okay this is my suggestion and reasons. the marlin XS7VH in 308. price about $350 or less with scope base mounted. by a good nikon, swift or bushnell scope for about $300 plus rings, should be able to get all that for about $700 + or - some. you didn't mention reloading, so i will make a guess that you don't at this time or don't plan to. so not reloading and sticking with just the factory ammo offerings, you have many choices and some very good ones for the 308. the marlin is very accurate, decently priced, and very well made. the 308 has lots of long range potential and would be a good caliber for hunting if you choose to, and is very mild in recoil which would be perfect for a step up in a larger caliber without punishing your shoulder in the learning process. another caliber consideration, and one of my favorites is the 7mm-08, in the marlin XS7. very accurate caliber and recoil also is mild. of the larger centerfire calibers, the 308 is your best bang for your buck as far as ammo.