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Im looking at buying my first rifle. I plan on doing target shooting at long range, up to 500 yards. Ive narrowed down my choices of rifles to the marlin x7 series or the stevens 200. Im definitely leaning towards the marlin but ive read on many sites that it is discontinued. However, the main question is which caliber should i get? Im thinking 25-06, 243, or 308, but im still open to sugestions. Also Im on a tight budget also so im worried about the cost of 308 rounds. Thanks for your help.
 

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308 rounds will be the cheaper of what you have been looking at. Military surplus,and the popularity of the 308 will make it cheaper to at least purchase practice ammo.
Plus if you save your spent brass you may eventually start reloading...which can save you alot of money in the long run....especially if you are only loading for a minimal # of cartridges.
My choice would be the 308 out of your choices, as it is extremely versatile as both a target and hunting round.
I would like to suggest that you look into Savage rifles for what you are looking for as they are also affordable rifles that have a great reputation for out-of-the-box accuracy, and in my opinion they are easier to find aftermarket accessories that you may want to purchase towards setting up your rifle for long range shooting later on. The Stevens rifle is made by Savage. Savage actions can and are used in long range shooting; in fact the ER Shaw MkVII rifle is based on the Savage action.
I don't have alot of posts here, but I do have 30+ years of shooting and reloading experience, and wouldn't try to steer you wrong.
Good luck in whatever you get...it's a great sport that will soon become a passion for you.
johnny
 

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Welcome to the forum. Rules are to join in, have fun, and be polite.

For target shooting you just are not going to beat .308 caliber or .224 caliber for target shooting bullet selection. However, with your rifle selection I don't think it will be as easy to get a fast enough barrel twist for the heavier target bullets in .223. That's too bad, because if cost is a concern, .223. brass and bullets are least expensive and easiest to come by. With a 7 to 8 inch twist you can shoot the long 80 grain VLD match bullets. Their ballistic coefficients are up with the .30's you can run in .308, so wind and trajectory are just as good. But I only see the Stevens in a 9" twist. That will limit you.

The .25-06 will wear barrel throats out sooner than the your other choices and in Sierra's bullets, anyway, the only MatchKing just doesn't have high enough ballistic coefficient for great 500 yard performance. None of their .257's do; probably because of the common 10" barrel twist available for that chambering is too slow in that bullet diameter to stabilize long bullets. The .243 has one good high BC MatchKing available at 107 grains, and a 105 in Hornady, but again, barrel twist is the obstacle. You'd need about an 8" twist for best accuracy with the 107's.

The .308's will come with 10" twist, which, in that caliber is more than fast enough twist for the long 180 grain VLD bullets, which are about as heavy as one usually goes with .308. Longer ones take up too much powder space, even though the twist will stabilize them. So, in your shoes I would lean toward the Stevens in .308.

You do want to learn to reload to tame the cost, if you don't already? Not only is it not difficult to learn to do, but even with the most basic equipment the quality of the ammunition you get is generally higher than commercial loads. The .308 bullets, owing to metals market rises, are not the least expensive any more (the .224's are), but you can still do way better than commercial by reloading. At 500 yards either IMR4064 or Reloader 15 powder and the Sierra 175 grain MatchKing are a terrific combination. The Stevens rifle has the Savage action and barrel system, which have an ever increasing accuracy reputation. That's the direction I'd turn in.
 

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Welcome here, both of you. :)

I'll reiterate what is being said: .308 Win in the Stevens or a Savage. That's just "book smarts" though, the other guys have WAY more experience than me, so listen to them. If it were me, I'd take their advice.
 

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Buy the .308 and don't look back. The 22/250 and the .243 are wonderful
calibers but they are not 500 yard target rifles.

Zeke
 

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Since I own Savages, Stevens, and a Marlin XL-7. Here is what I think.

I dearly love all of my Savages, but the current NEW offerings are overpriced. The Stevens are Savages without the accu-trigger, and ancillary options. Excellent guns for the price.
My Choice would be the Marlin for a few reasons. The cocking portion of the bolt(rear-most) is essentially Remington, The rest is Savage. It has a floating bolt head, same barrel nut, same size and pitch threads(I.E. Barrels interchange) and as far as entry level goes; I think that the stock on the Marlin is slightly more ridgid than the Stevens. It also has Marlin's Accu-trigger. So essentially the Marlin is a Stevens with a slightly improved stock, and accu-trigger, for the price of a Stevens.
 

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I own a stevens 270. Shoots alot better than the price would suggest. Definetly grab one in 308. That stevens shoots as well as some of my $1000 rifles. The stock is pillar bedded which adds to the accuracy of the gun.
 

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I am a huge Savage fan. If you are looking for target shooting only, then a used heavy barrel model 10 with a better stock may indeed be the way to go. Of the choices you listed, I wold go with the Stevens in .308 (I am certain by now you realize that everyone here is going to tell you to start with a .308,) the versatility of the cartridge and the 50 years of accuracy behind the maker are hard to get away from. I also like the safety configuration better than others you listed.

Ron
 

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I own a stevens 270. Shoots alot better than the price would suggest. Definetly grab one in 308. That stevens shoots as well as some of my $1000 rifles. The stock is pillar bedded which adds to the accuracy of the gun.
Ditto. Mine is a .30-06. It shoots lights out. A .308 would be a better choice in this rifle though.
 
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