Best Hunting Rifles Under $500 – Your 2021 Guide

Jeff
| Last Updated March 12, 2021

Hunting is an expensive sport. To acquire quality gear, you need to invest in a reliable weapon, optics, tactical wear, and ammunition.

Fortunately, you can find budget items that still perform well. This article will review some of the best hunting rifles under $500. 

We break down the pros and cons of each product and what makes each item worth the purchase. Below our reviews, you’ll find a section that offers guidance for deciding on the best option for you. 

Our Top Picks for Hunting Rifles Under $500

  • Ergonomic bolt angle
  • Quick loading, unloading
  • Feels excellent
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  • Carbon steel barrel
  • Variety of chamberings
  • Recoil pad vents
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  • Best Deer Rifle
  • Capacity of 4+1 rounds
  • Adjustable trigger
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Comparison of the Best Hunting Rifles Under $500

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Ergonomic bolt angle and bolt handle for great grip
  • Box-magazine-fed action for quick loading and unloading
  • Looks good on the rack and feels excellent when shouldered
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  • Carbon steel barrel has detachable box magazine
  • Axis can be purchased in a variety of chamberings
  • Synthetic matte black stock has recoil pad vents
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  • Best Deer Hunting Rifle Under $500
  • Has a mag capacity of 4+1 rounds
  • Trigger system is set at 3.5 lbs but can be adjusted from 2.5 to 5lbs
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  • Best Elk Hunting Rifle Under $500
  • Cam system is dual-cocking and makes for smooth cycling
  • Adjustable trigger offers crisp release for perfect shot
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  • Best Coyote Hunting Rifle Under $500
  • Synthetic matte black stock has recoil pad vents
  • Has a mag capacity of 4+1 rounds
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  • Best Hog Hunting Rifle Under $500
  • 70 degree throw bolt design for fast and smooth operation
  • Easy loading with four round, detachable, flush fit magazine
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  • Best Women's Hunting Rifle Under $500
  • Has a mag capacity of 5+1 rounds
  • Reliable performance due to compass and trigger system
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Can You Find a Quality Hunting Rifle Under $500?

The best rifle brands are often expensive because of the reputation of their products. Quality items simply cost more. To find an item that's of a high standard at an affordable price is possible if you know what to look for. 

Some well-known weapon manufacturers offer firearm options that are budget-friendly compared to the rest of the product range. Another option is to limit your criteria for choosing one of the best hunting rifles under $500.

Decide on your weapon's primary function and prioritize the features you need. If you're hunting in open plains, you may not need a very light firearm like you would for hunting in difficult terrain like the mountains.

You could also choose a weapon that’s made with inexpensive materials. Polymer and wood are usually much cheaper than carbon fiber.  

Remember that attractive firearms don't impact the quality of the shot. You can get a great gun with fewer embellishments that are accurate and reliable.  

Review of the Best Hunting Rifles Under $500

Check out our choices below for the best hunting rifles under $500. Read through all your options and find out what others are saying about them. 

Best Overall:
MOSSBERG Patriot

PROS

  • Recessed crown
  • Soft recoil pad
  • Adjustable trigger
  • Free-floating barrel
  • Streamlined bolt design

CONS

  • Low-quality magazine
  • Not the most attractive weapon

Mossberg is considered a pioneer in the firearm industry. The company has been around since 1919 and produces superior weapons. Mossberg manufactures pump action shotguns that the United States Government purchases. These firearms are known to meet MIL-S-3443 specifications.

What Recent Buyers Report

Owners of this rifle are satisfied with the smooth bolt and thick butt pad. They claim that it was of outstanding value for money and only expressed dissatisfaction with the magazine's material choice. They report that it's a solid rifle for hunting deer and that mounting a scope to the weaver rail is relatively simple.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Mossberg Patriot is user friendly and has a 22inch barrel with a twist of 1:10. It's ideal for those just starting out in the sport of hunting as it has minimal felt recoil, and the trigger weight is adjustable. 

The muzzle is crowned, and it only weighs 6.5lbs. It features a five-round magazine for regular rounds and four rounds for Magnum ammunition. The design of this magazine is a double stack for convenient reloading. 

The sling studs are made of steel, as are the bolt and receiver. The weapon's safety is the toggle type, and you can find it on the right side of the action. It also uses a spiral-cut bolt to reduce weight.

Bottom Line

The Mossberg Patriot is undoubtedly one of the best hunting rifles under $500. It comes with everything a suitable hunting rifle should have, such as reliability and accuracy. 

Its design is practical and lightweight, making it easy to use, and the fluted barrel adds to the overall quality.

PROS

  • Accurate 
  • Bolt is smooth
  • Two-position safety
  • Metal pillar bedding
  • Chambered in cartridges that are easy to find

CONS

  • Magazine doesn't seat easily
  • Magazine feeding problems sometimes occur

Savage Arms's history dates back to 1894. The company produces weapons for recreational shooting, self-defense, and even hunting.

What Recent Buyers Report

Owners are impressed by the accuracy, especially since this is considered a budget rifle. They like how smooth the bolt moves and how lightweight the gun is. Some complained that it was cheap looking but conceded that the appearance had no impact on how well the weapon performed.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Savage Axis is a bolt action gun that's affordable. The bolt is smooth and easy to use, it’s weighted, durable, and similar to those found on more expensive rifles. It features a floating bolt head to make up for any alignment issues between the barrel and receiver. 

The recoil pad is reasonably stiff, with cutouts on the side. It does a decent job of reducing recoil. It also has a rear tang safety, which is quiet when manipulated slowly. 

This mechanism also has a red tab to remind you that your safety is off, a useful tool for those new to the sport. The barrel is 22 inches, and the trigger weight is around 3lbs. 

Bottom Line

It's a budget rifle that does the task well. This makes it one of the best hunting rifles under $500. It's a practical, dependable option for those wanting to enjoy the sport without breaking the bank. There's general satisfaction among Savage Axis owners, with the gun's accuracy being the main advantage.

Best Deer Hunting Rifle Under $500:
REMINGTON Model 783 .270 WIN Rifle

PROS

  • Durable
  • Comes with a scope
  • Heavier weight assists with absorbing recoil
  • Has a finger groove on the forend for enhanced grip
  • Features an aluminum box magazine with a plastic base

CONS

  • A plain unattractive design
  • The bolt cycle is quite rough

For more than 200 years, Remington Arms has produced weapons and ammunition. The company has become a household name associated with reputable firearms.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers of this gun appreciate the adjustable trigger and accuracy of the weapon. They state that the no-frills design was practical and that the added weight absorbed recoil. The butt pad is made of a comfortable texture that most consumers approve of. 

Hunters comment that it performs optimally at shorter distances. The only negative remark is that the rough bolt cycle made follow-up shots less fluid.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Remington Model 783 .270 WIN Rifle weighs just over 7lbs and has a 10inch RH twist. It has a detachable flush magazine that holds four rounds of ammunition and feeds smoothly. It utilizes a two-position safety and has a Supercell recoil pad. 

The trigger is adjustable between 2.5 and 5lbs, and the 22inch barrel is made of carbon steel. It has a rigid synthetic stock, and the finish is adequate. The weapon maintains quality and value despite its price point.

The firearm is suitable for hunting deer and similar game and will perform well with shots over longer distances.

Bottom Line

This utilitarian bolt action firearm is affordable and reliable. The appearance may be lacking, but in terms of delivery, the Remington 783 doesn't disappoint. It's one of the best hunting rifles under $500. It's a quality option that serves its purpose well, whether in the hands of a seasoned hunter or a newcomer.

Best Elk Hunting Rifle Under $500:
RUGER American .30-06

PROS

  • Excellent accuracy
  • Free-floating action
  • Consistent shots even when dirty
  • Bolt diameter is the same sizes its three locking lugs
  • Unique V-block bedding system for consistent bedding pressure

CONS

  • Limited cartridge options
  • Synthetic/plastic magazine

Ruger is an American brand that supplies firearms and related products. The company has a reputation for producing quality, durable items. This weapon was first released in 2012.

What Recent Buyers Report

Many recent buyers claim that there are no negative aspects to this firearm. They report that it's well designed, accurate, and innovative. Some state that the rifle exceeds expectations based on its price. 

Those who purchased this firearm state that there were no feeding problems. The main drawback of the Ruger American is that it's not available in popular calibers.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Ruger American features a four-round rotary magazine and a 22 inch barrel. It uses a unique bedding system that's V-shaped and made of aluminum. This allows the receiver to fit snugly into position.

The weapon has a rigid receiver, and the barrel is free-floating. The trigger is adjustable, and when set to a lighter pull, the creep reduces as well. The safety situated on the tang and the recoil pad is relatively soft.

The weapon is relatively light, weighing just over 6lbs, and although the stock is made of synthetic plastic, it's easy to grip. When testing this gun's accuracy, most shooters get a 1 MOA group at approximately 100 yards. 

Bottom Line

When you search for one of the best hunting rifles under $500, you find basic criteria to measure the weapon against. Boxes on this list generally include firing ergonomics, accuracy, and quality. The Ruger American meets and, in some cases, exceeds expectations in all these aspects.

Best Coyote Hunting Rifle Under $500:
Savage Arms 11 Hunter XP

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Free-floating barrel
  • Ideal for long-range shots
  • Has a three-position safety
  • User-adjustable AccuTrigger

CONS

  • The recoil can be heavy
  • Cleaning is not a simple process

Savage Arms is an American brand. The company has an innovative approach that combines technology and practical hunting experience to create user-friendly firearms that work well.

What Recent Buyers Report

Consumers report that this gun was easy to shoot right out of the box. The groupings were excellent at 100 to 300 yards, with one customer stating that it even did well at 500 yards. Some customers reported that they quickly took down various buck and coyotes with this weapon, and the main drawback is that it doesn't have a scope.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Savage Arms 11 Hunter XP is available in popular calibers, and you can get it in left or right-handed variants. It has a four-round magazine and a soft synthetic butt pad that feels rubberized. The barrel is made of carbon steel and comes complete with a matte black finish.

You can customize the trigger pull to a setting that feels comfortable, thanks to the AccuTrigger. Accuracy is pretty good right out of the box for up to 50 yards. The safety is placed in a convenient location and uses a three-position design. 

To make the rifle completely functional, you need to slide the safety all the way forward. When you slide it to the middle, the trigger will remain locked, but you'll be able to operate the bolt. When it's in the rear position, both the bolt and trigger are locked. This weapon's suitable for hunting several types of game, be it white-tailed deer, coyotes, or even black bear.

Bottom Line

This rifle is a versatile option for the serious hunter who happens to be on a budget. The weapon handles well, and the functionality is excellent. It has all the features a shooter expects from one of the best hunting rifles under $500.

Best Hog Hunting Rifle Under $500:
CVA Cascade Bolt Action Rifle 308

PROS

  • Sub MOA accuracy
  • Fiber-reinforced synthetic stock
  • Carbon steel barrel with threaded muzzle
  • Stock has built-in spacers for adjustment
  • Crisp break and there’s no creep on the trigger

CONS

  • Not attractive
  • Only available in limited calibers

CVA started in 1971 by producing traditional muzzleloading rifles and DIY rifle kits. The cascade product line is the first bolt-action centerfire available from this company.

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers of this product report it to be a functional, reliable firearm that performs well. Some commented that the aesthetics leave a lot to be desired, but they couldn't fault the accuracy and ease of use.

They mentioned that the barrel was of good quality and that the weapon was comfortable to shoot. There were hardly any negative remarks, and most who owned the gun were happy with the purchase. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Although the product is the first of its kind from CVA, it's a competent weapon that sets the standard for future bolt-action centerfire weapons. It's made with high-quality materials and a unique barrel with a threaded muzzle for installing a suppressor easily. 

The stock is user-adjustable with spacers making it ideal for multiple users or a shooter with a smaller frame. The synthetic stock is easy to grip thanks to the soft-touch finish. 

It's exceptionally accurate and has a comfortable recoil pad. It features two front sling swivel studs for a bipod, and the barrel is free-floating.

Bottom Line

The CVA is a newcomer on the list of best hunting rifles under $500. Its accuracy and adjustable features make it an excellent hunting tool. Although there are only a few calibers currently available, the .308 variant is a dependable weapon.

Best Women's Hunting Rifle Under $500:
Thompson/Center Arms Compass II

PROS

  • Free-floating barrel
  • Built-in scope base
  • Three-position safety
  • 1 MOA accuracy guarantee
  • Threaded barrel with inclusive thread protector

CONS

  • Action isn't the smoothest
  • Heavier than most hunting rifles

Thompson/Center is a brand that produces a variety of switch-barrel firearms. The company has been around for more than 50 years and uses this experience to create high-standard weapons.

What Recent Buyers Report

Those who purchased Thompson/Center Arms Compass 11 report exceptional accuracy, although the action is not as fluid as other hunting rifles. Consumers like the detachable magazine and the suppressor-compatible barrel.

They claim that reloading is easy and that the stock's texture and grip work nicely in combination with shooting gloves. Generally, there's a consensus that it's a high-end hunting rifle at an affordable price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

When you unbox the product, it comes with a scope. It has a rotary magazine that fits snug into the weapon. It takes four to five cartridges, depending on which ammunition you're using.

It has a crisp, even trigger that breaks between 4 to 5lbs. It comes in various calibers and is suitable for hunting different types of game, ranging from antelope and deer to hogs and black bears.

The value of this firearm exceeds its price point, and the accuracy is as the manufacturer promises. Another great feature of this rifle is the optimal scope clearance, ensuring that it’s never in the way of the bolt’s movement.

Bottom Line

The Thompson/Center Arms Compass 11 offers you precisely what you'd expect from one of the best hunting rifles under $500. It provides peak performance, durability, and accuracy at a budget-friendly price. 

Although the rifle is heavier than its competitors, it makes up for this with accuracy and reliability. The versatile caliber options and attractive appearance are additional benefits. 

How to Choose a Budget Hunting Rifle

When finances are the priority, you want to look for a weapon that performs well at its primary objective without additional frills. The initial investment in the firearm isn't the only cost you need to consider.

Photo credit: outdoorlife.com

Ammunition can be expensive. Be sure to select a weapon that takes standard cartridges that are regularly available at an affordable price. The gun should also be easy to clean, maintain, and not require special products.

These factors are not the only considerations. Although you're looking for a budget item, the rifle still needs to be durable, reliable, and accurate. 

Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind

When you're looking to buy one of the best hunting rifles under $500, it might be tempting to opt for the cheapest option and overlook essential aspects. This section of our review will highlight some of these factors.

Durability: 

Many budget rifles are made from synthetic materials such as a polymer or other plastics. Ensure that the weapon you choose utilizes strong material that can endure harsh conditions. 

The stock needs to be sturdy enough to absorb recoil, and the barrel should be of a high standard. The magazine needs to be durable as well.

Accuracy:

When purchasing a hunting rifle, you can't compromise on accuracy. Heavier guns tend to be more accurate, and the barrel's quality also affects your shot's precision.

Photo credit: blog.finandfield.com

Pros and Cons of Budget Hunting Rifles 

A budget rifle has advantages and disadvantages. Here are the most important ones. 

Pros

Simplicity

A budget rifle is usually manufactured with a straightforward design. It's easy to use and maintain, without having to worry about too many moving parts. 

Practical

The more expensive rifles tend to have so many features that they may even lose some practicality. An affordable gun is designed for a single purpose and works to achieve it efficiently. 

Financial

Investing in a quality firearm doesn't need to cost a fortune. Many of the embellishments associated with more expensive weapons don't directly impact your hunt. 

Hunting is an expensive sport in general. Saving some cash on the weapon is a bonus if the rifle accommodates cheaper cartridges. That's an additional benefit.

Cons

Appearance

The main negative factor associated with the best hunting rifles under $500 is the aesthetics. Gun manufacturers focus on the performance aspects and often neglect the appearance of weapons at this price range.

Budget guns may have an inferior finish with minimal designs. The stock may not be adjustable, and the comb height will be standard. 

Budget Rifle Comparisons

When trying to decide which rifle to purchase, you may feel overwhelmed. It can be challenging with so many excellent options to choose from that offer different benefits.

The best way to go about choosing between firearms is to understand the similarities and differences between them. You should also keep in mind the type of game you'll be hunting. This will make the process a bit easier.

Hunting Rifle vs AR-15

An AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon with many moving parts. It's considered to be a multipurpose firearm. 

AR-15

The various uses of this gun range from law enforcement and self-defense to competition shooting and hunting. It's usually made from lightweight material and has minimal recoil. 

AR-15 rifles are also easy to customize. Some states don't allow hunting with such rifles, so be sure to check before making a purchase. 

Traditional hunting rifles are usually bolt action. They're often made with natural materials such as wood, making them more attractive. These guns are easy to maintain and have a straightforward design. 

They have fewer moving parts but are also versatile in application. The primary consideration is that the cartridge should match the intended use of the weapon.

Premium Hunting Rifles vs Budget

Premium hunting rifles come with many features and embellishments. They're usually attractive weapons that allow you to adjust the trigger, comb height, and length of pull. 

The stock and barrel of premium weapons will utilize superior materials, and the barrel is usually threaded. 

Budget rifles are durable and accurate without any added extras. The materials used are basic, and the adjustable features are minimal. 

Savage vs Ruger

These are both excellent firearm brands. If you're trying to decide between their budget options, there are certain similarities and differences to keep in mind. 

Both feature plastic stocks. The stock on the Savage has a separate piece for the trigger, which weakens the frame slightly. The Ruger, on the other hand, utilizes one solid structure making it more rigid and durable.

Savage Stealth (top) and Ruger Precision Rifle (bottom) Photo credit: canadiangunnutz.com

The butt pads on both weapons are soft rubber and absorb recoil adequately. The Ruger magazine is designed more efficiently with a spring-loaded mechanism. Both firearms have plastic magazines, but the Savage is slightly inferior. 

The Ruger utilizes a three-lock bolt which is easy to release. The Savage uses a two-lock bolt and has a complex release. The bolt itself is of high quality on the Savage. Both weapons are reasonably accurate and reliable. However, the Ruger is slightly superior. 

How to Clean a Hunting Rifle

It's a well-known fact that if your rifle isn't clean, it will perform sub-optimally. To clean your weapon, you'll need a stationary vice and a bore brush. It's preferable to use a brass brush that's suited to the caliber of your gun.

You'll also need patches, solvent, and oil. The first step is to put some solvent on the brush and push it down the bore towards the muzzle. This will break down some of the dirt. Ensure that your brush is the right size for your firearm.

Photo credit: fieldandstream.com

Cover the edge of the brush with a patch and push it down the bore. Repeat this step several times until the patch comes out with minimal dirt. 

If you're planning on storing your weapon, you should run a patch that’s lubricated with a drop of oil down the bore as well. Ensure that you dry it before reshooting the gun.

Be aware that over-lubricating your weapon is unnecessary. All you need is a drop of oil on the rails where the bolt rides. This is all that's required to maintain your rifle. For an overview of these instructions, refer to this video.

Conclusion

Purchasing a budget rifle takes careful consideration. There are many reliable options on the market with excellent features that rival more expensive weapons. 

Depending on the type of game you intend to hunt, there are affordable bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles to suit your outing. Choosing one of the best hunting rifles under $500 for your next expedition and may land you an exquisite trophy.

Recap | Best Hunting Rifles Under $500

Once more, here are the three best best hunting rifles under $500:

  1. MOSSBERG Patriot
  2. Savage Arms Axis
  3. Ruger Precision 22 LR 18" Rimfire

People Also Ask

When it comes to hunting, specific questions regarding caliber are frequently asked. We’ll go over some of these and other questions here.

What's Better .308 or .30-06?

The .308 uses a shorter cartridge and is suitable for more rifles than the .30-06. Both are accurate and excellent for hunting. But the .30-06 is aimed at long-range shooting, and the .308 is better for faster shots.

Photo credit: grandviewoutdoors.com

Can a .30-06 Shoot 1000 Yards?

Although this type of ammunition isn't designed for long-range precision shooting, it's certainly capable of it.

How Many Bullets In a Hunting Rifle?

Hunting rifles don't require many cartridges. Capacity ranges from three to ten depending on the weapon.

What Caliber Rifle For Wild Boar Hunting?

Hunters prefer to use a .30-06 for wild boar hunting.

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.