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View Full Version : thinking about a bolt gun - what caliber?


fredridge
10-04-2013, 10:13 PM
I have been thinking about getting on before the end of the year, you know ;)

I have been limiting myself to 22lr, 9mm and .223 so far and that works for everything I do. but I am thinking if I get a bolt gun I should get a heavier caliber.

I don't really hunt, but would be open to it. I was thinking something for medium size game. I have some friends who deer hunt.

not worried about ammo cost too much as would be low shot count.

when I do shoot 600yds at Angeles would probably be my max.

I am thinking under $700 without optics

I know 308 & 30.06 are common, but know there are a lot of other choices and don't know much about any of them.

thanks

killshot44
10-04-2013, 10:24 PM
See www.accurateshooter.com and Cartridge Guide if you handload.

Get a .243/.308 if you don't.

XVIga_Rob
10-04-2013, 10:30 PM
Sounds like a nice .243 would suit you fine. I own a couple Browning's (.270 & .30-06) and love them, but when I look at .243's, I seem to really like the Tika T3 walnut & stainless. Good Luck with your decission

Gts408
10-04-2013, 10:53 PM
I say look up the .243, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm reg mag, 7mm wsm. After that I would go with the 300WM. All these will take you to 600yd, and if you decided to go farther, it will do that too. But a 308 will do everything you want. . But have fun picking. But I went with a 7mm rem mag. I wanted some different from a 308.

devster55
10-04-2013, 11:39 PM
I really love my weatherby 7mm rem mag. That is one gun I feel like I can reach out and touch anything with. I load a 140GR nosler with 65.5 GR of RL 19 which I believe is flying at 3350. At 150 yards I shot a 3 shot group on a dime at sac valley. I was very impressed.

jetman624
10-04-2013, 11:58 PM
Great info here:

http://www.caprc.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=34

Exodus343
10-05-2013, 12:01 AM
are you considering reloading?

308, 6.5 CM are my suggestions

308 is definitely the way to go, great ammo selection

1859sharps
10-05-2013, 7:49 AM
If the greatest distance you plan to shoot is 600 yards, and if you are super honest about maybe hunting which leads to .... probably won't ever really do it for simplicity a bolt action in 223 with at least a 1 in 9 twist would not be a bad choice. it would save you money in all kinds of ways from cleaning supplies to reloading components and supplies...assuming you reload. if you don't reload, the same ammo you buy for your current 223 gun would work just fine.

Just throwing it out there as food for thought.

IF on the other hand, you really do think there is a real chance you would go hunting, and you would actually go if such a opportunity came up. Or you simply want to try a larger caliber, 308 isn't a bad place to start.

.243, the 6.5mm options that fit a short action, 7mm-08 all good choices to consider.

If I wasn't already invested in the calibers I am, I might have given the 6.5mm options a second look.

Hairball
10-05-2013, 7:57 AM
Go with the 30-06 as you "may" hunt with it and rarely shoot it as you have indicated. You can find 06 rounds just about anyplace you may travel to hunt and the round is good for just about everything in the states. Besides, every good firearms collection should have at least one 06. JMHO

Sheepdog1968
10-05-2013, 8:31 AM
Per your post, 308 and 30-06 are common calibers and common as all can be. These are great versatile calibers. Direction I would go with a slight leaning to 308.

edgerly779
10-05-2013, 8:54 AM
Stay with a common caliber so that ammo is not going to kill you. No magnum anything no wildcats . 270 win/ .308/ >243 but that is light to me. >308 will take most north american big game. If you are deadly accurate then all big game. I shoot calibers from 22lr to .338 lapua. If you get into handloading you can save money and tailor your loads to your disciplines, hunting/ target/plinking match/ silhouette/ etc.

TMB 1
10-05-2013, 9:00 AM
I say get a 30-06. Like Hairball says every collection should have a 30-06, plus if you decide to get something historical like 1903 Springfield, 03A3, 1917 Enfield or M1 Garand in the future you'll already have ammo.

'ol shooter
10-05-2013, 9:17 AM
I built a Savage Varmint action in .260 Rem., and you can switch calibers easily, including different case bases, just by changing out the front of the bolt, and the barrel. Any short action cartridge will work.

smittty
10-05-2013, 9:53 AM
If the greatest distance you plan to shoot is 600 yards, and if you are super honest about maybe hunting which leads to .... probably won't ever really do it for simplicity a bolt action in 223 with at least a 1 in 9 twist would not be a bad choice. it would save you money in all kinds of ways from cleaning supplies to reloading components and supplies...assuming you reload. if you don't reload, the same ammo you buy for your current 223 gun would work just fine.

Just throwing it out there as food for thought.

IF on the other hand, you really do think there is a real chance you would go hunting, and you would actually go if such a opportunity came up. Or you simply want to try a larger caliber, 308 isn't a bad place to start.

.243, the 6.5mm options that fit a short action, 7mm-08 all good choices to consider.

If I wasn't already invested in the calibers I am, I might have given the 6.5mm options a second look.

I agree mostly, I believe if you don't already hunt there is a very small likelihood that you will in the future. For deer and pigs in California the 223 will do the job. When choosing a rifle that you would hunt with consider its weight because if it's over 9 lbs (with scope) you won't want to carry it hunting.

I don't hunt anymore but I think someday I might again. If I do it would deer or pigs. For this my target rifle which is the MVP Predator is perfectly suited for it.

CelticMonster
10-05-2013, 9:59 AM
Another +1 for the .308. It's a great all around caliber.

robnletti
10-05-2013, 10:42 AM
I think your decision will hinge on how much recoil you are willing to endure, and if you are truly serious about giving hunting a try. I have bolt action rifles in .243, .240 Weatherby Mag, 6.5x55 Swedish, .270, and 7mm Rem Mag. I don't hunt, and probably never will, but the reason I have a 7mm Rem Mag is because I love how accurate it is at long distance. The recoil is at the upper limit of what I am willing to endure, and I only shoot maybe 5-10 rounds each range trip. My uncle has a .30-06 that I like, and the recoil is pretty similar to the 7mm Rem Mag. He also has a 375 H&H Magnum - I fired one shot and said that's not for me!

I think you also need to consider ammo cost and availability. I love my .240 Weatherby Mag, but ammo is very costly and hard to find. From my experience, the .270 and .30-06 are the easiest to find - almost every Walmart has them in stock and for a reasonable price. It used to be that .243 was readily available, but that has changed recently. If you really don't plan on shooting the bolt action often, this won't matter as much.

I would suggest that you try some different calibers before you buy. See what your friends have, and if you go to some of the Calguns shoots, most Calgunners are willing to let you fire off a couple of rounds.

ExtremeX
10-05-2013, 12:16 PM
I have a .308 for target use, but sometimes I wish I went straight into one of the 6mm or 6.5mm variants or something like a 7mm-08

.308 is still fun, plenty of factory options for ammo, but there is so much out there to take advantage of especially if you are a hand loader.

Timberwolf
10-05-2013, 12:22 PM
I'd go with a .308. Its a very accurate round, easy on the shoulder, and accurate as hell. It'll drop almost anything in North America with the right bullet selection and ammo is available in even the most remote of places (well normally).

Divernhunter
10-05-2013, 12:33 PM
308 because you will be able to get ammo anywhere plus you will be able to get surplus ammo for plinking

If you want something else a 260Rem or 7mm-08 would be excellent choices

Put a Leupold 3X9X40 or 3.5X10X40 or 4.5X14X40 scope on it and you are set for life.
As far as brand of rifle: Tikka T-3 Lite with a replacement limbsaver recoil pad or Weatherby Vanguard or a Savage or a Mosberg or even a Rem/Win/Ruger

But buy what FITS YOU and you like, not what someone else says is best ot what they want to push.

Garyson1311
10-05-2013, 1:08 PM
I love the 30-06. Its an extremely versatile cartridge with many available bullet weights and types. Ammo is typically available for it (Even now), and it has the guts to drop pretty much anything in North America. It has the ability to send the mail as far as you need to send it, especially in a hunting situation. It does however, have some kick, which is a side effect of the previously mentioned guts. IMO, theres a reason why the 30-06 is still one of the most popular rifle cartridges after all these years and thats because it simply works.

JamesY
10-05-2013, 1:12 PM
260 Rem gets my vote too

Simi-Surfer
10-05-2013, 1:17 PM
30-06, you can find rounds just about anywhere around the US. Also can hunt with varying cartridge grains.

smittty
10-05-2013, 1:19 PM
Are you just putting holes in paper or do you need to kill something?

These caliber discussions get out of hand quickly. Think about what you needs/wants really are. Getting a caliber heavier than you need is just foolish.

ExtremeX
10-05-2013, 1:32 PM
Here is something worth watching if you are new to cartridge selection…

FtlwoNCNnFA

BRANCHER
10-05-2013, 1:46 PM
308 is good all around. Vey common, recoil is manageable, great to 600-800. A lot of great choices. I prefer Remington but savage and others make good rifles as well. Lots of upgrades on remington. I usually recommend the R5 mil spec. 99% are tac drivers out of box. I also have 700P. Heavy barrels stay consistent as you shoot more. Not really hunting rifles though. Both of those also come in 223. Nice to get a pair. Buy at least Leupold VX-3 LR 6.5x20 or 8.5x25 for glass. Spend for better glass. Night force makes great glass too. You can cry once... Or go the other route.

rm1911
10-05-2013, 1:48 PM
30-06. End of discussion.

Everything it does it does really well. Anything one round or another has over it is a minimal advantage anyways. No round enjoys as many strengths.

Ammo availability and selection. Reloading potential. Accuracy. Variety of actions. Plus it's easy in barrels.

What I'd also recommend is learn to cast or find a good source of cast bullets. And get trail boss powder. (Red dot or unique are also good). And have fun shooting reduced loads. Nothing has been as much fun as 10-12gr unique under a cast lead bullet. Or 15-17 gr trail boss under a 150fmj. Fun to be at a range and bring out he '06 and get looks when it goes pop like a 22.

shoebox56
10-05-2013, 1:49 PM
OP, if you're considering reloading, .223 and .308 is the better choices.

I range scrounge for brass, and .223 and .308 is more plentiful.

Just something to think about, particularly if you want to target practice more.

maddoggie13
10-05-2013, 1:50 PM
308

CSACANNONEER
10-05-2013, 1:58 PM
If you reload, every option is viable. If not, go to your nearest Walmart that stocks ammo and look on the shelves for availability. You can always go with a 30-06 or .308 and stock up when supply is high or just not shoot when demand outweighs supply OR, you can get a .270 and find ammo at the height of most ammo shortages.

That said, if you're just plinking at 600 yards at Angeles, a K31 (7.5 Swiss) or a decent M48 (8mm) Mauser with irons is all you need to consistently hit the 600 yard steel. My eyes are getting old so, I need optics past 400 but, that doesn't mean the old guns do. Besides actually knowing how to shoot (most people don't) quality ammo and a decent rifle are all you need to shoot short to medium range (100-600 yards).

ExtremeX
10-05-2013, 1:59 PM
OP, if you're considering reloading, .223 and .308 is the better choices.

I range scrounge for brass, and .223 and .308 is more plentiful.

Just something to think about, particularly if you want to target practice more.

If you are reloading, there are far better choices than .223 or .308…

Those are the two recommendations I would give if someone wasn’t going to reload.

Bastard
10-05-2013, 2:00 PM
I vote for .270
it sounds like you don't reload which means that you are going to be buying retail ammo, and as soon as things go pear shaped the .223 .308 & hell even 30-30 are either nowhere to be found or being sold at exorbitant prices.

now I am too lazy to scroll back up to see where abouts you are located but around here in the Bay Area; I can think of countless times when I walked in to a Walmart and the only, and I mean ONLY, ammo that they had there was .270

ElvenSoul
10-05-2013, 2:01 PM
9.3 x 74

Cause you want it dead

ExtremeX
10-05-2013, 2:05 PM
I vote for .270
it sounds like you don't reload which means that you are going to be buying retail ammo, and as soon as things go pear shaped the .223 .308 & hell even 30-30 are either nowhere to be found or being sold at exorbitant prices.

now I am too lazy to scroll back up to see where abouts you are located but around here in the Bay Area; I can think of countless times when I walked in to a Walmart and the only, and I mean ONLY, ammo that they had there was .270

A friend and I just bought a couple hunting rifles, one in .243 and one .270

And you are right... I walked into Walmart last week just to check out the ammo counter and plenty of .270 and .243

I picked up some of both.

diverwcw
10-05-2013, 2:14 PM
Some excellent choices:

243
270
7mm-08
30-06
308

All five are very common. The first three are very light in recoil.

Full Clip
10-05-2013, 2:14 PM
Given your record of minimizing your calibers and only pasing interest in hunting, go .223. I just bought a Savage Model 11 and dig it.

fredridge
10-05-2013, 2:17 PM
thanks for the input. I will watch the video and read the links.

to answer some of he questions.

I don't plan on ever doing reloading. Just not for me. I'm ok with stocking up once I decide what I am going to get.

I don't know what ammo costs for some of these, but was thinking under $2 a round would be reasonable.

The likelyhood of actual hunting is pretty limited, but I could see myself trying to go once or twice to see if I like it.

one thing I like is someone said 30.06 would be a good choice if I decided on a c&r rifle down the road. I do want to get a Garand at some point

XVIga_Rob
10-05-2013, 11:29 PM
The .30-06 is a great caliber. With the right load, it can take any game in North America. The .243 is flat shooting, light recoil, & very accurate. Capable of taking game up to and including deer & pig. The .270 falls right in the middle. Shoots pretty flat, hit's pretty hard, moderate recoil, & accurate. Capable of taking game up to and including elk.

Really, you can't go wrong with any of these 3 calibers. Ammo for all 3 are usually easily found and not too expensive. I usually pay $16 ~ $18 per box of 20. It just comes down to what game you may persue when you go hunting vs. time at the range. If you go with a .270 or .30-06, make sure the rifle has a nice recoil pad and you'll be fine.

NorCalFocus
10-06-2013, 6:24 AM
.243 or .308

Light recoil lots of factory grade match ammo avalible for shooting paper.

TMB 1
10-06-2013, 10:14 AM
thanks for the input. I will watch the video and read the links.

to answer some of he questions.

I don't plan on ever doing reloading. Just not for me. I'm ok with stocking up once I decide what I am going to get.

I don't know what ammo costs for some of these, but was thinking under $2 a round would be reasonable.

The likelyhood of actual hunting is pretty limited, but I could see myself trying to go once or twice to see if I like it.

one thing I like is someone said 30.06 would be a good choice if I decided on a c&r rifle down the road. I do want to get a Garand at some point

You should be able to get 30-06 ammo for $0.50 a round for surplus and around $1.00 for Remington Core Lokt's or Federal Power Shok's. $2.00 a round would be the premium hunting ammo.
You can also get Garand's chambered for 308 but I think the 30-06 is a better all round cartridge.

maddoggie13
10-06-2013, 10:31 AM
Just got a TC rifle...problem resolved.

Merc1138
10-06-2013, 10:43 AM
OP, if you're considering reloading, .223 and .308 is the better choices.

I range scrounge for brass, and .223 and .308 is more plentiful.

Just something to think about, particularly if you want to target practice more.

If I had a reloading setup, .223 and .308 are probably the among the last cartridges I'd pick.

toby
10-06-2013, 10:48 AM
Regardless of what you choose or think you may want it will get overly argued here and before you know it your thread will have become a shooters nightmare. Get a 243!.;)

DannyInSoCal
10-06-2013, 10:51 AM
.338 WinMag -

Excellent flat shooting round that can take ANY game in North America....

Sheepdog1968
10-06-2013, 11:26 AM
thanks for the input. I will watch the video and read the links.

to answer some of he questions.

I don't plan on ever doing reloading. Just not for me. I'm ok with stocking up once I decide what I am going to get.

I don't know what ammo costs for some of these, but was thinking under $2 a round would be reasonable.

The likelyhood of actual hunting is pretty limited, but I could see myself trying to go once or twice to see if I like it.

one thing I like is someone said 30.06 would be a good choice if I decided on a c&r rifle down the road. I do want to get a Garand at some point
Based on your comment on the Garand, I would definitely recommend the 30-06 then.

desert dog
10-07-2013, 7:34 AM
7mm, 243, and others are FANTASTIC hunting rounds - but not practical for someone who frequently plinks and target shoots. The barrels shoot out with those rounds relatively fast (throat erosion).

Professional target shooters frequently do barrel changes at under 1000 rounds with their preferred loads. If you are looking to build a comp bolt gun, then frequent barrel swaps are considered part of the game, and shooting a "barrel burner" round is worth it. I have a buddy that shoots 6.5x284 and he burned out a very expensive barrel in 650 rounds.

I did a 4-day precision rifle class a few weeks ago in the desert. If I had taken my 7mm or 300 win mag with me, I would have burned through 1/3 of my long-distance barrel life in one class!

For a guy like you, .308 would be the best choice. Its a great inherently accurate round that has endless commercial ammo options and fits into almost any roll. And you get very long barrel life. There are many reasons why it is so prolific, liked, and long-lived. There is no hunting or SHTF situation you could ever fantasize about where the .308 would make you wish you had a 243.

So mostly target shooting at 600 yards with a little bit of deer hunting. You state you want something bigger than 223 but don't reload. And you are on a tight budget. Sounds like 308 to me!

G-Solutions
10-07-2013, 12:47 PM
Your best option will be to figure out what you will primarily do with the rifle. Will this be large-bore plinker, a potential hunting gun or something to extend your range for a situation where things have gone South?
.223 is a good round and I had students who took theirs out to a sniper course and got first-round hits out to 900m. Would love to say that I taught that course, however, they shared these experiences with me during one of my pistol courses. OK - end of Bunny Trail:
Staying with .223 has the obvious advantage that you will not have to stock another caliber (or set of reloading dies). Big 5 had a nice combo of a Howa 1500 with removable mag, optics and bipod for around 550.- IIRC. Good rifle, nothing stellar, but good enough to provide you with your desired 600m range. That rifle is also available in .308, which would be my personal preference.
.308 has a higher accuracy on longer ranges and brass as well as projectiles are not that hard to find (www.gibrass.com has match casings/bullets on occasion). I went out last year and bought a Savage 10 - best out-of-the box trigger I ever experienced. I can highly recommend it.
That said - look at what you really want to do with the rifle and go from there. Hunting option: .223 is probably your best bet. Long Range solution for 600 and beyond, .308 will be the better choice.
Just my $.02 worth - .243 and others will sure be good options, question is how readily available the ammo will be.

toby
10-07-2013, 3:20 PM
This thread just keeps getting better by the day.......:o

NorCalFocus
10-07-2013, 3:29 PM
This thread should be titled, "Ignore what I said I'm going to with this gun, and recommend your favorite caliber instead"

fredridge
10-07-2013, 3:39 PM
too funny.

the advice has been helpful and after doing research I think it will end up being 30-06

several reasons

1. very common caliber and easy to find ammo
2. will do anything I think I might do
3. if/when I get a Garand it will use same ammo

I appreciate knowing about what some of these others can do.