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Hey everybody, I am new to this forum and am looking into getting my own first deer rifle. I have shot many calibers, and when hunting before I have had to free load and borrow either a .243 rifle or a .444 marlin from a friend. I have narrowed my search down to a few calibers during my search. I have fired and like the .30-.06, but I have yet to find a rifle that is both affordable and reliable. My father has a Remington 770, and I feel like its light weight makes it kick a little more than that cartridge is worth. I have fired and am VERY fond of the .300 Win Mag, but again I see myself having to shell out a lot of cash for a rifle that fires that cartridge and has something to compensate for that recoil. I also enjoy the 7mm Rem Mag, but I am a little concerned about its availability as far as ammunition goes. Lastly, while it is not my first choice, I have heard good things about .308 cartridges. I am not a little guy who can't handle the recoil, but I do in fact not believe that excessive recoil is necessary simply because a gun is light. Any wisdom from a more seasoned hunter who can inform me about muzzle breaks for light guns and simply throw a suggestion out there on the calibers/rifles i mentioned would be infinitely appreciated. Thank you very much, and hope to hear from you guys soon.
-Jake
 

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Welcome, Jakewayne.

Get ready for the firestorm... of opinions... here are mine:

There are SO MANY choices it's hard to pick just one. My top choice for a "deer" rifle would probably be a 7mm-08. But a .260 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .25 WSSM would be on the list. They will all do the job without more recoil or muzzle blast than necessary. For that matter, sissy kickers like the .257 Roberts and .250/3000 Savage will do just as well, with a tad less range.

Anything from a .243/6mm on up to .45 caliber will work for deer. Choose a rifle and caliber makes sense for the terrain, animals, and the distances you plan to shoot.

For a first rifle, I would choose something that is versatile, to cover the most possible hunting situations for YOU.

If your going to be shooting mostly animals deer size and smaller, then a .243"/6mm, .257", .264"/6.5mm, or .284"/7mm cartridge works.

For deer size and larger, then I would probably start at .277", .284"/7mm, .308"/7.62mm, .338", and .358".

For varmints and deer I'd pick a .257 or .264/6.5mm cartridge, like the .257 Roberts, .25-06, .260 Rem, or 6.5x55.

For just Deer I'd go with a .260 Rem, 6.5x55, or 7mm-08, or maybe a .308 Win, .30-30 Win, or .35 Rem.

For deer and larger I'd go with a .270 Win, .280 Rem, .284 Win, .308 Win, .30-06, .338 Federal, .358 Winchester, .338-06, .35 Whelen.

If you're an east coast hunter, .30-30, .35 Rem, .444 Marlin, make good sense. In the plains, .25-06, .270, 7mm Rem Mag make sense.

If ammo availability is a top priority, stick with common cartridges...

.30-30, .30-06, .308, .25-06, .270, .243, 7mm-08, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag
 

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Welcome to the shooter's forum, Jake.

It's my opinion you don't have to get beat up to enjoy shooting and hunting with a rifle that will take deer. I consider a .243/6mm the minimum chamberings and figure the mags are overkill, if there is such a thing. Anything from .250 Savage to 30-06 will do the job well without costing and arm and leg or crushing your shoulder. One of my favorites on the prairie is a 25-06 and generally use a .308 or 30-06 on bigger critters.

For close in hunting many prefer the big bore rifles such as 35s, 375s or 45s. I've taken deer with my .338 but figure that's akin to using a sledgehammer to set tacks.

Again another personal opinion, forget the muzzle brake. It's noisey, adds length to the barrel or reduces it's effective length. If you need something to tame recoil you probably have too much rifle for deer.

In a nutshell there are many good chamberings out there. A .308 or 30-06 and all of their offspring make dandy deer rifles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok thank you to the two that have already replied. I live in the fascist people'e republic of California (ammo is extra scarce here :( ) , so down south most of my shots are long rolling shots where up north it is massively variable. I originally liked the .30-30 but I started to change my mind looking at the distances of shots that would have to be taken in this area. I've had something of a love affair with my uncle's .30-30 and the ease of shooting it, it's accuracy, and its projectile size. But with my "longer range" shots, that is why I am starting to more or less rule out rounded projectiles.
 

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Excellent advice, thus far. Since you mentioned specifically a deer rifle, I'd suggest you search out some of the more common and well liked cartridges, most of which have already been mentioned. .260, 7/08 and .308 all based on the .308 case and all great choices. 25-06, .270, .280 and 30/06 all based on the '06 case. I have used several magnum cartridges for deer, but honestly, they are simply more power than is needed. I simply liked the particular rifle so chambered. Two others that should absolutely not be overlooked are the .300 Sav and the venerable 30/30, especially for short to moderate ranges. Although I own and use cartridges like the .257, .284, 7x57, 8x57 and many more lesser known or seen cartridges for deer and they all will work very well, a good selection of ammo may not always be the easiest to find for them. This might be a consideration to keep in mind.

There are many good cartridges out there that will work great (as already mentioned) and I would simply keep my eyes peeled for a nice used rifle, bolt, lever, or whatever and be ready to pounce when one comes up. There are a lot of great deals out there on fine used guns from hunters/shooters who needed to get or try the latest caliber of the day. And yes, I have been guilty of that myself. :D
 

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I’m also looking for a caliber that I can use for Deer and Pigs .I also live in Kalifornia, the southern part, and really can’t figure out the typical range we would be hunting. I was VERRY interested in a bolt action 7.62X39 for two reasons. One, the cost of ammo, knowing that the only way to become proficient with anything is practice, practice and when all else fails, more practice. The cost of ammo at 6 bucks compared to 26 bucks a box for practice makes me favor this round. The cost of actual hunting rounds is about the same as all the others. The only thing that I’m concerned about with this cartridge is the range, I’m not sure it can be effective past 200 yards. There is a bolt action from CZ and another from Zativia (sp) but like getting anything in our fine state is very hard to get right now. Savage makes one but the price is a little high. The other thing is recoil, I can take the recoil from most rounds, but my daughter, who is 14, is going to use this also, so I want something that she can shoot and enjoy without get into the habit of flinching.
 

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Surfdaddy, The 7.62x39 is roughly equal to the 30-30 ballistically. So if you can take your shots at 100 yards it should be effective. Looking at the charts, it appears to be loosing ground fast to the 30-30 at 150 yards. Anything over 200 yards you'd be much better served by a number of other chamberings.

Just a matter of mention Ruger makes rifles for 7.62x39

Another thought, why not get a .22 to plink and have fun with and get a more decated rifle for shooting pigs and deer?
 

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Welcome to the forum Jake ! Some good advice you've been given so far. I would agree with the caliber choices that have been mentioned and the Weatherby S2 is one of the really good guns especially for the money you can get. I have a link below for you to take a look at them, I have one in 25-06 and for $500 dollars it's one heck of a rifle. It comes chambered in most of what has been mentioned and is a good weighted gun, not light and not heavy. They have it in 243, 7mm-08, 308 Win, 25-06, 270, and 30-06 along with several others. The order in which your best ammo selection will be is this, the 243, 308, 30-06, 270, and the 25-06 and 7mm-08 are about the same. A couple of other great options and accurate calibers are the 260 remington and the 6.5 creedmoor, the creedmoor won't have many choices of ammo and the 260 will have something in the low 20's as far as options and it would be last after the 25-06 and 7mm-08 where the ammo is concerned. All of these are great calibers and there's a wide variety of rifles chambered for all except the 260, 6.5 creedmoor, Savage makes great rifles as well, very accurate out of the box. If you live in the lead free are or hunt in those area's then all of the calibers I've mentioned have loaded ammo with lead free bullets available for them. I don't think you would need an accubrake/muzzle brake with any of the calibers listed here, one of the main things would be to find a gun that fits you well where feel and balance and how it is in your hands are concerned. Go to a couple of bigger stores that might have a broader selection so you can handle a large selection.








Vanguard Series 2 Synthetic | Weatherby.com
 

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There are many excellent cartridges that can be used for harvesting a deer-sized animal. The deer in California barely qualify, but that's a completely different topic. :)

The 270 Winchester is equaled by some, but far better than most, when it comes to providing the right combination of recoil, long-range trajectory and reliable terminal performance. It's been my deer rifle cartridge of choice for the last 25 years and the cartridge has never failed me. I haven't always done the round justice, but that's my failing. You'll always be able to find ammo and can even use it for larger/tougher game, when needed. Wild boar, for example. I dare say the 270 Win. is THE best cartridge for the diminutive Pacific Blacktail, as well as the numerous wild hogs running around the Golden State. ;)
 

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Welcome Jakewayne,
You have been given some really good advice so far. I can only add a little from my recent experience. While perusing the aisles of my local wallyworld, I made my way (as usual) to the sporting goods section. The ammo case still looked the same as the last time I was there "barren". There was one box of 7mmMag, two boxes of 30/06, and at least 3 boxes of four different varietys of 270. In the guncase there were two rifles (Savage and Remington boltactions) both reasonably priced and chambered for .270. I allready have a rifle chambered in .270, but if I were looking to buy a new deer rifle at that very moment, the signifigantly larger selection of ammo would have made my choice easy. Were I you I would definitely let current ammo availability(in your area, and applicable to your hunting area) dictate my cartridge choice.
Hope this helps,
Ron.
 

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Just afew thoughts. Where you hunt makes a lot of difference, southern bean fields or northern maine, or Montana!!!

Think of the 270 win. is a very good all round deer rifle. Sounds like you favor t a bolt gun. the 308, 7-08 and 260 are very fine general deer rifles.
 

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my 2 cents worth is a 270 win. been killin deer with it for 30 years. it does a great job. if on a tight budget i would recommend the Marlin xl7. jmho
 

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If you like to shoot a lot and don't care for the recoil after 20 rounds, then I saw go with the .243, 25-06, 6.5/55 Swede, and for larger animals the 7mm/08 is an awesome caliber too.:)
 

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First Deer Rifle

Welcome to the Forum, Jake!

If you're looking at deer and pigs, and want to be able to shoot at reasonably long range (say 300 yards), the .30-06 class of cartridges will not only accomplish this, but give you "room to grow" should you get the opportunity to hunt sheep, mule deer or elk one day. Of all the cartridges developed from the .30-06, the old original will always be my choice due to its availability, uncomparable range of bullet choices and consistent performance. Should you get into reloading, you won't be noticably behind the .300 Win Mag until extreme range comes into play.

I don't know how it is in California, but in the South it is relatively easy to find a good quality (Remington, Winchester, Ruger & Weatherby) .30-06 rifle used for around $350. Too many folks leave them in closets or cabinets and never shoot them, so you can pick them up reasonably-priced and they are hardly broken in. This leaves money for good quality optics. Good luck with your choices, and check the local Wally Worlds, hardware stores & gunshops for ammunition that they keep a lot of on hand!:)
 

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Jake...lots of good comments above. My 2-cents...the 30-06 is likely one of the best answers to your stated objectives...deer/hog primary targets, managable recoil, variety of affordable rifles, etc. Ammo is available in a wide range of alternative loadings, reduced recoil "plinker" rounds and (current retail situation not withstanding, available anywhere in the US, Canada and other overseas hunting locations.

My additional thoughts based on my experience is that I acquired a 7M-08 several years ago that has proven to be exceptionally effective on 200# whitetails down to 100# antelope while the 30-06 has been upgraded to my elk weapon. I recently shifted down to buy a .243 to address Cayotes/close range mid-west whitetails. Bottom line....you have lots of options for the "mid-market" hunting needs...enjoy the search!
 

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Above -- very good advice. When you mentioned 7.62x39 and how cheap it is to buy ammo, thoughts of poor bullet selection came in mind. Don't buy 7.62x39 solids and shoot deer -- please.

I lived in California when I was in Marines. It seemed to me that you'd be best of with a cartridge that was good for 250 yards or more, which eliminates the 7.62x39 and the 30-30 in my mind (just my opinion). I think you'l find that 30-06 family of cartridges and the 308 family would all be good. The most common cartridge I think you'll find is 30-06 but 270, 308, and 243 would be easy to come by.
Doesn't California require lead free bullets? The lead free bullets/ammo available for all the cartridges seems to hold together very well. So if you're using a lead free bullet the lighter calibers (260, 7mm-08, 7mm Mauser) will work very well.

Marlin makes a good in-expenisve rifle and so does Ruger. My boss bought a Ruger American and it shoots very small groups without any gun-smithing right out of the box. (1/2 MOA - factory loads)
 

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if i was going to buy another deer rifle, id spend the $350 on a ruger american

7-08 if you worried about recoil
30-06 if you want the most versatile rifle you can get

personally my first deer rifle was a .270 ruger mk ii 77 all weather, and i love it, and its been extremely accurate with all kinds of 130gr factory ammo
 

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Just a few thoughts
Forget BRAKES. You don't need to get a rifle that kick more than you can stand. And brakes will definitely make you deaf...just a matter of time (could be 1 shot...could be 400 shots...but your WILL be deaf.

Any cartridge based of the 308 is an excellent choice. So the 260 rem, 7-08, 308 are perfect. The 243 is limited to a 100 grain bullet so it is 'light' for deer. Not sure where you hunt or how ; that is REALLY significant on any opinion here.

If long range means 125 yards or less, the Marlin 336 30-30 is probably the premier cartridge in that range.

Deer are VERY easy to Kill. Most folks like to think they need a BIG cartridge...makes their image of the trophy bigger in thier minds.
 
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