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New to shooting - centrefire rifle calibre suggestions please

hi guys and gals

I'm new to shooting. I recently got my rimfire and centrefire longarm licences. I'm now going through the process of getting my handgun licence which will take a bout 6-8mths before I can buy my own.

my first purchase? a .22 calibre rifle which I can use at the local indoor range (50m). the gun club I joined do regular weekend day trips to an outdoor range so I'm thinking of getting something with longer legs but I'm not sure which way to go - 223 or 243 or 270 or bigger.

I'm not a hunter so the 'big' gun will only be used on a range and probably only a few days a year. when I get my handgun licence I will probably start doing my own reloading as this is the main type of shooting I want to do but in the mean time I'm limited to 22 revolvers but I can buy shoot virtually any cal long.

I know that centrefire rifles in 223 are cheaper/cheapest out of the above options when it comes to ammo costs but as it's only a few times a year that I'll be shooting the larger calibre the cost of ammo probably not something that will concern me too much, esp when I start reloading. as I'm in Oz the availability and cost of ammo may not be the same as the US.

I've read about barrels being burnt out, I don't want something that I can only shoot 1000-2000 times before the barrel needs replacing.

I think I would like to shoot 300-500 metres/yards at most. what do you think? go the 223 or a bit bigger? what about a 357 long? or a 44? are rifles accurate over distance in those calibres? my main wants are accuracy, longevity of rifle (if that's relevant, correct if I'm wrong), bang for buck (I can't own an AR or military grade rifles in Oz), something that's easy to shoot and fun and won't have me flinching and in agony from a smashed up shoulder, reasonably flat trajectory.

sorry for the newbie questions but I am a newbie. all responses are appreciated. feel free to mention specific gun models if you want to. I love gun pics!
 
You mentioned you want fun to shoot with limited recoil, that's accurate with a flat trajectory...well you pretty much just sold yourself a.223. Prices of ammo in the USA are outrageous I can only imagine what they are in Australia! Get the .223 it is everything you want and you'll be able to find ammo. If you ever decide to hunt you will be able to take small to medium size game with it too.

If you decide you want bigger get a .308.
 
.223 is fine for long range shooting, but the more serious shooters like some thing a bit larger.

6mm (.243) is very popular bullet size for long range shooters. Some even like to go larger with a .308.

Larger bullets tend to be more stable in longer range shooting.
 
There are also some excellent 6.5mm cartridges, most designed for long range work. 6.5 Creedmore, the old 6.5x55 Mauser, and 260 Remington, all need standard size bolt actions. The 6.5 Grendel is my favorite, a smaller cartridge that was designed to fit through a standard AR 15 action, and has proved very accurate. It was also designed to extend the range of a standard AR 15 size rifle out to about a thousand yards and seems to do that quite well the proper bullet which has turned out to be a 123 gr Lapua , made in Finland.
 
gents thank you for your responses, I really appreciate them.

I have done a bit of internet 'research' and had come to the conclusion that the 223 was probably what I was looking for.

another cal that interested me was the 7mm. I know it is a lot more to handle than the 223 but would this provide more 'fun' or is it just a bigger version of the 223 that would pound my shoulder more and not really serve to aid me in developing my shooting skills? sorry if I've not used correct terminology.
 
Also the proper billet weight for your gun will depend on the rate of twist in the rifling of the barrel.
 
gents thank you for your responses, I really appreciate them.

I have done a bit of internet 'research' and had come to the conclusion that the 223 was probably what I was looking for.

another cal that interested me was the 7mm. I know it is a lot more to handle than the 223 but would this provide more 'fun' or is it just a bigger version of the 223 that would pound my shoulder more and not really serve to aid me in developing my shooting skills? sorry if I've not used correct terminology.

If you're talking about the 7X57 Mauser it will produce more recoil than the 223. In general 7mm bullets have excellent ballistic characteristics which promote accuracy at extended ranges. It does have a wider range of applications if you're interests lead you into the area of hunting. Part of the felt recoil from any round has other factors than the round's power level. Also involved in felt recoil is the firearm's weight, the stock configuration, action type - bolt or semi-auto, and your shooting position-offhand, seated at a bench, sitting, kneeling, prone. In addition there are a number of accessories or features that can effectively reduce felt recoil -butt pads, muzzle brakes, dampeners and weights that can be inserted in the butt stock. The .223 is a fine round, pleasant to shoot, economical and available readily throughout many areas.
 
While I know this is off the general track; have you considered the 45-70 (& black powder)? A single shot rifle (I have a Sharps carbine, but here are lots of other) is a blast to shoot, and really easy to reload. I use my for long-range cowboy matches, and just a fun day at the range. I have a .223 (AR-15), but the 45-70 is soooo much fun!!!!

Whatever you go with, ENJOY!!! -- Greg/Grizhicks
 
I have not considered the black powder option but might look into that at some stage.

re the 22-250, yes I have looked at that. it too appears to tick most of my boxes but I've heard that due to the powder load the barrels on these rifles tend to have a shortened lifespan.

I think the overwhelming majority of responses have confirmed my leanings towards a 223

thank you gents
 
If you're talking about the 7X57 Mauser it will produce more recoil than the 223. In general 7mm bullets have excellent ballistic characteristics which promote accuracy at extended ranges. It does have a wider range of applications if you're interests lead you into the area of hunting. Part of the felt recoil from any round has other factors than the round's power level. Also involved in felt recoil is the firearm's weight, the stock configuration, action type - bolt or semi-auto, and your shooting position-offhand, seated at a bench, sitting, kneeling, prone. In addition there are a number of accessories or features that can effectively reduce felt recoil -butt pads, muzzle brakes, dampeners and weights that can be inserted in the butt stock. The .223 is a fine round, pleasant to shoot, economical and available readily throughout many areas.

The weight of the bullet, and although most folks overlook it, the weight of the powder charge contribute to recoil. The size, ie , length and width of the buttplate can affect perceived recoil. A longer and wider buttplate will be much more comfortable than a shorter narrow one. Basically it amounts to spreading the actual recoil force over a larger area of your shoulder. I have a CZ550 Safari American in 375 H&H Magnum that has enough weight , stock fits me very well, and has a large buttplate, that recoils much less than a smaller Winchester Mod 70 featherweight in 30-06, that has a slimmer stock with a much smaller buttplate. In this case it's a combination of weight and stock that makes the difference, even though the smaller 30 cal is using a 150-160 gr bullet, and the larger .375 is using a heavier, 270-300 gr bullet, the larger caliber with a much heavier powder charge weight, and both calibers at about the same velocity.

I have a little Ruger #1a single shot in 7x57 Mauser. It's a rather small, fairly lightweight carbine and does not recoil very much. I can shoot it off a bench all day with no discomfort. Most of the earlier military calibers such as the 7x57 and the 6.5x55 are rather mild in the recoil dept.
 
While I know this is off the general track; have you considered the 45-70 (& black powder)? A single shot rifle (I have a Sharps carbine, but here are lots of other) is a blast to shoot, and really easy to reload. I use my for long-range cowboy matches, and just a fun day at the range. I have a .223 (AR-15), but the 45-70 is soooo much fun!!!!


Whatever you go with, ENJOY!!! -- Greg/Grizhicks

45-70 is great. I have one of the Browing BPCR(black powder cartridge rifles) that's a hoot and rather mild to shoot, vs a smaller lever action Marlin guide gun and Marlin 1895 Cowboy, that with some loads will literally kick the snot out of you.

The 45-70 can be loaded from very mild to extremely serious. I have a Lyman button mold that throws a cylindrical , though short, bullet with a large grease groove, weighing the same as a round ball in the same caliber that makes for loads a small child can comfortably shoot, basically gallery loads, as compared to the standard 405 gr bullets that can be loaded to velocities that creat a lot of recoil, then on up to some 565 gr bullets that will only fit in my single shot rifle, with black powder at modest velocities and recoil for really long range performance.

The smaller calibers will be less expensive to shoot because you are paying for smaller amounts of lead, copper, brass and powder than in a larger caliber.
 

nortac

"Can't Raise an Eyebrow"
If your interest is primarily target shooting, as opposed to informal plinking, I would try to attend an organized formal shooting match and see what the serious shooters in your county are using. In addition to what's legal to own, there are also considerations as to what rules are governing organized formal target shooting. In the US, most organized target shooting is governed by our NRA or other entities and they have certain rules re: caliber, weapon type, etc. that are specific to certain shooting events. It would be a shame to buy a nice gun that is perfectly legal to own, but does not meet the requirements of some particular shooting genre you may find you want to participate in. If all you're interested in is plinking tin cans out on the north 40, then any nice bolt action .223 would fit the bill.
 
i am a little late to respond; the fastest way to burn a barrel is the lack of proper cleaning and or too much heat. That can be in either max loads or over heating the barrel. Also look at the 222. You will not go wrong with the 22-250 or 220 swift but take up reloading. However the 223 will fit the bill and you should be able to get plenty of factory ammo.
 
i am a little late to respond; the fastest way to burn a barrel is the lack of proper cleaning and or too much heat. That can be in either max loads or over heating the barrel. Also look at the 222. You will not go wrong with the 22-250 or 220 swift but take up reloading. However the 223 will fit the bill and you should be able to get plenty of factory ammo.

While the 222 is excellent, try finding ammo for it. While a better cartridge for reloading, primarily due to a longer neck, the .223 has pretty well killed it as far as new guns and ammo availability. If you want longer barrel life stick with the .223, the 22-250 and 220 Swift use much larger powder charges to achieve much higher velocities and will give a much more effective very long range, but at the cost of barrel life . If you want a centerfire that's really fun go for a 22 Hornet. Nowhere the velocity and range of a .223, but still good for a couple of hundred yards.
 
.223 will give you lots of factory ammo load choices as well as a great range of bullets for reloading yourself. Black Hills for example has a famously accurate 77-grain load that many match shooters use, and you can also buy a similar bullet type and load them yourself. Most 1:9 twist .223/.223 Wylde barrels will handle the 77-grain bullets reasonably well but ideally you want a 1:8 or 1:7 twist for bullet weights above 73-grains.
 
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