The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of Year – Updated

Whether you hunt whitetails in the hardwoods, elk in the mountains, or bears in the Alaskan bush, there’s a hunting rifle for you.

The landscape you plan to hunt, your hunting tactics, and the game you’re chasing will all play a role in the rifle you choose.

But so will personal taste. Your rifle defines in part who you are as a hunter, whether it is a practical beater that lives in your truck for much of the year, a handy lever action, or a pricey long-range hammer.

We’ve made that task a little easier by narrowing down the field to the best hunting rifles we’ve tested. 

  • Best Overall: Nosler 21
  • Best Lever Action: Marlin 1895 SBL
  • Best Value: CZ-USA 600 Alpha
  • Best Long Range: Proof Tundra
  • Most Versatile: Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout
  • Best Long-Range Varmint Rifle: Seekins Havak HIT
  • Best Bear Rifle: Ruger Guide Gun
  • Best Mountain Rifle: Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0 TI Carbon
  • Best Rimfire: Ruger 10/22 Competition
  • Best Air Rifle: Air Venturi Avenger

How We Picked the Best Hunting Rifles

Many of the top-performing weapons from our comprehensive (and frank) yearly gun testing are included here. However, we have included some of our preferred hunting weapons.

These are firearms that have been tested both on the range and in the field; weapons on which we are ready to place the fate of our hunts when we travel to the family farm, the mountains, or the ocean in search of game.

The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of 2022

Best Overall: Nosler 21

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
    • Weight: 6 pounds, 10 ounces
    • Stock: Carbon fiber composite
    • Barrel: 22 inches, threaded, 5/8-24
    • Trigger: 4 pounds, 4 ounces, adjustable

Why It Made the Cut

The Nosler 21 is both a great performing rifle, and aesthetically pleasing. It’s accurate and superbly balanced.

Pros

    • Great weight and balance
    • Great price for the performance
    • Very accurate
    • Tool-less takedown for field serviceability

Cons

    • Bolt handle could use a drop of thread locker

Product Description

After careful examination, our 2022 gun test Editor’s Choice went to the Nosler 21 since it is such a great hunting rifle. The carbon fiber synthetic stock, Mack Brothers Evo stainless steel action, and Shilen No. 3 stainless steel contour barrel make for a beautifully made rifle.

The Nosler 21 weighs just under 7 pounds, making it a superbly balanced all-around hunting rifle that can be readily transported anywhere without being so light that it shows the limits and problems of many ultralight rifles, which can be difficult to fire properly.

The carbon fiber stock has aluminum bedding pillars, a recoil pad that measures one inch, and Aramid reinforcement. The barreled action is securely installed in the stock. This rifle is equipped with a Mack Brother action, which can be taken apart without the use of tools for cleaning and maintenance.

In our accuracy test, out of hundreds of five-shot groups, this rifle shot the tightest one thanks to its action, adjustable Triggertech trigger, and Shilen barrel (0.266 in.). When compared against more costly guns, the Nosler 21 still performed admirably. —T.F.

Best Lever Action: Marlin 1895 SBL

Key Features

    • Caliber: .45/70 Government
    • Weight: 7 pounds, 4 ounces
    • Stock: Laminated wood
    • Barrel: 19 inches, threaded, 11/16-24
    • Trigger: 6 pounds, 7 ounces

Why It Made the Cut

The Marlin 1895 SBL, under the new ownership of Ruger, is the finest version of this rifle ever made. Quality materials and attention to detail elevate it above previous factory Marlins.

Pros 

    • Reliability and detail work are excellent
    • Over-sized lever loop
    • XS Ghost ring rail/sights included
    • Good accuracy

Cons

    • 11/16-24 threaded muzzle requires separate thread adapter for most suppressors

Product Description

The 1895 SBL is Ruger’s first new rifle design since the company’s purchase of Marlin, and it’s a good looking one at that.

The stainless steel frame and gray laminate seating are included on the compact 19-inch barrel model. It has XS sights ghost ring sights and an optics rail in addition to the oversized lever loop.

The CNC machined and EDM cut parts of this lever action rifle allow it to dependably cycle with minimum slop and store 6 rounds of.45/70 ammunition. There is a tight feel to the motion, but it is really smooth. The checkering on the furniture is beautiful, and the pieces fit together well.

An 1895 SBL was accurate in our 2022 gun test, even when fitted with a 6X optic for greater magnification. The rifle’s 5-shot group averaged 1.66 inches using Hornady 325-grain FTX loads, making it a practical gun out to 200 or 300 yards.

The muzzle is threaded, but not in the standard 5/8-24 size used by many modern hunters and shooters; instead, it is 11/16-24.

Adapters are readily available for use with suppressors such as the Silencerco Hybrid 46M. When tightened, the gap between the threaded muzzle and its thread guard is nearly invisible. —T.F.

Best Value: CZ-USA 600 Alpha

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6mm Creedmoor
    • Weight: 7 pounds, 10 ounces
    • Stock: Synthetic with rubber textured inlay
    • Barrel: 22 inches, threaded, 5/8-24
    • Trigger: 1 pound, 11 ounces, adjustable

Why It Made the Cut 

The CZ-USA 600 Alpha brings great accuracy, ingenuity, and versatility to the table—and all at a very competitive price.

Pros 

    • Simple and sweet adjustable trigger
    • Comfortable stock
    • Great accuracy for price
    • Smooth, 3-lug bolt

Cons

    • CZ has temporarily backed off on the switch-barrel capability

Product Description

CZ is placing all of its faith on the 600 series, which is a radical departure from their prior produced acts. The 600 Alpha is a more affordable variant of the 600, and it has a short-throw, 3-lug bolt with a spherical, oversized bolt handle.

The 600 Alpha has a synthetic stock that bends slightly yet provides a great grip angle and textured soft-rubber inlays for use in rainy weather.

The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of 2022

The rifle may have a heavier barrel and a design inspired by target rifles, but it is still ideally suited for every hunting situation save for the most difficult mountain backpack hunts. Despite this, it is still not too hefty.

The 600 Alpha includes a unique magazine and safety system, including a removable box magazine that must be “rocked” into position. The rifle’s “fire” mode is activated by depressing the crossbolt safety, which runs vertically through the grip behind the bolt.

The 600 Alpha’s barrel is threaded for a suppressor or muzzle device, and it performed admirably in our 2022 gun test, even though it cost less than a thousand dollars. Our 6mm Creedmoor-chambered sample averaged a 5-shot group of.814 inches in diameter. —T.F.

Best Long Range: Proof Tundra

Key Features 

    • Caliber: 6.5 CM
    • Weight: 7 pounds, 2 ounces
    • Stock: Carbon-fiber composite
    • Barrel: 24 inches, threaded, 5/8-24
    • Trigger: 2 pounds, 10 ounces, adjustable

Why It Made the Cut

The Proof Tundra is top-notch when it comes to materials, manufacturing, fit and finish, and accuracy. It was the most accurate hunting rifle of the 2022 Outdoor Life Gun test.

Pros

    • High-quality materials and fit of all components
    • Adjustable trigger
    • Carbon-fiber adjustable cheek piece
    • Accurate

Cons

    • Expensive

Product Description

The Proof Tundra is a semi-custom hunting rifle developed by the company that makes Proof barrels. It was built to provide the highest possible levels of aesthetics and functionality.

It has a Proof carbon fiber-wrapped barrel and the Defiance two-lug bolt action that are properly fitted and bedded into a carbon-fiber stock with an adjustable carbon fiber cheek piece. We received a prototype in a silver-on-black netting pattern, but other colors and patterns are available.

There is no denying that the Tundra is a high-quality and effective rifle that is well worth the asking price. In a 2022 gun test, no other brand came close to matching the quality of this one in terms of fit and finish.

As a consequence of its top-loading BDL-style magazine and lightweight stock with an adjustable cheek-piece, this rifle is among the best available for long-range hunting.

The Tundra is guaranteed to hit targets within half a minute of angle three times in a row. Our five-shot group average was.683 inches, which was third best in the evaluation behind the two precision competition rifles. The Tundra’s weight and balance make it a non-issue on any hunt. —T.F.

Most Versatile: Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6.5 CM
    • Weight: 5 pounds, 14 ounces
    • Stock: Carbon-fiber composite
    • Barrel: 16 inches, carbon-fiber, 5/8-24 threaded
    • Trigger: 2 pounds, 1 ounce, adjustable

Why It Made the Cut

The Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout is a short, handy rifle that can do just about anything, whether it’s hunting hogs in the brush or sheep in the mountains.

Pros

    • Short, handy, and well-balanced
    • Uses AICS-pattern magazines
    • Suppressor or muzzle-device-ready
    • Great accuracy

Cons

    • Flat trigger shoe doesn’t fit well with grip angle

Product Description

The Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout is a light and adaptable bolt action that pays homage to the scout rifle idea developed by Jeff Cooper. It has a skeletonized bolt handle and a two-lug bolt coated in black nitride.

The sleek, traditional carbon-fiber stock features a rail with an included barricade stop at the forend, making it possible to connect a bipod to the firearm. Bedding pillars made of stainless steel are used in the construction of the stock.

The action is designed to work with polymer and steel AICS-pattern magazines and has a rail optics mount and an oversized magazine release. The carbon-fiber barrel is 16 inches long and threaded, making it an ideal host for a suppressor. It comes with a 3-prong flash suppressor.

The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of 2022

The Ridgeline Scout may be compact, but its aim is dead on. Our 2022 test rifle had a 3-shot sub-MOA guarantee, and its 5-shot average was even better, at.784 inches.

The one thing we didn’t like about it was the flat trigger shoe, which didn’t work well with the typical sporter grip angle; instead, a curved trigger shoe would complement the stock’s design better.

The rifle’s versatility and pinpoint accuracy make it a top choice for a wide variety of purposes, from serving as a ranch rifle to being used in National Rifle League (NRL) hunting competitions.

It is equally at home in a Midwestern deer stand or on the beaches of Prince William’s Sound, where it may be used to identify and pursue black bears. —T.F.

Best Long-Range Varmint Rifle: Seekins Havak HIT

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6.5 PRC
    • Weight: 11.5 pounds
    • Stock: Seekins folding aluminum chassis
    • Barrel: 24-inch threaded 5/8-24
    • Trigger: 2 pounds, 8 ounces, adjustable

Why It Made the Cut 

The Havak HIT is an incredibly innovative, versatile, and accurate precision rifle—all at a great price.

Pros

    • Extremely accurate
    • Switch-barrel and cartridge capability
    • Adjustable trigger
    • Great Price

Cons

    • Doesn’t have integral ARCA rail on chassis

Product Description

One of the highlights of our 2022 Gun test was the Seekins Havak HIT. Besides the Accuracy International AT-X, it was one of the most precise firearms we tested.

We obtained a Havak HIT in 6.5 PRC, and the 5-shot group size was an average of.542 inches. A unusual and well-deserved double award, it took home the Best Value and Innovation Awards.

Seekins Precision is the only company with the Havak HIT action and chassis. The trigger is the only non-proprietary part; it is an adjustable Remington 700-style trigger.

The folding stock, AR-style vertical grip, and compatibility with AICS magazines are just a few of the features of this aluminum chassis that also allow for simple comb and length-of-pull modifications. It’s missing an ARCA rail, but that’s easily remedied by attaching one to the front.

Part of the rifle’s ingenuity lies in its interchangeable barrels. You may change the caliber by simply replacing the bolt head and barrel by releasing a set screw.

The rifle can have extra weight added to it for better stability during competition, but even without that, it is a fantastic long-range varmint rifle due to its chambering for light-recoiling long-range cartridges like the 6 Creed and 6 GT. —T.F.

Best Bear Rifle: Ruger Guide Gun

Key Features

    • Caliber: .338 Win. Mag.
    • Weight: 8 pounds
    • Stock: Green Laminate Wood
    • Barrel: 20 inches, stainless-steel, threaded, 5/8-18
    • Trigger: 4 pounds, 2 ounces

Why It Made the Cut

When it comes to coercing bears out of the brush, the Ruger Guide Gun is hard to beat. It’s short, handy, and chambered in several heavy-hitting calibers.

Pros

    • 20-inch barrel is handy in the brush
    • Includes muzzle brake and equally-weighted thread protector
    • Mauser-style controlled-feed action and fixed ejector
    • Length-of-pull is adjustable with included stock spacers

Cons

    • Shorter barrel gives up some velocity

Product Description 

When it comes to dealing with bears at close range, one of the greatest rifles available is Ruger’s Guide Gun, which is a derivative of their highly successful M77 action. The Guide Gun was designed to be used as a bear-stopping gun in confined spaces when things really start to hit the fan, as its name indicates.

The Guide Gun is a straightforward rifle, primarily a short-barreled M77 built for speed, portability, and lethality. The regulated feed mechanism, in the form of the classic Mauser, is extremely reliable and improves with time and usage.

The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of 2022

The ejection force is constant regardless of how hard you stroke the action, thanks to the gun’s fixed (rather than spring-powered) ejector. The action has Ruger’s patented integrated scope bases, a 3-position safety, and a non-rotating extractor.

The strong green laminate wood stock is protected from the elements and recoil by a supple rubber butt pad and adjustable spacers. A stainless steel action and barrel are paired with express-style iron sights and a sling swivel stud barrel band.

Each cartridge has its own unique thread pitch, therefore standard suppressor adapters won’t fit the muzzle. Rifle accessories include a detachable radial muzzle brake, a thread protector of corresponding weight, and a reduced-thread-size thread protector.

I’ve relied on backup rifles based on the M77 platform for some time now, and the Guide Gun is the most convenient of them all. The.30/06 and.338 Win. versions are available.

Great choices are the.375 Ruger,.416 Ruger, and.357 Mag. I used mine, chambered in.338 Win, to kill a grizzly that was charging at me from 15 yards away. Mag. —T.F.

Best Mountain Rifle: Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0 TI Carbon

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6.5 CM
    • Weight: 5 pounds, 2 ounces
    • Stock: Carbon-fiber composite
    • Barrel: 24 inches, carbon-fiber, threaded
    • Trigger: 3 pounds, 4 ounces, adjustable

Why It Made the Cut

The bottom line when it comes to mountain rifles is weight, and the Backcountry 2.0 TI Carbon excels while bringing the performance needed to instill confidence on the mountain.

Pros

    • Lightweight
    • 24-inch carbon-fiber barrel is accurate and strong
    • Great ergonomics
    • Short bolt throw

Cons

    • Titanium action is a little sticky
    • Fit and finish could be better considering price tag

Product Description

In an effort to create a genuinely lightweight mountain rifle, Weatherby has updated its Mark V Backcountry line with the Mark V Backcountry 2.0 TI Carbon.

A carbon-fiber barrel is now an available option, and the 3D-printed recoil pad has been given a new design (the original would hold a smashed-down shape when the rifle was rested on the recoil pad).

The rebated rim cartridges seen in Weatherby rifles are perfectly suited to the 6-lug Mark V action found in the Backcountry 2.0 TI Carbon.

Our 24-inch 6.5 CM barreled test rifle was surprisingly light at little over 5 pounds because to its titanium action and carbon-fiber barrel. Even though titanium actions have a tendency to be sticky, the short bolt throw makes cycling the rifle a delight.

Although we think parts of the fit and finish may be improved, the stock’s comfort is enhanced by its complete carbon-fiber construction and its ergonomically optimal grip and grip angle.

The ergonomics of this weapon made it easier to shoot accurately than I had expected given how light it was. Our 2022 gun test showed that it fired well with a wide variety of loads, with an average group size of.824 inches for the best ten 5-shot groups.

The groupings did begin to expand out a bit as the pistol warmed up, especially by the fifth shot, but in most mountain hunting circumstances, the first shot or two are all that important. —T.F.

Best Rimfire: Ruger 10/22 Competition

Key Features

    • Caliber: .22 LR
    • Weight: 6 lb. 3 oz.
    • Stock: Synthetic with adj. cheek piece
    • Barrel: 16.12 in., threaded ½-28 with muzzle brake
    • Trigger: 2 lb. 14 oz.

Why It Made the Cut

 A do-everything rimfire that comes in a left-handed configuration.

Pros

    • Great trigger
    • Good fit and finish
    • Accurate
    • Utterly reliable

Cons

    • Spendy

Product Description 

There are more Ruger 10/22 models available now than there are IPAs on tap at your local brewery. One of the finest 10/22s ever made, this version comes straight from the Custom Shop and sets a new standard for excellence.

It starts with the tried-and-true 10/22 action, the 350 Chevy short block of rimfires, and adds a slew of improvements to provide a powerful, refined.22 LR. In addition, Ruger is providing a left-handed variant for the benefit of all the ambidextrous people in the world.

My sample’s trigger is excellent, breaking at a constant 2 pounds 14 ounces. The combination of the hammer-forged barrel and the distance of 50 yards ensures pinpoint accuracy. Rifle’s action features a 30 MOA Picatinny rail on top for installing optics, increasing the rifle’s long-range capabilities.

It would take some work to make a 10/22 shoot poorly, yet it eats up every kind of.22 LR I threw into its 10-round rotary magazines with no problems at all.

An easy-to-use and discrete mag release is included into the trigger guard of the Competition variant. The stock’s ergonomic design continues to the cheek piece, which can be moved up and down as well as fore and aft with a single throw lever. While functional, the hardware for this feature is somewhat bulky, making it the rifle’s lone visual flaw.

On the other hand, the rest of the 10/22 competition is well wrapped up. The barrel is fluted, and a powerful muzzle brake is included.

An beautiful speckled gray finish adds a touch of grip to the laminate material. And the tip is shaped like a beaver’s tail, which makes it easy to grip and provides a secure footing.

If you go for the left-handed version, keep in mind that standard 10/22 magazines designed for the right hand won’t fit. The left-handed person’s rotary magazines wind up the other direction. —J.B.S

Best Air Rifle: Air Venturi Avenger

Key Features

    • Regulated
    • Adjustable Trigger
    • Max Fill Pressure: 4,350 psi
    • Shrouded barrel
    • 900 fps in .25 caliber
    • About 20 shots per fill (depending on tune)
    • Weight: 6.4 pounds

Why It Made the Cut

The Air Venturi Avenger has excellent accuracy, power, and shot-to-shot consistency.

Pros

    • Accurate
    • Consistent velocity
    • Handles well in the field
    • Quiet

Cons

    • Requires a pump, tank, or compressor to fill

Product Description

Air rifles are popular in a period when ammunition is in short supply since pellets are inexpensive and easy to come by compared to buying.22 LR ammunition in large quantities.

My advice is to bypass the pump and spring pellet weapons you’re probably already familiar with and go straight to the pre-charged pneumatic air rifles.

A pressurized air tank is used by PCPs, which may be filled using a hand pump, compressor, or dive tank.

The key benefit is that they are more easier to use and fire accurately because of their air power source. In addition, they don’t have to use the same kinds of specialized sights as spring air rifles use.

The Air Venturi Avenger is a fantastically accurate and reasonably priced PCP airgun that is the finest option for beginners.

As the proud owner of said air rifle, I wholeheartedly concur with airgun expert Jim Chapman’s selection of the Avenger as one of the greatest air guns. In his study of the Avenger, Champan found that there was only a 19 fps difference between shots fired in a row.

My Avenger consistently produces subquarter-inch groupings at 25 yards, attesting to its reliability. It’s also a reasonably quiet airgun, which is great for introducing new shooters, backyard pest control, and basement ranges.

The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of 2022

This under $400 air rifle includes features you’d generally only see on top-tier firearms. One of things is that it’s controlled. This means that you may set the regulator to a precise psi and it will shoot every shot at that same psi until the pressure dips below the preset.

As a result, you obtain considerably enhanced consistency over an uncontrolled rifle in which the pressure fluctuates with each succeeding shot. This also allows the gun to be fine-tuned to function with a certain bullet or for a specific purpose. —Scott Einsmann

Benelli Lupo Limited Edition

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6.5 CM
    • Weight: 7 pounds, 6 ounces
    • Stock: Walnut
    • Barrel: 24-inches, threaded 5/8-24
    • Trigger: 2 pounds, 8 ounces

Why It Made the Cut

The Lupo Limited Edition is a fast-handling, sleek hunting rifle with an elegant European feel that’s made to be fired offhand.

Pros

    • Excellent handling characteristics
    • Two-position safety is quick and comfortable to operate
    • Customizable stock fit
    • Great-looking wood, lines, and finish

Cons

    • No sling swivel studs

Product Description

The Benelli Lupo Limited Edition is a 3-lug bolt-action that feeds from a flush-fitting detachable box magazine. It features sleek, contemporary lines and feels thoroughly European in its design and handling qualities.

It’s a rifle that was meant to be shot from standing or kneeling positions, and strolling or driving hunts are where this weapon would be most at-home.

The rifle boasts a gorgeous walnut stock and forend that are polished to look high-class, and combine nicely with the brilliant finish of the steel.

The sharp angles of the trigger guard appear like what you’d see on a shotgun, but the grip angle, shape, and placement provide the shooter a virtually ideal finger position for the trigger—the rifle is quite comfortable and easy to fire.

Although the bright-blued-looking finish could turn off some harsh-weather hunters, it’s treated with Benelli’s unique surface treatment (acronym BE.S.T.), we only wish they didn’t put “BE.S.T.” in large letters on the otherwise sleek and elegant-looking receiver.

—T.F.

Henry Long Ranger Express

Key Features

    • Caliber: .223 Rem.
    • Weight: 7 pounds, 7 ounces
    • Stock:  Birch Laminate
    • Barrel: 16.5 inches, threaded 5/8-24
    • Trigger: 5 pounds, 4 ounces

Why It Made the Cut

The Henry Long Ranger Express is a slick-operating box-magazine fed lever gun that is accurate and pure fun to shoot.

Pros

    • Box magazine allows you to use modern spitzer-style bullets
    • Ultra-smooth action
    • Threaded barrel is suppressor-ready
    • 16.5-inch barrel makes it handy and maneuverable

Cons

    • Set up for scope-only, no iron sights

Product Description 

The Long Ranger Express we received for our 2022 gun test is a fantastic combination of pleasure and functionality from Henry Repeating Arms. Chambered in .223 Rem., this portable rifle is fed by a box magazine and includes a 16.5-inch barrel that is capped with a 5/8-24 thread.

Although most .223 barrels are threaded in ½-28 thread, many suppressors have adapters that will operate with that thread pitch.

This weapon boasts an aircraft aluminum receiver and 6-lug rotating bolt head akin to what you’d find in an AR-type rifle.

The action is gear-driven and smoother than more classic late 1800’s-style lever firearms. You’ll receive more bolt movement for the length of travel of the lever which enables for smooth, sharp, rapid pedaling.

The rifle boasts a sturdy and weather-resistant birch laminate stock and forend with sling swivel studs.

The lack of a barrel band and iron sights is obvious, but the receiver is topped with a rail for scope attachment, and the medium-heavy-contoured barrel is capable of good accuracy when combined with an optic.

In our weapons test, the rifle averaged 1.29-inch 5-shot groups but produced numerous sub-inch groups when we put a higher-magnification sight on it. —T.F.

Browning X-Bolt Mountain Pro

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6.8 Western
    • Weight: 6 pounds, 4 ounces
    • Stock: Foam-filled carbon-fiber
    • Barrel: 24 inches, threaded, 5/8-24
    • Trigger: 3 pounds, 5 ounces, adjustable

Why It Made the Cut

The Browning X-bolt is an accurate, dependable, and capable hunting rifle—and the Mountain Pro is the most-optimized version yet.

Pros

    • Lightweight
    • Well-balanced
    • Muzzle brake and thread protector included
    • Short bolt-throw for quick, smooth cycling

Cons

    • Good, but not stellar accuracy for the price

Product Description 

The X-bolt has firmly established itself as a go-to platform for Browning—and for good reason. The rifles are consistently good-shooters, moderately lightweight, well-balanced, and durable. The Mountain Pro is the latest incarnation of this platform, and one of the best.

Optimized for mountain hunting, the new Mountain Pro includes a fluted steel barrel, bolt, and bolt handle, a foam-filled carbon-fiber stock, and bronze or tungsten-colored cerakote finish on all parts. It’s of course constructed around the smooth-running short-throw X-bolt action that’s fed from a detachable rotary magazine.

The Stock on the Mountain Pro is light and robust, with a perfectly sculpted grip swell and comfortable grip angle. It’s a simple rifle to fire and has outstanding balance for lugging up the mountain one-handed.

It features a straightforward tang safety and a typically decent trigger. Compared to many popular titanium actions, the steel X-bolt action is sleek and rapid with its short throw.

Accuracy of the X-bolt’s is typically good, and in my testing at temps of -10 to -20 degrees, my Mountain Pro averaged 1.18-inch 5-shot groups using Browning’s Long Range Pro 175-grain Tipped Game King load.

The accuracy didn’t impress me, but I wasn’t disappointed either. In November of 2021, I placed 3 shots in a group the size of a baseball at 420 yards on a West Texas aoudad. —T.F.

Fierce Firearms CT Rival

Key Features 

    • Caliber: .300 Win. Mag.
    • Weight: 6.2 pounds
    • Stock: Carbon-fiber, vertical grip
    • Barrel: Carbon-fiber, threaded with muzzle brake
    • Trigger: 1 pound, 11 ounces, adjustable

Why It Made the Cut

The Fierce CT Rival is a heavy-hitter when it comes to lightweight, accurate, long-range hunting rifles.

Pros

    • Titanium action and carbon-fiber barrel and stock cut weight
    • Vertical grip and raised comb aid in long-range ergonomics
    • Bix’n Andy’s Dakota Adjustable trigger
    • 1/2 MOA accuracy guarantee (3-shot)

Cons

    • Rifle is so light it’s more prone to user input than heavier guns

Product Description

The CT Rival from Fierce Firearms is meant to provide everything hunters seek in a lightweight long-range custom rifle—but without the full custom price tag.

The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of 2022

The core of the rifle is Fierce’s Rival Titanium action, which has a two-lug bolt that’s coated to smooth out the stickiness that’s prevalent with titanium actions. It also includes a skeletonized bolt handle and a slightly hollowed-out bolt knob that’s machined for a snug grip.

The carbon-fiber stock of the CT Rival is light and sturdy, and the thick vertical grip is sculpted as to enable a nearly ideal finger placement on the slightly curved trigger shoe and the elevated comb allows for a fine cheek weld.

The stock features an inlaid strip of rail on the fore-end for installing a bipod, Q.D. sling cups on the front and back, and is finished with a Limbsaver recoil pad.

The 24-inch .300 Win. Mag. barrel on my sample is threaded and topped with a Fierce muzzle brake that’s hand-tight and secured with thread-matching set screws. It’s easily removable to use a suppressor or install a thread protector.

Quality (and accuracy) for the money is the selling point for the CT Rival, and it seems to have it all. Fit and finish is great, and the rifle flat-out shoots. Fierce has a 1/2-M.O.A. 3-shot accuracy guarantee with recommended ammunition.

Shooting Barnes Vor-Tx 180-grain TTSX loads, which Fierce recommends, my hits that standard, averaging .846-inch 5-shot groups, and .615 inches with a handload using Hornady 212-grain ELD-X bullets. Read our full review of the Fierce CT Rival Here —T.F.

Winchester Model 70 Super Grade

Key Features

    • Caliber: .30/06
    • Weight: 8 pounds, 2 ounces
    • Stock: AAAA Maple
    • Barrel: 24 inches, high gloss
    • Trigger: 2 pounds, 9 ounces

Why It Made the Cut

The “Rifleman’s Rifle” in its modern Super Grade iteration combines classic features and vintage looks with modern conveniences.

Pros

    • Beautiful maple stock
    • Pre-64 style action, controlled feed
    • Runs smoothly, quickly
    • Points and handles nicely

Cons

    • Hefty rifle for carrying
    • Mediocre accuracy

We cannot all claim a mint, pre-64 Winchester Model 70 as our deer hunting rifle, but with the modern Super Grade you can get close.

First let’s discuss the stock, because it immediately catches your eye. The AAAA grade stock is carved of red maple (though some sugar maples make the grade, too) harvested from the Appalachian Mountains.

Each log is inspected and purchased individually by Tech Woods USA. The stock blank is heat treated, graded, certified, and then sent to the Winchester factory in Portugal where they machine, checker, finish, and then bed the stocks onto the rifles. There’s also a walnut version of the stock, which looks just as nice.

The rifle has a controlled-feed action similar to the style on those coveted pre-64 Winchesters. Though it’s not identical. For example, the bolt handle and the bolt body are two pieces not one single part.

The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of 2022

Winchester collectors could pick at the new rifle with small quibbles like this, but for hunters none of this really matters in the field. The modern Winchester Super Grade does have a classic three-position safety.

What does matter is that the rifle points and handles wonderfully. It comes to my shoulder quickly and naturally and is easy to shoot offhand. This has become my go-to whitetail deer hunting rifle, so handling is a priority.

It weighs 8 pounds but does not feel that heavy in hand. The trigger is excellent for a deer rifle, at a crisp 2 pounds, 9 ounces. As for accuracy, with a variety of standard deer hunting loads my five-shot groups range from a little over an inch to 1.75 inches on the upper end.

This is not excellent accuracy for a modern rifle, but it’s more than adequate for Northwoods deer hunting.

Plus, for all the looks and features built into this rifle, it’s surprisingly affordable and makes a strong case for new wood-stocked deer hunting rifles. —A.R.

Savage Impulse

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
    • Weight: 8.8 pounds
    • Stock: Synthetic, with adjustable length of pull and comb height
    • Barrel: 22 in., fluted and threaded ⅝-24
    • Trigger: 3 lb. 1 oz., user-adjustable AccuTrigger

Why It Made the Cut

This innovative American-made rifle is an affordable straight-pull bolt gun.

Pros 

    • Ambidextrous
    • Accurate
    • Affordable for the type

Cons

    • A bit heavy

Product Description

When 2021 rolled around, one of the pleasant surprises was The Savage Impulse. There probably weren’t many people with “affordable” or “American-made” straight-pull bolt-action on their bingo cards.

Savage deserves credit for launching with a flawless platform. It’s not easy to introduce a completely new design, but the Impulse did it and did it well.

I have one chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor that I have used for hunting and target practice, and it is still functioning perfectly after several hundred rounds.

My rifle consistently produces sub-MOA groups with a wide variety of ammunition, and I was able to take a beautiful Texas aoudad with its help.

There are numerous Impulse trim levels to choose from. The Big Game that I have is mine, and it’s covered in KUIU’s Verde design.

The shorter-barreled Hog Hunter, the detachable-box-magazine-equipped Predator, and the MDT chassis-stocked, newly-introduced Elite Precision round out the lineup.

Do not worry if you are not a fan of the 6.5 Creedmoor. The Impulse is offered with a wide range of cartridge options, including the.22/250 Rem.,.243 Win.,6 Creedmoor,.308 Win.,.30/06,.300 WSM, and.300 Win. Mag, 300 PRC, and 338 Lapua. —J.B.S

Mossberg Patriot Predator

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
    • Weight: 6 lb. 8 oz.
    • Stock: Synthetic
    • Barrel: 22 in. threaded ⅝-24
    • Trigger: User adjustable

Why It Made the Cut 

The Mossberg Patriot Predator is one of the best values in a big-game hunting rifle.

Pros

    • Affordable
    • Tough
    • Accurate

Cons

    • Fit and finish in line with price point

Product Description 

I’ve used Mossberg Patriots for hunting all the way from Mexico to Alaska and all over the places in between, and I’ve found that the Predator model is my favorite. It’s a high-performance rifle that won’t break the bank, and its rugged design means you can take it hunting anywhere.

The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of 2022

Initially, the Patriot Predators came in 6.5 Creedmoor,.243 Win., and.308 Win. calibers. The Predator line has grown since its inception to include short-barrel thumpers in.450 Bushmaster, the.22/250 Remington, and the 6.5 PRC.

It has the bare minimum of features necessary to get the job done. The muzzle devices are compatible with the threaded barrels.

A Picatinny rail sits atop the workings. The rifle’s flawless feeding is made possible by a detachable box magazine that is both light and simple to load.

The Predator’s slightly oversized bolt handle and relatively smooth two-lug action make it a joy to use.

The barrel and the bolt both have some decorative fluting. The point of this gun, though, is not aesthetics.

Instead, it’s a firearm you won’t feel bad about keeping in the back of your vehicle while yet using with confidence on a high-stakes big-game hunt. —J.B.S

Allterra Arms Mountain Shadow Steel

Key Features

    • Caliber: 6.5 PRC
    • Weight: 6 lb. 12 oz.
    • Stock: Carbon fiber
    • Barrel: 22 in. sporter, threaded ⅝-24
    • Trigger: 2 lb. 8 oz. TriggerTech Primary adjustable

Why It Made the Cut 

This High-end rifle with custom features delivers high-end performance.

Pros

    • Exceptional accuracy
    • Great fit and finish
    • Excellent customer service

Cons

    • Expensive

Product Description

Allterra Arms is a young firm with headquarters in Boise, Idaho. They want to manufacture the best bolt-action rifle money can buy and stand behind it 100%.

In spite of their grand claims, the artisans of Allterra Arms can provide the goods. As of now, they provide five distinct rifle models, each of which may be modified extensively to suit the needs of individual customers.

To this end, I opted for the Mountain Shadow Steel. Allterra rifles are built on their C2 action, which features a recoil lug that’s milled in and an EDM-machined receiver that, the company claims, is accurate to within.0005 in. (five-hundredths of an inch) tolerance.

Every aspect of the rifle’s construction is executed with the same meticulous engineering. Therefore, Allterra backs the custom handloads they design for your rifle with a guarantee of three shots inside an inch, and backs the quality of factory ammunition with a guarantee of three shots inside a half an inch.

My gun, with its stock covered in a nice and slightly hallucinogenic swirling pattern of green, white, and gray, easily meets that criteria.

The rifle’s 22-inch barrel makes it easy to handle and transport, even with the suppressor attached. You can get one of these high-quality rifles chambered in a wide variety of cartridges; I had mine done in 6.5 PRC. —J.B.S

How to Choose the Best Hunting Rifle

There is no such thing as a universally applicable hunting rifle; there are excellent all-purpose rifles and highly specialized niche guns.

As a result, there are many aspects to think about when selecting the finest hunting rifle for you, such as the caliber, weight, accuracy, looks, feel, fit, handling, and pricing. Then, evaluate how well your hunting strategy, tactics, and catch fit those criteria.

Caliber

Cartridge choice is often over-analyzed by hunters. The fact is that, when fitted with the proper bullet, the vast majority of medium- to large-caliber firearms are perfectly capable of taking down large animals in North America.

However, caliber is still important, and in general, you should select a chambering with sufficient power for the range and game you intend to shoot, but not so much power that you can’t fire it comfortably and reliably.

Weight

It all depends on the specifics of your hunting scenario, but the weight of your rifle might make or break your success. It’s recommended that hunters who spend most of their time in the mountains backpacking carry a rifle that weighs less than 7 pounds (without optic).

The more ground you must cover while toting your gun around, the more weight matters.

Medium-to-heavy rifles (7 to 9 pounds) are ideal for all-around hunting since they are simpler to fire correctly without being too cumbersome to carry across the hills. A heavy rifle on a stable rest might be simpler to fire if you do not have to carry it very far.

Accuracy

Rifle accuracy is highly prized and rightfully so. It’s a major factor in how we rate firearms. However, it is possible to place too much emphasis on it. It’s nice to have a rifle that can reliably fire 3-quarter-inch 5-shot groups, and several of the guns on this list can accomplish so.

However, few hunting rifles can match that standard. To be effective in the field, a rifle needs to be able to put a 3-shot group on paper at 200 yards that measures 4 inches from a realistic field position.

In open country, where shots tend to be longer, accuracy becomes more important. With a 1.5-inch-gun from the bench, you can confidently hunt at 400 yards. Once you get above 400 yards, things start to become trickier.

In addition to the obvious importance of pinpoint rifle accuracy, there are a number of additional elements that can have a significant impact on where your bullet lands.

Accurately calculating the wind and the drop of your bullet, using reliable ammunition, and practicing sound shooting technique are all essential.

Aesthetics, Handling, and Fit

As long as it hits its target every time, some hunters don’t care how ugly their weapon is. Some hunters, though, place a premium on having a gun that looks good.

The 20 Best Hunting Rifles of 2022

Choose one that appeals to your sense of style; it won’t matter which one your pal prefers. Get one that fits you like a glove. The rifle needs to fit comfortably in your hands and rise to your shoulder without any effort.

Pick a rifle that has a finish that can withstand the elements you’ll be facing. You need a reliable firearm, regardless of how it looks.

Price

Even though the price of quality firearms has always been high, consumers always look for the best value they can get. There are several great hunting rifles that can be had for around $500-$600, which is the price range many hunters have found to suit their needs.

On the other hand, spending cash is a good idea if you have it. It’s been my experience that rifles with a higher price tag tend to be of greater quality overall, look nicer, shoot better, and have more bells and whistles.

FAQs

Q: How much does a hunting rifle cost?

Rifles used for hunting can range in price from $500 to $8,000. Beginner hunters should aim for the lower price range, but avoid getting ripped off.

In the range of $600 to $1000, you may find a wide variety of excellent rifles. The CZ Alpha, at $749, is our best-priced rifle this year.

Q: What should I look for in a hunting rifle?

The primary criteria for selecting a hunting rifle are its reliability and durability under your specific shooting conditions.

This implies that the action should be smooth when fired from the shoulder and that the safety and magazine release are straightforward to use. Whether the rifle has a built-in or removable magazine, it should be simple to load and unload.

For a bolt gun, the trigger pull shouldn’t be more than 3 pounds, and for a lever action, it shouldn’t be more than 6 pounds. The stock and metal components must have a weatherproof coating.

Q: What should I know before buying a hunting rifle?

Don’t obsess about details too much. Many online forums and blogs feature discussions on hunting rifles with sub-MOA accuracy. A big part of the motivation for it is a want to brag and embellish.

Most inexpensive hunting rifles, when used with regular hunting ammo, will not consistently produce sub-MOA groups, especially when used by a novice hunter.

Group sizes of two inches or less with factory hunting ammunition and your rifle are quite acceptable. Before you go charging after precision with a credit card, you should focus on honing your shooting skills.

Final Thoughts

Fun times may be had when looking for the ideal hunting gun. For that matter, it’s so entertaining that you’ll likely want to repeat the experience several times during your hunting career. Don’t stress too much over locating a universal firearm.

Get started with a gun that meets your demands right now, and be certain that more advanced “best hunting guns” are just around the corner as your hunting expertise grows. You can never have just one good hunting gun since there are so many to choose from.

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