September 26, 2013
By PH Online Editors
No matter if you're stalking a bear or a varmint, odds are you'll turn to a centerfire rifle before any other firearm. Each rifle on the market has its own specific area of peak performance, which makes each gun attractive for different reasons to different hunters.
While there are many multi-tasking rifles on the market, you may also consider buying a rifle or caliber tailored specifically for one particular species or task. Shopping for a new hunting rifle can really become a headache if you're not exactly sure what to look for. Whether you're planning your next hunt or just in the market for a new go-to rifle, Petersen's Hunting has you covered with this list of the best hunting rifles of 2013.
New for 2013, Sauer
launched the new 101
with the slogan: 'Old School. New Rules. ' And that sums it up well: old world craftsmanship meets new technology. At first, the 101 looks like most other bolt rifles, but a second look surprises. A sliding bolt-locking safety is more sure than a trigger safety and a 6-lug, 60-degree full-diameter bolt is incorporated for strength and smoothness. The trigger is set at an ultra-crisp 2 pounds and rivals most custom units. A bedded aluminum block with two inset pins secures the barreled action. Available in synthetic or walnut, the biggest surprise is the price — it is the least expensive Sauer ever introduced!
Price: [imo-slideshow gallery= 154],499
Browning A-Bolt III
If you've been longing for an A-Bolt
rifle to justify that Browning
Buckmark symbol tattooed on your posterior but just haven't been able to afford it, here's your poison. The new A-Bolt III maintains the high performance of the original A-Bolt but sloughs off the bells and whistles. Sleek, sexy, and black, it has a redesigned action, stock, and detachable box magazine. It feels like it was born in your hands and points like your finger. Four calibers are initially offered: .270 Win. and .30-06 with 22-inch barrels; 7mm Rem. Mag. and .300 Win. Mag. with 26-inch barrels.
Browning BAR Hog Stalker
Taking a new twist on an old rifle design, I couldn't help including Browning's
new Hog Stalker
variation on the BAR
because of pure cool factor alone. Just look at the picture and tell me you don't want one. Available only in .308 Win., it has an extended 10-round magazine (make sure your state doesn't have capacity restrictions for deer hunting), a vertical pistol grip, and a forearm rail for attaching a light. Or better yet, a bipod, just to stay on your local game warden's good side.
Price: [imo-slideshow gallery= 154],669
Mossberg MVP Bolt-Action Flex
For innovative thinking, Mossberg
has been pushing the limits like a Jack-in-the-box with a brain. Not only does this rifle have a unique action that uses AR-15
magazines and a 1:9 rifling twist (all the rage among savvy .223 shooters) in its barrel, it has the FLEX interchangeable buttstock system. Long stock for lanky grandpas, short stock for junior's first deer hunt, or a 6-position tactical stock — it's all in a day's work for the MVP FLEX
. Don't think the .223 is a whitetail cartridge? Word on the street is Mossberg is bringing out a .308 version.
Weatherby Vanguard S2 Back Country
I got a little trembly when I heard that
the new 6-pound, 12-ounce Weatherby Vanguard S2 Back Country
would be chambered in laser-like .240 Weatherby Magnum — my favorite 6mm cartridge. Recently, I shot one, and accuracy was mockingly better than the touted .99 MOA guarantee, certainly assisted by the S2's outstanding two-stage trigger. The lightweight Bell and Carlson
stock is pillar-bedded, and Sniper Grey Cerakote protects the action and 24-inch fluted barrel. Also available in .257 Wby. Mag., .270 Win., .30-06, .300 Win. Mag., and .300 Wby. Mag.
Price: [imo-slideshow gallery= 154],399
Ruger M77 Guide Gun
There's a perception that guide rifles need to be tougher than the rest, and perhaps they do. After all, guides make their living with their chosen tool. Luckily, Ruger's
new Guide Gun
is available to us mortals, too. Ultra-tough express-type iron sights grace the barrel. The stock is a handsome laminate, impervious to the effects of humidity, heat, or extreme cold, and is equipped with spacers, allowing hunters to set the length of pull. A same-weight threaded cap accompanies the aggressive muzzle brake, theoretically allowing interchangeability without affecting point of impact. It's available in useful calibers from .30-06 to .375 Ruger.
Price: [imo-slideshow gallery= 154],199
Remington Model 783
Lest you think that Macbeth's witches had a hand in brewing the new Model 783
it's such a departure from conventional Remington
design — be aware that its foremost purpose in life is to provide extraordinary accuracy at an extraordinarily good price. Precision-enhancing features include a floating bolt head (which consistently locks up with equal bearing on each locking lug), minimum-size ejection port (making for vibration-reducing stiffness), an all-new trigger, and pillar-bedded action, forsooth! Naturally, the barrel is free-floated. The metal detachable box magazine locks in via a metal latch, indicating that reliability was important to designers, too.
Cabela's 50th Anniversary Winchester 94
If you like being different and cool, scrap the skinny jeans and that idiotic flat-brimmed ball cap and show up in deer camp with this. Cabela's 50th Anniversary Winchester Model 94
features a 24-inch, octagon €¨barrel with buckhorn sights, straight-grip Grade III walnut stock with a steel crescent buttplate, and a half-magazine — the look President Teddy Roosevelt preferred. Chambered in the capable but uncommon .38-55 Winchester, this is a classic capable of taking deer, black bear, and elk.
Price: [imo-slideshow gallery= 154],332
CZ Varmint .17 Hornet
Pure hedgerow-stalking joy in the groundhog meadows of the Northeast and pure nutria-killing poison in the river valleys of the Northwest, Hornady's
latest rodent round is being chambered in CZ-USA's fine Model 527 rifle
addition to rodent shooting, this rifle would also be ideal for predator callers looking for a quiet shooting, light recoiling killer. My favorite is the Varmint version, which offers superb accuracy out of the heavy 24-inch barrel yet is light enough (7 pounds, 8 ounces) to pack all day.
Rossi Circuit Judge 3-inch .410/.45 Colt
If we had a Truck Gun of the Year award, this metamorphosing revolving rifle/shotgun combo would have won it. The Rossi Circuit Judge's
cylinder has been lengthened to 3 inches, so now it chambers punchy .45 Colt revolver ammunition as well as all .410 ammo. Doodads abound: thumbhole stock, fiber optic sights, factory-mounted scope rail,
integral forend rail to mount gizmos on€¦. I can't think of anything that would be more fun on the quail and javelina-filled desert of West Texas.
Ruger No. 1 6.5-284 Norma
Yes, I'll admit that I got butterflies in my stomach when I saw that Ruger
is building the streamlined and potent No. 1 Varminter
in my favorite 6.5 cartridge this year. What could be greater than the elan of a fine No. 1 combined with the gusto of the 6.5-284 Norma? Not too many things at all. And the resultant rifle is the perfect marriage of culture and extraordinary performance at little cost in recoil. Fitted with an American walnut stock and a 24-inch, hammer-forged, 1:8-twist heavy-contour barrel, the No. 1 Varminter weighs in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces and is ready to sizzle distant animals with style.
Price: [imo-slideshow gallery= 154],349
Blaser R8 Professional Success
If there is a Bugatti of the gun world, it is the Blaser R8
. Remarkable German engineering makes for a superbly accurate, incredibly fast straight-pull, takedown bolt-action rifle with barrel/caliber interchangeability. The most recent finesse on the model adds a thumbhole stock, which may slow down follow-up shots but aids consistent, accurate shooting. Made of high-tech synthetic material, the 'Professional Success ' stock is available with a leather upgrade, wherein weatherproofed fine leather inlays replace the elastomer grip inlays. It's both beautifully done and very cool.
Sako Model 85 Arctos
If you like to climb into flying shoeboxes, drone out over tractless wilderness for hundreds of miles, land on a riverbank gravel bar or half-acre lake, and hunt America's toothiest game, you're already familiar with Sako's Model 85
line of bear rifles. This newest iteration combines the class of fine walnut and blued steel and the features that will get you through a season in the wild. Sako's legendary action has a claw extractor, mechanical ejector, and one-piece bolt, offering unbeaten reliability. The barrel is fluted fore and aft of the barrel-band sling swivel, and durable iron sights grace the barrel. The Model 85 Arctos
will be available in typical bear-slaying calibers.
Price: gallery= 154,850
Savage Lady Hunter
Curves complement curves, they say. This svelte, curvy rifle was designed for lady hunters by some of the most accomplished women in the hunting field. The oil-finished walnut stock €¨offers geometry engineered specifically for feminine physiques, including a scaled-back length of pull and slim contours. Weight comes in right at 6 pounds; barrel length is 20 inches. The Lady Hunter
is available in popular calibers from .22-250 Rem. to .308, but my pick is the 6.5 Creedmoor.
Thompson/Center Venture in 6.5x55 Mauser
For those of you with Scandinavian blood in your veins (or just pure, unadulterated 6.5mm cartridge disease), here's an affordable, guaranteed-accurate, American-made turnbolt to satisfy
your craving for Europe's most popular moose cartridge. If you're not familiar with T/C's Venture
rifle, it's built on an extraordinarily smooth three-lug design and is known for achieving its factory 1 MOA accuracy promise thanks in large part to its 5R rifled barrels.
Winchester Model 1873
Known as 'the Gun that Won the West, ' Winchester's 1873
is a darling repeater built like the original. It's chambered in .357 and fitted with a 20-inch round barrel finished in a lovely high-polished blue. A straight-grip, oil-finished walnut stock with crescent buttplate and steel forend adorn the rifle. The tang is drilled and tapped for a tang rear sight. My only beefs are that it's not initially chambered in .44-40 and it is made in Japan. No gripe at all with the quality; it just seems that a gun rollmarked 'Winchester ' should be manufactured in the U.S.
Price: [imo-slideshow gallery= 154],299
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.