Help Me Decide


Old 01-10-10, 04:18 PM
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Help Me Decide

I have always been a target shooter and varmit hunter. My wife is now starting to want deer venison and we often have deer in our open yard and forest. Shots on my property would primarily be less than 70 yards. I'm not interested in trophy hunting but just to get one or to medium sized deer a year for food. I like to target shoot so ammunition cost is an issue and being a target shooter I like to shoot so recoil is becoming a bigger issue for me. I no longer reload so I'll be purchasing factory ammo. I am keeping the guns I currently own out of the picture so I need your help picking my next cartridge.

I started out thinking .308. The ammo is affordable in quantity but there are limited loads commercially available with most in the 150-165 grain weight range so not much use for varmit hunting and the .308 is not particularly flat shooting and heavier recoil than I want in a bolt action for target shooting.

One friend is talking up the .270 but I've already gotten rid of my .30-06 because I did not like the recoil for target shooting. .270 has the benefit of reduced recoil loads, long range varmit loads and full power loads are pretty flat shooting though the heavier bullet weight has me concerned about it's use for varmit. Ammunition is certainly affordable for hunting but too expensive for a day at the range.

A "guy" in a local gun store put forward the .25-06 which was a consideration until I saw the price of ammo and the limited factory loads available.

.243 provides decent energy for less than perfect shots especially for the short range shots I might make on deer. It also has many loads commercially available from light varmit loads to larger medium game bullets. The biggest problem for me is the price of commercial ammo.

.22/250 was a consideration. It has more power than the .223 and is a great varmit cartridge but it is similar enough to the 5.56 that I can't justify the extra ammo cost and surprisingly most factory loads focus on the varmit end with few heavier bullet options.

.223/5.56 is an option for medium sized white tail at my short ranges especially with the right bullet. Ammo is cheap an there are a large number of commercial loadings available. Righ now it is my favorite since 95% of the guns use will be varmit and target shooting but I'm having a hard time thinking the .223 is enough for deer sized game.

.17hmr... I actually had someone suggest it.
Old 01-10-10, 06:53 PM
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I was going to suggest (at 70 yards) a 45.70, but you don't like recoil. I have a friend who does what you do and he likes his .270. I think you will find ammo at a premium for a while, no matter what the caliber.
Old 01-11-10, 10:25 AM
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Well...not a big hunter any more...but at the ranges you are talking about why not a nice cheap lever 30-30? Even with a scope you can probably find them for a couple of hundred if you look a bit. I know...not a target rifle..but you probably already have several of those. With the new poly tipped ammo..the velocity and range of the 30-30 has gotten much better. 70 yds should be pretty easy even with open sights...or a low power LER scope if that's your pref.

You may want to check if .223 is even legal for deer in your area...some places it might not be.

.243 would prob be my next choice....hunting of course...not sure about using it for target. about a Handi-rifle? Inexpensive..interchangeable barrels?

Sure..single shot..but you really shouldn't need more...plenty of animals have been taken with singles.

I think .308 or .270 (or anything in that area) is just overkill for the ranges you mentioned.

Any true target rifle will of course function to hunt...but it will cost more and prob require re-sighting when switching back and forth. And you are talking about either switching scopes or using a variable...again...more complication.

Old 01-11-10, 10:56 AM
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Hard to mix varmint and deer and keep the ammo price down. Deer hunting alone, a box of ammo will go many years. I have been watching for a deal on a 243/20 gauge o/u, kind of a "bring home something" gun. I always seem to run into birds just sitting there when I'm deer hunting. Several people I know use the 243 and love it out to 100 yards plus a bit. 30x30 would also be an option and ammo is everywhere.

The interchangeable barrels, say a 243 and a 223, is also a good idea and yes, one shot at that distance should be all you need. One in our group tried a 223 and we were never able to chase down any of those he hit. Lost three.

Old 01-11-10, 11:28 AM
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How about 7.62x39? It is a good round (only the 2nd most popular in the world) with plenty of punch. FMJ Ammo for target shooting is fairly cheap. You would just need some soft point for hunting. You could pick up an SKS for less than $200. It also has a low recoil and would be darn fun too!

My first suggestion was going to have be the 30-.06 since that cartage will take down anything in the US.
Second would be the .270
Third is the .243
Forth is the .308

You have to have the right tool to do the job correctly and not one tool does everything 100%. Sure you can use an adjustable wrench to loosen a nut but a socket does a better job. The same can be said for a rifle. Sure you can kill a varmint with a deer gun and deer with a well placed shot from a varmint gun but each one does not do the best job. I would not use a .223 or 5.56 for big game. It just became legal in MN and I have 2 of them but again, right tool for the job.

To address the recoil factor I suggest a couple of things. First, consider a semi auto rifle. (see SKS above) The action will absorb quite a bit of recoil and will still be plenty accurate.
Second, look into the Remington Managed Recoil ammo. It is not any more expensive than "standard" ammo and has less recoil. I shot some 30-30 through my FiL's contender pistol and found it quite manageable compared with standard 30-30 ammo which you could barley hold.
Old 01-20-10, 09:26 AM
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Like many previous posters said it will be hard to get both a hunting and varmint gun and still be low cost to shoot.

Short range hunting: use a modern muzzle loader or a shotgun, for the ranges you are talking. Very cheap ammo. And get earlier and extended seasons to hunt. Check your local regulations.

Hunting/varmit, going to be tough to beat a 25-06, 243 or a 7mm-08

Let us know what you finally decide

Old 01-20-10, 10:31 AM
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I hunt all the time, all year round. i have a great predetor control program. I am also big deer hunter, elk hunter, bird hunter, I do it all. From over 50 years of heavy hunting, I have all the rifles, but the one I like the most is the bolt action 22-250. You can hunt everything from varmits to elephants. Just buy the appropriate box of shells. Ammo is relatively inexpensive. It is light, no kick, open sights or scope your choice. I have never shot a deer at 70 yards. Most of my shots at anything are 150 yards or more. Deer usually running shots at 250 yards or more. The 22-250 with the deer load brings them right down. Good luck. Its almost light goose season, lets go hunting.
Old 01-20-10, 10:41 AM
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I have firmed up my thinking a bit and realized that I can not get what I want in one gun or caliber. I have picked up a 26" bull barrel in .223 for inexpensive varmint hunting and target practice. It's a bit beast at almost 10.5 lbs with my scope mounted but perfect for the range or setting up a varmint bench. But, I would not want to lug it up & down mountains and through the bush all day.

I'm still not 100% decided on my hunting gun but I am leaning towards a .270 since it seems to offer the most flexibility from reduced recoil loads up to Hornady Superperformance puting out just shy of 3'000lbs of energy. I have never owned a "premium" gun so I'm toying with the idea of saving up and getting something really nice but having a hard time knowing that I like to use my guns and I tend to head out in the snow & rain scraping my gun along with me through the bush.

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