View Full Version : A good solid hunting round for beginners ?

December 9, 2001, 10:08 PM
I promise I did a search and came up with nada. Here's my problem: I have a kid brother who busts my chops when it comes to firearms info. He wants to get into hunting. Though I am a bona fide gun nut, I am no hunting expert. My kid brother wants to know what is a good beginner's round. He said 30-30, I suggested "perhaps 300 Win Mag, since you'll be hunting mostly out west, like CO or AZ..."

What do you guys think? Keep in mind he is a rather frail and skinny lil dude, tall and whispy, probably recoil sensitive...but that aside, what would you recommend if he were YOUR brother?

Thanks in advance...

Will Beararms
December 9, 2001, 10:48 PM
.30-06. The lowest power level that can be used on all game in North America. Ammo is plenty cheap and in abundance. (Usually that goes hand in hand.) Tell him to do what I do: wear a padded coat or vest to the range and suck it up. They do kick but he won't feel it when the big one is out there in front of him.

December 9, 2001, 11:11 PM

Have him stand in front of you. Give him a mild shove in the shoulder and ask him if that is something worth talking about.

December 10, 2001, 12:48 AM
Depends on the type of hunting. .30-06 is a bit much for the bunnies & really, a terrible choice for quail. :D

Idiotic remarks aside, I'm assuming big game. & again, it'll depend on those.

.270-class would be superb for the sheep, antelope, muley-class critters, while the .30-06 would be a tad better for larger game = elk, etc. You'd be hard-pressed to beat a .243/6mm/.25-06 for "just" antelope-sized game.

& still, having owned/used most of the above, my all time fave is still the .308 Proper bullet/placement, at reasonable ranges & you will have to use your knife & fill out a tag.

The .30-06 is "better," but in every practical test to date, the .308 has done it just as well, for me & I get to shave off a pound or two on the package.


Art Eatman
December 10, 2001, 12:51 AM
I was 16 years of age, 5'-10" and about 120 pounds when I got my first .30-'06. Steel buttplate. Yuck. Soft butt pads are Good Things.

I like the '06, as many folks here well know. However, for western hunting, the .308 or the 7mm08--among many cartridges--do quite well.

The most important thing is that the stock fits him, as to length of pull and the drop at the butt. The cheekpiece should slide away from his face, slightly, during recoil. It's easy enough to cut a bit off the stock, if necessary, and remount a buttpad.

A new type of pad, the "Kick-Eez" is now being marketed, and is said by an article in Guns & Ammo to reduce felt recoil by some 20% over "...its competitor's best pads."

Lessee, what else? HearGuards. But you know all about that.

One advantage of the .308 is the cheap ammo for practice. He's gotta learn to shoot from all those non-benchrest positions, at informal targets.

:), Art

December 10, 2001, 09:28 AM
Assuming you're not primarily interested in varmints or birds, a .30/06 is a fine beginner's - or, for that matter, an expert's - rifle. Recoil should not be a problem - after all, literally millions of G.I.'s in two world wars learned to deal with it . . . and their rifles didn't have recoil pads!

In North America, it's considered marginal for the biggest bears, but it's on the right side of the margin. In Africa, it's OK for leopard and all thin-skinned, non-dangerous game except maybe eland and giraffe.

As far as alternatives go, the "common" .300 mags don't really increase stopping power on game noticeably over the .30/06. And I have to admit, the .308 doesn't give up much to the .30/06, either.

December 10, 2001, 10:37 PM
I'd say 7mm08. 270, 308, 30.06 and many more will work. Excluding Bear, I wouln't feel particularly undergunned with a 7mm08 with the right loads on anything. There aren't many critters I'd head out to shoot with a 30.06 that I wouldn't shoot with a 7mm08. If we start talking about the big and nasty then .338 mag or 35 whelen or bigger become a better choice. jmho, Weagle

December 10, 2001, 11:33 PM
30-06 is never a bad choice, especially if he's on a budget. It has the widest variety of factory ammo available, you can find them in any store at reasonable prices, and they'll do just fine for just about anything he's likely run across.

If he's going to take a hunting trip to Africa then he can probably afford two rifles.

I think a lot of people make the mistake of buying a rifle that's just too powerful and then have to buy a second one for smaller game. He could buy a .375H&H, but he wouldn't want to use it on a coues deer or antelope.

Most rifle manufacturers make basic 'hunting packages' with one of their basic rilfes, a usable scope, and a sling. Some are more accurate than others, some are prettier or have smoother actions. But, in reality, any major brand is good enough for hunting and a 'pretty' gun wont stay 'pretty' long if he has to crawl on his belly over a rocky slope to get a clear shot. I prefer having a hunting rilfe that I don't have to worry about scuffing up and a scope I won't cry about if I get a scratch on it.

One thing you might want to do is check the Winchester ammunition web site. (www.winchester.com) You can get pretty detailed info an all the ammo they make. (For instance, you can choose to see all the ammo they make of a particular type.) This will give you a pretty good idea of what kinds of factory ammo is available and the type of game for which it is intended.

Just my $0.02

December 11, 2001, 11:28 AM
I hear (and agree with) the .30-06 recommendations. That said, if he's a "skinny lil dude" he may prefer a short action so that the overall length of the gun can be reduced somewhat. I'd say .308, as it is (arguably) everything the .30-06 was designed to be, in a shorter case (yes, I know that with the bigger case the .30-06 can be loaded up . . .)

If the .308 is still heavy on recoil for him, consider the 7mm-08. Fairly flat trajectory, and good downrange energy.

December 11, 2001, 09:37 PM
In my humble opinon A guy cannot go wrong with a .308 or .30-06. It's been my experience that beginers and big magnums just don't have real solid relationships. They generally wind up in divorce. There is no elk alive that'll survive a .30 cal 180 gr. bullet launched at about 2600 fps or so if'n the launcher puts it behind that elks shoulder. I can't tell you the number of times I've had first timers out who show up with the newest light weight thunder zapping magnum, it's just to much gun for most people to shoot untill they get a little powder under thier belt.

As far as wanting a flat shooting rifle for out west. Well a 30-06 or .308 is penty flat for any range a guy ought to be shooting at game,even out west. I consider any thing over 300yds to be extravagant and unless you've really got your stuff wired tight you really shouldn't be shootin at critters way out there. With that in mind, you ain't losing anything with the ole 06 or the .308. and when you really look at it ,with a 180gr bullet your only a couple of inches different at 400 yds between an 06 and your .300 mag and with the advent of High Energy ammo you can just about equal anything the .300 win mag can do. To me it's a no brainer. Unless you need a specialized round for a specialized purpose and you are a very acomplished shooter you will gain no benifit from a .300 mag of any type.

If you're thinking about huntng Elk out west stay away from the lighter rounds such as the .270's or any of the 7 MM's (284's) It has been my experience especially on big bulls that .30 180 grs started at 2600 fps+ should be considered an absolute minimum. The smaller diameter higher velocity rounds just don't have the needed frontal area, pentration and shock to do the job at any kind of long range on big bulls. If you want more kill think diameter and bullet weight,not extra velocity. The trajectory argument is more of a sales point for the big mags than it is a valid point in every day hunting.

As far as recoil goes if a guy can't handle the "kick" of an 06 sized round, well lets just put it this way it's should not even be a consideration. Body size has very little to do with how a guy handles recoil. It's mostly psychlogical and physics tells us that a big burley guy is actually going to absorb more recoil than a little whispy guy therefore gets more felt recoil than a little guy. If a man the size of Courtney Selous can shoot a 4 bore elephant gun than anyone can shoot an 06. A good friend of mine whom is a PH in Tanzania has his 12 year old daughter shooting all sorts of things with her .375H&H she has recently been given a .416 Rigby and has no problems with accuracy or killing ability with it either. It's all in your mind set.

December 11, 2001, 10:30 PM
Personally I chose a used Ruger M77 30.06. The worst thing in dealing w/ recoil will be when it's being sighted in. When you go to take down a deer or elk you won't even notice the recoil.

I used a 180 gr. Rem. Core-lokt cartridge on both a deer & elk I shot a couple months ago. I may go to a 200gr. bullet for elk next time. I don't think you'd want to put that heavy of bullet through a .308.

One thing I like about the 30.06 is ammo availability & a wide range of bullet weights available. You can get ammo loaded w/ lighter bullets (130gr.) for varmints or loaded w/ heavier bullets for larger big game (200gr.) at gunshows or load your own.

December 11, 2001, 10:46 PM
H&H Hunter. Very well said.
One thing I think it is important to do throughout your rifle shooting career is to constantly compare balistics. A new cartridge comes out every year or so that is supposed to shoot like a laser with unbelievable knock down power etc. When you compare that new super magnum to the balistics of the '06 you will find that it may shoot the same bullet 50-100 fps faster than the '06. Big deal. Compare the balistics of an '06 to anything you are looking WITH THE SAME WEIGHT BULLET and you will see the tired old '06 hanging right with all kinds of calibers that get a lot more ink.
I have taken two elk, one with a .30-06 180 grain bullet and one with a .338 225 grain bullet. Both were close to the same range from me. I couldn't see where one was significantly better than the other. Obviously this is a very limited test with no lab. controls but I was surprised that the .338 didn't disolve an elk into a red mist after hearing about it for some many years. Instead both calibers shot a hole through both sides and both expaned nicely. I could have saved the money I spend on the .338 and just stuck to my '06.
I completely agree with H&H Hunter about recoil. This is a subject that recieves so much hype it make me sick. Please, this is just a mild shove against your shoulder for a fraction of a second. That's it. Yet this subject recieves unlimted press on the internet and magazines. Is this what we have become as a nation ? We are so concerned about being shoved in the shoulder for a fraction of a second that it deserves to be discussed endlessly ? When we were kids we wanted to be men. We begged our fathers to let us shoot their guns. It was important that we were shooting THEIR guns. We would brag to each other at school, I am hunting with a 12 guage etc. We wanted to be tough and wouldn't have dreamed of admitting that we couldn't handle a 12 guage which has significantly more recoil than an '06. It is a question of mindset. Or as Satchel Page once said; It is a question of mind over matter, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

December 12, 2001, 09:45 AM
Ok call me crazy but I say go for something more mild than the 30-06. I have never hunted large game, elk etc out west, but plan to make my first trip our next year. I am a firm believer that less is more, within reason of course. I have done all my wing shooting, rabbit hunting etc with a 20 gauge since I was a young lad and can't think of one instance that I was under gunned.

Getting back on topic...I think the lad needs to learn how to shoot a rifle extremly well before he hunts anything that lives and breaths. That means shooting a lot! My recomendation would be for a .270 or 6.5x55 (others like the 7-08 would I'm sure also be fine, but I don't have experience with them). These rifles are down right fun to shoot and I would describe the recoil as pleasent. With the right ammo and a well placed shot, I would tackle anything but the big bears!!

Accuracy first and formost, what you do it with second!!

December 12, 2001, 08:46 PM
With all due respect the 270 and the 06 are nearly identical rounds with the exception of the lack of bullet versitility in the .270. Even O'connor admitted that the 06 is a better all around rifle than the .270. As far as recoil goes there ain't two spits of difference between a .270 and an 06 so why limit yourself?

Al Thompson
December 12, 2001, 09:48 PM
Romulus, I frankly don't see much difference between .270 to .30 (whatever) cartridges. I like the '06 myself. The advantage of the .308 as Art suggested is that you can get the rig (rifle/trigger job/scope) for about the same price as any other combo and a case of mil surp for practice. Very big dividends here...

If I limited myself to whitetails and smaller. a .25-06 has a lot to offer. Then I'd get a larger bore for elk/muleys (.338).



December 13, 2001, 09:52 AM
After reading through the posts again I say get the lad a 30-30. That's what he wants and it will do whatever he needs to do with it with proper shot placement at the appropriate range.

(I can't say that I have ever met a 30-06 that recoiled less then a 12 gauge. With slugs it would be close but field loads no way. I can also say I have never met a .270 that kicked as much as a 30-06, in the same gun it's impossible, but that has nothing to do with this question) :)

Where you hit them is far more important then what you hit them with, that we all must agree on!

(Please no one take anything I say as an attack or insult. I just want the kid to get started right and enjoy what he is doing. My next rifle will certainly be a .375 H&H, but I have seen a thousand times people trying to use more gun then they can handle and that isn't good for a young guy starting out)

December 13, 2001, 11:01 PM
I can't thank you enough for your opinions...I promise my brother is grateful as well for all the advice.

I personally like Gizmo's approach. I'd like a smaller caliber for lighter game and a biiiiig belted magnum for the heavier critters. I'd still rather be the camp cooky, but that's just me

Nevada Fitch
December 15, 2001, 08:09 PM
After many years of using lots of different calibers and rifles, I presonally think the beginner cannot do any better than the 308Win. This caliber shoots plenty flat enough and has plenty of power for 95 precent of all hunting in the U.S. except the big bears. Recoil is 15% less than the 30-06 and you can get it in a little smaller package.

The 308win has been my favorite for a long time. I prefer 180grain Winchester Slivertips in a factory load. This load has always worked very well for me, under all conditions.

Kirk Keller
December 17, 2001, 10:36 AM
7mm, 308 or 30-06. Personally I use a 300 Remington Ultra Mag, but I also tend to hunt larger critters than deer. (Elk, Moose, etc)

December 17, 2001, 10:07 PM
I see nothing wrong with your brother's choice of 30-30. I personally use a .35 Remington for hunting, which is sort of like a 30-30 on steroids, but I have seen a lot of folks harvest deer with 30-30. But these two are probably not a wise choice for long distance shooting unless you've got a good ranging recticle and good bullet drop table and the deer will sit still long enough to be ranged.

Now the .308 advocates have a good point though. It is cheaper to practice with all the military surplus ammo available. I have one I practiced with a lot through the years but have never hunted with.

I have a friend who made a 500 yard shot on an antelope with a 256 Roberts, so a "frail and skinny lil dude, tall and whispy" might think that light round was nice out in the desert rather than knocking himself out with a big magnum. ???

Also I knew a fellow, a contemporary of Jack O'Conner who was a strong fan of the .280 for long range shooting. :D

December 18, 2001, 09:58 AM

Smokey Joe
December 18, 2001, 01:38 PM
I have to go along with the .30'06, for all the reasons above stated, plus one area that hasn't been mentioned: When (not if) he gets into handloading, he'll have the most versatile cartridge ever designed, and the widest variety of bullets, powders, and loads, to work with.

As to practice, practice, practice, I couldn't agree more. But what you're practicing mostly is sight picture and trigger squeeze. This can be done with a good-sighted .22 LR, which I would suggest getting. Then the cheaper-ammo .308 argument goes right out the window! Get him a couple bricks of quality .22's, and tell him to come back for a couple more when those are gone.

The kids (above) who bragged about shooting Dad's 12 ga. ... What did they shoot, shoot, shoot all summer afternoonÑNot a big noisy12, certainly not Dad's deer rifle, nothing to brag about, just honing skills with the li'l ol' .22. Then it was potting rabbits in the fallÑand Mom doesn't like picking shot out of the bunnies she frys.

Then before deer season Dad takes the kids out to the range and each kid gets a box of '06 to burn up. The kids always complained about the kick at the range (but not enough complaining so Dad could say "well, if you'd rather not go deer hunting...") On a deer, they never even noticed. But having burnt up all those .22 rounds, and studied bunny and deer anatomy, they knew how and where to place the shot, and THAT, my friends, is the most important thing.

December 18, 2001, 10:52 PM
For about $200 you can get an amazingly nice rifle--a Yugo M48 unissued Mauser. It's much better than any current production under $1,000. Arguably it's even better than the high-end stuff, especially since you won't get all upset if it gets a scratch or two in the bush. I've smacked mine full-force into trees with blows that would have destroyed most modern hunting rifles, with no ill effects (at least on the rifle--the trees had some major dents). It's designed to survive wars, after all. The 8mmJS cartridge is ballistically very close to the .30'06 (it inspired the .30'06, actually) and may even be a bit better for hunting because it takes larger bullets. The only drawbacks of the rifle are the few extra pounds of weight and the potential problems adding a modern scope. And of course it doesn't look like the rifles everybody else is using--if you consider that a drawback.

Smokey Joe
December 19, 2001, 03:47 AM
Amen to Cosmo's comment about the Yugo MauserÑThe good old days of abundant cheap milsurp rifles are here again! You can even get an adjustable peep sight that drops right into the base for the original sight, no modification. It's called the MoJo sight. You'll have to do a search for the website. A peep sight is a big improvement on the original military item.

On elderly, cheap foreign military ammo, though, I would hesitate. Some is corrosive, which means if you shoot even 1 round, you are in for a hot-water scrub of the bbl. Right away. Every time. Followed by your regular cleanup with Hoppe's or equivalent. Even the stuff that says non-corr. I would suspect, unless it comes from a first-world country and is of quite recent in manufacture.

Don't modify the original military arm, though, unless you are willing to take quite a bit of flak from the cruffler community. These are people who collect, restore, preserve, and cherish the old milsurps.

Having said all that, if you want a rifle that it's easy to mount a 'scope on, and has a less heavy and better fitting stock, you should get a modern rifle. .30-'06 IMHO.

God Bless America
ÑSmokey Joe