Hunting For Value? Check Out These 7 Best Hunting Rifles Under $550
Do you want strong performance for a reasonable cost, or are you sticking to a budget? If so, consider these hunting rifles in time for fall deer season, all of which will serve you well for many types of game.
Let’s put it this way – when you walk into the gun shop, it’s very easy to be tempted by some of the best bolt action rifles that cost over $800 – $1,200, even more. But if you want to go hunting and take home some bacon (venison too of course) without spending more than $550, especially to get the best bolt action rifle for big game, you’re in luck. Most gun manufacturers these days are able to produce a reasonably priced, yet quality and accurate hunting rifles. It wasn’t too long ago that sticking to a budget meant you would get a sub-par (cheap) gun.
But thanks to modern manufacturing, that’s no longer the case and you can get many features packed into you gun for a moderate price. That’s the definition of value, for which you can feel good about filling the freezer with game, without spending an arm and a leg.
The choices below are all bolt-action, suitable for any big-game you want to pursue, whether feral hogs, deer, elk, antelope, buffalo, etc. For each rifle, we recommend its best caliber for deer and other large game. In fact, all of these guns will deliver for you, at a reasonable cost. To be clear, they are good value, but not inferior or cheap bolt action rifles, they are well made. All you need to do is select the right caliber for the game you are after – and get to the practice range!
You can’t go wrong with any of these choices, so we’ve listed them in alphabetical order by manufacturer. So, read on to check out our picks of the best value hunting rifles, you’ll find plenty of information to assess which is the best hunting rifle for your own hunting needs.
We’re starting our recommendations with one of the best all purpose hunting rifles, especially if you are a person with a lighter frame, prefer a lighter deer hunting rifle, or a great choice for youth.
The Mossberg ATR Super Bantam is easy to sling and carry, with integrated sling swivel studs. If you hunt in dense woodlots, swamps, or undergrowth, the shorter barrel length makes this a good hunting rifle for maneuvering without getting caught up in the brush.
Feature-wise, this .243 bolt action rifle has a synthetic stock, and a free-floating barrel which is capped by a recessed muzzle crown. With a barrel length of only 20 inches, the Super Bantam is nevertheless designed with long-range shots in mind, with a twist rate of 1:10. Even if limited to this caliber, this gun is a very good deer hunting rifle, and overall one of the best hunting rifle for the money, specifically best 243 rifle.
Wondering why we have two Mossberg guns in this article? Well, it’s because Mossberg is bringing rifles to market that are game changers. Mossberg started by building high-quality shotguns at very reasonable prices. More recently, they took the same approach to enter the rifle market.
And they’ve done so in spades, with multiple calibers this may be the best 308 rifle. The Patriot includes quite a few features for a very reasonable price, which are standard on all versions of the Patriot. So, you don’t need to pay up to another more premium model to get features you’d normally pay more for. Get a load of this – all versions of the Patriot include a drop-box magazine, adjustable trigger, recessed crown, and fluted barrel.
You can purchase the Patriot with or without a scope package at Sportsmansguide.com. If you know what a 308 hunting rifle can do, We’d pair it with a .308 Winchester, which gives you versatility from whitetail deer to elk and more, as one of the best .308 rifles, and specifically the best 308 bolt action rifle.
Remington continues its long-standing quality tradition with the reliable 783, ready for the range or field immediately upon opening the box. This model in effect replaces the prior, less successful budget 770 model to become one of the best deer hunting rifles, and best all-around hunting rifle in this category.
The 783 has been designed with shooting ergonomics in mind. Not only lightweight, but the contoured high-nylon fiber synthetic stock’s internal structure is extremely strong. Not to be outdone by other rifles in this category, Remington has outfitted the 783 with a pillar-bedded stock design, “Super-Cell” recoil pad, button-rifled barrel, and detachable steel magazine.
You can choose from 11 different chambers from .223 to .30-06, which is a wide enough range to choose the best deer hunting caliber, or best all-around rifle caliber for your favorite game. This rifle performs well with all calibers, but in particular it is a best 223 rifle.
If you want to eliminate the extra task of buying a separate scope, you can purchase a factory mounted, bore-sighted 3-9x40mm riflescope for a little extra.
We’ll say right from the start, that the Compact achieves everything you want in looking for the best budget rifle. It is reliable, lightweight, has the Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger (perhaps as its hallmark), and is very – extremely rather – accurate.
Which makes it strange that Ruger American doesn’t offer it with the sub-MOA guarantee (3 hits in 0.99 inches or less if you use specified ammo as they specify matches this rifle well). Nevertheless, if you match the Compact side by side with its cousin the Weatherby (reviewed below), don’t surprised if your Ruger American Compact also delivers the same level of accuracy.
Ruger American Compact bolt action rifles derive their superior accuracy from a hammer-forged barrel. In addition, they’ve built in dual-cocking cams, which make cycling the gun from a shoulder position considerably easier. Put all this in a lightweight hunting rifle, and now you know why we recommend this as one of the best bolt action hunting rifles.
While the lower priced rifle is available in just several calibers, the full range of hunting rifle calibers available are .243, .270, 7mm-08, .223, .30-06, .308, .22-250 (some of these best hunting caliber only if you are willing to spend more, but for the basic model you can certainly get the best caliber for deer hunting). This is a great .308 hunting rifle, however, if you use the .30-06 Springfield, a great all-around cartridge and we think the best rifle caliber for this gun, there really isn’t much at all that this rifle can’t accomplish, even with the lower priced model.
The Axis stands out in how lightweight and very accurate it is, boasting a detachable box magazine that allows for more rapid firing. While the Savage Axis doesn’t come with extra features, and may never win a “best looks” award, if you want a reliable gun at a very reasonable price comfortably under $400, this gun may be for you.
This model is the latest in a series of rifles that Savage Arms has made with a focus on budget and value. As a result, Savage has gained a reputation for more reasonably priced rifles, without any frills.
While available in many calibers, if you are taking long-range shots and want a flat-shooting cartridge, we recommend the 6.5 mm Creedmoor. Whether for whitetails, mules, pronghorn, or elk, this rifle achieves long-range shots without much recoil actually. And, because of it’s very reasonable price (this could be the best 6.5 creedmoor rifle for the money), this rifle makes for an excellent hunting gift and starting model for new hunters.
The Compass is a quality, accurate and lightweight rifle. Unlike some of it’s counterparts, it has an adjustable trigger, a 60-degree bolt handle that allows more rapid cycling, and a removable magazine. Not only that, the barrel is threaded to accommodate a suppressor. May not be the most attractive rifle, but it is packed with features for the price which makes it well worth the look.
Thompson Center is better known for its muzzleloaders and black powder deer rifles, maintaining a quality reputation in that market. We highlight them here, as the company also makes some very nice rifles as well.
We suggest choosing the .270 Winchester for a wide range of big game, as this is a flat-shooting cartridge. The Compass also comes in .223 Remington caliber, for varmint and predator hunting. While the caliber choices are limited, whether you want one of the best deer rifle calibers, or one of the best all around hunting rifle calibers, you can’t go wrong with the Compass.
If you wrap it all together, the more-than-basic-features combined with a very reasonable price, the Compass is actually one of the top hunting rifles overall, in particular a best deer hunting rifle, on the market for this price point.
Surprised to see Weatherby on a list of “best value” rifles? Yes, Weatherby has a long standing reputation for producing accurate, and rather expensive, rifles.
The good news is, they have brought their quality into the budget market with the Vanguard Series 2 (synthetic stock). As a result, this rifle is significantly lower in cost than the many other bolt action rifles that Weatherby also produces.
Not to mention, you really can’t argue that it still comes with a guaranteed sub-MOA (3 shots less than 1 inch at 100 yards). It comes with an adjustable, 2-stage trigger, a lightweight composite stock (with recoil pad), a 3-position safety, and a barrel that was hammer-forged.
This rifle may be your best pick for a value rifle that can accomplish longer-range, tougher-to-take-down large game such as elk. For that we’d suggest the flat-trajectory, hard-hitting cartridge such as the .33 Winchester Magnum. We stated the specifications for one of the best deer caliber cartridges, but have no doubt that this rifle can take down trophies just about as big as they get.
Finding a quality hunting gun for a reasonable price can be as challenging as the hunt itself. However, by doing your homework along with clear knowledge of the specifications needed for the game you are hunting, you can purchase a quality rifle for a reasonable price.
The last part is key – every hunter tackles different geography, game, and situations, so make sure you take your cues from what you need, not what someone else thinks. For example, if you need the best rifle for deer hunting in the midwest, but your buddy wants the best rifle for elk hunting in the Rocky mountains, you should probably both get different rifles with different hunting caliber rounds. Do that, and you’ll enjoy a full freezer of meat ready for fixin’!