Im with tank.
I buy the cheapest savage/stevens I can buy. My personal record is $25!(1 ton ran over barrel it looked like an L and stock was in splinters with trigger in 10 parts laying in the parking lot of a pawnshop). Accutrigger is nice but not necessary, I can get most any savage trigger to break clean and light with a little to a lot of tweaking.If not buy a $100 Basix. So like tank I would go for the build it route which also teaches you what you are really shooting and how and why it works.
1 action $275 max
2 stock($100-$1000) Look at the boyds prairie thumbhole if you can pillar bed and do SOME work) Stupid cheap tho.
3 recoil lug $40 shipped
4 brake ($200 max installed) Guns without brakes for LRH are stupid
5 barrel ($300 m/l)
Fully braked setup that will shoot with or outshoot anything factory on the cheap side at $915 BRAKED. Add optics to your level and voila.
338 is the only cal to start with. The whole idea of STARTER RIFLES in LRH has caused a sh#@load of problems for a lot of guys who would be lightyears ahead if they werent handicapped by an inferior caliber and bullet.
Yes 338s are big. Yes they CAN kick. Yes they cost more per shot. Yes they produce a lotta noise.
They also hit harder,shoot farther,with less windage,with higher hit probability and easier reloading than anything else commonly used.
1. 338s are big. Uhh any LRH rig is gonna be a tad larger than a normal gun. WEIGHT=STABILITY AND SHOOTABILITY. Even if you shoot a lighter recoiling gun the gun wont ride bags or bipod at 8lbs like at 13.
2 They kick too much! Uhhh you were aware of these things called muzzle brakes
? Put a brake on it that makes it shootable.PERIOD. Whether its a 7mm or 338 any LRH rifle for deer at 800yds NEEDS a brake.
3 They cost too much to shoot. Uhhh if you are using a gun you miss with 15% of the time wont it be cheaper than shooting a gun with a 40% miss rate? Certainly make it a lot faster learning process with positive feedback for fewer shots.
4 They are noisy! Uhhh I think any rifle is. Buy a pair of electronic muffs so you and a spotter can talk as soon as you get into this. Good hearing protection even with a non braked 223 is a must.
Ok so we have the negatives handled right?
Now lets put out the positives.
Compared to the 7mm we have this.
At 1k (Good even # for comparism, changing it doesnt change the vast gulf between them)
338 SMK at 2850 7mm short mag berger 180 at 3k
24.45 moa elev 21.28
9.5 moa wind 10
2100 fpe 1291
This comparism is of two rifles that will be dimensionally similar in size and weight(3k 180 = long barrel). They will kick pretty close to the same. (338 has a bigger brake obviously). If you smack a deer 8" too far back with the 338 it will rupture enough stuff to kill...a 7 MIGHT. A 7 might also pile up on a shoulder or hip or pencil thru or miss completely instead of hitting the front shoulder due to the windage difference of 5". And yeah I know 5" is no difference at all....till ya miss something by 5'" then its a real big deal isnt it?
This was the best case for the 7mm velocity wise and it did real well, if I had used the commonly used 15-168 gr stuff it would be a huge gulf. The 338 barely beats it in wind bucking but when you hit something and its 5" closer to POA and hits it a 1000fpe harder I would like to be totin a 338.
I realize this all seems radical but I have thought about this a lot in regards to starter rifles. We want a persons 1st gun to be FORGIVING AND EASY TO LEARN ON. So many times people suggest a 308 for this. Wanna see the diffs at 1k on those 2 rounds? Cuz its hilarious!
Why would anyone suggest that the best way to learn a new sport is by using inferior junk that will teach bad habits when a perfectly suitable gun is available?
The less wind correction needed and the more consistent a gun is the better it is for a beginner. Loading a 300 338 slug to 2800 or so with a REALLY low es is as easy as it gets. Neck tension and load density and weight accurracy all matter less in a 338.
And when it does get there a beginner (I guess Im a beginner cuz I like all the help I can get) needs a FORGIVING combo. A 338 300gr slug with 2100FPE is about as forgiving as you can get without a GIBBS case.
If you never plan to shoot past 600 or so the diffs are much less important(600 is never enuf then its 800 then 1000 then 1200), Sooner or later the 800 yd goal GROWS. Now your buying a NEW COMBO because the 7 isnt cutting it anymore. It happens.
If you move the data on the 7 and 338 to 1200 its REALLY eye opening.
I fixed the kicking,muzzle blast, weight and price lets see why else we shouldnt shoot the most suitable gun from the get go and should instead handicap ourselves with a sub optimal combo,