View Full Version : First Deer Rifle

November 11, 2009, 06:21 PM
My younger sister is able to start hunting next year and I am already in the process of searching for a rifle for her. I am wondering what everyone thinks of as far as what model and caliber for deer and some coyote. She is small for her age and she has trouble holding up some of the youth rifles (youth model howa .243) and holding them study on her own. I've been looking at an AR-15 from DPMS considerning light weight, adjustable stock, and low recoil for her. My dilemna is that through my guard base I can get a really good deal on a DPMS AP4 but its chambered for .223. I've had friends use a .223 successfully for deer with balistic tip rounds.

I guess my question is, do you think an .223 would be to little of a gun for deer, and if anyone knows of some other rifles that would be good for her.
Thank You

November 11, 2009, 06:29 PM
i have two .223 but dont use them for deer,,,, I would recommend a .243 or 30/30.... the lever action 30/30 is nice for small people... IMO

November 11, 2009, 06:53 PM
I tend to think of 22 centerfires as expert deer rifles. I really try to steer newbies toward the 25 caliber or bigger. I like the 250-3000 for a low recoil deer rifle. The .257 Roberts is a step up and still very moderate. JMO.

November 11, 2009, 07:01 PM
If you can find a ruger 44 carbine it would be perfect. Very light and short, plus with the semiauto it kicks like a 22. If you really want to stick with the AR, get your deal on one, sell the upper on gunbroker and buy a 6.8 upper for it. Done!

November 11, 2009, 07:01 PM
.223 is looked at as a first rifle b/c of recoil for a young shooter, like how the .410 shotgun is looked at as a first shotgun for the new shooter b/c of recoil. but in both cases they are more like EXPERT cartridges...if one is to use the .223 for deer or a .410 for anything.

November 11, 2009, 07:02 PM
If you could find a used Winchester model 94 lever in 30.30, that would be great...light and fast handling. The Marlin Levers are somewhat heavier but they are still being made unlike the Winchester Model 94 at the present.

The 223 would work fine, but she would have to be very proficient with her 223 rifle for it to be effective with a placement shot rather then a body shot that might leave the deer wounded and on the run. A neck shot is always the best, as it drops the animal where it stands. Lots of Hunters use the 223 for many reasons..but most of them I am sure, are very skilled with their rifle.

November 11, 2009, 09:32 PM
Take a look at the H&R Handi-Rifle... (http://www.galleryofguns.com/genie/default.aspx?item=sb2-y08) (Available in full-size or compact models.)

Lightweight, small, available in the following calibers:
(My recommendations are in bold and underlined.)

.204 Ruger
.22 Hornet
.223 Rem
.22-250 Rem
.243 Win
.25-06 Rem
7mm-08 Rem
.280 Rem
.30-30 Win
.308 Win
.30-06 Spfd
.444 Marlin
.45-70 Gov't
.500 S&W

I would stay away from the .243 as most new shooters might have trouble placing their shots right in the boiler room. The .25-06/7mm-08/.30-30 all allow a little lee-way if conditions or shot placement are not ideal... Add a Limbsaver or similar recoil pad if it's a little rough on her shoulder.

November 11, 2009, 09:35 PM
I like the 30-30 as well. It is what I started with as a youngster. The Marlin 336 is inexpensive and reliable. I don't think it is exceptionally heavy. One thing to consider is that a very light rifle will cause an increase in perceived recoil, so the 30-30 might actually be a pretty good balance between caliber and weight.

November 11, 2009, 10:48 PM
i would lean towords a 22-250, and a youth model, this would be lite and little to no recoil,a and the shorter stock would help her handle it better

November 12, 2009, 12:20 AM
I used an m1 carbine for my first hunting gun. Seemed lighter than the 35 I carried the next year

Lee Lapin
November 12, 2009, 05:35 AM
One more vote for the Handi-Rifle in .30-30. They make a youth size stock for them, or a wood stock can be cut to the proper size and have a good recoil pad ground to fit.

I got one for my mom when she decided to take up deer hunting a couple of years ago, at age 79. She said she was tired of watching everyone else going hunting and having a good time and she wanted to go too.

She and my aunt were hunting together and brought home a spike buck, they still won't tell which one of them actually shot it 8^).


November 12, 2009, 09:01 AM
:)* No doubt it would be a .257 Roberts.* They are very accurate, low recoil and a great deer hunting round as my wife can attest to with her Kimber Model 84 in .257 Roberts.* She loves this gun and has taken numerous whitetails (including a 210 lb. 8 point last season).* Happy hunting.

November 12, 2009, 09:15 AM
A 336 Marlin with only 2 rounds in the tube will handle better in the arms of the smaller than a full tube of rounds... Yet the gun will have some mass to negate the already mino recoil of the .30-30.

November 12, 2009, 10:47 AM
I would go with what you have available and use that .223.

Just make sure (as with any caliber) that she shoots it well, knows the vitals on a whitetail and can place it there every time.

Also try and pass on anything over 150 yards or so and that will be a dead deer.

Ammo? What ever the rifle likes best but try to use at least a 55 gr. soft point or bigger and steer clear of the thin jacketed varmint bullets.

I killed one of my first deer ever with a Mini-14 and 55 grain soft points and have taken many since with the .223. It will do so reliably if you follow the criteria I have laid down here.

November 12, 2009, 08:19 PM
My wife had used a Handi Rifle in .243 for a few years now. Shot at least a dozen hogs with it and one very nice buck. Only the buck went more than a few yards and he didn't make it 50 yards.

A good bullet out of a .243 is plenty. And the Handi Rifle will be more accurate than you expect from something that inexpensive. Weighs about 5 1/2 pound in youth model.

Another good option is, if you can find one, a Rem. Model 7. It's basically a minuterized model 700. Sweet little rifle.

November 12, 2009, 10:06 PM
i would recommend a 25-06 or or a .257 roberts. .257 IMO has less recoil, but is a harder cartidge to find store bought rounds for. .25-06 is offered in more practical combinations also. once again, cheaper rounds, cheaper rifle especially for someone just starting out who may turn out not enjoying the sport of hunting or shooting so much.

November 12, 2009, 10:11 PM
Muzzleblast is an issue I have with the 25-06. Not that it's a bad round, but dang it'll leave yer ears ringin' in a trimmed barrel. The 250 Savage or .257 Roberts will not have near the level of noise. I feel that shooting comfort far outweighs the minuscule cost of ammo relative to the cost of the whole hunt. JMO

James R. Burke
November 13, 2009, 04:55 PM
Just myself I would sugest the .243. My wife is about 90 pounds and her first year she shot at two, and dropped them both. Shot placement is key, but it is no matter what you are shooting. A bad shot will wound a deer with any caliber. The only thing I dont care for about the 30-30 lever is you need to go thru the chamber to unloaded it every time. Not the safest for a new hunter, but a great caliber. If she is taught correct, and practices that .243 will drop any whitetail deer. To many hunters take a few shot's to make sure the gun is on, and go hunting. Myself and my wife go out four or five times before season. You will get more accurate, and gain alot of cofidents no matter what you decide on for her. Practice also is alot of fun, and learning. Good luck on whatever you decide on, be safe, and have fun.

November 13, 2009, 05:49 PM
I use a .260 for deer hunting and would highly recommend it if you happen to see a good rig for sale. A friend of mine has a young daughter just starting out hunting and she is now using a single shot .243 with good success. She has fired my .260 many times off a bench and has no problem at all with the recoil. The only real downside to the .260 is that the only common ammunition you see for sale is usually 140 grain stuff. That’s fine, but if you handload, the 100 or 125 grain Partitions, or any 120 grain standard bullet like the Speer, work extremely well on deer, and generate a lot less recoil too.

November 14, 2009, 12:49 AM
A .243 Win. would be hard to beat, IMO. The Handi-rifle would be an ideal choice in the youth model as others have stated. It is inexpensive, accurate, and diminutive in size- making it easy to handle for your little sister. If your budget is not a huge consideration, the Model 7 from Remington would be super in the youth model. Regardless of anything... good luck introducing your little sister to the world of hunting. Hoping for lots of fun and memories for you both!

November 14, 2009, 02:44 AM
I would go for a .243 Win. They are very mild in the recoil department which is good for young shooters, and the .243 drops deer quickly when you put the bullet into the lungs. I have used a .243 for years and think that it it hard to beat for a deer rifle.

November 15, 2009, 01:59 AM
I'm surprised to not see any of the usual bickering when it comes to posts like these. LOL! Usually someone will recommend a caliber too small or too large, then the fight is on!

Many have said what I would have said, so there's no sense in repeating. I do want to add that in some ammunition, they offer a reduced-recoil option. You can look into that as well.


November 15, 2009, 02:26 AM
25-06 or 260 remington will work extremely well. Both are flat shooting and quite capable of taking game up to elk in size. Either one is also very easy on the sholder.

November 15, 2009, 02:28 AM
.223 too small? No I don't think so, not if she is fairly competant with the rifle and hunting bullets ( Barnes) are used. There are possible better choices. A Remington Model 6 youth in .243 might fit her size and in North America she would never need another rifle. Or possibly a Win Model 70 featherwieght also in .243 win. If she's a super special sister how about an M-8 Sako also in .243. People were hunting Montana with the .222 long before the .223 became popular. Some states don't allow hunting with .22 cal though. Where are you?


Art Eatman
November 15, 2009, 11:46 AM
The OP says that a youth gun is heavy enough to be difficult, so most of the recommendations seem to be worse than what is already available to her.

I would think that for that small a person, recoil would also be an issue.

If she's amenable to training, and will be careful as to range for a shot, the .223 would suffice. Probably the next step up would be a .243 with the Federal 85-grain Sierra HPBT. I know from experience that it works well on deer and coyotes.

My question, then, is what rifle is lighter in weight than the Howa youth rifle's 6.8 pounds?

Options: Cut an inch or two off the barrel. Use a lightweight scope, such as the Weaver V3 at some 9 ounces. Still, the gross weight would be near eight pounds.

$$$ Option: A Remington 700 Ti; the-short action version is 5.25 pounds plus ammo, scope and mounts, and sling. Mine in 7mm08 weighs 6.5 pounds, total, ready to hunt. But, nowadays, the bare rifle is somewhere around $1,100, SFAIK. Four inches cut from the 22" barrel would make for a truly lightweight carbine.

Old Grump
November 15, 2009, 08:02 PM
My Aunt who was just a hair under 5' used a Winchester model 88 carbine in .243 till she finally quit hunting at the age of 84. Not the gun, she just couldn't climb the ladder into her deer stand anymore. If you can find one have your sister give it a try and see how it fits her, otherwise a Marlin lever action carbine in a pistol caliber should be doable as long as she doesn't have to shoot more than 60 yards with it.

James R. Burke
November 16, 2009, 08:48 PM
I dont know your price range. I got my wife a .243 in a Ruger No 1-A light sporter. There is hardly any recoil. It still seemed alittle long for her so I took the butt pad off. Perfect fit now. In the future were going to have the stock cut to fit, and the butt pad put back on. Believe me the .243 is no big kicking gun. She is in her 50's so she is done growing, and cutting the stock is not a big concern, but it might be if someone is still growing. I handload, and for her rifle I am using a Nosler 100 grain partition. It will do a complete pass thru on a deer just about anywhere you hit it. Shot placement is always key though, and that holds true with any caliber. A deer can be wounded with any caliber. My wife shoots alot, knows shot placement, and when to just leave them walk away. Shooting alot I think is very important no matter what you are going to use. It build confidents, and in my book that means alot. Good luck on your choice, be safe, and hope you always have good memory's.