Budget starter Rifle


Well-Known Member
I am new to stalking and awaiting the delivery of my FAC with a slot for .308. Unfortunately money is tight at the moment and so I hope to buy a bargain starter rifle and would appreciate any tips or advice from those with much more experience. I hope to spend less than £300 on the rifle and have short listed the following:

Parker Hale a Safari/Safari Deluxe
Parker Hale Scout
CZ 550
Ruger M77

I am not a fan of synthetic stocks and I am happy to repair and refinish walnut stocks and I would prefer S/C. Can anyone recommend any other 'cheap' rifles to consider and provide any key info or problems with the rifles on my short list?

Apologies if this has been asked too many times before and thanks in advance.


Gary (new member)
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Well-Known Member
hi gary if it were me and it is im skint all the time,grandkids dont ask,! go for cz or look for an howa both solid and accurate rifles or stick another 250 on for a tikka t3 in wood blued,hunter,

alberta boy

Well-Known Member
Hey Gary , I've owned and used all of the above , with the exception of the scout . Any one of them will do the job . Have a look at a few and see which one fits you best and go from there . There's nothing wrong with buying used , just make sure it's got a decent bore and doesn't have any major issues . If you know any one who is familiar with firearms , take them with you . Maybe someone here might volunteer ? I'd go with you but it's a bit far lol .

All the rifles on your list are good solid rifles , it's what has been done to them before you get it that leads to problems . Look at the bore for any pitting , check the stock for any cracks , especially in the tang area , or any signs of home " gunsmithing " . Buggered screw heads are usually a bad sign , as is damage to the barrel crown . Finally , check to make sure everything functions as it should . That's the thing about rifles , you won't really know until you shoot them . If you can buy a rifle that you know can shoot will make it a lot easier , again , maybe someone here can help you out . I'm sure there's somebody here that knows of a good , reliable and reasonably accurate 308 that's available for an affordable amount . Sorry I couldn't be of more help brother , but I'm sure someone here will be along and help you out .



Well-Known Member
Accuracy is ALL for what it's worth. Next comes chamber dimensions (if you reload you don't want a crappy Parker Hale slack chamber) finally outside finish. I'd sooner have a battered accurate rifle than a pristine rifle that won't shoot a group.

If you can get a chance to try the rifle on a range that is the best of all.

I'd rate the BSA as better than the P-Hale but bear in mind that 'scope mounts for most P-Hale are bog standard "generic Mauser" whereas BSA are either "generic Remington 700" on some models only. Other BSAs are special to that model...I believe but am happy to be put correct on that.

My choice would be Ruger M77, CZ 550, BSA, then only if exceptional the P-Hale and for my opinion if it isn't the P-Hale M81 Classic I'd pass it by. But do be aware that some have slack chamber issues.

Spares for the BRNO ZKK are non-existent BTW.


Well-Known Member
I have a CZ 550 in 308. Superbly accurate but heavy as an anchor. Save a bit and get a Tikka T-3 Lite in 308. Carry it all say like a sigh and shoots like a dream.~Muir


Well-Known Member
I have at one point had a number or PH, Midland, BSA and BRNO (the better quality CZ)

Currently have a PH in .270, a midland in .243 and a BSA Majestic (higher model than the CF2) in .270, a BRNO in .222
The PH .270 is a sporterised military action with a stripper clip notch

not one of them cost me anywhere close to £300, one actually paid me
every one of them is a shooter
I reload for them all despite the "PH slack chambers"!! :doh:

hunt around and get an earlier PH or BSA
better quality
check for fit most importantly
The CZ often has a hogsback stock which is not conducive to good head position if scoped with anything other than a very small, very low objective

buy privately and you will get more for your money
buy entire systems (rifle, scope, mounts, mod, sling etc etc), you will get more for your money and once your sell off what you don't want you will find the rifle is often free!


Active Member
I was in your position 6 months ago as an impending marriage was on the cards and knew post wedding there would not be cash to do this afterwards. I agree with others that consistency and accuracy are very important. Don't discount Weatherby Vanguard (Basically a Howa action) they offer value for money. I have a Howa .243 that cost me a small fortune but my .308 (WV) I got this summer was £325.00 including a scope, sling, case and bipod. It would have served me well as was but I have managed to upgrade stock and scope and mounts for not much more than £200. If time had been on my side I would have kept it standard and just used it, upgrading when I could. When it comes to a test fire remember that some rifles like certain rounds. Mine has chosen expensive ones but don't be too put off if at first you don't get cloverleafs even at close range. I found mine shoots better than I can and for not a lot of outlay. Also don't forget, when testing, that sporter weight barrels heat up and often 4th or 5th shot can wander. Let the barrel cool after each shot. What you are actually looking for is a clean kill from a cold barrel under the pressure of a stalk, not a rifle that can shoot 0.5 of an inch 5 shot group at 300 yards with a sand bag rest and no wind. Lastly don't be sold on a fancy variable power scope on the top. Whilst important to have good glass for normal stalking conditions a fixed scope is perfectly usable. Just my view on your position hope it helps and good luck finding your new toy.


Well-Known Member
I am not a fan of heavy guns or rifles and so from what people have said above I think that my short list now sits in the following order of priority:

Ruger 77 - not too keen on an internal magazine although I believe mods are out there.
CZ 550 - on the heavy side and maybe difficult to get a good one on my budget?
BSA Majestic/CF2 - Finding scope mounts?
Weatherby Vanguard - probably outside my budget
Parker Hale - Slack chambers?

I am pretty fixed on the price as a I am expecting a baby and have a hobby which is even more expensive than shooting and likes to pillage my bank account. I don't see my first rifle being a rifle for life but instead one to use a for a number of years while I find out exactly what I want from from a rifle and which setup best suits my needs. I realise that buying a firearm on such a tight budget is a matter of compromise and understanding what are the key features that I want.

I am in no rush to buy and will only buy the right rifle in the right condition.

Thanks for all the help so far.



Well-Known Member
Just keep watching the ads on this site and you'll get everything you need well within budget.
Like you, I'm not exactly flush for cash, but I picked up a P-H Safari Deluxe for £150 and a mod for about another £50. The rifle came with a scope, but I've since replaced it (another £50).
Other equipment includes bipod (Harris copy, £30), sticks (home made from B&Q canes), binocs (£28), Deerhunter waterproof jacket and trousers combo (£90), leather boots (£35 from the Factory Shop). In addition gaiters and knife I already had, and scope mounted lamp (for foxing) was FOC from a member of this site.
I'm also reloading now, which brings the price of 20 rounds down to about £8

I may not be the ultimate "shoestring stalker", but I reckon I come pretty close...!


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a man after my own heart exactly what i do search and mooch mode on,does my wifes head in but hey i leave her in peace when im shooting,:thumb:my first c/f i swapped an old spare shottie for should have been 61/2 got it for three,paid in four bits for a s/b scope got a doorstopper of a mod the ase sl5 for 1oo late one night on another forum just flicking around local to me so face to face cheaper,and as we speak i have my eye on two rifles one might fall through,and ive spotted a steal of a scope i think,,,, thats not me bartering or anything its just a fair bit of looking around and ive no cash at all if i spot something i try to get some work and put down deposits,atb doug,:thumb:
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Well-Known Member
Re: P-Hale "slack chambers"....

I've had one or two P-Hale rifles and they are usually OK except that the chambers are often cut larger than, say, similar period BRNO rifles. I've also had one that had a very, very large chmaber ath the base such that, although in proof, the cases were quite hard worked when full length re-sized.

I did have the rifle examined by Norman Clarke's former P-Hale employee, Bill, and his reply was that whilst it was in proof and the headspace OK it was nevertheless typical of some "slack chambers" that were coming out of P-Hale at the time. So they are out there.


Well-Known Member
Don't discount a remington even one with no additives I use a bog standard remington 700 in 270 and I use this as my main rifle its out every day it shoots a few hundred deer every year in all conditions and I'm more than happy with this . in the past I've had 202 sauer and manlicher and for deer work they all work pretty much they same they only difference is they price the deer don't notice
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