My advice will depend on what you consider inexpensive and what type of deer hunting you will be doing. I would first choose a cartridge and then depending on your budget, the make and model that best suites you. When I refer to what type of deer hunting you will be doing, I inquire as to wether you will be hunting for the freezer and will be harvesting does and young bucks, or will be chasing mature bucks. As far as proper cartridges and loads go, mature whitetail bucks are a distinct species seperate from young bucks and does. A mature buck can easily dress out in the low 200 pound range, while a young buck, or even a mature doe will dress out in the low 100 pound range. I live and hunt in northern Wisconsin, so if you live down south, these numbers may be different. Though I do harvest several does each year, I focus the majority of my hunting on mature trophy class bucks. I go into the woods knowing that I may only get one oppurtunity to take a really big buck the entire season. This being said, I chose not to take any chances when selecting a cartridge and load. I have two deer rifles that I use depending on the stand I am sitting in. If I am hunting where I may have to shoot over 200 yards, I use a .300 winchester magnum loaded with 180 grain trophy bonded bear claws. If there is no chance that my shots will be over 200 yards, then I use a .338 winchester magnum loaded with 225 grain trophy bonded bear claws. The reason I use two calibers is because when you get over 200 grains with the .300 win mag, you start losing powder space. I have killed many deer with anything from 30-30's to 30-06's, and realize that a well placed bullet out of even a .22 LR will kill even the biggest deer, however, deer do not always pose for the shot and each shot oppurtunity will be unique. I have hit deer in the shoulder at 50 to 100 yards with typical deer calibers (.308, .243, etc.) and had the deer get away due to the bullet not getting deep enough after hitting the shoulder bone. I always try to take a deer behind the front shoulder, but sometimes for one reason or another the shot ends up somewhere else. With my .300 win mag, and .338 win mag, I know the bullet will always get proper penetration from any angle, and when you start out with a big bullet, there is less that can go wrong. With these loads, I take a broadside deer right through the front shoulders which almost always produces a dead in his tracks deer. The exact type of bullet you shoot will be very crucial to you choice of caliber also. There are a lot of used guns out there and It should be easy to find a good used gun for under $400. If you decide to go with something smaller than I use, I would stick to a popular caliber just because there will be a better selection of loads available. These popular calibers would be .243 win, .270 win, .308 win, 30-06 springfield, 7mm mag, .300 win mag, and .338 win mag.