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The perfect "deer/varmint" gun for American shooters?

Don Fischer

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2017
t doesn't seem to exist anymore due to the price and availability of ammo. .243 ammo seems to be out of stock these days a lot and so does .25-06 and .270. I consider .223 and 5.56 too small for deer. If somebody shoots a lot of gophers, somebody is going to need a twenty-two rimfire or a .22-bore CF rifle. It might be cost-prohibitive to shoot gophers with CF cartridges fit for deer especially for non-handloaders. There's lots of .308 ammo available and some for even under $1 a shot at Freedom Munitions. It might be OK for an occasional varmint. One will probably need a battery of at least two rifles to be well-rounded hunter if a lot of rats are involved like ground squirrel, rat and gopher.

Choosing a big-game rifle (like a Browning BAR Safari Mark II) in .3o8 to me makes it a:

-deer gun
-elk gun
-moose gun
-lion gun
-pronghorn gun
-wolf gun
-black bear gun
-goat gun
-sheep gun
-occasional yote gun
-occasional chuck gun
-occasional prairie dog gun
-occasional fox gun if the pelts are of no value to you
-possible camp and home defender, but perhaps there are better choices for that purpose

One might also consider a .22 like Ruger 10/22 for the small stuff like gopher.

I have the two auto rifles in mind if one just wants an auto battery. Virtually every new under-1,200-dollar big-game rifle out there stinks to me in quality or looks. I figure you have to go $2K+ for a nice big-game bolt gun. I figure if you are going between $1K and $2K in a deer-hunting rifle, make it a Belgian Browning auto classic. Also make it a .308 for a sensible big-game/occasional varmint caliber. If you like a bolt gun between one and two grand, you might make it a Winchester Model 70.

Why not a new BAR Safari Mark II in 6.5 Creedmoor? Browning simply doesn't make that animal.

The Browning website lists only these calibers/barrel lengths for BAR Safari Mark II (no BOSS):

Only the .308 on this list seems the most versatile and feasible caliber for readily available ammo. What about .30-06 you ask? Why more shoulder kick than you really need? Why a Browning BAR auto? It is a great recoil tamer in a .30-something (deer+-size) caliber. Heavy and gas-piston-operated. No fouling the breech area like an AR. It's also a pretty European-made rifle. It's reputed to be as accurate as a bolt-action.

You can get a detachable bipod like a Harris to make your deer gun an occasional chuck gun.

Let me tell you about a deer/occasional varmint gun I owned in the 1990's. It was a Leupold-scoped Browning A-Bolt II in .25-06 Remington. I took my buck in the morning and about ten ground squirrels in the afternoon on my guide's private ranch in Trinity Co, NorCal. The Federal Premium ammo I had then was 117 gr. BTSP. $1 a round even in 1996! Was readily available back then though. Mr. Rourke, my guide, suggested I bring a .22 over the telephone but I had no such gun then. I had already sold my Remington Nylon 66 earlier that year. It was junk. Mr. Rourke allowed me to get rid of some ground squirrel on his spread as a bonus fun event after the deer hunt. It was fun blowing them up with a .25-06. In standing-only field position and mostly without the support of a fence post, I could only connect with squirrel about half of the time. The gun-shy squirrel were usually about 100 yards in a wide-open field. It was a walking squirrel hunt on flat ground with cover so a low position like prone was not feasible and I had no bipod. One squirrel's brains was completely blown out of its skull. My A-Bolt II shot 1 MOA offhand on the bench. It was hit and miss standing in the field for those little rat-size targets even with the Leupold Vari-X II 1.75x6 32mm dialed up to 6 power. I did manage to get my buck that morning and I was in fact in the prone unsupported position as the deer was up a slight slope. I'm glad I did not spook the 100-yard deer moving from standing to prone. In the field, I always strive for the most stable position available whenever feasible. If the ground were otherwise wet and muddy, I probably would have shied the prone in my nice clean Pendleton and orange vest. I have not had any practice or training with the kneeling or squatting position. I practiced and sighted in my rifle at an outdoor range with a bench. I could either sit at the bench or stand to shoot. In the army, BRM offered the foxhole standing position and prone unsupported for qualification.
I don't shoot auto loader's in CF cartridges, never have. Doesn't mean anything other than I don't use them. The perfect model rifle for me has to be a bolt action. perfect cartridge could be a lot of different cartridge's depending on what you like! Take a 7mm-08 and load it with say 160gr bullet's and it should work as well as a 308! The doing is in the bullet, not necessarily in the cartridge. In Alaska I used a 308 to carry fishing but I loaded it with 200gr bullet's. Not a lot to brag about out younder but up close and personal I believe they would get the job done, never had to find out though! Shooting ground squirrels with a 30cal CF rifle wouldn't really enthuse me, just to much recoil to deal with. But, I had a 338 mag years ago the beat me to death. Got over it by shooting ground squirrel's with it! learned to handle the recoil. And on a Larger CF rifle, shooting ground squirrels can be good practice for you to shoot. Here in Oregon I used to go into the hills and pick out target's of opertunity to shoot at for practice.

I believe that the 223 will easily kill anything on that list, but, the shooter needs the skills and needs to understand which bullet might be best and where to place it. Of course then the shooter needs to be willing to get into position close enough where he can place the bullet exactly. I don't use a 223 at all any more and seldom recommend even a 243 as a hunting rifle. Not that a 243 won't work, shoot I just said a 223 will work, but I believe there are better bullet's for hunting in 25 caliber's. And the 25 is certainly useable for pretty much anything but for myself, larger than a deer or antelope, the 6.5's have a better selection of bullet's. It's really the bullet's that matter. Heavier bullet driven at decent velocity actually gives you a bigger target to shoot at! the 223 on an elk wouldn't phase me. Get close enough and place the bullet perfectly in the neck and the elk is going down! Getting close enough seems to be the part most people can't deal with but shoot, look how close archery hunter's get! Getting close is simply a matter of being more paitent!

Going to larger careridges mean uping recoil and even in a 308 it's very manageable but I'll tell you what. When I loaded up 200gr bullet's in mine in Alaska, recoil definately came up. Felt it going up at a 180gr but manageable. So for the recoil hater's, I am one, the range of cartridges I'd suggest would be generally 6.5 and 7mm on 308 case's or similar. Never shot a 7mm-08 but did a 7x57 several different times over the years. Recoil with the 308 and a 150gr bullet ain't much to talk about but up it to 180 or espically 200gr and it's all I really care for!

When I load for a rifle it generally has a limited purpose. At that I decide which bullet might be the best and stay with one bullet. In my 243's the bullet of choice is either 70gr SMK or 75gr Hornady V-Max, depending on the rifle I use it in. 25-06 for me the best bullet is 117gr. have tried the 100gr and was simply to explosive for me. Killed deer dead really fast, faster than the 117gr but no deader and with more damage. 6.5x55 I have a tenticity to slip back and forth between 129 gr and 140 gr bullet's. Problem for shooting 140gr bullet's is my 6.5x06 shoot's 140gr better and a bit faster. My 30-06 get only 180gr bullet's and it was my elk rifle for the last 4 or 5 yrs I hunted elk.

If I could keep only one of what I have it would be the 6.5x55 and I'd switch bullets depending on what I was hunting. I don't believe there a great multi purpose bullet there considerning varmint into it. cartridges are just cartridges and they simply propel the bullet you choose. What does the work is the bullet you choose and, for me, that means getting close enough to use the most power the cartridge has and placing the bullet accurately and leaving varmint pretty much alone. Pretty much. I don't hunt varmint's anymore but they do make great target's of opertunity for practicing and I never take them home to eat! So the list above has a lot of options I could easily live with.
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Don Fischer

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2017
I think the OP needs to start reloading! In less time than he spends rambling and cut and pasting, he could reduce his cost per cartridge by up to 90%.
I've been reloading well over 50 yrs now and find something about it now hard to live with. Finding components I use is a crap shoot. Then if I do find something I might try the cost has gone up way to much. I believe all this started with the rise in fuel prices. ya see, transportation is not free and every product in America depends on transportation to deliver their goods. Truck's that deliver the stuff saw their fuel prices go through the roof. To be able to survive that cost of transportation has to go way up and it did. So who pays for the transportation? In the end the consumer pays for it in the cost of goods at the retail level. Add to that that when prices go up hording starts and that is the final blow to the whole mess. Elminate the hording and prices still would go way up, someone has to pay for the transportation and that someone is the consumer. have you checked the price of lumber these days? And that is gonna be reflected in the price of a new home for a consumer. Even lumber products and building supply's are transported by commercial trucks and they have to pass on their cost's of go out of business. With the high cost of building today it simply makes already built home sold second hand worth that much more! Aren't you glad you voted Democrap now! The whole thing started with the Democrap idea to replace fossil fuel!

Can't wait to see the first trucks grossing over 80,000 pounds and being operated by batterys. Wonde how often those trucks will have to stop and recharge and what will be the down time to charge battery's like that. Think about the consequences of the way you voted!


Well-known member
Apr 19, 2014
I have never skimmed a thread having less of an idea of what the thread was about.

I think it went off the rails starting with the third sentence. Phew.