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Old January 11, 2013, 08:53 PM   #1
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Looking for my first rifle


I have various handguns and shoot regularly at my local indoor range. I was just invited to join the local gun club and they have an outdoor range. So I would like to buy a rifle.

I don't know much about rifles and am looking for one just about exclusively to be used for target shooting (up to 300 yards). If I decide to buy one in the future for hunting, etc., I'll explore that option another time. For now, I'd like a rifle that will be very accurate up to 300 yard (or more), but with a caliber that isn't too expensive.

Also, I am very lanky and so have trouble angling my neck low enough to see through the rear sight while the butt is against my shoulder. For example, I cannot fire a standard AR-15 with its sight mounted in its carrying handle. That still is too low even with the butt extended as far as it goes.

Given the price of ammo, I would also want the cheapest round out there that has the ballistics I'm looking for. For example, if I were only shooting up to 200 yards, I would be very happy with a .17 HMR. But its drop becomes too much after 200/250 yards.

.223 seems like a reasonable option, unless there is a cheaper round without much more of a drop rate.

As for cost, I'm thinking up to $750, but would prefer a fairly cheap option (ideally, more like $300-$500) as my first rifle. After learning more about what works for me, I would then be more willing to invest in a more costly rifle.

Please post a few suggestions.

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Old January 11, 2013, 09:27 PM   #2
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You're about a month late in getting cheap 223 ammo. If your intentions include shooting over 150 yards, you'll need a centerfire. The minimum I'd suggest would be a .223 Rem but the AWB panic has run the price of that ammo over double what it was 2 weeks ago. Other common cartridges that would be suitable are 243 through 308 Winchester. The .308 is always a good choice for target or hunting medium sized game.
Rifle brand options would include Howa, Savage, and some versions of Remington 700. Heavy barrelled target/varmint rifles usually allow more shooting with less barrel cooling time on the range.
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Old January 11, 2013, 09:33 PM   #3
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The 223 meets your requirements, except for current ammo availability. Many areas don't have any on the shelf.

If you already handload that makes many cartridges close to the 223 price. If you don't handload you should. It reduces the cost of shooting by enough that it pays for itself quickly if you shoot often. If you don't handload the other military surplus cartridges will work. Some of the surplus rifles would work, however accuracy is a craps shoot. New rifles are chambered in 308 win (milsurp ammo but not as cheap as 223).

Many bolt action sporter weight barrels are available for $ 5-600. A few to look at are Ruger American, Marlin XL7, Savage (I can't remember the model, someone else will likely mention it). Almost any bolt action will get you to 300 yards.
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Old January 11, 2013, 10:31 PM   #4
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I would suggest that you first go to your local gun shops and sholder a few rifles to find a make and model that suits you. The next thing is to get one chambered in either 223 or 22-250. Ammo for the 223 and 22-250 will run about the same unless you are going to use surplus ammo. 22-250 has an edge on the 223 for performance.

Personally, I shy away from the surplus ammo. Some of it is corrosive and usually not as accurate as civilian. If you intend to shoot a lot, then reloading will definately be something you should think about.

Just an observation: If you reload, it never seems to cost you just shoot a lot more for the same price! lol.
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Old January 12, 2013, 12:14 PM   #5
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Thanks. I'm aware of the ammo issues as it has been near impossible to find some handgun calibers. Fortunately, I keep quite a few thousand rounds as backup.

Eventually, I expect prices will calm down -- and it will probably be close to a month before I end up buying a rifle -- or at least a few weeks.

Other than 223, the candidates I'm curious about are .17 HMR, 7.62 x 39 and 7.62 x 54r.

The above seem to be the cheapest calibers, though I imagine the latter two are less available. .17 will certainly be the cheapest, but I expect I'll not be satisfied with the range... I am, though, considering it for a start.
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Old January 12, 2013, 01:30 PM   #6
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17hmr is useless past 200yds and wont even do that in a light breeze. 7.62x39 will make 300yds with enough practice but i cant think of anyone that makes a target rifle in that caliber.Cz makes a nice little carbine in that caliber but its not really a target gun and most ammo in that caliber isnt known for shooting tight groups.7.62x54r is another old soviet round and while it will shoot well past 300yds with ease and ammo is inexpensive you will mostly only find it chamberd in mosin nagants and they can be really hit or miss as far as accuracy is concerned. If you could find a PSL it might do what u want but they still are not tack drivers. Your best bet is a bolt gun with a heavy barrell. The heavy barrell will help keep the barrell cool at the range and will also help add stiffness to the barrell both aid in accuracy. Look at a savage 10fp, rem 700sps varmint or tactical,or marlin x7vh. as far as caliber 308 is a common target round and also good for big game hunting. 223 is cheaper and u can hunt varmints with it and some states allow it for deer but good luck finding any right now. In todays climate 22-250 might be the cheapest that would meet your needs but again it is marginal on game the size of deer.
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Old January 12, 2013, 02:31 PM   #7
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I'd look at a .243 winchester rifle in a Savage or Ruger American, actually the list of great rifles could go on for decades, but look at the .243 win. accurate at short and long range, low recoil, good on deer, hogs, coyotes, antelope.
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Old January 12, 2013, 11:00 PM   #8
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How about a Savage or Rem in .222 or .204? Very accurate. Someone else also mentioned the .243 win. Its gonna be more than a .223 but performance wise, it can also take thin skin big game such as whitetail.
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Old January 13, 2013, 02:52 AM   #9
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Get a nice .22 and learn how to shoot a rifle. Take your time and borrow guns from your friends at the range. Try different guns on for size at gun shops.

What cartridge you choose isn't as important as what rifle. And to choose the rifle you have to be sure how you intend to use it. Figure that out before you go shopping.
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Old January 13, 2013, 03:12 AM   #10
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Cheapest option right now would be a sks. Also ak74 ammo is still pretty cheap.
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Old January 13, 2013, 03:14 AM   #11
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Get a nice .22 and learn how to shoot a rifle.
+1. There are a lot of skills to be mastered in shooting a rifle and it takes a fair amount of practice. A decent bolt 22 will pay for itself and more in ammo savings during the learning period and you won't have to cope with the recoil and blast of centerfire ammo.

And in the end you'll have a good 22 you know how to shoot, which is always a good thing.
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Old January 13, 2013, 05:44 PM   #12
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The centerfire suggestions are great, but I have to say "+1 to Buzzcook and Natman". I also suggest getting a .22 and training first. As I've posted elsewhere; my suggestion would be a Marlin 795. It is as accurate a you can get unless you spend at least twice as much. You can put a scope on the 795 or a set of peep sights (ex: Tech Sights) for less than $200. Then you head to a local Appleseed event for training.

$125 (795) + 60 (Tech Sights) + 15 (sling) + 5 (elbow pads) + 20 (bulk box of ammo) + 20 (RWVA membership) + 80 (local Appleseed weekend) = $325. I don't believe there is a more inexpensive but effective introduction to riflery.

From there go with a centerfire. But meanwhile a person will have the opportunity to try some different rifles and find one that is both commonly suggested as being a 'winner' and really trips your trigger.
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Old January 13, 2013, 05:50 PM   #13
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22-250 would be my first caliber choice. Followed by .220 swift or .204 ruger.
.22-250 is gonna be the easiest gun and ammo to find. Howa sells just a barreled action for just under $400, that would save you some $$ and allow you to choose the stock of your choice. Thats what Id get in your shoes
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Old January 13, 2013, 06:33 PM   #14
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The OP mentioned that he thought that a 223 might be right for his needs, and he is absolutely correct. If he's just going to shoot paper, the 223 is perfect. Any of the other rounds mentioned would work just fine also, but won't really be better than the 223 unless he plans to go hunting for deer. As for which rifle would suit him best, there's the bigger discussion.
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Old January 13, 2013, 08:52 PM   #15
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the .223 wouldve been included in my list too if the ammo wasnt hard to find right now and through the roof when you can find it. Eventually things will probably go back to normal but now is not a great time to be getting into .223 and who knows it may never fully recover. And if deer hunting was also in his plans then I think the .243 would by far the best bet for the combination. But it wont be as flat shooting at the range
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Old January 13, 2013, 09:08 PM   #16
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The 308 Winchester is a naturally accurate rifle...

A 308 Winchester bolt is a naturally accurate rifle...and a good choice for targets to Deer and others creatures. It is also easy to reload as component are easily found. Enjoy...

Lemmon from Rural Fairfield County South Carolina
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Old January 14, 2013, 04:36 PM   #17
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I wouldnt recommend the .308 only because it is gonna be his first rifle. Recoil with a .308 might be a little more than you wanna start out with. Flinching habits are easy to pick up for someone just learning how to shoot and very hard to overcome. The .243 that was already mentioned is just a necked down .308 anyway, and will kill a deer just as dead just as fast, with about half the kick. But other than the extra recoil, the .308 would be fine
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Old January 14, 2013, 09:12 PM   #18
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Buy a Savage, Marlin, or Stevens bolt action .22 and a box of bulk .22lr for probably less than $300 altogether. Then at the same time you could pick up something like this (Finnish Mosin $335) and a bunch of surplus 7.62x54r for not too much more. That way you could have something to practice the fundamentals with and then move up to the big guy once you've got it down. All totaled I believe you've got all your bases covered and can still come in under your $700 budget. Sounds good no?
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Old January 15, 2013, 08:00 PM   #19
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Mossberg ATR I think they come in 243 270 308 3006 maybe even a few magnums. They are selling at the local gun shop here for $310 with a 3x9 scope. Friend bought a .308 shoots fine I would say 1.5 MOA with my hand loads. Free floated barrel nice trigger. Pick up one of these and a few hundred rounds and pratice. Then practice some more.
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Old January 16, 2013, 05:52 PM   #20
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the mossberg isnt terrible but IMO there are better rifles in that price range. Such as T/C venture, Ruger American, and Marlin x7.
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Old January 16, 2013, 10:18 PM   #21
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Things can get rather monotonous shooting centerfires at 300 yards unless you're in competition with yourself or others for small groups. If you're into measuring groups than they might be just right for you.

But don't you believe any of the garb about the rimfires being limited. Shooting rimfires, specifically the .22lr, out to 300 is not only doable but great practice for 1000 yard centerfire. As a matter of fact it basically negates the need or want to shoot LR centerfire. Why shoot expensive ammo at 1000 when you can shoot cheaper ammo at 300 for identical difficulty, principles and tactics.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:24 AM   #22
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If you want past 300 and reasonable and available factory loads look at .270. I have mine in a Win Model 70 with luep on top and my first 500 yd shot I ever took centered on a torso target. For a lower cost I would look at a savage. You should also consider reloading while you can sling 130 and 150gn rounds a long way I really like 90gn Sierras for the range and varmint.

As for the 17HMR I have taken lots of prairie dogs at or just past 200yds but that round is out of gas at that point. Inside 200 it's a ball and out to 150 it's a laser.

In either case look for good glass in the 6*9*40 range.

Good luck!
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Old January 21, 2013, 12:27 PM   #23
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308 ammo can be as hard to find right now as 223, but I agree that as a first rifle and considering cost implications a 22 may be he best way to go. A ruger 10/22 in the target model would be ideal for the range.
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Old January 27, 2013, 07:01 AM   #24
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There are lots of 7x57 mausers out there that are inexpensive but flat shooters.You may even still find some milsurp ammo
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Old January 27, 2013, 11:26 AM   #25
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If target shooting is all you have in mind, and your not trying to impress anyone as far as a budget goes i'd buy a nice .22 hornet or even Lr. But if you wanna turn some heads i'd go with a 22-250 or a 220 swift if you can find one.
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