Are you looking for a budget hunting rifle that will still perform when you need it to?
It used to be that the term "budget hunting rifle" was code for "piece of junk." However, times have changed and many companies are now producing reasonably priced, yet still high-quality hunting rifles in some of the most popular hunting calibers.
While it's true most budget hunting rifles are a cut or two below some of the more expensive models on the market, every rifle on this list is an extremely capable bolt-action hunting rifle in the right hands. Things have changed quite a bit in the last few decades and some of these budget hunting rifles are more accurate than the top-of-the-line models of yesteryear.
Regardless of whether you're hunting deer, hogs, elk or any other big-game species in North America or Africa, all of the choices on our list of the best hunting rifles deliver great performance at a reasonable price point.
Continue reading to learn all about our choices for the best budget hunting rifles.
Though Thompson Center is best known for producing high-quality muzzleloaders, the company manufactures some nice rifles, too. It's not the prettiest rifle in the world, but the Thompson Center Compass is accurate, lightweight, has an adjustable trigger, features a 60-degree bolt handle to facilitate rapid cycling, has a detachable magazine and the barrel is threaded for a suppressor.
The .270 Winchester is a great, flat-shooting cartridge for hunting a wide variety of big game. It's also available in .223 Remington if you'd rather have a rifle better suited for predator or varmint hunting. All things considered, the Compass is one of the best budget hunting rifles currently on the market.
Savage Arms made a name for itself over the past few decades by manufacturing budget hunting rifles for hunters who wanted a reasonably priced, no-frills rifle to take afield. The Axis is the latest rifle in their lineup. The Savage Axis will never win any awards in a beauty contest and it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles. But, it's very affordable, lightweight, incredibly accurate, has a detachable box magazine and otherwise gets the job done.
Especially when chambered in a flat-shooting cartridge like the 6.5mm Creedmoor, it'll really let you reach out there and take a long-range shot on a mule deer or pronghorn hunt in wide open country without a lot of recoil. All in all, the Savage Axis is one of the best gifts for hunters just entering the sport because it's such a great value rifle.
Mossberg developed a name for itself by building high-quality shotguns at a reasonable price. They recently crossed over into the rifle market, where they still abide by the same mantra. They aimed to change the game with the Mossberg Patriot by selling the rifle at an extremely reasonable price and offering features such as a drop-box magazine, a recessed crown, a fluted barrel and an adjustable trigger standard on all versions of the rifle.
In addition, this combo package at Sportsman's Guide also includes a 3-9x40mm Vortex scope and a synthetic stock. Chambered in .308 Winchester, it's a really good rifle for everything from whitetail deer hunting in thick timber to shots out to several hundred yards on elk without excessive recoil.
Weatherby rifles are known traditionally for two things: being accurate and being expensive. Well, that changed with the Weatherby Vanguard Series 2. It still comes with a sub-MOA (less than 1 inch at 100 yards) guarantee. However, the Vanguard Series 2 is significantly less expensive than the other bolt action rifles Weatherby produces.
It also features an adjustable two-stage trigger, a synthetic stock, a lightweight composite stock with a recoil pad, a three position safety, and a hammer-forged barrel. When chambered in a flat-shooting, hard-hitting cartridge like the .300 Winchester Magnum, the Weatherby Vanguard 2 may be the best budget hunting rifle for a hunter who needs to take longer-range shots at really tough animals like elk.
The Ruger American has everything you could ever want in a budget hunting rifle: it's lightweight, reliable, features the Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger, and is extremely accurate. Though it doesn't come with the same sub-MOA guarantee as a Weatherby rifle, don't be surprised if your Ruger American delivers that level of performance.
When chambered in a great all-around cartridge like the .30-06 Springfield, there isn't much this rifle can't do.
What do you think of our choices for the best budget hunting rifles? Did we miss any?