Some hunters inherit their favorite hunting rifle, and others go out and buy multiple guns in the search to find the perfect firearm. For me, I’ve had a little bit of both.
While not every gun is a winner, there are some hunting rifles that just seem to fit great in the hand and perform flawlessly. Here are a few of the best hunting rifles that I’ve had the pleasure of owning!
1. Winchester Model 70 Hunting Rifle
One of the first rifles I had the opportunity to hunt with was a hand-me-down Winchester Model 70 chambered in 270 Win. I used that old gun for hunting everything, from mule deer in the rolling hills, several cow elk hunts, and even a bunch of predator hunting. This gun went everywhere with me and is really what helped instill the love of hunting in me.
I still have this gun, although it doesn’t see as much use anymore with the additions of more hunting rifles in my gun safe. But this old gun is one that I will never sell, and I hope to pass it on to my own son one day.
But whether your Model 70 is old like mine or brand new, the Winchester Model 70 definitely holds its own against other hunting rifles. If it didn’t, it probably wouldn’t have lasted the 86 years that it has.
Pros of the Winchester Model 70 hunting rifle:
- Great feeding mechanism. I don’t think this gun has ever jammed on me, even when I would abuse it and leave it dirty.
- Very smooth and reliable action. It is very easy to run regardless of skill level or strength.
- The overall quality and design are excellent. My old Winchester Model 70 can stand up against any current production models, regardless of brand.
Cons of the Winchester Model 70 hunting rifle:
- It is a bit heavy. Of course, my Model 70 has a traditional wooden stock that gives it some charm, but it can be a bit heavier than a synthetic stock.
- Not as many aftermarket parts and accessories. Again, I haven’t changed a thing on my old rifle as I like it the way it is, but if you wanted to really customize your rifle there are a few better platforms out there that provide more choices and options.
2. Remington 700 SPS Hunting Rifle
One of the first rifles I ever bought myself was a Remington 700 SPS that was chambered in 300 Win Mag. I wanted something with a little more punch than my trusty 270 and had always heard great things about Remington rifles. The SPS was my choice as far as the model, but there are plenty of great Remington 700 options to choose from.
Straight out of the box, I was very impressed with the quality of the rifle. After mounting a scope and running some rounds through it, I knew I had found the gun that was going to make an excellent addition to my arsenal of hunting rifles.
The Remington 700 is quite possibly the most popular bolt action platform on the planet, so it was very easy for me to change things out like the trigger and stock. While neither one was bad, I had always wanted to customize a rifle to my liking.
Pros of the Remington 700 SPS hunting rifle:
- Wide availability of parts and accessories. This is the most popular bolt action platform on the planet, meaning it works great and millions of others love it too!
- Absorbs recoil well. Even though I was shooting a larger caliber, I found that this rifle seemed to absorb the shock and recoil better than others that I have shot in the past.
- Durable and Reliable. This gun is so popular for a reason. Not only is it very accurate, but the simplistic design and action give you everything you need and nothing that you don’t.
Cons of the Remington 700 SPS hunting rifle:
- It’s no secret that the plastic stock on this particular model of the Remington 700 isn’t the greatest. This is why I replaced mine for a much higher quality stock and have never looked back.
- The triggers on these rifles can be a little hit or miss. Again, this is why I changed mine out to one that is a lot better, and this rifle has since been one of the most accurate rifles I’ve ever shot.
3. Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic Hunting Rifle
One of the most recent hunting rifles that I have purchased was a Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic that came equipped with a muzzle brake and a complete cerakote job. I found this rifle on sale, and at the time wanted to experiment with the latest and greatest 6.5 Creedmoor. So I bought the rifle and brought it home to test out this round and rifle.
While I wasn’t expecting much coming from a “budget” rifle, I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Regardless of what you may think about the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge, the Weatherby Vanguard proved to be an insanely accurate and reliable hunting rifle.
I loved how easy this gun was to work on and quickly took it apart to adjust and polish up the trigger. The end result was a great trigger that I don’t think you find too often on stock rifles straight out of the box.
Pros of the Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic hunting rifle:
- Extremely accurate. I guess all rifles are different (even those that are the same brand and model) so maybe I just got a good one, but to this day my Weatherby Vanguard remains one of my most accurate rifles that hasn’t had any work done to it.
- Plenty of options with upgrades. I picked up my Vanguard with a cerakote job and muzzle brake, and there are plenty of different Vanguard models that come with even more included upgrades depending on your budget.
- The stock is very rigid and better than expected. Now don’t expect a high-end stock, but the stock on this gun is great for the price point.
Cons of the Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic hunting rifle:
- Weatherby is a fan of their own cartridges, so it can sometimes be a challenge to find one in the specific caliber that you want.
- Without proper cleaning, I have found that rounds tend to give you a little more resistance than preferred when trying to chamber it. Not a huge deal, but I can always tell when my rifle is due for a good cleaning when the rounds don’t chamber as smooth as they should.
We all have certain firearms that are special to us, especially those that we create fond hunting memories with. Regardless of the brand or model, each of my hunting rifles over the years has provided me with unique experiences and the ability to find what works best for me and my style of hunting.