You just got your PAL (Possession and Acquisition License) in the mail, and you want to buy your first gun. There are hundreds of options... where do you start?
There are a few categories of firearms to consider. Eventually you will want a firearm from each category. Choose the first category that fits your immediate needs.
Plinking is fun, lots of rounds down range, and not very accurate. Good for learning trigger control, target acquisition, and putting a smile on your face.
22LR, .223 Rem, 12ga and 20ga are all relatively cheap to shoot.
Ruger 10/22, Savage A22, GSG-15, GSG-16, Kodiak Defence WK180, Federation Arms SA-12 or SA-20.
All of these guns are around $500 except the WK180 that is just over $1k.
Hunting Medium/Large Game
Lightweight, Fairly accurate, easy to carry, larger caliber
.308 Win, 30-06, .270 Win. are good choices.
Savage Axis II, Remington 783, Howa 1500. These guns are under $1k and can be had in many calibers.
For something a little up market, Savage Model 110, CZ 600, Remington 700, or Howa M1500. These guns are just over $1000 to $1500 and you will want to put a quality scope on it ($500+).
Shotgun, light, reliable.
My previous recommendation was a Remington 870 or 1100 in 12ga or 20ga with a 24" to 28" barrel but the price has increased 3 fold on them in the last 3-5 years. Turkish shotguns dominate the market for affordable shotguns and their warranties' more than make up for their perceived lower quality. Federation Arms, Revolution Armory and Churchill offer a great variety of pump action and semi-auto shotguns for $500 to $800. The break-action single shot shotguns can be had for under $250. With slugs these work for medium to large game also.
Not quite precision, but fun to hit small objects at around 100 yards.
For 22LR, You can't go wrong with a Savage Mark II FV, Savage B22, ISSC SPA-22, CZ 457 or Ruger American 22LR. These are $400 to $600 depending on the specific model and although some come with good iron sights you will want to put a quality scope on the ones that don't.
For centerfire aim for something in .223 Rem. .243 Win, .308 Win and 6.5 Creedmoor.
Savage Axis II, Remington 700 SPS, BCL MRX Bison. These range from $800 to $1200 and will need to be paired with a quality scope.
This is a new category and is commonly asked for. 12ga with slugs or buck shot are great for taking down the undead.
The Revolution Armory Impact R4 is a Benelli M4 clone that cycles fast and is fun to shoot for around $700. The Federation Arms SPM-12 is a magazine fed pump action with 10 round magazines available for around $550.
There are many firearms missing from this list... but it's a good start.
On a personal note, if I had sell all my rifles and shotguns, and keep only three, it would be my Savage Mark II FV in 22LR, Savage Model 10 in .308, and my Revolution Armory Impact R4 in 12ga.
Feedback is welcome at Chris@RougeRiverArms.com
Send me your three choices and I'll include them here.