.30-'06 is a fine calibre, but downloading it for newbies is not optimal, IMHO. There are many other calibres that have a wide enough variety of bullets and powders that will do a better job and still be useful for generations. If big game is to be hunted one could start with .243/6mm but I would suggest something bigger, at least .25 calibre. I am fond of 6.5X55 but brass, bullets and rifles are not uniformly available. 7X57 is similar and widely available. Normally the recoil is manageable by teenagers or women. With heavier bullets, it is suitable for most big game. With lighter bullets it is not silly for varmints and accuracy is great with middling bullets. I think .30-'06 is just too large a case to pressurize for reduced loads and at anything near full-power, recoil is not much less than a magnum.
If big game is not on the menu, a good varminting or target-shooting rifle will give a newbie much more satisfaction because it is far less expensive to shoot. .222 or .223 Remington will give a lot more joy to a newbie than 22LR because of the good accuracy at long range and you can buy cases of bullets from Hornady for ~10 cents a bullet. .243 would be a good compromise big game/varminting round but it's quite a compromise at the big end.
Another strategy which works is to have two rifles, one for high-volume shooting and one for big game. Contrary to conventional wisdom, teenagers and women can be taught to deal with recoil given a good rifle and load. Start with a heavy rifle with a short barrel and a sling. Even a small woman can handle a 24-pound baby with ease given a bit of practice. A 10-pound rifle should not be a problem. A military surplus bolt rifle is about right. The heavy weight also helps the newbie hold it steady. We used to be able to buy those rifles for less than $100 but now they are valued by "collectors" too. A civilian rifle with a short heavy barrel can work. Add a recoil pad, a sling, a scope and some weight to the butt or forestock. .308 Winchester would be a good choice for brass, bullets and rifles. With that a newbie can zero in at 300 yards and put every bullet into the heart of standing deer at that range. That rewarding experience will inspire a lifetime of shooting activity. The recoil energy a shooter has to absorb is inversely related to the mass of the rifle. A 10 pound rifle will punish a smaller person much less than a 7 pound rifle with the same load. Stick to mid-weight bullet of boat-tail SP and the smaller person is at very little disadvantage. My son can shoot a full-power load of 165 BTSP out of a .308 all day long and he's not much heavier than a teenager. Give him heavy bullets in a light magnum or near-magnum and 10 shots is his limit.
Even if you don't handload, the "managed recoil" ammo available today is just what the doctor ordered for newbies. I understand the .30-06 load has a 125 gr Nosler traveling at just under 2700 fps. That should be pretty mild recoil.
And of course, what a great caliber to grow into as one can handle more recoil! It's no wonder the old '06 is the cartridge to which every other is compared.
Finally, the '06 leaves a better blood trail than the smaller diameter cartridges, allowing the hunter to more easily find his game. A new hunter can have his confidence badly shaken should he lose the first deer he shoots. I've personally witnessed this several times when newbies were using .223's and .243's. One of them unfortunately quit hunting.
I normally say a 22lr to learn on, but if you need more to hunt, an H&R single shot 223/243 is not bad or expensive and about any other caliber bbl can be added later for 130$. the short oal (over all length) makes them handy & the single shot teaches newbies to get close enough/ good shot angles to make the first shot count.
My 5 year old son and 8 year old daughter have been brought up plinking with a 22 TC Hotshot and a 22 Crickett. Both plink cans and shoot balloons out to 25 yards under my supervision. I recently purchased my daughter a CVA 243 Scout. While she has not shot it yet, I plan to break her in sometime soon to get ready for youth season. The little rifle was priced very reasonable, and now wears a 4 power Bushnell Banner Scope w/EER. I personally hunt with a single shot myself, and I feel it is the right kind of rifle for a young hunter going after whitetail deer. Just sayin'.
Just went through this with my grandson. After hearing other people's comments and realizing that 95% of his hunting will be after deer, hogs, antelope and possibly some day Elk he went with the 7MM-08. The 7MM-08 will handle everything he wants to hunt and then some.
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