View Full Version : good big game rifle?

February 22, 2006, 03:40 PM
I have just moved to Co. and want to get a new rifle to hunt big game with. I have varmit hunted for years now and want to start hunting something new. I just wanted to get some input from you guys on what is good. Wanting to spend no more than $700. Would like to use this rifle for mostly deer and elk but maybe try bear and sheep at some time. I am open to cal. and make of rifle. Thanks for your help.

February 22, 2006, 03:54 PM
You are going to get a huge number of replies, most of them very good about rifles and calibers for deer and elk. good luck sorting through them to find what is best for you.

IMO: there are several great bolt rifles out there, Remmington, Browning, Ruger, Savage, and weatherby. several can be had for a reasonable price. The savages are well known for their accuracy and dependability for the money.

any caliber in the range between the .270/ .280/ 30-06 class and the 7 mm rem mag/ 300 win mag class will do just fine for deer and elk. pick a tough bullet for elk and bear ( partition/ bonded/ barnes/ failsafe ) and a more quickly expanding bullet ( most polymer tips and all other conventional expanding designs ) for deer and sheep.

Burris, Leupold, Bushnell, nikon and several others all make very good glass for the money.

good luck!!!

February 22, 2006, 04:04 PM
I'd suggest a Winchester Model 70 in .30-'06 myself. And I'd start making connections for places to shoot right now.

Among other vendors Denver has a couple Sportsman's Warehouse and one Gander Mountain along with a number of dedicated gunshops and lots of pawnshops - more vendors abuilding to service more folks with fewer places to shoot. With cash in your pocket and getting used to a new community visiting a lot of vendors should be fun.

I suggest a Winchester not just because it is a fine rifle but because Winchester brand rifles may not be around (notice Winchester proper is not going out of business, the licensee is closing one plant and rationalizing distribution) so now is the the time to buy a Winchester.

The .30-'06 is as good a choice as there is for an all around rifle with ample power and yet not so much recoil as to make sustained practice and comfortable use impossible. The American military established that the .30-'06 has as much recoil as most people can stand on a sustained basis but not more.

No reason to go lighter - although a .280 Remington Improved (Huntington) just may be the single very best all around caliber in the lower 48 and no reason to go heavier although a .338 Winchester in an all weather not too heavy rifle with a 22 inch barrel is a fine mountain/heavier game rifle.

Spend as much on your scope as you can but I'd suggest NOT buying a scope aimed more at paper punching than serving as a hunting sight - for my money a 2X7 is a hunting sight and 3X9 is more of a load testing paper punching sight.

Myself I use a Mannlicher Scout which is a fine all around rifle but I hunt family land where I kick elk out of the brush on the north faces as opposed to glassing basins and trying for a once in a lifetime trophy.

Rich Lucibella
February 22, 2006, 05:01 PM
I'd suggest a Winchester Model 70 in .30-'06 myself Add the descriptive "Classic" to that description and you're cookin' with gas.

February 22, 2006, 05:23 PM
So far I think I have narroed it down to: Weatherby-vanguard, Remington-700SPS, or Savage-111f. I have handled all three and I seem to like the Savage the most. I am still debating on the cal. either 30-06 or 7mm rem mag. From what I have been told the 7mm shoots alot flater for long shots. What do you think so far? Am I on the right track for a western big game rifle?

February 22, 2006, 05:40 PM
You can go to Remington (and I'm sure other sites, too) and compare balistics of 2-3 calibers. Here is a comparison of 150gr Remington 30-06 and 7mm Rem Mag cartridges. Note, though, that at least in Remington, the 30-06 is available in much larger bullets than 7mm.

I don't think you can go wrong either way.

Rich Lucibella
February 22, 2006, 05:57 PM
From what I have been told the 7mm shoots alot flater for long shots.Only for those who can hold one MOA under field conditions....and that means gunshop and internet gurus only.

Seriously, look at the sample data posted by Zoomie. At 400 yards the 7mmMag drops 17" while the 30-06 drops 22. That's just over one minute of angle in difference...and BOTH are misses unless you have your dope straight. Plugging in the dope takes no more time for the 30-06 than the 7mmMag....so I keep trying to understand what these guys mean by, "Oh, it's much flatter shooting." My response is generally, "Oh, you mean out past Fort Mudge I'll miss by LESS." ;)

The 7mmMag is loved by many. However, you WILL hear stories of it breaking up on an Elk shoulder. You'll have to search real hard to ever hear about that with a 30.06.

In the interests of parity, I do not shoot either. My staple NA gun is a .338 WinMag. But, I'd not feel the least bit "undergunned" with a .30-06. I'd accept a 7mmMag, but only with the right loads and never with my nose in the air over my pal with the 30-06. Newer is not always sexier.

February 22, 2006, 10:47 PM
I will second the Winchester Model 70 Classic. I have two of them and the bolt works so smoooooth on them. The 30.06 would be a great caliber.

Dave Haven
February 22, 2006, 11:09 PM
What Rich said!
I also use a .338 for elk.
I wouldn't hesitate to use a .30-'06 for elk. If I had an '06 with a scope.:)
A .338 with a 250 grain bullet shoots as flat or flatter than a 7 mag with a 175 grain bullet.
A 7 mag makes more noise and has more recoil than a .30-'06. Energy is NOT that much greater.

An interesting hunting story... In '96, my uncle, my cousin, and cousin's two sons got drawn for elk in my Dad's and my favorite elk hunting area.
Cousin shot an elk (neck shot) with a 7 mag 20 minutes after the season opened. Had to finish it off with a head shot as it was trying to run away.
Cousin's youngest son killed an elk with one shot from a .30-'06 (boiler room shot) on the second day. Biggest bull of the harvest.
Cousin's oldest son killed an elk with a heart shot at 300+ yards with a 7 mag on the third day. (6th shot - missed the first 5):D
Uncle never got a shot at one with his .300 WinMag.

That said, the 100-year-old .30-'06 is hard to beat for versatility.

February 23, 2006, 12:37 AM
I have had and still do several high power rifles, a customer came in the other day and asked me if I was limited to only one rifle what one would I keep. My answer was simple my Ruger No. 1 in 30-06.

I also ask customers buying there first high powered rifle if they reload or not. If they don't reload I recomend the 30-06. If someone is making a high performance bullet in any caliber usually the first caliber it is offered in is the 06. There is a reason for this! Also if they do not reload they can get ammunition at just about any gas station or country store. The 06 is I believe one extremely good cartridge. I bought my first one when I was 17, before the gun control act of 1968. I have owned a lot of guns over the years and there has been and will always be at least one 06 in my gun cabinet. :D

Happy hunting and keep your powder dry.

February 28, 2006, 07:54 PM
a 30-06 in any make or model would be good. i like remington 700's.

March 1, 2006, 09:09 AM
The advantage of the 7mm mag is only at long range , 300 + yds. It's the 100 birthday of the 30-06 get one ! It's even mor e versatile with the new premium bullets !

Old Time Hunter
March 2, 2006, 08:33 PM
30-30 Leverevolution from Hornaday out of a '94 or 336. Cheap, versatile, and easy to use. Especially if you can not afford to pay a porter to carry it.

March 2, 2006, 10:08 PM
I'd suggest a Winchester Model 70 in .30-'06 myself

Add the descriptive "Classic" to that description and you're cookin' with gas.

+1 :)

Or maybe a HOWA/Vanguard ??

March 2, 2006, 10:32 PM
Two good choices Savage 111F (http://www.savagearms.com/111f.htm) and Winchester Model 70 (http://www.winchesterguns.com/prodinfo/catalog/detail.asp?cat_id=535&type_id=004&cat=001C) I own one of each in .308 and .270 respectively. The 30-06 seems to be the all-around caliber.

March 2, 2006, 10:44 PM
I can't really add much to what Rich & others said. I'll just say that my *primary* hunter at this point is a Savage 110 in .270 win. I've heard it said that if you have a .30-06 or .308 or .270 or 7x57mm or 7mm-08 and you're thinking of getting another gun in one of those same calibers, but not the same as the one you have, then you're just looking for an excuse to buy a gun, because they're that close to all being the same, in the real world. I tend to agree with that, for the most part. As for brand of rifle, many good, but for the best value in a turnbolt, I like Savage 10/110/11/111/12/112, Remington 700 or 7 (not 710), CZ 550, Tikka T3, Howa 1500, & Wincheester 70 the best, roughly in that order. I don't like Ruger for political reasons.

March 2, 2006, 10:47 PM
I can't add much that hasn't been said except maybe Marlin 1895 45-70 if you're not shooting over 150 yards. I also like my Ruger M77 I just bought in 30-06.

March 3, 2006, 01:37 PM

I don't like Ruger for political reasons.

Please elaborate... What are their politics?

Or your political reasons?

Thanks :)

March 14, 2006, 11:14 PM
I have been shooting a Tikka T3 lite for about a year. Chambered in 30/06, came standard w/ fully floated barrel, adjustable trigger, comes from the factory guaranteed to a one in group at 100yds. All this in a 6lb 3oz package. Not a bad choice for just over $500. I'm shooting 150 gr bullets at about 3000fps and it knocked the crap out of one elk and two deer this last fall.
Oh, and just joined, hi all..

March 15, 2006, 06:16 AM
Win Model 70 30-06 featherweight classic

Long Path
March 15, 2006, 11:19 AM
The question is as open as if you had asked "what's a good satisfying dish for a big hungry man?" Too many answers!

I was in a gunshop this weekend, drooling over an odd duck of a rifle: It was a customized Siamese Mauser ('98) that had been custom stocked and rechambered to .45-70. Thinking of how much fun it would be to hotrod a 405 grain jacketed bullet out of that super strong action, I wanted to make him an offer (he had it listed at $1200, but I'll bet I could have had it for $900), so badly. I could see the hogs dropping to it. I could hear the "thwack!" of the bullet striking a bull elk.

Man. Talk about a great concept. And it's a completely different suggestion from every other post here. Weird? Yes. Limitless? No. For one thing, even hotrodded, it's going to suffer from drop issues. But it could easily be loaded up to be a going proposition for a novice at 200 to 250, and for an expert out to 300+, if he chose his shots carefully. (We're not talking about horsepower issues, here-- it's about being able to hit reliably, due to drop and drift.) But it's not out of line as an answer to your question. ("good big game rifle?")

Or consider how nifty some of the sporterized Springfields and Enfields out there are. I rechambered mine to .35 Whelen, and it's the cat's meow. (Any good rifle in that cartridge would be superb for the purposes you mentioned-- even sheep, with the lighter weight bullets.)

Agreed that the M70 Classic is the preferred breed of Winchester.

March 15, 2006, 04:38 PM
+1 for the Vanguard ( 30-06)

March 18, 2006, 05:32 PM
any .30-06 that you can buy and top off with a decent scope will serve you as well as any "super ultra short hydra diffinkill death-ray" magnum available.
there is a reason that .30-06 is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
the rifle wont matter as much as the shooter so buy whichever one you can afford and learn to shoot it well.

March 18, 2006, 06:52 PM
Gop either with the .300 or the 7 mag you will not regret it:D :D :D

March 18, 2006, 08:04 PM
Start with the .30-06 and research from there. It has the most available commercial loads. Ammo can be found anywhere. Does everything that needs doing in North America and a good portion of Africa without brain-bouncing recoil.
If you think you need more power, Federal High Energy and Hornady Light Magnums turn the '06 into a .300 H&H. If you handload you can reach this level easily and safely.

The rifle.....that's up to you. Get what fits and works for ya.

March 19, 2006, 01:33 AM
I would go with the Rem 7 Mag as my first choice and if I had to pick another probably the 30.06.:cool:

March 20, 2006, 10:42 PM
I have been shooting a Tikka T3 lite for about a year. Chambered in 30/06, came standard w/ fully floated barrel, adjustable trigger, comes from the factory guaranteed to a one in group at 100yds. All this in a 6lb 3oz package. Not a bad choice for just over $500. I'm shooting 150 gr bullets at about 3000fps and it knocked the crap out of one elk and two deer this last fall.

Elkman said it..

One more vote for the T3. Good looking gun with black synthetic under a stainless barel. Shoots as good as the guarantee.

April 12, 2006, 12:58 AM
May I suggest a Thompson Center Encore in .30-06 it has the power to take anything in North America although for our largest bears something a little heavier is recomended. Some good reasons to pick a 30-06:
1) You can get the ammo anywhere from gas stations to gun stores.
2) with the 06 there are alot of bullet weights out there that makes it very versatile.
3) Will not tear your shoulder apart with recoil

The reason I suggest an Encore rifle is that you can buy barrels for reasonable prices and make it a muzzleloader, shotgun, pistol or just about any rifle caliber you can think of.
Just my 2 cents worth

April 12, 2006, 05:59 AM
model 70, 300 Win Mag!!!!!!!! Its good for blue whale too......:rolleyes:

April 12, 2006, 12:28 PM
your getting some good advice here. My chioce would be the 30-06, i have owned a 7 mag, still have the 06. To much bang and kick for what little extra range ya get out of the 7mag for me, but then thats me. I hunt the sage brush a lot too,,, now,,,,, them new 300 ultra mags sure temp me.... ;) Pick the rifle your comfortable with that you feel you'll shoot well

April 12, 2006, 02:43 PM
I have both the guns listed above and both are excellent shooters for large mule deer, elk and bear (would go with .338 or larger for grizzly). I am going bison hunting (not really hunting, kinda like shooting a large target at 500 yds) and am taking the .300 . As for those who say a 7mm Rem Mag doesn't have as much power and acuracy as an 06' I just want to let them know I dropped a large mule deer at about 650 yards with a remington 700PSS in 7mm Rem Mag with Simmons 6-24X50A/O mounted on Warne Tactical Ultra High rings, with a Farrell 20MOA 1piece steel base.

The simmons is the hidden gem of the scope world. I have a leupold Varix-III 3.5-10X44 that is only a little bit clearer (better lenses) and better for low light conditions, but it cost almost 400 more than the simmons. When I go hunting i don't worry about babying the simmons, where as I would be very gentle with the leupold because of the cost to replace. My wife dropped the rifle once with the simmons on it and i didn't even care about the scope (more concerned about the +$1000 rifle setup). The scope withstood the tabletop fall with only a ding in the removeable sunshade that was easily fixed.

April 20, 2006, 12:17 AM

April 20, 2006, 09:13 AM
Browning A bolt classic hunter in 300WSM or 30-06 topped off with a 3-9vx-II

April 20, 2006, 09:22 AM
You mentioned BEAR hunting?? If you are talking black bear then the 30-06 will be your best all around choice. If you are talking Big Bear, in my opinion the .338 would be the best all around.

April 20, 2006, 06:59 PM
TYBS I don't think that you can legally change an Encore rifle into a pistol or mount a pistol barrel on it, I think BATF would be very interested with you if you did. If you had a TC pistol and converted it into a rifle I don't think that would cause any problems though.

The only bear in CO is black bear that is legal to hunt, there are rumors of Grizzlies still here though.

April 20, 2006, 08:23 PM
In New York they don't mind if an encore ( or a contender, or a contender G2 ) started life as a pistol or as a rifle, as long as you have it on your permit as a pistol. However, you can't have a rifle barrel on it when it has the pistol grip on it, and you can't have a pistol length barrel on it when you have the rifle butstock on it...in fact the recoil pad has a notice molded into it that states that it is a federal violation to have a short barrel on it when the butstock is attached.

Encores are great versatile rifles, I can't say enough good things about mine.

get one in .30-06 and you'll be set for life....until you get the itch to get a varmint barrel in .223, then a shotgun barrel, then a muzzleloader barrel, then switch it over to a pistol.....it is a great obsession!!!!!!