Whether you are preparing for the elk hunt of your dreams or just deciding on your new elk rifle, these are the top 10 best elk hunting rifles for 2021.
The 10 Best Elk Hunting Rifles
- Fierce Fury
- Christensen Mesa
- Bergara Premier Highlander
- Weatherby Mark V Weathermark
- Savage 110 Ultralight
- Browning XBolt Mountain Pro Tungsten
- Winchester Model 70 Long Range MB
- Tikka T3x Lite Veil Wideland
- Springfield Armory Waypoint
- Benelli Lupo
To make our list of the 10 best elk hunting rifles for 2021, we reviewed numerous rifles that could be considered for elk hunting. To further narrow down our list we considered things such as overall rifle weight, weather resistant features, chamberings, factory accuracy guarantees, ease of operation, and price.
Rifle Weight: To make our list, we looked for rifles that weigh below eight pounds before optics installation. You are likely to be toting your elk rifle for some distance, if not taking it on an all-out backcountry hunt. Ounces matter when everything you need for a successful hunt must be packed and carried.
Weather Resistance: An elk rifle is a tool you take into the woods, hills or mountains and it cannot hide from the weather. Stainless steel components or cerakoting slough off rain, snow and mud better than blued barrels and actions.
Chamberings: Your elk rifle must be chambered for a cartridge appropriate for harvesting elk at expected ranges. This means some rifles (like the Sig Cross) are not a good fit for elk hunting, as they are not yet chambered for the harder hitting cartridges needed to ethically take elk.
Springfield’s Waypoint just makes this list with a chambering in 6.5 PRC. Though not necessarily an ideal elk cartridge, the 6.5 PRC can get the job done and the Waypoint is a well designed and constructed rifle.
Accuracy: Accuracy is paramount to rifle hunting. A quality shot in the vitals is imperative to drop large-bodied game such as elk, regardless of cartridge. Accuracy is only partly based on the rifle, as user obligations must be met to ensure precision. The rifles on this list are accurate straight out of the box, but you still must practice with them.
Operation: An elk may well absorb the first shot from your rifle, and follow up shots are common. Each rifle on this list boasts smooth running actions.
Price: We are looking at factory guns rather than custom rifles, but prices may still reach beyond $2,000. Can you take elk with cheaper rifles? Of Course, but this list is of the 10 best elk hunting rifles.
Fierce makes accurate bolt-action rifles, guaranteeing .50 MOA accuracy out of the box. Cerakote finished to resist weather, lightweight at 6.9 pounds and chambered for seven different cartridges including 28 Nosler and 300 PRC; the Fury has it all. With a $2385 MSRP, the Fierce Fury is not cheap but it is a hell of a rifle.
Christensen’s Mesa is an exciting and affordable rifle that is fully ready to be taken into the elk hunting grounds. The Mesa is cerakote finished and with a sub-MOA guarantee thanks in part to its Triggertech trigger. The Mesa is chambered for nine cartridges including the elk busting 28 Nosler. Short action rifles weigh 6.5 pounds while long action rifles weigh 7.3 pounds. All of this with an MSRP of $1295.
Bergara Premier Highlander
The Premier Highlander is touted by Bergara as an extension of their custom shop-only at production prices. Bergara already has a reputation for excellent barrels, now they combine their cerakote covered, barrelled actions with a Triggertech trigger and a Grayboe stock to guarantee sub-MOA accuracy.
Of the seven chamberings offered in the Premier Highlander, the 300 PRC, 300 Winchester Magnum, 7mm Magnum and 28 Nosler all are up to taking elk. Weighing in at 7.8 pounds before optics and with an MSRP of $1985, the Premier Highlander is an excellent elk hunting rifle.
Weatherby Mark V Weathermark
Weatherby has been making accurate rifles for some time, and the Mark V Weathermark is the first of Weatherby’s rifles to be coated in Cerakote to help protect your rifle from the elements. Boasting a Triggertech trigger and a sub-MOA guarantee, the Weathermark also weighs less than eight pounds.
Weatherby has also been known for creating some of the best magnum cartridges on the market for their rifles, and you cannot go wrong when choosing a 300 Weatherby Magnum for elk hunting. With an MSRP of $1549, the Weathermark is less expensive than quite a few of the rifles on this list.
Savage 110 Ultralight
By pairing a Proof Research carbon fiber wrapped barrel to the Savage 110 action along with the Accustock and Accutrigger, Savage has offered an excellent ultralight hunting rifle at 5.85 pounds. Both the stock and trigger are adjustable on the 110 Ultralight, which is chambered in eight different offerings.
The 110 Ultralight is indeed the lightest rifle on this list, and only three of the listed rifles have a lower MSRP. Chambered in 280 Ackley Improved with an MSRP of $1595, the 110 Ultralight may be the choice for backcountry elk hunting.
|Fierce Fury||6.9 lbs||$2385||.300 PRC|
|Christensen Mesa||6.5 lbs||$1295||28 Nosler|
|Bergara Premier Highlander||7.8 lbs||$1985||28 Nosler|
|Weatherby Mark V Weathermark||7.75 lbs||$1549||300 Weatherby Mag|
|Savage 110 Ultralight||5.85 lbs||$1595||280 Ackley Imp.|
|Winchester Model 70 Extreme Weather MB||7 lbs||$1649||6.8 Western|
|Browning XBolt Mountain Pro Tungsten||6.4 lbs||$2460||28 Nosler|
|Tikka T3x Lite Veil Wideland||7 lbs||$1200||7mm Rem Mag|
|Benelli Lupo||7.1 lbs||$1700||.300 Winchester Mag|
|Springfield Waypoint||7.4 lbs||$1700||6.5 PRC|
Winchester Model 70 Extreme Weather MB
Pairing a matte stainless steel Model 70 action to a Bell and Carlson stock gives the Extreme Weather MB an attractive look as well as quality performance. The Stainless steel components will resist any weather while weighing in at seven pounds makes this Winchester one you can drag all over the planet. Chambered in the .27 caliber 6.8 Western makes this a certain elk gun.
For the traditionalists, today’s Model 70 offers the pre-1964 claw extractor and controlled feeding that made the model 70 the rifleman’s rifle. MSRP is $1649.
Browning X-Bolt Mountain Pro Tungsten
Browning is marketing the X-Bolt Mountain Pro Tungsten as a semi-custom rifle that transcends the already excellent X-Bolt line of firearms. Utilizing an in-house made carbon fiber stock and cerakote finish allows the Mountain Pro Tungsten to be weather resistant, light-weight at six pounds six ounces, and accurate.
Choices in chamberings abound with 11 offerings including 28 Nosler as well as six different .30 caliber options; ranging from .30-06 to 30 Nosler, ensuring you will not go undergunned. To ease some of the recoil of the magnum chamberings, the Mountain Pro Tungsten comes equipped with a Browning developed Recoil Hawg muzzle break. The Mountain Pro Tungsten has an MSRP of $2460.
Tikka T3x Lite Veil Wideland
This iteration of Tikka’s T3x offers a sub-MOA guarantee, a modular stock, cerakote finished barrel and comes equipped with a muzzle break. The T3x Lite Veil Wideland shaves weight by fluting both the barrel and the bolt, keeping weight at seven pounds. The T3x Lite Veil Wideland is also offered in 12 chamberings, including the 7mm Remington Magnum.
The least expensive rifle on this list with a $1200 MSRP, the Tikka T3x Lite Veil Wideland also offers an attractive and effective camouflage stock.
Yes, a bolt action rifle from the makers of excellent shotguns makes this list. The Lupo offers enhanced rifle ergonomics, trigger and stock adjustability (offering 36 stock positions) as well as a cryogenic treated barrel. Benelli guarantees sub-MOA out of the box from the Lupo, which is also offered in six chamberings including the .300 Win Mag.
The Benelli Lupo is not offered with stainless steel or cerakote finished barrels, so some extra care may be necessary once out in the weather, but the gun is a pleasure to wield and shoot. MSRP is $1700.
The Springfield Waypoint is an excellent rifle, but almost did not make our list of top 10 elk hunting rifles based on its limited chamberings. If you are comfortable using a 6.5 PRC on elk then the Waypoint is an excellent choice however. With an MSRP of $1700, you get a rifle that advertises a .75 MOA guarantee thanks in part to its Triggertech trigger.
The Waypoint offers a weight reducing carbon fiber stock, barrelled actions in stainless steel or cerakote finished stainless and a muzzle break. The stock on the Waypoint is not the only weight saving measure, as the stainless steel barrel is fluted. More weight can be saved by choosing a carbon fiber wrapped barrel at an increase of $575 over the $1700 MSRP.
The Waypoint is a tremendous gun, but it only comes in a few cartridges, so you’re limited to 6.5 PRC or 6.5 Creedmoor, which are both somewhat light for elk. It’d be nice to see it offered in more cartridges for hunters who prefer to have more horsepower.
Extra Credit: Best Value Elk Rifle and Best Lever Action Elk Rifle
Best Value Elk Rifle: Ruger American
Regardless of which model Ruger American you choose, you will not spend more than $750 on an accurate, reliable bolt action rifle capable of taking elk. The Standard Ruger American is chambered in seven offerings including the .30-06, the American Go-Wild is chambered for the excellent .300 Win Mag.
Youth hunters and recoil sensitive shooters also have reason to look to the Ruger American as you can find it chambered in 7mm-08 in the standard, compact, predator and Go-Wild models-all weighing under seven pounds.
Best Lever Action Elk Rifle: Browning BLR
Some folks simply enjoy the nostalgia of hunting with a lever action rifle, and Browning’s BLR is an accurate and handy option. The lightweight, stainless, pistol grip offering weighs under seven pounds and is suited to hunt in inclement weather. A removable magazine allows for the BLR to fire pointed, spitzer type bullets which is an advantage over the traditional tube-fed lever guns.
The BLR lightweight stainless with pistol grip is chambered for 16 cartridges (not all are elk-worthy) including the hard hitting .358 Winchester, and has an MSRP under $1300.