Can anyone recommend an inexpensive brand of rifle that has decent quality? Also, I'd like to get a scope that's good, but not too expensive.
I have the same question, but about buying a handgun. Is it okay to piggyback on this thread or should I start a new one?
A few months ago I decided to get something that would be easy to carry (small enough), but still effective if I truly needed it. "Research" on the net led to lots of opinions, but very little hard, tested facts. One link led to a guy in Georgia, I don't remember his name, but he'd done years of forensic work; he reported that of the years of gunshot wounds he'd seen in the morgue, the smaller calibers required more rounds to send the body to his table.
No surprise there. Specifically, 9mm and .380 victims often had as many as 10 rounds in the abdominal region; .357 SIG, .40, and .45 deaths were often attributed to as few as 1 to 3 rounds. The 9mm and smaller rounds were sometimes unable to penetrate to the deeper organs, and were easily deflected by ribs and heavy clothing. The heavier rounds plowed through to decisively injure the deep vital organs.
There are limits for each type round, even the big ones. The .40 and .45 were ineffective if you needed to shoot through something, like a car door. The .357 SIG maintained killing power even through a car door. For a police officer the SIG seems the best choice. But, for me, that extra penetration power might result in the round striking some innocent kid who happened to be behind my attacker. I can't see many reasons why a civilian would need to shoot through a car, or wall.
From past experience I knew that I couldn't hit a fat elephant with a 1911 .45. So I tried out a Glock model 23 (.40 cal) and it fit my hand very naturally. The older gen 3 model 23's can be found used, but in good condition for around $500. I got a new gen 4 for about $600, and I'm still very happy with it.
At this point some of the more knowledgeable people here might be complaining that I have unnecessarily dismissed the virtues of the 9mm, and other rounds. I've read that the newer 9mm rounds are extremely effective.
So, you might want to go to a range which rents weapons, and try out several types. It's more important that you can hit the bad guy, even with a smaller slug, than miss him with a bazooka. BTW, don't forget to measure in the cost and availability of the bullets. Around here 9mm and .357 SIGs are hard to find; .40, and .45s are cheap and available.