Best Hunting Rifle in 2022: Reviewing 25 rifles head-to-head

I own a lot of bolt-action hunting rifles. I have purchased just about every model commonly available in stores like Sportsmans Warehouse and Cabelas. Yes, I have an addiction, but I also do it so I can review them on Backfire.

It can be tough to watch all the reviews and have a sense for where each rifle stacks up on the “Jim Scale”, so in this post, I’ll give it to you straight. I realize some people are going to be upset with this post because I’m very frank about my opinions, but I’ll just say it how I see it.

In our testing, the best hunting rifle under $500 is the Ruger American because it is reliable and very accurate. At $750, I would recommend a Tikka T3X Lite if you’ll be shooting a light-recoiling cartridge, or the Bergara B-14 for heavier-recoiling cartridges. Around $1,500 I’d suggest the Sig Sauer Cross–although the Browning X-Bolt or Savage 110 Ultralight are great alternatives. In the premium category, the Springfield 2020 Waypoint is unbelievably good at $2,000, but it is only offered in limited chamberings.

If you don’t want to read this entire post, jump to the section for rifles in your budget.

You have my general answer, but below I’ll provide more detail and reasoning for those selections, as well as some rifles not to pick.

Hunting Rifles Under $500: Be Careful to Avoid the Junk!

It’s really hard to review rifles in the under $500 category. In this price range, manufacturers use very loose tolerances and have very poor quality control. This means some copies of a rifle can come out working perfectly, and others perform very poorly.

I get a lot of negative comments on my reviews of rifles in the inexpensive price range because I sometimes harp on a rifle that is inaccurate, and many commenters point out that theirs shoots well. So keep in mind as you read my review of these guns that I can only comment on what I have personally experienced with each brand.

I have spent hundreds of hours testing rifles in the under $500 price range. In the end, there are really only two rifles under $500 that I personally think you should consider: The Ruger American and the Savage Axis II.

The Ruger American: The best bolt-action rifle under $500

If you’re going to buy a Ruger American, know there are dozens of different configurations available. If you just go in the store, they almost never seem to have any good chambering options. So I’d recommend just paying for it online. Then you can go pick up in your local store in just a couple days and do the government paperwork and walk away with it.

I recommend getting this Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor if you’ll be hunting deer-sized game (or smaller than deer), want to have tons of inexpensive ammo options, and if you’ll also be using it for target shooting. There’s also the option of ordering that rifle with a Vortex Crossfire II scope on it. It’s a good quality scope for shooting out to 300 yards but doesn’t have adjustable turrets so if you’ll want to do some long-distance shooting, order it without a scope.

If you want to hunt larger game like elk, then I’d recommend getting the same rifle in .30-06 Springfield. The ammo is inexpensive and widely available, the recoil in manageable for most shooters, and the cartridge is unquestionably capable of taking elk cleanly. Here’s a link to that rifle in .30-06.

Savage Axis II Rifle – My #2 pick for rifles under $500

The Savage Axis II: A good choice for youth shooters (And adults)

I prefer the build quality of a Ruger American compared to a Savage Axis, but that’s not to say the Savage isn’t a good gun. It would be my second pick for an inexpensive hunting rifle.

The Savage Axis comes with a unique stock that allows the shooter to shorten or extend the length of pull to your body. This is essential for a youth shooter so they can get their face closer to the scope. Otherwise, they really struggle to get into position so they can see clearly, which can cause them to not mount the rifle correctly on their shoulder, and consequently get them hurt from the recoil.

However, the Savage Axis also has a problem. A significant problem in my eyes. The bluing process they use on the metal pieces is very poor quality and does not adequately protect the rifle from rust. I have two Savage Axis rifles and both of them got rust on the outside of the barrel and the bolt handle.

Keeping the barrel lightly oiled with some good gun oil is always a good practice, and one that I do on all my blued firearms; however, I also take my guns on multi-night hunting trips and don’t always have oil with me for a couple days. That’s all it takes for a Savage Axis to get damaged. Most blued firearms don’t need to be babied nearly that much. Higher-quality bluing is easier to maintain than this very cheap job.

If you’re going to purchase the Savage Axis II Rifle, I would recommend highly recommend ordering this version with a stainless steel barrel so you don’t have to worry about bluing at all. They also have some great chambering options. I’d recommend 6.5 Creedmoor for deer-sized game, 7mm-08 for game up to elk if light recoil is important, and .30-06 if you want to hunt everything.

Rifles to avoid in the $500 Range:

  • Remington 783 – The Remington 783 I tested was downright dangerous. The chamber did not properly fit the cartridge causing stuck live cases, and the included scope had merely 1″ of eye relief which could cause serious eye injury (normal is 2.75″). Remington used to be the leader in gun manufacturing. They went through bankruptcy and now Rem Arms is producing rifles under that name. It could be that, given time, they improve the quality of their products, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Watch my review here.
  • Thompson Center Compass – I have heard from a few shooters who like the Thompson Center Compass. After all, they give you a Thompson Center keychain in the box! Who wouldn’t want a free keychain? But their manufacturing is inconsistent. Our copy is not at all accurate, and the trigger was extremely heavy. It’s tough to fault anything that cheap, but I think it’s worth spending just barely more to get a substantially better rifle. Watch my review here.
  • Mossberg Patriot – The build of a Mossberg Patriot on the outside looks far better than anything else at this price range. They’re pretty. However, the copy we purchased has significant problems. It shot groups as large as a paper plate at 100 yards. We mailed it back to Mossberg for repair and they claimed it was fixed, but when we got it back… same problem. Most people love their Mossberg Patriots and you may as well, but I can’t give high marks to the gun when our copy failed in testing. Watch my review here.

Unfortunately, I can’t weigh in on the CVA Cascade or the Sauer 100 yet because I haven’t tried them. We have a complete post on the best rifles under $400 right here.

Hunting Rifles Under $1,000: Three great options, 3 okay options, one bad option

There are quality inexpensive rifles being made, but if you step up into the $500-$1,000 price range, almost every option will shoot accurately and have more consistent quality control.

Overall, I think the best three rifles under $1,000 are the Tikka T3X Lite, the Bergara B-14 Ridge, and the Weatherby Vanguard. So how do you choose between them? Honestly, it’s really tough to say, but here are some pros and cons of each.

Tikka T3X Lite

  • PRO: Light weight
  • PRO: Usually comes with a low-maintenance stainless barrel
  • PRO: Superb action smoothness
  • PRO: Accurate
  • CON: Stock doesn’t handle recoil well
  • CON: Most configurations don’t include a threaded barrel

Bergara B-14 Ridge

  • PRO: Stock design and butt pad are well-suited to heavy-hitting cartridges
  • PRO: Accurate
  • CON: Heavy barrel contour and action add unnecessary weight for hunters
  • CON: Rifle looks a little plain in its design. It’s not at all ugly, but it doesn’t look cool like an X-Bolt.

Weatherby Vanguard

  • PRO: Very rigid stock
  • PRO: Cerakoted barrel reduces maintenance
  • PRO: Accurate
  • CON: Sometimes hard to find the chambering you want since they tend to favor their own overbore Weatherby cartridges
  • CON: Most configurations don’t include a threaded barrel
Tikka T3X Superlite

Tikka T3X Lite

I’ve been a little coy about recommending one specific rifle in this price range because it’s a tight race. However, I’ll simply leave this anecdote. A friend texted me last week and said he had a $750 budget for a first hunting rifle and asked me what he should buy. I stewed over it for a minute but he made me answer, and I said to go with the Tikka T3x Lite.

The Tikka T3X Lite comes with an absolutely fantastic action. The Tikka action is by far the best in this price point because it cycles ammo perfectly, has a silky smooth bolt slide, and is manufactured to a high tolerance so every last one I pick up feels just as good as the one next to it. The action quality, as well as the barrel, produces a very accurate rifle.

There is one drawback to the Tikka T3x Lite. It doesn’t handle recoil well because of the stock design. In our testing, we had all of the guns chambered alike, but as soon as any of the reviewers shot the Tikka after shooting the other rifles, they all commented that the recoil felt heavier. The stock is not very rigid, the butt pad is too stiff, and the stock geometry is only acceptable.

So in general, pick the Tikka T3X Lite if you want a lightweight rifle with a fantastic action, and you’re going to be shooting cartridges lighter than a 7mm Rem Mag or .30-06.

Bergara B-14 Hunter

Bergara B-14 Ridge

There really isn’t much to complain about on a Bergara B-14. The rifles are accurate, reliable, and built well. However, they really don’t get enough attention from hunters–mostly because they make few attempts to really stand out from the other rifles on the shelf.

They look standard, don’t include fluting on the (rather beefy) bolt or the (rather beefy) barrel, the action and barrel are just blued, the trigger is fine but not outstanding, the action is quite smooth but not as smooth as a Tikka.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the Bergara B-14 ridge. Actually, I like it a lot. It’s one of the best 3 out of 8 rifles we tested in this price range. It’s just tough to get excited about because it has no single stand-out feature. It just does everything reasonably well. It’s like the girl you almost dated because you were such good friends and got along with great, but just never could fall in love with.

Weatherby Vanguard in Badlands Camo

Weatherby Vanguard

People harp on me for recommending the Weatherby Vanguard because it’s essentially the same thing as a Howa 1500, but costs more money. Sure, it’s the same action and barrel, but it’s dressed up completely differently, and I think it changes the gun significantly.

The Weatherby Vanguard comes in several different editions. The one I tested was in Badlands camo, and is probably the most common edition I see on store shelves. The stock feels like it is created of a very tough polymer. It feels almost as rigid as concrete, and that’s a good thing.

The also Cerakote the barrel which lowers the need for oiling the metals on your gun, and protects it in rainy or otherwise wet conditions.

In our testing, the Weatherby Vanguard shot the most accurately, although the difference between it, the Bergara and the Tikka was so small that I doubt we could call it statistically significant.

The Vanguard does come in quite a few cartridges, but retail stores will only give them so many spots on the shelves, and since Weatherby is always pushing its own cartridges, it’s common to not find the chambering you’re looking for without special ordering it.

Other Options Under $1,000

If the Tikka, Bergara, and Weatherby offerings still aren’t meeting your needs, there are other choices for you to consider.

Savage 110 Switchback – The Savage 110 comes in many different models, but the Switchback that we tested did not convert us to Savage in this price point. It was very inaccurate and poorly designed.

Howa Hogue – Picture the Weatherby Vanguard. Remove the Cerakote and the cool paint job. Now remove the well-constructed and rigid stock. Replace that stock with a giant high bouncy ball (shaped like a rifle stock). You now have a Howa Hogue. The stock is not at all rigid, which is likely what caused our accuracy issues. It also looks and feels really cheap. There are Hogue rifles built with other stocks, but the one we tested doesn’t get Backfire’s recommendation.

Kimber Hunter – The Kimber comes with a controlled-round feed which is rare to see in this price point. It’s a good action as long as you aren’t too ginger with the bolt as you cycle rounds. It’s also an accurate gun and extremely lightweight. However, I hate the stock design. It’s an old-school sporter stock in a very light rifle, so it’s tough to shoot accurately in a typical hunting situation.

The Rifle to Avoid: The Remington 700

The Rem 700 has been the de facto standard hunting rifle for many decades. Most all other hunting rifles are patterned after the Remington 700. Remington (now Rem Arms) has made a lot of noise about how they are going to clean up the reputation and start producing quality products, but I’ve heard that for years. I’ll believe it when I see it.

If Remington starts producing a better rifle than the other options on the gun shelf, I’ll be thrilled to buy one and recommend it. But until then, do not buy a Remington 700 unless you’re planning to do significant work to the gun and use it as a platform for a custom build.

Best Bolt-Action Hunting Rifles Under $1,500

There are several manufacturers producing rifles in the $1,000 to $1,500 price range, but the options are more limited than in some of the cheaper price ranges.

In my opinion, the best options around $1,200 are the Browning X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon Speed, the Savage 110 Ultralight, the Bergara HMR, and the Sig Sauer Cross.

First, let’s discuss the Bergara HMR. It’s an excellent rifle for long-range shooting, but it’s just too heavy in my opinion for most backcountry hunting situations. In fact, that goes with most of the offerings from Bergara. They make a great rifle, but except for their Mountain 2.0 rifle (around $2,000), they just don’t seem to be creating light enough rifles to suit today’s shooter.

Sig Cross – Great rifle, but some people get a lemon

The Sig Cross: Amazing design after some early quality control issues

The copy of the Sig Cross that I received was excellent in almost every way. It shot nice little groups, the build quality was excellent, and the folding stock made for a supremely portable rifle.

However, too many other reviewers have received lemon copies of the Sig Cross. There was the NutnFancy review of the Cross early on showing an extremely dangerous instant-recall-inducing trigger malfunction. Then the Military Arms channel did a review showing another dangerous condition with a safety that didn’t quite get into position when selected. My safety eventually developed that same issue.

However, as I’ve owned the Sig Cross for almost a year now, I’m surprised by how frequently it’s the gun I reach for in the safe. In fact, I frequently find myself out shooting with a Sig Cross even when I have much more expensive guns that I could be choosing. It has become one of my favorite guns.

I like the Sig Cross because it’s lightweight, easily adjustable to fit me or my kids, very accurate, and the short barrel and folding stock make it easily packable for hunts. I’ve fallen in love. Highly recommended.

Watch my review of the Sig Cross here.

Tikka Wilderness

Tikka T3X Lite Veil Wideland

I really like the Tikka Veil Wideland chambered in 6.5 PRC. It comes with a popular veil camo pattern on the stock (though I wish they had made the grips to match the camo), a Cerakoted barrel, fluting on the bolt and barrel, and a threaded barrel.

However, I do feel like it’s missing some things in this price point. No carbon fiber barrel or stock, the stock doesn’t have a high enough comb for a good cheek weld, and the butt pad is far too stiff to be effective. Also, the trigger comes in at 4 lbs, 7 oz which is about twice as heavy as most serious shooters prefer.

Savage 110 Ultralight

I love this gun. It comes with a very plasticy, but well-designed stock, and has adjustable length-of-pull and comb height to make it fit well. The standout feature of this gun, though, is certainly the Proof Research barrel. That’s a $900 barrel on a gun you can buy for $1,200. Very impressive.

The only things I don’t like about the Savage 110 Ultralight is the very plasticy magazine and mag well. It did affect feeding, and putting in the mag is a chore. I wouldn’t call the feeding unreliable, but it’s not as reliable as the X-Bolt or the Tikka. Also, the stock is well-designed, but it does still feel like cheap plastic.

Someone described this gun to me the other day as “a $500 gun with a $900 barrel.” That’s not far off the mark. Still, they look good, function well, are incredibly accurate, and Savage rarely has quality control issues.

The bottom of a Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed rifle showing the bottom metal and magazine being removed by a gunsmith on a Hoppe's 9 gun vice.
The browning X-Bolt is a great gun, but plan to take out the trigger and put in a Timney.

Browning X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon Speed

The Browning X-Bolt in Hell’s Canyon Camo has been so popular that Browning now makes the rifle in about two dozen different configurations. They all use essentially the same barreled action and stock material, though. So I’ll review the X-Bolt as if it’s one gun, and you can decide what configuration is best for you.

The Browning X-Bolt has a tremendous action. It feeds extremely reliably. I also am a fan of Browning’s 4-screw-per-ring system for attaching a scope ring. Also, the styling of the Browning is by far the best in this price range.

There really is only one thing that I don’t like about the Browning X-Bolt. The trigger! Don’t get me wrong. It’s a premium quality trigger (hello, the blade is gold!), but the trigger is simply too heavy for accurate shooting in my opinion. The copies I’ve tested had a trigger pull weight of about 4 pounds, 5 ounces. (See more in my video review)

So should you buy a Browning X-Bolt? Yes! Just plan to pay an additional $175 on a Timney trigger that you can easily add into the rifle with no gunsmithing skill necessary. It’s easy. My 10-year-old did it for me (not kidding).

Jim, You Gotta Come Up with a Winner for the Best Rifle Under $1,500

Argh. It’s so hard to decide between a Savage 110 Ultralight, a Browning X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon Speed, and the Sig Cross.

Browning X-Bolt HC

  • Poor stock adjustability
  • Good accuracy
  • Better stock
  • Poor trigger
  • Excellent feeding
  • Pick this one if you want your gun to look good, have a great action, be reliable, and shoot well.

Savage 110 Ultralight

  • Good stock adjustability
  • Best accuracy
  • Good stock
  • Good trigger
  • Good feeding
  • Pick this one if you want 3/4 MOA groups, light weight, and can look past a cheesy stock.

Sig Sauer Cross

  • Best stock adjustability
  • Better accuracy
  • Best stock
  • Best trigger
  • Excellent feeding
  • Pick this one if you value something adjustable, packable, light, accurate, and fun to shoot.

I. Just. Can’t. Decide! These are three great options. If I could only pick one, though, it’d be the Sig Cross. Over the last year I’ve just found myself choosing it so often that it has to be my pick.

Best Bolt-Action Hunting Rifles Over $1,500

This is probably the easiest section of this post to write. If you’re buying a rifle between $1,500 and $2,500, I can sum up my recommendation in just 5 words: get the Springfield 2020 Waypoint. Period.

Springfield 2020 Waypoint

The only problem with a Springfield 2020 Waypoint is they don’t offer it in enough chamberings. If they sold one in 7mm SAUM using a long action and long enough magazine to give me full freedom to reload, I’d buy one so fast it’d scare the neighbors.

I don’t say that lightly. I’m well aware that there is stiff competition in the “semi-custom rifle” category. The Bergara Mountain 2.0, Kimber Mountain Ascent, Bergara Premier, Browning X-Bolt Pro, Seekins Havac, Weatherby Mark V, Fierce Edge, Christensen Ridgeline, and others are all rifles I’m familiar with. Still, it’s the 2020 Waypoint in my opinion. Watch my full review of the Springfield 2020 Waypoint.

Having said that, in this price range, a lot of the decision is matching the rifle to your unique circumstances and preferences. So, here are my quick thoughts on some of the competition for the best premium factory rifle under $2,500.

Christensen Ridgeline – So many people have asked me to review one, and I just can’t justify spending $2,000 on one because I’ve heard so many reports of inconsistent manufacturing quality. Some people get a good one, others get a lemon. So if I review it and love my copy, I’d be convincing people to buy one and they very likely may not have the same experience. Christensen needs to improve its quality control in my opinion. Plus, it uses an old-school sporter stock that just isn’t what today’s long-range shooter is looking for.

Christensen MPR – I came so close to buying an MPR a couple weeks ago. Of all of the guns Christensen produces, the MPR is by far the best in my opinion. The thing that keeps me from buying is that when I watch reviews, it’s the same story. They are just sending too high of a percentage of lemons out the door. But boy that MPR looks good.

Browning X-Bolt Pro – I like the X-Bolt Pro. I owned one in .28 Nosler and it was a very poor choice for that heavy-recoiling of a cartridge. It’s a good option for light cartridges, but the light weight and stock design don’t make for a good match on heavy cartridges. Also, I think the X-Bolt Pro just isn’t bringing enough to the table for doubling the price over a regular X-Bolt. In today’s market, it needs a more modern stock design, carbon barrel, and premium trigger to be worth the price they are asking. Watch my review here.

Kimber Mountain Ascent Subalpine – I just don’t like the Kimber Mountain Ascent. I owned one and sold it. The controlled-round feed action is great. People say it’s the most consistent action, but I only sort-of agree. I think in theory controlled feed is better, but they also generally don’t feed well (or at all) if you try to feed by dropping one in, rather than mag feeding. Also, it works great if you quickly manhandle the action. If you go slow while trying to be quiet in a hunting situation, it may not feed right. Also, the very aged sporter stock design doesn’t lend itself well to shooting long range–especially in such a light rifle. It’s not for me. Watch my review here.

Fierce Edge – I really like my Fierce Edge chambered in 7mm Rem Mag. Of all the rifles I own, if you just said “Grab a rifle and go hunting” without any more specifics of where I’d be hunting or what I’d be hunting, I’d grab that rifle. However, a big part of that is because they don’t make a Springfield 2020 Waypoint in 7mm Rem Mag (yet). Fierce rifles are accurate, built well, look great, come with good triggers, and feed perfectly. They are also increasing in price. If you find one in the chambering and configuration you want, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a Fierce rifle. Watch my review here.

Weatherby Mark V – Weatherby makes a fantastic rifle. Every Weatherby I’ve ever shot has been exceptionally accurate and well-built. I rarely hear manufacturing quality concerns about Weatherby rifles. Really, the only thing that keeps me from owning more of them is that I can rarely find them in the chamberings I want. Their ammo is INSANELY expensive, so I wouldn’t invest in a Weatherby chambering. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a Weatherby if you find one in a cartridge you like, or if you don’t mind shooting Weatherby’s overbore cartridges.

There are so many other options to consider, but hopefully, that gives you a solid starting place if you’re looking for a premium hunting rifle.

I’m holding my breath for the comments section on this post. I know there will be a lot of hate because I’ve been very frank about my opinions, but I test so many rifles that I just wanted one single post that I keep up to date where I can just say it how I see it without any politically correct crap.

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49 Comments

  1. I don’t know even they even sell it anymore but about 10-15 years ago my first .308 was a mossberg ATR. To this day when I pull that out for fun it still shoots tight groups. 150 grain federal fusion groups sub 1inch or better every time. So not sure what went wrong with the patriot, and I don’t really use the ATR except for friends to use but it is a hell of an accurate rifle.

  2. What about the Winchester Model 70? I’d love to hear your thoughts on a modern option like the Extreme Weather SS MB. I’d also like to hear more about the threading on the various barrels and if they are suitable for use with a suppressor – i.e. enough shoulder for secure mounting.

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      I’d love to give one a good in-depth review, but I haven’t yet. I’m familiar with it, but haven’t done an official review.

      1. Frank Albaijes says:

        Jim, I’ve owed most of the brands you’ve mention here. Never bother with a Winchester M70, because I thought it was old fashion. First available in 1936 for Pete’s sake. Then I bought an Alaskan 338 Win Mag Laminate in Stainless. Holy Moses, what an incredible rifle. The build quality was amazing, and shot sub MOA with factory Norma ammo. Honestly, you need to review one.

        1. Jim Harmer says:

          Great comment, Frank. I also have ignored the Winchester M70 for exactly the reason you mentioned. I’ll keep one in mind next time I’m in the market. Appreciate the comment.

          1. The Winchester Model 70 should be the rifle you compare all the others too. It’s the classic , it’s The One , it’s stood the test of time , it’s been around longer than the rest and will still be here long after these other rifles have fallen out of fashion. Get one , in 30-06 for the purest experience , and you’ll be convinced !

  3. If you are looking at that sub $1000 rifle check out the Bergara Wilderness Ridge (Mine was $850). Threaded barrel, cerakote barrel, hand painted stock. Plus all the pros of the above B-14 review. Action is amazing and a really great factory trigger. My 6.5 CM shoots sub MOA groups.

  4. Andrew Duerksen says:

    Mr. Harmer, I really appreciate your reviews on the Sig Cross and Waypoint. I have narrowed my next purchase down to those two. Probably going to be the Waypoint. Same as you, I wish the offerings were a bit better. I would love a 300 Win Mag. I was unaware of the QC issues with the Cross. I’m a big fan of Sig pistols and never had an issue with QC. Thanks again and I look forward to future content.

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      Great choices, Andrew. Since recording the review of the Sig Cross, my copy of the gun did develop the issue with the safety where it doesn’t quite go to the correct position. So I do still think they have some QC issues to deal with.

      HOWEVER, since recording that review I’ve also had the opportunity to hunt a good bit. I just can’t keep myself from grabbing the Sig Cross. It’s just so short, light, and accurate. It’s way more fun to shoot than the other guns.

      I still think the 2020 Waypoint is just a better gun overall. It’s incredibly well built. Zero quality control issues. Surprisingly accurate. It would also handle bigger calibers MUCH better than the Cross. The Cross is great for 6.5 Creedmoor or 6.5 PRC, but the stock just isn’t suitable for heavy recoiling cartridges.

  5. Man I really love your reviews! Thanks for doing great work. I’m really interested in the Benelli Lupo, any chance your going to get your hands on one of those?

    1. Yes please, there is a major lack of opinions out there on the LUPO.

  6. Tom Joyce says:

    Hi Jim,

    Really enjoy your advice and reviews on guns and equipment, I appreciate your opinions. I do have a question that I hope you will address.

    I am looking for a semi-auto gun for hunting, been looking at the Savage MSR 10 in 6.5 CM and the Smith and Wesson M&P 10 in 6.5 CM (I would really love to see an AR10 in 6.5 PRC). The reason I am more interested in an AR instead of a bolt action is because:

    I would like to have an adjustable stock for hunting in multi layers of clothing and backpack straps, the need to adjust my length of pull is important. My arms are a bit short and most hunting rifles are just too long for me, length of pull wise. The SIG Cross would be a best second choice.

    The need for fast follow up shots, I know with practice a bolt action is fast, but I also don’t want to break my right hand grip on the gun and trigger.

    I have been looking at the Browning BAR for years, it’s a great gun, but I would really like to have an AR format.

    I have not seen a semi-auto in 6.5 PRC, should I wait?

    Any suggestions?

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      Those all sound like good options. A lot of states don’t allow semi-autos for big game hunting so check your regs. The Sig Cross has really become one of my favorite guns to shoot. So small and packable, and I’m getting incredible accuracy out of it.

      1. What ammo are you shooting in your cross? I have one in 308 and Federal premium 168grain Berger hunter (or hunter hybrid, can’t remember now) shoot less than an inch at 100 yards, but now they are hard to find. I’ve tried a lot of others, including Hornady PH (178gr I think) and Hornady Match 168 gr, and they are lucky to shoot 4 inch group with huge point of impact change. Is yours that picky?

        1. Jim Harmer says:

          Hornady Precision hunter was working well in mine.

  7. I would also love a video on the Winchester model 70 extreme weather! I want your opinion on there trigger system. I don’t think any mauser action rifles allow you to drop around in because of the claw extractor.

  8. Jim,
    After getting what I believe to be a ‘bad copy’ of a Ruger American in 308, I am looking to upgrade. My search is with an elk/mule deer hunt in mind. I have been looking at the 6.8 western. Any chance you would do a review on that caliber? My assumption has been that given the limited rifles and ammos out, the x-bolt with browning ammo would have to work well together right out of the box.

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      An XBolt in 6.8 Western may be a great option. You might also consider a more traditional 7 Rem Mag or .30-06.

      My personal favorite elk cartridge is a 7mm Rem Mag.

  9. tony milliner says:

    Jim, I think you misspoke about the Ultralite. It has the Accufit stock, but not the Accustock with the aluminum rail system. I was down to the Ultralite or the Savage High Country and went with the High Country because of this. Even though I’m happy with my decision, the Ultralite might have been the better way to go. (weight)
    Anyway, love the Backfire channel. Keep the vids coming, I look forward to seeing them

  10. I’m at a point that I can spend $1500+ for a hunting rifle. Never spent over $500 before. Mostly hand carried, thick timber and hills in foul weather. It truly needs to be able to handle rough handling. I thought of the Waypoint myself but I also like the Sako Finnlight II. I like the cleaner lines without the mag sticking out. Just easier to carry in hand, never a sling. Is the Sako worth the that premium price though? Is the quality that good? Everyone else says so but I figured I’d ask.

    1. Travis Thorn says:

      Sako has major problems with there stocks , I have owned several finnlight 85s and the stock will get sticky , Its not if its when , Sako will not do anything about this issue , They blame it on det in insect spray , I had one still in the box that got sticky and they didnt have an answer for that , You can read about this issue online its everywhere , Browning took care of this problem when they had this issue , I will never buy another sako for this reason , Do your research before buying one

  11. I would like a 280 Ackley and Fierce only makes it in the Rival. What is your opinion on the Edge vs Rival? I’m really down to the Fierce Carbon Rival vs the Weatherby MarkV Backcountry. Fierce is about $400 more and almost a pound heavier. Is it worth it?

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      I just purchased a Rival this week. I really like the stock design. The action is a little sticky at the back because it’s a 2-lug so there’s a little play at the back if you aren’t pushing straight. It appears that Fierce is stretching the truth a bit on weight because mine weighs 6 pounds, 4 1/8 oz and it’s a short action with 24″ 6.5mm barrel so it should be about the lightest one they have. Haven’t shot it yet, but we’ll see how it performs.

  12. John Field says:

    Have you fired the Sako 85 Finnlight? If so, what are you impressions of it.

  13. Hi Jim Im trying to click your links to the guns but its not working.

  14. Derek Mesh says:

    Jim great reviews. As I’m new to the shooting world I’m still undecided on a long range target rifle. Would like to buy a Tikka Super Varmint barrel and action with MDT chassis but am also considering Bergara UpR. Thoughts?
    Question. Since Bergara use a Rem 700 barrel (action and trigger too?) what makes it a Bergara?
    Thanks

  15. austin ackerman says:

    YOU SHOULD TEST THE SAKO S20 in 6.5 PRC OR THE SAKO BRANDS.

  16. Have you had a chance to look over or review the Savage Impulse? That one is on my radar and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

  17. Daniel R. says:

    Can you do a in-depth comparison review of the CVA Cascade vs. Ruger American?

  18. Hey there Jim. First let me say your videos are absolutely fantastic. Sorry youtube is being such a pain in the ass to you as well.

    I’m in the market for my very first rifle and I have been eying up the Weatherby Vanguard ever since I saw you pick it. Like you I love the idea of the cerakote on it and I think a stiffer stock lends itself to shooters well. I looked at the Tika’s as well and for the calibers I’m looking at, I just think they’ll beat the hell outta my shoulder.

    The trouble I’m having wracking my brain over is caliber. I’ve narrowed it to 3, but just can’t quite choose. 7mm mag, 300 Win mag and 30-06. Price points on the ammo don’t put them too far apart when searching on Ammoseek, usually within 5 bucks a box depending upon brand.

    Usage for the rifle would be long distance hobby shooting, but also potentially taking it on everything from whitetail up to moose for a hunt should I ever get in to the sport with my brothers and dad.

    What are your thoughts?

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      Great choice in a gun. I would pick 7mm Rem Mag since you mentioned long range. It’s an EXCELLENT do-all caliber.

  19. Steve Melo says:

    If you had a choice between XBolt Pro & Dako finnlight 85 in 300wm what one would you choose. Surprised you didn’t mention anything about the Sako 85

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      I’d go with the Sako in that case. XBolt Pro is a good gun but needs a new trigger.

  20. Agreed on the MarkV. I bought the MarkV Weathermark LT in the .257 WBY. I understood going into it that it was a boutique and emotionally motivated cartridge choice, but the performance and build quality is excellent. (Solid review on your part.)

  21. Could you please do a review on the Sauer 100 stainless xta. I’m really interested in them but can hardly find a proper review of them. They are built in the same factory where they produce Mauser and Blaser rifles (all owned by the same company), so I guess “quality” shouldn’t be an issue but unlike Mausers and Blasers, these rifles are far less expensive.

    They come in the same price bracket as Tikka rifles but from what I have read, unlike the popular T3X rifles, Sauer 100 rifles
    1. can be top loaded,
    2. have a metal finish at the trigger-guard,
    3. and three-stage safety.
    And contrary to most German rifles today, the barrel is threaded into the reciever (not heat shrunk).

    The only downsides I have read of it is its screw-on bolt-knob and the fact that you may need a few more tools to disassemble the rifle. But honestly these are not deal-breakers (or at least I think so).

    I’m sure a video review by you would certainly help clarify and perhaps sway my views on the Sauer 100s.

    **sorry for posting this comment on another article, but I guess this is the more suitable article for this discussion

  22. James Muzynoski says:

    I’ve seen your comments that fierce rifles have poor fit and finish and that customer service is also poor. Do you still recommend them. Thanks

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      James – I probably wouldn’t recommend Fierce Firearms right now. They need to get their stuff together first. Nearly every touch-point I’ve had with the company shows obvious signs of errors.

      1. Hi Jim. Went on my first hunt (elk) this October. Fit me like a glove. Going to take the plunge…deep. Looking at a Seekins Havak in 300 PRC. You mention it just once in this string but don’t come back to it at all. I know it’s very high end but with a replaced hip and knee, I want anchored shots and believe that cartridge is a slight upgrade on the venerable 300WM. I have been taking in everyone of ur vids I can find and sincerely appreciate your work and am interested in your take on the Seekins product? Thank you for your time.

        1. Jim Harmer says:

          I hear a lot of people liking the Seekins Havak, but it just hasn’t grabbed me. The stock feels really cheesy. It’s a well designed stock, but the fit and finish feels cheesy–especially the checkering pattern they use. Anyway, sorry but I don’t have much experience with it. Some day I’ll give one a more fair look.

  23. Duke Williams says:

    Jim, based on your reviews and several others, I’d really like go with the 6.8 Western. That limits my choice of rifles. I can stretch the budget to a Browning if I have to, but the Winchester XPR is more in my price range. You haven’t included Winchester in your reviews.

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      I just took the first shots with the Winchester XPR in 6.8 Western today. Overall, it seems like a decent gun for the price. The trigger is heavy, but that’s true on the Browning XBolts as well. The stock is cheesy feeling, but nicely shaped and rigid.

      I would definitely buy the Winchester XPR SR version, which means suppressor ready, so you get a threaded barrel. Suppressors are DEFINITELY the future, so I wouldn’t buy a non-threaded barrel anymore.

      1. Duke Williams says:

        Thanks for such a speedy response. And all the great work you do!

  24. Duke Williams says:

    Thanks for such a speedy response. And all the great work you do!

  25. Know it is not a bolt action rifle, but how does the Henry Long Ranger stack up against these options? Have to admit I love Henry’s, so am trying to take my heart out of the decision with wisdom from someone more experienced like you.

  26. Grant Morrison says:

    Hello from Bozeman, MT!
    Would love to know your thoughts on the Seekins Precision Havak PH2 rifles.
    Also would be cool to see you do a semi-custom rifle (Bighorn action, prefit barrel, Ag composites stock, trigger tech, etc.) and see how it stacks up next to the high end factory rifles. It would be a tiny bit more expensive, but really not much.
    All in 7mm Rem Mag of course 😉

  27. Travis Skurray says:

    Would love to see your review on the Australian built Lithgow if you haven’t fired one yet I am sure you will be blown away by it in build quality, accuracy and value considering we are paying $900 for rifles worth $350 in America. Great to see honest reviews that are very entertaining hope to see many more. Travis Skurray from Australia.

  28. I have been looking for a carbon barrel rifle in a .308 due to ammo availability. I really like the Springfield waypoint but it is out of my price range but definitely the nicest rifle I’ve held! I am looking to spend around $1200, and I am between the Savage ultralite and the Howa carbon kratos. The Howa is around $200-$300 cheaper than the Savage. I like the action of the Howa better but the Proof barrel on the Savage.
    I see that you really like the Savage, but I was wondering if you have shot the Howa? There are very few reviews and almost zero information about how the Howa carbon shoots. Do you have any information on the Howa, or an opinion on which way I should. Thanks.

  29. I really enjoy your reviews and opinions. I was in the market for an affordable hunting rifle this year and you helped me a lot and changed my mind on my first choice. Wish you would’ve done a review on Mauser 18 or sauer 100 as I became interested in those two guns and did ultimately pick up a Mauser this year based on some other reviews. So far really like it FYI

  30. Aaron L Flint says:

    Hello I love your videos and your reviews the only comment I have is that the savage 110 ultralite does not have the accustock. It has the accufit system but they did not put it in that rifle I assume it’s to save weight.