Like the title says, I'm looking to purchase my first firearm (awww, look at the newb) I'm new to the market, but definitely not new to shooting. However I do realize there is a difference between shooting a gun and owning one, maintaining it and paying for ammo and whatnot, hence the post. I've compiled a list of shooters that seem to fit the bill, the trouble is which one. My budget for the rifle itself is $800 with some wiggle room, and around $200 for extras like mags or optics. I will most likely buy used. The idea of this rifle isn't necessarily a "do-it-all" but not a niche gun either. It would see most daylight out at the range for now, but I still want a somewhat rugged gun for the outdoors. I probably wouldn't be shooting past 500 yds even with a more accurate rifle, but my range will obviously be determined by the weapon and cartridge, as well as what direction I take the rifle in. So here's the list and my line of thinking for each, in no particular order.
-Ruger Mini 14:
Reliable, rugged, easy. .223 is easy to get, and ballistics are enough to accomplish what I want. I dig the sights too.
Say what you will about the rifle, but all I know is I got to handle this one and it felt pretty good. It looks better in person, too. Would be nice to not have to worry about buying a scope right away and shoot while I save up for a good one. I can't stand express sights so the mini 14 sights seem to be ideal. And who can argue with an action based off the Mauser? Plus, even though I said .223 would be enough, the bang of a .308 always makes me smile. But something makes me feel like I should wait for a later model that's more thought through, and is in stainless.
-Smith and Wesson M&P 15:
This is one that I could go all out on. Possibly a Millett Designated Marksman Scope on top with Duek Defense rapid transition sights popping out the side. Fun enough for me. 5.45 is still pretty cheap, and those nasty terminal ballistics give it my favor over .223. Still my knowledge on this rifle is beginner at best. Any owner reviews would be appreciated.
A more elegant weapon. Tack driving accuracy and awesome reliability, without the hi-cap mag railed for end black look that makes everyone think I'm either a psycho or tactical Call of Duty type (I'd rather appear be the first) I'm a big fan of bolt guns, and although I like a larger capacity for rounds, I know I probably don't need it (kicks dirt and sighs). But realistically this gun is streamlined and easy to carry, and I love that. While I haven't handled one yet, I did hold a Savage 111 and it felt like butta'. I love the accutrigger, and the action felt silky smooth. It's just classy to me. One of my top choices.
I'm told that everyone should have one. I can find them for real cheap too. You all know this gun well enough so I'll go on.
-Mosin Nagant 91/30:
$85 used. It goes bang. I can light fires with it. It comes with a bayonet that I'll never use. It comes with a sight setting for 12 miles that I'll never use. It comes with a safety that I want to use, but can't. But it's a gun for a may-un (That's "man" pronounced the way it ought to be). Plus it would be enough to satiate me while I save up for an M14, which might make it a better choice than the others.
So in summation:
Ruger mini 14
Ruger m77 gunsite
Smith and Wesson M&P 15
Mosin Nagant 91/30
What do you guys reccomend and why?