5 Best Rifles for New Hunters

Gear We Use
5 Best Rifles for New Hunters
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Access to hunting ground is the number-one barrier to entry for new hunters, but firearms are usually also towards the top of that list. It can be intimidating to select, purchase, and learn to shoot a rifle, especially if you’ve never done so before.

If that’s you, you’ve come to the right place. This article won’t teach you how to shoot a rifle, but it will offer five solid recommendations and send you to reputable gun stores where you can purchase your new firearm in person. After that, it’s time to hit the range.


Whenever I recommend a rifle to a new hunter, I’m looking to balance several different features. First, the rifle should be comfortable to shoot, and nothing impacts comfort more than recoil. To minimize recoil, don’t purchase rifles marketed as “lightweight” or for “high mountain hunts.” Usually weighing less than six pounds, these rifles will transfer more recoil energy to the shooter’s shoulder and can be more painful to shoot. Recoil is highly dependent on cartridge selection, obviously, but it’s also something to keep in mind when rifle shopping.

Avoid rifles that are too light, but also be sure you select a firearm that isn’t too heavy. A heavy rifle is no fun to carry through the woods, but it’s also difficult to shoot accurately from most field positions. A heavy rifle is fine from a solid rest, but it’s more difficult to steady while leaning against a tree or from a kneeling position. Look for rifles in the six to eight pound range–heavy enough to absorb some recoil but not so heavy that it’s cumbersome in the woods.

Cost is another factor to consider. It used to be that you had to spend serious moo-lah on a custom built setup to get an accurate rifle with a crisp trigger, smooth action, and well-built stock. Now, you can spend less than $500 and get those same features. You may have to test lots of ammo to find what your rifle likes to shoot, but don’t feel like you have to spend more than $800 on your first long gun. Unless you’re independently wealthy, most people don’t have the cash to drop on a hobby they may or may not continue. We hope you’ll become a lifelong hunter, but a little dose of realism never hurt anyone.

Speaking of realism, don’t spend too much time looking for pinpoint accuracy. Forum posts abound with claims of half-inch or quarter-inch 100-yard groups from budget rifles, most of which are exaggerations or outright lies. All of the rifles below can shoot one-inch, three-shot groups with good ammo (some of them even guarantee it). But don’t expect to purchase a competition rifle at this price point, and don’t be disappointed if your five-shot group average is something around 1.5 inches. That’s plenty accurate and can certainly get the job done.

Last piece of advice: if you can, try to test a few rifles at the range before you make your purchase. You can give yourself a stroke pouring over spec sheets online, but sometimes the best choice becomes obvious with a few shots downrange in the real world.




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