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The 7 Best Rifles If You Want Cheap Ammo

The 7 Best Rifles If You Want Cheap Ammo

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When it comes to defending your home or harvesting big game, it’s time to go to the rifle. Handguns may be more convenient to carry for personal defense, but except for the most powerful Magnum cartridges, their performance is marginal. Rifles beat them in the accuracy department, too.

If you have rifles that you treasure but find that it can be expensive to feed them, then check out these seven rifles that can help keep you proficient without breaking the bank.

1. Ruger 10/22

As you likely suspected, this list has to start with a 22. It is the cheapest rifle on the market, and many fundamentals of rifle shooting can be duplicated with a rim-fire. We like the 10/22 because even someone lacking in gunsmith skills can customize these rifles with ease.

If your main rifle is a lever action, you can substitute the 10/22 for a Henry or if ARs are you thing, the S&W MP15/22 might be more to your liking. Maybe you roll with a bolt gun; we are partial to the Savage Mk II. Companies like Walther and German Sport Guns offer rim-fire versions of HK MP5s, AK-47s and a few others. If none of these appeal to you, you can usually find a 22 conversion kit for your AR-15 and possibly some other rifles. The key is that you have options.

Although supply has been short in many parts of the country, if you luck out and buy in the right quantity, you can expect to pay as low as 5 cents a round. It may run higher by a few cents depending on your area. Supply is improving. Stock up when you can, but don’t be a neckbearding hoarder about it.

2. Colt M4 Expanse

Sure, there are other rifles out there like the Tavor, Galil, Steyr AUG, Ruger Mini-14, the SIG MCX and hundreds of AR-15 variants, but a Colt M4 Expanse is a sub-$700 rifle made by the company that put the AR on the map. You can get quality rifles from your manufacturer of choice, but the key is to get one chambered in 5.56. If you hate black rifles, you can find a number of bolt-action rifles chambered in this caliber, as well.

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For many people this is their primary long gun round, and we have seen it as cheap as $2 a box of 20. Average price is probably twice that or a little bit more.

If “black rifles” are not your thing, there is the Ruger Mini-14. Current versions are more accurate than their predecessors. If you have no use for a semiautomatic rifle, a number of companies make bolt-action and single-shot rifles in 223 Remington/5.56 NATO. This diversity is what lends the round its popularity.

3. Century Arms RAS-47

Some people might say SKS, but we have always preferred the AK platform. Either way, we like the 7.62 X 39 because it is cheap to shoot and can usually be found in great quantities. Average street price hovers around 20 to 25 cents a round.

We like Century’s AKs, whether it is the RAS-47 or one of the Yugoslavian imports (although those rifles lack chrome lined bores). Lovers of traditional stocks over pistol grips may prefer an SKS, and those who do not like former Com-Bloc designs can find an AR-15 or Ruger Mini-30 chambered in this caliber that performs much like the 30-30 Winchester.

4. AK-74

Similar to the last rifle is the smaller bored AK-74 chambered in 5.45 X 39. They are a bit harder to find than the AK-47, especially in our area.

I actually bought one of these rifles a few years back for the very reason I wrote this article. Having gone through numerous “rifle scares” and “panic buying sprees” over the past 30 years, I visited a gun shop that had several cases of 5.45 marked down to $88. The reason? They had problems getting rifles in stock. I picked up four cases and happened upon a rifle within a few months after that for a good price.

The price of ammunition has definitely increased since then, and it is on par with the 7.62X39 in the 20 to 25 cents range.

There are upper receivers and AR-15 variants chambered in this round as well as some old East German bolt-action rifles floating around out there. There have been rumors of conversion kits for the Israeli Tavor rifle and others for some time, but we have yet to see them.

5. Beretta Storm

Currently the most affordable center-fire pistol round is the 9mm Luger. Whether it is military surplus ammunition, Winchester White Box, or remanufactured ammo, 9mm is here to stay, and prices are reflecting this. We have seen it as cheap as $13 for a box of 100 recently. Beretta makes a carbine chambered in 9mm that should be part of everyone’s preps for the gun department, particularly if you have a number of 9mm handguns.

Some question the wisdom of a pistol caliber carbine. We like them in 9mm for their low recoil, ability to suppress and inexpensive ammunition. If you cannot abide a Beretta, you can find HK pattern rifles, Uzi carbines, ARs chambered in 9mm and Kel-Tec’s folding Sub-2000 rifle.

6. Rossi Model 92

We are looking at the 357 Magnum version, as it allows you to shoot the cheaper 38 Special round. If you have a 38 Special or 357 Magnum revolver, then this carbine makes a lot of sense.

Like any straight wall revolver cartridge, the 38 Special represents extreme low cost for re-loaders. We only caution that you avoid the bullets seated flush or close to flush with the case mouth for use in a lever-action rifle. They will not feed and the rifle will think it’s been stocked with empty cases.

There are other lever-action rifles available and a few pump-action versions were made, but we find Rossi’s guns to have the most value.

7. Yugo M98

With the prices of K-98 and VZ-24 rifles going through the roof, we thought we would clue you in on one that is not as expensive, especially if you can live with a straight bolt handle.

Ammunition performance of 8mm Mauser is on par with that of 30-06 or another low-cost round, the 7.62 X 54R. Military surplus ammunition is still relatively cheap, at just south of 30 cents a round.

If you know of another low-cost round that’s not in this story, post in the comments below and let us know about it.

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  1. Your Best 2 Choices Are:
    1. 7.62 X 39mm in Any barrel of 20″ Length Plus.
    2. .30-06 Springfield in Any barrel of 22″ Length Plus.
    For the .30-06, You have MANY Great Choices . . .
    – It is a breeze to Reload and you can reload this Case
    to Exceed the .300 WinMag in both Range And Hitting Power;
    – Use bullets of 185 grain wt. plus with Tiny HP Noses;
    – I recommend the Following Bolt Action Rifles of 30 years Plus in Age:
    Ruger M77, Savage Bolt Action, Remington 700s, Winchester Mod. 70.
    You will be Happy with these choices 10 – 20 years from now.

    Bill – Long Range Instructor

  2. J. Scott Montgomery

    I think the “06” is about the best you can do. I bought an FN Deluxe for $80.00 at a Gibson store
    going out of buisness in 1959 when I was 10 years old. I have taken everything from Antolope to Moose with it and only had to shoot a second shot 3 times until I got over my head in a river in Alaska and lost everything except my life. Bought a Ruger M77 and would have nothing else than an “06” for anything in the western hemisphere. Just don’t think you can go wrong. Shot placement and “Know Your Rifle”!
    My favorite load was 57 1/2 gr. of 4350 with a Sierra 165 HPBT. Gave 1/2 or less groups at 100 yrds.
    Best to all, Keep your powder dry and “VOTE”. I want to keep my guns so I am a “TRUMPER”!

    • Check out the Hi-Point 380 m..I have one… I’ve added a few accessories very fun gun and I surely hope Trump is successful

  3. The Rossi lever .357 is a good choice, I’ve owned a Puma medallioned carbine since 1989, its been an excellent gun. My brother’s Rossi Trapper is even better for easy carry. The only complaint is that the factory finish (for me) rusts too easily.

    For inexpensive 9mm rifle, the Hi-Point 9mm has been great. Ugly to me, but the sights line up perfectly for me. Also wish it had a hi-cap magazine, but you can’t have everything when it comes to the price point.

  4. No .308 or 30-06? Those are excellent rounds. Also if talkin about cheap guns then Mosin Nagant is not too shabby or Saiga12 or even that Romanian weapon that looks similar to a Dragonof, I believe it’s called PSL but i might be wrong.

    • Definitely love the Mosin Nagant in 7.62x54r. It’s ever bit as powerful and long shooting as the .308 and maybe even more. Can be accessesorized with almost anything and can even get a bent bolt fairly cheap or have your bent professionally for 50-100 bucks. Heavy but extremely well built and should last another 117 years with proper care

  5. savage bolt, have had one for 55 years and I can take deer, or ground rats or anything inbetwen cal. 243

  6. The cold expanse is not actually a colt, and you can build or even buy a better quality ar15 cheaper. If you want to know how it’s not a colt compare every part to a LE6920, hardly anything is of any resemblance. They are third party budget builds colt is stamping their name on because, well, colt like many loved companies, is hemmoraging and falling apart at the seams. Chris bartocci is a good source on the expanse, a former colt employee.

    Speaking of falling apart at the seams, the RAS47 is a handgrenade waiting to happen. They have a massive issue with turning into mush, and damaging themselves mechanically to the point of reaching no go headspace under 5,000 rounds. 5,000!! That’s a few heavy firefights or a couple months at the range. That’s junk and with no headspace it’s possible to blow up a round in your face. Bad picks. Very, very bad picks. A wasr 10 is better. So would most home build ar15s over an expanse.

  7. #5 Beretta Storm.
    Interesting choice for someone looking to shoot a cheap rifle.
    I suppose if you point a pistol at a cheap rifle, and the pistol discharges a live round.. you are shooting a cheap rifle.

  8. I like your choices, although I prefer the .308/7.62×51 to the 30-06. Do the same things although the 30-06 can do them at longer ranges. (and in a bolt action that doesn’t absorb the recoil, it is much easier on my old shoulder.) My .308 is an old Polish 8mm K-98 Mauser that I rechambered to .308 (A simple matter of replacing the barrel, which does require knowing how to set proper head space. Any decent gunsmith can do it quite easily. I went with a heavy barrel and left it free floating in the cut down military stock and later added a “sporter” bolt with a bent handle for easier use with a scope.) Does it work? Not a pretty gun, but a one shot kill of an ibex at a measured 450 yards says yes.(among the many other critters from rabbit to elk it has dropped ) The drilling and tapping to add mounts and a good scope is quite simple. The Mauser action can also safely handle the pressures of the 7.62 x 51 NATO rounds, which are occasionally available in bulk. (as well as some hot hand loads with from 110 to 240 grain bullets depending on expected use.)

    I also agree with the Rossi, That is my “brush gun” and a companion to my old Dan Wesson stainless .357 with snub and 4″ barrels. Mine is an early Rossi carbine with the short barrel and 7+1 capacity with .357 loads. The iron sighte work well in brush and with .357 magnums have dropped deer at up to 100 yards. My .22 is an Iver Johnson .22LR lever action that matches my Rossi for size and handling and has equally good iron sights for rabbits and other small game out to about 50 yards with standard .22 LR and 75 yards with CCI Stingers.

    Another thing that I’d recommend is a good pellet gun in either .22, or .177. I have a Stoeger Model X20 Supressor in .177 that is a single pump spring gun that gives about 1000 fps with 7-8 grain pellets and even includes a good scope with lighted reticle. Rather heavy, but very durable, quiet when it fires and a tack driver to about 40 yards. (consistent 1 shot kills on doves and sitting duck head shots at 40 yards and drops squirrels and other small varmints effectively to about 25 yards.)

  9. What’s wrong with the good old American 30-30? You can get both lever and bolt actions fairly cheap and the ammo is probably the cheapest of all 30 caliber and even cheaper to reload

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