Not sure why a weightlifting article that has a lead-in about some kid bringing a soft-air pellet gun to school should preclude an adult seeking advice on how to legally purchase a rifle for target practice. Perhaps you can explain that to us. I love America. Even idiots have the right to speak their mind.
To the OP - I would suggest that you avoid the .17 HMR (it is really nothing more than a hopped up .22) and check out a .223 instead. In particular, Savage puts a good quality rifle that is quite affordable. While they are nothing special to look at, Savage puts the money into the components that count (ie- the trigger and barrel). As such, they shoot pretty damned good right out of the box and you can really tweak 'em. You can buy surplus ammo by the bucket for next to nothing and the .223 shoots flat and far.[/quote]
I don’t know about that as a .223 will be at a minimum 400 to 800 depending on make. If he was a serious varmint hunter target shooter I would agree with you. However, he said he’s into plinking and maybe he’ll get into a little small game hunting the 17 Hummer is perfect medicine for that.
OP, if you plan on big game hunting then get a 30-06 or 308, but if you don’t really have plans for that and will probably just do some rabbit, squirrel, and or small varmint, hunting the 17 or 22 Mag are great little rounds for that. I purchased a Marlin 17 HMR with the bull barrel for $275 and about another $100 for a Bushnell scope. I did put a thumbhole stock on it for another $130 just because I like the way they look, but it didn’t need it for any other purpose.
With this rig I can make inch and a half groups at a hundred and fifty yards which until the 17 came along was close to impossible with a rimfire round. I’ve smoked jackrabbits and cottontails with it close to that range as well. Ammo will run you about ten to twelve dollars a box for fifty rounds. Again, if you are plinking and hunting small game this is ideal IMO.
Keep in mind if you get a larger centerfire caliber ammo will be more expensive as well as rifle and if it’s 30-06 or above recoil will be much harder. Getting a centerfire rifle to shoot accurately can be a tedious job with having to buy and try different ammo and bullet weights until you find that your gun likes and shoots accurately. You may also have to have work done on your rifle to get it accurate like free floating the barrel or having it glass bedded. Generally stuff which can be avoided with a rimfire plinking round which are usually pretty accurate out of the box and with most over the counter ammo.