View Full Version : Good starter hunting rifle for my dad

August 5, 2012, 08:15 PM
I know absolutely nothing about hunting rifles. What would be an affordable starter rifle and optic that could take down elk or deer?

Any help would be appreciated.

August 5, 2012, 08:36 PM
The smokin'est deal going these days (so I've seen) is the recently introduced Ruger American in .243, .308 or .30-06... fit with a Nikon, Bushnell or Redfield scope. About $600 or less for all of it... and all good quality. Go to WalMart.

There have been some good deals on Savage Axis and Stevens rifles too.


August 5, 2012, 09:19 PM
A good, affordable and pretty decent quailty option would be a gun from H&R/New England. They sell rifles from .22 all the way to 45-70. They are made very nicely, simple, and durable. They are single shots, but that also makes them cheaper. I recommend a 45-70, but a 30-06 is a good option too. If it was just a deer gun, I love the .243 round. But I'm not an elk expert, and I don't know how well it would do.

August 5, 2012, 09:22 PM
H&R guns are LIGHT. They have quite a bit of felt recoil in the heavier calibers.
If you can look past their simple design they are one heck of a deal though.
Doesn;t take a genius or a lot of money to ad a little weight to them either.

August 5, 2012, 09:29 PM
I'll add in the T/C Venture and new Weatherby Vanguard S2 for accuracy potential at nominal cost. -7-

August 5, 2012, 09:34 PM
Kimio - there can be a huge difference between deer and elk and therefore the calibers and bullet weights/ballistics involved. Since you are a senior poster, you must know a fair bit about guns and ballistics.

First, you didn't describe what you consider to be affordable. Is it closer to $500 or $1,000 or $,1500? You can get the job done at all three, with the right caliber, decent optics and close-enough range, but at $500 new it might be a single-shot primitive-hunter-eligible rifle (like .45-70) with a low-power scope, good for close-in shots, or you could buy a very decent used rifle and hopefully-good scope. Next, you didn't quite say that your dad has never hunted anything before, nor what his shooting experience and ability are.

It would be helpful if you describe your dad's previous hunting or shooting experience, to elicit more responses. Also, will he be hunting with experienced guides or seasoned hunting companions? Will he be hunting in icy-cold temps? All of that matters. The only addition I'd make to Creeper's comment is that I would not hunt elk with a .243, period. I'd be surprised if that were allowed in the state. Sure, it can be done, but there is so much blank space here, including that your dad has never hunted before, that a .243 is no-no-no in my book until I know that he has been to Camp Perry and also killed 1,000 prairie dogs. He might be a crack shot on paper, but that is not the same as placing a light-weight bullet in the right place on a big, strong animal. With a cartridge like that, there is a good chance of wounding it and losing it.

Don't forget to scour sites like Gunbroker for good used big-game guns, like No. 1 Rugers, that function well in really cold climates where some of the modern ones might want to freeze up. Given the range of game you mentioned, elk and deer, I would not go out with less than .308 or .30-06 and more likely would tend toward 7mm Magnum or .300 Weatherby or H&H.

All that said, good for you that you are helping to get your dad out in the field. It is an uncommon reversal of roles, but a welcome one nonetheless.

August 5, 2012, 09:45 PM
The only addition I'd make to Creeper's comment is that I would not hunt elk with a .243, period.

Funny you mention that. I actually deleted the .243 chambering, until I remembered that there are folks that do hunt elk with one. I wouldn't, but sometimes, it ain't about me. :p


August 5, 2012, 09:52 PM
Creeper - agreed.

Pls. help me out here - how do you do the "quotes" thing, in the white box?


August 5, 2012, 09:56 PM
Cut and paste what you want to quote, then highlight it... then click on this http://thefiringline.com/forums/images/editor/quote.gif... second from last in the "tools" above.

Oh yeah, if you want to insert the name, put the equals sign and the name into the first box... like so [QUOTE=FloridaVeteran]


August 5, 2012, 10:11 PM
IMO, a Savage 10 or 14 in 308 would be ideal. I would add a 4x or 6x scope on it. The scope will be the key to him enjoying it.

Something like this. (http://swfa.com/Weaver-6x38-Classic-K-Rifle-Scope-P5055.aspx)

August 5, 2012, 10:39 PM
Creeper - I clicked on "tools for this thread" or whatever it was, and could not get to what you described.

Rather than muck up this thread with more irrelevant-to-topic posts, I'll ask someone through the administrator channel. Thanks much for your help. I'm an old fart and it is ironic that I was trying to help the OP when I don't even know how to post a proper quote in a forum reply.

What I love about guns and shooting is the sportsmanship, friendship and camaraderie. One competitor helping another even if it means the "helpee" wins. You don't see that much in any other discipline/competitive hobby.


August 5, 2012, 10:44 PM
It's in the message box when you click on "post reply".

I'll shoot you a PM with a bit more detail. Nevermind... you're set up to not receive PMs. :(

Last thing, how are your "posting rules" (at bottom left of page) set up? Should be something like this:

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August 6, 2012, 07:46 AM
My father can spend upwards to I'd say around $600 maybe $800 with some assistance, thats for both rifle and optics.

He has had some experience in the past when he'd go shooting with my uncles when he was younger, but other than that, he's never gone hunting before. He'd most likely be hunting in cooler climates (Though just about anything is cooler than Arizona this time of year) with seasoned hunters.

His experience though with precision rifles is not all that great from my knowledge, but he knows some of the basics. Ballistics, and such go over his head, he just knows how to shoot, and how to shoot relatively well.

I think the largest caliber he's fired is a 30-06, and that was "way back in the day" according to him :rolleyes:

August 6, 2012, 08:35 AM
I would get a Ruger American.

August 6, 2012, 01:00 PM
First off, without going into it too deeply and naming off all the cartridges capable of doing what you are asking, my vote goes to a 308 or a 30-06. Essentially the same ballistics and power, and fully capable of taking an elk cleanly.

As for the rifle itself, a Ruger American would be a good deal, or you can buy a Remington 700 ADL (plastic stock, matte finish) complete with a scope for about $420 at WalMart, or a Howa 1500 combo with a scope from Dick's Sporting Goods for about $450. Or you can step up from there, those are entry-level rifles.

math teacher
August 6, 2012, 01:16 PM
While my personal preference for elk is the 7mm Rem Mag or larger, my recommendation for your father is the 30-06, a great all around rifle for deer and elk.

August 6, 2012, 08:57 PM
Kimio - just curious - would your dad and his buddies be going after elk on horseback? Or in ATVs or similar?

August 6, 2012, 09:00 PM
Creeper - thanks for the tips.


August 7, 2012, 12:15 PM
Except for maybe a Brown Bear a .30-06 will take any game in North America. Nearly every rifle maker in the USA makes a nice inexpensive bolt action rifle. Many come with a 4X scope. You really can't go wrong with a package deal from Walmart or Academy.

August 8, 2012, 11:00 AM
I believe he'll be using ATV', though I'm not sure.

He wanted to go last spring, but he didn't have a rifle to go hunting with, hence why I'm here now asking about them lol.

August 9, 2012, 12:35 AM
The Savage/Stevens 200 is relatively inexpensive and can be bought packaged with an ok scope.

It comes in .243, .270, .308, .30-06 and others. You might want to consider .270 as a minimum for deer. Oops I meant elk.

August 9, 2012, 01:39 AM
I tend to go with designs that have been used for quite a while. In my pistol I have a 1911. My shotgun is a Browning Citori Over and Under. If I get a pump it'll either be an 870 Wingmaster or a BPS.

When I got my bolt action, I ended up hitting used gun stores masquerading as pawn shops to find a Remington 700 BDL in 300 Remington Ultra Mag. I think I picked it up for about 600 as I recall. I then sat on it for a month until I could hit Cabelas for a nice Leupold scope. Buds has one factory new for close to 800. Cabelas gun library has several 7mm's for 600-700. Many have a scope on them to hold you over until you can upgrade, if necessary.

August 9, 2012, 03:41 AM
remington 700 in .308 or 30-06 will handle both deer and elk.

Big Shrek
August 9, 2012, 05:29 AM
Being a cheapskate, I suggest the Marlin X-7 series in either .308 or .30-06.
Factory recoil pad and bedding, makes a .30-06 feel like a .243 :)

As an over-40-type guy, I'm appreciating less recoil as I get older...and the Marlin delivers Sub-MOA precision for Low Price!! As they start at $299!
that way you can toss the savings into a good scope!!

The other method, as was mentioned before...a good used Marlin 336 in .35 will drop EVERYTHING in North America :)

Just to be totally blunt, most game are taken at less than 100 yards, so a lever-action is right on target...
A scope just gives one more distance options ;)

August 9, 2012, 08:40 AM
The cheapest quality combo, IMO, would be a Stephens with a Nikon Pro Staff. Both provide great bang for your buck. When you consider the time and expense invested, especially in an elk hunt, I would not trust a cheap package scope. For a little more, a Savage 10/110 or Remington 700 ADL would be great choices. Both are easily capable of outstanding accuracy. As far as caliber, my first choice would be 30-06 followed by 270 or 308. If recoil is an issue, a good recoil pad is worth it's weight in gold.

August 9, 2012, 06:07 PM
Not a thing wrong with 30-06 cartridge. I would suggest 180 gr for elk. Ammo is easy to come by..........you can find a box in all sporting goods stores (just about anyway) unless they are out of stock. Almost all the MFG's chamber their rifles for this cartridge. Since you said he has fired the 30-06 before, he will be familiar with it. Best choice for him that I can think of.

August 10, 2012, 11:56 AM
I am assuming your father is tending toward being a gray beard like me. A good sporterized 03 might be a good choice.

The 30-06 is probably the best choice. It does not have the kick or the magnums and has a wide variety of factory loads which make it one of the most versatile cartridges on the North American continent. It also makes it one of the more economical cartridges.

August 10, 2012, 05:01 PM
Go with a rem. 700 cdl ss in 300 win mag and he'll be good to go. ( if he gets the package) its got an amazing recoil pad so it feels bout like a .243.

August 10, 2012, 05:19 PM
Get a .270WIN.