There is no quarter given with this list. We’ve compiled a collection of the best deer rifles on the market today for every type of hunting, whether you’re stalking whitetails in a cedar swamp or crisscrossing miles of open prairie for mule deer.
Yes, a basic .30/06 bolt rifle will suffice for the vast majority of deer excursions, but having the appropriate tool for the job has its advantages. Sometimes this entails using an extra-accurate rifle to make long shots or a lightweight outfit for transporting up a mountain. And occasionally, hunting regulations won’t allow you to use any centerfire firearm. So whatever sort of deer hunting you do, you’ll discover the right rifle on this list.
Beanfield Sniper: Remington Sendero SF II
The Sendero has a heavy 26-inch barrel designed to extract as much velocity as possible from flat-shooting rounds for long, precise shots. The rifle is hefty—with a scope, it’ll weigh more than 10 pounds—but the Sendero is ideal if you have a short walk to your stand or don’t mind humping a big rig. The HS Precision stock aids inaccuracy. It’s now available in 7mm Rem. Mag., .300 Win. Mag., and .300 Rem. Ultramag., although there are used weapons available in the underappreciated .264 Win. Now
Timber Classic: Marlin 336C
Bolt-action rifles account for the most significant number of guns sold today and are popular among hunters. Anyone who believes a bolt action is a disadvantage has never seen one operated by someone who understands how to do it. They can be quick; all it takes is practice.
Bolt guns are incredibly sturdy and quick to target with a low-powered scope. Bolt-action firearms come in a wide range of model variations. They should be light, simple to transport, and fire a powerful cartridge in the woods. Most hunters usually choose a shorter barrel.
My favorite bolt-action hunting rifle in the North Country is the Remington Model Seven. This gun is light and compact. The receiver is shorter than the full-size Remington Model 700 SA, and the barrel is 20 inches long. This lowers weight while still making it a pleasure to use in thick vegetation because of the stainless/synthetic model’s reduced weight. .308 Win. is an excellent choice, but don’t overlook .300 WSM Recoil in this little rifle isn’t too bad, but big deer can be destroyed with this cartridge.
My favorite Model Seven is a CDL in.350 Remington Magnum. I once killed a massive black bear end-to-end with a.350 Rem Mag using 200-grain Barnes bullets and hand loads. However, Remington discontinued the cartridge because of its excessive recoil.
Alpine Shooter: Sako Finnlight
The Sako Finnlight has excellent accuracy and dependability, which aren’t always the case with rifles with thin barrels and other weight-saving features. Lightweight often comes at the cost of performance, but that isn’t the case with the 6-pound Finnlight.
This weapon has been used a lot, yet it still produces tight clusters. It is available in various excellent calibers, including the .260 Rem., .270 WSM, 6.5×55 SE, and 7mm Rem. Mag., but I believe the .308 stands out as the finest due to its mild recoil, verified killing capacity, and wide selection of accurate loads.
All-Purpose All-Star: Weatherby Vanguard Series 2
The Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 is the finest all-around big-game bolt gun on the market. These guns achieve a perfect balance of price, accuracy, handling, and quality. After shooting my .308, one of my hunting buddies became so taken with it that he bought four Vanguards for his entire family. With the introduction of the Series 2, Weatherby made several improvements to an already fantastic rifle—a better trigger and stock as well as a handy three-position safety—taking what was already a great firearm and making it exceptional.
Vanguards are available in various calibers and configurations, but if you want a simple working rifle for any deer, the Stainless Synthetic is the way to go. It can handle strict usage and harsh weather, and Weatherby’s accuracy guarantee ensures that you can depend on the gun to perform its part in helping you hit your aim.
Penny-Pincher: Ruger American
I’ve shot at least a half-dozen Ruger American variants since they debuted, and every single one of them is absurdly accurate and sells for less than other gunmakers can handle. For around $400, Ruger has developed a rifle with a decent barrel and an innovative bedding system that is also well-priced. It has a variable trigger and a three-lug action free of any hiccups, both of which are unusual in many semi-custom bolt guns. The rifle includes Weaver scope bases, allowing it to be even more inexpensive.
The one drawback with the rifle is its looks, which isn’t a huge thing considering the value it provides. The stock feels a little flimsy in hand, and although it’s not a hunter who’d hang it on the wall for its looks, it’s not an aesthetically pleasing gun by any means. Perhaps this is a good thing. If Ruger could make the American into something beautiful on top of all of its other benefits, other manufacturers would most certainly give up in frustration.
Small-Plot Smasher: Ambush 300 Blackout
On small tracts of private property, hunters require a rifle that can quickly dispatch an animal. This is when the advantages of an AR with a large caliber become clear. A deer that reaches the ground where the hunter does not have permission to search may be difficult to recover.
The Ambush 300 Blackout is an excellent choice for this type of activity. Supersonic .30-caliber rounds are the most common choice among hunters. These projectiles, which weigh about 115 to 125 grains and travel at speeds of up to 2,200 fps or more, are fired by numerous types of guns. These rounds are deadly out to 200 yards and, given the Ambush’s modest recoil and semi-automatic mode, fast follow-up shots are feasible if required.
The Ambush includes a threaded 16-inch barrel, so if the hunter wants to save his hearing and be less of a nuisance to anybody who resides nearby, it’s simple to attach a sound suppressor.
First-Timer: Outfit H&R Handi Rifle
The H&R Handi Rifle is as basic as it gets. When a deer gun is put into the hands of a young or inexperienced hunter, simplicity is what one wants. The action on the H&R Handi Rifle is unlocked by flipping up a small lever on the rear of the receiver. He leaves for hunting as soon as he drops a round in the chamber and shuts the pistol. Before aiming, the hunter must cock the hammer, which takes but a few seconds. There’s nothing complicated to remember or make mistakes with.
The exposed hammer makes it simple to verify the loaded rifle’s condition, which is a welcome feature. Triggers on these guns are excellent as well, and they’re pretty accurate. There’s something to be said for a one-shot single-loader that emphasizes accuracy and marksmanship when the trigger is pulled.
The .223 Remington, for example, is an excellent choice for young hunters because it’s available in a variety of calibers, including the popular .44 Magnum and other magnum calibers. The.223 Remington isn’t as powerful as some rifle calibers, but it has less recoil than many other cartridges making it an excellent choice for youngsters.
Slug-Zone Specialist: Savage M220 Stainless Camo
I used one of these bolt-action slug guns to assist a blind hog hunter in Texas kill hogs while looking over his shoulder through a high-powered scope mounted high above the barrel. We were able to knock down several pigs by whispering across the field. These weapons are accurate, as is everything Savage produces, and they include Savage’s Accu-Trigger on board.
The 20-gauge chamber of this rifle makes it a good choice for those who wish to hunt small game. Because these projectiles are softer to fire than 12-gauge rounds, no buck you might hit would survive. The rifles feature a detachable box magazine with two rounds and a basic black synthetic stock or a stainless and camo paint job, which is more expensive.
Muzzleloading Workhorse: Thompson/Center Pro Hunter FX
Basing my personal experience and knowledge of the best muzzleloaders on what I’ve learned from others, I believe that there are certain features to look for when shopping for a good one. It’s difficult to choose the “best” muzzleloader because many exceptional ones are on the market. The T/C Pro Hunter FX is my selection. These rifles are well-made, simple to maintain and operate, have comfortable stocks and ergonomics, and have a proven track record, making them an excellent choice for black powder hunting.
The open sights on the Pro Hunter perform adequately in areas that prohibit scopes. The stock’s recoil-dampening system, which comprises a series of squishy strips that compress under recoil, also works effectively. While I don’t care for guns with finger grooves molded into the stock, the ones on the Pro Hunter are comfortable and aid in hand alignment for a fabulous trigger squeeze. The Pro Hunter FX comes standard with a 26″ barrel, a breech plug that can be easily removed by hand, and an excellent trigger.
Open-Country Stalker: Nosler M48 Patriot
The 26 Nosler is a recent arrival in the medium-size game hunting world, and it has hunters from all around the globe raving about its barrel-smoking ballistics. The first loads available in this 6.5mm caliber are a 129-grain AccuBond Longrange at 3,400 fps and a 140-grain AccuBond at 3,300 fps from Nosler. It’s challenging to do better than this for a hard-hitting long-range hunting round.
However, the ballistics and ammunition are just a portion of the tale. The M48 Patriot, the rifle Nosler is manufacturing for the new round, is a great bolt gun. Every component on the gun is excellent, and it’s easy to see that the craftsmen who designed and constructed the M48s were hunters and shooters. The triggers are unique, and the barrels are accurate, the stocks are well proportioned and sturdy and stiff, and so on.