SHOT Show 2019: Best New Hunting Rifles
The long range trend continues in the new rifles from this year’s SHOT Show and some gunmakers’ best offerings were rifles built for brand new cartridges.
- Bergara Premier Highlander
- Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range Rifle
- Christensen Arms Traverse Rifle
- CVA Cascade Bolt Action Rifle
- Remington Model Seven Stainless H-S
- Savage Arms 110 Apex Hunter XP
- Savage Arms 110 High Country
- Savage Arms Axis XP
- Weatherby Mark V Camilla Ultralight
- Winchester XPR in 350 Legend
This year was an interesting year for hunting rifles at SHOT Show. Still, a lot of offerings made only moderate changes, including new wraps or calibers, but a couple of high quality, completely new offerings were launched at the show.
CVA, a well known and reputable manufacturer of muzzleloaders and single-shot rifles, introduced their first-ever bolt-action rifle. It boasts great features, all at a very reasonable price. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are a couple of collector guns or custom options that could bring you up to many thousands of dollars—I’m not sure if I’d call these “hunting” rifles because I might be too scared to actually take these guns in the field, but there is certainly a range of products and price points for all buyers this year.
The long range trend continues to rule the times, reinforced by the introduction of Hornady’s new 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) boasting a flat trajectory at a longer range with high accuracy. Rifle manufacturers are adding that caliber to their lineup and also looking at other changes to rifles to improve accuracy in long range shooting.
Whether you like the idea of long range hunting or not, the new guns and ammunition will increase the accuracy and knockdown power when used in the field at average ranges, or at the very least provide even greater confidence at shorter hunting distances. Here’s what I found out at Range Day and on the SHOT show floor for 2019.
Bergara Premier Highlander
The Highlander, like the full Bergara lineup, is a beautiful and effective hunting rifle. The fiberglass stock is lightweight (7.2 pounds chambered in .308 up to 7.7mm in the higher caliber configurations) but offers all of the incredible machining and craftsmanship that make Bergara rifles so special.
The Bergara Premier action is a proprietary bolt that is extremely smooth and easy to cycle, and the trigger with TriggerTech Friction Release Technology makes for a nice, light squeeze. And of course, every Bergara features their incredible, precision barrel that ensures accuracy and guaranteed to produce sub-MOA groups with quality factory ammunition. The barrel in the Highlander is available in three lengths – 20”, 22” and 24” – and is Cerakoted, as is the bolt, to ensure durability.
I shot this rifle on the 900-yard range at Range Day and was surprised by how easy it was to get on target even with the stiff 20 mph winds we had – of course that’s thanks to a perfect configuration and an excellent Tract scope, but if even I could get on the mark at that long distance it shows the quality of the firearm. This gun is offered in 10 different calibers. MSRP: $1,850.
Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range Rifle and Long Range Pro Ammunition
Browning has a couple new additions in the long range world with the X-Bolt Max Long Range rifle coupled with the Long Range Pro ammunition. The rifle has an injection molded composite stock that comes with spacers for an adjustable length of pull and an adjustable comb.
The gun features a stainless steel fluted barrel that has a ported muzzle brake and is threaded for adding a suppressor. The X-Bolt Max Long Range has an extended bolt handle making it easier to cycle. The rifle is available in 11 different calibers, including the new 6.5 PRC, and ranges in MSRP from $1,270 to $1,330 depending on the chosen caliber.
Browning also released its new Long Range Pro ammunition with a Sierra-tipped Match King bullet that is ballistically matched and designed specifically for the Browning X-Bolt rifle. The combination works well on the bench rest out beyond 1,000 yards and provides good knockdown power for hunting situations.
Christensen Arms Traverse Rifle
Christensen Arms released the new Traverse hunting rifle at SHOT Show. This beautiful rifle is lightweight, starting at just 7.3 pounds, making it a good option for a hunter wanting a durable, high performance rifle for their backcountry trips.
The gun features a carbon fiber-reinforced composite Monte Carlo stock with a raised comb and includes a 4” Picatinny rail on the forend to allow for the easy addition of bipods. The barrel is Christensen Arms’ stainless steel, but it is wrapped with aerograde carbon fiber making it extremely durable and includes a removable side-baffled muzzle brake. The action features an enlarged bolt handle and includes a 0-MOA Picatinny rail to easily mount the scope of your choice.
This gun is made in the U.S.A. and comes in 18 different calibers. MSRP: $2,395
CVA Cascade Bolt Action Rifle
Long known for their line of powerful and effective muzzleloaders, CVA introduced their first-ever bolt action centerfire rifle, the Cascade, at the show this year. The company used their 50 years of muzzleloader experience to build a quality rifle at a reasonable price—the Cascade MSRP is just $499. The rifle comes with a 22″ 4140 carbon steel barrel with a threaded muzzle to allow for the addition of a suppressor or muzzle brake.
The charcoal gray synthetic stock is reinforced with fiberglass and has a SoftTouch finish making it easy to maintain grip on the rifle, even in rain or snow. The stock comes with removable spacers to adjust the length of pull so it can adapt to any size hunter, from a child to an adult.
The bolt is set with a 70 throw so it has smooth and fast operation and doesn’t interfere with a scope when mounted. It comes with a four-round detachable magazine that makes it quick and easy to load. The Cascade will be available in summer 2019 in 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem. And 308 Win; long-action calibers are expected to be introduced in 2020.
Remington Model Seven Stainless H-S
Remington’s new offering in their Model Seven lineup is the Stainless H-S which adds a hand-laminated H-S Precision composite stock in black with green webbing. With a tag line of “Handles like a sports car, hits like a freight train” you know this rifle will provide outstanding knockdown power when hunting and yet it’s just 6 pounds.
The stock features an internal CNC machined aluminum bedding block and free-floated stainless barrel with a matte satin finish. The gun has a stainless steel barreled action and also has an X-Mark Pro externally adjustable trigger.
All Model Sevens feature a 20″ light contour barrel and the receivers are a ½” shorter than the Model 700 lineup, all of which make it particularly well sized for smaller statured hunters, those looking for a lightweight option for backcountry hunts, or those who will be hunting in dense cover or within a blind. The new Model Seven Stainless H-S will be offered in 243 Win, 7mm-08 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 308 Win. MSRP: $1,149.
Savage Arms 110 Apex Hunter XP, 110 High Country, and Axis XP
110 Apex Hunter XP
Savage is offering the new Apex line of scoped rifles with higher quality optics already mounted. The 110 Apex Hunter XP rifles come with a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9X40 scope mounted on a Picatinny rail that has been boresighted and is ready to hunt.
It offers a user-adjustable AccuTrigger and length of pull can also be adjusted to customize the fit. The 110 Apex Hunter XP comes in 17 different calibers and even offers a left handed model for 11 of those calibers. The MSRP for this quality rifle and scope package is $684. Savage is also offering the 110 High Country which is designed for long-range hunters.
This rifle comes with a spiral fluted barrel and bolt and features Savage’s proprietary AccuStock, AccuFit and AccuTrigger to make it adjustable to fit any shooter. It comes in a synthetic stock in TrueTimber Strata with a low-friction PVD coating on the barrel, receiver and other metal components to protect against corrosion and heat. The 110 High Country is available in 11 calibers including 6.5 PRC and 280 Ackley Improved with an MSRP: of $1,129.
Savage Axis Rifle line
The Savage Axis rifle line has been redesigned with a new ergonomic stock giving the gun even better out-of-the-box performance for a rifle/scope set that is very reasonably priced. The rifle is available nine calibers in a black synthetic stock or in Mossy Oak Break Up Country for $415, there are also three calibers in Muddy Girl camo and three calibers in a compact stock, as well as a stainless barrel with an MSRP: of $515.
These rifles are lightweight at just 6.5 to 7 pounds and the stock has improved ergonomics and comes with a user-adjustable AccuTrigger. With a compact option that has a 12.5-inch length of pull and the low price point, it is a great option for young hunters. These rifles come paired with a Weaver 3-9X40 scope and the guns have already been bore sighted to ensure accuracy right out of the box.
There is also an Axis II model that does not come with a scope if you’d like to pick your own optics.
Savage Model 110
Savage is celebrating its 125th anniversary and there is a limited edition Model 110 rifle available for the interested gun collector. Only 1,894 will be built (get it? 1894 was the year Savage was founded) and will feature a high gloss Monte Carlo walnut stock and special engraving on the receiver, detachable box magazine, and grip cap.
These rifles are special order only and will be built quarterly until all 1,894 are sold. The PRICE on this special collector’s rifle? Just $1,499.
Weatherby Mark V Camilla Ultralight
I’m not going to lie that I’m pretty partial to the Weatherby Camilla rifles. These rifles are engineered to specifically fit women hunters – I know I find them very comfortable, and every woman who has ever shouldered my Mark V Camilla immediately noticed the difference. It simply fits (even the smaller and taller ladies) which makes it that much easier to get your head on the stock and your eye lined up to the scope.
At the 2019 SHOT Show, Weatherby released a new Ultralight version of the Mark V Camilla. This rifle has a green composite stock with black webbing, a fluted stainless steel barrel, and features Weatherby’s Mark V action with a fluted bolt body. These changes bring the gun in at just under 6 pounds making it extremely lightweight and durable for backcountry hunts. This gun is also priced slightly less than the other Mark V Camilla rifles (in Sitka Subalpine and Deluxe wood stock) at $2,300.
For the gun collector, Weatherby also has their limited edition Wyoming Gold Edition Mark V Commemorative Rifle which will feature the first serial numbers stamped with the “Sheridan, WY” production location. Less than 1,000 of these guns will be made. This rifle has a stunning exhibition grade fancy French walnut stock with forend checkering that is a skyline of the Bighorn mountains near Sheridan. The receiver has gold filigree engraving, and the floor plate has a gold lace engraving of the iconic Weatherby W and Wyoming’s famous bucking horse and rider. They had components for this incredible rifle on the SHOT Show floor and it looks absolutely stunning. The Gold Edition rifle will sell for $10,000 and a similar limited run Silver Edition will sell for $6,500.
Winchester XPR in 350 Legend
Perhaps this isn’t really a new rifle, but it is certainly noteworthy. One of the coolest new offerings at SHOT Show was the Winchester 350 Legend straight-walled ammunition. To accommodate this new powerhouse cartridge, Winchester’s XPR bolt action rifles will be available chambered for the 350 Legend and it is certainly a rifle option to consider.
The 350 Legend is being marketed as a super fast cartridge (the fastest straight-walled cartridge in the world) designed for deer and hog hunters. It has more energy than a 30-30 Win, 300 Blackout or a 223 Remington, but has less recoil than a 450 Bushmaster. This means it has about 20 percent less recoil than a 243 Win with 20 percent more penetration. I shot the Winchester XPR with the 350 Legend at Range Day and it was definitely a light recoil round and shot very accurately.
This could be an interesting new addition to the deer woods and, according to the company, is legal for hunting in 47 states. Winchester is also offering the XPR Hunter rifle in two new camo wraps for 2019, Kryptek Highlander and TrueTimber Strata. The XPR rifles all retail just under $600.
Other Notable Mentions
A couple of manufacturers did not offer new rifles for the year but expanded their calibers for existing models. Ruger’s Hawkeye Long-Range rifle is now offered in 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC along with its original 300 Win Mag, all calibers have a retail price of $1,279.
Mauser introduced the M-18 last year, hailing it as “The People’s Rifle” because of the incredible Mauser engineering at a very affordable price. For 2019, they have expanded their calibers to include Hornady’s new 6.5 PRC cartridge starting at $699.
Mossberg has expanded their line of Patriot hunting rifles adding six new calibers that feature synthetic stocks and Cerakoted barrels for around $450.
And while Tikka and Sako did not offer any new production rifles this year, they did launch the Sako Custom Shop where you can customize a Sako 85 to fit your own preferences, from wood grade to engravings to additional rifle details, or you can even design your completely one-of-a-kind “dream rifle” using the Sako Bespoke tool.