It seems like whenever someone is in the market for a new hunting rifle these days, they are looking at semi-auto, lever-action, or bolt-action rifle platforms. The simple single shot rifle seems to have fallen out of style a bit. We get that people want fast follow-ups in case they need them. However, there is something to be said for the old school, "one shot, one kill" type of approach to hunting. One can argue only having one shot makes you more disciplined in your approach and more likely to place an accurate round downrange the first time. After all, we owe it to the animal to make a quick humane kill, and the first shot is always going to be the most important one.
We also just like single shots from a safety perspective. It's a great platform for teaching a new hunter the ropes, usually without worrying about complicating things up too much with the safety or working the action. Single shots are also the easiest rifles on the market to maintain. Cleaning the barrel is a snap. Break the action, swab the barrel, and you're done. Simply put, there's a lot of reasons to still like single shots in 2022 and today we're going to highlight some of our top picks in both centerfire and rimfire that will fit a variety of budgets and hunting styles.
Thompson Center Encore Pro Hunter
We like the Thompson Center for the hunter who wants versatility from a classic break-action rifle. The complete hunter centerfire rifle package allows hunters to swap out the stainless steel barrels for whatever you're hunting. You could shoot coyotes with a .223 Remington one day, whitetails at long range with a .308 Winchester the next, and elk with the .30-06 Springfield the day after that if you wanted. This platform weighs between 7 and 7.5 pound. Barrel lengths offer depending on caliber, but they are also compatible with their muzzleloading package for special seasons. If you're looking for something with a bit more firepower, check out their Katahdin Carbine package which chambers these rifles in mighty .45-70 Government, .460 Smith and Wesson, and even 500 Smith and Wesson. The price ranges between $770 and $800 depending on the model you go with, but this is a great rifle very capable of downing just about any big game animal in North America.
While the CVA name is usually associated with affordable muzzleloaders, they have an extensive line of single shot rifles in their Scout line that are extremely affordable. Most run between $300 and $500 depending on finish and bonus features. The company offers a bevy of caliber options including .243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, 444 Marlin, and .45-70 Government. If you live in a Midwestern state with "straight wall cartridge" rules for deer hunting, there are plenty of options with CVA. One could pick up a popular heavy handgun caliber like .44 Magnum or .357 Magnum. However, the company has also embraced regionally popular rounds like .350 Legend and .450 Bushmaster. Some of these rifles, like the CVA Scout V2 are often takedown models for even more versatility. The company also sells variants with scopes already mounted. These rifles come with either a stainless steel or blued finish depending on your preferences. They're also completely ambidextrous, making the a great option for southpaws who can't find a bolt-action that works for them.
Ruger No. 1 Rifle
Many hunters do not realize it, but Ruger makes a high-end line of single shot rifles that are perfect for serious big game hunters who want the ultimate in reliability. These rifles use an artillery style breechblock design and a falling block breech mechanism. The underside lever makes it easy to quickly eject spent casings and chamber another. These guns have cold hammer-forged barrels that vary in length from 20 to 28 inches depending on the model you choose. Ruger only makes these rifles in select limited edition numbers every year and the chambering seems to change every time. For 2022, they have a 257 Weatherby, 275 Rigby, and a 6.5 Creedmoor listed as in production. Although if you hunt around you can likely find past options like .243 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, 44 Remington Magnum, 35 Whelen, .204 Ruger, .475 Linebaugh, .480 Ruger, .30-30 Winchester and .257 Roberts. The Ruger #1 rifles are pricey, you're looking at $1,300 to $4,000. However, they do hold their value and are in high demand with serious hunters almost all the time.
Savage Arms Rascal
The Rascal is one of the best rimfire options out there for teaching a young person the rules of safe firearms handling. Savage Arms offers a plethora of options for this .22 long rifle. The overall length of this firearm is just over 30 inches, making it perfect for the frames of smaller shooters. For some variants, Savage cut the weight down to under three pounds. That would make this an ideal first gun for a young hunter to lug afield after rabbits and squirrels. The 16-inch carbon steel barrel has a 1:16 rate of twist and some models are even threaded. Savage offers this model with dozens of different color configurations for the synthetic stock, from a traditional black to hunter orange, hot pink and even the "Star Spangled Edition" in red, white and blue. Oh, and Savage makes left-handed versions of all these guns so that young southpaws are not left out of the fun. Most of these guns come in at sub $200, making it easier than ever to introduce a young person to the shooting sports.
Henry Single Shot Steel
When you want simplicity and a proven name, it is hard to go wrong with Henry Repeating Arms. While they may be better known for their lever-action rifles, there are some solid Henry singleshots too. The steel usually starts under $400 and is available in popular calibers like .308 and .243 Winchester, .223 Remington, .45-70 Government and .44 Magnum to name a few. These rifles break open easily with the operation of the lever on the frame. This lever can be reversed, making these guns ambidextrous. There is not a manual safety, but there are multiple safety features in place that make this a very safe gun too. For one, the interlock system prevents the barrel from closing while the hammer is locked and a rebounding hammer system that only touches that firing pin when you squeeze the trigger. These guns come with 22-inch barrels and a classic walnut stock and forend. Finally, Henry gave these rifles a classic blued steel finish. Brass bead front sights and a folding leaf rear sight are standard for hunters who want a bit more of a challenge with their new rifle.
Chiappa Little Badger
We know what you're thinking: "That rifle is ugly." Maybe so, but Chiappa designed the Little Badger with function over form in mind. At just $179.99, this is an incredibly affordable and compact rifle for your bug out back or survival equipment on the boat, plane or even just stowed in the back of the truck. Folded, this gun is only 17 inches long and comes in at an unbelievably light 2.9 pounds. Part of that reduced weight comes from the simple folding wire frame black stock, a 16.5-inch barrel and adjustable sights. Another great thing about these guns is that there are three different rimfire ammo options. The obvious one is .22 lr, but these guns come chambered in .22 WMR and .17 HMR too. The Chiappas may not be the prettiest guns around, but they get great customer reviews for simplicity and reliability at an incredible price point.
Traditions Outfitter G3
We really like the G3 for hunters in states with straight wall cartridge restrictions for hunting deer. The G3 is a simple break-action available in a bevy of configurations that will suit most mid-range hunting scenarios. Traditions chambers this rifle in .357 Mag, .35 Whelen, .44 Mag, .45-70 Govt, .35 Rem, 450 Bushmaster, 350 Legend, and 300 AAC Blackout. These rifles come with a Cerakote finish to help protect them from the elements making these one of the cheapest Cerakote options on the market at $300 to $575 depending on the package chosen. Traditions offers combos with a 3-9x40 BDC scope for hunters who just want to get to the range and get sighted in immediately.