HUNTING

Best Deer Rifle: Hunting for the Perfect Buck Rifle

Best deer rifle
Shawn Harrison
Written by Shawn Harrison

You have to agree that tracking down and actually getting the deer back home as a trophy takes so much effort. Not only that you have to be an excellent tracker, but you also have to have the right ammo so that the shot is effective and kills the deer fast so that it doesn’t suffer and so that you don’t have to track it again if it runs away wounded. You will also agree that in order to make those long range shots, besides the right caliber ammo, you have to posses the best deer rifle you can find on the market.

When it comes to deer hunting rifles, the best choice is one that is lightweight, controllable, and has state-of-the-art design features. But, finding a good quality model is something that takes a lot of time, including research and testing. That is precisely why we decided to write this article and help you out.

In this article, you will have a chance to get more familiar with the most important features you need to keep an eye on when doing the research, and we will shorten that research by giving you in-depth reviews of the best models on the market. But first, here is the table of the rifles we reviewed so that you know what to expect.

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightBest UseBarrel Length
Browning X-Bolt Long-Range Hunter7.5 lbsDeer hunting26 in
Legendary Arms Works Professional7 lbsDeer & hog hunting24 in
Winchester XPR6 lbsDeer hunting22 in
Remington R-25 GII7.6 lbsDeer & big game hunting20 in
Mossberg’s MVP8.5 lbsDeer hunting18.5 in
Nosler M48 Patriot7 lbsDeer hunting26 in
Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW Predator8.12 lbsDeer & predator hunting24 in
Sauer 404 Elegance7 lbsDeer hunting22 in
Savage FCSS Weather Warrior7 lbsDeer hunting22 in
Alpine Shooter Sako Finnlight7 lbsDeer hunting22 in

Features to Consider Before Buying

Choosing the best rifle for deer hunting is an investment worth making, and that is why you are definitely going to want to look at each of the features that we have listed below.

Caliber

The most important factor, as far as rifle loads are concerned anyway, is the caliber. Big bores and small bores vary greatly in application, range and power, making caliber crucial to getting what you’re looking for out of the gun.

Caliber is the measurement of the circular barrel’s diameter, which is often measured in thousandths of an inch. You want to choose something that is easy for you to use with your other gear and for whatever your intended purpose is (whether you’re looking to only hunt deer or not).

Nosler cartridges

Normally, calibers range from approximately 0.17 to 0.458. Your choice should be guided by the type of game, in this case, a deer. A 0.30 or larger should be a good choice for deer hunting. However, you should know that rifles with high calibers have additional power over low calibers, which are also easily affected by the wind compared to larger ones, which is another factor to consider.

Trigger Mechanism

A convenient trigger is one that breaks effectively. Normally, the trigger is highly significant to practical accuracy. Therefore, a poor trigger can lead to flinching and wounding your target. A good, crisp, clean trigger should be user adjustable.

It should be outstandingly safe in order to avoid unintentional trigger movement unless you pull the trigger when you are ready. The trigger mechanism you choose should have polished engagement surfaces along with tight quality control.

Man with hunting rifle

The most resourceful, versatile and reliable trigger systems that you should consider are: Browning X-Bolt trigger, Winchester M.O.A trigger, Remington model 798 trigger, Ruger LC6 trigger, and Savage AccuTrigger.

Safety and Control

There a few important considerations when hunting big game such as a deer. Those include a comfortable cocking system (easy to cock and uncock), easily removable bolt head (so that you are the only person who can fire the gun), and a reliable safety system with three-position safety (easily accessible and allowing you to load and unload with the safety engaged).

So, choose a rifle that has an adjustable trigger in order to allow you more control. The trigger should have a convenient adjustment range that provides you with the desired length of pull. The stock should be ergonomically pleasing, fitted with contours alongside the barrel, on top of the pistol grip and underneath the stock for a powerful grip whether in dry or wet conditions.

Barrel Profile and Length

One of the main attractions of a good rifle is the barrel profile and length. The barrel length should be very practical, such as 22 inches, 24 inches, or 26 inches. The overall measurement is a separate contemplation from the barrel length, which includes the pistol.

Black rifle

The barrel profile should be gently tapering at the muzzle with a clear-cut crown, such as 11° for improved accuracy. The barrel should be free floating and fluted for at least two-thirds of its length. This should help disperse heat and save weight.

Action

This is the manner in which you load and fire ammunition and eject the used cartridge. The most popular actions in use are lever action, bolt action, slide action, single shot action, and semi-automatic/self-loading action.

Lever action functions by the manipulation of a hinged lever that is attached to the bottom of the receiver just behind the trigger. The bolt action functions by manual operation of a handle attached to a bolt, while the slide action uses a forward pump to load and unload a firearm.

The single shot action is operated by opening a breach using a release lever. Semiautomatic action uses the energy created by the discharge of a gun (simple blowback or gas operation) to load ammunition.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Each of the rifles we reviewed here has a range of great features that are going to help you with whatever you’re looking for, including getting that deer. You want to make sure that you’re looking at top rifles and the features that you really want to use and what you could do with them.

Browning X-Bolt Long Range Hunter RifleX-Bolt Long range Hunter

Price: Approx. $1,500

Weight: 7.5 lbs

Barrel length: 26 in

Specific features: 26 Nosler caliber, matte stainless steel finish, composite carbon fiber stock, detachable magazine, magazine capacity of 3, free-floating barrels with glass-bedded receivers

Best use: Deer hunting

Description: The X-Bolt Long Range Hunter provides you with precision right out of the box. It has a unique design that feels and looks amazing, not only to the touch but also for the performance. This shoulder firearm, with a 26 inch barrel, minimizes bullet drop and maximizes velocity for superior performance.

The hand-chambered, free-floating, lightweight, stainless steel and fluted barrel provide you with pinpoint accuracy. You can use this weapon under wet weather conditions since its composite carbon fiber stock is fitted with Dura-Touch Armor coating for a strong grip.

Furthermore, the detachable magazine makes it easier for you to reload as well as unload, and the rifle is chambered for some long-legged cartridges ideal for hunting, such as 26 Nosler, 7mm Rem. Mag., 300 WSM, and 270 WSM.

All in all, the Long Range Hunter isn’t as light in weight as the more modern super light mountain guns with stocks that are barely there, and barrels that are thin as pencils, but it is much lighter than other long range models on the market, and is consistently accurate. So, it is definitely a worthy investment for every serious big game hunter.

PROS:

  • Detachable magazine
  • Minimal bullet drop
  • Extreme accuracy
  • Works even in wet conditions
  • Carbon fiber stock for durability

CONS:

  • Shiny finish is not ideal for hunting

Related: The Browning X-Lock Integrated Scope Rings are designed to make sure you get just the right picture every time you pull up your gun to shoot and they do it well. They are high tensile and durable, and will hold your scope securely in place.

Legendary Arms Works Professional Hunting RifleLegendary Arms Works Professional Hunting Rifle

Price: Approx. $1,800

Weight: 7 lbs

Barrel length: 24 in

Specific features: Bolt action, 300 Win Mag, tactical gray Cerakote metal finish, custom one-piece aluminum trigger guard, one-inch Pachmayr decelerator recoil pad, fiberglass stock fitted with aluminum bedding blocks, 3-position safety, custom tuned Timney trigger, stainless steel, honed, fluted barrel, and removable muzzle break

Best use: Deer hunting, hog hunting, hunting

Description: The Professional (LAW model 704 actions) is a lightweight rifle made in a state-of-the-art design. The stainless steel, honed, fluted barrel, is fitted with a removable muzzle break, along with a thread protector for easy and precise shooting and three position safety.

This shoulder firearm with a 24 inch barrel, is easy to carry along when deer hunting, and it provides very fine style. The feel, as well as handling qualities of its stock design, are perfect. Furthermore, the tactical gray Cerakote metal finish, provides you with the ultimate protection, while the fiberglass, hand laid stock fitted with aluminum bedding improves strength, as well as accuracy.

All in all, the Legendary Army Works Professional hunting rifle is a great model if you plan on doing the mountain to mountain shots, and thanks to its light weight, carrying it to the kill spot will not be a problem. What is even better, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

PROS:

  • Extremely consistent
  • Comfortable to hold
  • Bolt action rifle
  • Fiberglass and aluminum with stainless steel
  • Thread protector

CONS:

  • Right-handed only
  • Hard to get the right grouping
  • Lifetime warranty

Related: Every good hunter knows that you need to take care of your gun if you want it to be long lasting and consistently accurate. The Bore Snake Gun Cleaning Kit makes sure that our gun is always in top notch shape, and also makes sure that you’re going to have no problem getting that next shot.

Winchester XPR Hunting RifleWinchester XPR Hunting Rifle

Price: Approx. $550

Weight: 6 lbs

Barrel length: 22 in

Specific features: 243 Win caliber, detachable box magazine, nickel Teflon coated bolt, bolt unlock button, M.O.A. trigger system, Inflex Technology recoil pad, matte blue finish, and black polymer stock

Best use: Deer hunting

Description: The Winchester XPR Hunting Rifle is the best deer hunting rifle available in the 243 Win calibers. This new workhorse provides you with a brand new way of looking at bolt action shoulder firearms. This rifle is not only bolt action built, but also reliable and rugged shooting machinery for serious deer hunters. This piece is built to withstand field abuse.

Furthermore, the rifle’s overall finish is flat, with all metal surfaces being matte black. Even the body of the bolt is subdued. The ejection port is well designed and large, making the single loading and unloading quite simple and easy. Right out of the box, the rifle comes with Tally mounts (30 mm), as well as a Weaver-type bases set, if you decide to use the QD rings.

The polymer stock provides you with a strong grip that is extremely important in wet environments. There is no need for your extra shells to fill your pockets because the detachable box magazine offers you storage for them. The integrated M.O.A trigger system boasts a 2:1 mechanical advantage.

PROS:

  • Detachable box magazine for extra storage
  • Bolt action firearm
  • Durable under heavy use and abuse
  • Integrated MOA trigger system
  • Style options including camo

CONS:

  • Barrel is longer than necessary
  • Trigger takes a little adjusting to get right

Related: Long range hunting without a scope is very close to impossible, so a scope is a must. The Carl Zeiss Optical Conquest HD5 Rifle Scope is a high quality model that really does get the job done. It’s going to cost you, but it’s definitely going to get what you’re looking for

Remington R-25 GII Hunting RifleRemington R-25 GII Hunting Rifle

Price: Approx. $1,700

Weight: 7.62 lbs

Barrel length: 20 in

Specific features: .308 Win cal., GII technology, mossy oak break-up infinity finish, 4+1 capacity, direct impingement semi-auto action, 3 flutes underneath the barrel nut, and polymer stock

Best use: Deer hunting, big game hunting

Description: The Remington R-25 GII Hunting Rifle comes with GII tech based machinery, and is engineered and modified to achieve maximum efficiency for deer hunting and big game hunting. It is a modern sporting rifle that offers hair-splitting accuracy and ultimate performance, with a lightweight design.

Also contributing to the weight reduction is the eight-sided, carbon-fiber hand guard, which allows a free float of the barrel, which furthermore, enhances the accuracy. Furthermore, it is vented, so that cooling is possible due to air circulation for cooling, and accessories, such as sling swivels, can be attached thanks to the short rail (3, 6 and 9 o’clock position) drilled and tapped sections.

You can expect more reliable cycling due to its dual ejectors, with an improved extractor and the efficient, lighter bolt carrier. The presence of 3 flutes just underneath its barrel nut vent gases forward in the event that the firearm suffers a case separation. Moreover, the magazine is fitted with a pronounced bevel for faster reloads.

PROS:

  • Quick and easy reload capability
  • Free float barrel for enhanced accuracy
  • Vented for additional cooling
  • Teflon coated barrel for durability and less glare
  • Dual ejectors

CONS:

  • Somewhat smaller than average
  • No attachment for front iron sight

Related: Knowing how to care for your gun at all times is important and this NRA Step-by-Step Guide to Gun Safety will help you with this and with your handguns too.

Mossberg MVP Light Chassis RifleMossberg MVP Light Chassis Rifle

Price: Approx. $1,100

Weight: 8.5 lbs

Barrel length: 18.5 in

Specific features: .308 Win caliber, patented MVP bolt design, MDT LSS light chassis aluminum stock, standard AR magazines, 18.5-inch barrel wove with muzzle break (Silencer Co Saker Trifecta), patented LBA trigger system (adjustable), Picatinny rail, an oversized bolt handle, optional MRAD reticle with rings, optional Vortex viper HS-T 4x zoom, and adjustable bipod

Best use: Deer hunting

Description: The Mossberg MVP Light Chassis Rifle has a sleek, as well as powerful design that goes great with the modern hunter. It is fitted with a medium bull barrel that is free-floating, for superior accuracy as well as performance. And, with the multiple mounting holes, besides maybe adding a different then factory scope to make sure you hit the deer, you can also use other rail accessories.

Furthermore, the MDT LSS light chassis aluminum stock is adjustable, which is a feature that lessens snagging, as far as height adjustment is concerned. As for the scope, this model features powerful optics for durable, repeatable and precise elevation.

Also, the rifle has a medium fluted bull barrel with threading, and a muzzle brake for reduced muzzle jump, as well as durability, and includes a tactical bolt handle and a foldable Bipod, to make it even easier to use and so that you can achieve mountain to mountain shots.

PROS:

  • Extreme accuracy
  • Creep free trigger
  • External manual safety included
  • Gun lock and bipod included
  • Very solid and compact

CONS:

  • Bolt not as smooth as expected
  • Not ready to go out of the box

Related: An inexpensive sling can make your gun easier to carry, and the Core Survival Paracord Gun Sling definitely does that. By adding this sling into the equation, carrying your rifle while you track the game will be much easier.

Nosler M48 Patriot RifleNosler M48 Patriot Rifle

Price: Approx. $1,800

Weight: 7 lbs

Barrel length: 26 in

Specific features: 28 Nosler caliber, custom action, Cerakote all-weather finish, guaranteed M.O.A. accuracy, hand-tuned trigger pull, two-position rocker safety, hinged floor plate, glass and aluminum pillar bedding, Aramid fiber reinforced composite stock, and stainless match-grade barrel

Best use: Hunting, deer hunting

Description: The Nosler M48 Patriot Rifle offers you exceptional performance, along with robust dependability. This, state-of-the-art shooting machine, is equipped and ready for any weather conditions. The composite stock design it comes with, is incorporated with aluminum bedding chassis, and Aramid fibers, which contribute to its light weight as well as durability.

Furthermore, you can rest assured that wet conditions will not warp or swell the stock, which is a feature that ensures you have a consistent shot placement. Also, unlike most models you can find in the market, the Nosler M48 Patriot is contoured to be compatible with any standard two-piece scope base, leaving you to make the choice of your favorite scope.

With the recommended Nosler ammunition, you will always achieve M.O.A. accuracy. The NIC industry Cerakote finish, on all external metal surfaces, protects the rifle against wear and rust, and makes storing of the gun when not used, quite easier and more effective.

PROS:

  • Consistent grouping
  • Protected against wear and rust
  • Works well in wet conditions
  • Works with any two-piece scope base
  • Very low drop over long distances

CONS:

  • Doesn’t group better than 2 inches
  • Not ideal for beginners
  • Fair amount of recoil when shooting

Related: Now that you found the gun, all you need is a high-quality, easy-to-use scope mount. Therefore, we recommend the Crosman Center Point Rifle Scope Mount, which is designed to fit your gun and make sure your scope is locked where you need it to be every time.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW Predator RifleRuger M77 Hawkeye FTW Predator Rifle

Price: Approx. $1,100

Weight: 8.12 lbs

Barrel length: 24 in

Specific features: 204 Ruger caliber, Hawkeye matte stainless finish, two-stage adjustable trigger, green mountain laminate stock, magazine capacity of 4, 12.75 in to 14.25 in length of pull, a twist of 1,8 inch RH, non-rotating Mauser-type controlled round feed extractor, medium contour forged barrel, hinged solid-steel floor plate, patented integral scope mounts, and three-position safety

Best use: Deer hunting, predator hunting

Description: The Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW Predator Rifle comes with a uniquely designed color pattern, and is a long-range shooting weapon that you should definitely use if you plan on going hunting for deer. It features a controlled, Mauser-type, non-rotating, round feed extractor, along with a fixed blade-type ejector for successful, fast and simple ejection of empty cases.

Furthermore, the hinged solid-steel floorplate allows you to unload effortlessly without even chambering the cartridges. Also, the accidental dumping of cartridges is prevented by the patented latch and engraved Ruger logo. The three-position safety allows you to load, unload and lock the bolt with the safety engaged, while the medium contour forged barrel makes cleaning easy and offers longevity and accuracy.

We should also mention that the rifle comes with patented integral scope mounts that are positioned directly on the solid-steel receiver. You will find that they provide stable scope ring mounting surfaces, and eliminate every possible source of looseness and inaccuracy while you are out in the field.

PROS:

  • Round feed extractor
  • Fixed blade ejector
  • Easy unloading without chambering each cartridge
  • Three position safety
  • Precise rifling for accuracy and cleaning

CONS:

  • Trigger overtravels
  • Not ideal in hotter temperatures

Related: Since this gun doesn’t come with a scope, and it has integral scope mounts, all you need is to find a high-quality scope. The Meopta Meopro 4.5 Scope helps you get the accuracy that you’re looking for and makes sure you can always see what you’re shooting at, and is a great addition to this rifle.

Sauer 404 Elegance Hunting RifleSauer 404 Elegance Hunting Rifle

Price: Approx. $6,000

Weight: 7 lbs

Barrel length: 22 in

Specific features: .243 caliber, MagLock magazine safety, Sauer universal key, Sauer universal mount, infinitely adjustable trigger blade along with an 8mm adjustment range, Sauer Quattro trigger, jeweled bolt body, 6-lug bolt, twin ejectors, replaceable bolt head, ergonomic manual cocking slide, aviation-grade high-alloy aluminum receiver, and Ergo Lux stock in Grade 5 figured walnut

Best use: Deer hunting

Description: The Sauer 404 Elegance Hunting Rifle is assuredly stylish, masterful and serene. Its superiority is matched with the sumptuous grade 5-walnut stock that provides you with an enduringly beautiful bolt-action masterpiece of artistic perfection.

The manual cocking system offers more safety. The user-friendly metal cocking slide on the bolt cover allows you to cock and de-cock conveniently. When the bolt is not completely closed, the rifle will not fire because of the automatic firing pin safety. Also, the Sauer Quattro trigger offers you more control and the position of your shooting finger on the trigger determines the pull and hit.

Furthermore, the design of the bolt head allows it to be separated from the bolt body, in only two simple steps. This allows you to be sure that no one you don’t want can use your rifle without your approval.

All in all, this is crème de la crème rifle and it really would be the best one you ever owned, but with the price tag it comes with, we are not so sure it would be the ideal choice for everyone.

PROS:

  • Elegant and stylish design
  • Manual cocking system for safety
  • Twin ejectors
  • Infinitely adjustable trigger

CONS:

  • Expensive

Related: You’re going to need something to clean your gun on, and this Ultimate Rifle Build Gun Cleaning Mat is definitely a unique and stylish way to do just that at a low price.

Savage Model 16 FCSS Weather Warrior RifleSavage Model 16 FCSS Weather Warrior Rifle

Price: Approx. $900

Weight: 7 lbs

Barrel length: 22 in

Specific features
: .338 Federal caliber, AccuTrigger adjustable trigger, sling swivel studs, black synthetic stock, 22 in barrel with target crown, two-round detachable magazine, bolt action, stainless steel

Best use: Deer and large game hunting

Description: The Savage Model 16 FCSS Weather Warrior Rifle is engineered specifically to hunt big game. The design is rugged and made of high-quality materials, which makes this piece the perfect hunting gear under any conditions.

The perfect union of ammunition, scope and gun transforms the enormous potential of the FCSS Weather Warrior into consistent accuracy. The 22 inch barrel with target crown, AccuTrigger adjustable trigger and the detachable magazine improve the precision and performance when aiming and shooting.

Another quite useful feature you will find is the Accutrigger. It is adjustable, and you get the appropriate tool for adjusting it to your personal preference. You will find this rifle to have a much better trigger than many other models on the market, by a considerable margin.

Also, when it comes to cleaning of this rifle, the bolt release design will help you considerably, since the release mechanism is positioned below the action, right in front of the trigger guard. The bolt can be inserted or removed, by simply pulling the trigger and depressing the release button and at the same time. This is exceptionally useful when traveling through airports and when the security personnel asks you to remove the bolt and pack it separately from the rifle.

PROS:

  • Detachable box magazine
  • Black synthetic stock
  • Moderate size compared to similar
  • Consistent accuracy
  • Engineered for big game

CONS:

  • Not ideal accuracy with factory loads
  • 2 round magazine capacity

Related: Maintaining your rifle is a must if you plan on using it for many years. A good gun cleaning kit can be a lifesaver, and the Outers Universal 32-Piece Gun Cleaning Kit has 32 pieces to make sure you’re always ready to go.

Sako Finnlight RifleSakko Finnlight Rifle

Price: Approx. $1,600

Weight: 7 lbs

Barrel length: 22 in

Specific features: Lightweight, graduated grooves on the metal trigger blade, standard single stage trigger, controlled round bolt design, fluted barrel, synthetic stock, excellent barrel profile and length

Best use: Deer hunting

Description: The Sako Finnlight Rifle is a uniquely designed rifle that is made for shooting big game. Its action has a non-reflective, satin stainless steel finish to keep you hidden and you should have no problems with the operation because each and every part of the rifle is correctly fitted for improved performance.

The barrel profile, along with its length, will definitely impress you. The 22 inch barrel is practical and it provides you with the desired velocity and efficiency. Generally, this piece offers you better accuracy, handling, trigger, stock and value.

All in all, this rifle has much to offer when it comes to bad weather use. You don’t need to worry about damaging or scratching it, and can concentrate on tracking the game. Also, the rifle handles pretty well and the overall lines are very pleasing to the eye, even though it comes with a stock that has a plastic-feeling. What we liked as well is the fact that it comes with soft recoil pad, which is always welcome on a heavier caliber, light rifle.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Excellent accuracy
  • Grippy stock
  • Very little recoil
  • Sights in quickly

CONS:

  • Base must be tight and square
  • Alignment with base is difficult

Related: Cleaning those hard to reach spots on a rifle can be quite frustrating if you don’t have the right tools. That is why we recommend checking out the Zengi Stainless Steel Gunsmith Armorer Pick Set, which is designed for those who need to clean their rifle perfectly, and it works great for the low price.

Wrap Up

We have reached the end of our article. The features discussed in this article will help you in making an informed search, while the product reviews are there to make sure you find your desired product.

According to what we discussed earlier in this article, a good deer gun can only be reliable, dependable, and accurate if the following features are observed: caliber, trigger mechanism, safety & control, barrel profile & length and action. So, when taking all these features into consideration, and when you make a selection of the features that are most important for you, we are sure that you will find the model you are looking for in our reviewed products.

Woman with a rifle

If you are looking for a lighter, easier-to-carry-through-the-woods model, then you might consider getting the Sako Finnlight Rifle. On the other hand, if you are looking for pure power and plan on making the mountain to mountain shots, then you should consider the Remington R-25 GII, the Ruger M77, or the Mosberg model. But, whatever your final choice is, you can rest assured that you will be getting one of the best models on the market.

Now, it’s your turn to share some thoughts. Do you think we have missed anything? Do you have a rifle that you like better or something you really think we should know? We definitely want to know all about it, and you can let us know by leaving a comment in the comments section below. Also, if you think that your hunting friends will find this article interesting and useful, feel free to share it on social media.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.