A Way of Life in the USA

Hunting is a way of life in the United States, and we are here to help you be as successful on the hunt as possible.

The Best Hunting Rifle on the Market

  • March 27, 2016 /

Hunter Carrying a RifleHunting wild game is not only a popular sport but is also an important way of life. Are you new to the hunting scene and are searching for your first rifle? Are you searching for the best gift for your loved one and want to find the best rifle? Do you not know much about rifles and are shopping for one? Or, are you an expert but simply want to compare price and quality and brand? In this article, we will take you through the many factors to consider when shopping for the right rifle, the best brands out there and the best rifles for most genres of wild game hunting. We will include the typical pricing and the best hunting rifle under $1,000.00 and under $500.00. This will be the gold mine of hunting rifle information for everyone from the beginner to the expert.

Use the table of contents below to jump to the sections that interest you the most.

Rifle Buying Considerations

Starting off, you should determine what type of game are you going to be hunting.

This is critically important when searching for the perfect hunting rifle. Why? Because the type of game you are hunting will narrow down on the choices in rifles to choose. This determines the few selections of bullets to purchase and then narrows down the options of cartridges to buy. All of these factors contribute to choosing the best rifle for your needs. If you are new to the rifle world, then remember that the type of cartridge you need will limit the choices of rifles to buy. It’s a great big circle that all feeds within itself.

If that doesn’t make perfect sense, let us continue to explain. Ammunition is a crucial step to picking out the right shotgun or rifle. Continuing on with the deer hunting scenario, let’s assume that you’re shopping for a rifle to hunt deer. As always, you have to consider the kill. You don’t want to choose the type of ammunition that will only cause the deer to suffer for a long period of time. There are some sad cases where the animal gets shot and wanders off into the woods, never to be seen again. Most likely, the animal eventually dies from its wounds and the hunter never finds the animal. Wild game hunters always take extra precautions to ensure that this doesn’t happen. It simply isn’t a humane way to take the life of an animal. You want to be sure to choose the the ammunition that is big enough and powerful enough to kill the deer quickly and humanely, on the spot. The less the animal has to suffer, the better.

On the other hand, if you are hunting smaller animals such as rabbits or raccoons, you wouldn’t use the same ammunition as you would for the larger animals such as deer or elk. Although the ammunition that you would use for the deer would kill the animal quickly, it would likely destroy or blow away all of the muscle and meat. Well, that defeats the purpose of the hunt! Not only does it become a waste of meat and meal for you, it becomes a waste for the animal as it had to die for no reason.

Another factor to consider while shopping for the perfect hunting rifle is the size and comfort. If you’re searching for a hunting rifle for your thirteen year old son, the larger guns are probably not the best options. (As I’m sure that you would agree.) But as with anything, it’s wise to try it out for size. Hold the rifle and measure out the comfort level. Does it sit well in your shoulder? Does it sit comfortable in length to your arms? Is it too heavy for you to hold steady and easy? Do you like the materials? Do the materials feel comfortable against your skin? Can you see through the sights well? And finally, is the rifle easy enough to use?

When shopping for your thirteen year old son, the more simplistic the rifle is, the better. There’s no need for extra functions and complicated technology for his first rifle. Just learning to operate it will be challenging enough!

The third factor to consider is the type of action you’re desiring. Are you a seasoned hunter and searching for the latest in technology with hunting rifles? Or do you prefer the basic operating rifle? Are you searching for a single shot rifle that has the reputation of being the classic hunting tool? Or do you prefer to hunt with a repeating rifle?

With the single shot rifle, are you wanting the rolling block action, trapdoor action or the break-open action? Keep in mind, if you’re a beginner, that each of these actions offers different ways in which the ammunition is loaded and unloaded. It all comes down to your personal preference. Perhaps you’re an expert and know exactly what you want and prefer but just need to know what the latest styles and prices are. Many hunters insist that the single shot is the best choice for wild game hunting. It challenges your markmanship and creates a more fulfilling experience while in the hunting game.

Repeating rifles offer a different experience. They also come with several actions depending on your preference. To name a few of them, there is the lever action rifles, automatic rifles, bolt-action rifles, and the pumping action rifles. Typically, the lever action and pumping action guns still require some manual labor in loading and unloading ammunition. However, the automatic rifles unload and load cartridges without any need of manual assistance.

There are plenty of good options for your action choice, but bolt action rifles are the most common and practical for the majority of hunting situations.

The fourth factor that you should include is the budget. How much are you willing or not willing to spend on a hunter’s rifle? If you walk into the store with a fixed budget, this will automatically limit the choices within a smaller realm.

Finally, the fifth factor, stems from the fourth factor. Once you have a fixed budget, you should determine the type of brands to look into. Sometimes a fixed budget will completely eliminate certain brands since some are more expensive than others. However, there are many brands that are well worth every penny and are built to last a lifetime and then some. We will cover the best brands and also the best brands for each type of wild game hunting.

Best Hunting Rifle Brands

Winchester

Rifle CartridgesThe popular rifle and ammunition brand, Winchester, has been around since 1866. In fact, they are celebrating the company’s 150th anniversary this year! In honor of that, the company has created the Winchester Repeating Arms Model 73. It resembles the famous 1873 original rifle that earned the phrase, “The Gun that Won the West”. Completed with an antique finish, classic steel plate and round barrel, it is a definite blast to the past.

Needless to say, Winchester is one of the most popular brands in the hunting rifle world. With a brand that has been around for 150 years, it’s safe to say that it has a genuine quality that is worth every penny. Their products are made to last.

Browning

Browning is a rifle company that has been in operation and business since 1880. Started by John Browning, it has produced trusted and reliable products time and time again. The company even has a connection to Winchester. In the mid 1880’s, Browning and Winchester teamed up for nineteen years and created several models of rifles. Browning has been a loved hunting brand for many, many years and for the years to come.

Remington

Remington is the third hunting rifle brand that we love to speak highly of. This company has been around for since 1816. Yes, that is 200 years of operation that they will be celebrating this year. Remington is known for having created some of the best firearms and rifles such as the classic Model 700 and Model 870. According to Remington, those models have been not only their best sellers but overall best sellers in the firearm industry. As of today, the proven best selling Remington rifle has been the Versa Max. It’s excellent for duck and goose hunting or any other waterfowl game. Remington proudly announces their love for the American spirit all the time. There’s no doubt that this passionate attitude has contributed to the company’s success throughout the years. Let’s face it: two centuries is a long time to be in business!

Weatherby

Weatherby is also becoming more popular among the hunting rifle crowd. This company didn’t emerge until the 1940’s when Roy Weatherby started to develop new technology for the optimal rifle performance. He worked to design a more humane method of hunting with a one-shot kill. It was his belief that smaller, lightweight bullets would travel faster thus creating the higher capability of killing with the first shot. Furthermore, when 1957 rolled around, he introduced the country to the Mark V. This prized rifle supported his super fast, efficient and lightweight bullets. Thus, the Weatherby rifle company is known for producing rifles of this manner. Whenever someone mentions the Mark V, the name “Weatherby” should immediately cross your mind. This brand may not be as old and seasoned as Remington, Browning, Winchester and other classic brands, but it certainly holds its own in the market of hunting rifles, efficiency and quality.

Kimber

Kimber is a great brand that is loved by experienced and seasoned shooters of all kinds. Known for their sturdy yet reliable pistols, they also take great pride in their rifles and shotguns. It’s their mission to ensure that the latest in shooter technology is implemented in their products. Most of their hunting rifles are lighter than the average which means that it will have a stronger recoil. Naturally, if you are an inexperienced rifleman or have a smaller build, this brand may not be the wisest choice for hunting rifles and shotguns. However, for the experienced and seasoned huntsman, the Kimber brand just may be the one to win you over.

Cooper Firearms of Montana

Our sixth brand overview is of Cooper Firearms of Montana, Inc. This company is incredibly young compared to the others. Founded in 1990, the Cooper brand actually has roots to the Kimber company. Former Kimber employees decided to branch off and create their own designs and custom shooters. Fairly quickly, their good reputation grew as the proven accuracy and careful designs impressed one person after another. They became known for their Model 21 “Varmint Extreme”. For the varmint hunters out there, this created a huge demand and boosted the new company’s brand and reputation. A few years later in 2005, two new varmint rifle designs emerged that became an instant success. The “Phoenix” was a higher tech, synthetic version of the original design, the “Montana Varminter”. The other one, the “Jackson Squirrel Rifle” is known to be the biggest name and brand of all the squirrel rifles out there. So, long story short, don’t always judge a younger company as being less valuable. The Cooper brand has grown into a reliable and treasured name in the shooter communities.

Ruger

Ruger is another big name in the hunting and sportsman communities. The company was founded in 1949 as Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. Beginning with a lump sum of $50,000.00, the new shooter business wasn’t expected to survive. However, against all odds, it did. They are known for producing guns, pistols, revolvers and rifles that are just as strong, valuable and reliable as those of their competitors. Many hunters remain loyal and faithful to the Ruger brand due to these great qualities.

Savage

The Savage Arms Company has an interesting backstory. It was opened in 1894 in New York by Jamaican native, Arthur Savage. His contributions to firearm technology created new avenues for gunman, hunters and manufacturers alike. He invented a new type of rifle. Known as the Model 99, it had the first lever action with the whole operation encased within a steel receiver. It was considered a marvel during the turn of the twentieth century. The newly invented Model 99 showcased a rotary magazine that had a counter to display the amount of bullets that remained in the receiver. This was firearm technology that had yet to be seen in its time. Not only did Savage offer this remarkable firearm technology, but he also offered affordability to the common person.

To this day, Savage continues to offer the latest in firearm technology and leading the brand through one amazing product after another. There’s no doubt as to why so many hunters rely on the Savage brand.

Mossberg

Mossberg has been around since 1919. They have the reputation for providing firearms with the leading, state-of-the-art technology. On their website, they proudly boast about their pump shotguns and firearms. They point out that their pump shotguns and rifles that are bought by the United States government easily match the proper Mil-S-3443 specifications and regulations. It’s safe to say that their hunting rifles are also built to last and offer the newest technological advances. It’s a brand that is worth looking into!

Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson is the world’s leading manufacturer for handguns and pistols. The mention of their name makes a person automatically think of self-defense tools and weapons. A brand can’t become more successful than that! The company also has an interesting history like some of the other previous brands that we have mentioned.

Top Hunting RiflesFounded in 1852, Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson teamed up in Norwich, Connecticut. Smith & Wesson was born. It was their intention to create and market a lever action repeating handgun that would operate on a self-contained cartridge. Although the idea was grand, it didn’t financially support the famous duo. The business started to suffer tremendously. In order to keep from completely collapsing under financial woes, they sold the company to a clothing manufacturer. Ironically, this manufacturer was named Oliver Winchester. Do you recognize that name in the rifle industry? You should since we mentioned their company earlier in this article. Using Smith and Wesson’s original lever action idea, Winchester evolved his company into the infamous Winchester Repeating Arms Co. (Isn’t it amazing how all of these brands are woven and connected in some form or another?)

Ultimately, Smith and Wesson didn’t give up and successfully produced the world’s first fully self-contained cartridge revolver. After placing patents on this revolver, it prevented other manufacturers and companies from stealing and producing their designs and ideas again. This new revolver technology put them on the map as a superior manufacturer in the firearm market.

Once the success of the fully self-contained revolver had introduced the world to a new way of firearm practices, they knew that in order to stay on the top, they needed to invent a new design and market it relentlessly. That’s when they created the famous Model 3 American and introduced it to the market in 1870. It was the first large caliber cartridge revolver and became an instant success.

In terms of hunting in today’s world, Smith & Wesson rifles are popular in hog and wild boar hunting. All products branded with their name are guaranteed to be a hit.

In summary, these ten brands we have listed for quality hunting rifles are only a few among many! There are still many more great brands and names in hunting rifles. These ten are the most popular brands. (They weren’t listed in any particular order.) For those that are new to the hunting and firearm world, we hope that reading about the different brands has given you a new insight. Now let’s move on to looking at specific rifles for specific games and wildlife. Depending on what type of game you intend to hunt, you want the best rifle for the hunt.

Best Deer Hunting Rifle

There are many rifles that would easily be considered the best of the best when it comes to deer hunting. However, we have chosen only one in order to make it easier for you! In our opinion, the top four best rifle brands for deer hunting are Winchester Repeating Arms, Savage Arms, Weatherby, Inc., and Remington.

Mule DeerAssuming that most of your deer shots will be taken in the brush or at closer range, we have selected the Winchester Model 64 Lever Action rifle. This deer rifle would be excellent for making those early morning shots when the dew is still freshly frozen on the ground.

With a caliber of .30-30, it has a 24 inch barrel and weighs a light 7.4 pounds. It has sights that are post front/adjustable rear. This is a breach-loading rifle that holds five shells. The shells are loaded through the top and also unloaded in the same way. This particular hunting rifle is constructed of a beautifully, rich black walnut wood. It isn’t typically used for shooting long ranges. It works best and most accurately when shots are made within 200 yards.

As far as pricing goes, it is generally listed for $1,199.00 on the Gander Mountain website. However, it should be noted that this particular rifle is hard to find brand new. It’s well worth every penny and will last many years.

What do other customers have to say about the Winchester Model 64 Lever Action?

Searching around customer reviews, everyone seems to be pleased with this deer hunting rifle. Many boasted on the incredible performance during deer hunting in the brush and how it delivered a humane, clean kill for the deer. There was only one negative drawback that was mentioned about the Winchester Model 64. It isn’t advised to use a top-mounting scope since the loading and unloading chamber is located nearby. Just stick to the sights with this one as they work perfectly for close range shots anyway.

Best Elk Hunting Rifle

Best Elk Hunting Rifle OptionsWhile shopping for the perfect elk hunting rifle, there are a few qualities to consider. First, you have to think of the terrain and amount of travel needed to be taken by foot. Do you want to tote a heavy rifle for miles into the backcountry? No, we don’t think so. You will want to look into rifles that are light weighted. However, don’t let the preference of lightweight rifles sway you from the necessity of handling larger calibers. It’s your challenge to find the perfect elk hunting rifle that is lightweight but can also accurately shoot those long distance ranges. As with everything in life, your choice needs to be a balanced one. Finally, as always, you should consider your budget. What are you willing to pay and what are you not willing to pay?

For the best elk hunting rifle, we have chosen the Browning BLR Lightweight ‘81 Model. Priced at $1,229.99 on the Browning website, it is a lever action rifle has an aluminum alloy stock, a 20 inch barrel but with an overall length of 40 inches. It has a rotary bolt locking system and a detachable magazine. The barrel has a matte finish, and the stock comes with a satin finish. Another handy detail about the Browning BLR Lightweight ‘81 Model is that it’s available with a curved pistol-grip and a straight-grip. It also has a take-down version that is super cool. With the take-down version, it allows you to have easy transportation or simple storage space. The take-down mechanism is so simple that some hunters have been known to hike with their Browning BLR Lightweight in the duffle bag! How does the take-down work? It’s really easy. With one flip of the finger lever, you twist the receiver and barrel to 90 degrees and boom! You have separated the rifle into two parts.

The Browning BLR Lightweight ‘81 weighs a light seven pounds. Don’t let the lightweight fool you though! This rifle is tough and packs a powerful punch! It’s great for use in the tree stand to the camouflaged blind hidden on the ground. This rifle offers many great qualities that would make this purchase to be a wonderful investment for the serious elk hunter.

Best Hog Hunting Rifle

We believe, by far, that the best hog hunting rifle is the Weatherby Vanguard S2 Hog Reaper .308. Otherwise known by most hog hunters as the Weatherby Hog Reaper, this rifle is a beast when it comes to hunting hogs and wild boars! Even better? The price tag is not too shabby! Priced at a low $659.99 on www.gunsamerica.com, it is a popular rifle for the hog hunting community. This beauty comes with a 20 inch barrel and weighs a total of seven pounds. It is a bolt action rifle that is easy to operate. It sports an edgy design with its hog skull camouflage on the stock of the rifle.

So what do the customers say about the Weatherby Hog Reaper rifle?

For starters, they love the accuracy of this hog hunting rifle. In fact, they love the fact that Weatherby offers the rifle a SUB_MOA accuracy guarantee! For the seasoned hunters out there, you know what a big deal this is. Many customers exclaimed that they were able to take down wild game within 250 yards and with one shot. Now, that is some impressive accuracy! Others stated that the shorter barrel allowed them to move more quickly, especially in hunting down pesky hogs that love to move fast.

If you’re looking for the perfect rifle to accompany you on your hog hunting trip, the Weatherby Vanguard S2 Hog Reaper .308 is our choice for the best one.

Best Varmint Rifle

Are you shopping for the best varmint rifle? Do you live in the country and are overwhelmed with annoying varmints and critters that pose a threat to your home, farm and other animals or gardens? Don’t worry because we have found the best of the best in varmint rifles.

The Savage Model 40 Varmint Hunter Centerfire Rifle is considered one of the best in varmint rifles. Priced at $499.99 on Gander Mountain’s website, it is a real deal! It is a single shot rifle that is for the sharp shooter in the family. It’s a 24 inch barrel length rifle that is sturdy and well made. The barrel is somewhat heavy and comes with a target crown that is created and designed to enhance accuracy. After all, it’s important for a single shot rifle to have excellent accuracy! It also has an adjustable AccuTrigger that is standard across the board, a stock that has a laminated finish and a blued barrel and receiver. It has a caliber of .22 Hornet and comfortable stability is provided with the beavertail shape. You can’t find much better varmint rifles than those that offer pinpoint accuracy with single shot capabilities!

What are the customers saying about the Savage Model 40 Varmint Hunter?

Out of the many reviews of the Savage Model 40 Varmint Hunter, nearly all of them comment on the pinpoint accuracy of the single shot rifle. So many are in awe of its shot accuracy. For those of you that love single shooters, this will be a rifle that you will want to place on your wish list!

Best Long Range Hunting Rifle

Phew, what a challenging question! There are so many great, long range rifles to choose from; however, we will only post the best. There isn’t any denying that long range hunting is something that takes years of practice in order to become proficient at it. You have to have a really great eye, a steady hand, knowledge about the best rifles, cartridges, caliber, wind movements and speed and much more. It requires a lot of patience as well as immaculate skill. For some, it is a joy to have such a challenge while for others, long range hunting is a tedious task that is merely performed out of necessity rather than sport or game. Once you move all of the important details in long range shooting and hunting, you learn of the qualities to look for in the perfect long range rifle.

A great long range hunting rifle that is also easy on the wallet is the Remington 700 ADL 7mm Mag Bolt-Action Centerfire Rifle. At Academy Sporting Goods, it is priced at an inexpensive $379.99! It has many nice features such as an X-Mark Pro trigger and a 3 + 1 round capacity. It comes with a carbon steel barrel complete with a matte finish and a jet black stock. The rifle has a barrel length of 26 inches and weighs in at 7.6 pounds.

What are customers saying about the Remington 700 ADL 7mm Mag Bolt-Action Centerfire Rifle?

When you browse through the customer reviews, there are nothing but good words spoken about this long range hunting rifle. Many enjoy the fact that the ADL version is much cheaper than the next version up from it. (Let’s just say that the non-ADL version is in the pricing range of $4,000.00.) Customers remarked that it has a smooth operation and accurate shot with long range targets. The only downside that was mentioned by a customer was the action seemed too small for his taste. However, the other reviewers didn’t have a single complaint. Everyone else stated that it is a great rifle for a great price.

Best Hunting Rifle Under $500

When it comes to working for our hard-earned money, we always want the best for our buck! If you’re looking for a great hunting rifle but have a budget of under $500.00, don’t worry. We have already found the best hunting rifle for your budget.

We have chosen the Ruger American Rifle to be the best hunting rifle for a low budget. It is priced at a low $399.99 at Cabela’s. This black beauty is a bolt action rifle that comes with many great qualities for such a great price. It has a free-floating barrel that measures to 22 inches in length. The rifle itself weighs a light six pounds and has a Marksman adjustable trigger pull. It has a flush fit rotary magazine and fits comfortably into nearly any shoulder. As for the grip, it has a soft rubber pad that effectively reduces the recoil. It even has a Power Bedding block system that locks the receiver and causes the barrel to free float. This enables it to have remarkable accuracy. And finally, the scope bases are included.

With an affordable price, attractive black design and many features, this is undeniably the best hunting rifle choice for under $500.00.

What do other users have to say about the Ruger American Rifle?

Since this rifle has a 4.8 star review on Cabela’s website, there aren’t any negative reviews to find! eVeryone loves this rifle and wrote that it has offered them great experiences, accuracy and efficiency all while going easy on their wallet.

Best Hunting Rifle Under $1000

We have researched the best hunting rifle for under $1,000.00 and came across a very popular brand that hunters can’t seem to stop talking about. It is the Remington Model 783. Now, not only is this rifle under a $1,000.00 but it is also under $500.00! It’s listed for a reasonable, inexpensive price of $399.00.

If you have your budget set for under $1,000.00, you will want to check this out. The Remington Model 783 is a bolt action rifle that has a black synthetic stock that is made up of high nylon fiber. This material ensures that is extremely sturdy and durable. It comes with Remington’s latest technology, the new CrossFire trigger system. This gives the hunter the adjustable freedom to best match his preferences. It’s also made with a steel detachable magazine that comes with a steel latch. Finally, the magnum calibers can hold three rounds and the standard calibers have a four round.

What are the customers saying about the Remington Model 783?

The customers absolutely loved the Remington Model 783. They were completely impressed with Remington’s quality for a low price of $399.00. Many customers and hunters stated that this was the first hunting rifle for their teenage son or daughter while others stated that it was a reliable rifle for all of their hunting trips.

Conclusion

We hope that you have a better idea of what is on the market for hunting rifles. From the best brands to the best prices, we covered the basics. It’s time to get out there and find your perfect hunting rifle!