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Choosing the Right Entry Level Rifle

Marlin • Mossberg • Remington • Savage

September 13, 2011
By Bill Waugaman

There are valid reasons not to spend a lot of money on a centerfire rifle. Does it make sense to purchase a $700+ rifle for your son or daughter (or grandson or granddaughter) going hunting for the first time? Maybe you're the occasional hunter that can only get out once or twice during deer season. Then, there's the occasional shooter who just likes to go to the range a couple times a year with some friends. Even a seasoned hunter will have a 'back up' rifle just in case 'ole faithful' has a problem. It's not uncommon for a hunter going cross country on a special hunt to take a second rifle. For firearms manufacturers, there is a very strong market for what can be referred to as 'entry level' rifles. These are very affordable centerfire, bolt action rifles that can fulfill a variety of needs. With all of the advancements in technology and modern engineering precision, an inexpensive rifle does not necessarily equate poor quality. The question becomes, "How do I know which is a good rifle to fit my needs?" The number one determining factor in choosing rifles for this review is a price point under $400 at which the rifle could be purchased (not MSRP). In addition, the manufacturer had to be reputable, there had to be a selection of long and short action calibers, the rifles had to be as similar as possible, and they all had to be readily available. The final choices came down to a Marlin's XS7S, a Mossberg 100ATR, a Remington 770 and a Savage Axis. The caliber choice was .243 Winchester. This cartridge is very popular for hunting everything from groundhogs to whitetail. There is a wide variety of bullet weights and designs, it is readily available and reasonably priced at nearly any retailer that sells ammunition. The .243 Winchester has mild recoil which is great for youths and inexperienced shooters. Each manufacturer was contacted with a variety of questions, some of which were quite direct. Without exception, each manufacturer answered every question promptly and professionally. For that, they all deserve an 'A'. See the full report of this review in the Sept/Oct issue of Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine.

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Fact Box

Worth Noting: Visit a dealer where you can actually hold each rifle and examine it. Determine which factors are important to you and then decide. For the money, you won't go wrong with any of these four rifles. One piece of adviseget them without the scope, if possible, and install a Bushnell Trophy XLT or similar scope. This adds to the cost, but it is well worth it.



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