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Thread: Looking for a deer stalking rifle?

  1. #1

    Looking for a deer stalking rifle?

    Looking for a new deer stalking rifle, as this will be my first one, i'm interested in what i should be looking for. I was looking for a .308.
    If you can suggest any good rifles along with pic attachments then please do.

    For guided stalking opportunities here in Devon and Dorset including Red, Sika, Fallow and Roe deer + deer related training including skinning, butchery and trophy preparation. All abilities welcome.
    Email your enquirers to
    Facebook users are encouraged to join our local community page "Devon Stalking".

  2. #2
    Why new? There are some good second hand rifles, you could then spend more of your budget on a good telescopic sight and binoculars.

    I have just bought an old Parker-Hale .308, that has had little or no use in the past, as a back-up rifle. There are lots of second hand .308's, of good quality, that have done little work that are featured on the gun-sale web-sites.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Blindness to suffering is an inherent consequence of natural selection. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but fiercely indifferent.

  3. #3
    Established Poster
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Cambs/Herts Boarders
    I also agree why new unless you obviously has endless [pots of cash . The main thing you need is the best scope you can afford then start looking at which rifle

  4. #4
    The old addage was spend the budget on the scope and the change on the rifle.

    Now I think that needs some modifications as you can have a cracking good scope on an excellent rifle and unless you had good mounts well.............................................. ......... your asking for bother.

    Now shooter79 has asked for advice........... all fine and good but please tell us what sort you would like. Be it ultra modern with space age plastic and titanium or old worlde traditional blued steel and walnut? or something in-between!

    It would help the forum members to narrow down a wide field of candidates and give better advice.

    Now if you have friends that shoot and stalk or fellow club members who do ask if it would be possible to shoot a few rounds throught their rifles and get the feel for them. You might just find your ideal rifle this way and might well avoid buying a bargain which may not suit you and will leave a sour taste in the mouth before you finally get the "one" rifle for you.

    Oh an outline budget would help as it's no good someone gushing on about the Kimber 84m or Mauser 03 if you budget is well under 1000. On the other hand steering you in the direction of a nice servicable and accurate used Parker-Hale is no good if your set on a stainless and synthetic stocked rifle .
    Last edited by Brithunter; 14-11-2010 at 11:07. Reason: Spelling errors

  5. #5
    As a relative beginner it is not so long since I was faced with the same problem, though as problems go it is a good one to have. For a first rifle I found that 308W was a good choice for lots of reasons.

    Firstly, as others say you need good glass however the "spend as much on the glass as the rifle" formula doesn't work. In my view one of the best stalking scopes for the UK is the 8X56 S&B and I got mine 2nd hand for 250. So, forget those who encourage you to spend a fortune on glass and instead try and get some top notch glass that is good value for your money. MacLeods of Tain get a great reputation and usually have an ever changing supply of 2nd hand glass and I think it is best to phone them. If you are not doing much low light work a 6X42 would work well and you don't need a variable magnification though you might want to have it. Prices have gone up a little since then but even so with careful shopping I'd say you could have absolute top notch, confidence inspiring, glass in the 300 or a bit more region.

    In terms of rifles when people heard I was looking one for stalking almost everyone I talked to pointed me at a good weather resistant rifle with a plastic stock and the Blaser name came up quite frequently. I wanted a nice wood/blued rifle but in the end I went the plastic route as advised and with hindsight I'm glad I did. The price of Blaser has gone sky high and you may not want to spend that sort of cash, though 2nd hand ones do come up and in 308 it is unlikely you will ever see a shot out barrel in a Blaser as they are known for having very hard steel and for being very rust proof. The Blaser isn't fancy, but it breaks down to clean after rain, doesn't rust as easily as most of the competition, is easy to travel with because it breaks down into a brief case almost, easily converts to left hand use if that is important, has a great trigger out of the box and is known to be accurate and reliable. If this is your first rifle ever then the boring reliability and consistency of the Blaser, and the Blaser scope mounts, mean that if you are not getting decent groups or hitting the target then it is almost certainly something you are doing wrong. Put a good 2nd hand Swaro or S&B n top and you are totally certain it is something you are doing wrong :-)

    Should you not fancy a Blaser (and many people quite reasonably hate them) there seem to be a lot of good rifles out there with the Europeans tending, in my very limited opinion, to have the edge over the US made rifles in terms of quality and "out of the box" usability. I also believe that Howa, who I think are Japanese, get a very good name.

    I hope that has maybe given you a few ideas and I will post a pic of my rifle as that might immediately let you know that Blaser isn't for you :-)

  6. #6
    Hello shooter 79. From the thread I see that lots of excellent advice is coming your way. Twenty years ago I'd have pointed you away from .308 as the factory ammo previous to that had the trajectory of a howitzer - but my work was on the open hill and I preferred a more flat shooting cartridge. There was no time or place for playing about with sight calibrations, and we were counted lucky to afford a 4X32 Nikko Stirling.

    Nowadays, however, a good .308 using Sako hunting ammo - with a 127 grain bullet, is pretty flat-shooting and will kill up to the biggest highland stags very efficiently indeed. Getting into reloading would ensure that you had all the choices - but that is a different ball game.

    I remember Richard Prior saying to me many years ago that you should pay 200 for a good working rifle then stretch as far as you could to pay for the best sight possible. Brithunter is perfectly right about the mounts, and if these are not machined onto the action, then be sure that those which are screwed into place are well set and not liable to loosening.

    The passage of time has changed things and today's 'out-of-the-box' rifles - and ammo - would leave the old-timers green with envy.

    If your pockets are deep - then you have all the rifle choices - but I'd say - get the best sight possible. I can't see past a fixed-power 6X42 for most work. The less gizmoes to go wrong the better. If you can stretch to a Swarovski or Schmidt & Bender - then you should be well set-up. For my money - these are probably the most robustly built on the market, and with fantastic optics, but that's just a personal opinion. Others will have different viewpoints and fair enough, but these two should not let you down.
    Opinions often differ according to unknown circumstances.

  7. #7
    I have to agree with Caorach about Macleods of Tain. I have just bought an "ex-demo" S&B 8x56 from them for 450, that came with a factory gurantee. I have an ex-demo S&B 7x50 that I bought from them too. I was sorely tempted by one of their Kahles 7x56 illuminated scopes, but I could not quite afford it (695). I much prefer the 8x56 to the 7x50 because it suits my stalking and fox shooting.

    You could do worse than to ring Gregor Macleod and have a chat with him about your requirements! I bought my first deer rifle, and all the kit, from him. No one could touch them on price, I bought a brand new Sako 75 in 6.5x55 for Tikka money.

    Blindness to suffering is an inherent consequence of natural selection. Nature is neither kind nor cruel but fiercely indifferent.

  8. #8
    I have a similar conundrum. Have been today to look at some rifles and here is the dilemma:-

    1) Buy a Howa 1500 dream it build it in .243, short action stainless with nutmeg varmint stock. With mod, picanty rail, hard case and few other bits for 966.


    2) A tikka T3 lite in .308 flavour which I saw for 475. Pay for screw cutting, moderator, rings, bases and a hard case probably about 800.

    Ive read some good reviews on the Howa and seen the numerous threads on here. However for that extra 160 ish pounds I have the piece of mind of a warantee. Ive read about the triggers needing work on the Howa but if it shoots sub 1.5 inch that will do for me, Im not a target shooter.

    I have a Svarowski Habicht to go on either, just sat in the cabinet waiting for my FAC.

    Thoughts or opinions?

  9. #9
    SD Regular
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Herefordshire, Hampshire or Essex
    Well I like the look of it!!

    Caorach, I note your point on ease of swap to L/H from Blaser, which you have done (from the picture) - is it just a bolt change and does that mean it's still RH action? What's that like to shoot with?
    I'm currently seeking L/H options for a 243...

    Many thanks
    Nooooooooooooobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!! Our main weapon is.........

  10. #10
    Hi Eric the Red,

    The Blaser "Off Road" stock (which is what is on my rifle) works either left or right handed and so there is no problem there but I have a feeling that certainly the older professional stocks were either left or right as they had a little palm swell, this may no longer be the case but worth considering.

    You can swap just the bolt in which case you have the handle on the left but it will eject to the right or you can change the bolt and the bolt head in which case it will have the handle on the left and eject to the left as well. Some people like the ejection on the "wrong" side in some circumstances so they have that choice. Equally I believe some people like the bolt handle on the wrong side when shooting prone (no need to take the trigger hand away from the rifle to operate the bolt) so they keep two bolts and effectively have a left hand and a right hand rifle with exactly the same operation, handling and trigger.

    Because of the way the Blaser is built there isn't really an "action" as such and so these changes make it totally left handed, there is no ejection port or similar for example and the safety is central at the rear of the bolt. So, once the bolt is changed it is a full left handed rifle. If you are interested in a Blaser then my advice is to try one and see - most people love how they handle but some are put off by the "different" bolt and cocking system. The cocking system on mine was a little "stiff" when new but it soon frees up and I think it is a great idea and a useful contribution to safety and when stalking in forestry gives you that extra bit of confidence when carrying the rifle with one in the chamber.

    It must be said that in my view the BIG plus of the Blaser are the things that you don't really appreciate until you've owned the rifle for a while - QD scope mounts that always return to zero, the rifle packs away in a small case for transport making life so much easier, it is boringly accurate and reliable, it is boringly weatherproof and things like that which all make living with the rifle so much easier in my view.

    The only real down side I can think of is the cost but in saying that they seem to hold their price pretty well, today I could probably get nearly what I paid for mine, and you don't have the problem of selling a left handed rifle as you can sell a right handed rifle and a left handed bolt.

    Hopefully that helps you a little.

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