The best big game hunting rifles is capable of firing a cartridge big enough and powerful enough to kill an animal weighing several hundred pounds at various ranges. While there are many solid options, the following are all proven and will not disappoint in the field.
Savage 110 – $900
Savage’s reputation continues to grow for building affordable, factory production rifles that often shoot as accurately – if not better — than custom rifles costing twice the price. Hunters in the market for a big game rifle should look to the Savage 110 family of bolt action rifles, which are available in many specialty models, including the Predator, Bear Hunter, Hog Hunter, Long Range and many others.
An absolute favorite among the 110 actions is the new High Country. The features – spiral fluted bolt, fluted barrel, threaded muzzle, AccuTrigger, AccuFit system, and AccuStock — are all geared toward increased performance, comfort, and accuracy. The thing literally looks as good as it shoots.
Henry Long Ranger – $825
While not many hunters may immediately think of a lever action in a top list for big game rifles, Henry is changing things with the advent of the Henry Long Ranger line of rifles. They are filling a gap in the hunting market for a lever action capable of shooting longer ranges with modern calibers.
When Henry introduced the Long Ranger lever action rifle in .223, .243, and .308, hunters were quick to embrace the platform for everything from varmints to medium sized, or even big game. With the addition of the 6.5 Creedmoor chambering this year, the hot just got hotter. Henry’s Long Ranger is the best lever action for hunting medium-to-large game at ranges only dreamed of with older lever guns.
Weatherby Mark V – $1,800
Sometimes hunters desire something just a little bit different than a regular old rifle or caliber, and Weatherby has things covered in that area. The immediately recognizable, glossy, high-grade Claro Walnut stocks with skip-line checkering define the refined Weatherby Mark V bolt-action rifles. Partnered with a potent Weatherby magnum chambering like the .257 Wby Mag, .300 Wby Mag, or 6.5-300—though standard calibers are also available – set the Weatherby apart.
Of course, the family-run American company builds numerous synthetic stocked models, as well as a pair of very appealing women’s rifles in the Camilla duo. The new Mark V’s come with hand-lapped barrels, an adjustable trigger, and a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. The six or nine-lug bolts, depending upon caliber, are some of the strongest in the business. Plus, Weatherby just completed their move out of California and into a stunning new facility in gun-friendly Sheridan, Wyoming.
Winchester 70 – $1,200
Few bolt action rifles are as instantly recognizable by both name and appearance as the venerable Winchester Model 70. The pre-64 actions, with their controlled round feed and especially noteworthy quality, always fetch a premium on the used market. The Winchester rifle has remained in constant production for decades, and most any of these bolt guns, however, will be a shooter and ready hunting companion. There are many new models available, from stunningly beautiful to completely utilitarian, in just about every big game chambering a hunter could want.
Browning BAR – $1,400
Autoloading rifles seem to summon strong feelings of love or hate among hunters. For those who love them and the rapid follow-up shots they allow, it’s nearly impossible to beat the Browning BAR. The gas driven rifles use a seven-lug bolt to handle everything from lighter calibers on up to the hard-hitting .338 Win Mag and numerous short magnums as well. Their detachable box magazine is a nice choice for hunters.
These rifles remain in full production today by Browning, though the earlier Belgian-made rifles are hard to beat on the used market. The BAR has been around for a hundred years, and if you can’t trust that kind of lineage in a rifle, then perhaps a semi-auto is not your first choice.