My husband hasn’t been hunting in a few years and had a chance to go with his father since they both had the same week off from work together. I want to hunt, I love to hike and camp so being out in the woods is preferable to me. We are conscientious about buying so we have to do our research. At this point, I do not have enough knowledge to pick a hunting rifle at the $500 plus price point. If I had to choose today, I would choose a Tikka rifle but with more experience, who knows?
The biggest decision I had was what caliber to shoot- which meant borrowing or renting rifles. I borrowed a 30-06, 25-06, and 270 Win to shoot to determine. When you borrow, you cannot choose the weight of the rifle so it is a consideration if you are looking at synthetic vs. wood stocks, the difference between a 12 lb rifle and 7 lb can change your felt recoil.
Opinions are not helpful, everyone has their preferred caliber and sometimes preferred rifle manufacturer. Some said the .243 was more than enough to hunt with, while others warned it wasn’t enough stopping power. I did my research and yes, some shoot the .243 with excellent results but for the most humane hunting, I would prefer a larger caliber. The last thing I want is to prolong the suffering of an animal.
The 30-06 kicks. I stood my ground with it but it was a shoulder punch and not something I would ever consider shooting from a tree stand. When I shot the 25-06, it was okay but I preferred the .270 caliber rifle. Then the research began!
Hubs and I agreed that a first hunting rifle should be under $400, preferably with a scope already mounted for the best value. A quick internet search yielded a few models to consider. American Hunter had a great article about budget hunting rifles for under $500 that was written in February 2016 (timely). With this short list, there was a starting point of model research.
The first rifle to research was the Ruger American rifle, we have both heard good things about this rifle it seemed to be a safe place to start. The price point was a little higher than I had hoped for but I found the Ruger American Rifle with a Vortex scope! (SCORE!) Then it was to read the reviews. Nutnfancy on YouTube is very thorough on his reviews, even when he voices his personal preferences, he tells you flat out. He goes over all the features and what he likes about them or doesn’t without prejudice.
I personally do not like the Savage AXIS rifle, I held it at a gun store and it is not a good fit for me. The bolt was not smooth, the trigger was long. I did not take the time to research the Savage or the Marlin rifles on American Hunter’s list. After seeing Nutnfancy’s video and a few others on YouTube, we set out to find the best deal we could on the Ruger American. The Ruger American seemed to be the best deal for the best value, a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×40 mm scope with BDC is priced (on sale even) at $149-$199, which with a price point of the Ruger American at $447 (-$149=$298 rifle). Proof below.
We had a gun show in town so we figured where else to go on Black Friday weekend than to the gun show! Yes there was Ruger American rifles there in .270 but none with the scope. Of course, that’s how it goes sometimes especially if you are looking to buy online vs in-store. Table after table we looked for a .270 even if it wasn’t a Ruger American, just to get the best bang for our buck. We stopped at one table and when asked what we were looking for the personal opinion came out that the .270 has more recoil than the .308. Ho! Lookie here, there’s a .308 on the table for sale. Wink. Then Hubs started second-guessing the .270 selection, as he wants a .308 himself so he could shoot military surplus rounds (7.62×51). Then his wheels got to turning and we did a quick assessment of whether to look for a .308 or .270. Honestly, I could handle the 30-06 and as long as my rifle has LESS recoil than that, I’ll do fine with it. I believe the more you shoot a firearm, the more familiar and easier it gets. On to the next table that sent our little world spinning for about the next 2 hours…
There sitting on a table was a Ruger Predator in ugly green but with a thicker, threaded barrel and chambered in .308 at $399. It handled just like the Ruger American, was a tad bit heavier and was able to have a muzzle break added to it. Ugly green, really ugly and the only color it comes in. But it had NO SCOPE. Was it worth the extra cost? We found the Vortex Crossfire II scope on sale at one of our local vendor’s table for $149 (sweet!) so if we went ahead with the Predator ($399 plus tax)=$432 then the Vortex scope ($149 out the door)=$581. Um, OUT OF BUDGET! Again, Hubs, is it worth it? He decided no, thankfully. Bye-bye ugly green.
We left the gun show, no purchases but with a lot more confusion! Let’s go to Gander Mountain to look, we did- no Ruger American with a scope. The Ruger American was available in .308 at $349.99 without a scope (with tax) =$379.73 and then purchase Vortex scope ($149)=$528.73 URGH. Realization: If you find a deal online, you will NOT find it in a store and it is impossible to get a store to match that price. I wouldn’t even ask a local gun shop to match that price, they have to make money to stay in business and they need our support. We then went to Field & Stream (yes we are spoiled and we know it).
Upon waiting for one of the two people on staff at the counter, we saw a Remington rebate info sheet. This is what steered us to Remington over Ruger. The Ruger American was there for $349.98 without a scope, chamber in .308 ready to purchase. Same predicament as at Gander Mountain, too much money. The Remington 783 was there with a scope at $349.99 within budget. We couldn’t get over the Vortex scope yet so we left. I knew this was the better deal and the budget firearm we set out looking for. I did want the Ruger American more but our focus of this expedition was to get the best budget rifle we could.
We learned a couple of things: 1) Online deals cannot be found in stores unless you are looking at big box stores offerings. 2) There will always be PROS and CONS to your decision. 3) You don’t have to ‘upgrade’ unless you find a reason to upgrade through your experience.
Ultimately, we found a Mossy Oak camo Remington 783, .308 WIN with 22″ barrel with 9×40 scope for $343 delivered. This is the same deal below at little higher cost, apparently we got the only one available or others were shopping at the same time we were. I will post more about this after it arrives.