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Old August 17, 2022, 04:08 PM   #1
Gawp
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What non-pistol caliber rifle should I get for sport?

Hey everyone!

I've been shooting handguns & pistol caliber carbines for 4+ years now, but I have almost no experience with non-pistol caliber rifles.

Last year I bought an AR-15, specifically a DDM4 V7s (chambered in 5.56) and I was pretty disappointed with it:
  • The trigger wasn't good (at least compared to what I know: HK MP5, Kriss Vector, CZ 455)
  • Had multiple failures to feed AND extract (let's say it was the ammo, but there are guns that will eat any ammo and still work perfectly so...).
  • There were pretty loud spring noises when shooting the gun (which made it sound and feel like a cheap thing)

I didn't like it and ended up selling it after about 200 rounds.

I do target shooting and plinking (no self defense) and the priority for me is a good trigger, good ergonomics, and overall good feelings when shooting (you get it, I'm not a fan of loud & vibrating springs). I shoot between 25m and 300m (well, never used the 300m target so far but I have access to it).

Apart from that DDM4 V7s, I have no experience with rifles and I don't know what to look at:
  • What caliber?
  • What platform (AR, AK, SCAR, etc.)?
  • What brand?

In your experience, what semi-auto gun(s) would satisfy these requirements of good trigger/good ergonomics/good feelings? Let's say there is no budget limit.

Thanks!!
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Old August 18, 2022, 10:22 AM   #2
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In your experience, what semi-auto gun(s) would satisfy these requirements of good trigger/good ergonomics/good feelings? Let's say there is no budget limit.
For me, the M1A satisfies those requirements.

However, it might not, for you. Its a "real rifle", chambered for a full power round, and based on what you have said, that is currently outside your experience.

The .308 Win is bigger and heavier than the .223, and so is the rifle. There WILL BE more recoil!

rack grade M1As have decent triggers, or better. Mine is very good. It is the standard GI two stage trigger.

Almost ALL the AR variants designs have the action spring in the buttstock. So do some other semi auto designs. The M1A has the action spring in front of the reciever, so you don't hear/feel it the way you do when the spring is in the butt and your face is pressed against it.

The M1A is "old school" and isn't cheap, nor is the ammo. Don't bother with the shorter versions get the rifle with its 22" barrel. It's big, it's heavy, and its a damn fine rifle.

I would, however, strongly suggest you get some experience with that class of rifle before you plunk down the substantial cash to own one. It might not be your thing, but it is mine. I've owned /used about all the common military/sporting class semi autos, some are good, some less so, but nearly all have gone while the M1A stayed.

For a good reason...
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Old August 18, 2022, 02:15 PM   #3
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I would look at a bolt action in 30-06, 308, 270, or a lever action in 30-30. You can pick up a good rifle at most pawn shops. I never give them the asking price.
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Old August 18, 2022, 04:10 PM   #4
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Another vote for the M1A. I had a Scout and didn't like the short barrel, so I gave it to my son. The full size is great and since I don't load 308 max for my bolt guns, I don't have separate loads. Recoil is easy from a 10# rifle. If you scope it, you'll need an aftermarket cheek piece. A National Match version will give you an upgraded trigger, match barrel, and will be a fantastic shooter; or, you can look at the plethora of aftermarket goodies.
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Old August 18, 2022, 04:37 PM   #5
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If you like that HK MP5 you could search for one of their many rifles.
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Old August 18, 2022, 07:09 PM   #6
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priority for me is a good trigger, good ergonomics, and overall good feelings
Don't mean to offend--but none of that is something that someone else can answer for you.
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Old August 18, 2022, 10:13 PM   #7
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If you like that HK MP5 you could search for one of their many rifles.
Since the op specified semi autos so those are the sporter SL6 and 7 series and the military style HK 91 & 93, perhaps some others I'm not aware of.

I don't have personal experience with the sporters but I do with the 91/93 and I don't find their egrinomics acceptable, specifically the safety. Its a reach for me, which I don't care for.

They are decent rifles but I personally disagree with the European gun design school of thought that the safety is something to be worked with either the "off" hand or the trigger hand in a non shooting grip.

Many other rifles allow the safety to be engaged or disengaged by the shooting hand while maintaining a firing grip. Your call, of course about what you like, and don't like.

My other main problem with the HK designs is a charging handle that only works one way. Again, a personal matter.
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Old August 19, 2022, 05:33 AM   #8
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While the M1a is an excellent choice, I'm still onboard with an AR. All three of your AR complaints could have been easily addressed. There are dozens of aftermarket triggers that are excellent, affordable, and drop right in. Unreliable feeding and extraction could have been something as simple as the gun was over gassed and the bolt was running too fast. Changing to a flat wound or polished buffer spring and a heavier buffer would have likely corrected that and improved the spring noise you were hearing. And if needed additional noise reduction, there are silent buffer systems.
I'll admit however, I really like rifles with wood stocks, so if the AR was out, I'd be looking at M1A, M1 Garand, M1 carbines....or maybe a Ruger Mini-14
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Old August 19, 2022, 10:55 AM   #9
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A bolt action should fit you needs. Ruger American or one of the Savage line up. For target and general use I would pic 223 or 308 because cheaper ammo for these are available. There are highly accurate semi auto rifles, you get what you pay for. Out of the box for the money you are not going to beat a bolt gun with out spending bucks. Not to mention since the new generation is into ARs good deals are to be had on used Bolt Actions of all kinds.
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Old August 19, 2022, 01:38 PM   #10
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I also dislike the springy feeling of the AR platform… and most other semi autos for that matter.

My favorite semi auto in a “real” rifle cartridge is the M1 Carbine. I wouldn't trust it for self defense, but it’s perfect for the uses you’re talking about… except that adequate accuracy over extended distances might be unobtainable.
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Old August 19, 2022, 02:40 PM   #11
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Just sold mine

I bought a Colt AR, just because. Never fired it. Fortunately it funded a walnut and steel purchase.
A Super X Model 1 replaced it, that shall be my clay target gun. Yes, I hated that boing in the stock too.
OP, have a look at a Savage 99, used of course, lots of good caliber choices, I would lean to 300 Savage or 250-3000.

The best thing that ever happened to me in the Air Force. I failed to qualify with the M16. Tight shooting lanes, guy next to me got a medal...seriously. I got crossed up as which target was mine.
I was in superb shape when I joined my job was heavy physical labor, my muscles had muscles. I'm also 6' 1"
When you join the AF open general like that you get to be a security policeman mostly. Well unless you fail to qualify with the M16.
Instead they made me a dental clinic troop. I did my time with our favorite uncle, dental has been a GREAT career and continues to support my family. My gig is wholesale distribution of highly technical equipment.

Funny, I rarely fail at anything, in this particular case failure was a blessing.
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Old August 19, 2022, 02:59 PM   #12
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Sadly, most people never get to shoot a well tuned smooth shooting AR15 because very few manufacturer's build them that way. We have the "mil-spec" fans who shoot over-gassed, but reliable springy clunky ARs and then the boutique ARs that start at lie $2K.

If you shoot a match barrel with a properly set up buffer and spring in the stock (or a JP SCS, maybe even a Magnetic or polymer system) with a flat wire spring, a reduced gas volume through a lengthened and properly size gas port, it is totally different than a mil-spec AR.

The AR15 is a smooth, easy to shoot platform, when set up right. I'd say you fell victim to spending too much on an (arguably nice) higher than needed priced AR variant that lacked the components needed for a truly high end AR. I'd still point the OP towards a .223 AR15, but you need a match grade set up that is well tuned.

You can go with a JP, which is where the origin of better shooting, match grade ARs lies, or take a look at some of the others, like Stag and Armalite that come with match grade barrels and triggers and usually a better buffer system. Conversely, you can spend some time and effort researching the parts you like/want and either build it yourself, or get it built for you. I just delivered $1100 in parts to a customer to build on his stripped lower, a match grade AR15. He cut a few corners on the stock and the muzzle device, but still went with a quality, match grade bolt, barrel and trigger. You can have a top of the line AR15 for about $1500 to $1800.
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Old August 20, 2022, 06:32 AM   #13
stagpanther
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Quote:
I bought a Colt AR, just because. Never fired it. Fortunately it funded a walnut and steel purchase.
A Super X Model 1 replaced it, that shall be my clay target gun. Yes, I hated that boing in the stock too.
OP, have a look at a Savage 99, used of course, lots of good caliber choices, I would lean to 300 Savage or 250-3000.

The best thing that ever happened to me in the Air Force. I failed to qualify with the M16. Tight shooting lanes, guy next to me got a medal...seriously. I got crossed up as which target was mine.
I was in superb shape when I joined my job was heavy physical labor, my muscles had muscles. I'm also 6' 1"
When you join the AF open general like that you get to be a security policeman mostly. Well unless you fail to qualify with the M16.
Instead they made me a dental clinic troop. I did my time with our favorite uncle, dental has been a GREAT career and continues to support my family. My gig is wholesale distribution of highly technical equipment.

Funny, I rarely fail at anything, in this particular case failure was a blessing.
Great story!
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Old August 20, 2022, 08:57 AM   #14
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Honestly my answer would be something like a DDM4 V7 S. It is a great rifle. Did you try sending it back for repair of the feed issue?

All AR’s have bad triggers until, replaced. I don’t know of any AR15 manufacturers shipping with a quality cassette trigger installed. It can be changed out.

The “sproing” sound of an AR15 is a characteristic of its design. Somebody makes a silent buffer, but I forget who. Few people use it. (JP Enterprises)

Since you are turned off by AR15’s, I’m kind of stuck. Every semiauto fighting rifle has some of these rough edges.

Maybe a Browning BAR would be more refined to your liking or the m1a….or the m1 Garand. Their recoil spring is away from your ear. I think Sig makes a gun like this too.
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Old August 20, 2022, 09:23 AM   #15
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Nathan, do some research, there are some factory ARs with top shelf match triggers.
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Old August 20, 2022, 09:44 AM   #16
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When I built my AR in 6.5 Grendel, I installed a single stage adjustable trigger. It breaks clean and consistent.

OP, you should have spent some time researching triggers for AR's as there are several options that are more target oriented. The stock AR trigger is going to be a Milspec two stage trigger, which is not going to be for someone that is expecting a target grade trigger out of the box on a military rifle.

M1A's in stock form they are also going to be two stage military triggers and they need work to bring them up to being match grade.

I have several HK firearms, including a 91, 93 and MP5. If you are looking for some kind of target grade trigger you will be massively disappointed with them.

Honestly The AR with some upgrades is going to be your best bet, but you will have to put some of your own research into them to get what you are looking for.
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Old August 20, 2022, 10:38 AM   #17
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No doubt the sub-Minute of Angle boys and the Elite Rifle snobs will turn their collective noses up-- but I have a nice Ruger Mini-14 .223 purchased new in the 70's. I've really enjoyed it for casual shooting and reloading.

The wood stock has picked up a few small dings and the canvas sling shows a little wear. But the iron rear peep sight/eared front post are pristine and it shoots right close to point of aim.

And with many, many rounds fired-- never a jam using an assortment of different capacity aftermarket magazines, even when shooting reloaded scavenged mixed range brass.

Last edited by WmMunny; August 21, 2022 at 12:20 PM.
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Old August 20, 2022, 11:00 AM   #18
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M1A's in stock form they are also going to be two stage military triggers and they need work to bring them up to being match grade.
My personal experience is that my M1A (rack grade) trigger is entirely usable, and decent as is. Better than many other rifles I have used. I have zero issues with a good two stage trigger.
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Old August 20, 2022, 11:16 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by WmMunny View Post
No doubt the sub-Minute of Angle boys and the elite rifle snobs will turn their collective noses up-- but I've had a Ruger Mini-14 .223 for many years that I've really enjoyed for casual shooting and reloading.
I love accurate, highly refined rifles, but I'll not turn up my nose at what someone else enjoys. Utility rifles and plinkers have their place and any true firearm aficionado not only knows that, but has several as well.
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Old August 20, 2022, 07:19 PM   #20
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To me ... It sounds like you need a good Bolt Action Rifle .
You want good trigger , no spring noise , accuracy , dependable feeding , easy to reload ammo for and easy to tailor accuracy loads to your rifle ...
dump all those AR , AK and SCAR platforms and go old school bolt action ...
you can even get a beautiful walnut wood stock if you like ...
Nice Walnut has black plastic beat Seven Ways to Sunday for good looks .
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Old August 21, 2022, 06:46 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkCO
Nathan, do some research, there are some factory ARs with top shelf match triggers.
It sounds like you have done the research….can you share at least one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkCO
You can go with a JP, which is where the origin of better shooting, match grade ARs lies, or take a look at some of the others, like Stag and Armalite that come with match grade barrels and triggers and usually a better buffer system.
I looked at all 3 and didn’t really see that. JP seems like the closest, but they are really a gamers gun. They are also a semi-custom build.

I guess I’m saying that if you want a smooth running AR15 with a top shelf barrel, trigger and recoil system, you will have to build and tune it. This is because most AR’s follow the mil spec operating specs geared towards running all ammo, in blowing sand and extreme temperatures. If you want to run premium ammo, in a clean rifle at 60-80 deg, you can dial most of that extra power out of the action.

If you go with a reverse recoil system where springs, buffers and noise are in front of your ears, you will be better off. Then just add a good trigger.

Last edited by Nathan; August 21, 2022 at 08:25 AM.
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Old August 21, 2022, 11:49 AM   #22
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I could be wrong, but I got the impression from the OP that he isn't interested in building an AR.

Remember, its OK to not love an AR. Some folks just don't like them. And some folks simply don't want to have to buy a gun, then add/change parts to get what they are looking for.

The OP sounds like a casual shooter, has little experience with rifles, tried an AR and didn't like it.

Why he didn't is entirely his business, and I don't think advice about "build it this way" is what he's looking for.

I suggested an M1A, mostly because it's a good rifle, and quite different from anything he has tried before, which he may not like, either. Again, that's his business.
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Old September 13, 2022, 02:11 PM   #23
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Well sort of late but considering:
Quote:
In your experience, what semi-auto gun(s) would satisfy these requirements of good trigger/good ergonomics/good feelings? Let's say there is no budget limit.
With semi-auto in mind I like my M1A and my old AR10T. Either should fit what you want but neither comes inexpensive as far as a quality version goes. Then too I am not you and have no idea as to your taste in a rifle.

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Old September 13, 2022, 03:08 PM   #24
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I've got a Scorpion that I registered as an SBR. They need a cheap trigger kit out of the box, but other than that they are good to go. suppressed and with an MRO sight it's really fun. It is one of my least expensive options, but would probably be the first rifle I'd grab if I needed something to protect myself with.
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Old September 13, 2022, 05:59 PM   #25
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Maybe new/ newer Ruger Mini 14 Ranch rifle or a Henry Long Ranger?

Last edited by 44caliberkid; September 13, 2022 at 06:08 PM.
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