View Full Version : New hunter...looking for gun and caliber help

Big Dave
May 6, 2012, 07:22 PM

Wow, I'm so stoked. I went on my first deer hunt in Molokai this weekend. What beautiful country. I'm hooked.

I borrowed my friends Ruger M77 30.6 and it worked fine. I asked the guide about which caliber to get and he suggested the following.

7mm Mag

I'm new to rifles and don't have any preferences to a model, design or caliber. I plan to mostly hunt Axis deer on Molokai with an occasional deer hunt in West Texas and Louisiana.

On Molokai the range is generally between 100 to 250 yards. There could be longer shots but I'm not sure that I would be comfortable doing that.

I'd appreciate some input on guns / calibers to look into.

Budget: $2,500 range at the high end (not including scope). I'd be happy to spend less than $1,000 on the gun.
I'm open to some gun smithing on it (trigger / whatever)
I think I would prefer stainless.
Ammo can be pretty expensive in Hawaii. Since I don't reload it would be nice to have something that is widely available and not super expensive for practice.

Here's some photos.

The buck was about 175 pounds.

This was the ridge I took the shot from.

Some views of Molokai Ranch


Full moon going up.

Getting into position above a watering hole the next morning.

Thanks for the help,

Big Dave
May 6, 2012, 07:24 PM
And some more photos...

Up on another ridgeline.

And another ridgeline:


Heading down to the water...

Brian Pfleuger
May 6, 2012, 07:29 PM
100-250 yards on deer?

243Win. No question. 243 is the perfect deer gun if you don't load your own ammo and still a darn fine choice if you did load. 7mm-08 is my favorite but factory ammo is pricey.

You certainly don't need a magnum anything.

May 6, 2012, 07:37 PM
For ammo availability, 30-06, .308, or .270 are all fine choices and should be available pretty much anywhere in the world that carries ammo. As for rifles, I've always been a Winchester model 70 fan and would lean towards a pre 64 if I had the money. The new Model 70s are supposed to be very nice also but I haven't handled one for fear of having to buy it if I do.


Big Dave
May 6, 2012, 07:45 PM
Thanks for the suggestions.

The guide didn't like the .243. I'm not sure why. He's has the entire lease for the ranch...so 243 isn't an option.


May 6, 2012, 07:53 PM
I would have voted for the 243 also, but if its out I'd go the 270 route.

From your pictures you have a lot of open country, The 270 would be excellent.

For a rifle, I too would vote the Model 70 Winchester. The new Fn Model 70 Wincherters would be perfect, smooth, accurate, reliable, and well with in your budget.

May 6, 2012, 08:03 PM
Are you paying to hunt on the property? If you are then the guide has no say in what you use IMO. There is nothing wrong with the other choices the guide gave you and if you want to hunt anything in North America except big bears those are the first four I'd recommend as well. That said you are talking about deer, and the .243 Win is more than capable of taking care of that.

Buy a rifle that you will like, so go to the local store and handle as many as you can. This might be a problem in Hawaii but I don't know. Spend what you are comfortable spending on the rifle. But with your budget depending on the cost of things over there, I'd save at least $500 for optics, bases and rings. I'm pretty sure you can get into a great rifle for around 1/2 the price you have in your budget.

May 6, 2012, 09:20 PM
I have a 30-06 that I swear by, but for what you're going to hunt at the distances that you intend to shoot, .270 will get you there.

May 6, 2012, 09:28 PM
You have a very unique situation there in Hawaii that people need to think about when giving you caliber suggestions. Ammo for you is going to be harder to come by than it is for everyone else on the mainland. Either you are going to have to stick with the calibers that are available locally or you will have to pay big bucks for shipping.

My suggestion is to see what calibers have good local ammo availability and stick with those. Anything from .243 up to 30-06 would do the job equally well at your ranges.

May 6, 2012, 10:28 PM
With that budget I'd buy one of these for around $1,100. At least that is what they sell for here, probably more there.


In your shoes and location I'd go 308, 7-08 or 243 and would probably go 243. Any of the suggested rounds will work, but are unnecessarily powerful for your needs. 308 and 243 are generally among the least expensive, and easiest to find. Mine is in 308, it weighs 6 lbs even, including the scope and mounts. The last 5 groups I've shot at the range with it measured .492", .324", .110", .721" at 100 yards and 1.34" at 300 yards.

It is well made, lightweight and a pleasure to carry up and down mountains and it shoots right with a lot of target rifles weighing 2X as much. They are not cheap, but well within your budget.

If you want something a little heavier this is a similar rifle that will be about 1.5-2 lbs heavier. A little cheaper street price, but probably within $150 or so of the Kimber.


The Prodigy
May 6, 2012, 10:58 PM
Take a look at Sako, they make one he-will of a rifle. They also make Tikka, which is well under what you have available to spend (they run around 600-650), but I have one in .270 that is way more of a rifle than I am a shooter. Hope this helps!

Big Dave
May 7, 2012, 03:27 AM
Thanks for the info guys. I have plenty of time to make a decision.

I'll try to get my hands on as many as possible and see which one calls out to me.

Take care,

May 7, 2012, 05:44 AM
One can never, ever go wrong using a 30-06
on a good platform.

May 7, 2012, 06:40 AM
Any of those are good, capable calibers for what you stated.

Only thing I would say, is that those beautiful pics indicate (I'm sposin') that shots could be far in excess of 250 yards.

With proper experience and equipment on your part, a quality rifle and ammunition, there could be opportunity for some long-range hunting. If that might be the case "down the road", I'd go with a 7mm Mag. It'll drop one of those at 1,000 yards- if you're up to the task.

May 7, 2012, 07:31 AM
Of the four calibers you mention, I would go with the .308 or .30-06 if availability is an issue where you are. I can't imagine any gunshop/sporting goods store in the US that wouldn't have both on hand. That being said, all of those on the list will get the job done (and then some).

As far as the rifle itself, I don't know how pricing runs in Hawaii, but I would say that your price range should give you more than enough room for getting what you need with enough left over to stock up on practice ammo, too. My recommendation is to get out to as many local shops as you have available and try to get a feel for as many different rifles as you can. Once you find something that has a good feel and fits you well, look for the same model online to see if you can get a better deal.

May 7, 2012, 07:52 AM
I'd second .308. Decent ammo is easy to come by, and it's just a nice shooting round.
As far as the rifle goes, I'd go with a Remington 700. It's not the most exotic choice, but it's a great rifle, and if it ever does need tuning, it should be easy - even out in the middle of the ocean - to find a gunsmith with experience working on them.

May 7, 2012, 12:12 PM
Sako, Winchester, Tikka - in that order for both price and performance.

.308, 7mm-08, .270, .30-06 - in that order, based on my preferences for ammo availability, short-action, etc.

Edit: Sorry, I transposed 7mm to 7mm-08 by the time I got to the bottom of the thread. In either case, I'd avoid the Magnum.

May 7, 2012, 12:57 PM
Go with a good general use caliber that can cover a wide range of possibilities. I like the 308 but a 30'06 or 270 also fit the bill. Next I would spend more on the optics then the rifle. Base line rifles are very accurate. My Stevens 200 is unbelievable and outperforms my first rifle I purchased 20 years ago for twice the price.

May 7, 2012, 01:15 PM
Definately go with the 30-06. Ammo is readily available and it is inexpensive. It is one of the most, if not the most popular cartridge in the world. It is quite capable of taking anything in North America. Although you hunt in Hawaii, you never know when a chance might come up to go hunting elsewhere, and odds are that the 30-06 will be quite suitable.

Almost all factories chamber a rifle in that caliber, so finding one to suit your taste should be available.

May 7, 2012, 01:30 PM
Find a new guide. All of "his" recommendations are bigger than anything you need and a couple bigger than anything I'd ever want.

My favorites are .243 and 7mm-08. I'm sure a .260 would fill my bill if I ever get my hands on one. Others to look at inlcude the .257 roberts and 6.5 swede.

May 7, 2012, 01:53 PM
I would say .270, 30-06, or .243 in that order. Those are all widely available and WILL do the job, Im sorry to hear that the guide has it out for .243, but he must have his reasons. That is beautiful counrty you are hunting. Whatever you pick, the most important thing is that you have fun and enojoy nature. Picking a rifle is a hard thing to do, but best of luck.

Big Dave
May 7, 2012, 01:56 PM
Hi Guys,

Thanks for the advice.

Actually, I really liked the guide-Joey. He was excellent, great personality and makes it all real easy. I would highly recommend him without any reservations.

And, he is the one and only guide for the Molokai ranch. He alone controls the entire lease for the 65,000 acre ranch. He manages the 10,000 deer and all the other wildlife on the ranch. If you want to hunt on Molokai he is the go to guy.

My hunting partner used another guide once and it was a shady deal. The guy didn't have any rights to hunt on any land and it was more or less a poaching type of situation. He didn't shoot anything due to this. My friend had his grandson and he didn't want poaching to be his first hunting experience. They came off one property and there was note on the guides truck telling him that he didn't have permission to hunt that area. You got to understand that Hawaii is a small place and Molokai only has about 20,000 people. Everybody knows everybody.

I understand what you guys are saying about a .243. That would be my first choice. But, this is Hawaii and I want to respect the guy who will be my guide in the future.

It's all good brothers...just no .243 and I can live with dat.


May 7, 2012, 02:17 PM
Savage 16 Weather Warrior series, or 11 Hunter...

No more accurate rifle out of the box for the money, with the 700 a close second...JMHO...

Joe Chicago
May 8, 2012, 06:49 PM
First off, nice deer and great pictures!

I vote for either the .308 or 30-06. They are great for deer and you will always be able to find them in multiple brands and permutations. Avoid less popular (although great performing) calibers like 7MM-08. I made the mistake of buying a 7MM-08 and if I could find rounds they went for $29/20 rds. The same rounds in .308 were always available and cost $19/20 rds.

May 8, 2012, 06:57 PM
Tikka T3 .308 Win

Nikon Monarch 2.5-10x42 or 3-12x42

May 8, 2012, 07:29 PM
You really can't go wrong with any of his suggestions. Based on ammo, I'd suggest 30.06 or .308. Both are very common and popular so that might help with ammo prices.

As far as guns, you would be hard pressed to find a more accurate gun than a Savage.

A Nikon Monarch 3x9 would be a great addition to the rifle as well.

May 9, 2012, 05:37 AM
.270 One of the best deer cartridges ever shoots flat and packs a punch.

.308 Its .30 caliber can find hunting and match ammo pretty easy for it, works on a short action which equals stiffer action(stronger less flex more accurate), 30-06 can take anything in North America also .30 caliber, good range of bullet weights, about as common as you can get if they sell ammo then they will likely have 30-06.

May 9, 2012, 05:54 AM
That is a beautiful place to hunt. Any of the calibers he reccommended will do the job. Other than the 7 Mag there isnt enough difference in any of them to worry about. Remington, Winchester, Savage, Sako, etc all make good rifles. Shoot as many as you can before you buy.

A Winchester Model 70 in . 270 or 30-06 is a classic combo that will do about anything you ask of it.