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Very new to this.....need some advice

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Old 04-06-2013, 08:16 AM
jdc jdc is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Illinois
Posts: 5
Very new to this.....need some advice

Hello everyone. Let me start off by saying if this is not the right place to ask maybe the admin's can place it where it belongs.

I am very new to guns in general. I have fired some different guns but not enough kinds or times to know much of anything about anything.

I am looking at buying my first rifle and have at least narrowed down my caliber choice to .308 or .243. I did sign up for the latest Savage Arms giveaway though .

I have used the search function here and on the net in general to try and find opinions about these two choices, but most of what I can find is geared towards more experienced shooters, or at least folks that have more experience with guns than I do.

So I am asking the forum folks here for the pro's and cons of these two choices. Things like usability and costs (long and short term),availability of ammunition and costs, and anything else that you all can think of. You will probably have to dumb down your answers because I know next to nothing. I would like to maybe just buy one rifle, learn it, and then use it, even though anyone I have talked to says that mentality will change once I get started shooting.

My main uses of this will be target shooting to start. I think I should get comfortable with a gun first and learn it before using it for any kind of hunting. When I get better with it then I'll start hunting with my brothers. It is nice that I have access to an old quarry on one brothers land that gives me at least 100-150 yards of clear space to practice in.

The "one gun" idea is what has made this caliber choice difficult. Both are good for what I want to do, but I though I had read that the .243 is a bit light for deer. That is what I would be hunting with my brothers, smaller game when I am on my own. Someday I would love to move up to larger game, but let's be realistic. One step at a time.

OK, now that I have rambled on, any advice you all can give me would be greatly appreciated.


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Old 04-06-2013, 10:16 AM
JST JST is offline
Bronze Member
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 53
Re: Very new to this.....need some advice

Hi, and welcome to the forum. The two calibers are much the same. But the .243 of course is a lighter, smaller diameter bullet. Though it shares the .308 case. I have used both, And enjoy the .243 most. I have shot a lot of deer with it. And it is devastating on coyotes. That being said so is the .308. If your looking for one rifle to use for several years, on most everything. And not have to spend a mint on ammunition. Id say go with the .308. You can find ammo at about any walmart. Its pretty cheap, and you have a fair selection of bullet weights. The recoil with either is practically nothing. Though that's a relative thing. lol. Either would serve you well though. Good Luck.
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Old 04-06-2013, 10:56 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: az
Posts: 2,233
Re: Very new to this.....need some advice

for target shooting you will like a heavier barrel , heavier gun . you do not say what you wish to spend. for targets and possibly deer later either a remington 700 sps varmint in either caliber. or a remington 5-r in 308. i would lean to the .243 to start it kicks less. it will kill deer . i have killed 20+ with it.
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Old 04-06-2013, 01:05 PM
jdc jdc is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Illinois
Posts: 5
Re: Very new to this.....need some advice

Thanks for the input.

I have been researching for a while now but still can't decide. Living in the rather gun UN-friendly state of Illinois it isn't easy to find anything "on the shelf".

It seems that a heavier gun will help absorb the recoil. So something with some weight in .308 might be the best option, but still learning and needing to put a lot of rounds on targets to get comfortable is what has me leaning to the .243.

I have no idea on costs for ammunition. I want to spend more money on a quality gun and optics, but stay a good bit under $1000. If I can find a better quality gun used (from a reliable source) it gives me more $$$ to buy better optics and more rounds. Anyone from Illinois with any advice please chime in. All other gun friendly states are welcome also.

One of the front runners in my search is this package deal that Savage Arms has. Its the Model 16 Trophy Hunter XP with a Nikon 3-9x40 BDC Reticle scope. At $800 it seems like a pretty good place to start even though it is brand new. Any other options on better quality used guns paired with quality optics in this price range would be appreciated also.

I am leaning towards a stainless steel barrel because it seems that it adds some weight and is easier to clean. If my thinking is flawed here please let me know.

Thanks again for all t he help.
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:45 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 56
Re: Very new to this.....need some advice

Savage is always a good choice. I don't have that particular gun but I do own several Savage rifles I like them very much. I love the accutrigger that Savage has. They are easy on the pocket book also. Savage would be a good choice to get started with. As far as the caliber i have not had a .308 but I do have a .243 haven't shot any deer with it but use it for coyotes. In two years though my son will use it for deer and I know it will work fine.
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Old 04-06-2013, 09:16 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Michigan
Posts: 1,075
Re: Very new to this.....need some advice

Welcome to rifle shooting! I hope you enjoy it as much as most of us here do! Here is my opinion on your options:

Start with .243. Not because it is a superior round, but because it is more versatile. You can get very light bullet weights for varmint/target applications, and with premium heavier bullets it is plenty for deer. And now for the clincher . . .

If you find you have a passion for rifle shooting, you WILL BUY MORE RIFLES. With some experience behind the .243, you may want to go up in caliber for longer range/bigger game. You may greatly expand your budget to do so. Now you can look at a variety of different calibers in .308 bullet diameter - .308, .300 Win Mag, 300WSM, 30-06, etc. You will have more hands-on experience, more research, etc. Or, you can go really big to .338. Or, you might like light varmint/target shooting and go lighter (22-250, .223, 220 Swift, etc). Bottom line: .243 is a good halfway point to help you learn what you like to do and what you want to expand into.

As far as rifle selection, I agree with the poster above to look at Savage. They are generally no-frills guns that shoot straight. Shooting straight is prioriry #1. If you find you do have a passion, your second gun might be something more refined (read: you will start to dump $ into your hobby).

Good luck and welcome!
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Old 04-07-2013, 02:14 PM
jdc jdc is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Illinois
Posts: 5
Re: Very new to this.....need some advice

Thanks again so much for all the advice.

I think I am going to search out a Savage 16 Trophy Hunter XP in .243. Used might be preferable but the package deal on Savage's site looks pretty hard to beat. Kind of scared to buy something used (especially off the net). I know the price would be better, but I am afraid of buying someone else's "problems". Are there any recommendations you all could make for used online dealers? Unless brand new is really the way to go then I will get it from Savage directly. We only have one dealer near us, unless I drive into Rockford or the Quad Cities.

Am I right in thinking the stainless steel barrel is the way to go? Easier cleaning and more weight to help with recoil? The price difference doesn't seem like all that much and if it helps then it would be worth it.

What about off the shelf rounds? Something affordable but good for learning. I don't think the steel plates are gonna care what they get hit by. I figure I had better be able to hit a 12x12 plate before I start worrying about paper targets.

Any other advice is greatly appreciated. It's nice to have a wealth of knowledge and experience so "reachable" here on the forums. Thanks.
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