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Old May 6, 2013, 10:57 AM   #1
Sweet Shooter
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"Entry Level" bit of a rant.

I've heard this term used now to describe any new rifle under ~600 bones. And it's starting to tick me off.

Last I checked the projectiles in a given cartridge from any of these "entry level" guns are not leaving the muzzle any slower and actually more often than not, no less accurately that the high price aspirational guns.

These new synthetic/matte blue versions are a no-nonsense offering that put rifles in the hands of "the people" that need them, in the same way that Volkswagen put the automobile in the driveways of the same at an affordable price. It's very discouraging for beginners and manufacturers to hear their new acquisition/offering dismissed so.

I have several synthetic "Tupperware" rifles 700's, M77, S2's that leave many exotic woods on the shelf not because of the preciousness of wood, but because they are 101% capable of doing the job they were meant to. They are not beginners guns and I for one don't aspire to spend three or even four times more than I need to in order to achieve the results... to want to is stupidity at it's boldest.

Having said that, I do appreciate fine rifles and wood... just don't be putting the everyday rifle down so. Yes, they are getting very inexpensive these days. That is because of the manufacturing technology now... This is a good thing.

Can anyone give a plausible reason for us (non monied) to actually "want" to overspend?

IMO the little 22's for youth and kids are the entry level guns. Can we agree on this?

Opinions...

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Old May 6, 2013, 11:10 AM   #2
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I completely agree with you. That said; what you do gain from a more expensive rifle is often ergonomics. A better fit, or a wider cheekpiece, or more weight (or less weight!), or an adjustable trigger, or any of a number of things. The low profile of a Browning X-Bolt. The smooth feel of the Model 70 bolt. The pretty piece of wood on the Remington 700 CDL. These are all reasons to spend a little more if that is what turns your crank IMO.
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Old May 6, 2013, 11:12 AM   #3
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I own several 22s that cost well over $600, so no, I would not agree that a .22LR is an entry-level rifle. I also own several centerfire rifles that cost less than $300, and those are not entry-level either.

"Entry level" is not intended as a put-down, it is intended to qualify the rifle based on the intended use. As such it is seldom accurately descriptive. Typically, it is a rifle that is inexpensive, lacking many of the "desirable" features and refinements sought by more "experienced" shooters. Years ago, a bolt action rifle with a non-adjustable trigger with iron sights and no mounting holes for scope base mounting would qualify as an entry-level rifle, since most more experienced shooters would want an adjustable trigger and scope-mounting capability. Hard to think of any bolt action currently made now that does not incorporate those features. Nowadays it usually refers to lower cost rifles, typically those with plastic stocks. Synthetic stocks range from really atrocious to really good, with the majority falling at the lower end. Those would rate as "entry-level" to me, since most shooters would want to put a better stock on the rifle sooner or later, but even that is not accurate as there are many rifles with plastic stocks that deliver outstanding accuracy. I guess what I am getting at is this: buying a lower-priced rifle is not a bad thing, just as paying your whole month's salary for a rifle is not a good thing.
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Old May 6, 2013, 11:55 AM   #4
Gmony.308
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Entry Level?
Entry: "A means or place by which to enter"
Level: "Relative position or rank on a scale"
Defined straight out of the dictionary

That said, "Entry Level" concerns new shooters interested in a limited budget investment necessary to achieve successful results for their given interests. Therefore the entry level hunter and the entry level marksman have different requirements to satisfy. For the hunter a 6-9" kill zone at any distance up to 200yds is certainly accurate enough. Yet their interests in reliability and durability under extreme weather conditions is essential, especially if hunting dangerous game. For the marksman, much smaller kill zones are essential 1-3" out to 500+ yds changes the requirements. Exposure to extreme weather conditions is however a moot point in most cases.

But lets face it for the most part, more often than not we're really discussing "entry level" shooters not weapons . In which case, entry level does include and primarily focus on the .22 cal rifles (.22, .223, etc.)

My experience is that those who spend high dollars either fal into the category of shooter who is seeking the best compromise of the above said hunter/marksman requirements or the ego driven individual who believe spending more money will make them a better shooter. I have personally experienced out shooting a Winchester model 52 with my poor boy Winchester model 75. The end result, my competitor returned his model 52 to the factory to be checked and reworked because being out shot by a superior marksman with an inferior rifle was unpalletable to him.

note: my model 75 shoots 3/4" 5shot groups at 50yds all day long 7 days a week.
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Old May 6, 2013, 12:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
my model 75 shoots 3/4" 5shot groups at 50yds all day long 7 days a week.
Just think how accurate you could be if you had a real target rifle, say something like a Winchester 52. You would probably be able to shoot 1/4" 5 shot groups at 50yds all day long 7 days a week like the rest of us!
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Old May 6, 2013, 12:03 PM   #6
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@Scorch
I own several 22s that cost well over $600, so no, I would not agree that a .22LR is an entry-level rifle.
That's not what I said. I was talking about small rifles that younger shooters start with because of ergonomics (reach to pull) and recoil. I'm aware that 22's can be fancy.

And my point is that "intended use" is more than fulfilled on a fundamental level—and then some—by these less expensive rifles. Unless one uses a fancy rifle a some sort of status symbol, or prop for lacking talent/skill... as compensation much in the same way that larger magnums are mostly called for as big game hunting rifles by folk that can't shoot any cartridge well. I just think we get ahead of ourselves with these generalizations.

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Old May 6, 2013, 12:17 PM   #7
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@Gmony.308
... entry level does include and primarily focus on the .22 cal rifles (.22, .223, etc.)
Agree with what you say except for this. Again it implies that one aspires to move up to a higher level. I do not see the .22 calibers as a starting point for anything. I see them as tools for a specific purpose. I believe that's why our military uses them.

For example we'd have to agree that out of the common cartridges, the .223 is but a step on the way to say... .22-250 or .223 WSSM which it is obviously not. Bear in mind that the Triple Deuce/mag and .223 were in the civi market years before Stoner developed that geometry for military.

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Old May 6, 2013, 12:29 PM   #8
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I just think we get ahead of ourselves with these generalizations.
I agree. And, by the same token, let's not stereotype people who may choose to buy a firearm that costs more than $600.00 (a "fancy" rifle I guess) as being snobs who purchase them only as status symbols or props to compensate for their lack of talent/skill. There are plenty of good reasons to pay for a "high(er)" end firearm that nobody has to be defensive about.

I don't see anything derogatory about the term "entry level". I think Scorch said it best:

Quote:
"Entry level" is not intended as a put-down, it is intended to qualify the rifle based on the intended use. As such it is seldom accurately descriptive. Typically, it is a rifle that is inexpensive, lacking many of the "desirable" features and refinements sought by more "experienced" shooters. Years ago, a bolt action rifle with a non-adjustable trigger with iron sights and no mounting holes for scope base mounting would qualify as an entry-level rifle, since most more experienced shooters would want an adjustable trigger and scope-mounting capability. Hard to think of any bolt action currently made now that does not incorporate those features. Nowadays it usually refers to lower cost rifles, typically those with plastic stocks. Synthetic stocks range from really atrocious to really good, with the majority falling at the lower end. Those would rate as "entry-level" to me, since most shooters would want to put a better stock on the rifle sooner or later, but even that is not accurate as there are many rifles with plastic stocks that deliver outstanding accuracy. I guess what I am getting at is this: buying a lower-priced rifle is not a bad thing, just as paying your whole month's salary for a rifle is not a good thing.
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Old May 6, 2013, 12:47 PM   #9
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I think the "entry level" rifles are great. I have a few expensive hunting rifles that very seldom get out of the safe for fear of scratching them, etc.... I can see why some one would object to the term but I like a hunting rifle that I'm not afraid to use as long as it is capable.
If someone, say a non-hunter, wants to try hunting or target shooting they can buy a relatively inexpensive firearm and try their hand at the sport. I think that is where the "entry level" term comes from. Then in the future if they get hooked on the sport they can upgrade if they desire. I don't see the term as a put down personally.
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Old May 6, 2013, 02:12 PM   #10
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Agree with what you say except for this. Again it implies that one aspires to move up to a higher level
I'm not in disagreement with your initial comments or this, except to say that every person I've ever worked with I started out on a .22LR. That makes it an entry level piece (Meets the requirements or entering into the sport of shooting). That does not devalue it as a competitive rifle or a hunting caliber.
BTW I personally despise the .223 and the NATO 5.56 (personal opinion). Yes they have killing potential but they are essentially a wounding round in the hands of military equipped personnel.

Quote:
Just think how accurate you could be if you had a real target rifle, say something like a Winchester 52


That is so comical, I believe I've already discussed that! My groupings were from sitting, not bench rest. LOL!!!

entry level example: When I wanted to start hunting deer with a handgun I started (entered the sport) using a Ruger .44mag, in the field I discovered that cocking the hammer spooked the deer every time (they could hear the mechanism clicks). So, I traded it out and moved into a Thompson Contender .357 Herret, Eventually I settled on an Encore .308 and I've been shooting it for about 7yrs. Case in point the Ruger black hawk was my entry level weapon.

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Old May 6, 2013, 03:38 PM   #11
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I have only one "entry level" rifle. It was a gift and I probably would never have bought it my self. This rifle is a Remi 770 in 7mm mag. The stock is a bit cheap and the bolt was a bit sticky when new, but it will make Mickey mouse heads at 100 with my hand loads. I gave the bolt a little polish and she's slick as snot. The only reason I'd pick my Springfield or Enfield over it is durability. I wouldn't be surprised if the stock broke in a survival situation.

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P.S. I totally agree with Gmony.308's .223 comment. I've seen to many dear run off after being shot with a .223, 22-250 and even 243. Never seen one run off after my 7mm mag or 30-06 hit'em. The .223 was designed to pop bushy tailed limb rats. The military chose it because it wounded well, recoil is zip and you can carry 1000rds of it. It was never ment to kill things human sized or bigger. My .02
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Old May 6, 2013, 04:00 PM   #12
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BTW I personally despise the .223 and the NATO 5.56 (personal opinion). Yes they have killing potential but they are essentially a wounding round in the hands of military equipped personnel.
I can tell you who else "despises" the .223/5.56 cartridge: every woodchuck, prairie dog and coyote I've ever met.
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Old May 6, 2013, 04:00 PM   #13
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I also agree with you but find that those who can easily afford something never complain that what they buy is too expensive. Just an observation in life. Expensive and unnecessary are subjective. $100 to one person may be a day's wages and to others, half an hour's pay. Why not just buy two pairs of pants and wash them as necessary instead of multiple shirts, pants, shoes, jackets, etc.. If you can easily afford to transcend function and enter into the realm of joy and pleasure, plus pride of ownership, then why not do so?

Consider this. Who is overspending on a rifle, the man who buys a $300 rifle that is 50% of his weekly paycheck or the guy who buys a $1000 rifle that is 20% of his paycheck? I would think that the guy with the $300 rifle is the one that is spending too much, not the guy with the more expensive rifle.
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Old May 6, 2013, 04:03 PM   #14
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Good point, Old Dog. And a warm welcome to The Firing Line!
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Old May 6, 2013, 04:10 PM   #15
Gmony.308
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I can tell you who else "despises" the .223/5.56 cartridge: every woodchuck, prairie dog and coyote I've ever met.
You bettcha, but given a choice I'd go with a .243 any day. It has better ballistics, better energy down range, and shoots flatter with over 20" less drop at 500yds.
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Old May 6, 2013, 04:17 PM   #16
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There is a huge difference between "entry level" and "disposable". Many of the rifles you describe are just less expensive versions of the same guns that cost much more. I have no problem with that. Never understood the appeal of a nicely finished piece of walnut or glossy metal finish on a rifle meant to hunt with. These are still very good guns, but without the frill's.

It is the disposable rifles so common today that I don't like. They are desiged from the ground up to be as cheap as possible. Too many corners cut for my tastes, and not just frills. Basic quality is simply not there.
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Old May 6, 2013, 04:25 PM   #17
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I've seen to many dear run off after being shot with a .223, 22-250 and even 243. Never seen one run off after my 7mm mag or 30-06 hit'em. The .223 was designed to pop bushy tailed limb rats. The military chose it because it wounded well, recoil is zip and you can carry 1000rds of it. It was never ment to kill things human sized or bigger.
If you saw deer run off after being shot at with a 223, 22-250, or 243 it was likely because the shooter missed, or was using varmit bullets. Use bullets in those rounds designed for big game and you won't see a bit of difference in killing power between a 223 and a 7mm magnum. Use varmit bullets in a 7mm mag and it will fail when it hits a deer too. I've seen too many drop in their tracks as if hit by lightening when hit by a 223. It works just fine on humans as well.
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Old May 6, 2013, 04:49 PM   #18
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I think "entry level" is a sales/marketing term. Translation- You can buy this for ____ but it is for a beginner

I have heard sales guys have use that term with lots of stuff like bicycles, I have been riding a bycle for decade but I still am not going to buy a $3,000 bike.. Same with guns I only spend so much on a gun.
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Old May 6, 2013, 04:53 PM   #19
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Consider this. Who is overspending on a rifle, the man who buys a $300 rifle that is 50% of his weekly paycheck or the guy who buys a $1000 rifle that is 20% of his paycheck? I would think that the guy with the $300 rifle is the one that is spending too much, not the guy with the more expensive rifle.
Then you haven't perhaps thought this all the way through. What if the guy buying the rifle with 50% of his weekly paycheck is a professional hunter or guide using it to make his livelihood? Certainly there are conditions which make it much more logical for a person of modest means spending a proportionately far higher amount of wealth on a fine piece of equipment than someone of greater means who is simply buying a toy, no?
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Old May 6, 2013, 05:15 PM   #20
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I use an analogy with bicycles, another one of my interests. "Entry level" means a bicycle has enough features and is well designed and manufactured enough that the rider can get cycling pleasure AND determine if they really enjoy bicycling enough to make further investment worthwhile and if they don't they haven't sunk a lot of money into it. Conversely you may find that you really don't need all the bells and whistles. I recall a series of articles in Bicycling Magazine years ago in which they urged readers to buy name brand bicycles at bike shops, then they printed a letter entitled "In Praise of Deoartment Store Bikes" in which a women said she and her husband bought low cost bikes that were correctly assembled and tuned up, and with good maintenance instructions. That allowed to do enough cycling to decide they really enjoyed it, and to know what they liked-and what they didn't need. And she noted that those on budgets a "department store" bike allowed them to take it up without breaking the bank. Those who know something about bicycling will immediately know what "Campagnolo" stands for, and I will state that after 40 years of cycling I have no need of Campagnolo components, the less expensive Huret and Suntour components I have use have served me well. I recall a comment made by a friend when he got his top of the line Fisher VCR back in 1986-"The more you have, the more you don't use." I suspect many board members here have taken more than their share of deer and other game with Glenfield rifle and shotguns, Sears "Ted Williams" rifles and feel no real need to "trade up".
I also note that like firearms many "used" bicycles are very gently used and are real bargains.
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Old May 6, 2013, 10:46 PM   #21
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Re: "Entry Level" bit of a rant.

I found my entry level rifle and couldn't pass it up. 399 for a solid bolt action 308, just what I wanted. It shoots far better then I can and sure I should have got a 22 to learn rifle but some can't afford everything
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Old May 7, 2013, 02:19 AM   #22
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I'm OK with the wording " entry level " . Although I have owned many guns in my life there was a long period I did no shooting and sold off most of my firearms ( very dumb ) . A little while back I started shooting again . It was like starting all over again . My first gun I bought this second time around was the same gun I bought as my very first gun ever a 10/22 . I then bought a hand gun then a shotgun then another hand gun . OK now I wanted a real rifle but which one ? There are so many and I new from experience that just because it looks good on paper does not mean it's the one for you .

I don't have a problem spending good money on anything but there is way to many different guns , calibers , contours , styles , finish , bla bla bla . I did not want to spend $800+ on a rifle I may not really need or want 6 months after buying it so I started looking at all the " entry level " rifles . I ended up buy the Ruger American and I love it . I have a cheap $60 scope on it and I can shoot sub MOA with it no problem . I did learn rather quickly that it is not the rifle I really want to shoot all the time . Now I have a rifle I don't really need but I also did not spend a lot of money on it either . The thing about that is if I would not have bought that cheap entry level rifle I would have bought almost the same type of rifle just with a higher price tag cus at the time I did not realize what type of shooting I wanted to do . Now I need to buy another rifle for the type of shooting I want to do so the result would have been the same but with less money to do it with . I have done just that and bought a new rifle , now have the exact rifle I want . With out buying and shooting that entry level rifle first I would not have known what I wanted and or what would work best for me and been out another $300 or so .

Although I had shot and owned many guns in my life I still needed that cheap entry level rifle for the very reason they are there for . For the guys that know they want to shoot but are smart enough not to drop 1k on something they really know nothing about . I love my American and I shoot it really well but my Savage puts it in it's place .

I guess my point is entry level does not need to mean the gun is junk . I here many people still saying how the Ruger A R is a cheap piece of junk . IMO cheap ? sure , but is it also accurate and reliable, oh heck yes . IMO junk ? no way no how . Is a BMW m3 a great care ? sure . That does not mean the Ford Focus is junk .

On a side note . I was a little concerned when I spent almost 3 time as much on my savage as I did on the Ruger . I was thinking I can shoot sub MOA with the Ruger. My best 3 shot group @ 300 yards with the Ruger was 2.5" spread . Is the savage going to shoot 3 times better ? Yep almost . My best 3 shot group with the savage @ 300 yards is 1.14"

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Old May 7, 2013, 05:39 AM   #23
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I look at entry level as more of a marketing phrase, but it makes sense when you have a very basic platform that is highly customizable, however in stock form is very standard issue. I would consider a very basic 1911 an entry level gun because there is room for improvement everywhere on that gun, even if it's not needed. Remy 700s in barebones stock form are consistently referred to as entry level hunting rifles. We know that you can certainly bed and pillar a $1200 stock for your action and install a detachable magazine, things which are definitely not entry level.

I don't sweat the phrase. As it turns out, almost anything considered entry level has been good enough for LE, military, and hunters for a long time and still used today. What might be considered entry level to one person could be all that will ever be needed for someone else.
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Old May 7, 2013, 05:13 PM   #24
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I consider most commercially made rifles chambered in standard cartridges (ie easy to find ammo for normally) under $800 centerfire and $400 rimfire for new rifles before optics to be entry level rifles. With the current capabilities of CNC mill and lathe technology, even cheap rifles should shoot as well as expensive ones as long as the person pulling the trigger is capable of accurately shooting it.

Entry level to me means it has everything I need to get the job done but probably not everything I want. Once you get above the $800 mark with most centerfire rifles you start getting semi-custom options like stock or coating upgrades. You should see as well a superior fit and finish of metal and stock fit almost to the level of a full custom rifle.
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Old May 7, 2013, 06:10 PM   #25
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My entry level deer rifle was a 30 30 94mdl,, Shot a many of deer with that rifle. Along with my 30 06 mdl 700BDL,, Just with them two guns I shot more deer than alot of people with all thier guns combind ; ) PS Gotta love them entry level guns
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