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Jason - advice please on an entry-level hunting rifle

 
pollinator
Posts: 377
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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I hope that Jason will happen upon this post, and perhaps even respond, so I will address it to him directly (though of course all comments are appreciated!). First of all, thanks so much for coming to permies and doing a book promotion with us! Welcome : ) Your book looks very interesting. I read your post in the introductory thread for the book promo in which you stated your admiration for your Savage .308 rifle. But I must ask you to clarify for those of us noobs: exactly what rifle is it that you have and recommend? Savage manufactures many weapons. I understand that they are well regarded as a brand.

I am a complete beginner myself. I have never hunted before, but wish to start soon. Since my interests in permaculture and homesteading have grown, I am eager to learn hunting skills, both in order to increase my own self-reliance and food independence, and in order to achieve a more honest and genuine connection with my personal food web. I have cleaned a chicken before, but that's about as close as I've eve come to actually killing my own food. I feel somewhat a fraud, as a dedicated omnivor, until I do actually take the plunge and get my hands bloody.

Anyway, so that is my consumer profile: a total beginner interested in occasional deer hunting on a practical level (i.e. not trophy hunting and no trips to Alaska to bag grizzlies or elk). I doubt I will shoot my rifle very often, except for practice and the occasional hunting foray. I don't plan on customizing the absolute perfect rifle for target shooting (does sound like fun, perhaps, but a luxury hobby at my income bracket). I need something simple, reliable, and cost-effective that will bag a doe at 100 yards or less; anything beyond that I have no business taking a shot at, I'm sure.

I have read many good things online about Savage's new entry-level model, the Axis (there is also apparently an Axis II, though I don't know the difference between them). It can be chambered for .308 Winchester. People say it is a great value, shoots well out of the box, shoots even better with an aftermarket wooden stock (which can be had for not too much $). I am seriously considering one. Your thoughts...? And thanks in advance! : )
 
Posts: 174
Location: Berea, Kentucky
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Any rife in .308 will serve you well. Your looking at good ethical 500 yards ( or so) of deer killing power. I like the 7mm personally, but I hunt stripped minded land. I hope to get another elk tag some day and need the confidence of dropping an animal and it being DRT. Not rolling down a 800 man made cliff. All of your .30 up chambers is lot of hair splitting and personal preference. You mentioned range of 100 yards. You can do that with a shotgun and slug barrel far cheaper than rifle. I don't know about your area, but some places going down in tech will give you access to longer seasons. I typically hunt muzzle loader and modern rifle. Good luck filling the freezer, I don't hunt anters either. If it's brown, it down.
 
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Matthew

I've owned several of the Savage 110 models. All were excellent. My dad still has my old Savage 110 in .270. That gun gets sold or traded all the way around through my family and has been for 30 years now. The one I have right now is the Savage Edge in .308. It came with a cheap 3-9X scope. It is the entry level Savage. I think I paid $400 for everything. Most serious hunters would scoff at that. But I've made shots from 25 yards to 150 yards. Me and the rifle have never missed.

I like .308. Others do not and it kind of depends on your hunting area where you'll use the rifle the most. For me I think .270 is just not a good fit any longer. Smaller bullets have a tendency to be deflected by brush. People in thick cover prefer heavy large caliber bullets. I like an in-between. Here in KY I might be walking in dense forest for 2 miles and then hit an open field. The .308 is large enough not to deflect but flat-shooting enough to make long shots. There are other calibers that are similar. As Joseph mentioned the 7mm is one. So is the .300 Magnum. However I really like my shoulders and the .308 offers the same shooting power without the teeth rattling recoil of those other cartridges.

In my opinion, the smaller flat shooting cartridges below 30 caliber just don't have the shock power when they hit a deer to cause immediate death. My concern is killing a deer with the least pain for me and the deer and being able to find it and recover it so I can eat. I think the .308 does that in spades.

Jason
 
Posts: 113
Location: Taylorsville Kentucky
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Matthew, if I were you I would hone the permaculture skills before the hunting skills. Prioritize the skills you want to learn. Hunting deer with a boom stick is easier than you think. At least, in all my years I have never had any problem finding a four legged creature for meat. Hell, I live in a suburb and they walk into my back yard all the time! I've always shot a .270 Marlin MR-7 because it has sentimental value to me. But I have a Marlin 336SS in 30-30 that'll do the job too. If you are going to hunt deer, I would recommend that you do some scouting first, learn the lay of the land you will be hunting, spend some time and early mornings out in the stand just watching. No guns. Just observing. You'll pick up on some of the habits of the creatures in your hunting grounds and you'll be wiser for it. If most of your shots will be under 100 yards there are PLENTY of cheap rifles you could buy to get the job done. Find a gun that you LOVE to look at too. Find one that feels comfortable for you to carry and shoot.
 
Matthew Nistico
pollinator
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@Jason - Thank you for the reply! I appreciate your advice, as you certainly seem to know of what you speak. I will likely go forward soon with the Savage Axis (which I understand is same-same as the Edge, just a new name) in .308. There is currently a $50 manufacturer rebate available. My best current price online is $320 delivered for the Axis XP (for everyone's edification, the XP is pre-mounted with the same cheap 3-9/40mm scope, from Bushnell if I recall). Minus the rebate, plus $125 delivered for an aftermarket stock (I like the Featherweight from Boyd's), the hole rifle package should cost $395. That seems to me a very decent price for a first-time rifle that still comes recommended. As I wrote before, most people seem to agree that it's very accurate for an entry-level option. Yes, serious hunters may scoff. I might never become a "serious" hunter; I suspect my first-time rifle could last me for decades before I would care to upgrade.

BTW, I really appreciated your insight about the suitable stopping power and ballistic characteristics of the .308 without the "teeth rattling recoil" of other mid-calibre rounds. That sounds very good to me. Being in a wheelchair, and thus without capacity to lean into the shot with my body weight, I seriously wonder whether a highly-enough powered rifle could literally just flip me over. That would certainly be inconvenient, if not without undeniable comic value.

@Ray - Oh, I am certainly honing my permaculture skills. My own permaculture homestead has been under establishment for several years now, though I am still primarily in the planning/planting stage, not the harvesting stage. I really like your advice about taking my first couple hunting trips without a weapon at all, just to observe. As for my comment about limited range, I am thinking 1) there are a LOT of deer in my area; and 2) as a totally amateur marksman, I think it is best for everyone involved if I restrict myself from firing in the field until a fairly close shot presents itself. Especially considering that I lack the ability to trek a mile cross country in pursuit of a wounded deer.
 
Ray Cecil
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Location: Taylorsville Kentucky
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Matthew Nistico wrote:@Ray - Oh, I am certainly honing my permaculture skills. My own permaculture homestead has been under establishment for several years now, though I am still primarily in the planning/planting stage, not the harvesting stage. I really like your advice about taking my first couple hunting trips without a weapon at all, just to observe. As for my comment about limited range, I am thinking 1) there are a LOT of deer in my area; and 2) as a totally amateur marksman, I think it is best for everyone involved if I restrict myself from firing in the field until a fairly close shot presents itself. Especially considering that I lack the ability to trek a mile cross country in pursuit of a wounded deer.



Well, if that's the case then than a big bore with plenty of knock down power will be fine. I wouldn't shoot .270 for short range, it likes to fly awhile. 30-30 has taken more deer in this county than just about anything else. .308 is also a great round. Personally, I love cowboy guns. Which is why I went with a Marlin 336SS in 30-30. I have a red dot sight and have it hitting dead on at 80 yards. 80 yards is pretty common in KY to be shooting. Many times you are shooting closer than that, depends on area. Most of the land I hunt its close range shots. So a 30-30 lever gun is all I really care to bring. Its light and kicks less than a .270.

Scouting your land you will hunt SHOULD influence your first rifle purchase. If you get heavy into hunting and want to go other places than buy a different gun for that purpose.
 
Posts: 125
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Matthew Nistico wrote:
I need something simple, reliable, and cost-effective that will bag a doe at 100 yards or less; anything beyond that I have no business taking a shot at, I'm sure.


I think a suitable answer to your question is "it depends".

Savage has a good reputation for good rifles at good prices, so I think you're on the right track there.

It depends on what you will be shooting, where you will be shooting, and you level of marksmanship skill.
Personally if it were me starting out, shooting at 100m or under, I'd get something small, like .223, work on your marksmanship skills, and head shoot. I've taken many many deer with a .223 headshot at around 100m.
But it also depends on if you want to use it for other purposes as well as the one you've suggested in your post.

Remember Jeff Cooper’s advice “If you can get closer, get closer. If you can get steadier, get steadier.”

These are also good safety rules to live by too:
1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.
4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.
 
Mat Smith
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Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Matthew Nistico wrote:Being in a wheelchair.....


Could you make up a rest to steady the rifle on? This would greatly increase your accuracy.







or if you've got money to burn:




Matthew Nistico wrote:Especially considering that I lack the ability to trek a mile cross country in pursuit of a wounded deer.


That's very good hunting ethics good to see you're thinking of that already.
You need to drop it where you shoot it! Either by a head shot, or a large calibre with lots of energy that causes hydrostatic shot.
 
Matthew Nistico
pollinator
Posts: 377
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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@Mat - Yeah, I've thought about about that. I am thinking something simple, at least to start: probably a long monopod with a spike at the bottom and a fork at the top into which I could rest the rifle somewhere in the middle to create a pivot point. It would indeed increase my accuracy, but beyond that I suspect it will prove a basic necessity. Couldn't tell you for sure until I actually hold the rifle, but I would bet good money I won't be doing much shooting without some sort of aid. I am very strong, and I get around pretty well, but still you would be surprised how radically one's body mechanics are changed. Without abdominal muscles, you just DON'T hold things out away from your body, at least not with both hands. You tip over! Or else you end up in some very weird postures attempting to compensate that would surely make a shooting instructor cringe. Most things you learn to do one-handed, so that your other arm can hold onto something and provide some sort of leverage.

I probably could shoot well from a carefully designed blind, so long as I could always brace my left (non-trigger hand) elbow onto a ledge or something. But I don't know if that is how I will end up hunting or not. It is all very theoretical at this point; in fact, even if I purchase a rifle now, I will likely not be hunting until the season after next. Fortunately, there is another paraplegic man who lives down the road from me whom I know has worked out a whole hunting routine for himself. We aren't too close, but I'm sure I can get some good info from him when the time comes and perhaps join him on a few trips. I think he used to hunt with his son from atop a four-wheeler.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to view your last image, but whatever it is, I assure you: I have NO money to burn!
 
Mat Smith
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Matthew Nistico wrote:
Unfortunately, I can't seem to view your last image, but whatever it is, I assure you: I have NO money to burn!



Tried to attach it. I saw you are on a tight budget, just attached it for a joke - I had no idea something commercial off the shelf like that existed!
hunting-wheelchair.jpg
[Thumbnail for hunting-wheelchair.jpg]
 
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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forest garden hunting trees solar greening the desert
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For deer and even feral pigs at 100 yards or less you can use with confidence the following. In order of price (at least in the US)
Rifles:
SKS 7.62x39
A lever action 30-30
A bolt action .308

Shotgun:
20 gauge or 12 gauge slugs or 00 buck .model? Any flavor you like.
 
Matthew Nistico
pollinator
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@Mat - Nice! I have actually seen such things advertised before. Fun toys, if one has the cash to burn, I suppose.
 
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Hi New member, old fart with wilderness and hunting experience. My first kill as a teenager was with a bolt action .270. My favorite rifle was a Browning .308 lever action. .308 is my choice, plenty of knockdown, available everywhere and versatile. Every manufacturer sells them. Pretty much can't go wrong with it.
 
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Ask around locally. For example, .223 is prohibited in some places as too small to reliably kill a deer. Plenty of deer have been taken with it, and it really depends on shot placement.

Where I live in michigan, it has to be a shotgun.



you can't really go wrong with anything .30 caliber. 30-30 is wonderful to shoot. .308 will take any animal in north america.



Hope that was helpful.


troy
 
pollinator
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Location: RRV of da Nort
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Just wanted to bump this thread again with some recent observations. Especially as I'm not really immersed within the hunting culture, although I was raised hunting pheasant and other upland birds. But also because my wife really was not raised around guns, but has adapted herself to them out of the necessity of living rural.

What I like: Browning lever action .223 BLR for general varmint worries. Remington Wingmaster 20 gauge shotgun for a lot of the bird stuff, but also with slugs can be used for deer, etc. if need be. Also have a Winchester 30-30 lever action, a Remington .22 semi-automatic (60s-70s era?), a couple of pellet guns for close-range work on small things, and will be inheriting a 12 gauge Wingmaster and 30-06 bolt action.

Wife really likes the pellet guns, less so the one that needs pumping between shots, and the .22 Remington. She can use the 20 gauge and the 30-30, but is a bit intimidated by them.

Some possible cost and issues for newbies. My older Wingmaster is not made for steel shot....and steel shot, by some regulations, is phasing out lead shot to varying degrees. I learned I can get the barrel re-bored (from full choke), buy a new barrel, or it was suggested to just keep that shotgun for nostalgia and buy a new Wingmaster for about $300 - 400 that is designed for these coming changes. Steel shot seems to cost more than lead and there may be other choices. But the lead issue seems reasonable, due to environmental toxicity, and worth noting if in the market for a shotgun.

Part of the reason that I got a .223 was because the cost of rounds was pretty cheap (~$34/100 rounds). It spiked there for a while, but has come down somewhat again. .22 rounds still seem somewhat sporadic in terms of local stocking. Pellet guns may, with some Q&A and shopping around, be a good alternative if willing to practice your aim. All of this is just to say that it's good to factor all of this in when thinking about a firearm choice. And I'm more of a noob and inexperienced here than many of the more seasoned shooters who might have considered all of this self-evident.
 
steward
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When I was a young boy I hunted with bolt action, lever action, or pump action rifles and shotguns. I never had a jam or a failure to feed. The last few years I have been shooting semi-automatic rifles. I am disappointed in them because they are occasionally unreliable: They jam, they don't feed right, they are picky about ammo. I noticed when I was a teenager that I bagged more rabbits with my single-shot manually-loaded rifle than my friends did with their semi-autos. I figure that I had to make every shot count, and they would shoot and pray that they eventually hit something.

I don't have a recommendation on caliber other than smaller calibers for smaller game. I really like bolt action rifles for hunting, and really dislike semi-autos because I can't trust them.
 
Matthew Nistico
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@John Weiland - I can immediately see the problem with your situation: you just don't own enough firearms! I think four or five more and you will have all contingencies covered ; ) JK, your advice is good, and I am in fact envious of your wide variety of weapons. I must content myself with one heavy rifle, one small caliber rifle, and one pistol for the foreseeable future. At the time I got these, last autumn, I thought I was perhaps being excessive. Money is tight for me, I have never actually hunted before, and I'd gone my entire life without owning a weapon. Then, nearly overnight, I decided to buy three!
 
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