Budget hunting rifles: New addition from SHOT, plus some old favorites
Bolt action rifles remain very popular for hunting. Even with the widespread adoption of the AR-platform in many forms of hunting, the traditional bolt guns offer a number of advantages such as a wider range of caliber selection including some very powerful magnum loads.
However, one of the most distinctive advantages the bolt action gun has when compared to modern semi-auto rifles is in entry-level prices. Even before the current buying craze, a .223 chambered AR15 would set you back $700 on the low end. A quality bolt action gun in .308 or .30-06 could be had for half of that. Some of the bolt action rifles would even throw in a decent variable scope at that price.
Lets take a look at a few of the budget rifle choices currently on the market.
At the 2013 SHOT Show, Remington unveiled their latest rifle: the model 783. This new gun takes aim at the budget market, while offering a number of improvements over the company’s prior entry rifle, the model 770.
The 770 was a solid performer in the budget category, but many Remington fans were disappointed with the rifle, especially when compared to the company’s much nicer 700 series rifles. When Remington created the 783, the designers built in a number of nice features which are likely to make this rifle a hit in its target market.
Remington uses the new CrossFire trigger, which is a user adjustable trigger that is set at 3.5 pounds from the factory. The CrossFire can be changed from 2.5 pounds up to 5 pounds by the owner.
A button-rifled barrel is attached to the receiver with a barrel nut system that allows the shooter to adjust the gun for minimum headspace. The barrel is free floating with a pillar bedded, synthetic stock.
The 783 carries an MSRP of $451.10. Checking with several online dealers, the new Remington rifle is selling for less than $390, which seems to be an amazing value. A full review of the Remington 783 can be found here ( http://www.gunsholstersandgear.com/2013/02/05/remington-783-review/ ).
The new Remington 783 is certainly not the only choice when it comes to inexpensive bolt action rifles. There are a number of other very popular choices for the budget conscious hunter.
The Axis line of rifles does not come with the highly respected Accu-Trigger, but they are none-the-less good shooters at a great price. The suggested retail price on these rifles is only $375 and they can be had in any of eight calibers.
Unlike many budget rifles, the Axis line has a complete series of left-handed rifles also. These are all priced exactly the same as the right-handed models.
For a few dollar more (MSRP of $415), a shooter can buy the Savage Axis XP line which is a complete package that includes a bore sighted 3-9×40 scope mounted at the factory.
Like Savage, Mossberg also has a budget line of rifles that come in short and long action calibers. With synthetic stocks, the ATR has a MSRP of $366. Unlike the Savage, the Mossberg ATR comes with the company’s LBA adjustable triggers and fluted barrels.
The ATR can also be had in a package with a 3-9×40 scope. These ready-for-the-field packages carry a suggested retail price of only $404. None of the ATR rifles are available in left-handed models.
A great resource to consider when buying an inexpensive bolt action rifle is the comprehensive comparison at Top Gun Review ( http://www.topgunreview.com/best/rifle/budget-bolt-actions/ ) This site put together a review of ten budget, bolt action rifles to determine which offered the best buy for the money. Their top choice? The Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic, though they also gave top marks to the Howa 1500, T/C Venture and Marlin X7.
Though I’ve never shot the Weatherby myself, I have heard very good things about the rifle. It is more expensive than the other rifles mentioned with a suggested retail of $649 for the Series 2 Synthetic. However, the rifle comes with a sub-MOA guarantee. In other words, the company guarantees the rifle will shoot groups smaller than 1” at 100 yards when used with specified premium ammunition. For the precision shooter on a budget, the Weatherby would certainly seem to be worthy of closer inspection.
I’m a huge fan of the AR-style rifles, but there is a lot of value to be found in a bolt action rifle. These guns offer a lot of powerful caliber choices and are frequently half the cost of a modern sporting rifle.