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Light stalking rifle for a newbie – what’s recommended and what about calibre?

Mark Ripley advices a new stalker

Sako 85

A lighter-weight rifle such as a Sako 85 might be suitable for a stalking newbie

Looking for a light stalking rifle

Q: Can you recommend a good light stalking rifle and calibre for a newbie stalker? I’m looking to shoot mostly muntjac and foxes with the possibility of the odd fallow. I’ve used my husband’s .308 but found the recoil a bit uncomfortable.

A: So a light stalking rifle. For muntjac and foxes you could use a .223, which would be a lot more comfortable and perfectly adequate for both, but it wouldn’t be suitable for fallow. Perhaps if it’s just the occasional trip purely in search of fallow, you could use your husband’s .308 if your certificate allows? Otherwise, I would suggest a 6.5mm such as a Creedmoor or 6.5×55. I would usually recommend a .243 but with the current situation, with the potential ban on lead ammunition, it could cause you problems in this calibre.  (Read this useful piece on the best lightweight rifles.)

Scottish stalking

What about recoil?

If recoil is an issue, there are several things you can do to make shooting a little more comfortable. The first would be to use a moderator on the rifle and not to choose a rifle that’s too lightweight, because a little weight will help soak up felt recoil. You might also want to fit a soft-rubber recoil pad if your chosen rifle doesn’t already have one. (Read more on recoil here.)

Perhaps something along the lines of the popular Tikka T3 Hunter or Sako 75 or 85 might be a good option for you? These rifles are well known for their quality, reliability and accuracy.  (Read our review of the Tikka T3 .) 

You can read our reviews of the Sako 75 here. 

And a review of the Sako 85 here.