Best Big Game Hunting Rifles – 2021 Picks

| Last Updated December 22, 2021

The best big game hunting rifles is a debated topic as there are so many different opinions. There isn't a specific weapon that's ideal for this role as there are many variable factors.

These make certain rifles great for one hunter but less than ideal for another.

This article will provide an in-depth discussion regarding the best big game hunting rifles. 

Comparison of the Best Big Game Hunting Rifles

  • Best All Around Big Game Rifle
  • Can be converted to detachable magazine
  • Curved trigger guarantees crisp, clean pulls every time
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What Makes a Rifle Great for Big Game Hunting?

Big game hunting is an exciting endeavor that requires preparation and appropriate equipment. Certain considerations must be taken into account when choosing one of the best big game hunting rifles. 

The firearm needs to fit the hunter correctly and be of a comfortable weight. A gun that's too heavy is an inconvenience to carry over long distances.

A rifle that's too big or ill-fitting may lead to inaccuracies and missed shots. Using a too long or too short weapon for the shooter will also increase the recoil, resulting in an unpleasant experience. 

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Depending on the type of game you're hunting and the terrain, you'll need to have a rifle that supports the right caliber. If your hunting area is usually open plains and fields where most of your shots are long range, you can opt for a flat shooting caliber. If you're hunting in thickets, you'll be better off with a fatter cartridge.

Another aspect that makes a good hunting rifle is that the design and finish are appropriate for the weather and wilderness. The stock should be durable, and it should be a reliable weapon overall.

It would be best if you also were comfortable with the action of the weapon. A hunter who prefers a semi-automatic may have trouble with a bolt action. 

Review of the Best Big Game Hunting Rifles

This part of the review will discuss some of the best big game hunting rifles currently available. Some of the benefits and drawbacks, as well as customer feedback, will be highlighted. 

Best All-Around Big Game Rifle:
Bergara B-14 Ridge 6.5 Creedmoor


  • Lightweight
  • An affordable option
  • Bolt operation is smooth
  • Crisp three-pound trigger pull
  • Bolt knob is large, making shooting from various positions convenient


  • Not manufactured by a well-known brand
  • As the weapon is made in Spain, finding parts may be challenging

Although Bergara isn’t a well-known brand, this Spanish manufacturer produces weapons with exceptional performance capabilities. The company takes pride in creating quality components and utilizing an effective assembly process.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are incredibly impressed with the trigger and appreciate the rifle's design. They commented that the recoil was relatively low. 

They also like that the stock uses synthetic material and that it's not over-molded. The only complaint was that it didn't come with a rail and that they had to install it themselves.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The firearm is chambered in a .308 and is exceptionally effective. The molded synthetic stock is made of glass fiber and reinforced with a polymer. This choice of materials results in a lightweight but sturdy weapon.

The bedding surface for the barreled action is stable thanks to the permanently molded solid steel pillars. What sets this gun apart from competitors is the barrel. The company takes its time and employs a five-step barrel-making process to create a superior product.

As a result of this, you get excellent precision. It utilizes a two-lug action system and a sliding plate extractor. This weapon's overall operation is smooth enough to use a single finger for sliding or locking the bolt. 

Bottom Line

This Spanish firearm is lightweight and smooth and designed to fit the average hold of most hunters. It has a soft butt pad and a large cheek rest. It offers peak performance and repeatable accuracy. It does well with various types of ammunition, making it ideal for new hunters and veterans.

Winchester 70 Featherweight .300 Win Mag


  • Has an angled comb
  • Three-position safety
  • Trigger pull is adjustable
  • Features a controlled feed
  • Bolt opens even if the safety is on


  • Recoil is significant
  • Comb isn’t adjustable

Winchester Repeating Arms has been in the industry for more than 150 years since 1866. Initially, the company specialized in lever-action rifles and expanded to include other products. Today, the company's products include shotguns, rifles, and other weapon accessories.

What Recent Buyers Report

Consumers who purchase this firearm state that the three-position safety is an excellent feature and that the gun's workmanship is detailed. They commented on the steel floor plate and liked that it was solid.

They also mentioned that the butt pad was of soft rubber. This absorbs some of the recoils even though they wouldn't recommend it for recoil-sensitive shooters. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The weapon has excellent ergonomics and strikes a balance between functionality and appearance. It's a reliable bolt gun that's easily customizable. It handles well, and the action is smooth.

The gun's finish is stunning, featuring a satin-finish grade in black walnut. The trigger guard and floor plate are steel, and it has a half-inch drop at the comb. It's easy to carry, and many hunters prefer the controlled round feeding.

The MOA trigger system is excellent, with zero take up and creep. It also has a premium decelerator pad to assist with recoil and a floating barrel.

Bottom Line

The Winchester 70 Featherweight .300 Win Mag is considered one of the best big game hunting rifles due to its being lightweight, its superior handling, and its performance. It's a hard-hitting hunting weapon that oozes quality in both its functionality and appearance.

Best for the Money:
Marlin Model 1895 .45 - 70 Government


  • Features side ejection
  • Has a versatile mounting rail
  • Durable against the elements
  • Chambered for big-bore rounds
  • Suitable for close to medium-range shots


  • Side gate has a stiff spring
  • Doesn’t come with a scope

Marlin Firearms have been building rifles since the late 1800s. Some of their products include rimfires, autoloading, bolt-action, and lever-action weapons.

What Recent Buyers Report

Owners of this rifle were satisfied. They claim that actuating the firearm's lever is more comfortable than on other models as it has a large loop.

The wood grain finish attracted customers. They stated that colors complemented the overall rugged look. They also mention that it was accurate and seemed like it was factory zeroed. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This weapon is considered one of the best big game hunting rifles because of several features. It's accurate, attractive, easy to use, and reliable. It has a six-round capacity and an 18.5-inch barrel. It's a lever-action weapon with a single-action trigger.

This weapon's safety is a manual hammer block, and it's compatible with both left- and right-handed shooters. The rear sight features a ghost ring. It's a fast-handling, hard-hitting firearm that’s durable and has a lever loop that allows you to cycle the action with gloved hands.

The barrel and receiver are stainless steel, and the barrel is ballard-style rifling to accommodate different cartridges, whether they're cast or jacketed.

Bottom Line

This weapon is an excellent hunting rifle that takes versatile ammunition and handles well. The side ejection allows easy accessory mounting. 

The Marlin Model 1895 .45 - 70 Government is one of the best big game hunting rifles due to its durability and ease of use.

Editor's Pick:
CZ 550 American Safari Magnum .375 H&H


  • Affordable
  • Has an American style stock
  • Features three-leaf express sights
  • Has a Mauzer-style controlled round feed
  • Chambered to take classic hunting cartridges


  • Occasionally has feeding issues
  • Recent models have a rough finish

The CZ brand has a remarkable reputation for manufacturing accurate and dependable weapons. 

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased this gun are satisfied with the way it performs and the accuracy but question how reliable the gun is. They report having feeding issues once in a while but state that, in general, the rifle is a worthwhile purchase. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This well-loved weapon has been classified as one of the best big game hunting rifles for many years. It accommodates several classic types of ammunition that most modern firearms don't. 

The manufacturer is discontinuing the CZ 500 series. Once all the existing stock is sold, it’ll only be available secondhand. Gun enthusiasts believe that this will increase the value of the rifle. You can also convert the weapon into a custom safari rifle if you want to upgrade it.

Bottom Line

The CZ is an excellent option with a free-floating barrel for accuracy. Its rubber butt pad reduces recoil, and the gun's performance will assist you in bringing down big game quickly.

Honorable Mention:
Remington 700 Limited Edition 7mm Rem Mag


  • Lightweight
  • Limited availability
  • Receiver is engraved
  • Features a steel floor plate
  • Easy to use right out of the box


  • Expensive
  • Based on the Remington 700, which had trigger issues

The Remington brand is globally recognized and is one of the oldest gun makers. The company has been in business since 1816 and manufactures innovative products. 

What Recent Buyers Report

Owners of this rifle are impressed by the craftsmanship and aesthetics of the gun. One customer even stated that the high-gloss finish and wood grain makes the gun look like artwork instead of hunting equipment. Most buyers commented that the bolt action was smooth and that they were happy with the product. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Remington is a beautifully crafted weapon with a commemorative medallion inlay. It's a lightweight bolt-action gun that has a two-position safety.

It takes 7mm Remington rounds and has a 24-inch carbon steel barrel. The X-Mark Pro trigger is externally adjustable. 

It's considered one of the best big game hunting rifles because it's based on the Remington 700, which earned its reputation as a powerful piece of hunting equipment. When you purchase this weapon, you receive a bicentennial box as well as a certificate of authenticity.

Bottom Line

This limited edition Remington is attractive, and it stands out with its commemorative medallion inlay and crisp trigger. This makes it a great hunting rifle or even a collector's item.

How Does a Hunting Rifle Work?

Before you can understand how a hunting rifle works, you need to familiarise yourself with the gun's parts. Some concepts you need to understand are the trigger, firing pin, magazine, cartridge, and barrel. 

The three essential components of a rifle are the action, barrel, and stock. The mechanical parts needed to fire a round are contained in the action. 

When you pull the trigger, it causes the firing pin to strike the primer of the cartridge. The cartridge's content explodes and produces gas, which results in the bullet exiting through the barrel. 

The barrel tube of a rifle's spiral grooves cut into it, causing the bullet to spin and accelerate in speed. It also stabilizes the shot so that the flight path will have less drag.

Types of Hunting Rifles

There are five types of rifles. Some are more common in hunting than others. Here we highlight the three main ones.

Lever-Action Rifles

These rifles dated back to the 1800s and were even used toward the end of the American Civil War. It uses a handle at the back of the trigger, and this causes the cartridge to be pulled out of the tube and loaded into the chamber.

Lever-action rifles typically have high capacity and are heavier than other products. They're usually a bit less accurate as well.


A semi-automatic rifle requires the shooter to move the action into a firing position. After this, the action will work automatically. 

Semi-automatic rifles are easy to use and fire rounds faster than other guns. Regarding hunting, using this type of firearm is a controversial topic as some perceive it to be unethical and unsportsmanlike.

Bolt-Action Rifles

These firearms are very popular with hunters. They utilize a small handle that sticks out on the side behind the chamber. This handle ejects the cartridge, loads a new round, and closes the chamber for firing. 

Hunting Rifle Caliber Chart

For clarity on hunting rifle calibers, here is a visual representation.

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Big Game Hunting Rifle Comparisons

When it comes to hunting, there are multiple options for an appropriate firearm. Which of the best big game hunting rifles produces the best results is debatable and comes down to personal preference. 

AR 15 vs Hunting Rifle

Traditional hunting rifles and modern AR firearms have quite a bit in common. Both can inflict lethal damage and feature similar actions.

Some differences include the design element where the older weapons utilized wooden stocks and many AR guns use synthetic material. Another significant difference is the firearms' capacity, with traditional models having significantly less than AR counterparts. 

The ammunition of AR rifles tends to be smaller, lighter, and quicker to the mark. In some cases, these calibers are effective over longer distances than the traditional hunting rifle rounds. 

Hunting Rifle vs Assault Rifle

An assault rifle is a weapon that gives the shooter a choice between semi-automatic and fully automatic functionality. It's also referred to as a "select fire" gun. It has a detachable magazine and uses medium-sized ammunition. 

Hunting rifles only have a single function and aren't fully automatic. Many firearm enthusiasts insist that these guns are essentially the same and that the only difference between them is the legal definition.

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Deer Hunting Shotgun vs Rifle

These weapons use different types of ammunition. The rifle uses cartridges of various calibers, whereas the shotgun uses shells and pellets.

When hunting over long distances, the rifle will deliver better results. Its projectile capabilities are superior to the shotgun, which is limited to 100 yards maximum.

A shotgun is better suited to a terrain where there's vegetation cover. A shotgun slug isn't deterred by interference such as a brush. 

The recoil on a shotgun is significant, but it's versatile enough to hunt various game. 

Bow vs Rifle Hunting

Using a bow requires time, effort, skill, and continuous practice. To hunt effectively with a bow, you'd need to be at least 40 yards from your target. 

This requires stealth and aptitude as the animal has a better advantage—those who opt for this hunting method claim that it evens the playing field and is more challenging. The season for bow hunting is longer, and the sport requires exceptional target-directed motor skills. 

Hunting with a rifle is more comfortable in many ways. The firearm is effective over longer distances and requires less practice to master. It's also more convenient to land a fatal shot with a rifle than with a bow.

Hunting Big Game Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Success

Successfully hunting big game requires more than one of the best big game hunting rifles. It also requires skills, stealth, and discipline. This part of the review provides you with a few tips for your next hunt. 

Use Other Hunters to Your Advantage

If you're scouting for a game in an area where there are many other hunters, you can use this to your advantage. Deer have a common behavioral pattern in such circumstances.

When the animal feels as if it's in danger, it’ll move to higher ground, where there's a thick cover. To minimize the effort, you need to find your ideal target, locate this area, and wait for other hunters to push the animal in that direction.

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A Missed Shot Doesn't Mean a Failed Hunt 

If you miss your target, don't fret too much. If you're far from the animal, the chances are that it was only startled by the sound and doesn't know your location. 

After your missed shot, keep still for 20 minutes. The animal may run for a moment, but if there's no sign of movement, they will behave naturally again, giving you a second chance at your prize. 

Move Slow

A lightweight weapon makes this task easier. Move slowly enough to place your feet while studying the terrain that surrounds you. If you master this, you'll be able to spot and move closer to the animal without scaring it off.


When hunting big game, you need a weapon that performs optimally and handles comfortably. The options we've provided in this review meet the criteria of the best big game hunting rifles. 

You need to consider the type of game you'll be hunting and the terrain you select before making a purchase. The fit, amount of recoil, and user-friendliness of the firearm also need to be taken into account. 

People Also Ask

This review has explained game hunting extensively, but some questions may remain. This section aims at providing answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What Is the Most Powerful Hunting Rifle Caliber?

While it's not the most practical ammunition, the 50 BMG is considered the most powerful.

Is a .308 More Powerful Than a .270?

The .308 has better stopping power, while the .270 performs better in terms of distance and velocity.

Will a .308 Kill a Grizzly Bear?

If the bullet placement is right, it should kill a grizzly bear; however, if you're hunting this type of animal, you may be better off with specialized dangerous game ammunition. 

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What is the Best Caliber Rifle for Deer Hunting?

Several calibers work well for deer hunting. You could use .300 savage at close range, but the .300 Win Mag is better for long-distance shots.

What is the Smallest Caliber Rifle for Deer Hunting?

The .243 Winchester cartridge.

Which States Allow Semi-Automatic Rifles for Hunting?

Most states allow semi-automatic rifles for hunting, but currently, Pennsylvania doesn't.

Which Companies Manufacture Semi-Automatic Big Game Hunting Rifles?

Several companies manufacture semi-automatic rifles for a big game. The most prominent are Remmington, Ruger, and Browning

My name is Caleb and I am obsessed with hunting, fishing, and foraging. To be successful, you have to think like your prey. You have to get into the mind of your target - and understand Big Game Logic. If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.