Deer Rifle recommendations

D DayD Day Posts: 84 Deckhand
Hello. Newbie here, making first post.

I would like recommendations for a deer rifle and scope. What I am hoping to accomplish:

1. Stay within a $600 budget (rifle and scope)
2. Have a gun that my 12 year old can comfortably shoot when he hunts with me (I dont know if there is a significant difference in recoil between a .243, a .270, a 30-06, etc.)

The vast majority of our hunting will be at a hunting club in the Florida Panhandle. I think that most shots at deer will be 150 yards or less.

As I have researched on line, I have quickly discovered how little I know about deer rifles (have always been a duck and dove hunter). The research I have done has me thinking that a .243 is the way to go. One is the Marlin XL7. The other is a Savage. Some ofthe reviewers of the Savage have said that if buying a Savage you must get one with an "accu-trigger". Apparaently the Savage rifles that dont have "acctrigger" have a tendency to "creep" (what the heck is trigger creep ?)

I have read some good reviews for a scope called the Burris Fullfield II. Looks like this could be within my budget.

I am open to all recommendations. I just really need to stay within a $600 budget, and have a gun with a recoil that is manageable for my 12 year old.

Many, many thanks for your advice.


  • JoshAaron91685JoshAaron91685 Posts: 723 Officer
    Does your son shoot at all yet? Might want to start him with a .22 if you havent already. Savages are good accurate rifles. Never put my hands on a marlin XL7 so I cant say. .243 will get the job done every time if you do your part.
  • 001001 Posts: 4,292 Captain
    I've seen some 12 year olds that can handle a 300. If you think he could handle a .270 then go with that round. You can even find reduced recoil ammo that will help with women and children. If you went with a round that has a reduced recoil ammo, then as he grew, the ammo could grow. Much cheaper than buying a new gun. This is if recoil is you concern and not gun size. 7mm-08 and .308 are great rounds as well. You should be able to find a very good used gun in that price range. There will be a big difference in a used one and a new one. Keep an eye on the classified section of the forum and also check
  • DKDDKD Posts: 375 Deckhand
    243, 25-06, 7mm-08 are all low recoil rounds that are suitable for deer hunting. 243 ammo is available anywhere. 25-06 might be a little harder to find, but has slightly better ballistics than the others. All would do the job just fine, and you couldn't go wrong with any of these. Honestly, I would go with whatever gun you get a better deal on.

    Once you get up to 270 and 30-06, recoil starts to go up. While the recoil is manageable on these guns, it might be too much for some 12 year olds (especially if they have not shot much). The 270 is a great all around cartridge, and my personal preference. If you have no plans of larger game than deer or hogs, I would stick to the lighter recoiling rounds.
  • yakmanyakman Posts: 63 Deckhand
    Take a look at H&R or New England Arms. They make a nice single shot rifle, that is very reasonably priced. You can get them in 44mag, 30-30, .243, 7mm08, 25-06, 270, 30-06, just to name a few. They are very accurate and light weight, for the money. I hope this helps.
  • .243 is an excellent choice!
  • D DayD Day Posts: 84 Deckhand
    Thanks fro the responses everyone. Good information. I had no idea abour reduced recoil ammo. Will do some homework on that, as well as keep an eye on used gun market.
  • Larry MacLarry Mac Posts: 5,465 Admiral
    Recommend getting good ear muffs also for the youngun'--the very loud noise plus compression of any of those guns could produce a flinch as much as the recoil especially in a 12 year old. I second the .243. pretty much anything in Florida
  • BigguyBigguy Posts: 99 Greenhorn
    I purchased a a Savage 270 when I started deer and hog hunting. My younger boy was around that age when I started hunting again. When we went to the range to shoot the 270, the recoil made them both flinch after they fired it a few times. I went out and purchased the Savage 243 with scope. For the kids, its was the best thing I ever did. The recoil was minimal, for them, so they didn't mind shooting off a box of ammo at the range to get better at shooting.

    All three of us have shot numerous hogs with the 243. And 1 buck for the boy. We hunt hogs much more than deer. It is a good gun to shoot but they must hit the vitals.

    The 270 is a better round and gives you better knock down strength but the recoil is there and for my kids, it proved to be a problem. Personally I love the 270 and don't mind the recoil at all. My older boy is now 19 and doesn't mind the recoil of the

    Good luck in your decision, both rounds will knock down deer and hogs. The 243 is more kid friendly. I did not get the accu-trigger and haven't had any issues with trigger creep (whatever that is). Bought both guns with their scope and they were very accurate right out of the box and remain that way to this day many years later.
  • diamondbackdiamondback Posts: 9 Greenhorn
    cant go wrong with a 243 savage.My son killed lots of deer with his growing up and this year my daughter started using it and has killed 3 with it year.Make sure the gun fits him.prolly better off with a youth he get older he can still use it and will prolly appreciate it being a light weight rifle.Ours has the regular trigger and as long as he is used to it ,it shouldnt be an issue.I think the term creep is a long trigger pull,but for safety reasons I would prefer that in a youths gun.I have heard good things about the marlin and we have a NEF single shot that will work but a youth may have issues cocking the hammer especially if a scope is mounted.
  • CDill9CDill9 Posts: 108 Officer
    .243 is a great round, it is perfect for deer. Their is no reason to get a harder hitting heavy round that might make your kids flinch and not want to shoot. I have been using a Mossberg M800 or 800M, since I was 10 and my father used it for many years before that. It is a fast flat flying round with minimal recoil.

    Good Luck
  • D DayD Day Posts: 84 Deckhand
    Thanks again for the advice guys. Over the weekend I have talked to a friend that has a .243, and another that has a 7mm-.08. Both are willing to let me borrow their rifles to take to the shooting range, so I will probably let me 12 year old try them out and see what he thinks. I wont even mention to him that the 7mm-08 has a bit more recoil. Perhaps he wont notice. The owner of the 7mm-08 tells me that when using Managed Recoil Loads there is very little difference in recoil compared to the .243
  • TGunnTGunn Posts: 1,878 Captain
    The .243, .260, 7mm-08, and .308 are all the same casing with a different diameter bullet. The recoil will increase slightly as you go up from the .243 to the .308 only due to increased projectile weight.

    If you're going to get the boy a full-sized (not lightweight) rifle like an X7, etc., my advice would be to get him a normal-weight (7 lbs or heavier) .308. I own a 7-08 and while it's a pussycat, the reduced-recoil or Remington Managed Recoil .308 loads shoot a lighter weight bullet and the recoil is nominal, similar to a normal-power .243. However, with a .30-caliber like the .308, you'll find a great number of factory loadings available anywhere from the managed recoil loads all the way to full-power 180-grain bonded bullets that are excellent for large pigs, etc. Your choice in bullet weights in the .243, .260, and 7-08 are very limited, and that boy is going to grow into the rifle very very quickly.

    A .243 is great for Florida deer but you have to remember a .308 is sitting on the same amount of gunpowder and is really much more versatile all things considered.
  • bcbz71bcbz71 Posts: 7 Greenhorn
    Seems like this question is popping up on all the hunting forums this week!

    Anyway, I bought my 11 y/o a youth model Remington bolt 700 .243 combo at WalMart. Kept the gun and rings and threw the Remington scope out. Put a Leupold VXII on it and I can hit a golf ball out to 130yds (that's the farthest berm on our range). I'm 6'/200# and I have found it to be very comfortable to shoot even with the youth stock. And the shorter barrel gives you great mobility inside a tight deer stand.

    He is a small kid and prefers shooting his .243 over our .223 AR, so the recoil is very manageable. I am a firm believer in shot placement over bullet size, so I would rather he enjoy practicing shooting his .243 without flinching rather than going with a larger round that kicks the snot out of him.
  • willwork4duckswillwork4ducks Posts: 65 Greenhorn
    A ton of great recommendations on guns so far. I'll add another wrinkle. Thompson Center has come out with a Venture Preditor series that is available in the calibers mentioned and a scope mounted already. It is full camo and is garunteed MOA out of the box. Yes, there was a recall on some of the ventures recently but any you buy new will not have that issue.

    Shoots great, looks cool, and is in your budget. Sorry if I caused anymore confusion. Good luck.
  • A-boltA-bolt Posts: 110 Officer
    bcbz71 wrote: »
    I am a firm believer in shot placement over bullet size, so I would rather he enjoy practicing shooting his .243 without flinching rather than going with a larger round that kicks the snot out of him.

    This. Definitely depends on the kid, I started shooting an .30-06 around 15 (although after moving up from .22s and shotguns) and I was just fine, but I was a relatively big kid. Although now, a few years later, I have developed a flinch from shooting my .06. Had to do some serious .22 shooting and dry firing to cure that, So if you can avoid flinch...good.
    I like the savage with the accu-trigger (never owned one, but ive shot a few), and sounds like .243 is well liked. Also, go to gun shows! my most recent rifle was a Browning A-bolt for $475 in great condition, normally sell for around $900. I think.
  • fixin2fixin2 Posts: 53 Greenhorn
    I have 13 year twin girls and just bought them a Savage bolt action in .243. The scope is not that great but the rifle is already looking like it's a real shooter. They can handle the recoil just fine and it will handle anything in the southeast. I plan on hand loading some 95 grain Nosler Partitions for hunting. The rifle only set me back about $425 or so with taxes and such. The Marlin mentioned above would be a good option as well.
  • FISHIN' GYPSYFISHIN' GYPSY Posts: 336 Officer
    001 wrote: »
    I've seen some 12 year olds that can handle a 300. If you think he could handle a .270 then go with that round. You can even find reduced recoil ammo that will help with women and children. If you went with a round that has a reduced recoil ammo, then as he grew, the ammo could grow. Much cheaper than buying a new gun. This is if recoil is you concern and not gun size. 7mm-08 and .308 are great rounds as well. You should be able to find a very good used gun in that price range. There will be a big difference in a used one and a new one. Keep an eye on the classified section of the forum and also check

    What he said X2
  • wfoldswfolds Posts: 43 Deckhand
    243 is a great choice. I go to Virginia every summer and do crop protection with my nephew. With my 243 I have taken Deer out to 500 yards most of our shots are 100 to 300 yards and groundhogs out to 300+ yards, of course shot placement is a key. In Florida you probably will not have a lot of 300 to 500 yard shots but one that will gather a lot of light would be a benifit. It is always a good idea to spend a little more on your optics. In your price range you should look for a good used rifle and spend more on your optics. Nikon Bushmaster is another good choice. My first 243 was a Savage model 12SS and Nikon Bushmaster scope (this rig should come in near $1000.00). I now shoot a DPMS
    243 with a Zeiss Scope. Good Luck
  • TriplecleanTripleclean Posts: 6,591 Officer
    Get any rifle you want because if your boy is 12 funny stuff is going is starting to happen to his body right now, by 13 and then 14 it wont matter. He can shoot .22 for target and the deer rifle just for feel and deer. With the scope 150 yrds and under is going to be easy.
  • jdipietrojdipietro Posts: 32 Greenhorn
    I agree with spending a little more on optics than on your hunting rifle. I shot a Winchester 30-30 and then a Rem700 in .270. Still have both guns. Managed recoil ammo makes a huge difference and would make a .270 a better long term investment as he will get much strong over the next few years. Meanwhile, this is a rifle you can shoot with larger ammo. Ultimately, the best rifle to buy, in my experience, is the one you shoot well. Try shooting a couple friends' guns and with different ammo in each. My next rifle will most likely be a .308, and that newer Ruger Gunsite looks awesome. In past trips I have even borrowed a rifle to hold off on buying my own and saved up for a bigger budget. Hope this helps!
  • buckfeverbuckfever Posts: 137 Deckhand
    A .308 is a good choice for a youth gun. Doesn't kick too hard, not too loud, has cheap ammo and kills better than a .243. Bad shots happen and your more likely to find your kill with a blood trail from a .30 caliber hole than .24 caliber hole.
  • SeastrikeSeastrike Posts: 61 Greenhorn
    I purchased a Remington model 7 youth in 243 for my son when he was ten. I came with a cheap Remington scope that was going to be replaced with a Nikon if it ever showed the first problem. My son shoots it well and it may be the most accurate rifle I have owned. Hate to say it but I got it from walmart. I plan on getting him a larger caliber in a couple years but I will never get rid of this rifle. It is short, light and accurate. Not exactly a Remington advocate but it shoots more accurately than my Browning which all together is three times as much.
  • Derek ArsuaDerek Arsua Posts: 2,474 Officer
    Well savage makes some pretty decent combo guns but the scope is not of any real quality. If you haven't bought a gun yet I noticed wal-mart has a ruger bolt action rifle out for $375 the 2 calibers I seen there were 270 and 30-06 I would recommend a 270 or 7mm they are both exactly the gun you need for any kind of deer be it big or small also hogs to and at $375 that frees up about $200 for a scope and rings should be a decent setup for that price range and ruger always makes a quality product
  • FloridaODFloridaOD Posts: 3,455 Captain
    I waited for a long time before 'moving up' to 30-06 Coulda shoulda gone to 30-06 sooner
    Hunters are present yet relatively uncommon in Florida :wink
  • pbsnookerpbsnooker Posts: 882 Officer
    .270 Win. (130 at 3140) 8.0 16.5 n/a
    .270 Win. (140 at 3000) 8.0 17.1 11.7
    .270 Win. (150 at 2900) 8.0 17.0 11.7
    .270 WSM (130 at 3275) 8.0 18.7 12.3
    .270 WSM (150 at 3000) 8.0 18.9 12.3
    .270 Wby. Mag. (130 at 3375) 9.0 21.0 12.3
    .270 Wby. Mag. (150 at 3000) 9.25 17.8 11.1
    7-30 Waters (120 at 2700) 7.0 10.0 9.6
    7x57 Mauser (139 at 2700) 8.75 11.7 9.3
    7x57 Mauser (145 at 2725) 8.5 13.0 9.9
    7x57 Mauser (160 at 2600) 8.0 14.3 n/a
    7x57 Mauser (175 at 2500) 8.0 15.5 11.2
    7mm-08 Rem. (120 at 3000) 7.5 12.1 10.2
    7mm-08 Rem. (140 at 2860) 8.0 12.6 10.1
    .284 Win (150 at 2860) 7.5 17.4 n/a
    7x64 (154 at 2850) 8.0 17.9 n/a
    7x65R (175 at 2600) 8.0 17.1 11.7
    .280 Rem. (140 at 3000) 8.0 17.2 11.8
    .280 Rem. (150 at 2900) 8.0 17.4 11.8
    .280 Rem. (160 at 2800) 8.0 17.0 11.7
    7x61 S&H Mag. (154 at 3000) 8.5 18.4 11.8
    7mm Rem. SAUM (160 at 2931) 8.0 21.5 13.2
    7mm WSM (140 at 3200) 8.0 20.7 12.9
    7mm WSM (160 at 3000) 8.0 21.9 13.3
    7mm Rem. Mag. (139 at 3100) 9.0 19.3 11.8
    7mm Rem. Mag. (150 at 3100) 8.5 19.2 12.1
    7mm Rem. Mag. (160 at 2950) 9.0 20.3 12.0
    7mm Rem. Mag. (175 at 2870) 9.0 21.7 12.5
    .275 H&H Mag. (160 at 3050) 8.5 19.5 12.2
    7mm Wby. Mag. (140 at 3300) 9.25 19.5 11.7
    7mm Wby. Mag. (160 at 3200) 9.0 25.6 13.5
    7mm STW (160 at 3185) 8.5 27.9 14.6
    7mm Ultra Mag. (140 at 3425) 8.5 25.3 n/a
    7mm Ultra Mag. (160 at 3200) 8.5 29.4 n/a
    .30 Carbine (110 at 1990) 7.0 3.5 5.7
    .30 Rem. (170 at 2120) 7.5 9.8 9.2
    .30-30 Win. (150 at 2400) 7.5 10.6 9.5
    .30-30 Win. (160 at 2400) 7.5 12.7 10.5
    .30-30 Win. (170 at 2200) 7.5 11.0 9.7
    .30-40 Krag (180 at 2430) 8.0 16.6 n/a
    .300 Sav. (150 at 2630) 7.5 14.8 n/a
    .307 Win. (150 at 2600) 7.5 13.7 10.9
    .308 Marlin Express (160 at 2660) 8.0 13.4 10.4
    7.5x55 Swiss (150 at 2800) 9.0 12.9 9.6
    .308 Win. (150 at 2800) 7.5 15.8 11.7
    .308 Win. (165 at 2700) 7.5 18.1 12.5
    .308 Win. (180 at 2610) 8.0 17.5 11.9
    .30-06 Spfd. (150 at 2910) 8.0 17.6 11.9
    .30-06 Spfd. (165 at 2900) 8.0 20.1 12.7
    .30-06 Spfd. (180 at 2700) 8.0 20.3 12.8
  • pbsnookerpbsnooker Posts: 882 Officer
    The second # is recoil in ft lbs
  • FloridaODFloridaOD Posts: 3,455 Captain
    Hunters are present yet relatively uncommon in Florida :wink
  • tarawatarawa Posts: 153 Deckhand
    Very nice! Something special about walnut and blued steel. I'm not one for camo, stainless or plastic.
    Life Is For Service
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