What rifle/caliber is best?
This is my attempt to give some answers to the often-asked question, (which rifle/caliber is best)? There are many factors involved in choosing a weapon and though I may miss one or so factors I will attempt to list as much as I can.
To effectively answer this question we must ask other questions.
1. What am I going to use this weapon for? (Primary use, and secondary use)
2. What action platform do I want? (Single shot, Bolt-action, semi-auto)
3. What caliber do I want?
4. What options does the weapon have?
5. What can I afford?
Each of these questions interconnects with each other; sense primary use will also affect the caliber you choose, just as the action will affect the use.
1. What am I going to use the weapon for?
I might be into hunting medium size game in North America and this would be my primary use. With this I can think about cost, just what kind of money do I have to spend? Knowing my finances now I can think about caliber. And just what platform I want and can afford.
I will have limited funds to buy an effective hunting rifle for North American game. Sense most deer are taken under 150 yards I donít have a need for large calibers such as .338 Lapua Magnum, nor even the 7mm magnum. Something in a 243, 270, 30-30, 308, or 30-06 would fit this bill quite well. All these listed calibers have preformed quite well with hunting for many years.
Each of these calibers have good points and bad points, such as the 243, it is lighter on recoil, less damage to meat, and the cost of ammo is slightly less then some of the other calibers. The down side is less punch then most of the others, less options for reloading.
The advantage to 30-30, 308, 30-06 is the availability of numerous bullet weights and types for reloading, so you can really tweak your hunting rifle into one mean machine. The down side is heaver recoil and cost of ammo.
2. What action platform do I want and can afford?
Sense I will be using this to hunt deer with and have limited funds I think my option would be a lever action 30-30 with a fair scope. This you can oft times get at wal-mart (donít laugh) for well under $300 U.S. A lot of hunting ammo for the 30-30 can be bought right off the shelf there also and the cost is minimal. The weapon is lightweight and reliable. A lot of times the Marlin 30-30 comes as a package deal with a fixed 4 power scope which is good for deer under 150 yards.
If say your primary use is hunting with a secondary of SHTF then I might choose a 30-06 in a bolt-action platform. This can be used to stave off zombies at a much longer range then a 30-30 with a fair amount of accuracy. This will stop them pesky zombies dead (pun intended) in their tracks. One can buy a good bolt action at wal-mart with a fair scope for hunting for around +/- $400 U.S.
If I want a rifle with the primary use as medium range target, and funds allow. I would be looking at something in the 308, 30-06, 7mm mag. in a good bolt-action rifle. The specs. I would place on this type of rifle would be but not limited to. 22 to 26 inch BBL, mid range scope such as the Millett 4-16x50 TRS-1 (about $400 U.S.), or maybe a good Hawke Optics Frontier 6-24x50 SF Rifle Scope (about $600 U.S.), Glass beaded, bolt lapped and blue printed.
The availability of match grade ammo for these calibers is a tad bit costly but available at most large gun shops and through mail order. Sense I will be shooting paper a lot I will be reloading my own comparable match grade ammo to save a few $.
If I were going to use the rifle for mid to long range target shooting I would consider a slightly larger caliber in something like .338 Lapua Magnum, 6.5 Creedmoor, 416 Rigby, or 416 Barrett. These rifles would be bolt action with many more options then a new Cadillac has which drives up the cost considerable. A 98Bravo Barrett will run you just about $4000 to $5000 with no bells and whistles. One does not put a cheep 3-9 power Itasca scope on this type of rifle. This rifle deserves something in the Schmidt & Bender Police Marksman II 4-16x50mm rifle scope ($2500 U.S.) or maybe a good Hensoldt ZF 4-16x56mm FF rifle scope (2050 Euros).
Reloading for these high-end rifles is a must, for accuracy, cost effectiveness, and simply that one cannot just go to wal-mart and buy this type of ammo. For good match grade ammo for these weapons you are going to pay someplace around $3 U.S. per round and reloading will cut the cost by about 1/3rd.
If my primary use is to fight hordes of invading zombies, and I want to be able to throw lead down range not having to worry about accuracy all that much then a good AR platform ($1000) would be just the thing if money allows. If you were on a tight budget I would say something like a Cetme, or maybe an AK platform ($500ish). Ammo is somewhat cheaper sense one can buy Mil-surplus at half the cost.
One last thing here before I stop boring you to death, is that all the fancy weapons and scopes in the world will not make you a better shooter. This can be only achieved by a lot of range time and good instructors.
What rifle/caliber is best? Part II
I will attempt to give some information on the rifles themselves here. Donít take my word for it, spend some time looking them up and reading about them before you decide on a given brand and model.
Remington has been making weapons for one hell of a long time. There quality is great for the most part, and if one is looking for something in a good hunting rifle with a little more cost then you probably cannot go wrong with an off the shelf Remington package.
Remingtonís 700 series has and still is one of the top sellers in both the civilian and military markets. The M24/M40 sniper rifles out of the box are accurate to within Ĺ MOA at 100 yards. This is probably their top of the line and most costly rifle, as of to date. A good hunting rifle in Remington 700 series will most likely run you around $400 for a basic 760 with a 3-9 power scope.
For the want to be arm chair snipers who have nothing better to spend their money on they can opt to get the M24 system. The base rifle cost with no bells and whistles can run in excess of $2500 depending on where and whom one buys it from.
Savage Arms also has been making rifles for a long time and with their entry into the civilian/military marksmanship program we have see the quality of their rifles increase a tremendous amount. There off the shelf hunting rifles are very completive with Remington and the price is running close, if not a little cheaper.
The introduction of the Savage 110FP and 10FP brought some good mid to long-range target rifles for civilian/military use on the market at an affordable price. Starting around $500 off the shelf with no bells and whistles it is one bargain that should not be over looked by the paper punchers.
Winchester is another old and trusted name in rifles, do not be fooled by Hollywoodís misconceived perception that Winchester only makes mediocre lever rifles. They also make some dam good blot guns for the hunting/target use. Though there weapons may be just a tad bit more expensive then a comparable one from Savage, they are of good quality and reliability.
Weatherby has been making rifles for quite some time, along with their noted high quality and workman ship. Almost everyone has heard the name Weatherby but many people tend to over look them because they just donít know much about them.
One can now get a good quality Weatherby hunting rifle from Wal-mart for a little under $600 sometimes with a scope.
Not to take away from America made rifles but there are many good foreign made hunting rifles along with many good paper punchers on the market today. Howa, Sako, H&K, Mauser, Sig just to name a few. Though oft times the foreign made rifles tend to be a little costly they are nonetheless good hunting rifles and paper punchers at the range.
Take some time and really look and read what is said about rifles before you just jump right into one. Talk to actual gunsmiths who work on rifles, along with the gun shop owner and hear what they have to say about deferent weapons. Cruse the gun boards (FirearmsTalk) and ask questions about a given weapons you are interested in. Most times you will get a fair response from many knowledgeable people who have worked with and used the weapons you are asking about.
Part III to follow
What rifle/caliber is best? Part III
Now for the finial installment in this series we will look at some advantages in old Mil-Surplus weapons and the disadvantages.
For the budget minded person who just does not have the money to buy a good quality off the shelf-hunting rifle, never fear there are options.
One of the popular Mil-Surplus rifles right now is the Mosin Nagant with three models to choose from the 91/30, M-39, and the M44 these are running some place around $75 to $125 depending on who and where you buy it at. The disadvantages to these rifles are they are mass-produced and the workmanship is rough. Most will be well worn by the time Americans get them sense they have been in service from basically there inception in 1891 until roughly 1960.
Each is chambered in 7.62x54R. This round the 7.62x54R is as comparable to any of the hard-hitting Military rounds of WW2. There is a good choice in bullet weights that can be reloaded or bought over the counter.
Mil-Surplus ammo for the Mosin Nagant is cheep running some place around $70 for a 440 round Spam can of 147 gr FMJ to someplace around $85 depending on who you buy it from. With the increased popularity of this weapon, the Brass makers now offer Boxer primed brass for reloading. The Mil-Surplus ammo is most times if not all the time Burdaned Primed and this makes it almost un-reloadable for the average person.
Then we have the Tried and true British Lee-Infield 303, these weapons enjoy a better quality in their workmanship and there reliability is on the high end. There availability is drying up on the market somewhat especially the stuff that was not given to India. So expect to pay a little more on todayís market for one.
The .303 round is as hard hitting as the 7.62x54R so you will not lose out on bullet weights and performance. How ever you are going to pay a little bit more for off the shelf .303 ammo. As with the 7.62x54R the .303 can be reloaded if it is Boxer primed but most mil-surplus .303 is burdened primed, this seems to be an old standard for European ammo.
The bullet diameter for the 7.62x54R and the British .303 is actually .311 as apposed to the 30 calibers of America, which are .308. How ever if one is strapped for bullets for reloading these cartridges you can use the common .30 caliber bullets and they will work well for hunting.
Then we have in the bargain basement rifles the popular and desirable German K98 and its other foreign variants. Mostly chambered in the 8mm Mauser, I still find some German Mausers at the gun shop running around $260. These in this price range will be a little rough but still shoot able. The ammo for the 8mm Mauser is a tad but more then the 7.62x54R but one hell of a round for deer.
All of these listed weapons can be sportarized to fit ones desired looks, but I donít change the looks of my Mil-surplus because I like them just the way they are and hunting with one is a lot of fun. So when you bring down that Boon and Crocket record Buck with an old Mosin Nagant and people want to know what you used to kill it with, hold your head high and show them.
Do not expect a long-range accurate target rifle out of one of these; many of them are well warn. Make sure when you do buy one to check the bore for excessive ware. If you can see a defining lands and groves in the barrel with no pitting then you may have a fair accurate weapon. If the barrel looks like it could be mistaken for a smooth bore Musket I would not buy it.
Well done, my friend.
good read. thanks.
great post very informational especially for people like me who are just getting into guns i read your entire post with wikipedia open =) and afterwards i checked out your blog and im impressed consider it bookmarked
good advice thanks
Excellent reading opaww. I agree with you in all respects. My hunting rifle battery is now complete. I bought two 700 MilSpec rifles one in .223 and the other in .300 WM and along with my M1As I am happy. In the same respect, they are all excellent for the range and target shooting.
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