Best Hunting Rifles Reviewed and Rated
The hunting rifle is of course the pinnacle of hunting gear and depending on what you are after there a ton of options out there. What do you hunt, how do you hunt and what are you looking to achieve in totality with that rifle. There are hunters out there who have different rifles for every hunt. I often wonder if they go as far as a different rifle depending on the day of the week!
Budget is a real thing that most hunters have to contend with. That said you will also find hunters that two or even one hunting rifle for several species.
Of the best hunting rifles on the market today we see a price range that is decidedly vast and accommodating to the general public as well as hardcore hunters alike. With brands like Ruger offering quality centerfire rifles for there are affordable options in the mix. The Kimber Mountain Ascent tops out at nearly three times the cost and sits comfortably on a stack of great reviews.
Functionality and specs
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 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 is 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.
Best Hunting Rifles Reviewed
1. Savage Arms 11/111 Trophy Hunter
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.
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 in .22 caliber up through .308 and would make a doozy of a hunting rifle for someone on a budget.
- Great value
- Quality feature
- Bonus Nikon Scope
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.
2. Winchester Model 70 Featherweight
I am impressed that the rifle industry has recognized that these tools are more than just weapons for launching projectiles. A hunting rifle like the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight is not just a rifle for shooting but it takes into consideration the motivations and the struggles of the hunter who will be using it.
This is a higher priced rifle from one of the great rifle makers in America today. Enjoying a weapon like this is something a seasoned hunter will appreciate. The precision that this rifle provides is impressive to all who have reviewed it and is yet another reason to make the purchase on a higher end priced rifle.
This model comes with several features including the Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad to keep those high calibers from wearing down your shoulders. Another powerful safety feature included on this rifle is the three position safety. This allows you to work the bolt and check the chamber with the safety in position.
Its a Winchester. You will fall in love both with the quality of this rifle and what it is capable of achieving in the field as well as the nostalgia of owning a high quality rifle from one of America’s oldest brands.
- Lightweight design
- Top level brand and quality
- Three position safety
3. 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.
Given the name you would not be surprised for find 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.
The rifle, which is a Cabela’s exclusive, and 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.
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 the three stage safety.
- Beautiful design and realistic camo finish
- Made for the hunt. Lightweight all weather design.
- Cabelas exclusive
- Rave reviews
4. 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.
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.
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.
- Slick Olive finish
- Floating barrel
- Accuracy and durability
5. 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.
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 that will need to be changed out eventually. The rifle also 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.
Overall the rifle is of very high quality and comes with a great set of owner reviews to back it up. 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.
- Tight groupings consistently
- Great value for brand
- Factory model scope included
- The scope is a cool addition but not a great option long term.
6. Browning X-Bolt Hells Canyon Long Range Mcmillan
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.
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.
The rifle also features a trigger that adjusts 3 to 5 lbs, a short-throw 60° bolt for quick cycling and a convenient 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.
Though you may think of the Browning X-Bolt Hells Canyon Long Range Mcmillan 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.
- Unique design
- Muzzle break
- Great set of standard features
- Though some would argue this is an expensive gun
7. Sako A7 Big Game
When it comes to appearance the Sako A7 does very much look like one of the fellows. There is not much that blows me away in terms of overall look of the rifle. Of course this means very little once you have drug it through the mud on your way after a giant, grass eating game animal. The finish is black and very similar to comparable finishes.
The Roughtech stock lays claim to being able to “dropping those bruisers” which is something that gives you a good feeling about the stopping power of the rifle. With its stainless steel fluted barrel and the extra protection from recoil it’s hard to argue about the claim above. This weapon is also made of aluminum bedded composite. This just to prove its ability to take punishment.
By all accounts the accuracy out of the box is outstanding. Owners of this rifle have marveled at just how little tweaking this rifle needs to be accurate. Its an incredible benefit to have a powerhouse rifle like the Big Game be such an accurate and exacting weapon as well.
This rifle is priced in the mid to high range for hunting rifles in general but I do think its performance and the accolades of others makes this rifle something you would want to add to your collection
- Best in accuarcy out of the box
- Stopping power
- Standard black matte finish
8. 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 cheap guns particularly in the holiday season.
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.
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. Though the clip itself does show up on reviews throughout the internet when this rifle is discussed. Not a deal breaker but something to consider if you are looking to spend a little more not to deal with that.
This rifle is basic. There is no getting around it. That said it could be the perfect compliment 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.
- Durable beginners weapon
- This is a gun made to price low and the quality shows
9. 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 blocky 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.
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 this 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.
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 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.
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 high price.
- Reputable manufacturers
- Lightweight and manageable
- Designed to carry on a long hunt
10. Winchester Model 70 Extreme Weather
This rifle offers a unique selling point in that its purpose and claim is to battle harsh conditions. In fact the temperature range for reliability spans from -50 degrees fahrenheit to as warm as 140 degrees. To me this makes this gun an appealing option for those who are into expansive adventure hunting. Hunting that may put you in Alaska for three cold days where you might have a chance at flirting with -50 degrees. Unfortunately the gun would be more reliable than the human body at those temperatures
This model comes standard with a Pachmayr decelerator pad and three position safety. It also features a Pre’-64-type claw extractor that removes cartridges quickly and easily when that second shot counts the most. This Winchester is built with a free floating, fluted stainless steel barrel that shoots with 1-MOA accuracy. In a game where accuracy is everything this is a feature that I will not take lightly.
Funny enough the first review I read on this firearm came from Alaska. The rifle is consistently praised for its lightweight design and reliability. It seems as though Winchester set out to create a rifle that could take a beating in the most harsh conditions. I think they have done just that with this rifle and receive consistent compliments on the Bell and Carlson stock. One buyer was on the fence between two but said this rifle literally “felt better.”
- Extreme environmental durability
- Free floating stainless steel barrel
- Recoil protection
While it is okay for us to group together 10 rifles and call them the best hunting rifles reviewed and rated, we know that there are many still grappling with the question, how do I trust the list you have just made? This is an understandable question; we have seen numerous sites that pretend to know what they are talking about with regards to firearms, when in actual fact they don’t. It’s the reason why we’ve decided to make a case for the selection by clearly articulating the criteria we used to arrive at the best 10.
One of the greatest advantages of the internet of things is that it allows us to see what people from different parts of the world think about a certain product. Also, retailers such as Cabela give verified buyers a chance to review the products they have bought. For us, when we rate products, we always start here.
Even though we think these reviews are important, we try to guard against relying on them entirely. Why? Because our standards differ. You know how they say one man’s meat is another man’s poison? Looking at past customer reviews gives you a chance to whittle down the list of products to consider. After all, there are hundreds of products on the market. Once we have a manageable group of products, we can them start looking at other elements.
Price and Value
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.
Durability and Reliability
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.
Pros and Cons
As you can see from the reviews we have done above, for every firearm we assess, we always look at the pros and cons of the product. When there are more cons that pros, we get the idea that buying such a rifle will not end well, so we drop it off the list. This is the reason why none of the products we have here have more cons than pros.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which hunting rifle should I buy?
A: Rifles come in different forms, shapes, materials, sizes, and prices. This is also the case with users, they come in different forms and they have differing requirements. Our best advice is that you will need to start by deciding what your aim is. In this case, the question relates to the type of game you want to hunt.
When you answer the question relating to the kind of game you want to hunt, you will have narrowed down your choices. When you have fewer choices, it is easy to select a firearm that will meet your preferences. Once you are ready to buy, decide on the price you want to pay and how comfortable the weight of the rifle is for you.
Q: What is the best hunting rifle?
A: According to us, at the moment, the best rifle is the number one in this review: the Savage Arms 11/111 Trophy Hunter. As per our review above, we believe that the weapon has all the great features a hunter needs such as a good price, an accuracy enhancing trigger, and a mounted Nikon 3-9X40 scope.
How difficult is it to get a hunting rifle in the United States?
A: If there are no convictions in your name related to domestic violence, and felonies, it is fairly easy. It becomes difficult if you have had issues with mental illness in the past. It also becomes difficult to be granted permission to own a firearm if you have never been convicted by a court of law for a period of imprisonment exceeding a year.
In the United States, if you want to buy a gun, you will be required to fill out an ATF Form 4473. This information will be verified against the National Criminal Background Check System. If you have nothing to hide and the system does not flag you, the gun shop will be given permission to sell the firearm to you.
Q: I am buying my first rifle, what features should I look for?
A: We think that the most important features anyone buying a new rifle should consider are how easy the firearm is to operate and how tolerable its recoil is. By easy to operate, we are including issues such as how easy the gun is to clean, load and unload. Again, it’s important that you have an idea of the type of game you will be hunting. This will help you to narrow down your choice when you make the purchase.
Q: As a rifle owner what are my responsibilities?
A: In the United States, owning a gun is a right protected by the constitution. As we all know, rights come with responsibilities. As an individual, your first responsibility is to ensure that you are not, for any reason, prohibited by law from owning a firearm. If you do have the right to own one, it is your responsibility to ensure that the gun is stored in such a way that those who are not authorized end up accessing the firearm. It is also your responsibility to ensure that the gun is not used, either by yourself or anyone else, for purposes for which it is not intended.
Q: How should my rifle be stored?
A: The way you store your firearms depends on a number of factors such as the number of guns you own, your living arrangements, the laws regulating to storage in the territory where you live.
If you store the firearm where it can be accessed by people who may not have the capacity to understand how dangerous it is, then you may need to buy a trigger lock. Most gun sellers are now selling the firearms equipped with these locks. So, you may want to consider this on the day you but your hunting rifle.
If you go to any sporting goods store, you can get gun cases of different types. These cases are made from different materials which have an impact on how useful they are. The main disadvantage with a case of this nature is that it can be carried away and opened elsewhere by someone who does not have the authority to.
There are other more secure methods such as security cases and strong boxes, gun safes and steel cabinets you can lock. The storage you select will certainly depend on how much you can afford but the more expensive a solution is, the more secure it is likely to be.
Q: Can I travel abroad with my hunting rifle?
A: The fact of the matter is that laws differ in different countries. Once you have decided which country you will be traveling to, it could be a good idea to contact that country’s embassy nearest to you and inquire about the conditions you will have to meet in order to enter the country with a firearm.
The same should also apply to anyone who wants to fly whether internationally or locally with a firearm. It would be best to talk to the airline and ask what you should do if you want to check in a firearm. Remember that firearms should also be declared to any security checkpoints even before you get to the airline check-in desk.
Q: What do I do to dispose of an old rifle?
A: Whatever you do with your unwanted firearm, ensure that you dispose of it in a legal manner, for you do not want it to end up in the wrong hands and you end up being criminally liable. You can turn it into the police amnesty programs. Another way is to donate it to places that use them for training. If you want to be totally sure that it is disposed of, take it to a local foundry and watch it melt.
Selling the firearm back to the gunsmith is another good idea. You may want to keep it as a collectible. In this case, take it to a gunsmith, they can modify it so that it does not have the capacity anymore to shoot. You could also donate it to a museum.
After digging into these 10 weapons I hope you have a feel for the spectrum that is offered out there today. We live in an incredible time where our firearms are a right and are also produced right here in the United States. This is part in parcel why your hunting rifle and your hunting trips are a tradition. In fact, the evolution of the hunting rifle is something of an American legend in my opinion.
From here it is up to you to take the information provided and utilize it how you see fit. Sure you may have that perfect rifle in your safe already but what about your wife, your son. There is always a reason to keep an eye out for a nice rifle. If nothing else just to read up and know what’s on the market these days. These are merely words and descriptions if you find a few guns that peak your interest get out there and pick them up to feel them, shoot them. Use this best hunting rifles guide along with your own personal preference to guide you in the right direction.