If you’re in the market for a deer rifle, manufacturers have plenty to offer this year. At the 2017 SHOT Show, we saw a couple of new surprises, some updates on favorite models, and a relaunch of an old classic. There’s something here for every budget, so take a look at some of the best deer rifles we found for 2017.
Winchester XPR Hunter
The budget-friendly XPR was on our best deer rifles of 2015 list when it debuted, and now in its third year, the gun is available in some new configurations: the Hunter and Hunter Compact models. The XPR’s no-creep, no-take-up M.O.A. trigger gives you precise control, while features like a free-floated chrome-moly steel barrel and recessed target-style crown offer accuracy and wear-resistance. The Hunter version comes in either Mountain Country Range or Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo, in 11 calibers from .243 up to .338 Win Mag. The Hunter Compact, available in Break-Up Country, comes in six calibers (.243 up to .325 WSM), and is almost 3 inches shorter than its full-sized counterpart — the length savings come from taking 2 inches off the barrel and ¾-inch off the length of pull.
All sizes and calibers of the Hunter and Hunter Compact carry an MSRP of $599.
Browning X-Bolt Pro
The X-Bolt has been around for a while, for good reason — it’s proven to be a big seller and a great shooter. This year, Browning’s offering it in a lightweight version called the X-Bolt Pro and calling it a “semi-custom rifle.” It’s got a spiral fluted bolt with Cerakote protection, stainless barrel and action with Cerakote finish, and a full carbon fiber stock that’s lighter and stiffer than traditional composite. All that Cerakote makes it resistant to corrosion, and the proprietary barrel lapping reduces fouling — that all adds up to “easier to clean,” and that’s never a bad thing. Available in several calibers up to .300 Win Mag; MSRP starts at $1,999.
Tikka rifles are known for two things: remarkable accuracy, and a bolt so smooth it almost runs itself. The T3x is no exception. Tikka has loaded this thing with features designed to make the gun comfortable, including an improved grip, a robust recoil pad, and a modular forend and stock that let you modify the angle of the grip (additional grips sold separately) and the width of the forend. Features include a two-stage safety, single-stage trigger adjustable from 2 to 4 pounds, single-column detachable magazine, cold hammer-forged and hand-crowned Sako barrel, and a two-locking-lug T3 bolt with spring-loaded plunger ejector.
The T3x comes in a wide range of models, calibers and configurations, including some nice-looking wood-stocked models for the traditionalists among us. Lite and Compact versions are also available. MSRP starts around $600 depending on the model.
Mossberg Patriot Revere
The Patriot has been a home run for budget-conscious deer hunters, thanks to features like the Lightning Bolt Action trigger, fluted bolt, box magazine and a wide range of options in stocks and calibers — not to mention its price, which hovered around $450 or less. This year, Mossberg is offering an upgraded version of the Patriot, called the Revere. It’s got a more traditional 24-inch, polished blued non-fluted barrel and the best-looking wood you’ve ever seen on a Mossberg, guaranteed. They’ve used Grade 2 select walnut with a rosewood tip and gripcap and maple accents, and gone with traditional checkering over the normal Patriot’s more cost-effective stipling. It’s an absolutely beautiful gun, and will be available in 6.5 Creedmoor (new to the Patriot line), .243, .30-06, .270, .308 and .300 Win Mag in late spring or early summer 2017. If you’re a traditionalist who thinks the best deer rifles are as pretty as they are functional, the Patriot Revere deserves a look. MSRP is, as you’d expect, quite a bit higher than the bargain Patriot — a still-reasonable $825.
Howa rifles feature a cold hammer-forged barrel, pillar-bedded stock, two-stage Howa Activated Controlled Trigger for crisp pull and minimal overtravel, a one-piece receiver, a three-position safety, and perhaps most impressive, a sub-MOA guarantee and a 100 percent lifetime warranty. The year Howa is showing a cool Kuiu model, featuring your choice of Kuiu’s Vias or Verde (pictured) camo pattern with a Cerakote tactical gray finish on the barrel and action. You can get them in 20- and 22-inch barrel lengths in standard calibers and up to 24 inches in magnum calibers, in a wide range of options from .204 up to .338 Win Mag depending on configuration. MSRP is right around $800, give or take 20 bucks depending on the model.
Thompson/Center Venture and Compass
Neither of these models are new, but for 2017 they’re both being offered in a caliber that deer hunters have taken notice of in recent years: 6.5 Creedmoor. The Venture (pictured) features a user-adjustable (from 3.5 to 5 pounds) trigger, pillar bedding, a nitride-coated bolt, detachable three-round mag and unique 5R rifling that won’t cut into or deform the bullet jacket. The Compass, with a flush-fit rotary mag (five rounds in 6.5 Creedmoor), three-position safety, threaded muzzle and free-floated barrel, is a little lower priced — MSRP is $399, a couple hundred bucks cheaper than the Venture.
Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter
Ruger’s bargain-priced American Rifle has been a huge success, due in large part to its great value: It’s a rifle that’ll shoot accurately at 1,000 yards (in the right caliber) that you can buy for less than $500. But if you’ve got a little more money to spend, Ruger’s Hawkeye FTW Hunter is worth a look. It’s got a laminate stock in Natural Gear camo and a stainless steel barrel for durability and corrosion resistance, and the stock adjusts up to an inch and a half for length of pull — a big deal for smaller-framed shooters, or even for shooters who practice in a T-shirt but hunt in a thick parka. Comes in seven calibers (three calibers if you want the left-handed version) and a price tag of $1,269.
Remington 700 AWR
The iconic model 700 needs no introduction; it’s been one of the best-selling deer rifles on the market for decades. This year, Remington’s offering it in a new AWR (American Wilderness Rifle) version, made for serious backcountry hunts. It’s got a 416 stainless steel barreled action with Cerakote finish for the ultimate in durability, and a free-floated barrel (24 or 26 inch) with 5R rifling that Remington says enables longer periods between cleanings. The Grayboe stock is heat- and pressure-treated to make it as stable as it can be, and the X-Mark Pro trigger system is crisp and creep-free, and is user-adjustable. Available in .270, .30-06, 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag for now; MSRP starts at $1,150.
Savage 11/111 DOA Hunter XP
Savage’s popular 11/111 is a no-nonsense, get-it-done rifle with the excellent Savage AccuTrigger. For 2017, you can get it in a Hunter XP package, ready to hunt practically right out of the box — scope, rings and bases are included. The gun has a black synthetic stock and a detachable box magazine, and it comes in 14 different calibers with a 3-9×40 Bushnell Trophy scope and Weaver Steel Grand Slam rings and bases. This gun is a bargain at a starting MSRP of $684.
An interesting newcomer on the market debuted at SHOT: The Barrett Fieldcraft bolt-action rifle. Built specifically for hunting, this beauty sports hunter-friendly features like a hand-bedded stainless steel barrel and stainless receiver; a four-round internal magazine; and a 4140 heat-treated steel, NP3-coated, fluted bolt. The carbon fiber stock is bedded to the action to maximize accuracy potential and to provide a stiff platform for shooting from field positions. All told, this gun weighs in at just 5 to 6 pounds depending on configuration — ideal for hauling up and down mountains all day. Time (and hard use) will tell, but this could turn out to be one of the best deer rifles of the year. Available in .243, .22-250, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08, .308, .25-06, .270, .30-06 and 6.5×55 Swede, with an MSRP around $1,800.
Weatherby New Mark V
No list of “best deer rifles” would be complete without the Weatherby’s Mark V — it’s a classic, and this year Weatherby gave it a serious update. They’ve slimmed the forearm and grip a bit for ergonomic comfort and have lightened the weight of the gun overall, and added an LXX Trigger that Weatherby calls “intuitive and comfortable.” It’s precision-ground and polished and has a wider trigger face to increase finger-to-trigger contact for a consistent, comfortable pull. This is a match-quality, single-stage trigger, adjustable down to 2.5 pounds. The New Mark V comes with a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee, achievable in part because of quality hand-lapped barrels. The gun is available in several different configurations and a wide range of calibers. The Weathermark version retails for $2,000; the Accumark (pictured) starts at $2,600; the Ultra Lightweight at $2,400; and the Accumark RC at $3,000.
Bonus: 2 Must-See Rifle Components
Seekins Precision, known for its high-performance, high-quality AR-platform rifles, is offering a custom, stainless steel action available in summer 2017. It mates perfectly with the Remington 700 stock inlet and trigger patterns, and features a pre-hardened stainless steel action and body as well as a proprietary bolt and breech plug. Other features include integrated recoil lugs, a full-diameterbolt body, helical primary extraction cam and mini M16-style extractor. The loading port is 3.2 inches. You can remove the bolt head and change calibers, offering the ultimate in versatility. If you’re building your own custom rifle with a focus on precision accuracy, this is a must-see product. MSRP is $1,195, and Seekins expects to deliver them by July 2017.
McMillan Mc3 Stock
McMillan is introducing the first non-fiberglass line the company has ever had. These stocks are polymer-based and are available in a Hunting and a Tactical version. The Hunting stock is a virtual copy of the McMillan Game Scout design, while the Tactical stock is a copy of the famous A-5 stock — only done in polymer rather than fiberglass. McMillan says these will “deliver a custom feel in a cost-conscious package,” retailing for around $215.