So, from one rimfire rifle, we have chosen a pistol and a shotgun. Now it is time for a first centerfire rifle. Once again, it seems to me there is a decision to made right at the beginning. Do you want a new, modern hunting rifle or an old military gun?
What we are considering is quality, caliber, fit, and accuracy. Since this is the first one, I want a readily available caliber with a broad assortment of ammunition choices. That, for me, narrows the choice to one of three, either .308 Winchester or 30.06, or 30-30. Get a big safe and you can pick up a 6mm Ackely Improved later on, if it calls to you. I went with 30.06 when I got my first, and I don’t regret it, but I don’t think it is better or worse than .308 Win.
I chose a bolt action. If that’s the choice, there’s Winchester Model 70, Remington 700, Savage 110, and lots of others. Firing one of these is not like shooting a .22. If you go military, and buy a 1903, it has a metal buttplate, and you really know when it goes off.
This one is harder, because there are so many choices. Again, you’re going to want to fondle some, shoot some, and talk to friends. There’s also the lever actions in 30-30, and I wouldn’t want to say that might not be the choice as well. I’m only willing to say that it should be a gun that you shoulder well, shoot accurately, in a common flavor of .30 caliber, and when you have a scope mounted on it, don’t scrimp.
That last is important enough to say again, you just bought a fine, accurate rifle, something you’ve been looking forward to, don’t buy a $59.95 scope. Get the best scope you can. This lesson I learned because I bought a used Remington 700 in 30.06 with a cheap scope already mounted. I suspect the gun was sold because the previous owner thought it impossible to shoot accurately. I wasted a couple of boxes of ammo and then I consulted a reliable gunsmith. After mounting a quality scope, I was able to zero the rifle with confidence. This is your first hunting rifle, , one you will be shooting for many years. Buy a good scope.
Now we own a .22 rifle, a .357 revolver, a 12 ga. pump shotgun and a scoped .30 caliber rifle. We practice with all of them, and can clean and maintain them. These purchases may have taken place over a year or more, with lots of opportunities to shoot with friends and try various guns. The awareness of the cost of the growing pile of accessories to support this hobby is forming. We’re starting to have preferences, and the beginning of a wish list. There are still a couple or basics to be added. Next on the agenda? An autoloading pistol.
Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.
–William A. Foster