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Old January 6, 2012, 04:35 PM   #1
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Advice on deer cartidge requested.

I'm looking to buy my first hunting rifle and would like some input on which cartridge might suit me best.

A few things of relevance first.
  • I'm in the South East (Alabama) and do not intend on hunting outside the area, but should I get offered a job outside the region when I graduate in May I may end up in a region were the deer are different enough to matter. Most of the hunting areas in my area are heavily wooded, but there are plenty of open meadows and power line cutouts where a longer shot would be necessary.
  • I am a new shooter. I've been shooting .22's for a few years now (CZ bolt action) and recently acquired a Mosin-Nagant 91/30 (7.62x54R for any not familiar with it). I don't own any rifles outside of these currently.
  • I am recoil sensitive. I am only good for about 5-10 shots out of the 91/30 before I am done. I don't really like this as when I go to the range on a Saturday I am there for 8hrs. One afternoon a gentleman showed up with his own CZ as well as a custom Remmy 700 in .308. We traded rifles around, after 4-5 shots in that .308 I had had enough. To be fair to the .308, it was on its way to being a long range target rifle and didn't even have a rubber butt pad. The biggest issue I had with it was almost taking the scope to the eye on every shot, I think my shoulder would have adjusted eventually.
  • I do not have a range longer then 100yards to practice at. I've been searching but I haven't found anywhere where I can safely/legally take a shot beyond 100yards yet.
  • I do not reload. I do not have the time or the room currently, although I would like to get into it in the future. I mail order most of my ammo on sales, but I do not particular like the idea of shooting an exotic cartridge that I HAVE to mail order. If I can't find a good hunting and a good range round locally, I don't really have an interest in it.
  • Price is an issue. I'm a big proponent of proper shot placement and I will burn at least 50rds every time I go to the range to ensure that I am one with my rifle.
  • I have not picked out a rifle yet. This is heavily determinant based on the cartridge chosen, all though it will be a bolt action (unless I choose 30-30) and most likely it will be an 'entry' level rifle that I won't feel bad about abusing. Unless I decide to cave and buy a CZ 550 if I choose .243 or .270 that is...

Cartridges I am considering:
  • .243
  • .270
  • 25-06
  • 7mm-08
  • 30-30

All that said, any thoughts on these (or any other cartridge you would like to recommend) would be appreciated.

Last edited by sneasle; January 6, 2012 at 05:27 PM.
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Old January 6, 2012, 05:04 PM   #2
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I've taken a couple of dozen deer with my .243. While most folks wisely use bullets of around 100 grains, I've been shooting for enough decades with centerfires and have hunted enough to have the skill and be picky about my shots: I've used the Sierra 85-grain HPBT, now available from Federal.

The .243 is easily a 200-yard deer killer, and as skill comes along, 300 yards is no big deal.

My little Sako carbine is only seven pounds fully dressed and ready to hunt, so with the more common eight-pound rigs the recoil should be trivial. Mine is not at all bothersome for recoil.

Good used reloading gear is readily available, saving some 50% or even more over new-retail. It lasts forever, so the cost per shot is much less and allows for more practice.

But get off that benchrest and practice with field positions which one likely would use when hunting. Offhand shots, sitting and leaning against a rock or tree, or standing with a shoulder against something. Some folks use shooting sticks. And perceived recoil is less than at the bench.
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Old January 6, 2012, 05:05 PM   #3
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The rifle's weight and stock design have as least as much to do with how you feel recoil as the actual caliber. A 30-30 has light recoil on paper, but the crooked stock designs along with no recoil pads on most of those guns amplify recoil and make it seem worse than it should be.

My first choice would normally be 7-08, but if a 308 bothered you that much, you may be better off with a 243. It should be fine for any deer hunting, but a little lighter than I'd like for anything bigger.

Stay with a bolt rifle to get the most rifle for the money. Lots of GREAT budget rifles to choose from right now. I'm really wanting to see one of the new Ruger American rifles that were just announced this week and are not in stores yet. Based on the features and projected street prices I think they may have a winner.

The Stevens 200, Marlin XS-7, Weatherby Vanguard, and several others are out there priced between $300-$350.
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Old January 6, 2012, 05:13 PM   #4
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I'd stick with either the 7mm-08 or the 243 Winchester. Both are pretty easy to get ammo for and neither are considered hard recoiling. I believe for the most part you can get 243 ammo cheaper than 7mm-08, so that might be taken into consideration.

As for the rifle I like that you're a bolt action fan, so am I. I'd suggest you take a look at the Weatherby Series 2, Savage 11/111 and Remington SPS's. They are very reasonably priced and considered very accurate.
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Old January 6, 2012, 05:18 PM   #5
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Howdy! I would suggest you choose the .243. Almost every brand is chambered for this round, so it will be easy to find a rifle you like at your LGS!

As for recoil, the .243 is the ticket. My 12 year old daughter can handle it enough to get her sighted in every year, then she never even feels it when she shoots her pronghorn.

I killed a cow elk with mine this year, so it is definatly enough gun for any whitetail.

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Old January 6, 2012, 05:23 PM   #6
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I guess I shouldn't be as mean as I am about that .308. To be fair, that was a custom rifle on it's way to be a long range target gun. It didn't even have a rubber butt pad...

I think the big thing with the .308 is that I almost took the scope to the eye on every shot...

Until now I have done very little shooting that hasn't been on the bench. I've done some offhand with the sling, sometimes leaning against a pole, but that all depends on how busy the range is.

@jmr40 and Allen

I've added the link to the rifle discussion in the original post and what you have listed is on the list. One thing I could use is a good explanation on the difference in the Savage 10/11/12/16/17/110/111 lines... that's got me all confused.

Last edited by sneasle; January 6, 2012 at 05:29 PM.
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Old January 6, 2012, 05:36 PM   #7
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I would suggest the .270 as it's the perfect deer rifle but the .243 will do the job.

See the recoil numbers on this chart... .243 is 8lbs., .270 is 16lbs., .300 Win Mag is 23lbs. etc.

Rifles will make a difference also. A Ruger .270 gives you a little bump but the .270 out of my Remington 700 gives me no problem. Difference in stock designs I guess.

.243 is probably what would suit you.
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Old January 6, 2012, 06:06 PM   #8
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Scope rings on your eye brow are not pleasant. What you need is a scope with enough eye relief so that recoil won't send the scope into your face.
It's not a recoil problem, it's a scope problem.

Don't worry too much about cartridge. A heavy rifle with a good recoil pad will tame hard shooting rounds and a light rifle with no butt pad will be painful.

Start haunting your local gun shops and look at all the used guns. Find the one that fits best. That's the one to get.
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Old January 6, 2012, 06:12 PM   #9
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I like the 30-30 myself, its a great deer cartridge. Plenty of power with very little recoil and available everywhere. Comes in a number of rifles, the marlin 336 is my favorite. Great in thick woods, and with a scope can reach out to 200 yds with the right ammo.
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Old January 6, 2012, 06:19 PM   #10
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Thanks warbird

@ Buzz, I agree with you, I think the way he had it set up on the bench for himself was just not agreeable to the way I like to shoot.

Part of the problem with something used is that there is only 1 shot local to me that I am aware of that carries used rifles. Beyond the 'in town' it's about an hour drive, a bit farther then I would like to go to peruse the shelves.

Can a rifle be sold to someone from out of state? I've never actually thought about that but I am pretty close to the Georgia line.

@ rockfish, I really love lever guns, I've had to talk myself out of getting one several times in .22....
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Old January 6, 2012, 06:56 PM   #11
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270 and 25-06 are good cartridges, but if you are especially recoil sensitive, I would choose the 243 or the 7-08. 30-30 is a good cartridge, but the rifles chambered for 30-30 tend to be lightweight carbines, and that means more recoil.
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Old January 6, 2012, 07:55 PM   #12
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30-30 is a good cartridge, but the rifles chambered for 30-30 tend to be lightweight carbines, and that means more recoil.
Folks assume 30-30's are lightweight. A set of postal scales are very informative. My Marlin 30-30 carbine's weigh exactly the same as my 300 mag and more than my 7mm mag. The Winchester 30-30 is about 1/4 lb lighter than the Marlin, but only slightly lighter than the longer barreled magnum rifles in weight. They are anywhere from 1-2.5 lbs heavier than my 308's.

30-30 leverguns seem to kick harder than they should because of their stock design and lack of recoil pads.
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Old January 6, 2012, 11:17 PM   #13
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The fit of the rifle has a lot to do with the felt recoil.

Unless you are hunting power lines the 30-30 is an excellent choice. I hunted south Louisana for a number of years and it served me well.

I also have had good results with a 243.

The 308 should not be dismissed because of one session. Try a different rifle before you totally reject this round.

If you check the rifle positng you will note that I suggested the Remington 600. It is a good rifle for heavy cover and will also serve you off a stand on a power line or wood line.

Have you access to a deer lease? That is something you need to check on.
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Old January 7, 2012, 12:29 AM   #14
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Has anyone tried the Winchester Powermax 150 grain ammo in their 30-30 rifles yet? What is your opinion of it compared to the LEVERevolution and the standard Winchester Powerpoint ammo?

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Old January 7, 2012, 01:26 AM   #15
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rifles in Alabama

Here's some thoughts from upstate from you.

I've shot a Mosin a bit, and thought the thing kicked like a mule. Much had to do with the ammo, heavy ball. I did not care for it, but we shot a bunch from that old rifle that day.

The calibers you list are pretty diverse. You mention a rifle for use out of state after graduation and that makes me think bigger game and out west. That rules out the .30-30 and the .243 since you list better options. The 25-06 too, as it kinda of stops at the bullet weights one likely wants to start at in an elk and big muley rifle.

That leaves the 7-08 and the .270. I have never owned or shot a 7-08 but like the short action rifles and am a fan of its big brother, the .308. (another good choice BTW) The .270 has a heck of a reputation as a versatile cartridge and is fast and flat with its best bullet weights.

Plus one on all comments on reloading and practical practice.
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Old January 7, 2012, 01:39 AM   #16
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Imo 243 would be good & if you plan to hand load down line a 25-06 would be my first choice its just a great all around cartridge for most hunting in the south east even ALA.LOL. Just kiddin. Good luck.
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Old January 7, 2012, 02:28 AM   #17
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Can a rifle be sold to someone from out of state? I've never actually thought about that but I am pretty close to the Georgia line.
You can buy out of state depending on the laws of the state where you're buying. You will have to ship the gun to a local FFL near you to handle the paper work.

Lever actions in any caliber are fun. I started hunting with a Winchester Model 94.
The same cartridge in a Marlin 336 will have slightly less recoil.
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Old January 7, 2012, 10:50 AM   #18
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Rifle selection (and shotgun, as well): Mount the rifle to your shoulder with your eyes closed and get a good cheek weld to the comb. The length of pull should be comfortable.

When you open your eyes, you should be looking through the sights with no need to move your head--whether iron sights or scope.

A scope should be mounted such that when all is righteous, the distance between your forehead and the back of the scope is three, maybe four inches.
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Old January 7, 2012, 10:31 PM   #19
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Your Mosin/Nagant is a fine choice for deer.There is alot of softpoint ammo out there and it is somewhere between a 308 and a 30-06 in power.It is also a very accurate round as well.Any of the calibers you listed will do well.I think you should think about the availability of ammo when making your choice and price of ammo as you stated budget is a factor.
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Old January 8, 2012, 02:03 PM   #20
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.270, 308 and 30.06 can't go wrong with any of those. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Selecting calibers or guns can be almost as fun as buying vehicles. Just buy many rifles in different calibers, solved.....
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Old January 8, 2012, 02:15 PM   #21
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Just to be different...

.260 Remington. It's based on the .308 case, just like the .243 is. It will shoot a much better bullet for deer than the .243, with very little more recoil.
I imagine the .260 with a 120-125gr bullet would be just about the best "beginner" rifle there is.
I always felt that if I got to the point where I thought it was time to bury my firearms, it was actually time to pick them up..
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Old January 8, 2012, 05:34 PM   #22
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I would bet if you took a poll the best/most popular, light recoiling, and flat shooting rifle around was a .243. A close second would probally be a 6mm(.244) but these are not made anymore and rounds are hard to comeby it seems. On another note, if you travel out West I think a 20 cal. is not legal, maybe a Westerner will chime in on this info?
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Old January 8, 2012, 06:19 PM   #23
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you have a pretty good list of deer cartridges there. the 243 will most likely have the least felt recoil and is enough for deer, along with the versatility to take smaller game without butchering it if you ever start hunting varmints. The 270 is another great deer cartridge and has a little more bang for ur buck, but kicks a bit more. The 25-06 may be my favorite on the list. its a very flat shooting round with the right load and hits pretty hard, and again is quite versitile. Like you said if you go out of state to another type of deer country that round would suit just about anything the country can thro at ye. i have no experience at all with the 7-08. The 30-30 is another great deer round and in a heavy marlin 336 barely kicks at all and its a great deerwoods brush popper with the capeability to reach out a bit. all that being said youve made a hard list to choose from. id say buy them all eventually but if you must chose id start where i started with the .243 good luck
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Old January 8, 2012, 09:56 PM   #24
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If recoil is an issue for you you might consider picking up a recoil shield such as I have one that I use when I shoot my Mosin Nagant off the bench, that steel butt plate is a killer. The recoil shield would be great for practice with any caliber you chose allowing you to practice more. When it comes time to actually shoot the rifle at a game animal, I promise you that you won't even feel the recoil. Of all the deer I've shot I can't say I felt the recoil even once and barely remember even hearing the shots.

Now to answer the original question, I'd lean towards the 7mm-08, however the .243 would be a good choice also since you are recoil sensitive.

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Old January 8, 2012, 10:43 PM   #25
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For beginners as well as veteran hunters the 30-30 is probably the best gun for the money. They're short making them easy to point, and carry. Ammo is everywhere and don't believe that crap about they kick because they really don't. They're a big bore that moves relatively slow and can make up to 200 to 250 yard shots and really shine at 100 yards. I also like the Marlin. As far as ammo goes, I'm a reloader myself but store bought stuff buy 3-5 different brands / bullets and shoot them and see what produces the tightest patern, your gun will show you what it likes best and then set your sights or your scope and then your ready. I personally like store bought 150 grain stuff but my reloads for my gun I load the 160 grain FTX's with Varget powder.
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