Top Bolt-Action Rifles For Hunting (Buyer’s Guide)

As the hunting season approaches, enthusiasts and seasoned hunters alike are looking for the best equipment to ensure a successful hunt. Among the most critical choices is the selection of a reliable bolt-action rifle. This year has brought some impressive models that stand out for their precision, durability, and performance. 

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Here’s a comprehensive buyer’s guide to the top bolt-action rifles for big game hunting this year.

Factors to Consider Choosing the Right Bolt-Action Rifle

Selecting the perfect bolt-action rifle for big game hunting is more than just picking a renowned brand or model; it involves a series of considerations that align with your hunting style, physical comfort, and the type of game you’re pursuing. Below are key factors to keep in mind:

Caliber Selection

The caliber of your rifle should match the game you’re targeting. Larger calibers are necessary for bigger game due to their stopping power, while smaller calibers can be suitable for medium-sized game.

While all calibers perform similarly within 100 yards, it's the distance outside of this range that matters. Having a rifle that matches the caliber you prefer is essential. To make the best choice, compare the characteristics of cartridges of different calibers. Some key factors to consider include:

  • Maximum Point-Blank Range (MBPR) 

In hunting, where hitting the target precisely is important, knowing the Maximum Point-Blank Range (MBPR) of your rifle is crucial. MBPR refers to the distance where you can aim directly at your target without adjusting for bullet drop. Rifles with a longer MBPR, like bolt-action rifles, tend to be more accurate over longer distances because the bullet's trajectory is flatter. This makes them ideal for long-range hunting.

  • Recoil

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Recoil can impact both your shooting precision and comfort. Bolt-action rifles that exhibit significant recoil are often more challenging to handle, which can detract from the shooting experience. Therefore, selecting a rifle with a recoil level that is comfortable and controllable is crucial for an enjoyable hunting experience.

  • Max Distance for 1000 and 1500 ft-lb of Energy

This is the furthest range at which a bullet retains the capacity to impart a designated energy level—sufficient for effectively hunting game. It is essential to select a bolt-action rifle capable of maintaining an energy output of up to 1500 ft-lb at the distance you desire for optimal performance.

  • Cost

Most important in the long run - while it is important to consider the price of a rifle, the long-term cost of owning and using a rifle should also be taken into account. It is recommended to invest in a high-quality bolt-action rifle for big game hunting that will last for many years, even if it may cost more upfront.

  • Terminal Ballistics

This refers to the bullet's behavior after impact on the target, and it is important for big game hunting as you want a bullet that will effectively take down the game without causing excessive damage to the meat. A bolt-action rifle with excellent terminal ballistics is ideal for big-game hunting.

Barrel Length and Weight

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The length of the barrel plays a pivotal role in a rifle’s accuracy, especially for shots over long distances. Yet, the trade-off is that a heavier rifle can become a burden during extended hunting trips. Finding the right balance is essential. A rifle with a shorter barrel is easier to handle and lighter, making it ideal for quick target acquisition and close-range engagement with agile targets. However, this configuration may result in a reduction in bullet velocity and a louder report.

In contrast, rifles with longer barrels enhance the bullet’s velocity, contributing to a swifter shot, which is beneficial for long-distance hunting. However, they may hinder rapid re-aiming due to their length.

When it comes to the rifle’s weight, it should complement your hunting approach and be manageable enough for prolonged tracking. Heavy rifles can lead to fatigue, adversely affecting your shooting accuracy. 

Conversely, an excessively light rifle might amplify the recoil felt, potentially disrupting your precision. Hunters must judiciously consider the advantages and drawbacks of a rifle’s weight to find one that best suits their hunting requirements.

Stock Material

The stock material can affect the rifle’s weight and durability. Synthetic stocks are lightweight and weather-resistant, while wooden stocks offer a classic look and sturdy feel.


The rifle should fit comfortably in your hands and against your shoulder. An adjustable stock or cheek rest can greatly enhance comfort and accuracy. Stock volume and the trigger hand grip shape are crucial factors to consider when choosing your hunting rifle.

Recoil Management

A good recoil pad can make a significant difference in your shooting experience, especially with higher caliber rifles that have a stronger kickback.

Optics Compatibility


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Ensure that your rifle is compatible with high-quality scopes for better sighting and accuracy. Some common sights such as Riton, Vortex Razor, Zeiss, and Black Hound rifle scopes should be able to fit on your rifle choice.

Reliability and Maintenance

Choose a rifle known for its reliability and ease of maintenance. This ensures that your rifle will perform well when it matters most.

It's important to select a rifle that meets your needs and preferences, as this will allow you to enjoy your hunting trips to the fullest. 

Invest in a high-quality rifle that will last for many years, even if it may cost more upfront. By taking into account these features, you can choose the most appropriate and reliable rifle for your hunting needs.

Here’s a detailed list of the top 8 bolt-action rifles for big game hunting in 2024, including their key features, calibers, and other relevant information:

1. Bergara B-14 HMR

Best Overall


  • Caliber Options: .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, and more.
  • Barrel: Precision-engineered for accuracy.
  • Stock: Adjustable and ergonomic.
  • MSRP: $1,079.00.

    2. Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0

    Best Premium


  • Caliber Options: Various, including magnum calibers.
  • Barrel: Carbon fiber barrel for reduced weight and increased strength.
  • Stock: Lightweight and rugged.
  • MSRP: $2,699.99 -2,799.99.

    3. Winchester Model 70

    Best Hunting

  • Caliber Options: .270 Winchester, .300 Win Mag, and more.
  • Barrel: Free-floating for superior accuracy.
  • Stock: Classic wood or modern synthetic options.
  • MSRP: $1,799.99.

    4. CVA Cascade

    Best on Budget

  • Caliber Options: .308 Winchester, .450 Bushmaster, and more.
  • Barrel: 22-inch threaded barrel.
  • Stock: Synthetic with SoftTouch finish.
  • MSRP: $850.

    5. Christensen Arms Ridgeline Scout

    Most Versatile


  • Caliber Options: 6.5 PRC, .308 Winchester, and more.
  • Barrel: 16-inch carbon fiber barrel.
  • Stock: Carbon fiber composite.
  • MSRP: Starting at $2,099.99.

    6. Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter

    Best for Long-Range

  • Caliber Options: Various, suitable for long-range hunting.
  • Barrel: Designed for precision at greater distances.
  • Stock: Ergonomic for comfort during extended use.
  • MSRP: $847.00.

    7. Savage 110 Storm

    Best for Reliability

  • Caliber Options: Wide range, including .30-06 Springfield and .308 Winchester.
  • Barrel: Stainless steel for durability.
  • Stock: Synthetic AccuStock with AccuFit system for customization.
  • MSRP: $989.00.

    8. Kimber Open Range Pro Carbon

    Best Lightweight

  • Caliber Options: Various, tailored for lightweight carrying.
  • Barrel: Carbon fiber construction for reduced weight.
  • Stock: Advanced composite materials for strength and lightness.
  • MSRP: $3,301.00.


    Choosing the right bolt-action rifle for hunting is a personal decision that should be made based on your specific hunting needs and preferences. The rifles listed in this guide represent the pinnacle of craftsmanship and innovation, offering something for every hunter. Remember to consider factors such as caliber, weight, and ergonomics when making your selection. Happy hunting!

    Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we may receive a commission. This won't affect your purchase price.

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    Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we may receive a commission. This won't affect your purchase price.

    Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we may receive a commission. This won't affect your purchase price.