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New Hobby: Help me pick the right cartridge

 
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  #1  
Old 05-12-2012, 08:05 AM
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Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 16
New Hobby: Help me pick the right cartridge

Hey, all,

I'm a newbie to the forum and hunting in general. I am a Captain in the Marines, so I am not a novice to being outdoors in the elements nor to the proper use of firearms. Yet I have never been hunting and am looking to get started. I recently moved to Virginia and am hoping to make friends with someone who knows what they are doing. Between work and my new church, I'm sure that I'll find one, but in the mean time, perhaps you all can help me get started.

Right now I want to hunt deer and bear. I haven't even chosen a rifle yet. I'm not sure that it is something I am going to pursue long term, so for starters I'm looking into a package from Savage. Depending on the model and trim I am looking at $600-$750 for the rifle and scope. This seems to be a good combination between price and quality. If I choose to not stick with it, I don't have too much invested in the rifle. I can always upgrade later if I like hunting. I can imagine that if i stick with it, I would want to seriously upgrade the scope later one down the line.

Furthermore, I haven't decided the right size for me. I know that a .243 will do it on deer and bear out here in VA, but I am from Colorado and would like to hunt there as well. Deer and black bear get a little bigger out there, plus they have elk and bison. For this reason, I am considering something bigger than a .243. Perhaps a .30-06? All though that seems like it would be overkill out here in VA, I've read that it is entry level for bison hunting, which is something I really want to do primarily because the meat is fantastic. The plan for now is to only buy one rifle. If I go big, then I can potentially go after bigger game in my visits back to Colorado.

What say the experts? I would enjoy hearing what those of you who have been through it have to say.
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  #2  
Old 05-12-2012, 08:30 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Cheyenne
Posts: 513
Re: New Hobby: Help me pick the right cartridge

308 or 30-06 will both work for what you list. You can get heavier and lighter loads for each, depending on your target. Hit the deer, even smaller varieties, in the vitals and neither will destroy too much meat.

I'll throw in my 2 cents on one thing, though. You say you want to go in cheaper on the equipment. I really discourage that. The Savage rifle will probably work well for you and be plenty accurate. However, don't skimp on optics. A shift in zero, a broken crosshair, anything will ruin your hunt - a hunt you might have planned for months and paid good money for. So, buy the rifle you want, then get a good quality Leuopld, Nikon, Vortex, etc scope. Leupold has a decent mil discount for their "tactical" line of scopes, but unfortunately not on their hunting lines.

Another point on the rifle package. If you decide you don't like hunting, it's much easier to sell quality optics and rifles for a good price than cheap stuff. I've found that cheap stuff will not sell at any price; quality stuff sells for almost what I paid for it.
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  #3  
Old 05-12-2012, 01:00 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Redmond Or.
Posts: 2,527
Re: New Hobby: Help me pick the right cartridge

Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadPilot View Post
308 or 30-06 will both work for what you list. You can get heavier and lighter loads for each, depending on your target. Hit the deer, even smaller varieties, in the vitals and neither will destroy too much meat.

I'll throw in my 2 cents on one thing, though. You say you want to go in cheaper on the equipment. I really discourage that. The Savage rifle will probably work well for you and be plenty accurate. However, don't skimp on optics. A shift in zero, a broken crosshair, anything will ruin your hunt - a hunt you might have planned for months and paid good money for. So, buy the rifle you want, then get a good quality Leuopld, Nikon, Vortex, etc scope. Leupold has a decent mil discount for their "tactical" line of scopes, but unfortunately not on their hunting lines.

Another point on the rifle package. If you decide you don't like hunting, it's much easier to sell quality optics and rifles for a good price than cheap stuff. I've found that cheap stuff will not sell at any price; quality stuff sells for almost what I paid for it.
Thank you for your service.
Now, +1. Good solid advise so far.
Id recomend looking hard at the Weatherby Vanguard Series-II.
Everyone of them is guaranteed sub MOA, not just the "sub MOA" model. Howa 1500 & Wby Vanguard are the exact same action, so aftermarket support for future upgrades is good. The Series 2 Vanguard has a good adjustable trigger for a factory rig also.
Rifles clambered in sandard cartriges like 308, & 30-06 are less expensive to buy, & shoot than Magnum chambered cartriges. Id personally opt for the -06 over the 308 everyday of the week where Elk & other bigger critters are concerned.

Here's another good trick for keeping cost down,
Look on Craigslist for a Leupold scope ( VX-II or better, preferably a VX-III). You can usually pick them up for a great price, then send it to the custom shop for any upgrades you'd like, such as B&C Varmint crosshairs (with stadia lines, & 10 & 20 mph windage marks out to 5-600), & or turrets & almost always you'll be out less $ than buying a new one. The 100% lifetime warranty is really 100%! No matter who bought it new, or how many owners down the line you are, its still 100% covered. Ive sent many used Leupys to the custom shop for these upgrades.
Plus they're WAY EASY to sell with custom shop upgrades if you decide you don't want to stick with hunting, & so is a rifle with a Wby trademark stamped on it.
For some reason, people associate the Wby name with Mark-5, Lasermark, or Accumark price. The Vanguard model is less than half of some of these. Some folks consider Weatherbys to be more "prestigious" simply because of the name. For whatever reason they are easy to sell.
For these reasons, quality, accuracy, price, & guarantee, id recomend the Wby vanguard, Leupold combo for your first rig. Especially in a 30 cal. There is no other caliber in the world with a bullet selection that can even compare, or even come close.
From 55 grain accellerators, to 230grain VLD's, Gopher to Griz, Sagerat to Sasquatch, you got er covered.
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  #4  
Old 05-12-2012, 02:46 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 3,256
Re: New Hobby: Help me pick the right cartridge

Thank you for your service. It is because of your good work, that folks like us have the freedom to shoot and hunt in this great country.

In terms of cartridge, the 30cals are tough to beat for your prescribed use. 308, 30-06 or 300winmag. Of those three, 30-06 would do just fine. As a marine, you should know the old adage "if you find yourself in a fair fight, your strategy sucks!" In hunting terms, this means there's no such thing as overkill.

Savage rifle is a great start. Get one with the accutrigger so you can tune it down to 2.5lbs or less.

Also, previous advice on optics is good advice. So no skimp on optics. Nothing worse than missing a shot because of a crappy scope. Buy the best you can afford. If it turns out you do not like hunting, you will have an easier time selling a quality scope than a crappy one. Earlier posts have named some good brands - also consider Sightron.

Where are you in VA? as an active duty Marine, you can shoot on MCB Quantico where they have a 1000yard range. Check out www.quanticoshootingclub.com
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  #5  
Old 05-13-2012, 12:38 AM
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Chugiak,AK
Posts: 31
Re: New Hobby: Help me pick the right cartridge

I applaud your view on the .243... NOW take this case to it's full potential and check out it's parent the .308 as well as the .358 Win and .338 Federal. Lots of ability with minimal powder use, acceptable recoil levels and great bullet selections for your different game needs. I miss my Savage 99's in this cartridge genre. Hunt long and keep your powder dry.
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  #6  
Old 05-13-2012, 02:00 AM
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 733
Re: New Hobby: Help me pick the right cartridge

If I was a Captain in the Marines I would go for a cartridge that the Marines use that way very cheap ammo might kind of find it's way into your kit bag . Lots of spent cases laying on the range that can be reloaded , even Military Berdan primed can be deprimed with a hydraulic decapper .
If they are still using 300 WM that would be a good alrounder but 7.62 Nato would be easier to get. If you bought a 308 W rifle and a Redding 308 W . body die and an RCBS RC press any Nato rounds that don't chamber easy you can just bump them a few thou. Knock the points off the FMJ bullets on a grinder , accurise and square them up with a meplat trimmer .
I have definately been through the Military but not the hunting scene in the US .
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  #7  
Old 05-13-2012, 07:40 AM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 16
Re: New Hobby: Help me pick the right cartridge

All,
Thank you for the replies and advice. I am really taking a closer look at the optics now, as I have a friend who advised something similar.
Trebark, I am most definitely going to check out the QSC. I drove past it the other day and made a mental note to look into it. Then forgot about it. I'm glad that you reminded me.
As for collecting expended brass, there are some rules for that. Most military ranges do not just let you take what you want. I'm sure that there are ways to legally do it, I've just never looked into it. Believe me when I say that I have considered a .308 purely because it is a common round on military bases and I recall while I was out at Camp Pendleton (California) that some fellow Marines were able to take advantage of a "surplus ammo" sale and scored hundreds of rounds for cheap.
As I said when I started this discussion, I am new to this and welcome any point of view or insight that you think may be of value. Thanks again and keep the suggestions coming!
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