FAQ: What Rifle Should I Buy? The Basics

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  • FAQ: What Rifle Should I Buy? The Basics

    I thought it was about time someone created an FAQ thread for the inevitable "What rifle should I buy" threads. I hope that others will find this useful. Much of the information here is based on my own experience and opinions and information I have found on forums similar to this one. I do not claim that my opinion is the “right” one, and I encourage any new shooter to do your research and obtain as much information as possible before handing over your cash.

    This is one of the most common questions that a new shooter will ask on the forums, and there really is no correct answer, as the question is very open-ended. Before asking a question like this, consider the following three factors:

    1. Intended Use
    Hunting
    What animals will you be hunting? This will play a factor in what calibre you choose. Smaller game such as rabbits, foxes and cats can be hunted with relatively small cartridges, like a .22LR, 17HMR, .22Magnum (WMR), or small centrefire cartridges like the .223 Remington. Larger game such as pigs, goats or small deer will require something a little bigger like .243-.308.
    Typically a hunting rifle will be lightweight, easy to carry with a smaller low-magnification scope (say 3-9x magnification).


    Target Shooting
    Do you want to go to the range and shoot groups at your desired distance? Or do you want to compete? What range will you be shooting at? What rules does your chosen competition have regarding what equipment can be used? Types of rests, calibre/cartridge, and rifle weight will all be factors.
    Typically a target rifle will be much heavier, heavy barrel design, high magnification scope, often shooting from a supported position (i.e. off a bench or prone).
    Target rifles and hunting rifles have very different requirements. Getting one rifle with the intention of doing both will be a compromise for one or both of these uses.


    2. Budget
    Shooting is a sport that can be as expensive as you want to make it. Consider the cost of the firearm, suitable optics, rests/supports (bipod or front stands), and also ammunition costs. A .22LR costs around 8c per shot, centrefire cartridges are generally around $1-1.50 per shot for factory ammunition. An entry level hunting rifle can be had for a few hundred dollars, where a custom built long range target rifle can run well over $10000. And there is everything in between to suit your intended use and budget. There are many rifles available on second hand gun websites. Buying and selling guns online is perfectly legal, but all purchases and transfers must go through a dealer. You may find what you are after for significantly less cost than purchasing new.

    3. Recoil
    Recoil should be a consideration for new shooters. A .22LR has very little recoil, something like a .308 may be too much recoil, and can often scare a new shooter, or the shooter may develop a flinch.

    Many people will recommend a .22LR as a first rifle. They are generally cheap to buy, ammunition is cheap, and there is very little recoil. This allows the shooter to concentrate on getting the fundamentals right without having to worry about the cost or recoil. However, my personal opinion is that a new shooter will often lose interest in shooting a .22 only.
    A small centrefire like a .223Rem may be a better option for some shooters, which still has little recoil, and relatively cheap for ammunition, but has the capability to shoot longer ranges, the more stopping power for larger game and the spent cases can be reloaded. Some shooters may find the louder noise and slightly more recoil more exciting to shoot – after all, having fun is the first step.


    I invite other members to make other suggestions to new shooters to help them make an informed decision.

  • #2
    I've often thought a new shooter should consider buying a decent old second hand .22lr as their first one off the ranks. This gets them a cheaply bought and cheaply fed rifle to get their skills sorted out with but it also helps to calm the 'urgency' of a first purchase once that license is in hand. Most gun shops have a few semi-decent, second hand 22lrs on the racks for under $200. Just my opinion but it's what I've always suggested and at the end of the day they'll always hold a soft spot for their first rifle . . . or will take to it with sand paper and enjoy doing it up later down the track

    Comment


    • #3
      I think it is a great idea.

      I have added to what you have put in and set it out differently. Happy for anyone else to change as needed.


      1. Hearing protection

      An absolute must for any CF and nearly all rimfire rifles. If you don’t want to develop major hearing problems (like a lot here already have) you MUST wear hearing protection every time you shoot. It also has the major benefit of reducing the sound of the explosion next to your head which often results in flinching.


      2. Recoil

      Recoil is the other major contributor to developing bad habits. You need to condition your body to it. You wouldn’t walk in a boxing ring and do 5 rounds with a Muay Thai fighter without conditioning first. The best way to condition is to work your way up calibres. A great way to start shooting is with .22LR. You can shoot all day for a few dollars and really work on technique. Next a .223 will give you the feel of mild recoil and further help condition your body to the noise (even with hearing protection there is some noise) and the jolt of recoil. I would only consider buying a higher power rifle once you feel comfortable and confident with mid powered centrefires (IE had a reasonable amount of experience).


      3. Intended Use

      Hunting

      Game Size:

      Small (rabbits, hares, cats, foxes etc)
      Suggested Calibres: Rimfire to .223 (larger calibres are suitable but not required)

      Medium (pigs, goats, small deer, wild dogs)
      Suggested Calibres: .222/.223 to .308 (30-30 and pistol cals also effective)

      Large game (Sambar deer, Buffalo, Donkey, Camel etc)
      (Note: min cal for Sambar in Vic .270)



      Hunting type

      Thick scrub: - Shorter, light weight, quick action (lever/pump). Min magnification/open sight. (1x to 5x)
      Mountains: - Light weight, varied magnification (2x to 12x)
      Open plains: - Medium weight okay, varied magnification (2x to 12x)
      Varminting: - Heavy barrel okay, max magnification (up to 12x to 20x +)
      Spotlighting: - Heavy barrel okay, (shorter barrels better) magnification around 6x to 8x

      Target Shooting

      You will need to work out the following:
      Range/s are available in your area
      Distance/s
      Competitions (calibre options)
      Restrictions (what calibre/muzzle break, action type restrictions are there)
      Before purchasing it is highly recommended visiting the range/s to get valuable info.

      Please note re long range shooting: It is highly advisable to get consistent groups at shooter ranges, eg 50m 100m 200m before going longer ranges.


      4. Budget
      Shooting is a sport that can be as expensive as you want to make it. Consider the cost of the firearm, suitable optics, rests/supports (bipod or front stands), and also ammunition costs. A .22LR costs around 8c per shot, centrefire cartridges are generally around $1-1.50 per shot for factory ammunition. An entry level hunting rifle can be had for a few hundred dollars, where a custom built long range target rifle can run well over $10000. And there is everything in between to suit your intended use and budget. There are many rifles available on second hand gun websites. Buying and selling guns online is perfectly legal, but all purchases and transfers must go through a dealer. You may find what you are after for significantly less cost than purchasing new. Don’t underestimate the importance of decent optics, a high end lower magnification scope will outperform a cheap high magnification scope.

      Comment


      • Guest's Avatar
        Guest commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi All,
        Great thread.
        If I can put in my 2c worth.
        Though your mates may try to sway you to a particular make (Tikka or Howa ) I believe a very important aspect is to feel comfortable with the rifle. It is imperative you should be able to shoulder it as an extension of your-self. it should feel natural, and it should give you confidence. I learnt a very expensive mistake when I purchased one of my first. it was a beauty on the shelf ( I won't name the brand as there was nothing wrong with the rifle), and I admired her looks, I excitedly made the purchase, and subsequently found it didn't really fit me, and I needed to think about shouldering, sighting etc. instead of it being a fluid action.
        All was not lost, She is now my favourite safe-queen!

    • #4
      I know everyone always says... "Get a cheap .22 and learn how to shoot properly first." That's all well and good but that would have bored me to tears. I think that a first rifle should also be one that keeps the new shooter interested too. It's gotta make them want to go to the range and shoot it, or put in the effort to drive out to a hunting spot etc. If it isn't the new shooter may quickly become bored and move on to some more interesting activity like golf

      Comment


      • Sambar Country
        Sambar Country commented
        Editing a comment
        Originally posted by Movealongnothingtoseehere" post=11169
        I know everyone always says... "Get a cheap .22 and learn how to shoot properly first." That's all well and good but that would have bored me to tears. I think that a first rifle should also be one that keeps the new shooter interested too. It's gotta make them want to go to the range and shoot it, or put in the effort to drive out to a hunting spot etc. If it isn't the new shooter may quickly become bored and move on to some more interesting activity like golf
        Yep...I've never owned a .22 and have rarely used them. My first rifle was a .308. People go on about how the recoil will cause a flinch or whatever. You would have got belted more as a school kid playing AFL, Rugby League or Union. Recoil is over in a split second, it's no big deal and will not kill you. Use good hearing protection.

        But if all you want to do is shoot wabbits, then get a .22.
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