Buying budget hunting gear - is £300 enough?


- Credit: Archant

Can I get a good rifle and scope for £300, or should I save more money? Dom Holtam replies...

Q: I’m new to rifle shooting and have a limited budget – is it worth buying a cheap rifle and scope or am I better off waiting until I can afford something better. I have about £300 at present.

DOM HOLTAM replies: I prefer to think of things in terms of ‘value’ rather than cheap or expensive. It partly depends on what type of rifle shooting you intend to do. If you are planning on stalking deer in all weathers and at both ends of the day then you might not be able to get the quality of optic you will need.

However, a rimfire is a slightly easier proposition: I bought myself a full rabbiting set-up from a local gun shop for about £350 consisting of a used but very solid Anschutz .22, a moderator, a battered Nikko scope and a bipod. It gave sterling service for several years and I sold it for pretty much the same money! It is pretty hard to shoot out a .22 so there will be some good bargains out there. Try websites such as Gunstar and Guntrader to get a feel for prices. Choose a ‘known’ brand of scope and scour the selling sites – even eBay. Lots of gun owners (me included) buy too much gear too often and then want a clear out to fund the next project, so take advantage to bag a bargain.

On the centrefire front, I’d be tempted to save up a little longer and give yourself a budget of £500-£700 for a solid set-up including a scope, mod and bipod. Howa, CZ, Browning, Ruger and other top brands offer very good, accurate and dependable entry-level guns, while there are some excellent value optics on offer from the likes of MTC, Hawke, Nikko Stirling and Bushnell, and if you enter the used marketplace your choices are even wider.

There is no point in going crazy on your first ever set-up if budget is tight and you are not yet certain if you are going to be really ‘into’ the sport. But at the same time, don’t fall into false economies, and remember that good gear will last. The action from my first deer rifle is still going strong in a semi-custom upgrade and I hope to have many more years of reliable service from it!