Best Hunting Rifles Reviewed and Rated
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Naturally, when it comes to best-hunting rifles and functionality most users are looking for a handful of things. The first of those being accuracy. Though this is something that also requires the skill of the user there are functions built into the rifle to allow for better accuracy. As you will find there are rifles that are naturally more accurate than others based on certain design elements and quality. At the top of the list in functionality, I think it would be hard to argue with accuracy.
Durability is a close second in the conversation of the functionality of a hunting rifle. The difference between your hunting rifle and another firearm is that it will be braving the elements with you. Many firearms manufacturers are recognizing that and including upgrades in design and even marketing the rifles on these same specifications.
Of course, the overall look and feel of a rifle are very important as well. In our list today we will discuss some high performing rifles that are decorated with various types of camo and finish that just knock the socks off the buyer and really almost become a borderline showpiece. The Kimber Mountain Ascent we reviewed comes to mind. Then, of course, there are those rifles that come in that black matte finish and have deadly accuracy and carry people through a career of great hunts.
You can only know the value of something once you have an idea of what it costs. When we look at the price, we always like to group rifles into their classes. We constantly try to separate the cheap from the affordable because we think there is a huge difference between these two terms. To see how good a rifle is, we look at the materials from which the stock and barrel are made.
The main materials used in the manufacture of rifles is mostly carbon steel or stainless steel. When we see the stock of a rifle made from fiberglass or wood, we know it is a good firearm. These are the materials from which your more affordable firearms are made. The more durable ones are usually made from such materials like walnut. However, these ones also come more expensive.
If we look at a product and start thinking that it’s more expensive than the others in its class, it usually drops a few points on our list. The reason is simple: if two products will give us a similar service, and one costs more than the other, we will certainly go with the one that is cheaper. Very few of us go around carrying a bag of money that we do not know what to do with.
Someone once said a firearm is designed to outlive you. It’s not one of those products that you buy every day, unless of course if you are an enthusiast who wants to try every new one in the market. It's not possible for us to try every rifle in the market to see how durable it is. So, we turn to the internet again. There are thousands of videos showing different types of rifles being torture-tested.
While your gun will not undergo that type of abuse, you will know which ones are stronger than others from watching these videos. Related to the concept of durability, we love those rifles that are low maintenance. It’s not always possible to clean a gun after every use. For this reason, a firearm that is durable and requires less maintenance goes up a few notches on our list. We will also look at how easy it is to strip the rifle when we want to maintain it.
We avoid those rifles that are unreliable. You know what we are going on about if you have ever owned a rifle that just doesn’t respond sometimes when you pull the trigger. If you are in a dangerous situation, this could be the end of you. If a rifle has a short-stroke gas piston, it will find itself higher on our list of the top ten.
We all love a bonus, or at least everyone we know does. When we want to buy a rifle, we look at the extras that are offered with the firearm. We are thinking here about simple things like great customer care after buying your rifle and the warranties that come with the purchase. With every rifle we have featured above, we looked at the owner's manual that comes with each and the online resources available to help you make the best of your gun. If we discovered that a particular maker is going out of its way to ensure that there are quality videos online to help buyers, their firearm certainly went up the list.
The features on your gun have a bearing on how comfortable it is to use your firearm. For instance, we always look at whether a rifle has a two-stage or single trigger. We also check out issues such as the recoil. If you have ever come back from a hunting trip with a sore shoulder because of recoil, you know what we are talking about.
Another feature that we look at when evaluating rifles is how ambidextrous it is. Here, we are looking at issues such as the ejection port, charging handle, safety, and bolt release. We believe that a rifle should allow the user to use whichever hand they choose to operate it.
We always look at the balance between being compact and having a barrel that is long enough for the bullet to gather velocity before it exits the barrel. Even though we prefer the rifle to be lightweight, we think it should still be sturdy.
10 Best Hunting Rifles
1. Tikka T3 Superlite
This rifle is a beauty. It’s so much more than the beautiful camo that features crisp fall leaves, saplings, and small branches. The look of the rifle itself is so sleek and dynamic. The synthetic camo stock holds a fluted stainless steel barrel and they fit so well together. The rifle, which is a Cabela’s exclusive, comes highly recommended from those who already own the weapon. Perhaps the best evidence for the quality of a rifle lies not in the hands of someone who has shot it in the past but someone who has invested their hard-earned cash into.
Given the name, you would not be surprised for finding out that this rifle is an all-weather lightweight hunting rifle perfect for braving the elements. This weapon is ready to do battle alongside you. Tikka has even gone as far as to guarantee this gun will shoot 1-inch groups at 100 yards.
Stainless Steel Barrel
The fluted barrel is stainless steel which keeps the barrel strong and rust-free over time.
Cost and Value
Priced the way a great rifle should be priced I don’t think buyers would balk especially with the quality they’d be taking home. Some other great features are the adjustable trigger from 2 – 4lbs of pressure, weatherproof stock, and three-stage safety.
2. Savage Arms 11/111 Trophy Hunter
Beyond finding yourself in possession of an impressive hunting rifle the 11/111 Trophy Hunter also comes with a bonus. This weapon has a mounted Nikon 3-9×40 scope with BDC reticle. This is a great scope that will allow you to enhance the rifles range as well as your ability to be successful on your next hunt.
Accuracy Enhancing Trigger
The weapon we are talking about here is another example of Savage Arms’ dedication to providing rifles at a reasonable rate for those interested in getting hands-on a quality bolt action rifle. The 11/111 Trophy Hunter is a bolt action rifle. It comes with an accuracy enhancing trigger system call the AccuTrigger. It is available in .22 caliber up through .308 and would make a doozy of a hunting rifle for someone on a budget.
This gun comes with an accuracy enhancing AccuTrigger that helps shooters get a clean pull and won't accidentally fire if dropped.
Cost and Value
Savage Arms offer up some of the best quality rifles for the price on the market. It is not rare that come holiday time that you run into a great deal with rebates that keeps the cost of a solid rifle like this under $400.
3. Remington Model 783 scope combo
There are certain brands that simply demand respect and Remington is one of them. This 783 scope combo has a pretty standard yet powerful look about it. In its matte black finish, the stock is on the larger size and to be honest with you I kind of like that on this gun. Being a Remington there is a serious expectation that this rifle will perform and the fact is it does. Over the many reviews on this weapon, there is one constant and that is that everyone knew they were getting a good rifle and were surprised to find out just how right they were.
Steel Box Magazine
The rifle features an adjustable trigger system, a steel box magazine which is detachable, and a great recoil pad. As I mentioned this rifle also comes with a factory scope that is not one of the better models available.
This gun comes with an adjustable CrossFire Trigger System and a unique bolt action design that guarantees tight groups.
Cost and Value
The rifle touts tight groupings at a great price and to be honest with you it may be the best price out there for a Remington quality rifle and scope. Overall the rifle is of very high quality and comes with a great set of owner reviews to back it up.
4. Remington Model 700
This gun is exactly what a new hunter might be looking for. Everything about this gun and Remington in general shouts reliability and ease of use. It’s accurate to a fault and will always perform even in the worst of conditions. Plus it’s just a good looking gun, sleek and almost elegant if you can apply that to a firearm.
The X-Mark Pro adjustable allows each shooter to adjust the trigger to their exact specifications. The fact that the adjustment is external makes it just that much easier as there’s no disassembling required. Just a simple single-hand readjustment and the guns responsive in exactly the way you want it.
3 Rings of Steel Action
There’s a lot going on here with this steel forged steel action but what you should know is that it’s built to quickly reload with little or no effort but also to ensure the highest possible element of safety. And what that means for you is that this gun is going to be consistently accurate.
Cost and Value
The price range varies but this gun is reasonably inexpensive. Fact is no rifle is going to come cheap but compared to a number of other models we’ve seen this gun won't set you back too much. Plus Remington is such a well-trusted name you know you’re getting a quality firearm.
5. Ruger American Rifle Predator
This rifle is from the well-respected firearms manufacturers that brought me my first firearm. It’s a slick rifle with a great olive green finish on it. Not sure I would even add a camo touch with a finish like this. The overall look of the rifle is very impressive in its simplicity.
Marksman Adjustable Trigger
The Predator comes with a tremendous amount of features. One of the best is the Marksman Adjustable trigger which customizes pull from 3-5 lbs. This allows customization with the weapon and I always prefer a weapon that can adapt to my needs rather than having to deal with the opposite situation.
The hammer-forged free-floating barrel is another feature mentioned in this rifle though based on several reviews of the gun it’s clear that you may need to run a file over the stock a few times to achieve the actual free-floating barrel. Not a deal-breaker for the price but more of an important observation.
Cost and Value
The rifle has some flaws but it is priced very competitively. For the price, I wouldn’t expect something perfect but there are some reviews on this rifle that make you twinge a bit. There are concerns about accuracy and even durability of the rifle by a few reviewers. This is not a profile of the weapon just a warning to do your homework on the weapon first.
6. Weatherby Mark V
Weatherby is a sleek and sophisticated maker of firearms. Everything about them is designed to make your hunt easier and more successful. From the wide and adjustable trigger face to the fluted stainless steel barrel are all put there to help ensure that you hit what you’re aiming at. All in all, Weatherby is going to make sure you hit what you’re aiming at.
This single-stage trigger is set at 3.5 pounds but is fully adjustable down to 2.5 pounds. It has a wide trigger face to ensure not only comfort but also helps make sure your finger is fully placed on the trigger to ensure you have complete control over when and how your gun is going to fire.
Stainless Steel Barrel
This fluted stainless steel barrel is free-floating and hand-lapped to ensure that there is nothing in that barrel that’s going to allow your bullet to go astray. It also has a recessed target crown which is just one more way to ensure accuracy. That’s the kind of detail you’ll find in a Weatherby.
Cost and Value
Generally, you’re going to pay for Weatherby quality and this gun is no exception. It’s expensive but it is a high-quality shooting rifle and if you’re looking for a gun that’s going to take your hunting game to the next level Weatherby may be the gun for you.
7. Kimber Mountain Ascent
This weapon is a well put together specimen with an interesting camo pattern they call OptiFade Concealment Open Country. It’s more of a block type of camo that looks great on the stock. The barrel terminates in a muzzle brake to reduce recoil. Visually this rifle plays the part well and comes from a manufacturer that had built its reputation the 1911 pistol. Owners of the Kimber have given it great reviews and mentioned their surprise in just how light the weapon was. There were very few complaints about the cost or the accuracy of the weapon. All in all, it’s a powerful weapon that comes at a relatively good price.
Made for its namesake Ascent this rifle is made lightweight and manageable with the help of pillar and glass bedding as well as a shortened bolt. Much of these weapons make is to accommodate the hunter. I feel like some rifles are great for shooting and others are great for travel and durability. When I look over the Kimber Mountain Ascent I see a rifle that has gotten its talons into both needs that are derived from a rifle.
Great Accuracy Standard
This gun is specifically designed to be accurate and give the shooter a sub-MOA amount of accuracy and it just doesn't get much better than that.
Cost and Value
The price point on this rifle is up there and there are some reasons why. What I have come to appreciate about a gun like this at this price point is that it is more than just a rifle. What the Kimber Mountain Ascent represents is a refinement in its purpose. Any gun with a high enough caliber can stop an animal. This weapon takes into account the comfort and preference for the person handling it.
8. Browning X-Bolt Hells Canyon
The Hells Canyon by Browning is a lesson in bolt action rifle beauty. This rifle is much a piece of artwork as it is a firearm. There is no getting around that. The stock is a desert highland camo that is just brilliant in its appearance on the weapon. The bronze barrel and receiver give this gun a look that deserves every bit of its steep price tag. The rifle also features a trigger that adjusts 3 to 5 lbs, a short-throw 60° bolt for quick cycling and a conveniently detachable magazine. All of these features come along with this rifle standard. That said based on the price of this rifle I expect that those purchasing this thing would expect nothing less.
Performance, of course, comes into question when we are talking about a rifle of this quality and price. This is not a cheap weapon and must be something that you enjoy. With its 26″ barrel with a muzzle brake that tames the recoil this weapon is ready for war and looks great doin’ it.
Light and Maneuverable
This gun is meant to be hauled all over tarnation, it's designed to be light and to be easily and quietly moved.
Cost and Value
Though you may think of the Browning X-Bolt Hells Canyon as a big costly rifle, which of course it is, it also is a very effective weapon. I have not seen much by way of customer reviews but I have very little doubts that this gun from a reputable dealer will hold true to its name and its lucky owner.
9. Marlin 336
Marlin calls this the quintessential power hunting rifle and we agree. It has a classic style and a lever-action reload and trigger that guarantee accuracy. The barrels are micro-grooved to provide maximum accuracy and comes with a six-shot magazine.
Scope Mount Ready
This isn’t a guarantee but we really like that this gun comes with its solid top receivers tapped and scope mount ready. So if you want to get a closer look at your target this makes it easy.
Micro-grooved for accuracy
This 20 inch blued barrels are micro-grooved to provide just the exact right amount of twisting to guarantee accuracy.
Cost And Value
This is a real bargain compared to some of the other guns on our list. The price won’t cause you too much headache and you’re getting an incredibly accurate high-quality firearm with this gun.
10. Savage Arms AXIS
Personally, the Savage Arms AXIS is a weapon that I am partial to as I own one and have shot it myself. It was the first hunting rifle I ever shot, to be honest. Like most Savage Arms the serious stock design and exterior beauty will be left out in return for the money you will save in the price of one of these affordable guns, particularly in the holiday season. You will love this rifle as a first. I have fumbled with the clip during reload a bit but that could have been just as much my fault as a new user. Not a deal-breaker but something to consider if you are looking to spend a little more not to deal with that.
When you talk about rifles there is nothing more affordable than this model. However, this also dictates the quality ceiling that exists on a product like this. Now that doesn’t mean that this gun isn’t fully capable of bringing down extensive big game it’s just not a Remington. Having shot this rifle myself many times I will tell you it is more than capable of getting the job done. I have shot the 30-06 and at 100 yards it’s a powerhouse as well as being very accurate behind a factory-installed scope.
The durable stock ensures that this gun will stay strong over time and it's also in a cool black matte finish that makes this gun stylish as well as lightweight and accurate.
Cost and Value
This rifle is basic. There is no getting around it. That said it could be the perfect companion to someone out there. Utilizing this weapon early on in your hunting career will allow you the extra money to buy things that might further enhance your hunting experience. The AXIS is not a rifle that will be on your list of guns to buy “one fine day” but it may be the rifle that gives you the passion to write that list.