Some hunters sit in shooting houses overlooking greenfields. When the hunt is over, they hop in the truck and ride back to the cabin, where they can wipe down the blued-steel barrel and checkered walnut stock on their trusty deer rifle. Other hunters climb mountains, sleep in tents for weeks at a time, and don’t always have the luxury of keeping their guns protected from the elements. And of course, there are a whole bunch of in-between types.
We all make different demands of our deer rifles based on where and how we hunt. If you fall more toward the backcountry, carry-it-for-miles-in-the-rain type, or if you just want a gun that’s built for withstanding the elements, here are eight great options for you.
Weatherby Vanguard First Lite
This new version of Weatherby’s venerable Vanguard is covered in First Lite Fusion camo – which Weatherby calls “a proprietary mix of ‘crackalature’ shapes and colors derived through nature-based algorithms and oriented for macro and micro disruption.” It helps the rifle disappear from view at short and long distances, basically. The Monte Carlo stock has texturing on the grip and forearm areas.
This gun features Sub-MOA accuracy, an adjustable match-quality two-stage trigger, fluted bolt body, recoil pad, three-position safety, hinged floorplate, integral recoil lug, and a fully enclosed bolt sleeve. The barrel is cold hammer-forged and covered in flat dark earth Cerakoting, and an Accubrake muzzle brake comes standard. Between the Cerakoting and the synthetic stock, this gun should power through any conditions you can stand to be out in.
The Vanguard First Lite comes in eight calibers from .240 Wby Mag up to .300 Wby Mag, all weighing in around 7 ½ pounds. MSRP is $1,090, so you should fine it on dealer shelves under a grand.
Mossberg Patriot Black/Cerakote
The Patriot has become one of the best values in bolt-action rifles in recent years, offering accuracy and durability for a bargain price. It has the company’s adjustable Lightning Bolt Action (LBA) trigger; a spiral fluted bolt; box magazine; fluted barrel; and recessed barrel crown at — get this — a street price of less than $400. The Patriot comes in a ton of calibers and configurations.
New for 2018 is the Black Synthetic/Cerakote combo, perfect for taking out in nasty conditions. It features a black synthetic stock and Cerakoting on the barrel and bolt, which will increase impact strength and hardness while making the coated parts more resistant to abrasion and corrosion. The Cerakote on the Patriot has a dark metallic finish.
The Black/Cerakote version of the Patriot comes in six calibers: 6.5 Creedmoor, .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, .308 Win, .270 Win, and .30-06 Sprg. All have a total capacity of five and a 22-inch barrel, and all weigh right at 6 ½ pounds (unscoped). MSRP is $440, so you should find this under $400 at your local dealer.
Mauser calls this “The people’s rifle” and claims it “condenses hunting to its fundamental form: no-frills workmanship.” With a black synthetic stock with soft inlay grip, cold hammer-forged barred and a steel receiver, this gun is built to work. Features include an adjustable, direct-action trigger; removable five-round magazine; silent, three-position safety that acts directly on the trigger lug; and a multi-purpose cap on the buttstock that can be used to store small-but-handy items.
The M18 is currently available in .308 and .30-06. Mauser says the following calibers will be available in summer 2018: .243 Win, .270 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag. Standard calibers weigh just under 6.4 pounds, and magnum calibers are a few ounces heavier — plenty light enough to pack into the backcountry. MSRP on all calibers is $699.
Christensen Arms Mesa
The Mesa is absolutely built for the backcountry, with a featherlight-contour steel barrel and a carbon fiber composite
stock. Short actions weigh in at 6 ½ pounds. Features include a stainless steel seamless radial brake (removable), steel billet receiver, skeletonized bolt handle, spiral fluted bolt with twin lugs, recoil pad, improved bolt release, hinged floorplate, enlarged ejection port, fluted bolt knob, dual ejector (magnum calibers), and a match-grade trigger. The barrel is hand-lapped and free-floating, with a match chamber, and covered in Cerakoting for durability.
New for 2018 is the Burnt Bronze Cerakote finish. This model features the signature Christensen Arms green stock with black and tan webbing, with a black trigger.
The Mesa comes in 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Rem, .308 Win, .450 Bushmaster, 7mm Win and 300 Win, all with a Sub-MOA guarantee and all with an MSRP of $1,295.
Remington Model Seven Threaded
If you’re looking for a lightweight gun you can carry for miles, this is worth a look. Remington’s Model Seven Threaded weighs just 5 ½ pounds! It’s got the same strength of the model 700 action, with the bolt face, barrel and receiver encasing the cartridge head, and it features Remington’s X-Mark Pro externally adjustable trigger. The barrel is just 16 ½ inches — this gun is made for easy carry and fast handling — and is, as the name suggests, threaded for adding a suppressor. It’s made of carbon steel with a matte blue finish. The synthetic stock wears Kuiu Vias camo, and it’s topped off with a SuperCell recoil pad.
The Model Seven Threaded comes in .308 Win and .300 Blackout, both at an MSRP starting at $795.
Browning X-Bolt Pro
Browning’s very popular X-Bolt has been around for a number of years now, and it comes in what feels like dozens of iterations and models. New for 2018 is the X-Bolt Pro, which Browning says was “designed to fill the gap between custom and production rifles.” What they’ve done is taken an X-Bolt Stainless and reduced the weight and improved accuracy, primarily by using a Generation 2 carbon fiber stock that’s designed for stability and rigidity. They’ve also added weather resistance, in the form of a Cerakote finish in Burnt Bronze on the receiver, barrel, and stock. Other features include threaded muzzle brake; fluted, free-floated barrel with target crown; 60 degree bolt lift; detachable rotary magazine; adjustable Feather Trigger; Inflex recoil pad; and enlarged bolt knob.
The X-Bolt Pro comes in 10 calibers, from 6mm Creedmoor up to .300 Win Mag, with an MSRP starting at $2,069.
Savage 110 Lightweight Storm
The big news from Savage this year is the introduction of the new AccuFit system on all model 110 series rifles. The AccuFit stock offers four LOP inserts and five comb risers to let you adjust the stock to your own perfect dimensions.
The Lightweight Storm model includes a detachable box magazine, stainless steel barrel, spiral fluted bolt, and a gray synthetic stock, as well as Savage’s well-known Accutrigger. The whole thing weighs about 6 ½ pounds unscoped. You can get it in .223 Rem, .270 Win, .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 7mm08 Rem. MSRP is $749, so you’ll find it for well under $700 on dealer shelves.
Tikka T3X Arctic
The Tikka T3X Arctic is the rifle chosen by the Canadian Rangers, who operate in some pretty tough conditions — it was created specifically as a wilderness gun. The modular synthetic stock of this gun has interchangeable pistol grips that let you modify the grip angle to allow for multiple shooting positions. The stock’s additional attachment point allows you to change the width of the forend as well. A foam insert in the stock lowers stock-generated noise, and a widened angular ejection port makes it easier to feed one cartridge at a time. Features include stainless action for durability, an improved rail attachment, metallic bolt shroud, an extra-strong steel lug, adjustable double-stage trigger, three-position safety, and a robust recoil pad.
As it’s built to be robust and rugged, this gun weighs a little more than some of the others on this list – a little over 8 pounds. Right now it comes only in .308 Win, at an MSRP of $2,099.