Top 10 Best Deer Rifles for 2020

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best deer rifle

The right hunting rifle will often make all the difference in whether you land that big buck or whether you go home empty-handed. There is plenty of skill involved, but without the right equipment, the skills don’t matter as much. Of course, because hunting is such a personal and skill-based activity, there are a lot of varieties available as well. While we can’t tell you which rifle will be ideal for your specific hunting needs, we can provide you with a list of the 10 best deer rifles on the market at the moment that are getting the most attention.

In the list below, you’ll find the best models for deer hunting in several calibers, action types, and configurations, with a head-to-head comparison to give you the quick facts. After that, you’ll find in-depth reviews of each model from the table that explore the best features and what makes each one worthy of being in this guide. Plus, there’s even a buying guide at the end that will help you figure out which criteria matters in your purchase and how to buy the best deer rifle, whether it’s one from this list or another model that you like better. First up, let’s look at the quick specs of the top 10.

The Best Deer Rifles: A Head-to-Head Comparison

 NameCaliberWeightPrepped for Scope? 

Remington Model

Remington Model 7600 Pump Action Rifle
270 Winchester4+1Yes, drilled and tapped Check latest Price

Browning BLR

Browning BLR Lightweight Lever-Action Rifle
308 Winchester4+1Yes, drilled and tapped Check latest Price

Remington Model

Remington Model 700 Sendero Bolt Action Rifle
Yes, drilled and tapped3+1
Yes, drilled and tapped
Check latest Price

Marlin 1895SBL

Marlin 1895SBL Lever-Action Rifle

45-70 Government4+1No Check latest Price

Browning BAR Mark

Browning BAR Mark III Semi-Auto Rifle
.30-06 Springfield4+1No Check latest Price

Tikka T3x Superlite

Tikka T3x Superlite Stainless Bolt Action Rifle
223 Remington4+1Yes, drilled and tapped with Optilock rail
Check latest Price

Ruger American Rifle

Ruger American Rifle Standard Bolt-Action Rifle
.30-06 Springfiel4+1No
Check latest Price

Marlin 336W

Marlin 336W Lever-Action Rifle
.30-30 Winchester6+1Yes, drilled and tapped Check latest Price

Savage 220 XP Bolt-Action

Savage 220 XP Bolt-Action Slug Shotgun with Scope
20 Gauge2+1Yes, and includes scope Check latest Price

Weatherby Vanguard

Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Bolt-Action Rifle
223 Remington5+1No Check latest Price

Remington Model 7600 Pump Action Rifle


Remington Model

The Remington Model 7600 Pump Action Rifle is first on our list for a few different reasons. For starters, it comes from Remington, a leader in firearms that has been around for centuries. It also offers that classic pump-action style, complete with a polished blue finish and a Monte Carlo-style walnut satin finish on the stock. At just 7.5 pounds, it won’t weigh you down, either.

This pump-action rifle is drilled and tapped to be fitted with a rail or scope base and has a 22-inch barrel with a lop that measures 13.5 inches. The pump features a slide-action design that is flawless in its operation and the barrel also has iron sights. For reliable, rock-solid strength, the rotary bolt lockup delivers every single time.

There are variants of the 7600 that feature different finishes and features, but they all offer the four-round dropout magazine and an impressive accuracy when compared with some of the most popular bolt-action rifles on the market today. When you want a solid, reliable rifle that delivers that notorious pump action that many rifle and hunting enthusiasts love, the Model 7600 should be on your list.

Pros

  • Slimline design and even weight distribution
  • Safety and slide release based on Model 870 design
  • Takes 270 Winchester cartridges

Cons

  • Pump action may create more noise than some models

Browning BLR Lightweight Lever-Action Rifle

For those who are looking for rapid-fire from a lever-action rifle with powerful cartridges, the Browning BLR delivers. This rifle features a unique geared bolt and lever design for high-pressured rounds and a half-cock safety ensures that you never shoot until you’re ready. There is also a detachable magazine box, which allows you to use pointed bullets instead of standard rifle cartridges. This can increase your range significantly.

Another great feature is the adjustable rear sight that has a low-profile design and the raised front sight that is gold beaded to stand out in any light. This rifle comes drilled and tapped for scope mounts and the finishing details make this gun look every good as it works out on the hunt, whether you’re looking for better accuracy or you just prefer the lever-action style.

The walnut stock looks nice next to the pistol grip and polished barrel, and there’s even an added safety feature that many people don’t consider—the trigger moves with the lever-action through the shooting cycle, which means no one will pinch their trigger finger by not getting it out of the way quick enough. For a low profile, full-style, classic rifle design, this model is worth a look.

Pros

  • Lightweight receiver
  • Hammer safety features half-cock finish
  • Ramped front sight with gold beading
  • Takes impressive 308 Winchester rounds

Cons

  • More expensive than many models

Remington Model 700 Sendero Bolt Action Rifle


Remington Model

The Remington Model 700 Sendero Bolt Action Rifle is one of the more expensive options on the list, but from Remington, you can always expect nothing less than the best. This model only has a 3+1 capacity, which is one less than most of the choices on this list, but the fact that it has so many other great features is almost better. For starters, the stock features reinforcing with aramid fibers, a beavertail fore-end that is contoured, along with finger grooves and a palm swell that will work in either hand.

It also offers swivel studs on the front for a bipod and a sling, along with an impressive 26 inches of barrel length to provide the ultimate tool for long-range accuracy. This rifle works on a bolt action for those who prefer the style and is compatible with both Magnum and Ultra Magnum cartridges from Remington.

The target-style design of the barrel and crown make this deer rifle a good choice for anyone who is looking for something more substantial that will not only land the big game from a long distance, but that will stand up to the hunt time and time again. Plus, the stylish finish includes polished stainless to go with the composite stock, and even though it weighs in a bit on the heavy side, it’s still only 8.5 pounds.

Pros

  • Premium design with durable features
  • Comes with Remington service and warranties
  • Unique and user-friendly barrel and stock

Cons

  • Top of the price range

Marlin 1895SBL Lever-Action Rifle

The Marlin Lever-Action Rifle model 1895SBL is the ideal choice for medium and close-range hunting of all your big game, including deer. You can even keep this model on you when you’re headed out into the backcountry if you want something reliable and rugged. The barrel features universal rifling that will take cast or jacketed bullets, and there is a full-length tube magazine that holds half a dozen rounds.

For closer shots, the rear sight features an XS ghost ring, and everyone can benefit from the Pachmayr recoil pad. This rifle also offers a cross-bolt safety that is mounted on the receiver to protect the firing pin from the hammer accidentally hitting it. The design and contouring of this rifle are designed to make it quick to handle and easy to use on any hunt, including to help you get the biggest buck every single time.

The stainless-steel receiver and barrel ensure that this rifle will hold up to whatever you put it through and there is an enlarged lever loop that makes shooting with gloves easier than ever before. Ultimately, if you want a great rifle that caters to convenience and safety, this model from Marlin is worth a look.

Pros

  • Impressive 6-round magazine
  • Rugged design holds up in any environment
  • Receiver-mounted cross-bolt safety

Cons

  • Stock is laminate, not solid wood

Browning BAR Mark III Semi-Auto Rifle


Browning BAR Mark

Thanks to technology and growing competition, semi-automatic rifles are becoming much more popular for deer hunters and others who want a weapon that’s easier to use to take down their prey. The Browning BAR Mark III Semi-Auto Rifle is designed to give you all the power that you want and still comes in at an impressive 7.2 pounds so that it’s never going to hold you back or weigh you down when you’re out in the field.

This rifle comes from a world leader in semi-automatic guns designed for big game targets. This model also features a bolt that locks right into the barrel for premium strength and durability and the accuracy that you’ll get as a result is impressive, as well. The hammer-forged barrels are also incredibly strong and designed for premium hunting for beginners and the more advanced alike.

The Inflex recoil pad absorbs a lot of the kickback for this semi-automatic rifle, which also includes a stylish Turkish walnut stock and alloy receiver that is engraved. This gas-operated system features reliable operation for rapid-fire shooting in all kinds of extreme conditions, along with premium safety features built-in, and more.

Pros

  • Rotary bolt features multiple lugs
  • Detachable magazine and hinged floorplate for easy access
  • Hammer-forged barrel for durability and accuracy

Cons

  • Designed only for right-hand shooters

Tikka T3x Superlite Stainless Bolt Action Rifle


Tikka T3x Superlite

The Tikka T3x Superlite is one of the more popular bolt action rifles available for deer hunting today. With a 22.4-inch barrel, this model is impressively lightweight at just under 6 pounds. It’s also prepared for anything with a drilled and tapped spot for a scope and a built-in Integral Optilock rail system. This is one of the most popular models for people who want power without the weight, and who like the more modern look.

Speaking of looks, this rifle features a synthetic stock in black checkering, along with a stainless-steel barrel that offers a matte finish. The free-floating barrel makes getting the perfect shot a breeze and the rifle even includes an interchangeable option to switch to a pistol grip. It also features new grip patterns, a noise reduction stock, and two-position safety.

When you want a gun for deer hunting that will get the job done with ease, this Tikka rifle is one that is worth a look. The stainless action and fluted barrel, along with a wider ejection port and an adjustable single-stage trigger set this model apart in several ways and make it easier to enjoy the hunt than ever before. A two-position safety is also featured.

Pros

  • Steel recoil lug and metal bolt shroud
  • Trigger adjustable from two to four pounds
  • Bolt action includes plunger ejector and two locking lugs

Cons

  • Right-hand only design

Ruger American Rifle Standard Bolt-Action Rifle


Ruger American Rifle

The standard bolt-action Ruger American Rifle is lightweight and offers a free-floating barrel that is great for medium-range targets. The four-round magazine ensures that you’re always ready for the shot and the barrel even comes pre-drilled for a great scope that will only help guarantee that you get your game every single time. The composite stock is nothing to call home about, but it gets the job done and provides a durable finish.

This seven-pound rifle is available for left-handed and right-handed hunters and each version includes a tang safety that can be operated with either hand. While this review is specifically regarding the .30-06, there are other calibers available, as well. This is an inexpensive option for hunting when you want something that’s going to get the job done from a mid-range distance. Of course, once you add a scope, it will go even further.

This rifle features the Marksman Adjustable trigger that helps improve weight-of-pull and offers a light, crisp shot every single time. Minimal kickback and an ergonomic design round out this model, which is practical, cost-effective, and still packed full of plenty of features that you’re sure to love.

Pros

  • Lightweight design for easy carrying
  • Soft recoil pad absorbs most recoil significantly
  • Receiver and scope bases drilled and tapped and ready to go

Cons

  • Composite stock feels hollow to some users

Marlin 336W Lever-Action Rifle


Marlin 336W

The Marlin 336W Lever-Action Rifle offers a versatile design that’s as effective at keeping you safe in the backcountry as it is at letting you hunt your favorite big game, including deer. Created for medium range use, this rifle offers a 20-inch barrel with a folding rear sight and a hardwood stock that features a pistol grip for easy handling and an added touch of style.

Micro-groove rifling ensures premium accuracy and there is a full-length magazine that will hold up to six rounds of the .30-30 cartridges that this model accepts. With the lever-action, you get fast firing and quick handling so that you never miss a shot, while the drilled and tapped receiver adds even more room for precision when you attach your favorite spotting scope or rifle scope.

Adjustable sights and cross-bolt safety features are also included with this model, which offers a folding rear sight and a front sight that is brass beaded and offers a Wide-scan hood for protection and better accuracy, even without adding a scope. You can attach a sling on the swivel studs that include loops for easy carrying and the impressive cartridge capabilities will keep you busy throughout the entire hunt.

Pros

  • Hardwood stock offers that authentic rifle finish and style
  • 6+1 capacity is among the largest on the deer rifle market
  • Weighs in at just seven pounds

Cons

  • Right-hand design only
  • Hardwood stock requires more maintenance and care

Savage 220 XP Bolt-Action Slug Shotgun with Scope


Savage 220 XP Bolt-Action

The Savage 220 XP Bolt-Action Slug Shotgun is the only one on this list with a scope included, giving you an even better chance of hitting your shot every single time. This hunting shotgun takes 20 gauge bullets and features a 22-inch barrel for longer ranges and easier aiming. Although it’s right-hand oriented, it’s still got a lot to offer.

The rifled barrel features a free-floating design and ensures that every hunter has a chance to get the perfect shot with ease. This is one of the models that offer ambidextrous use, with a three-position safety that will ensure that you can always protect yourself and still access your knife when you need it most. The adjustable AccuTrigger takes some getting used to, but it’s going to change your hunting game.

This modern shotgun made the list for a number of the features here, but it catches attention for having a scope included and still offering a reasonable price. The steel barrel and receiver will give you a durable piece of equipment that will change the future of your hunting game. Whether you’re looking for the accuracy or the simple benefit of an included scope, this model delivers.

Pros

  • Bolt action, which is ideal for deer hunting
  • Lightweight size and design
  • Detachable magazine included

Cons

  • Right-hand use only
  • 2+1 capacity is among the smallest on the list

Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Bolt-Action Rifle


Weatherby Vanguard

This rifle features a unique style but the classic bolt-action that is preferred for most hunters at the moment. With a six-round capacity and synthetic black stock, this modern bolt action rifle offers style and substance. Weatherby rifles are known around the world for big game hunting, thanks to their impressive accuracy and quality.

The Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Bolt-Action Rifle has guaranteed accuracy with its technology and an adjustable two-stage trigger to get the right shot every time. The hammer-forged barrel offers 24 inches of length for improved range and the non-slip inserts on the fore-end and grip mean that you’ll never struggle to get the shot, even in the worst weather conditions. There is also a three-position safety that allows for loading and unloading, and this is just one of many chamber options available.

With the two-stage trigger, the pull rate drops to 2.5 pounds. The matte finish reduces reflections and glare, making it easier to hide from your prey even when you’re getting close. Plus, the removable magazine and hinged floorplate make loading up easy so that you don’t have to reload after every single shot.

Pros

  • Safety mechanism features three positions
  • Premium Griptonite material ensures maximum grip
  • Comes with Weatherby warranties and guarantees
  • Budget-friendly pricing

Cons

  • Right-handed use only

Your Guide to Buying the Best Deer Rifles

Rifles have certainly come a long way since they were first introduced centuries ago. With deer being the most hunted of the large game found in America, it would make sense that there is a market ripe with various deer rifles. The problem is that each one claims to be the best, and yet no two are the same. How’s a hunter to choose?

Fortunately, now that you’ve learned a little more about the rifles available on the market today, you’ll have the information and insight that you need to make a smarter purchase that will suit your hunting needs perfectly.

What Caliber is Best?

The caliber or chamber of the rifle that you choose for deer hunting will make a difference. Every hunter is going to have their own opinion here, and even some of the experts might weigh in from time to time. Historically, people relied on the 30-odd range of cartridges (.30-06 or .30-30). However, more people are upgrading to smaller calibers with guns that offer more accuracy despite the smaller size.

A lot of people also used the 200 range of Winchester and Remington cartridges in the past for deer hunting, as well, and it was practically unheard of for anyone to even consider using a magnum. Today, however, all of that has changed. Although you can take down a deer with a variety of calibers, some just work better than others. Of course, at the end of the day, this is one of the features that will also come down to personal preference.

Lighter calibers like the .222 and .223 Remington cartridges should be reserved for those with more skill, while larger calibers like the 30-odds are still quite effective even if not so common. Right now, it seems like the most popular calibers for all kinds of hunting is the Winchester 308, which is ideal for larger game.

Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a rifle that suits your hunting needs and then choose the caliber of bullet to go with it based on what your rifle can shoot comfortably and accurately. Get to know your rifle and your hunting game, and you’ll figure out which rounds are best for you in no time at all.

Action Type

The single biggest factor for most people who are in the market for a quality deer rifle is the action type. This, again, goes a lot toward personal preferences, but there are also some technical things to consider when choosing the action of the deer rifle that you buy. Read on to learn a little more about each type and figure out which one will be best for your needs.

Bolt Action

The Bolt Action is currently the most popular choice for deer hunting. This is the action that is responsible for ejecting the empty cartridge, chambering the next round, and cocking the gun. Many hunters prefer the bolt action because it’s easy to use with a single hand and it makes it faster to get to the next shot. This is also one of the quietest options, making it great for close-range shooting. This rifle can be used in almost every stance and you won’t have to readjust your shot because you had to cycle the rounds.

Lever Action

For those who enjoy the true cowboy feel, the Lever Action is the way to go. This style works by moving a lever down and forward, and then pulling it back to pull the empty round, feed the fresh round, and cock the gun for the next shot. This is much quicker than bolt-action rifles because the closing of the lever puts the trigger finger right back where it belongs. The lever can make bench shooting a challenge and these receivers aren’t as rigid, which leads to less accuracy and more kickback.

Pump Action

The pump action was first made notorious by the shotgun, which most people automatically think of when they hear the name. That familiar pumping sound is also available as an action on rifles, although it is far less common than other styles. Essentially, you just pump the fore-end back and forth to fill the chamber and discard the rounds. Despite its rarity, this action is the quickest for this reason. They may not have as much accuracy and will often require more adjustments in between shots, though.

Semi-Automatic

As technology continues to improve the world of hunting rifles, more deer hunters are turning toward semi-automatic actions that are powered by gas that rapidly expands to fill the chamber, cycling out the old cartridge and getting the next one in place. Semi-auto rifles have to be fired in single shots, as they include a disconnector that prevents repeat shots before the trigger is fully released and pulled again. Semi-automatic deer rifles are typically a bit more expensive, but for those who like the convenience of non-manual actions, it may be the way to go.

Scopes, Straps, and Other Accessories

When you are in the market for a new rifle, it’s like anything that you buy—you always want to make sure that you’re getting the most for your money. That means taking the time to look at models that include a scope, strap, or other additional accessories that aren’t part of the rifle setup itself. Of course, you can purchase a lot of these separately, but you’ll want to make sure that your rifle is designed for them. Most rifles feature pre-drilled scope holes and spots for straps or clips to make carrying easier, which means you’re getting more out of your investment than if you stick with a basic model.

Accessories and additional equipment aren’t essential to your purchase, but it certainly won’t hurt to invest in a few of them to see how you can improve your hunt. A couple of the models discussed here have included scopes and other add-ons, so consider those as a start if you’re looking for a way to get more out of your purchase by getting some kind of package deal.

Barrel Length

In hunting, a longer barrel typically means a more accurate shot. That’s because the cartridge has more time to go through the rifling inside of the barrel and get a sturdy trajectory before it is launched. Of course, you might not always be hunting for the long game, so a 24-inch barrel might be a little much. Typically, you’ll find ranges between 20 and 24 inches, although there are some much shorter and even some that go up to 26 or 28 inches.

If you are using your rifle for close-range or mid-range shooting, you’ll want to get a shorter barrel that will still give you the best accuracy at the furthest distance that you intend to shoot. Another factor in your barrel choice is what barrels go with which ammo, and what rounds will benefit from which sizes of barrels in terms of accuracy. You don’t have to bust out the calculator and start doing the physics math, though, because a general idea is fine.

Some people like quick, fast-handling models that have short barrels because they don’t want the bulk and time involved in longer barrel models. Others prefer them because they have a better view of the landscape through the scope, and some choose them because they want a lightweight, more portable deer rifle to take out on the hunt.

Range

Every rifle can be outfitted with a sight or scope to allow for longer-range shots. However, that doesn’t mean that every rifle can make accurate long-range shots. Therefore, you’ll have to see what each model is designed for to ensure that you get the best rifle for your hunting needs. If you plan on sitting in a tree blind all day, for example, you’ll want something with a much longer range.

If, however, you are going to be down in the thick of it, you may fare well with a mid-range or short-range rifle that is designed for better shooting in the short game. Every rifle is designed with a range in mind, and that’s something that needs to be factored into your buying decision. Typically, you’ll be able to tell by the barrel length and rounds used whether a rifle is for long, medium, or short-range game hunting, but it’s an important thing to figure out before you purchase to ensure that you get the rifle that will get the shot every time.

What Makes a Deer Rifle, Anyway?

This is kind of a trick question for some people because what makes a good deer rifle is a little different for each hunter. You can ask two people with the exact same hunting game what they prefer and get two different answers. That’s because there is a growing selection of rifles available that are designed to improve big game hunting for deer and others.

If you are looking for a deer rifle, you’ll want to focus on elements like those we covered above:

  • Rifle action
  • Rounds/cartridges
  • Optics
  • Bullet design
  • Ergonomics/Ease of use

Ultimately, what makes the best deer rifle for your hunt is the one that gives you the features that you need in a piece of equipment that is ready to go and easy to take along whether you’re hunting in open fields, tree stands, or even the harshest conditions in the thick of the woods.

Make Your Choice and Make Every Shot Next Season

Now that you know more about deer rifles and how to choose the right one, you’re sure to be on your way to a better hunt. Take the information that you’ve gathered here and explore the rifles that we’ve reviewed above. Whether you find one of our selections of the best deer rifles suitable or you just use this insight to go find a gun that does suit your needs, it should be a much easier process. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been hunting 100 times before or if you are just starting because the right rifle is out there, and it will make a difference.

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