Even if the world evolved and these days we enjoy spending our holiday camping or simply laying in the sun and spending time with our families, we still have the hunter gene buried deep in us. The thrill of the hunt is deeply encoded in our brains given the fact that hunting was the basic (and probably the first) occupation our ancestors had. They needed food and something to cover their naked, fragile bodies and through hunting they managed to cover these basic needs.
For thousands of years, before they discovered agriculture and animal taming, hunting was their only way of providing food for their families which is why, even today, you feel the thrill running through you veins when you touch the cold still of a hunting rifle.
This is also one of the main reasons why hunting remains even today one of our favorite sports. We still remember the adrenaline rush of stocking the pray, cornering it and then finally putting it down.
Now, that we’ve manage to put you in a hunting mood (hopefully) we’re going to stir this discussion towards hunting rifles, because we know that every good hunter loves to praise with his gun. To be more specific, today we’re going to discuss deer hunting rifles. Regardless of his (or her) level of experience, every hunter needs to find that best deer rifle that will help him win the biggest trophy there is.
The deer is more difficult to catch than a rabbit or a squirrel. She may be bigger (which doesn’t necessary means she’s easier to hit) but she is more agile and careful with the environment around. She’s also feisty (well, the male is) and if you miss the shot you may find yourself in front of an angry pair of horns. You don’t want to be going deer hunting and go back home empty handed and with horn holes in your pants. Check out our tips and what weapons to use to make deer hunting safe.
Returning to our main subject today, the best deer rifle, you have to know that each hunter is different. This is why, before purchasing your own deer rifle, you need to study the market a bit. To make your decision a bit easier, we put together a small list with the most popular rifles out there.
The most popular deer rifles among hunters
If you’re a beginner, you may live under the impression that a hunter has only one rifle for deer hunting. Well, if you’re not the kind of guy who travels a lot and you do your hunting in the same area most of the time, then this may be true, but hunters love to explore and discover new grounds and types of pray.
They need a new challenge as they get more experienced. That’s why they get the riffle according to the hunt.
Characteristics to look for when buying your first rifle
Being a beginner is hard in any domain; you don’t really know what’s going on, and you have no idea what tools go for what job. When you’re a beginner hunter all you know is that you’re going to need a gun to shoot something with it. Well, it’s not that simple; there are a lot of guns out there and a lot of rogue merchants that are ready to fool you into a so called “good deal”.
Here’s a small list with a few pointers that should help you choose a decent deer hunting rifle:
- The caliber – it’s very important because you need a certain caliber to put down a deer. Small caliber rifles are perfect for a more experienced shooter because they require perfect accuracy. They will put the deer down in no time but you need to shoot for the kill. Bigger caliber leave room for error which makes them more fit for less experienced shooters.
- The style – each hunter has its own shooting style which is why there are several styles of rifles on the market. There are: single-shot, lever-action, semiautomatic, pump and bolt-action rifles.
- The scope – many deer hunters prefer to hunt with a scope attached to their rifle. This way, they invest more in the scope which allows them to buy a cheaper rifle. This is more up to you. If you’re a beginner a good rifle and a good scope can be of tremendous help out there, in the woods. We have a great set of reviews on the best rifle scope to use so don’t hesitate to take a look.
- The price – your budget is as important as the caliber. We recommend to start small and look for the right hunting rifle. There’s no need to invest big money from your first rifle; there will be others for sure.
These are the main characteristics you should look for when buying a hunting rifle but remember: a good hunter looks for the right rifle his entire life. You need to find that rifle that is an extension of your body, the one that is so comfortable that you forget you hold in your hands. Only then you’ll be able to feel the real thrill of the hunt.
Before you embark on your hunting expedition, check out our review of the best hunting app for your mobile phone to make the experience worthwhile.
The Remington 700
It’s a very popular rifle in America and it’s the best deer hunting rifle a beginner could have. The Model 700’s history starts in 1962 and continues until present days when it’s still being produced. The gun looks sexy enough for a hunter to feel proud of his acquisition and it has light recoil and good accuracy which makes it great for beginners.
The Remington 700 is a pure American weapon produced by Remington Arms, a company with tradition in America that activates from 1816 up until our days. Their guns are known all over the world as they sell besides bolt action rifles like the Model 700, semiautomatic and pump action rifles and shotguns.
The Remington 700 however is among the rifles that made history and this is due to its durability, accuracy, and ease of use thanks to its unique shape and qualities.
This model started as the gun of choice for military snipers and ended up as being one of the best deer hunting rifles on the market.
The budget: this amazing rifle can be found from $600 and up. Just make sure that you’re actually buying a Remington 700 and don’t let anyone tempt you with lower prices. Anything that goes under the market price is not a bargain it’s just a bad rifle.
You can add a good scope to it and start shooting or you can choose to add some of the aftermarket gadgets but don’t try too hard; the Remington already has a very sexy design and it doesn’t need much improvement.
The Browning BAR Mark II lightweight Stalker
This is a rifle that wasn’t thought as a war weapon. No soldier used this weapon in combat as it was created with a hunter’s needs in mind. The BAR Lightweight Stalker is one of the best auto-loading deer hunting rifles on the market with amazing precision and reliability.
This is also a good rifle for beginners if you add a good scope to it. The fact that it is gas operated makes the recoil to be less strong which helps with the accuracy of the shot. Every first shooter felt that recoil coming back, and if you’re not careful you can hurt yourself pretty bad – this being the main reason why soft recoil guns are preferred by rookies.
We said that the rifle was build considering a hunter’s needs. To prove that we have to inform you that this is a light and powerful rifle due to the aluminum alloy receiver and a steel bolt with a rotating head that locks right in the barrel. As a hunter, you need to be able to sneak on your pray and carrying a heavy gun may be an impediment.
When it comes to caliber, this gun comes in 243 Winchester, 300 Winchester Magnum, 270 Winchester, 308 Winchester, 30-06, 300 WSM, 270WSM, 338 Winchester Magnum, and 7mm WSM.
Other important features that this amazing rifle should have when purchasing it: gas operated auto-loader, detachable box magazine, multi-lug rotary bolt, recoil pad. The standard design is a matte black finish and the price usually ranges between $1000 and $1400.
The Marlin 336C
The Marlin 336C is one of the most popular deer hunting rifles of all times. This rifle manages to create an amazing balance between ease of handling, firepower and portability like no other deer rifle can. It has a 20 inch barrel with 12-groove Micro-Groove rifling, moderate recoil and magazine capacity that allows the hunter to get the pray fast and smoothly.
The Marlin 336C is a lever action carbine with an overall length of 38.5 inches and a weight of approximately 7 pounds. It’s very easy to mount a scope on top and thus improve your hunting performance by at least 50%.
Other design features that make this rifle unique are the solid top receiver that is drilled in order to add in strength and for easy scope mounting, forged steel pats and fine-cut checkering, and pistol grip stock made from American black walnut.
The calibers used for the Marlin 336C are the .30-30 Winchester and the .35 Remington. Here the opinions are divided: some hunters prefer the .35 Remington in their rifle and some hunters say that the .30-30 offers the perfect combination of recoil, trajectory, accuracy, and kill power. The truth is that the .35 Remington is mostly used for large game like a boar or a bear.
There are two Marlin 336C models on the market:
- The Stainless Steel finish that costs around $650;
- The Blued finish that costs around $530.
The Ruger American
Another great American deer hunting rifle produced by a company with tradition! The Ruger American is a bolt action style rifle with very good accuracy and a great selling price (about $400 for a basic model).
The main characteristics that make this Ruger an amazing hunting rifle are as follows: an innovative bedding system with a good, hammer forged barrel, a marksman adjustable trigger, a drilled and tapped scope bases, lightweight stock, and a three-lug action that runs very smooth directly from the shoulder (not many bolt guns do that).
With the affordable price and all these amazing features you would say that the Ruger American is the rifle any hunter dreams at. Well, this may be true if hunters weren’t so keen on aesthetics.
The Ruger American (the basic model) is not very sexy and when you hold it for the first time it doesn’t make you want to go shooting like other, better looking, rifles do. It’s an amazing deer hunting rifle, but it doesn’t have the looks. If you’re a “what’s inside matters” kind of guy then this is definitely the gun for you.
Caliber: The Ruger American comes chambered with .243 Winchester, 30-06 Sprg, .270 Winchester, and 308 Winchester.
The Weatherby Mark V
This rifle comes in two models: Accumark and Deluxe. The Weatherby Mark V Accumark is a bolt-action long rifle that promotes accuracy, handling, and craftsmanship (the main features any Weatherby gun has).
Another feature that makes this rifle any deer hunter’s dream is the slick design. The Mark V Accumark has a very sexy contour with a Bell & Carlson hand laminated composite stock, a modeled-in aluminum bedding plate, 24 inches matted stainless steel No.3 Krieger Criterion barrel, and an overall length of 44 inches.
The Weatherby amazing performance is completed by the target muzzle crown, the Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad, forged, machined receiver with integral recoil lug, and user adjustable trigger mechanism.
The price varies according to the caliber and you can see the difference in the table below:
.300 Weatherby Magnum
.30-378 Weatherby Magnum
The Weatherby Mark V Deluxe promotes everything that made Weatherby legendary in the world of guns. The Mark V Deluxe is an extremely beautiful hunting rifle with high-luster blued barreled action, Claro walnut stock, fully tuned trigger, fine-line checkered patterns, visual cocking indicator, maple grip cap inlay and forearm tip.
The Mark V Deluxe model from Weatherby is available in the following calibers:
- .22-250 to .460 Weatherby Magnum;
- standard long range calibers like .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .25-06, .280 Remington;
- ultra-long range calibers: .257, .240, .270 Weatherby Magnum.
Each Mark V Deluxe rifle is guaranteed to shoot a three-shot group of 1.5 inches or better at 100 yards using premium factory ammo from a cold barrel. This kind of accuracy can be reached due to radius field muzzle crowns and positive cartridge extraction which allows the fired cases to be ejected without pulling the bolt all the way back.
The budget: according to the caliber, the price ranges from $3000 to $4500. As you can see the price doesn’t make this beautiful gun affordable to everyone but it’s a very smart investment once you decide to make it. The gun is perfect and you’ll get to use the legendary Weatherby performance in a beautiful casing for life.
The Nosler M48 Patriot
If you’re not the kind of hunter who is reminiscent for old times and guns with tradition, the Nosler M48 Patriot is the gun for you. This is a bolt action rifle built by hunters and shooters for hunters and shooters. Even though the gun was new in 2014, it received top honors in the Outdoor Life annual gun test of that year, and it already has a reputation for fantastic performance and reliability. Of course that part of this reputation comes from the mother ship, Nosler, but the rest is built based on gun’s capabilities and performance.
The fiberglass stock is lightweight and it has a nice all-weather finish done by Cerakote on all external components so the gun will be ready to work in any weather conditions. The free-floated match-grade stainless steel barrel, the trigger that is perfectly hand tuned and glass and aluminum –pillar bedding make it one of the most accurate deer hunting rifles on the market. The soft recoil pad makes sure that even the worst of recoils are being tamed which also makes the M48 best for beginners and hunters who enjoy a good, high tech, modern weapon. See our review of the best hunting gear for your survival needs for more information.
Older hunters, with a lot of experience on their hands seem to prefer guns with tradition that passed the test of time and still work at the best of their capabilities. Still, it’s no shame to want a modern weapon with all sorts of cool gadgets that allow you to customize it to your own taste. The cool gadgets take off some of the pressure and can even make you a better hunter (if that’s possible). It’s true that, as a hunter, you need to rely on all your senses but a few gadgets can be of great help in the woods.
So, if you’re looking for something modern, the Nosler M48 Patriot’s price starts from $1750. It’s not cheap, we know, but this is a life time investment. Even more, if you’re still a beginner, we suggest you take a look at our article on deer hunting tips.
We hope that regardless of the type of deer hunting rifle you prefer and level of experience, with the information presented in this article, we helped you in the tedious and difficult process of choosing the best hunting rifle. Don’t forget to check out article on how to get a hunting and fishing license, it’s a must-read.