Modern big game rifles are more accurate and more affordable than ever before, and that’s a boon for hunters. Improved metallurgy, modern machining and the use of high-strength polymers have all helped gunmakers offer better rifles at lower prices, and the quality and accuracy potential of today’s budget bolt actions exceeds that of more expensive guns built a few decades ago.
If you’re in the market for a new deer rifle this season and you have $700 to spend then you’re in luck. There are a number of really great rifle options that fall below that price point, and they all provide the reliability and accuracy you need. Most aren’t fancy, but they’ll get the job done—and keep doing it season after season.
The Weatherby Vanguard is one outstanding rifle that’s very affordably priced. The dual-lug, push-feed action is robust and overall build quality is excellent for rifles in this price range. The Synthetic version comes with soft-touch grip inserts and costs just $649, and all Vanguard rifles are guaranteed to shoot sub-MOA at 100 yards. I’ve never tested one of these guns that couldn’t beat that figure.
Other key features include a three-position safety, raised comb, and a superb two-stage trigger. Weatherby.com
Browning A-Bolt 3
The A-Bolt 3, or simply AB3, is another budget rifle that performs well above its price point. These guns use the same barrels as Browning’s premium X-Bolt guns and, like the X-Bolt, they feature full-diameter bolts with three locking lugs up front. This allows for a short (60-degree) bolt lift for faster cycling.
The X-Bolt’s two-position safety is conveniently located on the tang and there’s a bolt release button that allows you to cycle the action with the safety engaged.
The Composite Stalker version carries an MSRP of $599.99 and is available in 10 calibers from .243 Win to .300 Win Mag. There’s also a walnut stock model ($669.99) and a compact version of the Composite Stalker with a 13-inch length of pull.
I’ve hunted whitetails in Arkansas and Oklahoma with the AB3 and I’ve always been impressed with its performance—especially considering the cost. Browning.com
Savage 110 Apex Hunter XP
Savage practically invented the budget rifle segment and the Model 110 Apex Hunter XP is an outstanding value.
These guns come equipped with Savage’s game-changing AccuTrigger, floating bolt heads, and carbon steel button-rifled barrels. Thread-in headspacing makes Savage 110s exceptionally accurate and the durable polymer stock comes with length of pull spacers for a perfect fit.
The Apex Hunter XP is a package rifle equipped with an EGW 0 MOA and a pre-mounted 3-9×40 Vortex Crossfire II scope, all for an MSRP of $699.99. It’s available in 18 different calibers from .223 Rem to .450 Bushmaster, and there’s a left-handed version available as well. Savagearms.com
Mossberg offers a whole slew of Patriot rifles in a variety of calibers and configurations, and these guns are some of the most affordable bolt-actions on the market.
All Patriot rifles offer dual-lug fluted bolts, muzzles with recessed crowns or threads, detachable box magazines and the company’s Lightning Bolt Action (LBA) bladed adjustable trigger. The base model features a synthetic stock and carries an MSRP of just $409, which makes it an excellent bargain, and you can opt for the same rifle with a pre-mounted scope for just $553.
There’s also a Bantam model for short-statured shooters. I’ve hunted whitetails, elk, aoudad, and even Spanish ibex with Patriot rifles over the years and these guns have never failed to get the job done. Mossberg.com
Ruger American Rifle
Ruger’s American Rifle outperforms guns costing much more, and that’s why it’s so popular among hunters.
There are currently eight different American Rifle models including the entry-level Standard version ($489), the Go Wild camo version ($629), Compact ($489) and the Vortex Crossfire II Scoped Combos ($639-$699). American Rifles feature full-diameter bolts with three lugs, Ruger’s Power Bedding System, Marksman adjustable triggers, and detachable box magazines (some models accept AI-style mags).
There are also left-handed models available for southpaw shooters. I’ve never encountered one of these rifles that didn’t shoot very accurately right out of the box. Ruger.com
The XPR is the first bolt-action Winchester released since the legendary Model 70, and even though it’s a complete departure from the Model 70 design the XPR is a very good bolt-action that’s worthy of the Winchester name. It features a full-diameter bolt with three locking lugs, a two-position safety with bolt release button, and Winchester’s excellent MOA trigger.
There are several XPR models from which to choose, but the base model with black synthetic stock offers hunters everything they need with an MSRP of just $549.99 and it’s available in 13 different calibers (including Winchester’s new 350 Legend cartridge).
I used a Winchester XPR in .300 WSM to take an opening day buck in Wyoming two years ago and I’ve been a fan of these durable, accurate rifles ever since. Winchesterguns.com
The T/C Compass is one of the best values in bolt-action rifles. These guns are available in 11 calibers from .204 Ruger to .300 Win Mag, all of which come with durable synthetic stocks, three lug bolts, threaded muzzles, and three-position safeties.
Compass rifles are equipped with 5R rifled barrels, a feature that’s commonly found in rifles costing much more money. 5R rifling offers improved accuracy and easier bore cleaning, and T/C promises that these rifles will shoot MOA or better at 100 yards. That’s especially impressive considering these guns carry an MSRP of just $399.
The Compass is a no-frills hunting rifle that can outshoot more expensive guns, and it’s tough enough for any deer hunt. TCarms.com
Remington’s 783 sets a new standard for value in deer rifles. The base model with black synthetic stock carries an MSRP of just $354, and you can buy a scoped combo rifle for $399. That’s a great bargain, especially considering that these rifles shoot far better than many rifles costing more money.
There are several models available including synthetic and wood stock models, and all of these guns come with button-rifled free-floating barrels, detachable box magazines, and Remington’s CrossFire adjustable trigger.
I used one of these rifles on a cull deer hunt in Texas and was impressed by the accuracy, especially considering the very low cost of ownership. There’s nothing fancy about these guns, but they will serve deer hunters with limited budgets very well. Remington.com