If you’re in the market for a new hunting rifle, now’s the time to strike. Lucky for you, there are lots of great hunting rifles that cost less than $1,000, all of which are capable of churning out groups under an inch with the right shooter and the right load. We can all agree it’s been a trying year, and as we approach the end of 2020, we think it’s high time to treat yourself to a new hunting rifle. Here’s a look at 10 of the best guns under a $1,000.
1. Browning X-Bolt
Browning’s flagship X-Bolt rifles feature an action that is bedded front and rear, and these guns come with some of the best barrels in this price category. Not surprisingly, accuracy is excellent. Browning doesn’t promise sub-MOA accuracy, but the X-Bolts I’ve reviewed all managed to do better than that and, with loads they like, I’ve had X-Bolts churn out three-shot groups around .75 inches at 100 yards. The light, crisp Feather Trigger makes accurate shooting easy, and Browning’s clever rotary magazine works extremely well. These guns come with a two-position tang-mounted safety which is easy to reach and manipulate, but they’re also equipped with a manual bolt unlock button that allows the shooter to cycle the action with the safety engaged. Left-handed models are available, and there are also compact versions for shorter-statured hunters. The venerable X-Bolt is also one of the lightest guns on this list: the Composite Stalker weighs between 6 and 7 pounds, depending upon caliber. MSRP: $909-$999; browning.com.
2. Bergara B-14 Wilderness Ridge
Bergara has been making barrels for some time, but today the company is best-known for their excellent bolt action hunting and target rifles. The new B-14 Wilderness Ridge offers tons of great features like a Bergara barrel with Sniper Grey Cerakote finish, an Omni muzzle brake and a hand-painted SoftTouch camo stock. The dual-lug bolt is equipped with a sliding plate extractor and coned bolt nose which helps ensure smooth cycling. These guns weigh between 7.4 and 7.9 pounds, so they aren’t obtrusively heavy, yet they’ll match the accuracy of dedicated target rifles that cost much more. The Bergara is available in a wide array of chamberings, including popular new rounds like the 6.5 and .300 PRCs and 28 Nosler. MSRPs hover around $1,000, but that’s a superb value for a buttoned-up hunting rifle like this one. MSRP: $975-$1,055; bergararifles.com.
3. Weatherby Vanguard
The Weatherby Vanguard is a dual-lug, push-feed bolt-action that sets a very high standard in the $1,000 and under class. The fit and finish, cycling and two-stage trigger feel like they were lifted from a more expensive gun, and most Vanguards will—with the right ammo—exceed their sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. The three-position safety is a nice addition, allowing you to cycle the action with the safety engaged. Over time, the Vanguard family has grown to include several models (including the new Synthetic Green version), and this is the least expensive way to harness the power of the various Weatherby magnum rounds. The Badlands version, shown above, is one of the Vanguard rifles that’s recently been made available in 6.5 PRC, too. MSRP: $549-1,099; weatherby.com.
4. Kimber Hunter
The Kimber 84 action utilizes a full-length claw extractor similar to the one found in Mauser’s 98 and Winchester’s Model 70 for absolute reliability. Until recently, all Kimber rifles cost north of a $1,000, but the entry-level Hunter offers all that CRF goodness at a three-figure price-point. It’s available in a wide range of calibers from .243 Win. up to .30-06 Springfield, and weigh between 5½ and 6 pounds, depending on chambering. The weight has been trimmed, but the Hunter is a feature-rich rifle with a match-grade chamber, durable synthetic stock, three-position wing safety and a factory trigger set between 3.5 and 4 pounds. Kimber promises sub-MOA accuracy from this gun, and it delivers. MSRP: $891; kimberamerica.com.
5. Marlin Dark Series
Who doesn’t love a lever gun? Marlin is now in Ruger’s hands, which means its lever-action rifles will likely live on, with some technical and machining upgrades. Marlin’s Dark Series rifles are a great choice for hunters, and because these guns offer a long top rail for mounting an optic you can easily attach an extended eye relief scope or reflex sight to the rifle. The Model 336 Dark Series in .30-30 is the archetypal woods rifle, but hunters in straight wall-only states should check out the Model 1895 Dark Series in .45-70. As the name implies these rifles have a black finish on the stock and metal, and the paracord sling and lever wrap add to this gun’s sleek aesthetic. MSRP: $949; marlinfirearms.com.
6. Tikka T3x
Tikka’s sleek bolt-action rifles set the standard for the modern budget bolt gun, and they continue to rank among the best bargains in the sub-$1,000 class, thanks to a long list of standard features and excellent accuracy. The company’s T3x rifles offer interchangeable grip modules, a steel recoil lug, a fully enclosed bolt shroud, and a light, clean trigger. Like so many others on the list, the Tikka promises sub-MOA accuracy and it delivers. The redesigned ejection port ensures reliable cycling while maintaining a rigid action design that helps live up to Tikka’s lofty accuracy guarantee. The T3x family has many models and variants, including tactical guns and classic wood-stocked versions, but the Cabela’s/Bass Pro Shops exclusive T3x Superlite Camo version (shown above) is a versatile hunting rifle that’s lightweight—around 6 pounds—accurate and affordable. There are left-handed versions available, too. MSRP: $899-$949; tikka.fi.
7. Savage 110
The Savage 110 has an excellent reputation for superb accuracy at a price-point most hunters can afford. These guns are loaded with all sorts of clever engineering, including the groundbreaking AccuTrigger, Savage’s floating bolt head and a barrel nut that allows for very precise headspacing. If you don’t know what all that means understand this: Savage’s bolt guns continue to produce accuracy results that challenges rival rifles costing much, much more. Several models are also available in left-handed versions, too. The 110 Classic, shown here, barely squeaks under the bar with an MSRP of $999, but it comes with a walnut stock that is adjustable for comb height and LOP and it blends traditional styling with modern amenities. You can’t go wrong by purchasing any member of the 110 family, though. MSRP: $599-$999; savagearms.com.
8. Ruger American Rifle
Ruger’s American Rifle deserves a top spot on any list of the best hunting rifles under $1,000. In fact, the Ruger carries a starting MSRP less than half that, but as more and more hunters are learning, these rifles produce stellar accuracy. The full diameter three-lug bolt promises a short bolt lift and smooth cycling, and the crisp Marksman Adjustable Trigger can be set between 3 and 5 pounds. Left-hand versions are available, and all come with a Picatinny rail for easy mounting of optics. The entry-level model offers everything you need, but the recently introduced Hunter model (shown above) with adjustable Magpul stock is a very cool rifle for those who like hybrid hunting/target rifles. Regardless of which American rifle you choose, you won’t be disappointed. MSRP: $489-$789; ruger.com.
9. Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter
Mossberg’s new Patriot LR Hunter is one of the popular new breed of hybrid target/hunting rifles, and it comes with a fluted barrel with a threaded muzzle, aluminum pillar bedding, an LBA adjustable (2-7 lbs.) bladed trigger and a Picatinny rail for easy optics installation. The Monte Carlo-style stock features a polymer exterior surface with grip-enhancing texturing, and the forearm is flat like a benchrest rifle and comes with dual sling studs. Patriot actions feature dual-lug, spiral fluted bolts and a two-position rocker-type safety. The Patriot LR Hunter I personally tested, chambered in 6.5 PRC, shot three bullets under an inch at 100 yards, making this affordable rifle worthy of a spot on our list. In addition to 6.5 PRC, the Patriot LR Hunter is available in 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win. and .300 Win. Mag. MSRP: $766; mossberg.com.
10. Thompson/Center Venture II
The original Venture was a good gun with a glaring flaw: it needed a better trigger. T/C fixed that on this model, and the new Venture II outcompetes guns costing four figures. At $525, it’s one of the least expensive guns on this list, but the Venture II neither looks nor shoots like a “cheap” gun. Accuracy from the 5R rifled barrel is exceptional, and my test rifle delivered much smaller groups than the company’s 1-MOA guarentee. The Weather Shield coating and polymer stock offer all-weather protection, and the Hogue panels on the stock ensure a solid hold and complete control, even when the gun is wet. The Venture II’s muzzle is threaded, and overall weight is at or just below 7.5 pounds, depending on chambering. There are lots of chambering options, including the 350 Legend, so this gun is an ideal deer rifle for those who live in straight-wall-only states. MSRP: $525; tcarms.com.