Q: I am 20 years old and have been hunting for as long as I can remember, thanks to my father. I am looking at buying my first rifle, and want a reliable all-rounder that will be used predominantly on varmints, and the occasional pig or goat. But I want a calibre that’s different, not a .223 or .243 that everyone else has. What would you suggest? I’ve considered the 6mm Remington or .250 Savage, but they are not produced any more. I might have to buy a .243 and have it rebarreled. How much would this cost? I plan to reload, so could you suggest a good handload. Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.
A: To rebarrel a rifle costs anywhere from $500 to $700, so it is not a worthwhile proposition to buy a new rifle and have it rebarreled. If you want something different, why not buy a Ruger MK II Hawkeye in .257 Roberts? That’s what I have and it works justfine on everything from varmints to deer. Get a gunsmith to long-throat the chamber so that you can seat bullets out farther. This will allow you to increase the powder charge somewhat and gain a little extra velocity. The Hawkeye has a long action, so no problems with feeding longer cartridges from the magazine. The 87gn Sierra bullet at 3280fps or the 90gn Sierra HPBT at 3320fps are sheer murder on varmints and the Speer 100gn at 3115fps is good for goats and pigs. The Barnes 115gn TSX at 3000fps will handle larger deer like red stag. The good ole Roberts is a longtime favourite of mine, but it needs to be long-throated if you are to get the best out of it.