Choosing my First Hunting Rifle

ThaSauced

FNG
Joined
Sep 17, 2023
Messages
9
Location
Long Island, New York
I am a newly learning and absorbing student of all things backcountry hunting and I need your guys' help and advice.

To give some background information about myself:
Right now I’m living in New York and hunting whitetail, but my girlfriend and I are planning to move to Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming in a couple years, so I’m looking for something that I can hunt deer and elk with at reasonable distances (400 and under).

The main issue that I find myself suffering from is a bit of analysis paralysis looking for a rifle. I have looked at Tikkas, Bergaras, Brownings, Kimbers, Howas, etc. The list goes on and on. I have done video research as well as read many articles and reviews of these manufacturers and more specifically the rifles I am thinking of purchasing, but still find myself doubting that the choice I make will be the right one.

Here are some examples
- Tikka Wildland Veil
- Browning X-Bolt Mountain Pro
- Kimber Mountain Ascent
- Howa 1500 Kuiu Verde
- Weatherby Vanguard

Ideally, I would like the bare rifle itself to cost, at most, $2000. I am not opposed to a slightly higher priced gun as long as the money spent is providing some serious upgrades or benefits. As a quick example, I have been looking into the Browning X-Bolt, but that sits at a price point slightly over $2000.

Here are things I’m looking for:
- 6.5 CM or similar
- Bolt action
- Not overly concerned with weight but still want a "backcountry" capable rifle
- No real preference for the barrel. I do not know enough to hold an opinion on lengths
- Other than proper gun cleaning procedures, I do not want to worry about the rifle. Meaning, I plan on taking it through the sunshine, rain, snow, hail, sleet, fire and brimstone; and do not want to have to worry about rusting or pitting or damage to the rifle itself. This has pushed me to look toward Cerakoted rifles.
- Adjustability/Versatility whether that's in the New York woods, or the Midwest backcountry, I want to be able to hunt

Any and all help/advice/recommendations/horror stories are greatly appreciated. Thanks.
 
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
460






Read these and they'll get you started in the right direction as far as caliber selection goes.

Then, far and away get a Tikka or Sako S20
 
OP
T

ThaSauced

FNG
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Long Island, New York
The party line is Tikka T3x lite (stainless), vertical grip, SWFA scope. It's good advice, I took it myself. $1,100 all up, lots of money left for ammo, no complaints.
Do you think it is worth it to get the Cerakote version of the T3x? Or stick to the stainless version, for the minimal price point and similar characteristics of resistance to corrosion and weathering damage
 

Cannonball

Lil-Rokslider
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Cave Creek, AZ
Do you think it is worth it to get the Cerakote version of the T3x? Or stick to the stainless version, for the minimal price point and similar characteristics of resistance to corrosion and weathering damage
T3x veil is stainless under cerakote so it is both (maybe a little pointless), but one other consideration is the veil is factory threaded
 

Johnny Tyndall

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Nov 17, 2021
Messages
168
Location
MT
Do you think it is worth it to get the Cerakote version of the T3x? Or stick to the stainless version, for the minimal price point and similar characteristics of resistance to corrosion and weathering damage
I couldn't say. My impression is that stainless is actually better than cerakote, and it's certainly cheaper in the Tikkas, but that isn't a position I can actually defend. I don't think cerakote does anything to protect the inside of the barrel and action, but don't take my word for that. Anecdotally, when I lived in a coastal rainforest stainless was the standard

To the point about stocks above. I may end up with a replacement, but from a budget perspective I've found the factory Tikka stock to be entirely adequate, especially compared to some other cheapish rifles I've handled.
 
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ThaSauced

FNG
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Long Island, New York
T3x veil is stainless under cerakote so it is both (maybe a little pointless), but one other consideration is the veil is factory threaded
I was imagining I would try and purchase a rifle with threading already present for the inevitability of me getting and using a silencer, when I living in a state where it is legal to own/use one.

My one fear is that I am paying an extra $500-$600 for Cerakote and a threading, on the veil model, when I could get that done, on the stainless model, aftermarket for seemingly less money, but maybe more hassle.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2020
Messages
991
One more vote for stainless. Also for the T3 X fluted or non fluted. I have two of them. 30-06 and 7mm-08. No brake or suppressor because I don’t like to make my barrels any longer than they are. The 30-06 is not as much fun to shoot, but it’s what I grew up on. The 7–08 is a sweetheart and fun to shoot. Plenty of gun for almost anything. Easy to find ammo for the 06, it’s not quite as easy for the 7–08, but I reload so it’s no big deal for me.

Tikkas rate very high in cold, nasty weather, and are great shooting guns right out of the box.

If you go with the Tikka, get the vertical grip, and a limb saver butt pad. The limb saver noticeably decreases felt recoil. They both just screw on. Also get an extra mag.

My rifles, both weigh right around 7 1/2 pounds with scope, strap, and a full magazine. if you Make them much lighter you’ll pay for it in felt recoil, much heavier and It feels like a ton of bricks by the end of the day.
 
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ThaSauced

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I also wanted to take a quick moment and thank those who have commented and continue to have this dialogue with me. I am a very thorough and detail oriented person, with my occupational background in mechanical engineering, hence my analysis paralysis and general wanting to discuss with the folks on here who know more than I do at this point in time. Thank you again.
 

Cannonball

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
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Messages
235
Location
Cave Creek, AZ
My one fear is that I am paying an extra $500-$600 for Cerakote and a threading, on the veil model, when I could get that done, on the stainless model, aftermarket for seemingly less money, but maybe more hassle.
Veil gets you cerakote, threaded barrel with radial muzzle break (not the best), fluted barrel, fluted bolt, and a camo stock. Up to the buyer to decide if that all makes it worth the coin or use it to do upgrades that may be more important to them (better glass, carbon stock, etc)
 

t_carlson

WKR
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Nov 1, 2022
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456
Location
Montana
For western big game up to 400 yards, I'd probably just grab a stainless/synthetic Tikka in .270 Win and call it good.

Boring, yes. But also lightweight, durable, and you stand a good chance of locating ammo during any future shortages.

You don't need to spend anywhere near 2K on a bare rifle to get good performance unless you want to burn the extra money.
 
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
460
I was imagining I would try and purchase a rifle with threading already present for the inevitability of me getting and using a silencer, when I living in a state where it is legal to own/use one.

My one fear is that I am paying an extra $500-$600 for Cerakote and a threading, on the veil model, when I could get that done, on the stainless model, aftermarket for seemingly less money, but maybe more hassle.
IMHO go stainless so when you shoot out the barrel you can get a stainless prefit and don't have to worry about getting it cerakoted.
 

mxgsfmdpx

WKR
Joined
Oct 22, 2019
Messages
4,162
Location
Central Arizona
Tikka T3X Stainless chambered in 6.5 CM. Go for .260 if you make your own bullets. You can also talk down the price of the .260 models normally as they don’t sell as easily as 6.5 manbun.

SWFA or Nightforce scope and go shoot it every day.

Have fun!
 
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ThaSauced

FNG
Joined
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Location
Long Island, New York
For western big game up to 400 yards, I'd probably just grab a stainless/synthetic Tikka in .270 Win and call it good.

Boring, yes. But also lightweight, durable, and you stand a good chance of locating ammo during any future shortages.

You don't need to spend anywhere near 2K on a bare rifle to get good performance unless you want to burn the extra money.
Have I been steered in the wrong direction with 6.5 CM? Since I am a relatively inexperienced shooter, only shooting my dad's .22 rifle a couple times before at a 30yd indoor range, I was told that 6.5 CM would be a great starter caliber with limited recoil but still packs enough punch to take down deer and elk.
 

mxgsfmdpx

WKR
Joined
Oct 22, 2019
Messages
4,162
Location
Central Arizona
Have I been steered in the wrong direction with 6.5 CM? Since I am a relatively inexperienced shooter, only shooting my dad's .22 rifle a couple times before at a 30yd indoor range, I was told that 6.5 CM would be a great starter caliber with limited recoil but still packs enough punch to take down deer and elk.
No. Ignore anyone that comes in here and says 6.5s are not enough.
 
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