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Top 6 Best Deer Hunting Rifle Reviews Of 2017

The feeling of pride and satisfaction that comes with bringing back your own caught deer for dinner is intoxicating. However, deer hunting is not as easy as just picking a rifle and firing on a deer, no sir. There is a lot to consider when going deer hunting, the most important being what type of rifle to use.

Not every rifle out there is suited for deer hunting. The success of your hunt will depend on the type of rifle you use. And that’s not all; the rifle you use will dictate how humane your kill is. Therefore, there is a lot you have to think about before settling on a particular rifle to take on a deer hunt.

Also, you need to know which rifles are suited for deer hunting and which ones are not. Some rifles lack the stopping power required to take down a fully grown deer. On the other hand, some rifles are so powerful that using them on a deer is not only inhuman but also wasteful. To help you find the best deer hunting rifle, I have compiled a list of useful tips on what to look for in the best rifle for deer hunting. Also, I have compiled a list of six rifles that I believe are amongst the best for deer hunting.

There are all kinds of firearms out there designed for hunting, from muzzleloaders to shotguns. And to help you choose the best rifle for deer hunting, I relied heavily on user reviews, my own personal experiences with some of the rifles, and on the opinions of expert deer hunters. Therefore, this article is contains everything bit of information about deer hunting rifles I could find both online and offline. I selected the six rifles reviewed below based on their overall performance, what users had to say about them, and on my experiences with some of them.

Best Hunting Rifles

Cartridge

Weight

Barrel Length

Overall Length

Price

Winchester XPR Hunter Rifle

.30-06 Springfield

.270 Winchester and others

7 lb

24 inch

44.5 inch

$$$

Christensen Arms Mesa

6.5mm Creedmoor and Others

6.25 lb

24 inch

46 inch

$$$$

Sako 85 Finnlight ST Bolt-Action Rifles

.308 Winchester

6.17 lb

20.5 inch

40.6 inch

$$$$

Savage Arms MSR 10 Hunter Semiautomatic Tactical Rifles

.308 Winchester

7.8 lb

16.125 inch

35 - 39 inch

$$$$

Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Bolt-Action Rifles

.243 Winchester

6.75 lb

22 inch

42.25 inch

$$$

Remington 700 ADL Bolt-Action Rifle

.30-06 Springfield

7.375 lb

24 inch

44.5 inch

$$$

Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout Bolt-Action Rifles

.308 Winchester

7.1 lb

16.1 inch

38 - 39.5 inch

$$$

Marlin Model 336 Lever-Action Rifles

.30-30 Winchester

7 lb

20 inch

38 - 39.5 inch

$$$


What To Look For In A Deer Hunting Rifle

Before going out and buying a rifle for deer hunting, it is important that you know what to look for in a deer hunting rifle. This will help you know which is the best rifle for deer hunting. There are many things to look for in a deer hunting rifle, however, in this article, I have focused on the main ones.

Right Caliber

The best hunting rifle caliber is one that is suited for your terrain. Basically, this means that you should settle on a rifle that is right for the kind of terrain you hunt in. If you hunt in areas with thick cover or bushes, then a rifle with either a 30/30 or a .35 caliber will do. In terrains with thick cover, you will most probably be shooting at deer from 20 to 25 yards out. However, if you hunt in open areas with no or little cover, then a rifle with a 30-06 caliber will do. A 30.06 caliber rifle will come in handy when you are firing from over 100 yards.

Barrel Construction

Deer hunting is an activity that exposes you and your rifle to harsh weather conditions. That being the case, the best rifle for hunting deer need to be tough and incapable of rusting. The barrel is the one part that is more exposed to harsh weather than all other parts. As such, it is important that you pick a rifle whose barrel is made of an alloy. Alloy metals do not corrode and thus will withstand harsh weather. Apart from the construction material, the barrel design will also be an important factor to consider. I recommend choosing a rifle with a free-floating barrel design. This means the barrel and the stock do not touch at any point. This kind of design the accuracy of your shot.

Action Type

There is a reason why many experienced hunters use old World War 2 style rifles for deer hunts, and that reason is the action of these rifles. The best deer hunting rifle is one with either a bolt or lever action. These types of rifles are easy and safe to use as you can keep track of all your used cartridges.

In particular, lever action rifles are usually light making them easy to carry around. While semi-automatic rifles are used for deer hunting, their complex action mechanisms make them not ideal for beginners.

Basically, lever and bolt action rifles allow you to manually open the end of your barrel rifle or breech and load or unload cartridges. This means you will not have to worry about accidentally firing your rifle. For beginners, I recommend going with bolt action rifles as they are more accurate than lever action rifles.

Weight

Thanks to advancements in technology, modern rifles are constructed using lightweight composite materials such as 6061—Aircraft aluminum and others. This means that there are many lightweight rifles out there and I have included some of the best lightweight deer hunting rifles. As a deer hunter, stick to lightweight rifles as they will not weigh you down.

Scope

Some hunting rifles come with pre-installed rifle scopes. And while it is hard to find a rifle with the best rifle scope for deer hunting pre-installed, there are some that have pretty good ones. So it is important that you examine the quality of your rifle’s pre-installed rifle scope.


The Best Rifles For Deer Hunting Reviews


Winchester XPR Hunter Rifle

Winchester® XPR Hunter Bolt-Action Rifles in Vias Camo

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The Winchester Pre-1964 Model 70 is perhaps the best deer hunting rifle for the money ever made. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive. Thankfully, Winchester released a modern version and cheaper of the iconic Model 70 in 2015. Dubbed the Winchester XPR, the latter maintains the performance of its ancestor at an affordable price. I got to test the new Winchester XPR, and I have to say it is a fantastic weapon. I was particularly impressed with the rifle’s large bolt action that makes it easy to use.

Features

  • 24-inch chrome steel barrel; this barrels has a free-floating design that improves accuracy and is made of a material that does not corrode, or rust thus can withstand harsh weather
  • 30-06 caliber, which ideal for long range shooting
  • 7-pound weight. This rifle is lightweight and will not weigh you down
  • Synthetic stock. While synthetic stocks are not the best, the stock on this rifle feels very well made and is comfortable

Pros

  • The rifle looks and feels very well made for its price
  • It can withstand harsh weather conditions thanks to its chrome steel construction
  • Offers great value for money
  • Is ideal for long range shooting

Cons

  • The trigger feels heavy

Verdict

The new XPR rifle from Winchester looks and performs like a modern version of the trusted Model 70. That being said, I enjoyed firing this rifle and feel that it offers a lot with regards to deer hunting.


Christensen Arms Mesa

Christensen Arms Mesa

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The Christensen Arms mesa is one rifle I consider to be versatile and a top performer. This rifle is the perfect weapon to use in open fields. Reason being that it is designed for long-range shooting and supports different bullets with the stopping power required to take down a deer. When using this rifle, you can choose to use the .450 Bushmaster round, the 6.5 Creedmoor or the popular 7mm-08 Remington. The rifle also comes in two barrel lengths, there is the 26-inch barrel variant, and there is the 24-inch barrel variant. While the 24-inch barrel is designed for the 6.5 Creedmoor, the 26 inch is designed for the .300 Winchester.

Features

  • 24-26 inch Stainless steel barrel: Since the barrel is made of stainless steel it does not corrode or rust and can, therefore, survive harsh conditions
  • Side baffle muzzle brake: Apart from having a sleek look, this muzzle brake is installed to cut down on felt recoil, which improves your shot’s accuracy and precision
  • Carbon fiber composite stock: The stock looks very well made and adds to the durability and lightweight of the rifle, which weighs 6.25 pounds
  • Wide dual ejector: This ejector makes it easy to unload spent cartridges and makes loading of cartridges easy

Pros

  • Is made from high-quality materials such as stainless steel and carbon fiber, and is thus a durable rifle
  • Can be used with a host of different long-range rounds
  • The rifle is accurate and precise thanks to its free-floating barrel design
  • Can be used for long range as well as short range shooting
  • Does not have much of a recoil
  • The rifle is lightweight

Cons

  • It is quite pricey
  • It has an internal magazine with a capacity of 4 rounds only

Verdict

Sure, the Mesa is not the cheapest deer hunting rifle out there; however, we all know that quality is expensive. Therefore, when I match the rifle’s features against its price tag, I believe that it is well worth it. In conclusion, this is the rifle I recommend to anyone engaged in long-range shooting especially in open fields. In essence, this could pass for the best deer hunting rifle for the money.


Sako 85 Finnlight ST Bolt-Action Rifles

Sako 85 Finnlight ST Bolt-Action Rifles

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The Sako 85 Finnlight ST Bolt-Action rifle has been causing quite a buzz in the recent past. I sought to find out what the fuss was all about and bought myself a brand new Sako 85 rifle. At first glance, the rifle looks fantastic, with its black matte finish and grey highlights. When I first held it, it felt well-proportioned, and its construction was of high quality. The main reason why I have to rely on this rifle on most of my hunts is its ease of use. The tear-drop knob of the 2.5 inch bolt handle is easy to use. And it gets better the bolt has an indicator that lights red when the rifle is cocked.

Features

  • 20.5 inch fluted barrel: This barrel aids in the dispersion of heat and adds to the lightweight design of the rifle
  • 2.5 inch round design bolt: The bolt makes the rifle reliable especially since it lowers the cartridge feeding angle
  • FinSoft rubber recoil pad system: This system reduces the amount of recoil thus improving the rifle’s accuracy
  • Stainless steel construction that guarantees durability and reliability in all weather conditions​​​​

Pros

  • Has the right combination of features
  • It is a lightweight and easy to use rifle
  • Supports different calibers from the .25-06 to the 30-06 cartridge
  • Has a non-reflective stainless steel finish meaning it will not give your position away
  • Comes with a comfortable synthetic stock

Cons

  • It is quite expensive
  • The butt feels a bit hollow

Verdict

Similar to the Mesa, this is a rifle that will seem pricey to most people. Nevertheless, its quality and features show that it is well worth the price. Thus, if you can afford this rifle, it is one rifle I strongly recommend to any hunter who takes their hunting seriously.


Savage Arms MSR 10 Hunter Semiautomatic Tactical Rifles

Savage Arms MSR 10 Long Range

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At first glance, the Savage Arms MSR 10 semiautomatic tactical rifle does not look like a deer hunting rifle, especially since it is a semiautomatic rifle. And with a design similar to that of the popular AR 15, this rifle is more than capable of taking down a deer. So why is it on this list yet I have stated that semiautomatic rifles are not ideal for deer hunting beginners. For starters, it comes with a six-position adjustable stock. This means it can be used by people of all stature. Also, it has a 16-inch free floating barrel, which adds to its accuracy and lightweight design.

Features

  • Six-position adjustable but stock; With this stock, you can adjust to your preferred length to accommodate your stature or additional clothing
  • 16.125 inch free floating design barrel: This barrel improves accuracy and has an M-Lok handguard that makes installing a rifle scope easy.
  • Knoxx AR pistol grip: This grip makes handling the gun easy especially for long range shooting
  • Magpul P Gen3 PMa: The magazine of this gun can accommodate 20 rounds

Pros

  • The full-length rails of the rifle allows for mounting of all kinds of optics from long scopes to iron sights
  • The trigger of this rifle is much better than those of other AR 10 style rifles
  • Supports different popular caliber rounds including the .308 and the 6.5 Creedmoor
  • The rifle is lightweight weighing between 7.5 pounds and 8 pounds
  • Can be used for both long and short range shooting
  • Works well in varying weather conditions and temperatures

Cons

  • Being a tactical semiautomatic rifle it might not be easy to use for beginners
  • The 16-inch barrel tends to suck velocity of .308 rounds

Verdict

For hunters looking for a gun that packs a punch and can be used for hunting as well as self-defense, this savage arms rifle is the one for them. It has all the features you would expect from a tactical rifle based on the AR 10 design. However, it has some extra features you will not find in other AR 10 style rifles.


Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Bolt-Action Rifles

Winchester® Model 70 Featherweight Bolt-Action Rifles

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The Winchester Model 70 is one of the most iconic rifles in the history of firearms. The rifle was used extensively in combat situations in the early 1950s and 1960s. Today, this iconic rifle is available in quite a number of variations. One of the variations is the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Bolt-action rifle. The latter rifle maintains the largely wooden construction of its famous predecessor and adds a touch of modernity. What makes this rifle a great option for hunters is that it is lighter than the original Model 70.

Features

  • 22 inch CNC machined steel barrel, that gives it its durability and ensures it performs in all kinds of conditions
  • Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad that reduces the recoil of the rifle
  • Checkered walnut stock; the checkered walnut stock looks fantastic and feels very good to hold
  • Three position safety: The safety allows for locking the firing pin but allows for operation of the bolt for checking or loading of cartridges

Pros

  • The rifle looks good and feels good
  • The rifle comes in a number of chambering for short and long action
  • The rifle is easy and safe to use
  • The rifle has a smooth and light trigger

Cons

  • The finish of the rifle might not be as good as that of the original Model 70

Verdict

Built on the same platform as the original Model 70, this Winchester featherweight rifle is a great option for anyone looking for a rifle that is not as expensive as other rifles. Additionally, this rifle offers all the benefits of the original Model 70, which is a huge plus.


Remington 700 ADL Bolt-Action Rifle

Remington® 700™ ADL Bolt-Action Rifle and Scope Combos

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The Remington 700 line of rifles is one of the most popular, with the Remington 700 ADL being the budget rifle in this line. I got to test a friend’s Remington 700 ADL just to get a feel of its performance. The first thing I loved about the rifle is that it supports a number of different calibers suited for long range shooting. Furthermore, the gun has a matte black finish that gives it a sleek appearance.

Features

  • Black synthetic stock. The stock on this rifle has a rubber molding over the grip and forend, which significantly improves grip especially in wet conditions
  • 24-inch barrel. The barrel has a free floating design and is one of the reasons why this rifle is synonymous with accurate shooting
  • 7.375 pounds weight, as a lightweight rifle, it is easy to carry around and use in the field
  • Boresighted 3-9x40: This scope might not be the best, but it is a great addition to the rifle package

Pros

  • The rifle is lightweight
  • It is offered at a reasonable price
  • Supports different long range calibers such as the .7 mm win mag
  • The rifle is known for accuracy

Cons

  • The installed scope is not ideal for long range shooting.

Verdict

Not everyone can afford to spend thousands of dollars on a rifle. For some of the use, $500 is the most we are able and willing to spend on a rifle. And I believe Remington produced the 700 ADL model for us regular people. It offers great performance at an affordable price. In essence, it is the best hunting rifle under 500.


Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout Bolt-Action Rifles

Ruger® M77 Gunsite Scout Bolt-Action Rifles

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It is very easy to mistake the Ruger M77 Gunsite Scout Bolt-Action rifle for the Winchester M14 carbine. And just like its iconic look-alike, the Ruger packs quite a punch. This bolt action rifle has a lot to offer in terms of performance and shooting accuracy. Moreover, the rifle is a versatile gun that is available with either three, five or ten round capacity magazine. This means the magazine is detachable. The trigger is smooth and has a light trigger pull.

Features

  • LC6 trigger system, the trigger is easy to pull and will not give you any problems
  • 16.1-inch barrel, which is short enough for easy handling of the gun in the field and is long enough for accuracy and has a matte stainless steel finish for optimal protection
  • Laminated sporter stock, this stock is laminated to protect it from harsh weather and looks good
  • Front open sights and one-inch scope rings, the sight give you added accuracy while the scope rings give you the opportunity to install a rifle scope

Pros

  • The rifle is compatible with a variety of calibers
  • It is a lightweight rifle
  • Comes with a detachable magazine for added firing customization
  • Has a matte stainless steel finish that protects it from harsh weather
  • The rifle is lightweight

Cons

  • The rifle would be better with scope mount instead of scope rings
  • The barrel is not fluted

Verdict

Despite its minor drawbacks, the Ruger M77 is a great rifle for hunting. This rifle is particularly ideal for hunters who want to stick with one hunting rifle. Thus if you want only one rifle, I suggest you invest in the quality that this rifle offers.


Marlin Model 336 Lever-Action Rifles

Marlin Model 336W Lever Action Rifle

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The first time you hold a Marlin Model 336 Level-action rifle; there are two things that will attract you, its sleek lines and wooden highlights. The walnut stock is particularly appealing especially if you prefer wooden to synthetic stocks. However, this rifle is just not a good looking gun as it can also take down a fully grown buck. What makes this rifle stand out is how lightweight and nimble it is. Carrying it around in the field will be a breeze.

Features

  • Rubber butt pads: These pads reduce the impact of the gun’s recoil and give you a better firing experience and improved accuracy
  • Semi-buckhorn rear sights: The sights on this rifle are adjustable allowing you to adjust their position on the rifle
  • 20-inch barrel. This rather short barrel is one of the features that are behind the lightweight design of this rifle
  • Tapped receiver. The receives are tapped to allow for easy installation of a rifle scope.

Pros

  • The rifle is durable thanks to its high-quality construction
  • With its features, it is offered at a reasonable price
  • It is easy to mount a rifle scope
  • It is easy to handle and maneuver while hunting

Cons

  • The blue finish of the action might not appeal to some people.

Verdict

There is a reason why the Marlin 336 is a popular hunting rifle, and that reason is that it is easy to handle, lightweight and maneuverable. In addition, the rifle is offered at a reasonable price, meaning it can be used by beginners and professionals.


Conclusion

When it comes to rifles, quality comes at a price. Therefore, when you are in search of the best deer hunting rifle, you must be ready to invest a substantial amount of money. Nevertheless, you do not need to invest thousands of dollars. As seen from the reviews there are some great rifles in the under 500 market. But if you have the money to spend on a quality high-end rifle, there is quite a wider selection of rifles you can choose from. Thus, the rifle market offers something for everyone, and it all depends on your needs and preferences. In conclusion there are many rifles out there; however, not all are designed for deer hunting purposes, but with the ones reviewed above you cannot go wrong.

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