too add except a good sling: Ching Sling or Turner Saddlery 1903 sling, and maybe a Bipod, and flip up scope caps.

    The only 'must have' accessory as with any rifle is a good cleaning rod. A 1- piece Dewey rod for around $25 + a bore guide for another $25 will help you get the most life out of your rifle. Don't go cheap and buy a multipiece brass or aluminum cleaning rod- they will wear out your barrel long before you could possibly wear it out by shooting it.
  18. Ash

    Ash Well-Known Member

    A Mosin bore guide works for most rifles and will fit most cleaning rods and will run $2.00, a Yugo brass guide will run about the same. They both do the same thing as a more expensive one, which is keeping the cleaning rod from buggering up the crown.

  19. Ash

    Ash Well-Known Member

    Also, I agree that one should get the better glass if one is serious about shooting.

  20. cracked butt

    cracked butt Well-Known Member

    Nein, you want to clean a bolt gun with a standard length barrel from the breach end. Part of what the bore guide does is keep cleaning solvent out of the magazine well where it can damage the stock and attract crud, the other part is to protect the throat from being beat up.

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