The 5 Best Hunting Rifles for Beginners

When considering getting into the sport of hunting, you might be faced with an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to your weapon of choice. 

There are countless manufacturers, calibers, and actions of rifles at every new hunter’s disposal. So how do you choose one? 

Here we will look at a few of the best hunting rifles for beginners and give you some tips on how to pick one that fits your needs the best. 

  1. Remington Model 783 Bolt-Action .270 Winchester
  2. Savage Axis XP Bolt-Action 6.5 Creedmoor
  3. Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Bolt-Action .243 Winchester
  4. Thompson/Center Compass Bolt-Action .308 Winchester
  5. Ruger 10/22 Carbine Semi-Auto .22 Rimfire

Remington Model 783 Bolt-Action .270 Winchester

If you’ve ever even thought about hunting or shooting sports, you’ve probably heard of the Remington Arms Company. They are truly a household name in firearms manufacturing, and for good reason—they make quality firearms for sportsman.

The Remington Model 783 Bolt-Action in the .270 caliber is exactly that, at a price that won’t break the bank.

Every gun is fitted with a synthetic stock, a 3–9x 40mm riflescope that is bore-sighted, and a four-round capacity magazine. This rifle is nearly ready to hunt right out of the box.

The .270 caliber is also a great all-around caliber for a myriad of big game applications. It has rock-solid knock-down power and is also a relatively flat-shooting caliber for your longer-range hunting scenarios.

From deer to elk, this caliber can put meat in your freezer. 

This rifle is a good option for your adult beginner—it offers good range, moderate kick, and isn’t overly heavy.

It might be a little too much gun for a child, teen, or smaller adult, but it’s ideal for medium to large adults who want a great gun that will last a lifetime. 

What we like

  • This rifle has the power to hunt almost all species of big game animals found in North America
  • Remington is a highly reputable firearms manufacturer, so you know you’ve got a quality rifle
  • Rifle is bore-sighted and ready to zero, making the set-up time quick and painless

What we don’t like

  • .270 Winchester caliber may be too much gun if you’re of smaller stature or a younger hunter
  • The gun is somewhat heavy so it can be cumbersome to carry around in the field

Savage Axis XP Bolt-Action 6.5 Creedmoor

If anyone can rival Remington in popularity and longevity, it’s definitely Savage Arms. Touting a long history of manufacturing high quality and accurate firearms for shooters, any beginner will know they’re in good hands if they pick up a Savage.

The Axis XP Bolt-Action is Savage’s entry-level hunting long-rifle. This rifle is high quality, elegantly machined, and accurate right out of the box and checks out at a very friendly MSRP.

It also comes with a synthetic stock, a bore sighted Weaver 3–9x 40mm scope, and a detachable box magazine.

The 6.5 Creedmoor caliber is actually relatively new in the spectrum of rifle calibers, having been introduced to the shooting world in 2007. The design for this cartridge is simple, high power mixed with low recoil.

This makes it an awesome big game caliber for beginners, without causing fear of the “kick” of the rifle. 

The Savage Axis XP in the 6.5 Creedmoor caliber is a wonderful option for beginners who might be older children or teens, or perhaps smaller adults.

However, no one should look past this firearm. It’s a great gun capable of delivering powerful long-range shots and doesn’t pack a punch that’s going to bruise the user’s arm. 

What we like

  • The 6.5 Creedmoor has great power with a relatively low amount of recoil
  • The Savage Axis XP is a feature packed, high quality firearm that can be purchased at an entry level price
  • The gun includes everything needed to be ready to hunt out of the box after sighting in the scope

What we don’t like

  • The 6.5 Creedmoor lacks sufficient power for larger big game animals
  • Ammunition can sometimes become difficult to find in this caliber, being as it’s not as common as some of the other rifles listed here
  • Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Bolt-Action .243 Winchester

Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Bolt-Action .243 Winchester

Winchester is yet again another firearm manufacturer that would be included on the Mount Rushmore of gun makers. The Winchester name is so steeped in lore, that many of the calibers that are widely used today, bear their name.

That includes the .243 Winchester caliber.

The Model 70 by Winchester is a gun that has stood the test of time and is highly touted amongst shooters and hunters alike for its extreme accuracy, durability, and its sleek finish.

The Featherweight edition of this gun weighs a measly 6.5 pounds making it a great option for younger hunters. 

The MSRP is a bit higher than some of the other options we’ve discussed here, but it offers a satin-finished walnut stock, quality forged components, and 5+1 magazine. When you pick one up, you’ll know it’s a quality firearm.

The .243 Winchester cartridge is an amazing caliber for beginning deer hunters. It’s got enough power to knock down a deer, and a very low amount of recoil. It’s a very flat shooting round making it accurate out at fairly long ranges as well

The Winchester Model 70 .243 is a great choice for those looking for a gun they can use over the course of a lifetime.

It’s size and caliber make it great for the youth hunter all the way to your adult shooter who wants a great deer or antelope hunting rifle. 

What we like

  • The Model 70 Featherweight weighs less than 7 pounds making it easy to carry around in the field for a day of hunting
  • The .243 Winchester caliber provides great range without virtually any recoil, making it ideal for anyone who’s just learning to shoot

What we don’t like

  • The Model 70 Featherweight is the most expensive gun on the list, making it a bit less affordable for average beginners
  • The gun does not come stock with a scope, so any optics will incur additional costs

Thompson/Center Compass Bolt-Action .308 Winchester

Thompson/Center is a name that usually comes to mind when people think about high-end quality muzzleloader weapons, but don’t look past their centerfire rifles either. 

Thompson/Center has a reputation for quality, and it can be seen in the craftsmanship found on their entry-level Compass rifle.

The Compass Bolt-Action is a feature loaded weapon that can be yours for an extremely modest price.

The barrel has a blued steel finish that rests on an eye-appealing black composite stock. It is tapped for optics so you can choose a scope that fits you, and comes with a smooth cycling 5+1 magazine capacity.

The .308 Winchester caliber is a top choice for big game hunters everywhere. Like the .270 Winchester, it’s a great do-everything cartridge that combines power with range and accuracy.

The .308 caliber is currently one of the most popular big game cartridges in the world. 

The Thompson/Center Compass Bolt-Action .308 Winchester is a great option for the beginning hunter who wants exceptional quality at an affordable price. 

This rifle is great for someone who wants a good gun to grow with them as hunters. It might be a bit of a bear for your smaller hunters, but it’s a great fit for adult beginners. 

What we like

  • The MSRP price point for the Thompson/Center Compass is very attractive
  • The .308 Winchester is one of the most popular hunting rifles ever made and is versatile for all kinds of big game

What we like

  • The gun does have considerable recoil, much like the .270. Users are ideally a little larger in stature
  • This gun also does not come with a scope, so there will be additional costs to getting this rifle ready to hunt

Ruger 10/22 Carbine Semi-Auto .22 Rimfire

Up until this point, we’ve spoken mostly about guns suited for big game hunting, but no list of best hunting rifles would be complete without talking about the ultimate beginner’s rifle for small game, the .22 Rimfire.

Ruger is another one of those brands you think of first when you think of firearms. They are largely lauded for their work in handguns, but also make some amazing long rifles, and their 10/22 Carbine Semi-Auto .22 Rimfire is just that.

The 10/22 Carbine is a semi-automatic long rifle that comes with either a walnut or composite stock. The rifle has a blued steel barrel, and satin black receiver and carries a capacity of 10+1. This is an amazingly reliable firearm at a really good price.

The .22 Rimfire rifle, as previously mentioned, is one of the best beginner calibers you can find. This gun is great for introducing hunters to hunting small game or working on their accuracy and firearm handling skills at the range. 

The .22 Rimfire is a light round, with low velocity making it ideal for short-range shooting and honing skills. There is virtually no recoil, so smaller hunters can get used to handling the weapon without fear of getting a bruise. 

What we like

  • Roger is a household name in the firearms manufacturing industry, making quality weapons for over 50 years
  • The 10/22 Carbine .22 Rimfire is the perfect rifle for someone who is new to shooting as there is no recoil and it’s easy to shoot
  • It’s the perfect rifle for small game hunting, which is how most hunters learn how to hunt

What we don’t like

  • This rifle can only be use on very small game such as rabbits and squirrels. It is not a suitable gun for big game hunting
  • While it’s a great gun for small game hunting, if hunters want to move up to hunting deer or antelope, a bigger caliber will be needed

How to Choose the Best Rifle for You

After all of this, you may still be scratching your head and wondering, how do I choose the best rifle for me?

Now we will take a look at a couple of factors that you’ll want to consider when heading to the store to pick out your new rifle.

Game Animal

The Best Hunting Rifles for Beginners

The first question you’ll want to answer for yourself is, what kind of game am I chasing?

If you’re after deer or antelope, a 6.5 Creedmoor or .243 Winchester might be all you need to make an ethical kill shot on an animal. If you might right into elk or caribou, you’ll want something bigger like the .308 Winchester or the .270 Winchester.

If you’re just starting out hunting rabbits or squirrels, the .22 Rimfire is the perfect choice. This is also a good choice to hone your shooting skills.

Your Size and Build

Be honest with yourself about your size and build as it will dictate the size of weapon you’ll want to purchase.

If you’re a little younger or a smaller adult, start out with something light and a caliber like a .22 Rimfire or .243 Winchester. These lighter firearms will allow you to control the weapon easier, and in turn, shoot more accurately. 

In addition to this, the recoil will not affect your shot, bruise your shoulder, or knock you over.

If you are somewhat bigger, or you want a gun to grow into, the .270 Winchester or the .308 Winchester might be a better fit for you.

Skill Level

Finally, you’ll want to consider you skill level with a rifle.

If you’re completely green, it might be better to start with a .22 Rimfire to get your bearings and learn how to shoot.

If you’ve shot a little bit, and are looking to get into big game hunting, you might be ready to move to one of the bigger rifle calibers.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many options to consider when purchasing your first rifle, hopefully this list allowed you narrow down, and home in on what will work for you.

If you consider brand quality, your quarry, your size, and skill level, I think you’ll find the perfect gun for you.