This is something that I have put a lot of thought into recently, as my 8 year old son is obsessed with hunting. We visited a friend in Namibia last year, and he managed to shoot a Springbok with a 222 Rem, and a black wildebeest with a .325WSM. The rifles used for both these animals were borrowed from friends, and both were suppressed. The 222 was great for him to shoot, but obviously is minimal gun for game, and even though he shot very well with it, a springbok was as far as we wanted to push it. He used his fundamentals learned from rimfire shooting with the WSM and shot it well, but even with the suppresser, the WSM was too much for him to manage.
We started talking about getting him a more suitable rifle for him to bring along on our next visit to Africa. My initial thought was to get either a 243 or a 260 for him, and if we were only hunting the smaller game animals, this would have been what we went with. But next time we hunt, he wants to try for a kudu, and the rifles we were considering are too limited for game of that size. We considered a few other options, and in the end we decided on a 308 Win.
The 308 makes a lot of sense given the relatively low cost of ammo components, the face that we can buy factory ammo virtually anywhere in the world, and the selection of bullet designs and weights we can use. We are going to put a brake on the rifle, along with a limb saver recoil pad, and I think that should make it very shootable for him Ė hopefully with recoil in the 223 to 243 range. I donít anticipate any issue with him using the braked rifle. He always hunts with ear protection on, even when we were shooting the suppressed rifles he preferred to keep his hearing protection on. He has stood behind me when I have shot my braked 300 RUM and didnít have a problem.
We bought a Tikka T3 Lite, and are in the process of adding all the parts to it at the moment. Once we have it together, I think he will have a rifle that is capable of handling 90% of the hunting he will be doing for the foreseeable future. For us, I think this will be the best choice, at least for our set of circumstances.