Best Beginner Hunting Rifles – 2021 Round-up

Jeff
| Last Updated January 11, 2021

So you’ve decided to take up hunting. Or maybe you’re looking to buy one for a newbie. Either way, the prerequisites for choosing a beginner's hunting rifles are mostly the same. However, selection is not like shopping for clothes. There are quite a few nooks and crannies that have to be considered seriously before choosing a beginner’s hunting rifle.

To make things easier for you, this article also compiles and reviews some of those best rifles available on the market today. 

Best Beginner Hunting Rifle

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Extremely smooth action and very accurate rifle
  • Most lightweight beginner hunting rifle on the list
  • Fiberglass reinforced polymer stock and Sako extractor
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Dos and Don’ts of Buying Your First Hunting Rifle

First things first. Let’s take a look at the do’s and don’t you should keep in mind when buying your first hunting rifle. 

Stick to a Low Budget Initially

There are a few very good reasons for this. Firstly, your interest in hunting may end up being a fad. No offense here, but hunting as a sport requires dedication and is not a task for lazy folks. Secondly, since you are new to hunting. 

You’ll first need to understand how to handle guns on hunting trips. It’s somewhat like owning a car. You get a brand new one when you’re a good driver. Until then, you use a second-hand model. 

Choose a Simple to Maintain and Accurate Rifle

Don’t look out for too many complex features on your first hunting rifle. A simple rifle with a synthetic stock and lightweight design is all you need initially. Plus, accuracy is of prime importance here. Since it ensures clean and humane kills. By accuracy, we mean a rifle that’s well made and will support the true potential of your bullet caliber. Plus, since you are a newbie, you don't want a rifle too advanced for your uses. 

Photo credit: americanfirearms.org

Don’t Choose Magnum Calibers

If you’re new to hunting or even firearms, opt for light recoiling calibers like the .243, .223, and others in the range. The most you can go for is .308 or even a 6.5 Creedmoor (due to its low recoil). 

Ensure Proper Fit 

The LOP (length of pull) is the distance between the trigger and the end of the stock. This will vary in the level of comfort depending on who’s using it. Choose an appropriate size for yourself. Or choose a rifle with adjustable LOP if you aren’t sure. 

How to Choose a Hunting Rifle 

Now comes the main part. How should you choose the right hunting rifle for beginners? There’s probably no straightforward answer to this because the tastes and requirements of each individual differ. However, let’s get a general overview here. 

Go For Bolt Actions 

While that’s no hard-fast rule. Bolt actions in general tend to be more stable, accurate, and versatile in terms of caliber availability when compared with other actions. The only calibers in which we’ll recommend semi-auto’s are .22lr and .223. By the way, the best rifle in .223 will always be an AR-15. 

Photo credit: CaptainHunter.com

Synthetic Stocks Are Better For Beginners

That’s because a synthetic stock is impervious to weather, heat, cold, and any other environmental aberration. These are very easy to maintain and you won’t fret after getting a scratch on them. This is not the case with wooden or expensive wooden stocks. 

Lightweight Design, Crisp Trigger, and Apt Barrel Length

Hunting rifles have to be carried on foot. Sometimes you’ll catch your game within minutes, and sometimes you’ll have to scour bushes/woods the entire day. Make sure your rifle is of the right weight or you have enough muscle. 

The next good thing is a crisp trigger with minimal pre and over travel. An adjustable trigger can come in handy here. But it is not that necessary for beginner hunters. After all, this, check out the length of the barrel. A 20 to the 22-inch barrel will suffice for most hunting applications. Since you’ll most likely be hunting at close range. 

Quick Take | Best Beginner Hunting Rifle

Just looking for the best beginner hunting rifle? Here it is:

  1. TIKKA T3 LITE

Review of the Best Beginner Hunting Rifles

Best Overall:
TIKKA T3 LITE

PROS

  • Very affordable for its features
  • Crisp and adjustable trigger (2-4 lbs)
  • Very easy and quick to disassemble and clean
  • Compact, lightweight, and versatile hunting rifle
  • Exceptionally accurate. Can shoot 0.4-inch groups easily

CONS

  • Slightly small ejection port
  • Holds only 3 rounds and the mag has to replaced for loading

What Recent Buyers Report

The T3 has an astoundingly smooth bolt, a lightweight and slim profile, and accuracy that can beat $2,000 rifles out there. The rifle is great for what it offers and every component and aspect is premium for the price. It’s nimble in the hand and easy to shoot from hunting positions. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Tikka T3 is a popular rifle among hunters for its accuracy and light design. The rifle is technically excellent with all part machines to exact tolerances. It offers the smoothest bolt you’ll find on beginner rifles. Plus the comfy and adjustable stock makes ergonomics very favorable. 

The trigger is adjustable and can come down to very light pull weight for extreme precision. The rifle is very easy to disassemble and clean. The receiver is tapped and drilled to let you mount the base of your choice. 

Bottom Line

The Tikka T3 is the rifle for hunters who like or have to cover long stretches of distances on foot. This rifle has an all-weather stock, a very accurate barrel, and a lightweight trigger that can be adjusted for good. By far the best budget rifle on our list.

PROS

  • Two-piece weaver style base
  • Mossy Oak Terra synthetic stock
  • User molded trigger and overmolded ergonomics
  • Fluted, threaded barrel and detachable magazine
  • Accufit stock is adjustable for comb height & LOP
  • One of the most reliable and time-tested rifles of all time

CONS

  • Slightly heavy for some users

What Recent Buyers Report

The Savage 110 is a very comfortable and accurate rifle that’ll stay useful for years to come. The Accufit stock was liked too much by the users and the extra camo finish greatly helped with concealment. The gun adjusts to any shooter’s preferences and offers great value. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Savage 110 has been a reliable rifle for decades now. But the predator model has revamped some features to suit the most demanding hunters. The Accufit stock is a revolutionary upgrade to the rifle as it is very ergonomic and makes the rifle adjustable. 

The adjustable trigger is also a great feature for the price. Plus, the camo finish, pre-installed weaver style bases, and a fluted barrel are features that any serious hunter will like. No hunting range is long for the 24-inch barrel and no-load heavy for its 1:9.25” twist rate. 

Bottom Line

The Savage 110 Predator is a classic rifle chambered in .243 Win caliber. The rifle is very ergonomic and can be adjusted easily to suit different shooters. It won’t flex under tough environmental conditions and is super accurate on all ranges. 

PROS

  • Combination scope base adapter
  • The best selling .22lr rifle of all time
  • Detachable rotary mag with extended release
  • Great to teach absolute beginners about handling rifles
  • Extremely lightweight and has built-in adjustable flip sights

CONS

  • Trigger can be a bit rough
  • Suitable for hunting small varmints only

What Recent Buyers Report

The Ruger 10/22 doesn’t need any introduction. It has been the favorite varmint rifle of Americans for decades. The compact, lightweight and easy-to-shoulder design, combined with 10 rounds rotary mag can break hell loose on squirrels and possums. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The 10/22 is the kind of rifle you can trust to teach your kids or anyone the basics of shooting/hunting. The rifle is simple, cheap, and doesn’t need too much care. Plus it is dead-on accurate at close range. It is a favorite plinking and pest eradicator of many people. You’ll find one with every gun owner who keeps multiple firearms. 

The size is perfect for small stature shooters and the ability to mount a scope turns it into an appropriate hunting rifle. 

Bottom Line

The Ruger 10/22 is a safe, inexpensive, and fun-to-shoot rifle that is perfect for hunting small game and teaching beginners the basics. It has been and still is a very popular rifle.

PROS

  • Drilled and tapped receiver
  • Adjustable X-Mark pro trigger
  • Biggest selling bolt action of all time
  • Chambered in the versatile 30-06 caliber
  • Overmolded grip and forend for better handling

CONS

  • Has some recoil to it

What Recent Buyers Report

The Remington 700 is renowned for its accuracy and this specific model is no exception. The rifle is well-built and ergonomically very comfortable. Another admirable feature about this rifle is its exceptionally affordable price. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The 700 SPS features a durable all-weather stock that has been over-molded at grip and forend to enhance comfort. The 24-inch barrel is great for long range and the rifling and chambering have been designed to tight tolerances.

The drilled and tapped receiver allows you to mount the base of your choice. Plus, the adjustable trigger allows you to tune the pull to your personal taste. The 1:10 twist rate is just perfect to handle heavy 30-06 grains and after everything, the rifle still weighs only 7.37 lbs.  

Bottom Line

This is a rifle that’ll stand beside you as you traverse through the different skill levels of being a hunter. It is good for beginners and pros to love it. The 30-6 is not an absolute caliber for beginner hunters. But if you can handle it, you’ll certainly love it

Best Beginner Deer Hunting Rifle:
Weatherby Vanguard Backcountry

PROS

  • Weighs just 6.75 pounds
  • Amazing customer support
  • Fluted barrel with Cerakote finish
  • Adjustable match grade two-stage trigger
  • Ergonomic custom stock with decelerator pad
  • Guaranteed to shoot sub-MOA groups at 100 yards

CONS

  • Slightly above budget for beginners
  • Pistol grip area is a bit small for big palms

What Recent Buyers Report

The Weatherby Vanguard is a serious hunting rifle and has been a popular budget option in Europe. This Backcountry model with its protective coating is very durable and the rifle itself is very accurate right out of the box. This rig is a barrel burner, but an accurate one for sure. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Vanguard Backcountry is a very precise and accurate rifle for almost every hunting application. The 6.75 lbs of weight make it a rifle suitable for mountain hunting. Plus, the trigger pull can be brought down to just 2.5 lbs which opens up a few more realms of applications. 

The rifle is a worthy opponent to the more expensive hunting rifles that boast of tack-driver accuracy. The Vanguard will fill that role while being a tough and durable option to serve your interests for years to come. Plus, the .240 wby caliber will protect newbies from recoil jolts. 

Bottom Line

The Weatherby Vanguard Backcountry is a high-end rifle that’ll help you bring down medium sized game across the inhospitable terrain and weather of the countryside. Chambered in a lenient caliber and known to deliver accuracy. This is a perfect mountain hunting rifle for newbies. 

Types of Hunting Rifles

The type of a hunting rifle can be categorized based upon the action. There are four types of actions that are prevalent in hunting rifles today. Let’s learn about them one by one. 

Bolt Action Rifles

These are by far the most popular and widely used hunting rifles. Each time you fire a round, the bolt has to be pulled manually to eject the used cartridge and load a new round. These rifles are very accurate and best suited for long range hunting. Bolt actions aren’t useful for games like hogs where you have to take quick successive shots. 

Semi-Auto Rifles

These rifles fire a shot every time the trigger is pulled. A good example of a semi-auto rifle will be the civilian AR-15 rifle. Semi-auto rifles are also used for hunting. The best part is that they offer too many options for customizations and add-ons. Making them suitable for nighttime hunting as well. 

Lever Action Rifles

The most famous among these are the Marlin 1895 and Henry Big Boy. Lever action rifles have been around for a long time now and are still very effective for hunting games of all sizes. Running from varmints to big black bears. The only major con is that these rifles can’t be shot in a prone position. 

Pump Action Rifles

While pump actions are mostly found in shotguns. There are several vintage rifles still used for hunting that use pump actions. For example, the Remington 760 series.

What Caliber Hunting Rifle Do I Need?

The best hunting calibers for beginners are .22lr, .223, .243, and .270 Winchester. The .22lr is great for small varmints, the .223 is suitable for whitetails and even hogs, the .243 is a great deer hunting round and the .270 is a ‘takes-care-of-everything’ kind of cartridge that’ll handle anything a beginner is most likely shoot. 

If you are planning on taking down a bigger sized game, include a .30-06, .308, or a 6.5 Creedmoor to your shopping list. Especially the .30-06 is truly capable of killing anything that walks, across North America and even beyond. 

How to Hold a Hunting Rifle

  1. Before holding a hunting rifle in the aiming position, make sure you take the right stance which is stable. You may lean against something, crouch, or go prone for stability. 

  2. Now decide which is your dominant eye and hold the rear sight of the rifle close to that eye.

  3. Your one arm will be on the forend and the other will be gripping the stock grip. Don’t place your index finger on the trigger unless you are ready to fire.

There are different hold positions, some of which also involve the sling to enhance stability. But for the basics, make sure you stand stably and lean a bit to put some weight forward on the rifle to tackle the recoil. 

Conclusion

If you’re an absolute beginner looking to step into the realm of hunting, your best option will be to buy a Ruger 10/22 and understand the basics first. If you’re even more sure to continue hunting, stick to low budget bolt action rifles that offer optimal accuracy and are easy to maintain. Choose lightweight rifles that are easy to handle and a caliber that will stay useful in the long run. 

Photo credit: nationalinterest.org

People Also Ask

Here’s our short and useful FAQ section to enlighten you about a few topics related to beginner hunting rifles. 

How Many Rounds Can a Hunting Rifle Hold?

There’s no legal implication on how many rounds a hunting rifle can hold. There’s only a limit of 3 shells in capacity for waterfowling shotguns. As far as hunting rifles are concerned, the most common capacity is between 5 to 10 rounds. 

How Much Should I Spend on My First Hunting Rifle? 

As far as hunting applications are concerned, spending somewhere between $400 - $800 is a good starting point. Most popular beginner hunting rifles fall in the same price range. 

Jeff

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.