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Deer rifle for 12-13 YO, 6.5 Grendel?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by labnoti, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    I posted a question a few months back asking for recommendations on a rifle for a 12-year-old. He's skilled with a rifle in .22LR, and I was looking to upgrade to centerfire for two reasons: increased range on targets, and to get away from lead styphnate priming compound in filthy rimfire ammo. Some of the challenges have been to fit his short length of pull, and not to have a sudden big increase in recoil. My first thought was to cut down the stock of a Tikka T3X or CZ 527 in .223, but I was also considering precision-style rifles with adjustable furniture like the Ruger Precision Rifle, also in .223. I got a few recommendations here for .243.

    I hadn't made a decision yet, but then he got into a hunting class with 4H. In addition to that, he's studying the hunter safety training and wants to get a license. He'd be able to put in for a deer tag next season. So now I'm considering a chambering that would be well-suited to mule deer.

    I have some doubts that .223 is well-suited to deer. Surely, it depends on the range, the presentation, the shot placement, and the bullet, but I'm concerned .223 would be demanding of those things whereas a different cartridge would be more forgiving.

    .243 Winchester is well-proven for deer and would seem the obvious choice, but it has higher recoil and uses toxic large rifle primers. The 6mm Creedmore is very similar within hunting range and Starline makes cases that use small rifle primers I have that are lead-free. But those .243/6mm cartridges probably have excess energy for deer within 200 yards. The .30-30 is a lower-recoil cartridge that's well-proven on deer out to at least 150 yards. The way I see it, in the case of the .243 Winchester particularly, we're suffering excess recoil in order to deliver high-drag bullets with sufficient energy by brute-force out to four or five-hundred yards where we're not going to hunt.

    I started to look at more efficient intermediate cartridges like .224 Valkyrie. The problem I see there is the low-drag bullets in that caliber aren't well-suited for medium game. But one person in my earlier thread recommended a Howa Mini-Action in 6.5 Grendel. I hadn't really thought much of it because I just saw it as another chambering intended to chase improved AR-15 performance like so many others. But the Grendel's .264 bullets come in a wide variety, many of which are suitable for medium game, and it carries them out to three or four-hundred yards with sufficient energy despite having significantly less recoil than .243 Winchester.

    The 123 grain Hornady SST seems to be the most popular for the Grendel, but I would go with the Barnes TSX or Hornady GMX all-copper bullets to keep lead out of the meat. We may even hunt in California where we'd have to (and no, despite my strong convictions against lead I don't think a ban should be imposed on people who think otherwise).

    So I was considering the Howa Mini-Action in 6.5 Grendel with a lightweight, wide field-of-view scope (VX3i 1.5-5x20 or 2.5-8x36 Leupold), Harris bipod and sling. He should be able to get real comfortable with it by next fall. What do you think?

    The alternative to the Grendel would be a .223 target rifle and working up to a higher-recoiling cartridge in a heavier deer rifle. A Ruger American Predator in 6mm Creedmore would weigh at least a pound more and still recoil significantly more than the lighter Howa. I realize there are some more obscure options like 6BR, but most of the mainstream alternatives with factory rifles chambered in them use Large Rifle primers. I did consider handgun cartridges. It would be .357 or .454. .357 would be limited to close range and while .454 has a little longer legs, it drops a lot and requires accurate range estimation. I think the kid will do better with something flatter-shooting.

    I can tell you when I went through this, I was 18-19 and I just started with 8mm Mauser cause the rifles and Yugoslavian ammo were cheap, and then like .300 Magnum and 12 gauge 3.5" magnum because they were cool and ruled the charts. I didn't have anybody thinking smarter for me.
     
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  2. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    At what range is he going to be shooting said deer at and how many shots are you planning it to take to kill it?
     
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  3. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    Run ballistics on an 80 gr gmx launched at roughly 3200 fps, then check recoil with the rpr (estimated 9 pounds) weight and a middle road charge of 4166 (right about 37 gr) and recoil is down to 5.75 ft lbs, with 2200 fps at 400 yds, I think the rpr in 6 creed solves your problems, when he gets older, you can beef up the loads and stretch the legs better, gets him a lifetime of functionality (either his life or the barrel's)
    Eta, that doesn't include the h4895 reduced recoil loads. And keep in mind that for gmx, tsx, ttsx, and etip, monolithic bullets, speed is is gonna be your friend.
    Also, I'm not a Creedmore fanboy, I'm actually a .243 kinda guy, but in this particular case, the creed shoe fits.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  4. TIMC

    TIMC Member

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    How about a Ruger American Ranch in .300 Blackout? I really like mine, short, light weight, low recoil and a decent deer/pig rifle under 200 yards.
     
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  5. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I think your way over thinking this lead thing. I shoot thousands of rounds a year including cast lead bullets I load myself and physical showed no lead. Your probably drinking tap water that at some point went through a lead pipe.

    6.5 Grendel and 7.62x39 would be good rounds for a kid. 30-30 and 243 will have significantly more recoil. Forget about 454, that’s going to kick like a mule. For a kid that age hunting, shots should be 150 yards or less. I would start with a 223 due to ammo cost and get another rifle for deer when you get to that point.
     
  6. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    I'm not sure why these questions appear to be sarcastic. What's the issue?

    I am sure shots would be under a hundred yards for the first several of what I hope might be many deer in his lifetime, but clean, one-shot kills can be had well over 200 yards with the right rifle. One could speculate his first deer might be taken at 50 yards where he's most assured of a precise placement. At that range, a .223 with the right bullet would work or even a .357, but there's not a lot of room to grow from there. Much longer shots, and game like antelope would require a different rifle. The traditional .30-30 or a .300 Blackout have the same problem. They're probably better than .223 between 100 and 200 yards, but after that, they're going to drop far and they've lost a lot of energy.

    The Grendel, on the other hand, starts out with no more recoil energy than anything but the .223-based cartridges, and yet bullets can carry over a 1000 ft.lbs out to 400 yards. What else does? .243 Win, 6mmC, but they start out with a lot more recoil energy and what do you get for it? With the Creedmoor, you can stay supersonic for target shooting at a couple hundred yards farther out, but at my elevation that would be beyond 1200 yards. The Creedmoor is better for long range target shooting, but only past 800 yards even at sea level. For hunting, you just get to carry a heavier, longer action, and still have more felt recoil.

    It's true the 6 Creedmoor in the RPR would solve the recoil issue (with an optic and bipod it would be closer to 11 pounds). In fact, before the idea of hunting came up, I was almost decided on the RPR in 6 Creedmore, but I can't imagine him carrying that hunting. I don't want to carry it either.

    Now about downloading, because I do handload everything. I could try to address the recoil issue with .243 or 6mm Creedmoor in a rifle lighter than the RPR by downloading it. But then why carry the heavier, longer action? Presumably to allow for hotter loads in the future. Suppose in a few years he's ready to handle more recoil and start shooting at higher energy levels. What does that get him besides more recoil?

    But I don't want to just have my mind made up and come here to justify it. Like I wrote, I got the idea for the Howa Mini-Action from someone here. I keep thinking to double-check that because conventional wisdom is obviously for the .243. Sure the .243 has more energy up to 250 yards or so, but how much do you really need? The Grendel can easily match the venerable .30-30 at 100 yards where that cartridge is proven, and at longer ranges it passes most all the traditional cartridges. The similarly efficient 6 Creedmoor will hold on to its velocity, but that really only matters for targets at 800, 1000, 1200 yards and there's no reason to spec a hunting-weight rifle for that.
     
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  7. Goosey

    Goosey Member

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    Kids are more susceptible to the effects of lead, though. Thinking about bullets is common but not too many people worry about the primers.

    Doesn't seem that much more. A 7 lb mini-action Grendel with a 100 TTSX at 2800 has about 7 ft lbs free recoil energy, and an 8 lb .243 with an 80 TTSX at 3300 has about 8 ft lbs free recoil energy (8 lb .30-30 w/ 150 @ 2300 has about 9). The .243 does have an extra 500 fps though. More blast.
     
  8. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    i think that marks marksmanship and being accurate is the most needed them the cartridge, give them lots of good practice make them shoot more standing and kneeling then from the bench. the 1000 ft.lb rule is a safe bet tho.
     
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  9. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    The RPR is a monster of a rifle for a kid to support or carry around.

    The 6.5 Grendel is a great option for low recoil deer hunting. I have almost completely replaced the 243win with the 6.5 Grendel as my recommendation for any kids starting out. The only disadvantage for the Grendel is the fact the options for factory bolt guns are relatively limited. What’s out there for the 6.5 Grendel is pretty good, but not as broad as the 243win. Pick up a CZ and live life with a smile on your face.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018
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  10. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    Yes. And that's what this is all about. It's not just the one shot made on the game, but the hundreds of shots made building marksmanship. That's why things like recoil and lead safety matter a lot. Now I could consider two different rifles for the different practices (skill acquisition vs live hunting), but there is a lot of value in practicing with what you use and being comfortable and familiar with the tool you're using.

    The lead in primers is the primary contributor to airborne lead that affects people the most in indoor ranges. We don't shoot indoors, but the lead styphnate in primers is more easily absorbed than the bullet lead which is primarily a concern when it contaminates the meat. Most hunting bullets don't result in a lot of lead exposure on the reloading bench or from cleaning bore leading since they're jacketed and have narrow hollowpoint openings or ballistic tips. In any event, I've found the lead-free primers burn very clean besides the fact they don't gas everyone with a toxic cloud and leave lead residue all over everything near where they went off. And for kids that absorb lead more easily, there's not a compelling reason to expose them unnecessarily. I mean, do they really need that 500 fps? and the extra pound to drag up and down the canyons?

    Anyway, I don't think the Grendel's the only answer. I mentioned the 6BR also. The idea is really to minimize recoil energy at the muzzle to the point where you have just enough at 100 yards within which most of hunting shots will be taken, and a higher than traditional BC to carry the velocity and energy out to two or three hundred yards to cover practically every hunting situation with sufficient energy, but still starting with the least amount necessary at the muzzle. The problems with this idea is it mostly considers the velocity, energy, BC and not necessarily the design and effectiveness of the bullet. The ELD bullets have mostly been proven hitting targets, and a lot of our favorite hunting bullets are for .270, heavier .264's, 7mm. It very well may often be the bullet, not just the ballistics that deliver the results we're looking for, and none of the new cartridges optimized for low drag bullets (the Creedmoors and other precision bench rest rounds) really hold those traditions. So I guess I'm just hopeful. FWIW, I haven't killed a lot of deer to consider from personal experience. I have hunted, but mostly with bow and mostly boar (besides bird and small game). Deer tags have become lottery-only around here, but youth get their own drawing so the boys have a better chance. For my own self, I've still got one of those big-ass belted-magnum jobs from the 60's, but if the mini-action is as good as it looks on paper, I might get one too. Store an hour away has a couple I'm going to look at by the weekend.
     
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  11. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    Right.. besides the Howa, I've been looking for the CZ 527. It's a bit heavier since it's a wood stock and longer barrel, but the main problem is not finding them in stock or available to order. I haven't looked everywhere yet, but all the local shops and warehouse stores don't have them (in any chambering). I think I can order it from SW but I'd have to buy it sight-unseen. I'd like to handle it first even if it was a different caliber before I ordered it in Grendel.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018
  12. LoonWulf

    LoonWulf Member

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    I would definitely consider the Grendel a good option for anyone looking to hunt with a low recoil cartridge.
    My personal experience is with 123gr amax at just under 2500, and 100gr balistic tips at about 2700.
    Penetration from both we're plenty adaquate for any presentation I'd be willing to take a shot on. In fact I made a follow up shot on a 100-110lb spike in the butt at about 75yds with the 123s, and the bullet made it into the chest cavity.
    The one "issue" with the Grendel is that it dosent deliver the velocity shock. Even the 100s, while causing noticably more damage than the 123s didn't kill any faster, and certainly not DRT short of a control system hit.

    As to recoil, and this is just me, but I've found that cartridges with a launch velocity over 3k tend to have a distinctly sharper recoil impulse than a similar rifle that launches a heavier bullet 2-400fps slower.
    .375 with 270gr bullets at 27-2800 is much more tolerable to me than a .300 loaded with 200-210s at 3k+. Even tho the recoil is heavier, and is fatiguing, it stings less.

    My 7.5-8lb Savage 10 in .243 stung a surprising amount, stoked with handloads at 3k ish, but was fine with similar 100gr factory loads at 2800.
    Knocking a little off the top might be another good answer.

    As a lower cost option Ruger makes the Predator in 6.5G as well. I Wish they made a standard, or compact, american in 6.5. I'd own one already if they did.
     
  13. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    .473” bolt face, short action cartridges like 6BR (bra better for brass life), or 6 creed have a wide spectrum of performance, but they will be in a full weight action and typically full length barrel. A short 6 br or creed is 24”, where the 6.5 Grendel will typically come in a 16-20” tube. Big difference for a lesser strengthed, lesser sized youth. But they’ll quickly grow out of that. I spent most of my year this year running a low node in 6 creed at speeds even 6 br would laugh at, with 105 Hybrids. My 5yr old son could manage these from shooting sticks, although the rifle was far too heavy for him to handle. Even being light for a match rifle.

    I lust for a 6mm Grendel variant in a 24” bolt gun, mini action, but without AI equivalent mags and bottom metal, I expect to go unsatisfied in this desire. An AR will have to do in the meantime.

    I’m a HUGE fan of the 6 Dasher, like a BR who found a weight room as a kid. I don’t know if I will ever be without a 6 Dasher in my life. But I’m also a big fan of the Grendel, and may likely find myself hunting my season this year with a Grendel again (or a 6.8SPC SBR).

    For my own son, a Surgeon 591 in a Dasher and a 10.5” 6.5 Grendel SBR AR are his first hunting rifles. He’s 5 now, and itching to get a chance to put them to work in the field. Next winter, maybe, gotta focus on wrestling this season.
     
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  14. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    No sarcasm just trying to focus, every round in your first post will kill a deer at 50 yards. A 357 magnum fom a rifle barrel will do it with the least recoil, no matter if he is 12, 21 or 80.

    The 7mm BR is one of my more favorite rounds for deer. So much so I actually down load my 7-08 rounds so they are ballisticly similar. It is a low recoil round that has a lot more capabilities though, if I ever needed them.
     
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  15. Olympus

    Olympus Member

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    Honestly, your best two options for shorter lengthof pull are the CZ 527 Carbine and a TC Contender Carbine. The Contender Carbine will be the shortest. The one I have is not long enough to reach the barrel rests inside my safe. I have to put a block underneath rifle to make it tall enough to reach the barrel rests. You’ve got a ton of caliber options with the Contender Carbine. Mine is in 6.8 SPC with is vertically identical ballistically to the Grendel inside 300 yards, and no young shooter will be shooting that far.

    The 527 Carbine would be a good choice in 223.

    Going up from 22LR to a centerfire caliber capable of taking a deer is a big jump. I’d highly recommend easing them into the transition. Get them comfortable with the much larger muzzle blast and recoil of the gun long before you put it in their hands and head out afield.
     
  16. Olympus

    Olympus Member

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    And honestly, I would not worry so much about lead. You can buy lead free bullets like the Hornady GMX if you still think you’re in some kind of health danger. But realistically, you’re not going to see any effect.

    There was a gentleman on a forum a while back who did an experiment of reloading raw cast lead bullets all year, handling thousands by hand without wearing gloves. After a year, he had some kind of test done to measure the amount of lead in his body and there was not enough to even register on the test. Long story short, too many people make too much out of the dangers of lead while shooting.
     
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  17. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    I personally think you may be overthinking the leadfree aspect, but I went looking anyway out of curiosity, and there are lead free primers in small pistol, as well as both small and large rifle sizes. So staying lead free doesn't need to be a compromise in cartridge
    I have a cz 527 carbine in 7.62x39 and it may be the perfect kids hunting rifle. Short, handy, and light! I also have a ruger American predator in 6.5 grendel. I believe the Grendel to be about the best entry to hunting cartridge out there, and in a cz, even a sight unseen before purchase, you couldn't go wrong. Good luck on your hunt!
     
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  18. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    Same here. I started to shoot action pistol at an indoor range last year so i fired a couple thousand rounds doing that, was around many many thousands of rounds being fired, and shot a couple thousand at my home outdoor range. Had a physical this year. Lead count was zero. I also eat about 4 deer a year shot with lead bullets. I take lung shots, there is about half a pound of rib meat around the wound we don’t take out. There is zero lead in the meat we eat.
     
  19. Legionnaire
    • Contributing Member

    Legionnaire Member

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    I think the 6.5 Grendel is a fine round; I just have no interest in it. My kids learned shooting with .22s, stepped up to .223s, and started deer hunting with youth-stocked .243s. I'd reload a .243 for the energy you want and load it up as he grows. Just my two cents.
     
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  20. 303 hunter

    303 hunter Member

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    Ruger American Ranch in 7.62x39 would be a great youth rifle. The stock has a section designed to be cut off to reduce the length.
     
  21. Newtosavage

    Newtosavage Member

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    And well you should.

    This is an excellent suggestion.
     
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  22. roscoe

    roscoe Member

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    I bought my 13 year-old daughter a CZ 527 in .223/5.56. It is unquestionably the most accurate rifle in my safe, and the recoil is low enough that she doesn't mind putting a box or two through. She uses 69-grain soft-points for deer hunting. As long as the shots aren't over 150 yards or so, using the correct ammo, .223 is effective for deer. But also, it is a fun rifle for the range, when the low-recoil over 40 rounds makes a difference.
     
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  23. farmerboy78

    farmerboy78 Member

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    the grendel is a great deer round... I have taken whitetail out to 302yds with a grendel and amax ammo
     
  24. LoonWulf

    LoonWulf Member

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    Don't they sell a short stocked version also?
     
  25. 303 hunter

    303 hunter Member

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    Really don’t know if they sell a youth model, but my cousin bought an American in x39, and he’s a shorter fellow. He showed me the piece of stock that Ruger had designed to be removed to reduce length of pull. It’s really easy to remove, and the buttpad bolts right back on. Looked just like factory when he was done.
     
  26. z7

    z7 Member

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    If possible, get a suppressor and a threaded barrel on whatever you get.

    At 12 I shot a 30-06, 270, 30-30 for deer and pigs, including shots at 200yds. I did go through a phase where I missed a lot, but once diagnosed I was able to correct.

    My point here is to say that a 12 year old can handle more than you might think, so a 243/6mm creed or even 260rem/6.5creed could work. A suppressed rifle is much more pleasant to shoot. I think if you take the kid shooting often, use the centerfire and the rimfire to help him practice. If you have access to a range where you can put up steel, set up 6” and 10” circles at 100-200 yds and let him practice. He will have fun and will build confidence

    My sister killed an elk at 150yds at 12 with a youth model 308. Two double lung shots put it down. With enough practice a 12 year old can shoot really well. Good luck, and good on you for passing on the sport and raising your kids well
     
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