The Best Long Range Hunting Rifles

Gear We Use
The Best Long Range Hunting Rifles
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Going into the field with the intention of taking a long-range shot isn’t the right mindset. A good hunter gets as close to his or her quarry as possible, and in the vast majority of situations, that’s inside distances most rifle shooters would describe as "long range."

However, there are situations that present an opportunity to take a shot at 400, 500, or even 600 yards. Open country antelope hunting sometimes rules out a close stalk. For some, a shot at a once-in-a-lifetime sheep across a canyon might also justify a long-range attempt, as might a trophy elk on the last day of the season. Taking the shot is ultimately a judgment call based on your perception of your abilities and risk, which will differ drastically depending on who you are.

But if you find yourself in a long-range scenario and you decide to pull the trigger, you want a rifle that can get the job done. Your success will depend far more on practice and preparation than your firearm, but if you’re going to take a shot at 400 yards, you’ll appreciate every advantage you can get.

What We Look for in a Long Range Rifle

A cartridge determines a rifle’s long range capability more than any characteristic of the rifle, but there are some rifle features that facilitate more accurate long range shots.

An accurate barrel is at the top of that list. Any inconsistencies at 100 yards will magnify at longer distances, so if you want to hit a six-inch vital zone at 600 yards, your rifle should shoot a one-inch group (or better) at 100 yards. Wind and awkward shooting positions will make you less accurate in the field (so don’t assume that six-inch group will translate to the plains of Nebraska), but a sub-MOA gun is a good baseline for a “long range rifle.” All the rifles on this list have that level of accuracy potential or better. You might need to test different bullet weights to find something the rifle likes, but you’re unlikely to get a lemon from any of these manufacturers.

After you choose an appropriate long-range cartridge and find yourself an accurate gun, the rest of the rifle’s features should help you take more comfortable, consistent shots.

A good trigger is a must. You’re most likely to pull a shot at the moment when the trigger breaks, so you want a bang lever with zero creep and a crisp, clean break. The idea is to minimize rifle disturbance as much as possible. Most modern production rifles come with great triggers, and the guns on this list are no exception.

An adjustable stock or chassis system allows you to fit the rifle to your body and relax behind the rifle while peering through the scope. These systems also allow users to attach accessories like a bipod. Stabilizing both the front and back of the rifle is essential if you’re going to take a long shot on an animal, so being able to easily attach a bipod and other accessories is a handy feature.

The rifle’s weight depends on your preferences and physical abilities. Heavier rifles are easier to shoot at long distances since they recoil less and can offer greater stability. But open country hunts often involve a lot of hiking, and you may not want to lug a 10-pound rifle up and down a mountain. All the rifles in this list are between six and eight pounds, which I think is a good range to stay within.

Ultimately, accuracy is the most important thing we look for in a long-range hunting rifle. That might mean spending a little more than you normally might, but with a trophy mule deer in your sights at 500 yards, it’ll be worth it.

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Long Range Rifles We Recommend

Product Notes

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