10 Best Hunting Rifle Manufacturers: What brands are good?

Not all rifles are equal. Some are absolutely fantastic! Others are, well, junk. While we can debate endlessly on the merits of one specific rifle over another, there is an industry-wide trend for some manufacturers to make better rifles than others. So, what are the 10 best manufacturers you should consider for your next, or first, rifle?

In no particular order, some of the best hunting rifle manufacturers around today include Bergara, Tikka, Ruger, Weatherby, Fierce, Springfield, Gunwerks, Savage, and Browning.

If you’re looking for my honest recommendations after testing and reviewing over 30 hunting rifles for the Backfire Youtube channel, here are my favorites:

Under $500 – Ruger American Predator (Order it online at Sportsman’s Warehouse) – I picked the Ruger American because it has reliable build quality and a decent feature set. My Ruger American averages 0.8″ groups at 100 yards.
Under $600 – CVA Cascade (Order it online at Sportsman’s Warehouse) – This version of the CVA Cascade offers a cerakoted barrel, super smooth action, and a better stock than a Ruger American. It feels like a big step up for just another $100.
Under $800 – Bergara B-14 Ridge (Order it online at Sportsman’s Warehouse) – This rifle is starting to hit a sweet spot where everything more expensive will begin having diminishing returns. It feeds perfectly, has an extremely rigid stock, has a black cerakoted barrel, and it looks great. Oh, and yes, it’s accurate. Very accurate. I think it beats out the Tikka T3x for the top spot.
Under $1,600 – Sig Cross (Order it online at Sportsman’s Warehouse) The Sig Cross is a revolutionary platform with a folding stock, requires no bedding, and is lightweight. Watch my Sig Cross review here.

Of course, everyone is going to have their personal “top ten” list and undoubtedly I’m stepping on a few toes with some of these options or by leaving some out. The fact is in today’s rifle market we are spoiled for excellent choices. I’m extending an invitation to (respectfully) include your favorite manufacturer and why you feel it should be worth a mention if it isn’t on this list.

The fact of the matter is choosing an objective best or worst manufacturer is impossible due to the sheer number of options out there. Rather than focusing on the little details of each company, I’m opting to include manufacturers that have a better-than-average build quality with their current offerings. What follows are 10 of the best manufacturers for hunting rifles that are available in the US market.

1. Ruger Firearms

Ruger is a well-respected gun manufacturer based in Southport, Connecticut. Ruger tends to make a little bit of everything including pistols, semi-auto carbines, and rimfires. About the only thing they don’t make currently is a shotgun, although they used to as recently as 2015. Ruger products tend to be a good value and there isn’t much to complain about on the whole.

Rifle FamilyActionMSRP Range
AmericanBolt$559-959
Scout RifleBolt$1359-1439
HawkeyeBolt$1169-1529
77-SeriesBolt$1169-1269
Ruger No. 1Single Shot$1600*
*No MSRP shown, using market price
2. Tikka

Tikka is not an American company, but has a growing following in the US. Instead, Tikka is a Finnish rifle company under the leadership of Sako, a brand well-known in Europe for excellent hunting rifles. Based on general reviews and my personal experience, Tikka is about as good of a budget rifle as you can buy right off the shelf.

Rifle FamilyActionMSRP Range
T3xBolt$679-1850*
*No listed MSRP price, using market price
3. Savage Arms

Savage is a company I have a lot of experience with, not necessarily by choice but rather by circumstance. A southpaw can usually find a Savage rifle at their local pawn shop. The company, based in Westfield, Massachusetts has made a name for itself in the 20th Century selling budget-friendly alternatives to Winchester and Remington bolt-action rifles.

Rifle FamilyActionMSRP Range
10/110Bolt$645-1639
Axis I/IIBolt$399-639
Lady HunterBolt$979
ImpulseBolt$1379-1449
Long RangeBolt$999-2345
VarmintBolt$679-1699
Bergara B-14 Hunter
4. Bergara

Not as famous as Ruger or Browning, Bergara is a gun manufacturer based in Spain in their namesake city. Commonly known to muzzleloaders as CVA, Bergara makes a good product for centerfire rifles as well, with their specialty being accurate, longer-range hunting rifles. In this niche they are hard to beat.

Rifle FamilyActionMSRP Range
B-14Bolt$825-1265
WildernessBolt$900-1340
PremierBolt$1715-2100
5. Browning/Winchester

From the beginning it seems that these two companies have had their fates intertwined. John Moses Browning produced innovative designs at the end of the 19th Century and put both companies on the map in the days when black powder was still king. While both brands live on, today Browning and Winchester are owned by FN Herstal and are thus subsidiaries.

Neither are the best value for their price-point, in my opinion at least, but they are far better than a lot of the competition.

Browning RiflesActionMSRP Range
X-BoltBolt$959-3309
AB3Bolt$659-749
BLRLever$1019-1419
BARSemi-Auto$1229-1749
Winchester RiflesActionMSRP Range
Model 70Bolt$1010-2150
Model 94Lever$1280-2170
Model 1892*Lever$1130-$2200
Model 1886Lever$1410-1840
Model 1885Single Shot$1730-1790
Model 1873*Lever$1390-2120
Model 1895Lever$1370-2500
*large pistol caliber options
6. Springfield Armory

Every gun enthusiast has heard the name ‘Springfield’. While this company bears a classic name it is not really the original gun manufacturer that helped us win two world wars. Instead, this modern brand produces modern versions of historical guns like the 1911 and the M1A. However, recently the company decided to branch out into hunting rifles.

Rifle FamilyActionMSRP Range
Model 2020 WaypointBolt$1800-2530
7. Christensen Arms

Founded in 1995 and based in Gunnison Utah, Christensen offers hunting rifles from a strictly modern approach. These guns tend to feel good and are very accurate. Though not to everyone’s taste, if you are looking for a modern hunting rifle, Christensen is worth a look.

Rifle FamilyActionMSRP Range
MesaBolt$1350-1650
RidgelineBolt$2100-2600
MPRBolt$2400-2500
TraverseBolt$2550
ELRBolt$2900
BA TacticalBolt$2900
TFMBolt$5000
Summit TIBolt$6000
8. Weatherby

Founded in 1945 by Roy Weatherby, this company started out making specialized wildcat cartridges famous for their proprietary profiles. Today, Weatherby is about the only company that makes both Weatherby chambered rifles and ammunition.

This can be a good or a bad thing for consumers, but this unique strategy proves the quality of Weatherby products because, to be honest, if these guns and ammo didn’t work then no one would shoot them.

Rifle FamilyActionMSRP Range
Mark VBolt$1500-3950
VanguardBolt$700-1100
9. Fierce

Located in Redmond Utah, Fierce produces some very high quality hunting rifles. The downside is that, like a lot of specialty gun companies, service can be spotty for purchasing a firearm or getting a broken part replaced. However, if you are in the market for a top quality hunting rifle with the latest technology baked into the platform, then this company is worth trying to get a hold of.

Gun FamilyActionMSRP Range
RivalBolt$2355-3050
EdgeBolt$2785-3975
10. Gunwerks

This last manufacturer is unique in that they don’t actually make a ready-to-fire rifle. In fact, they are strictly a custom builder in Cody, WY that offers several different platforms that can be changed and built up into a rifle that suits the individual needs of the customer. The good news is that such a rifle will be incredible for the customer. The downside is that a Gunwerks rifle is expensive.

Since there are no models to list, there is no table to display here. However, if you are interested in building a Gunwerks rifle for yourself, their ‘system’ rifle options will generally run from $9000 on up for a complete build including scope.

And there we have it, ten of the best options out there for the modern day big game hunter! Do you feel that you’re favored manufacturer is not included? Be sure to add onto the list with a comment below.

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9 Comments

  1. Savage quality has gone downhill recently. Two of the last 4 I purchased went back for service. The Axis II, 350 Legend and M25, 222 Remington were fine. The M25 in 204 Ruger had burrs in the chamber and had to beat to bolt open. It also had horrible rifling. There was a patch of really bad pitting about 1.5 inches from the muzzle that grabbed copper. BAD. I also purchased the 125th anniversary 110 in a 25-3000 with burrs in the chamber. I wasn’t going to beat on that so back it went too. Put a bore scope down a Savage barrel and it looks like it was chiseled in. I own about 12 Savage rifles and there WERE my first choice. Not any more. Their service was nowhere near as good as Thompson Center (pre S&W ownership), Vortex or Ruger. I believe I saw some struggles opening a Savage bolt in one of your videos. Look in the chamber an inspect the brass. I’d almost bet a brick of primers there are burrs in the chamber. Keep up the great work! Love the content.

    1. James Willmus says:

      From what I’ve been seeing, pretty much every affordable rifle has been having more and more corners being cut. My 1980’s Savage 110 has held it’s value better in 40 years than my Savage 116 has in a decade, so it’s pretty obvious that on the used market older guns are simply better made and are thus hold a higher value. That’s not just a problem for Savage, that’s an issue with every manufacturer on the market. Despite the quality control issues you’ve been experiencing, we’ve still found that Savage holds up well to the competition, hence why it’s on the list.

  2. I must say, I am a big fan of Ruger. I recently purchased the Ruger American and I have been very pleased with it’s performance for the price. I actually purchased it based off of Backfire’s YouTube video on “The Best Hunting Rifle under $350.” One manufacturer that I think would be worth including on this list, is Best of The West. They are also based out of Cody Wyoming. They build high quality custom rifles like Gunwerks, however they also have a selection of ready-to-fire rifles available for purchase. They are also a little bit cheaper then Gunwerks in most cases. Here is a link to their website if you’re curious. https://www.longrangestore.com/

  3. Wyatt Younger says:

    Hey, I really like the information and reveiws you guys put out. I was curious if you had any thoughts on the Seekins rifles? They are based out of Lewiston Idaho. The ph2 and the element rifle look really impressive. Not a lot of reviews online about them. Would you guys consider picking one up to do a review?

  4. I would also would like to see a review on Seekins PH2. I recently bought one in 6.5 PRC, but cannot shoot it. Can’t find bullets or reloading components anywhere. But there customer service is top notch and it’s hard to find a disgruntled customer. There is a Seekins fan page on Facebook. If anyone has a tough question or is unhappy Glen Seekins himself will chime in. I do not believe he runs the page, but monitors wanting to address any issues. Jim if you want to load some rounds and review the rifle, I will let you. I’m in and out of St George, living in Eagle Mountain.

    1. James Willmus says:

      You’re looking for the Jim Harmer. He’ll most likely reply to you when he sees this comment but in the meantime I believe he has a chatroom group for local readers on Telegram. The PH2 is a slick looking rifle. I’d love to see how it compares to offerings from Christensen and Fierce!

  5. Whitebear says:

    Great article
    Very informative.

    1. I own a tikka very light and affordable shoots nice with my shepherd scope. I also own a ruger good quality never had any issues with either one of these brands I own also a Winchester and it jams once and a while. Still good quality.

  6. Gunwerks has a Clymr model. A couple of folks commented on the poor quality of Savage. If you paid me or gave one to me I still wouldn’t own a Savage. Their so cheaply made. Don’t care how much their floating bolt helps groups. And by the way , the floating bolt was a way to cut corners-lol. Although, I have to say, I only own Deluxe rifles anyway. They are the closest to rifles made yesteryear.