Best Hunting Rifle: Top 10 Picks And Buyer’s Guide

a hunter carrying the hunting rifle on his shoulders while carrying a backpack and walking with another hiker

The best hunting rifle will be a firearm that has enough features to be used safely but can perform exceptionally well in a variety of conditions. Hunters are not always in ideal weather or temperatures so it's essential to have a gun that can handle extreme weather, being carried around for long periods, and can also be ready to use quickly.

Many rifles on our list have fancy features and finishes, but there are also some more practical choices that offer a high price to performance ratio for budget conscious hunters. If you are just getting started in hunting, you’ll be able to find a very high-quality rifle at a reasonable price.

Comparison Table

Product Item

Details

Where to Buy

Tikka T3 Rifle

Make:

BERETTA

Barrel length:

 22"

Weight:

6.1 lbs

Magazine capacity:

 3+1-ROUND

Savage Arms Rifle

Make:

SAVAGE ARMS

Barrel length:

24"

Weight:

7.5 lbs

Magazine capacity:

 3+1-ROUND

Winchester Model 94 Lever Action Rifle

Caliber:

--

Barrel length:

--

Weight:

--

Magazine capacity:

--

Remington Model 700 Bolt-Action Rifle

Make:

REMINGTON

Barrel length:

24"

Weight:

7.5 lbs

Magazine capacity:

4-ROUND

Timber Classic Marlin 336C Rifle

Make:

--

Barrel length:

20"

Weight:

7 lbs.

Magazine capacity:

--

Browning X-Bolt Pro Long Range Rifle

Make:

--

Barrel length:

26"

Weight:

7 lbs 3 oz

Magazine capacity:

4

Ruger American Rifle

Make:

--

Barrel length:

22"

Weight:

6.1 lb. - 6.3 lb.

Magazine capacity:

4

All-Purpose All-Star Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Rifle

Caliber:

--

Barrel length:

24"

Weight:

--

Magazine capacity:

--

Thompson Center Compass- 270 Winchester Rifle

Make:

--

Barrel length:

22"

Weight:

7.25 pounds

Magazine capacity:

5

Mauser M18 Rifle

Make:

--

Barrel length:

56 cm for Standardcaliber / 62 cm for Magnumcaliber

Weight:

2,9 for Standardcaliber / 3,0 kg for Magnumcaliber

Magazine capacity:

5+1

How We Chose Our Ratings

a hunting rifle with scope and bipod

There is a clear selection of hunting rifles available that have been around for some time, but modern rifles with innovative designs are consistently being released and offer unique features older models lack.

To find the best modern rifles and old-time favorites we collected feedback from a number of websites and all levels of hunters who have used many different guns. To find the best overall rifles, we cross-referenced this data to ensure that it was accurate and honest.

Our reviews also take into account overall brand reputation and the level and consistency of customer service that the company provides to its customers.

Top 10 Best Hunting Rifles

The best hunting rifle will come with several features and a sound design that allows it to operate reliably and accurately in a number of different situations. Many guns come equipped with scopes, but others have fewer accessories so that you can customize your rifle to your needs.

Our list of rifles includes some long-time favorites mixed with some new and innovative designs to offer up the best selection at a variety of price points. Some of these rifles are budget friendly workhorses while others feature new technology and other features that are nice to have at your disposal.

Tikka T3

Tikka T3 Rifle

The Tikka T3 is a solid contender for best hunting rifle based on its performance and overall design. It's a perfect fit for a hunter that wants a gun that has a classic bolt action feel, but with the ability to handle more sporty hunts.


This rifle seamlessly blends traditional rifle principles with modern technology and innovations to make a more reliable, accurate, and enjoyable gun. This gun is also known for being easy to service while also providing the rigidity that hunters love.


The Tikka T3 has a wood stock, plain muzzle, and an overall length of 42.5 inches. The barrel is 22 inches long, and the total weight of this gun is 6.1 pounds.  There is no rear or front sight standard on this gun, but the removable magazine can hold 1 x 3-rounds of 30-06 cartridges.

Savage Arms Trophy Hunter XP

Savage Arms Trophy Hunter XP

The Savage Arms Trophy Hunter XP rifle retails for $683 and features a 24-inch barrel, stainless finish, and an overall length of 43.5 inches. The removable magazine holds 270 Winchester Short Mags (WSM), and the plain muzzle features a rear scope.


This rifle weighs in at 7.5 pounds, and the synthetic stock is black with checkering and matching swivel studs. The scope is a Nikon 3-9x40 BDC Reticle Scope which helps to ensure clear sight of your target and consistent accuracy.


This gun is a clear favorite due to the amount of adjustability and safety that it offers with AccuTrigger that helps to ensure clean trigger pulls. Hunters generally don't feel a need to have this gun modified as it provides a complete number of features for a reliable and enjoyable rifle overall.

Winchester ‘94

Winchester Model 94 Lever Action Rifle

The Winchester ‘94 is a lightweight rifle that uses lever action and has a long reputation for being a reliable firearm. Although it hasn't changed much in the last several years, it's still a compelling choice for hunting bears, deer, and hogs.


The Winchester ‘94 can be rapidly fired and uses a traditional western design that features a barrel in blued steel, and a fore-end stock crafted from black walnut. The rear sight is adjustable so you can zone in on your target quickly, and the rifle also features a marble front sight.


The magazine is tubular in shape and full length which allows you to load the firearm through the port located on the right side. The receiver to the left of the loading port is secured with a barrel band, and a tang style safety adds an extra bit of security.

Remington Model 700

Remington Model 700

The Remington Model 700 is a budget-friendly rifle that offers up a respectable amount of performance when hunting. This rifle is arguably America's most popular bolt action rifle, and the plain muzzle and 24-inch barrel help it look sleek and discreet.


This rifle has a four round capacity and features 30-06 Springfield cartridges. The stainless finish, lack of sights, and the fixed magazine with a hinged floorplate are part of the classic design.


The stock is made from a black polymer material which helps to keep the cost of this gun reasonable without sacrificing performance. Overall it weighs in at 7.5 pounds and just over 44 inches in length and is aesthetically impressive with its silver and black coloring.

Timber Classic Marlin 336C

Timber Classic Marlin 336C

The Timber Classic Marlin 336C is part of a wide range of rifles designed for different hunting excursions and weather conditions. The Marlin 336C is best suited for bears, hogs, and deer, and features a 20-inch grooved barrel with a black walnut stock that has a pistol style grip.


The metal parts of this gun have been deeply blued to help this gun blend in when needed, and there is a hammer style safety. This lever action rifle also has side ejection and a receiver with a solid-top.


The rear side is adjustable, and the front side features brass beading and a wide-scan style hood. The overall length of this rifle is 38.5 inches, and it weighs approximately 7 pounds.

Browning X-Bolt Pro Long Range

Browning X-Bolt Pro Long Range

The Browning X-Bolt Pro Long-Range rifle is categorized as being semi-custom in the world of precision rifles, and it features specialized barrel lapping, carbon stock, and a Cerakote finish. The Cerakote finish is evident on the smooth barrel, the action, and the entire stock.


The X-Bolt Pro Long Range is a next-generation rifle that started with the X-Bolt Pro released in 2017. The X-Bolt Pro Long Range has a decidedly heftier profile which helps to increase accuracy at long distances.


The X-Bolt Pro Long-Range rifle secures its semi-custom status from all of the specialized finishes that aren't standard on any other rifle. This higher-end composition includes carbon steel, foam filled stock which helps make the rifle lighter and also helps to reduce noise.


The Cerakote finish which is found on the exterior of the stock, action, and barrel works to add protection to these elements and also creates a burnt bronze coloring to aid in concealing the weapon when out in the field.


This gun features a number of features that have improved or customize just about every piece of this gun. The bolt body is spiral cut, the bolt handle is fluted for a better ergonomic grip, and there are sling-style swivel studs and a specialized recoil pad.


This rifle comes with numerous unique features, and it retails for $2160.

Ruger American Rifle

Ruger American Rifle

The Ruger American Rifle is a medium bolt action rifle that was introduced in 2011 but is still a favorite of hunters today. Although it is mass produced, it has a reputation of being a safe rifle that is both strong, and accurate.


This rifle is also relatively lightweight and can frequently be purchased from private sellers for under $400 which makes it a great value. The Ruger American Rifle is feature packed as well with cold forged, free floating barrels, synthetic stocks that are lightweight, and an adjustable trigger.


This rifle comes in different calibers that range from the traditional .30-06 Springfield to the .223 Remington. Another benefit to owning this rifle is that there are a number of aftermarket parts available so hunters can customize their rifle as they wish.

All-Purpose All-Star Weatherby Vanguard Series 2

All Purpose All-Star Weatherby Vanguard Series 2

The Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 is a unique rifle that features many different elements which make it unique to other rifles. The barrel measures 24 inches and is cold forged for extra rigidity, and the stock is crafted from composite material and features inserts made from Griptonite.


The safety on this rifle has three positions, and the 2-stage trigger is adjustable to suit the individual user. Weatherby rifles are known for their use in big game hunts and this bolt action rifle is perfect for long range shooting with great accuracy.


Due to the textured stock with additional grips, this gun is a suitable choice for more extreme weather conditions, and the blued finish of the metal helps this firearm to blend in with its surroundings more readily.


The multi-position safety also allows the user to unload or load the rifle while the safety is on, and the bolt can be locked in a closed position so it can safely be carried over rough terrain. This gun also has a hinge on the floor plate which allows it to be swiftly unloaded when necessary.

Thompson Center Compass, .270 Winchester

Thompson Center Compass- 270 Winchester

The Thompson Center Compass has a well-founded reputation for creating high-quality rifles that are also quite visually attractive. This rifle is also well known for being lightweight, accurate, and it has a 60-degree bolt handle for rapid cycling when needed.


.270 Winchester cartridges also have a standing reputation for being excellent, and flat shooting which makes them suitable for many different kinds of big game hunts. The Thompson Center Compass is a reliable budget hunting rifle that retails for $300-$350.


Another nice feature of this rifle is the comfort grip that is created from contouring and texturing found on the stock. This rifle comes with a T/C barrel and 5R rifling which ensures consistent accuracy.

Mauser M18

Mauser M18 Rifle

The Mauser M18 is marketed as "The People's Rifle," and it can handle a number of different calibers of ammunition including:


  • .270 Win.
  • .308
  • 7 mm Rem. Mag.
  • .300 Win. Mag.
  • .30-06
  • .243 Win.

This rifle has a stunning all black burnished finish, and the stock is a polymer that has soft grip style inlays for an added secure feel. The magazine capacity if 5+1 and Mauser has dubbed this rifle "the ultimate gun for all men at all times."

The Mauser M18 offers up all of the essentials in a rifle that you may need while hunting but it can also be used for target practice. There are no frivolous components here or flashy finishes; only necessary parts that compose a gun that works reliably and with a high price to performance ratio.

This rifle has a safety with three different positions and a barrel that is cold hammered for ultimate durability. The synthetic stock is robust so that this rifle is suitable for use in more extreme conditions, and the soft grips ensure it can confidently be handled at all times.

Mauser is known for its high-quality steel construction, and the M18 is no exception. It has a removable magazine, and an adjustable direct-action trigger so hunters can shoot reliably every time they aim this rifle.

Buyer's Guide

three cartridges in different sizes and design

Choosing a rifle can be difficult with all of the choices available in different price ranges. Before selecting your next hunting rifle, consider these factors and determine the rifle that most closely suits your needs overall. Keep in mind that you can always upgrade your gun as needed in the future, and rifles can typically be resold in most situations.

Choosing the Right Cartridge

Some rifles will work with different cartridge types, but there are also some rifles that only work with one or two cartridges. While there are a number of different cartridge types, you'll want to select cartridges that match the target you are after.

Many cartridges will cover a variety of animal types such as the 30-06 which can be used to hunt deer, bears, and hogs. While there are some exceptions, most cartridges can be used to shoot more than one or two types of animals, and many can be used to hunt several such as smaller calibers used to hunt varmint.

If you are going to be hunting massive game, you’ll want to consider your rifle choice carefully as you may need to use a rifle that is higher powered than a conventional hunting rifle used for deer or bears. For a smaller game such as varmint, you'll also want to make sure that you're not using a rifle that is too high powered.

You should select the proper cartridge and rifle combination that allows you to take down your target cleanly with a single shot. For basic hunting, you'll want to consider a rifle that shoots 30-06, .308, or .270 cartridges.

Barrel and Stock Materials

a line up of steel rifle barrels

When looking at rifles, you'll notice that there are different price points and different materials used on various parts with particular variety on the types of stocks and barrels used. Some polymer and metal barrels and stocks can create guns that are quite good performance wise and can also be an excellent way to cut costs. 

Affordable rifles and cheap rifles are very different things so you’ll want to make sure that the barrel and stock material is sturdy and well-reviewed when tested in the field. Many hunting rifles will have a barrel that is either stainless steel or possibly carbon steel. Carbon steel is the cheaper option between the two but beware that it is also more likely to rust.

Carbon steel isn't a reason not to buy a rifle if you keep up with regular gun maintenance, but for hunting in frequently wet conditions, you may be better served by getting a gun made from stainless steel.

Budget for Accessories

best hunting rifle installed with bipod and scope

Regardless of the rifle that you choose to buy, you can always get additional accessories such as scopes, cases, slings, and other odds and ends. Budgeting for optical enhancements in particular is essential as a good scope will allow you to shoot more accurately and make better use of your ammunition.

It's a good idea to budget to spend between 50% and 100% of what your rifle cost on a scope, and that will make your gun very serviceable for many years. If you already have a scope, you’ll want to properly mount it, accurately site it, and practice with it a bit before you head out on your next hunt.

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