So, empty nesting and my wife decides she is going to learn to hunt. She has a Marlin 60 and a 783 and loves both and has listened and followed directions well out to 100 yards, we are going to try a different range soon for further and varied distances. All is great on that front. She has also gotten better at the Remington 870 Magnum Express 20 Gauge. But, all 3 are smaller rifles, compact, youth models. I find them all too short.
She has tried my Lever 30-30, 6.5CM Bolt, Pump 12 Gauge, as well as Breech loading 410 and 20 Gauge, the 30-30 and 12 Guage she doesn't like. She likes the 6.5 though, and it is a full length rifle that my 6'2" frame enjoys.
This fall we have a new place to hunt, *distances will range from 35 yards to 384 yards. Now, I personally try and stay under 300, but I have taken game further. Her, time will tell how confident she feels. So, deer rifles…..
Oh, and the important part, she has set her budget around $500 for everything. Originally she wanted $250 and I had her go to Bass Pro with me (higher prices to lessen the final sticker shock) and she doubled it.
What would you recommend? She like "older looking" wood and blued metal. But she also has a turquoise and stainless 9mm that she calls pretty. So, what caliber and package?
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For most of my life i was somewhat of a gun snob. It had to be a control round feed gun. It was either a Winchester model 70 or a custom 98 mauser. Then back when Savage came out with the Stevens 200 I bought one for a truck gun. One that would be like a hammer in a tractor tool box. It could rattle around behind the seat in my truck but would be there when a coyote showed itself. That Steven's killed 8 coyotes the first year it was behind the seat. It wore a $29 Tasco 3x9 scope. That gun changed my mind on cheap guns.
The Stevens 200 was the first of the el cheapo rifles and as technology and the economy changed so did the market. The next thing you know every manufacturer was making an entry level gun. It was a few years back and on another forum that I bought five different entry level guns. A Ruger American, Remington 783, Mossberg Patriot, Savage Axis and a Thompson Center Compass. All were in 243 which is my all time favorite cartridge. I played with all of them the entire spring and summer and shot various loads through all of them. What I discovered is that I would not be afraid to go on a $10,000 dollar hunt with any of them. Some of them had flimsy stocks and while they didn't effect the accuracy they just didn't feel right in my big paw. In the end they are all very capable hunting tools. The one that stood out to me and that I have fallen in love with (I now have three of them) is the Thompson Center Compass.
My three are in 223, 243 and 7mm-08. I bought the 243 and 7mm-08 when TC had a rebate going on them. I paid $299 each and had a $75 rebate. You can't even buy a good BB gun for $225. I like the 7mm08 so much and have enough confidence in it that I put a Zeiss scope on it. Who does that? I have had that scope for 10 years in anticipation of a custom project that never got off the ground! I am no longer capable of working 70 hours a week splicing fiber optic cable and will be retiring in exactly one year from the end of this day. I am becoming very money conscious these days and the TC Compass while being a financial compromise sure doesn't appear to be quality compromise when it comes to game killing ability.
The one feature that I have always hated about most push feed guns is that fact that their safeties do not block the firing pin. Rather they simply prevent the trigger from being pulled! The only one on the above list with a firing pin locking safety is the TC. It's safety is a three position swing safety on the back of the bolt of the same design as the Winchester model 70.
My favorite is the TC but I won't diss on any of the others as they will all kill game. They all will shoot sub MOA with the right load but the one gun on that list that would shoot sub MOA with any load was the 783. A bore scope would defy that happening on that rifle as it looked like it had to be last barrel in the lot done with that broach before throwing the broach away and retooling. I had zero expectations for that rifle after examining the bore prior to the first round being fired. I was simply wiping out the factory oil prior to heading to the range and noticed how the patch was hanging up or catching as it was pushed down the bore. When I pulled out the bolt and locked at the light bulb through the bore there were fuzzies hanging off of the rifling from that patch for the length of the bore. However at the range it out shot a $2,000 Remington 40X. That cheap Remington 783 with it's favorite load of IMR 8208 XBR would put 3 Hornady 65 grain Vaxes into a nice half inch cluster every time if I didn't screw it up. I gave that rifle to a young man who painted it flat white and has killed oodles of coyotes with it over the last 5 years.
I have killed deer and antelope for years using a 243 and have never felt under gunned! I will take the 7mm-08 black bear hunting out west as soon as the retirement thing is real.
Sorry that I got long winded but now you have my 2 cents worth on the matter.