January 27, 2020
By Mark Kayser
SHOT Show 2020 lands smack in the middle of fur season across North America, making it the ideal time to review some of the new predator rifles for the year. Here are a few that you may wish to check out if a new predator rig is in your future.
Thompson Center Compass Rifles/Utility Spotlight
If your predator budget is tight, take a close look at the Thompson Center bolt action series of Compass rifles. The T/C Compass Utility is a solid choice. For the money, you get a rifle guaranteed to shoot a 3-shot, 1-inch group from its 21.625-inch blued Match Grade barrel with 5R rifling. The 5R concept aids in accuracy by funneling bullets for launch with less damage. That leads to a tighter group and easier barrel cleaning. Barrels are threaded for easy acceptance of suppressors. The synthetic stock is ergonomically designed, black in color with an integrated aluminum pillar bedding system. Other Compass series rifles include the newer Generation II trigger system, but for the money T/C outfits the Utility with their Generation I trigger that still offers a crisp launch.
A 3-lug bolt with a 60-degree lift helps cycle cartridges from the 5-round, polymer magazine smoothly without hitting the scope. The safety offers a 3-position arrangement to easily show the locked, loaded/unloaded and fire positions with a quick glance. Not a lightweight, but at 7 pounds it’s no pig either. You can choose from six calibers with the .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester as top predator choices. T/C also makes it easy if you hate shopping for riflescopes. They offer a 3-9x40 riflescope for an extra $100 that’s bore sighted. MSRP: $359 (bare); $459 (scoped)
Mossberg Patriot Predator-Cerakote/Strata
Mossberg’s rifle lineup continues to grow like an out-of-control wildfire. For predator hunters in 2020, the new bolt-action Patriot Predator-Cerakote/Strata Camo in 6.5 PRC is worth a second look. Sure, it’s just a dressed-up version of the earlier model, but the Strata Camo pattern means you won’t have to stop at Walmart for spray paint after your purchase. And if you want one rifle to serve multiple functions, like the .308 Winchester, the 6.5 PRC is an all-around caliber.
Obviously the Cerakote barrel is a big thing — and rightly so. It resists abrasion and corrosion while dulling the finish to complement the Strata camouflage on the synthetic stock. The rifle is lightweight at 6.3 pounds, making it a great partner on long hikes. At 24 inches, the fluted, threaded barrel also adds to the nimble feel, plus it is suppressor ready. Overall rifle length is 44.25 inches. The Lightning Bolt Action Trigger is fully adjustable and guarantees a crisp release. It arrives with a standard Picatinny rail which allows you to secure a variety of optics easily to fit any hunting environment. The detachable magazine holds four cartridges. MSRP: $540
Savage Axis II Precision
Do you have a few extra dollars in your budget? If so, consider the Savage AXIS II Precision. The AXIS series has been providing hunters and shooters with a variety of firearms to fit any need and its new Precision addition fits nicely in the lineup. Although the Savage website doesn’t promote an accuracy guarantee, it’s been rumored to shoot sub-MOA groups — and then some.
The rifle gets its space-age-looking chassis from Modular Driven Technologies. Black aluminum combined with olive drab injection molded parts provide the rifle with a sleek, modern design. The stock features an adjustable comb height and spacers to adjust the length of pull. Its 22-inch carbon steel barrel is threaded for quick suppressor adaptation. The receiver is also black carbon steel.
Overall length of the rifle varies from 42.5-43.5 inches depending on the caliber selection. Detachable magazine construction material and number of cartridges they hold also varies depending on caliber. Most hold eight, but the .223 Remington magazine holds a friendly 10 cartridges. A clean sendoff is guaranteed with Savage’s renowned AccuTrigger that is adjustable from 2.5-6 pounds.
Probably the only downer of the entire system is its overall weight that nears the 10-pound mark, but that’s the norm for many precision rifles with heavy barrels. The AXIS II Precision is available in six calibers with the .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor and the .308 Winchester hitting the mark for predator gurus. MSRP: $949
Bergara B-14 Wilderness Series Terrain Model
Bergara’s claim to fame is barrels, but those accurate beauties are slowly taking a backseat to the expanding Bergara lineup of precision rifles. Although not as affordable as previously reviewed models, for the money the new Bergara B-14 Terrain Wilderness bolt action offers a reasonably-priced option to get you into a fine predator hunting rifle that can serve dual purpose for big game hunts.
The Terrain’s molded stock is finished in a hand painted camouflage pattern. Further complimenting the camouflage is the Cerakote barrel finished in a dull gray color. Predator calibers come in barrel lengths from 20-24 inches with an overall length from 41-45 inches, again depending on the caliber. The rifles weigh above and below 9 pounds with caliber again the deciding factor.
Each rifle barrel is free floated and comes standard threaded with an Omni muzzle brake that directs gases in all directions to reduce felt recoil by 35 percent. Unthread the brake and you can effortlessly add a suppressor. Each rifle comes with the Bergara Performance Trigger and the bolt feeds cartridges from a 5-capacity AICS detachable magazine. Bergara’s custom action operates via a 2-lug system with a sliding plate extractor to ensure smooth feeding. Riflescope mounts fit Remington bases and QD flush cup sling mounts are standard.
Terrain rifles come in seven popular calibers with predator hunters focusing on the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and the .308 Winchester. There’s more, but check it out online. MSRP: $1,199-$1,279
You didn't think this article would leave out ARs did you? Well, you guessed wrong. Even though Rock River is well known for exceptional AR systems, it’s their new bolt action that is creating a buzz. Deemed the Rock Bolt Gun or RBG for short, it only comes in two early-release calibers, .308 Winchester/7.62mm and the 6.5 Creedmoor. It’s designed around a KRG chassis that is multi-adjustable for cheek and length of pull. You can order the chassis in either tan, black or green depending on your mood on order day.
The 20-inch Wilson barrel is stainless steel, air gauged and Cryo treated. It’s also threaded to immediately accept a suppressor. Rock River uses a proprietary, short action crafted from stainless steel as its launch pad to the barrel. A Triggertech trigger cleanly sends a bullet from the perfectly devised system. Rock River uses a detachable, AICS compatible magazine so you can purchase aftermarket versions from companies like Magpul and feed the critter until your heart is content. The RBG is listed as “sub MOA” and for the combined package it is the highest priced of the new lineup. Save your pennies. MSRP: $4,150