7 Best Budget Deer Rifles: Save Big Bucks & Hunt Big Bucks
Whitetail Deer are the most commonly hunted species in North America. That means there are myriad choices for purpose-driven hunting rifles at just as many price points. Not every hunter--especially casual types who hunt a few days a year – can drop big bucks in pursuit of big bucks.
To that end, here are seven solid, current-production options that are both pocketbook friendly and plenty capable to drop that big buck.
Savage Axis II
One of the first, most prolific, and readily available of all bolt action budget-friendly hunting rifles is the Savage Axis family. From the bare bones original Axis to the upgraded Axis II and Axis XP models, there’s a capable hunting rifle available to most every shooter. Even the most basic model uses a button-rifled 22-inch barrel, detachable box magazine, and contoured synthetic stock. The standard black Axis is the cheapest with an MSRP of $419.
Next comes the Axis XP at $459.00 and the Axis II from $479.00. For youth and smaller framed shooters, there’s a Compact Axis. Want camouflage? Scoped combos? Stainless? Hardwood? Left handers? The Axis family has that all covered, and more.
The chambering list is long and tailored to deer hunting practicality: .223 Rem, .243 Win, .25-06 Rem, .270 Win, .30-06 Spfld, .308 Win, .350 Legend, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 7mm-08 Rem. Several models add the .280 Ackley Improved, 6mm ARC, 22-250 Rem, and .300 AAC Blackout.
Ruger’s rapidly expanding line of American bolt action rifles is ideal for price-conscious deer hunters. Plus, there’s the history of Ruger’s tradition of American-built quality. There’s a Marksman adjustable trigger, lightweight synthetic stock, Power Bedding system, 22-inch cold hammer forged barrel, and tang safety.
The gun feeds from a flush-fit detachable magazine. Extras include a factory-installed Picatinny scope base and sling studs. The list of chamberings is shorter than some of the others on this list, but covers everything a deer hunter would need: .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, .270 Win, .308 Win, 6.5 Creed, and .30-06 Spfld.
While the standard American represents the best price buy, plenty of other options exist. Suggested retail price on the base model is set at $579.00, with prices increasing as do options. There’s a threaded Predator, a compact Ranch, camo and Cerakote choices, a Magpul Hunter, Compact, and a practical scoped version topped with a Vortex Crossfire II from the factory.
Henry Single Shot
Henry Repeating Arms – the made-in-America-or-not-made-at-all brand--is on the wish list of many hunters. Their Single Shot centerfire rifle line reflects some of the most cost-effective from the brand. More than that, the break action one shooters are both practical and accurate. Buyers can choose from either a blued steel or high polish brass version, with the latter coming considerably cheaper. The one-shooters wear a 22-inch round blued steel barrel, fully adjustable sights, American Walnut stocks, and a rebounding hammer safety. The guns include sling swivels and are drilled and tapped for easy scope mounting. By nature of the action, these rifles are lefty-friendly, but Henry makes it more so with an action lever that pivots in either direction.
Calibers include .223 Rem, .243 Win, .308 Win, .357 Mag, .44 Mag, .30-30 Win, .350 Legend, .450 Bushmaster, and .45-70 Gov’t. MSRP on the Steel Single Shot is $552.00. Though not the cheapest single on the market, they are certainly one of the best. Henry proves time and again that single shots needn’t be cheaply made. Buy a Henry and rest easy knowing you have a generational quality gun backed by the best customer service in the business.
One of the most underrated brands – and budget rifles – is the Mossberg Patriot, plain and simple. The Patriot has all the features hunters need, plus a few extra frills, at an incredibly impressive price point. These bolt actions use 20, 22, and 24-inch barrels with a recessed match crown, a dropbox magazine, and an LBA adjustable trigger. The additional touches included fluted barrels and a spiral fluted bolt. Some models even add a threaded barrel.
Accuracy has been proven right out of the box. Calibers include: 22-250 Rem, .243 Win, 25-06 Rem, .270 Win, .308 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, 6.5 Creed, 7mm Rem Mag, 350 Legend, .450 Bushmaster, .300 Win Mag, .338 Win Mag, and .375 Ruger.
While the black synthetic version is the most cost-effective with an MSRP at $454.00, the hardwood version is also one of the best buys at $637.00, and in fact, is one of the few wood-stocked rifles selling under a grand. Buyers seeking additional features can look to the scoped combos that come with Vortex Optics or the Patriot Long Range, Night Train, and Predator. For young shooters, the Patriot Youth comes with a practical stock system that includes length of pull spacers for a fit that grows with the shooter.
Revered brand Winchester, long known for the venerable Model 70 bolt action, has been cranking out a more wallet friendly bolt action in the XPR. For a handful of years now, the line has been expanding both its lineup and reputation as a durable, accurate rifle. They’re built with hardened steel components, a dropbox magazine and free-floating barrel. The company’s M.O.A. Trigger system ensures a crisp pull.
The standard black polymer XPR was the first to launch and remains the most cost effective with an MSRP of $599.99. However, for buyers seeking a bit more, there are camo, compact, threaded, wood-stocked, thumbholes, and scoped combos.
The chambering list is extensive, with .223 Rem, .243 Win, 6.5 Creed, 7mm-08 Rem, .308 Win, .350 Legend, 6.5 PRC, .270 WSM, .300 WSM, .325 WSM, .270 Win, 6.8 Western, .30-06 Spfld, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag, and .338 Win Mag.
One of the most bargain-priced buys in the centerfire firearms world is also the least well-known of this list. It’s time to get familiar with CVA, because the Scout has been making its mark. The break action CVA Scout single shots wear lightweight, synthetic stocks. Depending on caliber, barrels are either 22 or 25-inch.
The standard Scout is blued, while the Scout TD uses a fluted, threaded stainless barrel. Like most single shots, the stocks and controls are ambidextrous. CVA Scouts, built in Spain, come topped with a DuraSight scope rail for easy optics mounting.
Calibers include .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, .44 Mag, .35 Whelen, .350 Legend, .450 Bushmaster, .300 AAC Blackout, .444 Marlin, and .45-70 Gov’t. Retail pricing on the blued CVA starts at a scant $348.00 with the stainless upgrade from $394.00. For a turn-key rig, spending a bit more affords the buyer one of the factory-scoped models topped with a Konus-brand optic.
While there’s just no trumping Weatherby’s venerable Mark V line of high-end hunting rifles, they’re also a top-tier price point. Want some of those same bolt action features, reliability, and the backing of Weatherby? Then, check out the WeatherbyVanguard bolt gun. There’s a sub-MOA three-shot accuracy guarantee, adjustable match-quality two-stage trigger, fluted bolt, and three-position safety.
Some chamberings use a hinged floorplate while others have a dropbox magazine. The base model rifle is dressed with a Monte Carlo Griptonite stock that uses rubberized pistol grip and forend inserts. The Vanguard Synthetic is the most pocket friendly with an MSRP of $699.00.
The chambering list is long and obviously includes some of the sweet Weatherby rounds: .223 Rem, .22-250 Rem, .243 Win, .240 Weatherby Mag, .25-06 Rem, .257 Weatherby Mag, 6.5 Creed, 6.5 PRC, 6.5-300 Wby Mag, 7mm-08 Rem, .308 Win, 6.5 PRC, .270 Win, .30-06 Spfld, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag, and .300 Wby Mag.
Hunters seeking dressier rifles have plenty from which to pick. There are multiple camo selections, Laminate Sporter, women’s Camilla choices, Weatherguard, Sporter, and Compact.
The MSRP Caveat
The one major caveat in these crazy pandemic days is that retail pricing is no longer the gold standard. We used to be able to say that real-world prices come in below retail and that’s sadly not the norm anymore. But still, MSRP gives buyers a starting point to what they should expect to pay for a new firearm. Shop the used market to save a little extra, and in some cases, find one already dressed with an optic.
Happy Shopping & Even Happier Hunting!
We hope this guide helps you on the search for a new deer rifle. Any one of them makes a great choice and bags you a brand-new deer rifle. No matter the choice of weapon, get out there and spend some quality time on the range. We wish you memorable days in the field with family and friends--and with a little luck and a lot of scouting – venison for your freezer.