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The Best Hunting Rifles of All Time: A Top 10 List 2024

Updated: Feb 16

Hunting Rifle for Deer
Hunting Rifle in action in the Midwest

Hunting is an age-old sport, with a history spanning centuries, so what are the best hunting rifles of all time? Over the years hunting has evolved from being a necessary part of life to a recreational hobby enjoyed by select enthusiasts. Every year, new and improved hunting rifles are launched with more innovative features, each more exciting than the last.

As any hunting enthusiast will tell you, a quality bolt-action hunting rifle must excel in its performance, grip, aesthetics, and value for money. Each factor is equally important, playing a vital role in the overall caliber of the rifle.

The following is a list of the best hunting rifles of all time, keeping in mind all the necessary factors that make a hunting rifle great. Read on to discover the top ten hunting rifles of 2023 and make sure to check out our best budget pick at the end of the article.

Top 10 Best Hunting Rifles

Nosler Hunting Rifle
Nosler rifles come in Nosler calibers and also the most popular calibers like 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 Win

Coming in at number one on our list of best hunting rifles is the Nosler 21. Top-notch in performance, aesthetics, and accuracy, the Nosler 21 is a quality hunting rifle with premier features.

At 6 pounds, 10 ounces, this hunting rifle sits firmly on the shoulder and is easy to carry, McMillan Hunter’s Edge carbon fiber stock is used to build the Nosler 21, featuring a sloping pistol grip that is not only sleek in design but also comfortable to use. The Model 21 comes in a variety of Nosler calibers, such as 22 Nosler, 27 Nosler, 30 Nosler, 33 Nosler, as well as popular chamberings 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 300 Win Mag and 308 Win.

For its action, Nosler collaborated with the Mack Brothers to deliver a two-lug bolt made out of 4340 chrome stainless steel that can be disassembled without tools. In addition, the Nosler 21 features a TriggerTech Field trigger, a 4-round magazine capacity, and Shilen match-grade stainless steel barrel. All in all, it is a hunting rifle with exceptional features, making it hard to beat.

Bergara hunting rifle is top tier choice.
Bergara makes a mean light weight hunting rifle that is a great choice for long hunts where weight matters.

Ideal for mountain hunting, the Bergara B-14 Squared Crest is an ultra-lightweight 2023 hunting rifle that has started to gain traction for its performance.This hunting rifle was designed specifically for backcountry hunters stalking in the most demanding of conditions.

The Bergara B-14 Squared Crest is a strong and sturdy hunting rifle, with a monocoque stock and internal spine made of carbon fiber. The B-14 action is a two-lug system where a sliding plate and breech stop are incorporated for a smooth extraction. Additionally, this rifle is available in calibers .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, and 300 Win Mag, with the .308 Win being the most popular.

Other winning features include an adjustable performance trigger, a detachable magazine that is compatible with AICS standards, and a fluted barrel in a Sniper Grey Cerakote finish.

Ridgeline scout hunting rifle.
The Christensen Ridgeline Scout has the shortest barrel on our list but still delivers accurate shots on target.

Lightweight, short, and handy, the Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout is a multipurpose hunting rifle that is great for both recreational and heavy-duty hunting. Made from a carbon fiber composite gunstock with a carbon fiber-wrapped barrel, this hunting rifle is stronger than it looks.

The Trigger tech flat shoe trigger coupled with the sporter grip angle is an interesting design choice given the slim stock. Additionally, the action is AICS compatible with both polymer and steel magazines and features a skeletonized handle coated in a black nitride finish. The Ridgeline Scout rifle is also available in four calibers: 300 BLK, 223 Rem, 6.5 Creedmor, and 308 Win

The Ridgeline Scout may not be as long-range as some of its rivals on the market, but it makes up for it with its accuracy. This makes this hunting rifle more than just a handgun, as it can be used for hunting any game and still yield good results.

Marlin 336 is a great lever gun.
The only lever gun on our list, the Marlin 336 in 30-30 is an american classic that has brought down more than it's share of white tail.

One of the finest lever-action rifles produced by Marlin, the Marlin 336 Classic re-introduced by Ruger is a great hunting rifle with winning features. A smooth action, antique design, and impeccable accuracy are standout characteristics of this hunting rifle.

The cold-hammer forged 20.25-inch barrel and six-cartridge capacity are both much-needed improvements that allow for greater longevity and higher precision in yields.

Although it is a reintroduction of the classic Marlin 336, this hunting rifle reminisces its predecessor, even featuring a golden trigger just like it. It is also chambered in the classic 30-30 caliber. Overall, this hunting rifle is well-produced and very high quality, making it one of the most popular hunting rifles in 2023.

Remington 700 Alpha 1 is 30-06 Caliber
Remington 700 Alpha 1 is a step above the standard Remington 700.

In production since 1962, the Remington Model 700 is still a favorite among hunters due to its high quality. The Alpha 1 model is a new development of this familiar bolt-action rifle, with a few improvements.

The Remington Model 700 is known for its wide range of calibers, including 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Mag., 7mm-08 Remington, .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester and .300 Winchester Magnum. Of these, the 30-06 is our choice for deer hunting.

Some differences seen in the Alpha 1 are a larger ejection port, a bolt body that is fluted in a singular piece, a tool-less firing pin disassembly, and a Timney Extreme Hunter trigger.

The Remington Model 700 Alpha 1 is a great bolt-action rifle for those looking for a smoother and more modern version of the classic Remington Model 700.

Mossberg X-Bolt chambered in .308 Win
The Mossberg X-Bolt is a runner for our pick for best budget Hunting Rifle

One of the best long-range precision rifles available in 2023 is the Browning X-Bolt Target Max. Although it is significantly less expensive than most of its competitors, this hunting rifle does not compromise on quality.

Besides its high performance at long distances, the Browning X-Bolt Target Max features an adjustable trigger, Recoil Hawg muzzle brake, and a forend accessory rail for tripod mounting. It is also available in four calibers: 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 6MM GT, and .308 Win. The black composite stock and matte blue finish give the hunting rifle a sleek look.

However, this rifle is a bit heavy to carry, weighing about 9 pounds 14 ounces. Still, it is a solid product providing great features at a lower price.

The Savage Impulse Mountain hunter is available in nine popular calibers
Savage Impulse Mountain Hunter chambered in .308 Win

Hunters that prefer to chase the big games will love the Savage Impulse Mountain Hunter. Unlike most American hunting rifles, the Impulse rifle features straight pull action, a mechanism that is more popular in Europe. This hunting rifle is available in nine calibers, with the most popular one the .308 Winchester.

Proof Research carbon fiber wrapped barrel, removable multi-position bolt handle, steel detachable magazine, and an aluminum receiver are key aspects of this unique hunting rifle. This is a great choice for those looking for a more lightweight option to hunt game in higher altitudes.

Ruger American Rifle is a great budget hunting rifle
The Ruger American Rifle is a steal at its price point and we love the 7mm PRC chambering.

The Ruger American rifle has been around for over a decade and is a popular choice for hunters on a budget. These powerful rifles have dozens of configurations, but a recent launch has caught everyone’s eye. The long-action magnum Ruger American Rifle Go Wild has now been equipped with 7mm PRC chambering.

Some key features of this rifle are a muzzle brake, Ruger Marksman Adjustable trigger, ergonomic synthetic stock, Ruger’s patented Power Bedding system, and Picatinny scope base that is factory installed.

Overall, this is a lightweight, budget rifle that performs well at long ranges and is easy to maneuver.

7mm PRC Mossberg Rifle is a great hunting choice
The Mossberg Patriot Predator makes good use of the new and red hot 7mm PRC cartridge at a cool price point.

The bolt action rifle Mossberg Patriot Predator is now available in a new 7mm PRC cartridge. This hunting rifle features a 24-inch threaded and fluted barrel, Mossberg’s patented LBA™ (Lightning Bolt Action™) user-adjustable trigger, a pre-installed Picatinny scope rail with 15 slots, and an oversized bolt handle.

The detachable magazines of this rifle are incredibly lightweight, and the stock is a synthetic material with a good grip. You can get this rifle in one of two finishes: matte blue or brown Cerakote metal.

For those looking for a more affordable option in the 7 mm PRC cartridge range, this is a great choice.

The Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0 Ti i is a great hunting rifle
Weatherby makes some great rifles and the Mark V Backcountry 2.0 Ti is no exception

Weighing in at just over 5 pounds, the Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0 Ti is the ultimate lightweight mountain hunter rifle. Launched in early 2023, this hunting rifle is an upgrade from the original Mark V Weatherby series, focusing more on speed and weight. It also comes in a whopping 21 calibers, which gives you more ammo options.

Some key changes in this hunting rifle are the adoption of an ultra-lightweight carbon fiber Peak 44™ Blacktooth™ stock and a 3DHEX recoil pad. The recoil pad is 3D printed and designed with a strong lattice structure which reduces muzzle lift when recoiling,

The bolt body has also been updated to have a more spiral shape and the handle features an aluminum skeletonized knob for easy gripping. The ergonomics of this rifle allowed shooting to be precise, which is often an issue in lightweight rifles.

Best Budget Hunting Rifle: Ruger American

Ruger American hunting rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor
Ruger American Hunter chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor is a great budget hunting rifle

Many of the other rifles on our list are the very best that money can buy. However, not everyone can afford or needs the absolute best hunting rifle on the market. Fortunately, Ruger makes a quality rifle for the money. Usually priced between $500 and $700, depending on caliber and options, the Ruger American Rifle is a solid choice for the money and is available in a wide variety of calibers. The 7mm PRC version of this rifle already made our list at number 8, and the rest of the family is our choice for best budget hunting rifle.

In the last few years, several states have opened straight wall pistol caliber cartridge white tail deer hunting seasons. A Ruger American chambered in 450 Bushmaster or 350 Legend likely qualifies for usage in these seasons and can easily take down a white-tailed deer at over 100 yards. The Ruger American is also available in 6.5 Creedmoor, 308 Win, 30-06, 5.56, 7.62x39, and even 22LR for small game or plinking.

People Also Asked

What are the characteristics of a good hunting rifle?

A good hunting rifle should maintain a balance between aesthetics, trigger quality, stock strength, weight, and precision handling. All these features go hand-in-hand in determining the success of your hunt.

What is the difference between straight pull action and bolt action?

Straight pull action implements a linear method of operation, where a simple pull back and push forward will cycle a round. Bolt action has four movements to perform the same function, and is operated in a rotary manner.

What material are hunting rifles made out of?

This varies from model to model, but hunting rifles are usually constructed from either carbon steel or stainless steel. The former is less expensive to manufacture, while the latter is less prone to rusting and corrosion.

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