Skip to comments.Best beginner rifle (Vanity)
Posted on 10/18/2003 11:37:40 AM PDT by dogbyte12
I am about to finally leave the urban jungle of Los Angeles and move down to both Louisiana and South Carolina. While I do fish out here, I have only gone hunting a few times with borrowed equipment.
I am interested in starting to hunt, and would love for any freepers to give me recommendations on a good beginner rifle, something that isn't so pricey, but reliable, as well as any other gear that I will need as a beginner.
I am not a stranger to handguns, or to military rifles, I qualified expert on both a .45 and an M16, so I am not starting from scratch, but I am looking for a rifle for deer hunting basically that will not set me back too much money, yet still be a decent value. I plan to not spend that much money so it can be economical. I do know how to fabricate a carcass, and would love to hunt for meat, without the cost of hunting making it more expensive than going to the supermarket.
Any help in this regard, web sites, consumer reports, etc, would be much appreciated. Thanks all.
Of course, you probably won't go wrong with any used, name-brand rifle so long as it was not abused. Avoid older Rugers (bad barrels), but the newer ones are great.
As a general rule, you are looking a three things in a rifle:
1) It fits you. It should balence well, and feel steady in your hands. It should place your eye right in line with your sights or scope when you aim it. The trigger reach should be correct for you, and the safety should be in a handy place.
2) The trigger must break cleanly. Note that some triggers (such as the Rem 700) can be inexpensivly adjusted by any good gunsmith.
3) The saftey and sling swivels on a hunting arm must be silent.
If you want a good book on the topic, try Cooper's Art Of The Rifle.
John Ross (of "Unexpected Consequences") has some advice I think is really good, for those who've never really done much shooting: http://www.john-ross.net/newbies.htm
Go to a real gunshop.
Buy a Ruger 10/22 rifle with twenty spare magazines (they'll have to order them) and a Smith & Wesson .22 revolver. There are several models of S&W .22s; go to a gun shop and handle them all. Get the one that feels best in your hand. If you have large or small hands, ask the salesman about aftermarket grips (I like the wooden Hogue Monogrip) and try them out.
Buy one full case (Five THOUSAND rounds) of .22 long rifle ammo. Make sure you get ammo with 40 grain PLATED bullets--some of the cheapest promo ammo is unplated and will lead-foul your barrel.
Get hearing and eye protection, and some good gun lube, like Break-Free CLP.
All the above stuff should cost you about $1000.
Find an outdoor spot with a hillside where you can safely and legally shoot.
Find someone who is known as a competent and safe shooter to help you get started and keep you from learning bad habits, like putting your finger in the triggerguard when you pick up the gun. Call the local NRA office for a list of certified instructors.
Get an array of ecologically-sound targets that will move or break when hit. I like Ritz crackers because they're cheap, biodegradable, and break when hit. Acorns and pinecones are good, too. So are scrap chunks of pine 2x2s and 2x4s.
On a weeknight, while watching television, load all 20 of the Ruger rifle magazines. They hold ten rounds each. On Saturday or Sunday, shoot one carton (500 rounds) through the rifle and another carton through the pistol, always at targets that do something (like break or hop) when you hit them. Switch between the guns every 20-50 rounds. If you start in the morning, you will finish by late afternoon. If you prefer, shoot 250 rounds through each gun on Saturday and then again on Sunday. If you can't go through 500 rounds before lunch, you're not trying.
Place your targets no farther than fifteen feet away for the rifle, eight feet for the revolver. When you get so you never miss a fist-sized target at this range, don't change the distance, change the speed. See how quickly you can hit ten or six targets. If you start missing, slow down a little. After you've shot half your quota, take some more deliberate shots at 30-50 feet. Notice how the bullet hits in a different spot at different distances. Go back to closer targets. NOTE: DO NOT always cock the revolver to shoot it; pull the trigger double action at least half the time. It is definitely harder to shoot accurately this way, but this is how you will be shooting a revolver in a defensive situation with a close-in assailant, so this is the way you want to do a lot of your practice.
Repeat the above exercise on the next four weekends.
In one month you will almost certainly be several orders of magnitude more proficient than you were before you walked into the gunshop, and a better shot than a sizable fraction of the police officers in this country.
If, after the first week or two, you find this effort a chore, take your guns, spare magazines, and remaining ammo back to the gunshop. You will lose about $250.
If you finish the month excited about your newly earned skills, looking forward to your next shooting outing, and needing more ammo, congratulations. You are now a member of the gun culture. Revise your budget to include $20-$400 per month for ammunition, depending on how much of it is low-cost .22s and how much is more expensive calibers. You are now ready to include more powerful centerfire arms appropriate for defense in your shooting education.
So, the rifle doesn't have to be too utilitarian. If I get really into it, then I will want to buy something more expensive.
To shoot anything, anywhere, anytime and through any obstruction!
I do think I would go ahead and get a really clean one even if it costs more. For a little more you could get one of the best high powered rifles ever made, a military mauser.
I have seen some like new Yugoslavian ones for under $120. If you are lucky enough to find a good Swedish Mauser it is perhaps the best combo of accuracy and hunting caliber. They were once plentiful but are getting scarce because so many realize just how good they are. The only downside is the 6.5 ammo is not available at every Wal-Mart but is still not that hard to find.
As others have pointed out, a good .22 rifle is something you just about can't live without in the country. They are simply the single best and most useful gun you can own except for possiby a .22 pistol.
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