Re: First rifle: Advice needed
I am a left hand shooter myself. Because of childhood experience using right hand bolt actions, I refused to shoot or buy anything but a left hand bolt action for many years. During that time, I was often frustrated by the fact that the rifles I really wanted weren't available in a left handed configuration. I also found that I generally had to pay more for a left handed rifle and then usually ended up taking a bath if I sold the rifle because the market for left handed rifles is so small.
What really made me decide to swear left handed actions off for good was when I started to experiment with surplus mausers. The more I tinkered with them and shot them, the less satisfied I became with the limited choices available to me as a left handed shooter. I also started to become dissatisfied with the quality of a lot of the commercial bolt actions out there, which prompted me to develop a preference for the generally higher quality controlled feed rifles. That pushed me even more toward right hand actions because most left hand bolt actions are push feeds.
A few years ago, I bought my last left hand rifle (a beautiful little CZ 452 in 22LR), learned how to run a right hand action from the left side, and never looked back. By way of explanation, what I am trying to say is that I really don't think it is worthwhile to get hung up on left hand bolt actions. I have been a lot happier with my rifles since I stopped buying left hand actions. Ultimately, I believe you will find broader and more satisfying choices available to you in the world of right hand bolt actions.
Aside from that, my second piece of advice is to supplement your primary rifle with a .223 that has at least a 1/9 twist (1/8 is better, if you can find it). The .223 will allow cheap practice and conserve the barrel life of your primary rifle. For many years, I recommended a good quality .22LR for that purpose. However, recent rimfire ammo shortages have caused me to reconsider that. If one handloads, it is possible to load and shoot cast lead bullets from a .223 for about the same cost to shoot .22LR and sometimes for less than it costs to shoot rimfire ammo. One can load a .223 from rimfire level performance all the way to full power heavy bullet loads. That kind of versatility allows for quality, inexpensive practice of shooting fundamentals and more advanced skills like reading and compensating for wind and mirage.
In summary, my advice is this:
1. Don't allow yourself to get too hung up on LH rifles.
2. Buy a .223 for a practice rifle.
3. Plan to handload for your rifles.