Bargain Bolt Actions

Outdoor Life has a good summary of ten of the best bargain bolt action hunting rifles.

All are available in New Zealand from various retailers.

Most of these rifles are fantastic entry level rifles that will do the job on most game. I have edited Outdoor Life’s assessment for a New Zealand context. All prices are shown in New Zealand dollars with prices obtained from regular retailers.

The concept of annual inflation is hard for mans consumers (and hunters) to accept. In 1979 I purchased a bolt-action Remington model 700 – my first centerfire rifle – for a little less than 300 bucks. Almost 40 years later that rifle retails for almost three times that much, but I’ll forever value it and others like it, for what I paid for it way back when. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices in 2018 are 247.12% higher than prices in 1979. But have no fear, here are 10 accurate, reliable bolt-action rifles that all cost less than $1300.

1. Remington 783 Synthetic

Remington 783 Synthetic • $795

2. Savage Axis II XP

Savage Axis II XP • $999

3. Thompson Center Compass

Thompson Center Compass • $900

There’s a lot to like about the TC Compass. It’s available in 6.5 Creedmoor and 10 other chamberings, with either 22- or 24-inch barrels that are ideally suited for everything from prairie dogs to moose. The Compass has a three-lug bolt, a three-position safety, a user adjustable trigger, and 5R rifling is standard. As far as your wallet is concerned, the Thompson Center Compass will help you find you way back to 1979, where this rifle would have sold for about $160.

4. Ruger American

Ruger American • $969

This rifle changed the way American hunters looked at bolt-action rifles. Its ergonomic, lightweight, synthetic stock, combined with Ruger’s Marksman Adjustable Trigger, is more than enough to justify the price tag. Add in a one-piece, three-lug bolt, the patent pending Power Bedding System, and a cold hammer forged barrel, and you can see why these rifles don’t stay on dealer’s shelves very long.

Ruger American Ranch Rifle • $1099

An adaptation of the very successful Ruger American Rifle, the Ranch Rifle feeds from a detachable magazine and is available in 5.56 NATO, 300 Blackout, 7.62×39 or the pig-busting, straight-wall cased, .450 Bushmaster. The Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger is standard and suppressor-ready barrel threading or beastly muzzle brakes are optional. Perfect for farm hands, young hunters, or even professionals, it weighs in at a scant 5.5 pounds.

6. Howa Hogue Rifle

Howa Hogue Rifle • $1099

7. Thompson Center Venture Compact

Thompson Center Venture Compact • $899

This rifle offers the same guaranteed MOA accuracy of all Venture rifles with a more ergonomic design for small-stature shooters. It has a 12.5 length of pull, but comes with a one-inch spacer for larger stature hunters. It is chambered for the .223, .22-250, .243, 7mm-08, or .308, which are perfect options for predator, varmint, or big game hunting. It feeds from a detachable magazine, has a two-position safety, and weighs only 6.5 pounds.

8. Winchester XPR Composite

Winchester XPR Composite • $899

This rifle is offered in 18 different variations, but for hunters who are looking for a lightweight, affordable rifle, the Compact model is where to start. A Pachmayr Decelerator pad, M.O.A. trigger system, bolt-unlock button, and a detachable magazine are standard features on a rifle that weighs in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces. This little gem is available in seven popular big game chamberings including the 6.5 Creedmoor and the hard-hitting .325 WSM.

9. Howa Mini-Action Rifle


Howa Mini-Action Rifle • $1249

This bundle of compact sweetness is available with an action that’s perfectly sized to the .223 Remington, 6.5 Grendel, or 7.62X39. It feeds from a detachable magazine, has a three-position safety, and a 20- or 22-inch barrel. And, all of this is fitted to an HTI synthetic, pillar-bedded stock. The Howa Mini-Action is an ideal walking around varmint, coyote calling, or medium game rifle.

10. Mossberg Patriot

Mossberg Patriot • $799

Out of the box, this walnut stocked rifle has a user adjustable trigger and a fantastically reliable and lightweight detachable magazine. Add a fluted, button-rifled, and free-floated barrel, and a spiral fluted bolt, and it’s amazing that this rifle can be had for less than $600. The Patriot is available in a variety of configurations for most popular big-game cartridges, up to the .375 Ruger.

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