View Full Version : My first rifle should be???

July 22, 2012, 11:36 PM
I have been shooting and XD9 and a 4" S&W model 66 for a while and am now getting the rifle itch. Looking for a Marlin 1894 in .357 but the older ones are hard to find.

What would be a good starter rifle for me and I am not interested in a .22.

Don't need a canon either or something that would break the bank on ammo.


July 22, 2012, 11:48 PM
Hard to beat a good 22 for not breaking the bank on ammo, plus it's easy on the shoulder, easier to shoot indoors and the skills developed carry over to centerfire rifles. You might look for a good used Rossi Puma, I have seen complaints that the quality control on new ones is not what it should be.

July 23, 2012, 12:20 AM
Your intended ranges and targets will give us a better idea to a recommendation.

Sent from HenseMod6.

July 23, 2012, 12:25 AM
I mainly plan on target shooting. 50-100 yards.

Nine the Ranger
July 23, 2012, 12:33 AM
My first rifle was a Marlin 336 30-30, it was used for around $250-300.

I've seen new ones at Wal-Mart for $400. Not sure on new quality, but mine has performed perfectly.

Rustle in the Bushes
July 23, 2012, 01:06 AM
pretty vague, but 50-100 yards helps.

Bolt- (winchester model 70, or CZ 550 for .308/30-06 rounds that are definitely manly but not crazy big. Ammo gets pricy though.

Sounds like youd be pretty happy with a cz 527 in .223. You dont want a .22, but want something thats cheap right? .223 is perfect unless you wanna go really cheap and get a 7.62x39 and shoot crummy surplus, though you wont print tight groups if thats important to you.

the rifleer
July 23, 2012, 01:15 AM
Get something fun, like a mini 14 or a sks.

July 23, 2012, 01:35 AM
If you want a good plinker I'd go bolt action 223; many good inexpensive rifles such as the Savage Axis may be found in this caliber.

July 23, 2012, 02:50 AM
It's hard to beat a nice old surplus rifle, bolt or semi. It really depends on what you want to do. If you're interested in getting glass, I would probably look at a newer, more modular platform like a Remington 700. You can upgrade as much as your wallet permits. If you're just shooting with irons, an SKS seems like a good deal to me. They're plenty fun, feel like a ton of gun, and are cheap to feed. It's a win/win.

Hunter Customs
July 23, 2012, 07:42 AM

It sounds like you are interested in lever action guns.

You say you don't want a 22, does that rule out all rimfire cartridges?
If not maybe a Henry lever gun in 17HMR.

If it has to be a centerfire rifle, as others have suggested a bolt gun in 223 would be a good choice.

Best Regards
Bob Hunter

July 23, 2012, 12:09 PM
You're on the right track. Keep looking for a lever action 357/38 rifle. It will fill all the requirements that you want and levers are a hoot to shoot.

July 23, 2012, 12:39 PM
a 357 carbine is quiet, light and pretty accurate out to 100 yards. however the 1894 in 357 is one of the hardest leverguns to locate these days. I have been looking for one off and on for about 2 years now and none of my LGS ever have them. if you are dead set on a levergun you might be able to compromise on the caliber and get the marlin 336 in 30-30. it has about the same capabilities as the 357 in the ranges you specified and does a little better out past that. it's not a super loud round but it is louder than 357 and has a bit more recoil but still within a reasonable amount for a starter rifle. last I checked ammo was about the same cost between the two but the 336 generally costs half of what the 1894 does and is a lot easier to find.

AC 45-70
July 23, 2012, 11:26 PM
M44 for the cheap surplus rounds. Its also good past 100 yards.

July 23, 2012, 11:36 PM
Target shooting for groups or steel targets and the like?

Why wouldn't you want a 22?

July 24, 2012, 01:17 PM
I can think of a couple reasons. Increased stopping power in case he might decide to do something else except target shoot, and cost. Perhaps he reloads and 38 Special can be reloaded for about 1/2 the cost of decent 22 ammo.

July 24, 2012, 01:36 PM
M44 for the cheap surplus rounds. Its also good past 100 yards.
let's see, heavy trigger, kicks like a mule, blows out everyone's eardrums in a 1/4 mile radius, 4 MOA with a good bore, and requires a 2x4 to open the bolt after each shot... but it's got a flip up bayonet so it's pretty much awesome.

the M44 is a good gun for someone that needs a cheap shooter but it's a horrible choice for a first time rifle buyer.

July 24, 2012, 02:01 PM
the M44 is a good gun for someone that needs a cheap shooter but it's a horrible choice for a first time rifle buyer.

I whole heardly disagree with this. Sure its not the most practical but the sheer awesomeness of the even that occours when you pull the trigger will make you smile every time. That will leave you wanting more and more.

fun starter rifles on the relitavely cheap

91/30 and m44
ak variant.

chris in va
July 24, 2012, 02:23 PM
If you're gonna do rested target shooting, a levergun might not be the best tool. Something like a bolt action 223 would work better. Low recoil, accurate.

Of course I'm going to throw in a CMP Garand, just because.:cool:

July 24, 2012, 03:00 PM
I whole heardly disagree with this. Sure its not the most practical but the sheer awesomeness of the even that occours when you pull the trigger will make you smile every time. That will leave you wanting more and more.
bruised shoulders and ringing ears is how new shooters develop a flinch, the M44 makes even the most seasoned milsurp shooters cry and rub their shoulders for a few days. that is not the way to learn to shoot a rifle.

July 24, 2012, 07:32 PM
how about a S&W m&P ar-15 for about $650 ?

July 24, 2012, 07:33 PM
or an AK-47 for about $450+ and you can get bulk ammo deals from pretty much worldwide

July 24, 2012, 07:56 PM
Not sure if this is a best choice, but lots of people like a 17 HMR.

For 50 - 100 yd shooting at paper, any round and action type will be fine.

For cheap ammo, 223, 17 HMr and 22 lr come to mind. 308, while slightly more is a great round. A 357mag rifle would be common to your revolver.

What are your rifle shooting goals, dreams.

July 24, 2012, 10:53 PM
get an NEF rifle in 223 and then send it in to get a 357 barrel fit to it. Add a scope on each and shoot stuff.

July 24, 2012, 11:29 PM
like that idea jackpine...i will check on that.
I really don't want another caliber to reload so 357 is a good idea.

44 AMP
July 25, 2012, 08:35 PM
Even though you aren't "interested" in a .22LR, its the best thing to start with. Gets you trained on rifles, cheapest to shoot, and tons of fun.

Sell it later if/when you get bored.

Although its just a "popgun" its a real rifle, and everything you need to learn about rifle shooting (except how to manage recoil) you can learn, and learn well from a .22

Also, shooting 500 times for $20 is (for me, anyway) better than shooting 20 times.

One thing, begining shooting with a hard kicking rifle is counter productive. You can do it, but it makes the learning curve really steep, and if you develope a flinch problem, it can be tough to cure.

July 25, 2012, 11:19 PM
The OP said he didn't want a .22, and, and he is ammo cost sensitive.

You can buy a complete Mosin Nagant rifle, 100 rounds, including tax, license and dock fees, for $200. That isn't even half the cost of a SKS, Rossi...lever this and lever that rifle. Two bones won't even buy a half way decent scope and mounts. If it hurts you shoulder too much go Air Rifle.

Welcome to Centerfire Rifle.

July 25, 2012, 11:52 PM
You can buy a complete Mosin Nagant rifle, 100 rounds, including tax, license and dock fees, for $200. That isn't even half the cost of a SKS, Rossi...lever this and lever that rifle
that's barely half the cost of a mosin nagant nowadays. most of the sub-100 dollar 91/30s are either sold out or backordered for months leaving many in the $120-150 range. if you buy online you can expect a $20 FFL fee plus $30 shipping and handling so your super cheap mosin nagant has just jumped to nearly $200 all by it's little lonesome and then when you add a can of ammo which costs around $100 per can +$20 shipping and handling you are now looking at close to or exceeding $300 which is getting very close to the cost a a marlin 336 lever action rifle.

and this is all completely ignoring the fact that you do not hand a person that is inexperienced with rifles a 5 foot, 9 pound rifle that has significant recoil. 22lr, 17, 223, 357, 7.62x39, 30-30, these are acceptable calibers for new shooters to learn on. 30-06, 303 brit, 7.62x54R, 8mm mauser and the rest of the so called "mankiller rounds" are not in any way shape or form conducive to building marksmanship skills. that is the very reason why special runs of rifles such as springfields were chambered in lighter calibers to teach recruits on instead of throwing a 30-06 at them and telling them to shoot a bullseye.

July 26, 2012, 12:40 AM
I see lots of pictures on the net of ruskie women armed with NMs marching to the Eastern Front to shoot German soliders. How did they ever learn how to shoot? The women I mean. How did the ruskie women lean to shoot I ask? I also heard accounts of 100 pound Vietnam combatants hammering our troops with the bone crushing-ill suited for marksmanship training-Nagant rifles.

Every gun show I've been to for the past 4 years, including a few days ago, has had at least 3 good examples of 91/30s for $120-135, and surplus 7.62X54R cartridges for .23 cents per cartridge, being sole in individual packs of 20. Often times MN are sold as CC&R so, leagally speaking, no waiting period and no State transfer tax.

July 26, 2012, 01:37 AM
The .357 single shot is a nice idea if that's the caliber you'd like. I have some H&R/NEF single shot shotguns and they are fun to shoot. And I'd continue the search for a 1894c.

I found a used one this past winter. It's new enough that it has the safety (which many people don't like) but old enough that it was made before Marlin was bought out. It seems better made than the new models I see in stores today. Mine cycles .38 specials well (some carbines don't) and I find it somewhat similar to shooting .22 in terms of recoil, noise (my .38 sp. reloads are subsonic even from a rifle barrel), and trajectory. The bullets just happen to weigh 4x as much and make bigger holes in targets. Meanwhile, it's nice to know that, if I wanted to, I could also effectively take deer and coyotes with proper .357 ammo.

Ignition Override
July 26, 2012, 02:21 AM
The OP might want to consider an SKS.
A common unknown variable with the Russian MN 44 is how much wear the muzzles suffered. The Polish MN 44s are usually in better condition but are pricier.

I had two Russian 44s which made some Very large 'groups' at 50 yards, whether the bayonets were extended or retracted. You could not really call those patterns 'groups'. These rifles only used Bulgarian ammo. Maybe that was a factor.

My Norinco SKS with the fully-adjust. Tech Sight made a group at 50 yards which resembles a group with one of my best Enfields, also at 50 yards. Five of the SKS shots almost touched, and were in the bullseye.

Russian 7.62x39 does not cost much more than surplus (corrosive) 7.62x54R.

July 26, 2012, 06:11 PM
I have two lever guns on my rack.

A Marlin 336 in 30-30 I purchased in 1972 for $50.00. I still use it regularly when I am hunting heavy cover in inclement weather weather.

The second is a Win 94 in 44mag. It is cute and my wife stole it from me. Has good accuracy out to 100 yds.

Every one should have at least one Lever gun.

July 26, 2012, 07:00 PM
My Vietnam bringback was a Chinese Type 53, I have several M-Ns. As a piece of history, yes, as a first rifle, no, on a par with a K98.
My first rifle was my M1917 which I treasure, I fired Expert in the Army with the M-14 and M-16 but it was all those range sessions with my trusty old Winchester M-69 that made me a truly proficient rifle shooter.

July 27, 2012, 02:30 PM
I see lots of pictures on the net of ruskie women armed with NMs marching to the Eastern Front to shoot German soliders. How did they ever learn how to shoot? The women I mean. How did the ruskie women lean to shoot I ask? I also heard accounts of 100 pound Vietnam combatants hammering our troops with the bone crushing-ill suited for marksmanship training-Nagant rifles.

first of all. the russian army as a whole was essentially conscripts they were given almost no training and they could care less if you shot straight. their war strategy was very similar to the chinese in addressing the japanese invasion. "we outnumber them ten to one so as long as we kill one of them for every ten of us, we'll win through sheer numbers" was the main sentimentality. most of those women were volunteers that were basically laying down their lives for mother russia, a lot of them were just given a uniform and a pamphlet explaining ranking structure.

secondly, vietnamese troops were using the 7.62x39 round since hostilities opened with the french in the 50s. the vietkong were trained with SKS and AK47s and the ones that showed promise were given the mosin nagant for sniper operations.

July 27, 2012, 02:59 PM
first of all. the russian army as a whole was essentially conscripts they were given almost no training and they could care less if you shot straight.
And yet they managed to kill 6 million Nazis. Kudos to the conscripts.

July 27, 2012, 06:36 PM
And yet they managed to kill 6 million Nazis. Kudos to the conscripts.
uh...that's the total amount of Germans that died... total. I guess France, England, India(loyal to Britain), Australia(loyal to Britain) Italy, Greece, and the good old US of A had nothing to do with those 6 million deaths.

meanwhile the Soviet Union lost anywhere between 9 to 10 million and I'm fairly certain that Nazi Germany was responsible for just about all of those.

also, even though it would be awesome to continue debating history, this is way off topic.

July 28, 2012, 02:26 PM
I'd opt for a rifle in 5.56/.223

It's one of the less expensive centerfire rounds out there, that's easy to find ammo for. Very accurate at the ranges you plan on shooting at. And can be even more accurate, if you handload.

Just picked up a CZ 527 Varmint for this purpose.:)

Good luck with your search and let us know what you decide to get.

July 29, 2012, 10:32 AM
uh...that's the total amount of Germans that died... total.I did say Nazi, not German. Probably should have said axis, but then, who would know what I meant. Even then, exaggerated, but probably 2/3rds of all German military deaths were caused by the soviet conscript. I'm not sure how many Japanese were killed by the soviets in 1945, but they did basically annihilate the Japanese Manchurian armies.

Soviet deaths were way over 20 million by the way, although only about 12 million were military deaths.

July 29, 2012, 09:32 PM
My first rifle was a Remington 700. It's your basic bolt action rifle, they come in many different calibers. Great first rifle.

August 3, 2012, 08:45 PM
In reading this discussion, I was interested in Jackpine's response about the NEF rifle in 223 fit with a 357 barrel. I dug in further and found this info on the NEF website that I felt worth putting here. I'm not sure if that means you can't fit a 357 or 44 barrel to a frame from another centerfire cartridge, but that may be a safe assumption. It could be that they're made lighter-duty than could handle more powerful rifle cartridges, but that could also mean different spacing of the barrel lug/action mounts as well.

From: http://www.hr1871.com/Firearms/Rifles/handiRifle.asp
midway down the page.

*Note: The frame of the 44 Mag. (SB1-S44) and the 357 Mag. (SB1-S35) cannot be fit with any other centerfire rifle barrel. They are capable of being fit with accessory shotgun barrels, but their rifle capability is limited to the specific 44 or 357 Mag. barrel that it is shipped on the gun.

August 4, 2012, 01:32 AM
NEF/H&R makes two type of receivers: SB1 and SB2. The SB2 can use ANY caliber/gauge barrel. The SB1 is limited to shotgun barrels and pistol caliber barrels (basically stuff with lower pressure). So a .357 or .44 barrel can be put on any receiver, but if you buy a .357 or .44 gun to begin with, you can't stick a .223 barrel on it.

That's my understanding anyway. Someone should correct me if I'm wrong.

August 11, 2012, 12:59 AM
The Russian military were Not and are not "conscripts" and there was 1 Russian woman sniper as I recall that had more kills in the battle for stallen grad the. All the male snipers put together. She used a m91/31 bent bolt mosin. So if a little Russian chick can stand the recoil then an American mans should be able to as well. With out developing "flinch" unless he has an extremely soft shoulder. No ofence to the PO. I learned on a 30-06 that kicked like a mule. I can still get moa or better groups at 100yds out of my remi 700 in win mag. How's that for kick?!

August 11, 2012, 09:49 AM
For a first gun I always suggest a 22 (like a Ruger 1022) since you can shoot one all day for little money.
You say you have been looking for Marlins but having a hard time finding one.
If it doesn’t have to be a lever action try a bolt, Ruger makes the 77 in 44 Mag (which I own) and recently came out with the gun in 357/38. I really like my 44 and it will shoot 44 specials all day.
The only issue I have had is with longer heavier bullets the rotary mag won’t accept them although the gun will single feed them.
Stainless steel, synthetic stock with great Ruger Scope mounts. Great trigger and built like a tank.

August 12, 2012, 01:34 AM
Uncle Sam got this on right decades ago.

The M16 is about the easiest rifle for a new shooter to master. Low recoil, big fun factor, shooting should be fun..

When the time comes that the shooter wants a more powerful weapon, the skill sets from the M16 carry over.

August 12, 2012, 02:42 PM
The common autos being the AK and AR guns are out of the question I think. AR guns are getting cheaper, but that's for the bottom of barrel guns. AKs are getting harder to find, used to be at every gun store. Prices are going up, target ammo is cheap. But anything else is expensive.

A good bolt gun isn't exactly cheap either, and a decent rifle catridge isn't cheap on ammo either.

Pumps and lever guns are not cheap to buy unless they are imports. Rossi and Taurus have decent stuff.

Single shots are nice, get a decent quality gun for little money. H&R/New England makes a gun in every common calumets. Rossi is a decent option too.

Revolving rifles always have the cool affect. Rossi makes one. you can get reproduction Colt SA carbines in .45 Colt. Another option would a reproduction bp Remington carbine and get a .45 ACP cylinder.

Here's what I suggest, look for a Ruger or Savage bolt action that's used. 243, .270, 30-30, 308, and 30-06 is what I'd look for.
Rossi Circuit Judge is a pretty nifty gun, but a lever .357 mag would be a great option. More than capable of 100 yards and around $25 buys 50 rounds. You can get anything from target rounds to hunting rounds commonly.
A Hipoint carbine is another option too. About $300 and $12 buys 50 rounds of 9mm. Also capable of 50-100 yards easily.

August 12, 2012, 02:50 PM
There are entry level scoped rifles out there in .223 (the most cost effective plinking caliber) for $400 or so .....

If you want to maximize your ammo dollars, get a Lee reloading kit....

August 12, 2012, 03:25 PM
do a lot of shopping. Find one that fits you, and is pleasant to shoot.

The caliber should be one that has a variety of bullets and good availability. My first rifle was a Marlin 336 in 30-30 I still own it and shoot regularly. The bullet selection is limited and has some inherent accuracy problems.

My second was a Vouree Mauser in 243. It was extremely accurate for the first three rounds. (very light barrel) It weighed 6.5 pounds with scope. A pleasure to carry in the field. Sold it wish I had not.

Go to Wal Mart and check ammo prices. My recommendation would be a 243 followed by a 308 or 30-06 in a good brand rifle which fits you. As time progresses and budgets improve you can up grade triggers scopes and accuracy. Eventually you will have a custom rifle which will serve you for many years.

My favorite rifle is a Remington 722 in 257 Roberts. The rifle started as a 244 Remington with a butchered barrel and trigger. Over the years it has gotten a trigger job, custom barrel a Weaver Old style K12 scope. It shoots sub minute of angle every time I do my jog. Someday I may replace the stock but after 30 years it still does its job so I may not change anything.

August 12, 2012, 07:21 PM
Ruger is making a bolt-action 357 now - should be a fun gun to shoot. 357 is super cheap to reload

August 12, 2012, 07:46 PM
Not sure what a 357 mag rifle gets you. Maybe a short range deer rifle??

For a rifle, I would get a rifle round.

Good first rifle rounds are rounds like 22 lr and 17 hmr.

If you want something for hunting of some level, I like rounds like 223 Rem, 243 Win and 308 Win. My buddy's first rifle was a Savage 10 in 308 Win. So was his second. This is kind of the classic rifle. His first was the std Savage, which might be too light for someone to hit well with in the field.

Yes, weight makes rifles easier to hit with.

My first rifle was a 1917 Enfield Winchester 30'06 sporterized at 12 lbs including Weaver K4 scope. I could hit anything with that at 12 years old!

Let's talk action type's. . .Generally scoped modern bolt actions are the most accurate rifles. Here is a basic one. . .a Savage 10 in 243 Win:

Together with a 10x Super Sniper, it might look like this(rifle in pic not a Savage):

There are even some unique fun ones like the Ruger Scout Rifle which are fun looking too:

I like lever guns too. A pistol caliber carbine might be real fun. Don't underestimate their recoil. They can be snappy with little to no recoil pad.

If I were getting a single shot, I would likely opt for a T/C Encore or Contender due to the wider barrel selection.

August 13, 2012, 02:57 PM
i think for your first rifle you should go with a mini 14 or a mini 30 if you just wana plink around. not to expensive you can get cheap ammo and there loads of fun and suprisingly accurate. and if your looking more for a bolt action . i find mosin nagants to be very entertaining, you can just take it to a feild or a range and shoot or put a nice mount and scope on it, drop it in a good stock and take it hunting

black mamba
August 14, 2012, 10:06 AM
I will add my vote for a switch barrel single shot rifle. They let you try different calibers cheaply, and two barrels will cover a lot of different shooting scenarios. Start with a .223 barrel for economy of ammo, and add something bigger down the road. If you use quick detachable scope mounts, you can get by with one scope for several barrels-- just keep track of how many clicks different they are in their zeros. You will probably need to fire a few shots to get them fully zeroed after switching, but they will be close enough to start.

August 14, 2012, 09:42 PM
There's nothing wrong with a .357 lever action especially if you're carrying a revolver using the same round. You might drop by a few Cowboy Action Shoots in your area. Cowboy Shooters change guns a lot and you're 99% sure of getting a good gun with a little action work on it. My Son, my Daughter and my Wife all killed their first WT Deer with a Marlin .357. I lost count of the number I killed with it. They are great home defense guns. The .357 is one of the easiest rounds to reload.

August 15, 2012, 02:57 AM
The .357 mag, even in a Marlin, is marginal for deer. Would make an ok personal defense weapon but it emphatically does NOT "reach out and touch someone". I had one and was disappointed in it's capability. It is basically a pistol with a longer barrel. I would say the same for the .44mag carbine with it's rainbow trajectory. Again, I like mine but decided to get a .30-30 for a closer in deer rifle. Flatter shooting, more power, and there has been some pretty exciting ammo put out for .30-30 recently, including spire-points.
A .22 is a good starter rifle to learn some basic handling and range work. I learned a lot from my .22 bolt (which I still have 50 years later!) If I could put something in my scope I could hit it.. Graduated to a .30-30 Marlin and from there went to a Browning in .308.
A SCOPED SKS might make a good starter rifle with less expensive 7.62X39 ammo. More accurate than an AK and more distance.. Stay away from the MN carbines.. too much noise, muzzle-blast and often finicky sticky bolts.
Look around, shop.. read, and don't believe everything a gun-shop guy might tell ya. Or a gun forum guy either :D