I need to help picking out a rifle for my daughter and son to use. My state required a "straight-walled" cartridge of at least .357" diameter. Cartridges I am considering are the .357 Mag, .44 Mag, .350 Legend, and the .45-70 Govt. I'm leaning hard towards the .350 Legend because it gets the range out there a bit without jumping up to a big bore cartridge with rainbow trajectory. My problem is there are not too many rifles chambered in it yet. Winchester and Ruger have their budget level guns chambered in it and Ruger and CMMG have AR style rifles chambered in it running north of $700. I was really hoping for solid bolt action like a Ruger 77. I have a TC Encore, but MGM wants $395 for a barrel alone. I'll still need to spend another $300-$400 for some optics and mounts. Any recommendations?
I know you can hot load the .357 Mag to reach .357 Max loadings in bolt actions, but if a .350 Legend can do it with factory ammo I would be inclined to stick to that route.
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I went 44 mag. Marlin 1894. I use an 1895 in 45-70(same restrictions as you) Pricewise, they're all about the same. 350 Legend caught my interest but I'll likely wait until its been proven. I already other 44 mag levers and wheel guns so that also influenced my decision. The 44 mag is cheap, radily available and more than adequate for the ranges my son can shoot with the Fastfire 3 mounted on it. Its easy to operate quickly and he thinks its fun. He may grow into a 45-70 someday but the 44 mag will always be useful as I find mysef grabbig mine if im going quick and light.
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I like the Henry Single Shot in .308 I've got, and at least one person over on the Henry forum has rechambered one for .357 Maximum. OTOH, they run about $370 at the cheapest, break-actions (besides not being bolt actions) are kind of a PITA at the bench, and there are limited options when it comes to scope mounts.
I would go .44 mag. Full house magnum rounds are excellent performers on deer and bring serious knockdown power to the table when out of a 16+' barrel.
For young shooters, you can either shoot .44 specials which are fine deer stoppers within a more limited range or you can download full length cases to .44 special specs.
Full house factory .357 loads can easily take whitetail out to 50 yards reliably, so don't rule it out.
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First, I would recommend .44 mag, it will probably do the job and hold its value without punishing recoil for the youngsters.
Second, WTF with the straight walled restriction? Seriously, what is the thinking there?
Its perfectly acceptable to launch 1oz lead slugs all over the place (and they do, complete culture shock the first time I hunted here) but those bottleneck cartridges are "dangerous". Deer drives are also popular here which I never understood. They basically surround a section of land, have people walk thorugh it, the guys on the perimeter then shoot back towards the "pushers" at running deer.
I wouldn’t attempt to get into the mind of anyone making such a rule, but the “thinking,” such as it is, probably relates to the fact that many/most straight wall cartridges don’t drive their bullets as far as many/most bottlenecked rounds are capable, and that will somehow make them safer if fired without due regard to where the bullets are going.
On the other hand, the straight-walled cartridge thing may actually be an improvement for hunters in some area(s). I seem to recall reading that at least one state adopted that rule to permit hunting with rifles rather than shotguns only as had previously been the law. Sometimes people are lucky to get what they can.
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I would go with the .44 magnum, but depending on the age of your kids, I would also consider the 45-70. With cowboy action loads, or moderate handloads, the 45-70 is a joy to shoot, and as they get more comfortable and capable, it can grow with them. Once they are comfortable with it, the 325 grain LeverRevolution round from Hornady is a 200 yard cartridge; 1.5 inches low at muzzle, 3 inches high at 100, zeroed at 200.
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I'd look at something in .450 Bushmaster, ammo is fairly easy to find and it's got enough punch to put down anything within 200 yards.
This would be a pretty good choice, IMHO
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44 mag or the new Henry in 38/55
|Res ipsa loquitur|
I’d buy a .357 if your youngster is fairly small and/or recoil sensitive. On the other hand, as mentioned, there are a lot of loads for the 45-70 that range from the fairly light to dangerous game quality. If you think they are going to stick with hunting, I’d consider the 45/70. Get a Marlin guide gun (check it first) or a Henry.
Also true. used to be shotgun only here.
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The Henry single shots I have handled had pretty heavy trigger pulls, had nice wood stocks, but seemed kind of pricy for a single shot. Maybe I got spoiled by the old H&R single shots, which were, at least, cheap.
I think a Marlin .357 or .44 lever action would serve admirably for the job. You could scope it easily if you wanted to. And it wouldn’t be as likely to fall into disuse as a break-open single shot would, when the kids grow up.
I'd go .44 magnum. I shot a few whitetails many years back with my old M-24, 6" S&W. The mag rds are so much more and the Special worked fine to 50 yds.
I hear You on the 1 OZ slug deal! When they opened that up in NJ we had SEVERAL slugs that hit our barn from hunters nearby. All of them used to 50 yd buckshot.
At least You can use a straight walled case
I will chime in with the crowd that says .44 Magnum. There is a plethora of guns, ammo, and reloading components and information.
I think .357 would be my second choice for the reasons listed above, as well as being more economical for practice. I consider it adequate for deer in rifle form, but the .44 is better.
I already had the TC encore, so another barrel was hard to resist. I went with the 357 Max however, you may be able to find a 357 encore or contender and have it reamed to max length. Seems to be a 35 Rem by another name and the deer will never know.
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It really depends on what area you're hunting. I live in Indiana, and up until just a few years ago it was shotguns and handguns only. Then they started allowing pistol caliber rifles...a restriction similar to what it sounds like you have to live with. I acquired a Marlin 1894 in .357 Mag for this purpose, then a few years later they opened it up to all rifle cartridges .243 and above (no .50bmg).
Most of our hunting here in flat farm country is in tree stands, and most shots are going to be under 100 yards. For that purpose, the .357 is adequate...but with the newer rules, I'd probably use my 1895 in .45-70, just because of the greater energy transfer, and the trajectory is a non-issue at that range. If I was hunting in an area where I'd be taking longer shots, my choices would be different.
Provided you guys aren't planning on taking very long shots, I'd recommend the 1894 in .357. It's a great gun for a kid to use as it's light and handy, and can be loaded with anything from mild .38spc up to hot .357 loads that are comparable to mid-range .30-30. Even though it's no longer my primary deer rifle, it's still probably my favorite gun to plink with.
I love a 45/70 for all the reasons listed. For a young hunter ammo cost should be a consideration as much as recoil. Practice builds confidence and busting &1.75 every trigger pull can get old.
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Reloading 45-70 is the only way to go. You can tailor anything from small game to Tyrannosaurus rex and the cases can handle several loadings.
"Live every day as if it's going to be your last, and one day, you'll be right.”
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