My boy is 14 years old, and his summer wages are burning a hole in his pocket. Despite his ability to shoot and hunt with my rifles, he is dying to have a rifle of his own. I can understand that because I was 14 once too. The question is, what to buy?

My own first rifle experience wasn’t the best. My wonderful, but firearm illiterate, father took me down to the local hardware store and asked the worker there what to buy. The dude pulled out a Winchester 94 in .30-30 and a Remington 700 in .30-06 and told me to pick one. No other helpful advice was offered. Being a student of Louis L’amour at the time, I opted for the .30-30. After all, the Sacketts could work pure magic with their lever guns. I did take my first buck with it, and it worked fine.

However, as I grew as a hunter and shooter, the .30-06 would have been the much better choice.

The kid dreams of hunting everything from moose to mice, from Alaska to Africa, so I think a bolt gun is the way to go. I will let him try out some different brands, and ultimately the choice will be his, but probably with a gentle push for a Tikka or Remington. While I own many different makes, I have always been partial to the look and feel of Remington. That being said, the last several Tikkas I have shot have all been tack drivers with very smooth actions.

Now, what cartridge to feed it? The 6.5 Creedmoor is out. Yes, it is a good round. No, it is not an elk-killing machine. Yes, people have done it and will continue to do it. I once saw a dude build an entire cabin with nothing but a double-bit ax and hand saw. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.

I’m thinking hard about the 7mm-08, .308, .270 or .30-06. The 7mm-08 just isn’t very popular anymore and isn’t really much of a step up from the 6.5 so probably not.

The .308 is fine. Usually very good accuracy, lots of availability and recoil will be a bit less than the .270 or .30-06. I know lots of folks swear by it, but I just have some mental hang up with the .308. I’m sure my psychologist has a diagnosis for that.

I like the .270 a lot. I have always had good success with it, and the rifles I have shot have all been very accurate. But the .30-06 — well, can you really go wrong with the good ol’ ‘06? It is the American workhorse of calibers. The do-all rifle that all others are compared to. Definitely good enough for elk. And as an added benefit, Dale would stop harassing me about owning one. I could load it down just a bit so he could work on recoil management and then step it up as he grew. Yep, I am leaning that way.

So, a Remington or Tikka in .270 or .30-06 is my final choice. Now all I have to do is talk him into seeing things my way.

What do you think he should get? Let us know at

Rod Carpenter is a husband, father and

hunting fool.

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