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Talked with my son today. He is planning on purchasing a rifle for his son. It will be his first centerfire rifle and will be used at first for deer hunting. Now this will be this young fellas first year of biggame hunting. He is no stranger to a 20 ga. or shooting 22lr. and loves to be out in the woods. Now they live in NW Montana, so there will be other oppurtunities besides deer later on. So he asked me what I thought would be a good caliber to start with. Now when my boys started biggame hunting they all started with my 6MM. Lately I've heard alot about the 7MM-08's, but really don't know much about them, but I am familiar with the .243's and 6MM's. So finally my question is, what would you all think would be a better starter rifle the .243 or 7mm-08 or possibly something else. Thanks:)
 

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I have both, and have taken game with both. Neither has ever let me down. Both are great choices, but I prefer the 7mm-08 because of its better ballistics at longer ranges.

The 243 cartridges are easier to find, as well as being less expensive. Depending on how much shooting is going to happen, and what stores are available in your son's locale these two facts may or may not be useful.
 

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.260 Remington is nice, I love mine. Or a 6.5x55SE (same ballistics). Moderate recoil (between that of the .243 and 7mm-08) and good bullet selection. Swedes use the 6.5x55SE with 156gr/160gr bullets to kill elk and moose. 120gr/140gr in either is perfect for pronghorn, whitetails, and mule deer.
 

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All the 308 cased cartridges are capable for a young man (might hold off on the larger ones ie 338 Fed or 358 Win). The .243 the most versitale if he plans on variment hunting. The 260 and 7-08 have a great reputation also. The best choice however would be the .308 especially if larger game is going to be prosude later. You can download the 308 to 30-30 performance levels with a 125 JSP or Rem/Fed makes a reduced recoil load. Fit of the rifle is going to more critical than the caliber because if it doesn't fit right, he won't shoot to his/guns potenial and risks making a good clean ethical shot. I'll suggest finding a rifle that fits correctly and then worry about the cartridge as they all do the job if placed correctly with a suitable projo.

Also remember that there are reduced loads for the 270 and 30-06.

CD
 

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The 243 would be ideal for a starter for deer, the 7mm-08 would only have a little more recoil and be better for a little large animals, so both would be a good choice OR you could go with the 6.5 Creedmoor and have what both of those offer in one cartridge.
 

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If you would like something a little less "exotic" than the 6.5 Creedmoor, a 260 Remington is available in quite a few different models and is just a 243 Winchester necked up to .264" bullets. It's important to note that the 260 Remington won't kick much more than a 243 but has the same high sectional density bullets that give very good penetration. A 7mm/08 is a 243 necked up to shoot .284" bullets and will have noticeably more felt recoil, but is certainly a lot better choice if the same gun will be used to hunt elk, in a few years.

Personally, I don't think it's wise to start a young deer hunter out with a gun that will do well on harvesting an elk: I'd just get him a good deer cartridge (260 Remington, or smaller) and if he wants to go after elk later on down the line, buy a bigger gun when he's old enough and big enough to handle the recoil. No sense taking a chance on making him afraid of recoil and spoiling him on big game hunting. If you buy him a 243 to start with, you could always sell it a few years later and get him a 308 or even 30-'06.

Now, if you handload, there are a variety of cartridges that will allow you to avoid the problem of excessive recoil AND have a gun that will do it all. A 280 Remington, loaded with lighter bullet and mild loads would still be a great 250-yard deer gun, but later on could use full-throttle 160 or 175 grain loads that will do an excellent job on elk at 300 yards, or more.

Are you a handloader and would you be willing to go to that extra effort, so you only need to buy one gun?
 

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depending on build of beginner the 7mm-08 would be fine as well as the 260 remington. i have found my 7mm-08 does recoil a bit more than 243 but 260 is almost indistinguishable.
 

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I have used a .243 for many years. It has never let me down on northern Missouri deer. This years 11 pointer weighing about 250 went 30 yards before pileing up. That is the farthest any have gone in 20 years.
 

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I almost hate to answer this, becasue I'm afraid I'm getting a reputation as a 260 biggot.

I have a 243, a 260, and my son has a 308. You already know about 243, so I won't go into its pros and cons. The 260 is an excellent choice for anyone hunting deer, and the 7mm/08 is very near to it in practically any measurement. The 260 ammo is harder to find and more expensive, however, so if you don't handload you may want to go the 7mm/08 route.

My 10 year old skinny little grandaughter has shot my 260 with 85 gr coyote loads with no problem, but I'm not sure if she'll be up to shooting 120 gr deer loads; she'll be using the 243 next year, but will probably move up to the 260 soon thereafter (if she can pry it from my hands).
 

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Both of my kids started outat age 10 with 6 lb. .308's. Granted, I reload, and they were shooting about 2-3 grains under a max charge for the 150 gr. bullet. If the kid is shooting a 20 ga. a .308 isn't going to be anything new. In the .308, you don't have to buy something new later on when he wants to hunt bear, elk, moose, etc. I would pick the 7mm-08 as a close 2nd place. I've never been a fan of sub-.25 caliber rounds for deer.
 

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I also think the 270 is a good choice, esp when you can feed it managed recoil rounds and as they get older get the regular rounds. That said I also think the 260 and 7/08 are excellent choices, Remington has a 120 Core Lokt for the 7/08 that should be a little lighter in recoil and be very tolerable.
 

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i'll stick to the two calibers mentioned, both of which born off the 308 parent case. because of location and type of hunting he will be doing in the very near future i would find myself leaning more towrds the 7-08 in this particular case. i have both, i have total confidence in both but if i had to pick between the two for future considerations i would go 7-08.
 

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Had a .243 in a Sako Forester that was used for both whitetail and mule deer for some time. A nice cartridge for anyone, man, woman or child.

As my only grandson grew and showed an interest in tagging along with granpa to the range and field, I customized a Swede 6.5x55mm (kissing cousin to the .260 Rem) and began with reduced cast bullet loads and working up as he could tolerate it. He's 11 now and enjoys benchresting his rifle with full hunting loads.

If you instruct the new shooter in the basics of rifle shooting and how to properly handle it, shouldn't have any problem with the .243's or .264's available today.
 

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I bought a 7MM/08 for my Grandson. He started out using the reduced
recoil ammo that I believe Remington makes (not sure). I also loaded
some stuff up for him that was low recoil. He then worked his way up
to full power loads. He shot a bear in Pennsylvania this season. I guess
he will be a 7MM/08 fan for many years.

Zeke
 
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