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Choosing a caliber for first rifle can be such a pain.

This is a discussion on Choosing a caliber for first rifle can be such a pain. within the Ruger Bolt Action forums, part of the Rifle & Shotgun Forum category; Hi folks, Well, I've been wanting a bolt action rifle for a very long time. Being a resident of NJ, the only thing I'm likely ...


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Old March 3rd, 2013, 09:53 AM   #1
 
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Choosing a caliber for first rifle can be such a pain.

Hi folks,

Well, I've been wanting a bolt action rifle for a very long time. Being a resident of NJ, the only thing I'm likely to see in my cross hairs will be black circles on paper. I don't need to take down bear, moose or "yotes", just bulls(eyes). Although I do not plan on hunting with the rifle, I think having one capable of putting meat on the table is not a bad idea.

The calibers that I think are best for me are the 243, 270 and the 7mm-08. I know the 30-06 and 308 are probably the best overall hunting calibers but they seem to be a bit too much for punching paper. So my question to you is this; For someone who will be target shooting out to 400 yds 99.9999% of the time and has no immediate intention to hunt but wants a caliber that can hunt if necessary.... what would you recommend and why?

While I do plan to hand load at some point in the future, I will be using off the shelf ammo for a while. Short term, I am concerned about price and availability of off the shelf ammo but long term I am more concerned with how the lead hits the mark.

Ah yes, almost forgot. The rifle I have chosen to be my first is the Ruger American and I am leaning towards the 270.



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Old March 3rd, 2013, 09:58 AM   #2
 
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Since you said you are going to be getting your ammo off the shelf for now , I think you should base your decision on ammo availability and price. We all know what the current environment is like as far as buying ammo is.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 10:02 AM   #3
 
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I don't have a rifle -- that being said, there is still a lot of 30.06 and some 7mm ammo on the shelves of the stores around here. I always thought about getting a .308 but a 30.06 is pretty close ballistically and the ammo price is reasonable. I also think a 30.06 will pretty much take down anything you plan on hunting in the NE. If you're really just gonna target practice, get a .22, but if you want something bigger and you're gonna mostly use it for target practice, you really want to research ammo prices.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 10:24 AM   #4
 
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I recommend the .243. Fine for deer size game with the right loads. Target grade accuracy with the right loads. Cheaper to reload than all of your other choices. Factory ammo for 7mm-08 pricey in my area, .308 non-existent, 30-06 and .270 scarce. And I would give a small personnel appendage to access a 400yd range.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 10:27 AM   #5
 
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I own a .243 and a 7mm-08 have looked into the .270 they are all great options for accuracy and all have a fairly flat trajectory. For availability they are all still largely available in my area price wise though the .243 and .270 will be cheaper to shoot with factory ammo they both start off at most chain stores for $19.99 for a 20 rnd box but can be found on sale sometimes for $14-$15 a box. the 7mm-08 is normally around $34.99 a box and the last time I bought any it was on sale for $29 a box. for actual hunting I find it worth the price difference but for punching paper I would go with either the .243 or the .270. now me being partial I would actually go with the .243 it has less recoil and is still more than capable of putting food on the table if the need ever came.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 11:16 AM   #6
 
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Roll your own! Work through a load that gives you the strength you want and the control you need.

I would go with either 30-06 or 308. Which one is kind of based your potential second rifle. Are you a surplus lover and might get a classic M1 grand or a 1903, go -06. You might look 308 if you are looking for say an old Mauser that's been converted to 7.62x51 (NATO 308).

Great choice and rolling your own will make things a lot easier as we move through this silliness.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 11:44 AM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
Roll your own! ....... Are you a surplus lover and might get a classic M1 grand ........

through this silliness.
Actually, I am very much in love with the M1 Garand but I do not see one in my future anytime soon. If I could own only one gun in the world, and price was no object, I would get the M1 in a heartbeat. That actually factored into my decision making process. 30-06 was my first instinct, but since the M1 is not likely to happen, 30-06 seemed just a bit much for a paper puncher.

Eventually I will be doing my own reloading, but for now I think it's best I just focus on becoming proficient with a rifle in whatever caliber I get.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 11:50 AM   #8
 
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I own two modern bolt action rifles with scopes. One is a Ruger M77 Mk II Target rifle in .243. It is great for target shooting or varmint hunting out to 500 yards with 55 or 58 grain premium rounds. It is good for deer or elk at close range with 95 or 100 grain rounds. The other rifle is a Browning A-Bolt Medallion in .325 WSM. It shoots a 200 grain 8mm bullet at 2950 fps. It is good for very long range deer and elk up to African dangerous game. The two rounds cover the spectrum of shooting anything in the world if necessary.

I always recommend a .243 bolt action rifle for target or small game hunting. The felt recoil is very light and there is a great selection of ammo that spans from target or varmint up to deer and elk hunting. It is a necked down .308 round.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 12:07 PM   #9
 
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Doesn't everyone own at least one .22lr rifle. Maybe not the first but def in the quiver.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 12:11 PM   #10
 
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The .270 will be hard to beat period
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 12:16 PM   #11
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I'm also thinking what I would want for a rifle (non-AR) and I'm liking the idea of a 30-30 lever action. The round is proven to put food on the table if need be but idk if its 400 yards accurate. But a bolt gun in 308 would be great for target shooting and you could survive with it just about anywhere in North America. I don't think there is much you can't take with a 308.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 12:18 PM   #12
 
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When I first started looking, I was drawn to .270Win.
Good all round calibre, also minimum calibre for deer in AU.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 12:25 PM   #13
 
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With the criteria you gave I would lean more towards the .243 over the .270 (I have shot both for years) for a few reasons.
Lesser felt recoil
current availability of factory ammo
cheaper to reload

Sorry, not familiar with the 7mm-08.
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 12:33 PM   #14
 
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.243 is the way to go. Short action, great ballistics, ammo availability...
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 12:45 PM   #15
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Selecting a rifle based on available ammo AND what you want to do with it is a wise move. Buying a 30-30 or 30-06 for can plinking might not be the smartest move. Likewise a 22 when you want to hunt deer is a nonstarter.

My opinion on a 270 or 243 is that both of these were on shelves in gun stores recently. But if you are looking for a semi-auto, a 308 is a much better choice - except for ammo right now.

For a first rifle, buying a good 22 is a hard to beat notion. Buy a good bolt gun w/optics and learn to shoot it well (and cheaply). When you master it, move up to the bigger gun. BTW, hitting at 400 is not a slam dunk. Master 50, then 100 then 200 that jump from 200 to 400 is a big step.

Last edited by stargeezer; March 3rd, 2013 at 12:50 PM.
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