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I have a friend who developed an interest in deer hunting last season and who came to me asking “what’s a good, cheap, starter rifle and what caliber should I use”. Well, I’m no deer hunter; my firearms interest is milsurp and trap shooting. When I was a deer hunter, 30 years ago, all I ever used was a Marlin lever gun in 30/30 or 35 REM, so, I was at a loss for anything to tell him. Figured I’d ask around though, and try to help my buddy out.

He figures his longest shot on the property he hunts is ~200 yards. He wants to buy something new because he doesn’t trust used things, but also something cheap, in case he loses interest. He would like a scoped rifle, bolt action, magazine feed, and in a common caliber. I know, he’s not asking for much, is he.

And before anyone asks “what rifle did he use last year?”. All I know is it was some flavor of 270 that he borrowed off the woman he was dating at the time. But that’s not a thing anymore. It has to be tough on a guy to be in his 40’s and back in dating pool. I don’t think I would have the strength to even try that again. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
 

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I have a friend who developed an interest in deer hunting last season and who came to me asking “what’s a good, cheap, starter rifle and what caliber should I use”. Well, I’m no deer hunter; my firearms interest is milsurp and trap shooting. When I was a deer hunter, 30 years ago, all I ever used was a Marlin lever gun in 30/30 or 35 REM, so, I was at a loss for anything to tell him. Figured I’d ask around though, and try to help my buddy out.

He figures his longest shot on the property he hunts is ~200 yards. He wants to buy something new because he doesn’t trust used things, but also something cheap, in case he loses interest. He would like a scoped rifle, bolt action, magazine feed, and in a common caliber. I know, he’s not asking for much, is he.

And before anyone asks “what rifle did he use last year?”. All I know is it was some flavor of 270 that he borrowed off the woman he was dating at the time. But that’s not a thing anymore. It has to be tough on a guy to be in his 40’s and back in dating pool. I don’t think I would have the strength to even try that again. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
The Ruger American is a decent deer gun from what I've heard about it. Several available calibers and models. Mid $500 to $800 or so. Scope would be another $200+

 

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Yeah, if he's wanting a bolt action repeater on a budget, I'd go with Ruger, Savage or T/C.
Probably .270, .308 or .30-06 for caliber.
Years ago, when I worked for Walmart sporting goods, we sold a Remington 700 ADL Synthetic, with a budget scope for not much money, but I don't know if they offer that anymore.
 

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308 is fairly easy to find ammo for these days and is a great caliber. 6.5cm is a great round as well but harder to find hunting ammo for.
Savage axis or Ruger would be great for what he wants. Tell him he doesn’t need a magazine fed bolt action and his options would be greater and easier to find.
 

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Savage Axis, Ruger American, Mossberg Patriot. All can be had for $400 or less usually. I'd opt for a .308 as it's good for the ranges he would be shooting at. Good in the brush, good at 200. Ammo is widely available in .308 and can be found at most shops regularly too. While .30-06 and .270 are still good staples, finding ammunition for them in the current climate can be tougher but it's not impossible to find.
 

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The Savage rifles that used to be sold as a package deal, ie with a scope, at Walmart are a bargain for someone who wants an inexpensive entry into deer hunting. The more common the caliber the better, down here in MS .243, .270, .308 would be fine, any of them would be all that your friend needs if he is hunting is the little thin-skinned white tail deer. If he plans to expand into boar hunting or longer shots .308, but honestly a .270 will do most anything in North America. I think the Savage rifles were 110 series? I remember those were cheap, but I, like you Chris am mainly focused on MilSurp when it comes to rifles and haven't paid much attention to hunting rifles in decades. When I do need to take care of a varmint such as a coyote or hog the Swede is my go-to rifle. The last deer I have taken since around 1998 or so all fell to a Swede, the last one at 210 yards. Dropped in his tracks. 6.5x55 is a wonderful caliber.
 

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Yeah, if he's wanting a bolt action repeater on a budget, I'd go with Ruger, Savage or T/C.
Probably .270, .308 or .30-06 for caliber.
Years ago, when I worked for Walmart sporting goods, we sold a Remington 700 ADL Synthetic, with a budget scope for not much money, but I don't know if they offer that anymore.
I don’t think Remington has started up production under the new owners yet, so finding one of those new might be a challenge at a big box store. Places like vans probably still have pallets of them. We had the same setup when I was at academy and no one realized it. They wound up going on clearance for an ungodly low price and got bought up super quick after that. The scopes were trash, but for the same price as the same rifle without a scope or $150ish less on clearance, you couldn’t beat it.
 

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What about this Mossberg?


Saw the same rifle at WM in Madison this AM for $378.
Personally I like the Patriot. They are smooth operating bolts, accuracy has been good in my experiences with them, and they are usually about a half pound lighter than their competition.
 

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Savage Axis II XP with accu-trigger is going to be a great low buck rifle that comes with an entry grade scope mounted already. If he wants it to carry further into the future to hunt anything in the states, 30-06 would be hard to beat. 308 will handle most anything, but the old -06 does better when in 200+ grain territory.

If he doesn’t intend to drag the same rifle around for larger elk hunts and such, the same rifle series can be had in the flat shooting and popular 6.5 Creedmoor. Very low recoil and excellent selection of bullet styles. With proper use, you could also take elk with it. Just pair the right bullet with ethical placement and it will do the rest. Full blown MSRP is around $500. Very affordable and a great entry rifle that holds its own against many higher priced competitors.
 

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I know it doesn't meet the bolt-action parameter, but I'd recommend an AR in 6.5 grendel. Buy a lower from PSA and an upper from PSA or BCA. It'd be pretty inexpensive.
 
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I have a 223 Axis. Have had for several years. The stock (was very flemsy). Mine did not have the accu trigger.
I think most have it now.... I'm not sure what the later model stocks are.
The stock was the worst part, I finally traded out and put on a Boyds stock.
With a spring job on the the trigger, and a stiffer stock, it does ok..
 
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