If you’re on the market for a new hunting rifle, there’s some really good news for you: there is literally no shortage of options.
That being said, not all hunting rifles are created equally, and some are certainly better or worse than others. But that we’re going to do in this article is outline the best hunting rifles that have ever existed and are currently available for sale, so you can buy any one of these brand new.
Here are the greatest hunting rifles of all time according to users:
The Remington Model 700 deserves a spot on this list because it is the bestselling bolt action rifle ever made. In the early 1960s, the Winchester Model 70 was the bestselling bolt action hunting rifle, but it was also incredibly expensive. Remington resolved to manufacture a high quality bolt action rifle at a significantly lower price point. The Model 700 proved so successful that Winchester was forced to adapt the Model 70 to more modern machining methods in order to lower the price point on it. Today, the Model 700 remains in very wide circulation throughout the entire world, and in service with the United States military as the M24 sniper rifle.
The Springfield M1A is a semi-automatic rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. It’s the civilian version of the M14 battle rifle, which is the longest serving rifle in American military history and is today used as a designated marksman’s rifle, or DMR. The M1A is available in three different barrel lengths: 22 inch, 18.5 inch, and 16 inch. Out of these, the 22 inch barrel will be the best suitable for hunting because of the longer sight radius and superior bullet velocity. Magazine size of the M1A also ranges from five to ten to twenty rounds depending on the specific magazine that you choose. The M1A is expensive, but also noted for its accuracy and reliability.
The Marlin 336 is the second most popular lever action rifle ever built, only behind the Winchester 1894 in sales. Like the 1894, the 336 is chambered for the .30-30 Winchester round. The main difference between the 336 and the 1894 is the fact that the shells eject out of the side on the 336, while they eject through the top of the receiver on the 1894. This means that the 336 has the option for adding optics such as a scope or a red dot if you so desire. Furthermore, the grip on the 336 is usually curved, whereas on the 1894 the grip is usually straight. Just keep in mind that the .30-30 is more of a mid range caliber. It’s great for deer or black bear within ranges of a hundred and fifty yards or so, but beyond that you’ll want to switch to something else.
The Springfield M1903 is a bolt action rifle chambered in .30-06 Springfield. It was the standard issue service rifle for the American military in World War I, and continued to be used as a sniper rifle into World War I and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The M1903 is heavily based off of the Mauser action, to the point that Mauser successfully sued Springfield. As a result, during World War I, Springfield was forced to pay Mauser royalties, even though America and Germany were on opposite sides during the war. The M1903 is no longer being made today, but is a heavy presence in the surplus market, both in the original and sporterized configurations.
The Tikka brand is owned by Sako as a cheaper option to their other lines of rifles such as the Model 85. Many consider the Tikka T3X to be the very best hunting rifle for the money in this day and age. The rifle is available in several different configurations and calibers. The T3 was released in 2003, while the T3X was introduced in 2016 as an upgrade over the T3. However, all parts are interchangeable between the two rifles. The T3X feeds with a detachable box magazine for faster reloads. But the real standouts of the rifle include the incredibly light and crisp trigger, smooth bolt operation, and the guaranteed 1 MOA accuracy right out of the box, which is something that many other hunting rifles don’t offer.
The Winchester Model 70 is known as the ‘Rifleman’s Rifle’ and with good reason. The M70 rifles manufactured before 1964, often referred to as the Pre-64 Model 70s, are regarded as being some of the very finest bolt action rifles ever built. They were very expensive due to being handmade rather than utilizing modern day CNC machining. The Model 70s built since then are still held in high regard, however. Today the Model 70 is available in virtually any caliber you can imagine and a wide variety of different configurations as well, though they also definitely fetch high prices. The Model 70 is known as well for its three position safety that many other rifles such as the Ruger Model 77 have copied. The first position renders the action and trigger inoperable, the second position frees up the action but still prevents the trigger from firing, and the third position allows the weapon to fire.
The Marlin 1895 is a big bore lever action chambered in .45-70 Government, and is often employed as a guide gun. In other words, it’s a rifle that hunting or hiking guides will often carry and use for defense in quick encounters with big game. The .45-70 delivers a significant level of kick, but is also powerful enough to drop anything in North America, though granted the .45-70 is also definitely a mid range caliber, and you would be wise to switch to something else for ranges beyond a hundred and fifty yards.
The Mossberg Patriot was built by Mossberg to be quality on a budget. The rifle is often sold as a combo with the rifle and a scope made by Vortex for a very low price point, and usually under half a grand. It’s not as refined or smooth as the Mauser action such as the ones on the Winchester Model 70, but it’s still a very solid action and perfectly serviceable for the money.
The Ruger Gunsite Scout is a .308 bolt action rifle based off of the Scout rifle design devised by Jeff Cooper. Basically, Cooper envisioned a mid-length, carbine rifle in the .308 Winchester caliber with a bolt action, scope mounted forward of the receiver, and detachable box magazine. Such a rifle, Cooper argued, would be the ‘one rifle to own if you could only have one.’ Today many manufactures make rifles that are based off of the original Scout design, but the Gunsite Scout is one of the most famous and popular. It’s based off of the Model 77 action, and accepts detachable three round, five round, or ten round magazines.
The Winchester 1894 is the bestselling sporting rifle in history, having sold well over one million units since its introduction in the early 1890s. The most popular configuration of the 1894 is in the .30-30 Winchester round, but it is routinely available in a myriad of other calibers as well. The reason for the immense success of the 1894 is because of its light weight, classic design by John Browning, and near perfect balance. The 1894 is a great option for deer hunting, as a brush gun, or as a truck gun. There is also a shorter model available called the Trapper. The standard 1894 has a twenty inch barrel and magazine tube, while the Trapper measures sixteen inches for greater convenience in tight conditions, but also along with the sacrifice of one bullet and greater muzzle flash.
There are many who call the Sako Model 85 to be the greatest hunting rifle ever built. It’s no wonder then that the 85 is routinely available for around two grand a piece. The Model 85 is in use as both a tactical and hunting rifle, and is notable for its very high quality construction, smooth bolt, and excellent balance for a hunting rifle. It’s available in both blued and stainless steel configurations, and iron sights are an option for the blued model.
The Winchester 1895 is a big bore lever action rifle that was designed by John Browning. The 1895 is still being made today, only with the addition of an ambidextrous tang safety behind the receiver. The 1895 is notable for being loaded with a box magazine inside of the receiver, in contrast to having a loading gate like most other Winchester rifles had. The reason for this is because the 1895 was designed to fire calibers with pointed tips, in contrast to the soft tips of smaller rounds such as the .30-30 Winchester in the 1894. Examples of calibers the 1895 is or was chambered in include .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, 7.62x54r, and .405 Winchester. It was the signature rifle of Theodore Roosevelt, who often wielded it on his hunting trips and praised it highly, especially against lions in Africa.
The Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye is essentially Ruger’s answer to the Remington Model 700 and Winchester Model 70. The action is based off of the Mauser action just like the Winchester Model 70, and like both rifles, it is available in a very wide variety of different configurations as well. Today the Model 77 is in its third configuration as the Hawkeye, with previous versions being referred to as the Mark I and the Mark II.