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Old December 8, 2012, 11:13 PM   #1
jbat35
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Cheaper calibers without being surplus.

I'm looking to buy a new rifle soon but I am not set on a caliber yet. I currently own a 10/22 Ruger and a Benelli cordoba. Looking through my options, and I am still not sure what I would like so I would like to see some personal opinions from shooters who have actually shot the ammo that they are suggesting. Below is my list of considerations in order of importance:
1. Cheap but not surplus
2. Accurate to at least 100yds
(My 10/22 does not cut it at that length, so better accuracy than a .22lr at that range)
3. Longer barrel life
(I shoot a lot, and will put at least 100 rounds a weekend through with it, my .22 has nearly 10k rounds through it, and the 12 is around 3500.)
4. Ability to take down animals up to but not including deer

So far I have been considering .22 wmr, but I am not positive it will have the power or accuracy at the range I want, but I love the cost of it. It would be nice to also bridge a little farther from .22, help close in the range of .22-12 gauge.

Also, I cannot reload. I wish I could, but I cannot reload with my current housing arrangement. I could possibly in the future although.
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Old December 8, 2012, 11:17 PM   #2
emcon5
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.223
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Old December 8, 2012, 11:21 PM   #3
ohen cepel
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5.56 as mentioned.

Why is surplus not an option?
5.45-39 is cheap now and has a lot going for it.

To get more power you would have to go up to .308 or maybe 30-30. Readily available and not painful.

.22 Mag is a gain over the .22 but it not cheap in my mind. About the same price as 9mm. There are some 9mm carbine options worth a look (Beretta Storm) or you could get a .40 version of that for more power (but more $$ ammo).
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Old December 8, 2012, 11:36 PM   #4
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.223 is about as cheap as you'll get $7-10 per 20 rounds non fmj bullets. Other affordable chamberings will be .204, 7.62x39, .243, .270, .30-30, .308, and .30-06. The only reason I can see for non-surplus ammunition would be if you lived in a country where firearms that can shoot military surplus are banned.
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Old December 9, 2012, 12:36 AM   #5
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Only 2 come to mind that are accurate to 100yds and cheep 17HMR and 223/5.56 . 223 will take down any animal up to small deer no problem and the 17HMR is just a bad azz 100yd caliber .

HHMM I guess 7.63x39 would work and really it's the caliber your looking for .

You did not mention budget or action .

223 = AR , Savage model 11 hoghunter and many more .

17HMR Savage 93R17

7.62x39 Savage Model: 10 FCM Scout

Im starting to detect a pattern here
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Old December 9, 2012, 01:18 AM   #6
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In centerfire, about the cheapest you can get is 7.62x39. You can use the less expensive steel-cased Russian stuff for practice and then bump up to the nicer brass-cased domestic ammunition for matches and hunting.

It's not often thought of as being accurate, but that has a lot more to do with the firearms it's generally associated with and with the quality of the lower-priced steel-cased ammo on the market. With good quality ammunition, and out of an accurate rifle it can be remarkably precise.
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Old December 9, 2012, 05:39 AM   #7
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Until you are able to reload the 223 is going be your best best.
get a savage axis or a Stevens 200 combo package and have fun
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Old December 9, 2012, 08:39 AM   #8
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cheapest without being surplus in sporting would probably be 30-06, 308, 243. As far as reloading, these three can be reloaded in Lee's hand press.
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Old December 9, 2012, 08:46 AM   #9
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204, .223, .243 woulbe my picks also.
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Old December 9, 2012, 08:47 AM   #10
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A .357 lever gun which will also shoot .38's could also be an option. Not on par with the -39 but for plinking and deer at close range it will be fine. And, you can get a revolver down the road to share ammo.
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Old December 9, 2012, 09:21 AM   #11
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.223, just so many choices in this chambering. Yes you can buy surplus ammo. But it's not totally military
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Old December 9, 2012, 04:37 PM   #12
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As of now I'm thinking either .223 or .204. I singled out surplus as I am out to shoot well 90% of the time, and will buy more expensive ammo over cheap because I want better groups. I can shoot to the near limits of both my guns (Not trying for 400 yrd luck shots with my .22, but I have made them up to 300 on 14 inch gongs), so I think my ammo needs to reflect it.

I love the .243 caliber, but burnout would occur too early.

I noticed the pistol caliber idea pop up a few times, any pistol caliber rifles that are sub moa, or are they mostly fun guns or ranch carbines?
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Old December 9, 2012, 06:30 PM   #13
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If your comfortable with the price of .17 HMR ammo in your area, it is a .22 wmr knecked down to a .17. It moves very fast and hits very hard. I could hit a golf ball at 100 yards no problem.

I make single hole groups at 65 yards smaller than a dime. On a day with pretty calm winds its very possible to make shots out to 200+ yards.

I have shot everything from chipmunks to crows with it. My favorite caliber. It is a great varmint caliber. I would feel comfortable shooting a coyote with it.

Outside of that, 22-250 shoots like a laser beam out to around 350 yards. .204 ruger is a fast moving caliber but it won't be legal for deer in most places, may or may not be a huge concern. On barrel life, take your time shooting and don't let it get too hot and your barrel will last longer.
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Old December 9, 2012, 06:42 PM   #14
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The .223 is a great choice and should meet all of your requirements.
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Old December 9, 2012, 06:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metal god: 17HMR Savage 93R17
I second this. I have a Savage 93R17 with a Leapold 6x32 scope. Built for about $435 altogather, at 100 yards I can shoot a nickel sized pattern. I love that little rifle.
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Old December 9, 2012, 06:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbat35
As of now I'm thinking either .223 or .204. I singled out surplus as I am out to shoot well 90% of the time, and will buy more expensive ammo over cheap because I want better groups.
Surplus ammunition for the .223 is pretty good stuff, you would be surprised of the groups you can pull off with it. Wolf, Golden Bear, and Tula steel cased ammo isn't surplus it is just cheap ammunition. 62 grain military ball ammunition will hold MOA better than most shooters. The same goes for 7.62X51 ammunition, and with the current state of things there really isn't much of a surplus market for 5.56 or 7.62 and what your acctually buying is new or remanufactured ammuntion anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbat35
I love the .243 caliber, but burnout would occur too early.
How many rounds a year do you plan to shoot? Where did you get the idea you'll burn your barrel out? Your shooting at 14" gongs at 300 yards that is nearly a 5 MOA target. I'd imagine you would get a solid 10K rounds down your tube before it went so far south you couldn't hold a 5 moa group at 300 yards.

Your looking at an average of $20-30 for twenty rounds of .243 depending on what your rifle likes. I don't imagine you will shoot more than that a week on average throughout the year since that is $1,000-$1500 per year if you buy factory ammunition. I'd imagine you'll get many years of shooting at least a minimum of five, before you burn your barrel out. There are many well used .243's that that have been shooting for many of decades without burning out the barrel.
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Old December 9, 2012, 07:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
down your tube before it went so far south you couldn't hold a 5 moa group at 300 yards.
I don't know about the OP but I would be very unhappy if I shot more then 2 MOA with a scope on a bench 300yds or less . 5 MOA @ 300yds or 15" group would make me take my ball and go home
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Old December 9, 2012, 08:24 PM   #18
jbat35
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Quote:
How many rounds a year do you plan to shoot? Where did you get the idea you'll burn your barrel out? Your shooting at 14" gongs at 300 yards that is nearly a 5 MOA target. I'd imagine you would get a solid 10K rounds down your tube before it went so far south you couldn't hold a 5 moa group at 300 yards.

Your looking at an average of $20-30 for twenty rounds of .243 depending on what your rifle likes. I don't imagine you will shoot more than that a week on average throughout the year since that is $1,000-$1500 per year if you buy factory ammunition. I'd imagine you'll get many years of shooting at least a minimum of five, before you burn your barrel out. There are many well used .243's that that have been shooting for many of decades without burning out the barrel.
I have burned out a .243 already. 3500 rounds shot at a pace that the barrel was kept warm but not hot, and it was shooting worse than 5 moa on a rest. I shoot a lot, easily more than 100 rounds a week of rifle alone. Usually I buy ammo in bulk and bring people with to help the cost. What ever rifle I get will be shooting at least 2000 rounds a year, so it needs to last.


Oh the .17 hmr, I love the caliber and how you can buy a marlin/savage and shoot bullets through the same hole at 75 yards. But I ruled it out at the beginning, as in order to do that you need to clean the barrel every 5 shots. Very dirty round and a very small barrel.
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Old December 9, 2012, 08:49 PM   #19
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The manual for my Marlin 917v states very clearly that the gun does not require regular cleaning with normal use. That it really only needs to be cleaned after heavy use. The barrel on mine stays very clean and I hardly clean it.

When i do clean it I will run a swab with some cleaner and it comes out with a tiny amount of residue. Run another swab through it and it comes out as white as it went in.

Also my Marlin 917v cost me about 250 dollars and I put a redfield scope on it that cost around 200. I replaced the trigger return spring with one taken out of a bic pen and cut to the same length. It has been utterly dependable in putting bullets exactly where I want them to go.



If anything I find that my groups shrink in size as I shoot, my accuracy 25 rounds in will be better than my first shots from a clean rifle. The group above was around 65 yards and 4 shots, shooting prone off a bipod. This was probably 20 rounds in since I had stated shooting, no telling if the rifle was recently cleaned or not.

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Old December 9, 2012, 09:18 PM   #20
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I was shooting a marlin .17 (no idea what the model was) with my uncle at the range a half a year ago. It would put bullets in the same hole from 1-7, then in an inch until 15, then they would break a little apart. This was at 50 yards on a brand new gun I believe. There could be more to the problem, like the gun being new, but he said it was a common issue and I'd trust his logic being a gun smith.

Another problem is up here where I live there is rarely less than 20 mph of wind, and have fun shooting a 17 grain bullet in that at anything more than 50 yards.
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Old December 9, 2012, 09:35 PM   #21
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I still think the .223 fits your criteria perfectly. Some cheap ammo like American Eagle shoots rather well. There's just a huge amount of rifle choices and ammo choices in ,223
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Old December 10, 2012, 04:13 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbat35
I have burned out a .243 already. 3500 rounds shot at a pace that the barrel was kept warm but not hot, and it was shooting worse than 5 moa on a rest.
In your OP you mentioned a .22 LR and 12 GA as your only two firearms. Now you say you burned out a barrel on a .243 in 3500 rounds? How fast did it go from shooting decent to shooting worse than 5 MOA? What did you do with the .243 after you burned the barrel out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbat35
What ever rifle I get will be shooting at least 2000 rounds a year, so it needs to last.
Buying in bulk you'll be looking at $1000-2000 a year in ammunition costs, even for .223 depending on what you buy. Regardless of your living arrangements I'd be looking for a place I could go reload. For less than $1000, you could buy all new reloading equipment and load up your first 2000 rounds pretty easily.

8 lbs of powder $150
2000 small rifle primers $60
1K 55 grain FMJ bullets with 1K prepped military brass $180
1K 55 grain FMJ bullets $105
Lee Classic Turrent Press (not as fast as a progressive, but faster than a single stage) $200
Lee Deluxe Die Set .223 Remington $33
Total cost to reload 2K .223 rounds $728

Of course there will be some shipping that I didn't include but even at $800 for your first 2K reloads you save in the neighborhood of $200 the first year. The next 2K reloads you'll be looking around $400 +/- depending on what deals you can find on bullets, powder and primers (buy powder and primers local to save Hazmat fees). You may have to buy a brass trimming tool as well, but .223 brass lasts a long time, plus if you shoot at a public range there is always a ton of it lying around to pickup. If you are seriously going to shoot 2K a year I wouldn't even waste my time buying bulk ammunition, and go straight into reloading, even if my buddies were helping to offset the costs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jbat35
Another problem is up here where I live there is rarely less than 20 mph of wind, and have fun shooting a 17 grain bullet in that at anything more than 50 yards.
Yesterday 07:49 PM
A 17 grain bullet at 2194 fps in a 20 mph wind is only 8.4"/8 MOA at 100 yards of windage full value. Shooting in adverse conditions and still being able to hit your target can be just as fun as shooting tiny groups IMO. I've shot a ton of prairie dogs and it is rarely a calm day in the towns, doesn't stop me from having fun with my .22 LR or WMR.
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Old December 10, 2012, 04:47 PM   #23
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Just remember that your #4 will likely require you to buy non-cheap ammo. FMJ is very cheap. Hunting quality bullets are generally a little more expensive. Also, depending on what state you are in, using FMJ for hunting anything may be illegal.
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Old December 10, 2012, 05:38 PM   #24
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Surplus ammo not accurate?

The most accurate factory ammo I have ever fired was 7.5 Swiss GP 11, by far. Fifty cents a round, but that is just about the cheapest match quality ammo you can find.

I have shot fair amounts of other surplus ammo and never found it to be inaccurate compared to the inexpensive commercial ammo being discussed here. Aim surplus had a load of 556 government contract seconds a few years ago and everyone in my CMP club ended up with as much as they could afford. Way way better than anything commercial on the market at near the price.

Don't think of it as second hand. Think of it as government subsidized.
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Old December 11, 2012, 09:50 AM   #25
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Now while there is exceptions to every rule I've found that ammo of similar quality to also be very similar in price. Often post come up about which cartridge for varmints/predators, .223 or .22-250. Invariably someone will toss out that the .223 is much cheaper to shoot than the .22-250. That may be true if you're comparing cheap imported ammo to quality hunting ammo but once you start comparing apples to apples the price get much closer. Not saying to not get a .223, just realize that while deals can be found you're not gonna save big money shooting one compared to many other centerfires. On the ther hand, the .223 is a good choice for many things including punching paper. For the Op's purposes it's a very good choice even if ammo price wasn't a consideration.

As for the magmun rimfires......... OP stated capable of deer? Kinda tosses those outta the picture.

I like the idea of a .38/.357 rifle of some flavor. But while some can be remarkably accurate on average you're not gonna shoot tiny bug holes with one.
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