Hunting is a long-standing American tradition, and the run-up to that opening day is typically the point in the business year where gun stores start edging into the black. But, even in the off-season, I figured there would be one or two people out there who might be researching which of the bolt action rifles that have come out in the last few years is the best. Here’s my opinion on the matter . . .
There have been a glut of new budget-priced hunting rifles introduced in the last couple years, and as always there have been some winners and some losers. Here are the top few to consider.
Weatherby has been synonymous with hunting for longer than I have been alive. Their rifles are not only accurate, but beautiful as well. And that’s what puts this budget-minded bolt action at the top of the pile.
Hunting isn’t necessarily about the shooting — it’s also about the experience. Bonding with your best buds, hiking around in the woods, and enjoying the overall ambience of the hunt. To that end, the Weatherby Vanguard series offers an excellent rifle with a fine pedigree (Howa actions and Weatherby finesse) that will not only hit the target but look and feel exquisite in your hand. Swap out the stock for a wooden version for a more traditional look and you have an absolute thing of beauty at a very reasonable price.
Ruger American Rifle – $449
Introduced only a couple years ago, Ruger’s entry into the affordable hunter market is designed for accuracy and durability. The stock is a hard composite material that maintains its shape and allows for a free-floating barrel to increase accuracy. The receiver is designed for maximum strength with a small ejection port. The really big feature of this gun is its rotary detachable magazine, which allows for quick reloads from spare mags.
The American rifle seems designed to last until the end of the world — its over-engineered and no-frills design make it great for new shooters, but could be something that you might quickly outgrow.
Remington 700 – $595
As much as I may dislike what Freedom Group’s done to some of my favorite firearms brands, the Remington 700 is still a solid choice. The number of after market parts available for the rifle is absolutely stunning, and it seems like you can pick one up at just about any Walmart in the country. Swapping out the trigger for a Timney replacement is a no-brainer when you have a little cash saved up, but it’s good to go right off the shelf. Not as over-engineered and no-nonsense as the Ruger, and not as highly polished and classy as the Weatherby. A middle-of-the-road approach.
That’s my opinion
Based on my experience and my preferences, these are the three rifles I would buy if I needed a new hunting gun. But I guarantee our readers have some strong opinions on the matter as well.