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Old March 15, 2014, 07:24 PM   #1
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best starter deer rifle

Im looking for some opinions... Im in the market for my first dedicated deer rifle for Michigan hunting. Ive hunted the last few years with my 5.56 AR. Ive had no problems dropping a deer within 50 yards, but its time for me to graduate to a real deer rifle.Im leaning towards a bolt gun in .308, or 7mm. Im going to be limited to about $500 without optics... Scope will come later in the year.I want to get my rifle soon, so im familiar with it before November. Should I look into the Used market , or can I get into something decent for my price range.
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Old March 15, 2014, 07:33 PM   #2
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You simply cannot go wrong with a Savage 110. Not the prettiest, but they have a well deserved reputation for excellent accuracy.

I have a 7mm Rem Mag and the gun is reliable and a flat out shooter.
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Old March 15, 2014, 08:24 PM   #3
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Savages are good rifles.

For $500, you could also look at the Ruger American. At ~$320, you'd have enough for a Nikon Prostaff and have a good setup.

.308 or 7mm08 would work fine for you!
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Old March 15, 2014, 08:30 PM   #4
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Ruger American in .308, 7mm-08, or .270 Winchester would be my suggestion.
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Old March 15, 2014, 08:46 PM   #5
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I'd have to agree with all the above posts. The savage 110 was my first rifle as a kid and still is my goto deer rifle. Also have a RAR and they are a great rifle for a money. For a dedicated deer rifle anything along the line of .243, 7mm-08, or .270 IMHO
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Old March 15, 2014, 10:26 PM   #6
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a savage axis in 7mm-08, the scope isn't much but you can change it later on.
then there is a ruger american and the tc venture rifles. 7mm-08 is the caliber of choice, but any should do.
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Old March 15, 2014, 10:49 PM   #7
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i would have to recomend the savage model 11 trophy hunter xp. at wal mart you can get them for $499 with a nikon scope and accutrigger they are free floated and pillar bedded. can not be beat for the money.

PS: i know they are that price cause i just bought one tonight.

i would buy 7mm-08 243 or 308
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Old March 16, 2014, 06:16 AM   #8
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Everything that everyone has posted so far has been pretty spot on. Anything from .243, 7mm08, .308, .270, and 30-06 would be a fine cartridge for deer. Since you already have a AR, have you ever considered a 6.8spc upper? Depending on ammo availability, it may not be a good choice for you but I've killed several deer last year with my 6.8spc frankenupper on my Colt lower.
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Old March 16, 2014, 06:27 AM   #9
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I would add cartridges like 257 Roberts to your list.
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Old March 16, 2014, 10:12 AM   #10
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Over the last several years I got back into deer hunting after a period of 16 years during which which time I had sold off all of my deer guns. Anyway, I didn't want to invest a lot of money so I considered the usual selection of "economy" deer rifles that seem to be suggested in every one of these threads. I first picked up an older Savage 110 that I found used at the local hardware store. To be honest, it was an okay rifle, but I just didn't like it. Was about to get one of the Ruger Americans when someone mentioned that you could still find the Remington 700 ADL at Walmart for around $400. Having used a Remington 700 for years, I looked around and found a local Walmart that had one in 243 and so that was my choice. It's a nice gun, and I'd recommend it as a best buy if you can find one around the $400 mark (comes with a 3x9 Bushnell scope). The price was actually $417, and for what the Ruger Americans are going for locally, the Ruger would have cost me as much or even more by the time I added even the cheap Bushnell scope. So I thought the tried and true 700 was the better deal. These also come with the new Remington trigger so no worries of the accidental discharges that you may read about on the forums.
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Old March 16, 2014, 12:24 PM   #11
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I would add cartridges like 257 Roberts to your list.
No disrespect... but why?
.257 Rob is comparable to the .243 Winchester, except it's harder to find, and likely more expensive. It's harder find rifles chambered in it. And they're likely not in the price range that the OP is looking for.
.243 Win and .270 win are easier to find ammo for, just as easy, or easier to find reloading components for, easier to find rifles chambered for, and are capable of taking the same game, if not larger, with an equal or flatter trajectory.
Nothing against the .257 Roberts, it'd be fine for hunting deer, but it's far from the best or most practical choice. IMO there's no point when arguably superior and more available cartridges are being considered for the same purposes.
Just my $.02

.257 Rob
75 gr (5 g) HP 3,450 ft/s (1,050 m/s) 1,983 ft·lbf (2,689 J)
100 gr (6 g) B-TIP 3,020 ft/s (920 m/s) 2,025 ft·lbf (2,746 J)
117 gr (8 g) SPBT 2,840 ft/s (870 m/s) 2,096 ft·lbf (2,842 J)
.243 Win
65 gr (4 g) BT 3,746 ft/s (1,142 m/s) 2,026 ft·lbf (2,747 J)
75 gr (5 g) HP 3,447 ft/s (1,051 m/s) 1,979 ft·lbf (2,683 J)
90 gr (6 g) SP 3,203 ft/s (976 m/s) 2,051 ft·lbf (2,781 J)
105 gr (7 g) BT 2,986 ft/s (910 m/s) 2,080 ft·lbf (2,820 J)
Bullets of equal weight can be fired at similar velocity. .257 has slightly more projectile diameter, which means the .243 bullets will tend to have higher BC's and SD's than the .257 bullets of the same weight, giving the .243 a slight edge, on paper. Both will kill game equally well.
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Old March 16, 2014, 05:45 PM   #12
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becuase its a 257 bob!!!! after 2 more barrels, i'm gonna get a 257 bob ai.
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Old March 16, 2014, 05:53 PM   #13
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The 257 is a fun round for enthusiasts, not a great starter round. A starter needs something readily available and cheap to shoot without reloading. A 243 will do everything the 257 does with easily available off the shelf ammo. And without having to search high and low to find a rifle chambered in it.

A 243 or 308 are your best bets for cheap easily available ammo. If deer are the biggest thing you'll hunt the 243 is all you need.

Once you reach the status of gun nut rounds like the 257, 7X57, 6.5X55, and dozens of others are fun to use just to have something different.
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Old March 16, 2014, 09:03 PM   #14
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A single shot H&R/NEF should be top on your list. I recommend one in .243 .30-30, .30-06, or .45-70. There's several variations of this gun, all good. A .357 or .44 could be a great way to go as well. It's been a few years ago now but I bought my NEF .45-70 for $200 used. With a $500 budget you can buy a heck of a scope and a nice sling.

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Old March 17, 2014, 01:16 AM   #15
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Winchester Model 70 is a great gun, as is the Ruger American.
Once Fired Brass, Top quality, Fast shipping, Best prices. -10% Coupon use code " badger "
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Old March 17, 2014, 08:55 AM   #16
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Best budget gun in that range (NEW) is probably the T/C Venture... seriously good quality for the money. But the usual suspects are good too - Savage, Howa/Vanguard, Ruger American, etc. But these are just not on the same quality level as the Venture. Wait a sec; how much is a new Tikka T3 - under $500? If so, then I'd say it's on the same quality level as the Venture.

Me personally, I'd up my budget a little (about $200 more), and get a Winchester 70 or Browning A-Bolt. If I couldn't, I'd find a used rifle with a wood stock (Winchester 70, Browning A-Bolt II, Remington 7 or 700, Ruger 77). There's are lots and lots of great-value used rifles on the market... Much better values than new guns if you know what to look for.

But I think you're on the right track with a turnbolt. I call them turnbolts, since lever actions, pumps, and semi-autos are all also "bolt guns".

Last edited by Unlicensed Dremel; March 18, 2014 at 04:41 PM.
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Old March 17, 2014, 10:52 AM   #17
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I have been hunting Michigan deer since 65. I started with the ol 1894 30-30 got a few deer with it. I could shoot pie plates at 100 yds. I moved up to the 300 Wby. Mag to have one for all of North America and my Brown Bear hunt In Aka. After all that time rubbing my shoulder after the range I traded it for a 308 Vanguard Mt. rifle. That was a fine one. But the boy has it now. I have been carrying a Browning BLE in 358 Win. I have no regrets. There are lots of fine used guns out there. You just need to know what you want. I would look for something like 308 Win., in a bolt action. $500 bucks should get you what you need. That NEW Ruger American sounds like a good rifle for the bucks. A good used Rem 700 or Win Mod. 70 are even better. Don't pass up a 300 Savage either. I believe a used rifle goes for about half of what a new one dose. Look over a used rifle well. You will want a well kept one. Not one that has any type of rust or loose stock. A clean chamber and bore are a must. Make sure the ejector spring is well oiled. Look them over well. Stay away from the Magnums because you don't need them in Mich. not even for Bear or Elk. A 308 and a well placed shot is all you need. The velocity and Energy of a 308 will serve you well.
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Old March 17, 2014, 08:14 PM   #18
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Let me throw some specific guns out there for your consideration.

Remington 700
Savage 10/110
Winchester 70
Howa 1500
Ruger 77
Marlin 336

If you noticed a trend of bolt actions here you are correct - I am a huge bolt action fan. But no Deer rifle list would be complete without at least an honorary mention of the lever action Marlin 336.

Any of these, or their less expensive "House" brand versions should suit you well.

As to calibers, you already got a lot of suggestions. I like the basics and classics; .243, .270, .30-30, .308, .30-'06.

The .30-'06 is probably the quintessential Deer cartridge for the North Woods and if I could only have one cartridge to hunt medium to large game with the rest of my life that would be it. Second choice would be the .270.

All of these rifles and caliber combinations could be found on the used gun market. Much like purchasing automobiles I highly recommend purchasing used and getting the associated price savings, if you are at all familiar with firearms.


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Old March 17, 2014, 08:51 PM   #19
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I agree with the 30-06 as the rifle for a one rifle strategy that will do it all and 270 is next, IMHO. But as a deer rifle my pick is 25-06.
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Old March 18, 2014, 04:41 PM   #20
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eldermike, those aren't rifles. Those are chamberings.

to the OP - to supplement what I said above about upping the budget by $200 - if you do "up the budget", and *must* stay new for some reason (instead of used), then definitely get the Savage "Lite Hunter" in their specialty line, preferably in .260 rem. Perfect deer rifle under $1K.
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Old March 18, 2014, 05:00 PM   #21
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Dremel, no rifle manufacturer makes a deer rifle. The shooter makes it a deer rifle.
lots of folks here believe in Savage. But to me the workmanship is not there, thats my opinion.

I suggest an older winchester or remington with a real wood stock with the pride and workmanship that is evident even under close inspection. If its 25-06, all the better.
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Old March 18, 2014, 05:05 PM   #22
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I just got my first deer rifle it's a savage axis ii xp in .270 win. I haven't gotten to shoot it yet and there aren't many reviews of it but the only difference from the old savage axis is the accutrigger. It comes with a weaver Kaspa scope bore sighted not the best but it will do until you get a new one but I rather like it.
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Old March 19, 2014, 01:37 PM   #23
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Remington 700. It's an iconic gun and it's been made all these years for a reason. You can pick one up brand new for $379. You can't beat it at that price.
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Old March 19, 2014, 03:12 PM   #24
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I also hunt Michigan. There are not too many places that you will shoot more than 100 yds. I will put my recommendation behind a JM Marlin 336. Perfect gun for Michigan. 30-30 or .35, doesnt really matter. I wouldnt feel undergunned for anything including elk and bear. I love my .35 Marlin.

You will also find that with either, recoil is very light. Since you only own your AR, that may be something to think about. I get an honest 1.5 MOA with lever evolution ammo with my .35, and I think it could do better.

Bolt guns are great, I have several. I have a Ruger American in 308 also. It is a nice, lightweight, accurate rifle that you dont really worry about dinging up. Very cost effective too. I also have a gunsite scout, which is also a really slick little rifle you might consider. (just not cheap)

My Marlins just feel better in the woods, and I have a ton of confidence in my .35.
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Old March 19, 2014, 07:06 PM   #25
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30-06 in any flavor you like or suites your fancy, personally I like Rem. 700's from the 70's. Just bought a gorgeous ADL from 70's for $325.00 off G.B.
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