How To Choose Best Riffle For Deer Hunting

If you are standing in the used gun store looking for an enormous collection of deer hunting rifles, you will realize that those guns come in a broad range of sizes, materials, shapes and prices. Which one should you choose? Many people have been writing a lot on how to choose a hunting rifle. I have found that choosing the best deer hunting rifle involves a lot more than just getting calibers and measurements right. I have decided to write this list to help you avoid buying hunting rifles that are overly flashy but those that fill a designated role.

1. Marlin 336

marlin 336

Source: MarlinFirearms.com

Marlin has been producing the 336 since 1948. I have used several high-powered rifles, but I can assure you the 336 is second after the Winchester ’94. These days you can acquire Marlin 336 in any caliber you like as long as it’s.35 Remington or 30-30 Winchester. The company built Marlin 336 rifle with “Micro-Groove” barrels. This technique was aimed at ditching a few number of Ballard rifling for a larger number shallow rifling grooves.

The rifle boasts classic smooth lines to let you know it means business. If you are a fan of the action’s blued finish, I’m sure the fingerprints on the bluing will drive you crazy. On the aesthetic front, the Marlin 336 bluing is amazing. The receiver shines like a mirror and the barrel bluing is rich and flawless.

Surprisingly, the Marlin 336 is light. It weighs less than old shotguns. It naturally snaps to the shoulder. The 20-inch barrel gives Marlin 336 rifle near-perfect balance. I have once tried Marlin 336 rifle to see if it could shoot as well as its looks. The rifle works well when firing at 100 yards

Below are specs of Marlin 336:

  • Caliber: 30/30 Win, 35 Rem
  • Capacity: 6-shot tubular magazine
  • Action: Lever action; solid top receiver; side ejection; hammer block safety; deeply blued metal surfaces;
  • Stock: blued steel barrel band with integral swivel stud; American black walnut pistol grip stock with fluted comb; rubber rifle butt pad; cut checkering; tough Mar-Shield finish;
  • Barrel: 20″ with Micro-Groove rifling
  • Sights: Adjustable semi-buckhorn folding rear
  • Overall Length: 38.5″
  • Weight: 7 lbs.

2. Ruger American

ruger american

Source: ruger.com

According to Nick Leghorn’s review, Ruger American is one of the best bolt-action deer hunting rifles that you can purchase from your local gun store without breaking the bank. This rifle was introduced recently by Ruger which retail below $500 price point. There are many features that make Ruger American one of the best deer hunting rifles. The stock is designed from rigid polymers that give it a very slick feel and a great look in both senses of the word.

One of the stock features that many rifles don’t have is a free floated barrel. The metal bits contact the stock at the aluminum mounting blocks preventing the stock from pushing the barrel off target. This design also allows the barrel to shift around conveniently during the firing process. If you want to select accurate rifles, choose those with free floated barrel one of the features that makes a rifle accurate.

The bolt is another feature that will guide you when buying the best deer hunting rifle. Ruger American has a small-sized bolt, but its working is fine. Last month, I had a chance to test-operate this rifle. I tried operating the bolt using my wrist, but I found out it is not that easier. The magazine on Ruger American, however, is a masterpiece of engineering. If you have come across or used the 20th century Krag-Jørgensen rifle, you know what I’m saying. This rifle used a rotary style magazine, seemingly an idea that Ruger borrowed when designing Ruger American rifle. Using a single rotating flap the company has made a lightweight magazine capable of holding four rounds of ammunition. This design will face out the older spring-and-follower magazines that are normally designed for low capacity firearms.


  • Caliber: .30-06 Springfield (also .308, .270, .243)
  • Size: 42.5″ overall length
  • Barrel: 22″, 1:10 twist
  • Weight: 6.12 lbs.
  • Finish: Matte blue
  • Operation: Bolt Action
  • Capacity: 4+1
  • MSRP: $449

3. Savage Model 110

Savage Model 110

Source: savagearms.com

Another deer hunting rifle that I have come across is the Savage Model 110. Massad Ayoob describes Savage Model 110 as a proven economical backwoods rifle. It is a bolt-action rifle manufactured by Savage Arms. The first model was designed in 1958 by Nicholas L. Brewer, but since then is has been in continuous production. The Savage Model 110 has been in competition with other popular hunting rifles such as Ruger M77, Remington Model 700 and Winchester Model 70.

Shouldering the Savage Model 110 is what many hunters would expect. The rifle has a 13.75-inch pull and a small rubber pad on the end of the stock. The factory stock functions perfectly, so there is no need to improve the rifle with expensive upgrade stock. You can add an elastic ammunition holder to the butt stock but still operate it without interfering with your check weld.

The rifle comes with a Bushnell 3-9×40 scope and rings. Although the rings are loose when upon purchase, it won’t take you more than 20 minutes to get it set up. The scope is designed with 3-9 adjustable zoom with a 40 mm objective lens. I use this rifle when shooting a deer that is at 200-300 yards.

The safety on the Savage Model 110 is located behind the bolt and has three positions. The forward position removes the safety and makes the rifle ready for firing. If you ask me, I would tell you that I prefer this safety more than other safety mechanisms. Using Model 110 is incredibly easy. If you are using an Allen wrench, the screws on the bottom side of the rifle must be removed. You will find that the stock comes off easily with little resistance.

The trigger on the Savage is what makes Model 110 tick. The rifle is fitted with Savage’s Accutrigger system, an adjustable trigger that works wonderfully.

4. Remington 700

Remington 700 sps varmint

Source: remington.com

The Remington 700 models are the best deer hunting rifles ever manufactured. I guess the innovation of these latest models of Remington 700 comes as a surprise to you as it is to me. The company had listened to customers’ suggestions when they released these models with upgraded features.

The first model was first manufactured in 1962, but many of those models are still available in local used gun outlets across the U.S. Remington still continue to manufacture a broad range of models of the Remington 700 from the basic ADL synthetic stock to the most advanced one SPS Varmint and Tactical Chassis.

The latest Remington 700 models have an X-MarkPro, which is the Remington’s newer externally adjustable trigger. Its two-position safety, when on the Safe, lacks the original bolt lock. Externally, they are designed with nicely finished Grade B walnuts with laser-engraved floorplates. They are also designed with 7mm Remington Magnum, which performs much better in a standard 24-inch barrel. With different ranges of 7mms, Remington’s Big 7 remains the world number one deer hunting rifles.

Some of the features that Remington has worked on are larger bolt handles; the increased size that makes it is easier for hunters to manipulate.

5. Winchester XPR

Winchester XPR

Source: winchesterguns.com

I have read several reviews about Winchester XPR, but I found David E. Petzal review comprehensive and honest. The Winchester XPR is a 21st-century rifle that you can buy for your hunting activities. Completely designed with a streamlined bolt action, this rifle has a heavy tubular receiver designed with a massive three-lug bolt, a smallish ejection port, a superb trigger and an extremely stiff synthetic stock.

In my opinion, the manufacturer was very clever when designing this rifle. While the cross section of the receiver is circular in shape that makes the rifle rigid, the bedded surfaces are flat which prevents the rifle from twisting. This makes Winchester XPR one of the best deer hunting rifles in terms of modern rifle accuracy.

The XPR cost around $550, which many people may seem to be a high price. However, there are a few features that Winchester could have saved a few dollars but chose not to in the interest of manufacturing a better rifle. Winchester decided to incorporate the newest Model 70’s M.O.A. trigger, which is an expensive piece of machinery. I have once tested model XPR and guess what I found. I found that the M.O.A. trigger is more complex but gives a pull that is virtually perfect.

There is no doubt that Winchester XPR model is one of the best deer hunting rifles not only due to its longer lifetime but also a decent pull that don’t require time and skill.

6. Savage 11

Savage 11

Source: savagearms.com

Getting a rifle that weighs below 6 pounds is not too hard. Model 11 in .260 Rem. is one of the deer hunting rifles that weigh 5-3/4 pounds. The manufacturer has tried to make the rifle well balanced and light.

The manufacturer paid attention to the barrel as well as the stock. The stock weighs 30 ounces (6 ounces for the sling swivel studs, Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad, bedding pillars and pistol grip cap).

The rifle’s recoil pad is made from wood to reduce weight and improve balance. Speaking of appearance, the manufacturer has tried to give Savage 11 a more visual appeal. The manufacturer has replaced the obtrusive bolt release found on the right side of the receiver with a neat plunger on the front of the trigger guard.

The stock of Salvage 11 models is nicely shaped making the rifle comfortable to shoot. You will like the workmanship and quality of materials are very good. The pistol grip cap and Buttpad are well fitted. The receiver and barrel have a non-reflective matte finish.

7. Savage 99

Savage model 99

Source: thecobbs.com

I recently read the 50 Famous Firearms You’ve Got to Own, an eBook authored by Rick Hacker. This eBook highlights the top 50 recommended guns ever made. I check in the list to see if Savage 99 was there. To my surprise, the Savage 99 rifle was ranked number 35. In my opinion, Savage 99 should have ranked among the top 10.

I’m saying this because the Savage 99 has been a solid performer since its discovery in 1988. The rifle has the capability to handle long action cartridges, such as the .270 and .30-06 Winchester. If you have ever come across the Marlin 336 and Winchester 94, you will agree with me that the Salvage 99 is superior because it can handle cartridges of high intensity.

Savage 99 is designed with many superior features that make it more comparable to the modern bolt actions like Winchester Model 70 and Browning BLR. Its rotary spool magazine enables shooters to use of pointed bullets. When compared with flat point bullets, it is agreed that pointed bullets are most preferred by deer hunters because of their capability to retain greater velocity downrange. Its strong action enables it to be chambered in many modern, short-actions, high-intensity cartridges.

For a rifle that was designed in the 1800’s, Savage 99 has many modern day features that are still incorporated on the currently manufactured rifles. I’m sure you will like its cocking indicator that ejects spent cartridges at an angle and make it easier to use together with telescopic sights.

The savage99’s official website has interesting information on the various models, their date of manufacture and their respective characteristics.

8. Winchester 94

Winchester model 94 carbine

Source: winchesterguns.com

Rob Kay, one of the authors at hawaiireporter.com, posted an honest review that shades more light about Winchester 94 rifle. Rob shares his personal experience with this rifle and how it contributed to the transformation of the United States and made Manifest Destiny possible.

The Model 94 Winchester is often called, “The Gun that Won the West.” There are many reasons why I say Winchester 94 is still a good choice if you are planning to go hunting. Being able to aim and shoot at the target is one of the things that make this model a preferred choice.

Other features that make Model 94 Winchester an excellent choice for deer hunting include quick pointing characteristics, light weight, ease of cycling the next round, choice of good calibers and overall responsiveness.

I have been using this model when training new shooters. There is an interesting level of interest generated when new shooters place their hands on this rifle. Beginners can quickly learn skills of handling, loading, operating and shooting.

Personally, I like Model 94 Winchester because of its incredible exterior design. It is made in the old-fashioned way, but most of its parts guarantee you solid durability and reliability. I find its ergonomics practically perfect and its mechanism precise and smooth. Another thing that I like on Model 94 Winchester is its solid lockup. The rifle was designed to handle the newest type of ammunition.

The Winchester 94 has been chambered in calibers that are perfectly developed for faster actions in the forest or bushy areas. Some hunting rifles come and go, but Winchester 94 was developed to stay in a lifetime.

9. Remington 740

Remington 740

Source: bidsquare.com

Remington Model 740 Woodsmaster is one of the most powerful centerfire rifles. The rifle is chambered for the 30-06 Springfield cartridge. The rifle is accurate enough if you are looking for the best deer hunting rifle.

My experience with this gun started when I visited a gun show in Texas with my wife in February of 2008. There were several guns on display, but only one caught my attention: Remington Model 740 autoloader in 30-06. Its mount was a Weaver and its scope was a Bushnell 4x. We figured it would be perfect for deer hunting in Texas forests where shots are less than 200 yards. We decided to buy this rifle to give it a try.

I have used Model 740 Woodsmaster for seven years now. What I can say is that my experience has been awesome. Though accuracy is a little bit lacking, overall, Remington 740 is not a bad choice if you plan to hunt primarily in areas surrounded by wood or bush.

With accuracy the only shortcoming, Model 740 Woodsmaster is a good rifle for shooting deers at 200 yards. If you would like to make it shoot better, be prepared to shoot when you spot a deer at 300 yards.


Did you enjoy reading this article about nine best deer hunting rifles? I was not pulling any purchase here. I assembled this list not only for deer hunting but also for any type of hunting. These rifles are important to me because deer hunting has always been one of my most exciting hobbies. My goal has always been to be on target, shoot and kill. I have also found the art of communicating with nature while in the vast outdoors an adventure that boost my spirits. I consider myself to be a hard-nosed person when it comes to hunting firearms.

I know a basic rifle will work just as intended for the majority of deer hunting, but I believe that success in deer hunting requires having the right rifle. Sometimes it means having a lightweight tool for navigating through mountains or an accurate and powerful rifle for making long shots. So for whatever type of animal hunting you are planning to undertake, I know you have found a perfect gun in this list. Whether you like hunting or not, you will find deer hunting experience one of the adventures you won’t forget.

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