Looking for recommendations for a non .22 bolt action rifle.
May 11, 2017 5:45 PM   Subscribe

A couple of friends want to make weekend shooting a more regular thing and I'm looking for an inexpensive bolt action rifle to go with them.

I have some hands-on experience with guns but nothing serious for a while.

I do know some bullet points of what I'm looking for.

-Cheap to shoot and not a .22. I've shot .22 before and it just wasn't an enjoyable experience. Plus the others are shooting a little more seriously than .22 and I'd like to at least be at their level equipment wise.

-Bolt action and relatively easy to maintain.

-Relatively inexpensive. My ceiling is probably $300.

-Use case is target shooting but likely actual hunting in the future.

-Can handle basic optics. I don't really want to screw with electronics and I'm happy with iron sights for a while but I want something I can put glass on down the road.

I had been interested in the Mosin-Nagant but after doing some more research it seems like it fails the "cheap to shoot" test. Despite that, I've handled one before and I really liked how it felt.
posted by Socinus to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total)
Hunting WHAT?

How big are your friends going, caliber-wise?
posted by uberchet at 5:59 PM on May 11, 2017

Use the unfortunately named grabagun.com for prices. The venerable Remington 870 series has several calibers. To figure out cost effective rounds use ammgrab.com (jeez lots of grabbing) and search by round. There are many options. You can get into stuff like 30 06 (or however you type aught) for like 25 cents a round....
posted by chasles at 6:03 PM on May 11, 2017

I was just going to recommend the Mosin-Nagant. What are your cheap to shoot requirements?
posted by corb at 6:17 PM on May 11, 2017

Another vote for the Mosin. You can get 1000 rounds for about 320. I've seen the rifles around 200. Tons of 30-06 rifles out there just above 300.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:30 PM on May 11, 2017

If you are shooting for fun, as compared to shooting to humanely kill an animal, I'd go with a smaller, lower-recoil caliber like .223. It's cheap to shoot, doesn't bruise your shoulder, and is just plain more fun than the heavy stuff. The competition among gun manufacturers is intense and it's hard to go wrong with a bolt action hunting rifle in a standard caliber offering from a major company like Ruger, Savage, etc. They all have their quirks and pluses/minuses (eg, Savage guns tend to be ugly, but with great triggers), but like modern sedans, very few are terrible.

Wood stocks are prettier (and have a nice weight/recoil dampening ratio), while synthetic stocks are great if you will be out in the rain. If you have strong aesthetic feelings, then get what you love, but both work fine. I would definitely avoid anything in a weird caliber or from a minor manufacturer.

The other thing is that if you buy used and don't overpay, then you can sell it later for about the same money. Gun stores are full of scoped, bolt-action hunting rifles that have been used very little; you could almost pick one up at random and be assured of an ok result. I wouldn't buy new unless you are sure of what you want, or you have a friend who has an FFL and is cutting you a steal of a deal.

Do please think about safety of storage, even if you don't have kids of your own. You never know when someone will bring over a kid. Have a way to lock up the gun, and preferably keep the ammunition separately locked.

The venerable Remington 870 series has several calibers.

The Remington 870 is a line of pump-action shotguns. Maybe you are thinking of the Remington 700?
posted by Dip Flash at 6:53 PM on May 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

Well if you aren't going for the moose nugget then I'd look for something in either .308 or .223 just because ammo will be cheap and plentiful. Savage Axis rifles are cheap here in Canuckistan and I assume in the USA too.

You might have to re-calibrate your cheap to shoot meter, because nothing is gonna be as cheap as .22LR except an air rifle.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:06 PM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I should have mentioned that the nugget is actually pretty darn cheap to shoot but optics will not be as simple an affair as a typical rifle.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:07 PM on May 11, 2017

There is a bigger selection of calibers in your price range if you go break-action. I know from shotguns you can get really fast at reloading. Plus you can clack it closed with a flick of the wrist and people think you are a bad ass.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:50 PM on May 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's been several years since I shopped for a gun, but I was under the impression that a Mosin was about the cheapest to shoot center fire gun out there these days.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:54 PM on May 11, 2017

Gun stores are full of scoped, bolt-action hunting rifles that have been used very little; you could almost pick one up at random and be assured of an ok result

If you are an average size, right handed, dude. If not go to a gun store, even Cabelas, talk to someone knowledgable and buy a gun with a stock that won't destroy your shoulder/ cheekbone.

People will tell you that you can modify a gun easily, that stock extenders work great and that if the gun is hurting you you're doing it wrong. All of those people are average sized right handed dudes. If you're not, ignore them.
posted by fshgrl at 9:57 PM on May 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

223 if you are not going to hunt, 308 if you are. A Mosin handles like telephone pole, kicks like a mule and is hard to find hunting ammo for (I say this as someone who owns a variety of WWI era military rifles). Savages have a reputation for the most accuracy per dollar, but I would double your budget and get a Tikka.
posted by 445supermag at 9:58 PM on May 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

In the past few years, just about every gun manufacturer has come out with a line of inexpensive rifles that are very accurate. Savage Axis, Ruger American Rifle, etc. You can get a new rifle within your budget if you wait for a good sale. You can probably find a used one for less. The advice I've seen is don't get a scope for under $250-300.

Get some idea from your friends about what kind of target shooting they do. It might affect what you need in terms of caliber and magazine capacity.

For hunting, you want a rifle suited to the size game you are after. You don't want a .308 for squirrel and you don't want a .17 HMR for deer.

I've seen YouTube videos in which very experienced shooters complain about the recoil of a .308. This surprises me a bit because I trained with a M-14 in the Army back in the day and didn't much worry about the recoil. (But I was young, and it was winter and we were very bundled up....) I'd recommend a lighter caliber for a beginner.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:02 AM on May 12, 2017

All this and no love for the 270 ? It's a common deer round in my area.
posted by k5.user at 6:22 AM on May 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe you are thinking of the Remington 700?

i was indeed. shopping for both and crossed the part numbers. the 700 series has dozens of options in bolt action with scopes provided or with a rail.
posted by chasles at 12:36 PM on May 17, 2017

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