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8 Best Bolt-Action Rifles [Ultimate Guide]

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If you’re looking at the popularity of certain firearms and wondering if you should buy what’s trending…

There’s an old saying that sometimes comes to mind, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?”

Remington 700…a popular gun you’ve probably heard name-dropped.

It’s usually asked to make kids question the mob mentality of negative peer pressure.

Just because “everybody’s doing it” doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best decision for you.

But sometimes it does…

Jump off Cliff
You just don’t understand, Mom!

In the world of firearms, and especially bolt guns, there are insanely popular guns everyone seems to jump to buy.

But you might ask yourself, “Should I jump into this model, too?”

If you’re in the market for a new bolt-action rifle and you’re wondering if you should follow the well-traveled path or forge your own, we’re here to help.

Savage Arms Rascal & B22 G
Savage Arms Rascal & B22 G bolt action rifles.

We’re going to take a look at the most popular bolt-action rifles on the market, what they have to offer, what makes them so popular, and whether or not you should follow the crowd.

Summary of Our Top Picks

Table of Contents

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What is a Bolt-Action Rifle?

Before diving headfirst into the world of bolt-actions, let’s talk about what makes this style of firearm unique.

If you’ve ever watched a sniper movie, you’ve seen a bolt-action.

Gemini Man Sniper

They’re commonly used in media for precision-like scenes because, well, they’re pretty precise.

Winning fanfare among military and SWAT snipers as well as hunters and long-range shooters, these rifles have been around the block a few times.

With a bolt-action, the user manually feeds and ejects each round by manipulating the bolt on the side of the rifle. This bolt rotates, can be pulled to the rear, rotated, then pushed back into place.

Want to read up on the advantages and disadvantages (or learn more about other types of actions)? Head over to our Guide to Rifle Actions.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the most popular bolt-actions!

Best Bolt-Action Rifles on the Market

1. Bergara B-14

The Remington 700 has been around for more than 60 years.

Although Remington created countless versions of the 700 over the years, they all share the iconic “Three Rings of Steel” cylindrical receiver.

The design provides a better bedding surface than previous bolt-action designs, which basically translates into repeatable downrange accuracy.

Hog Hunting Rifles Remington 700
Remington 700

If you can find a pre-2008 Remington 700 — go for it! But otherwise… you might want to choose one of the outstanding clones on the market.

Rifles like the Bergara B-14 use the same action pattern as the R700 but have much higher quality control and produce an outstanding rifle!

Made in Bergara, Spain, their whole B-14 line is a workhorse set of rifles that cover everything from hunting to long-range precision shooting.

If you want an American-made near-custom rifle, Bergara offers their Premier line that offers even higher quality.

Bergara B-14 HMR
Bergara B-14 HMR

2. Ruger American

The Ruger American is an absolute workhorse-of-a-rifle — rugged and tough, just like a hard-working American.

The Ruger American features a lightweight, ergonomic synthetic stock and a cold hammer-forged barrel.

It also comes with a crisp, adjustable trigger and a free-float barrel.

Enter the Ruger American Predator Rifle
Ruger American Predator Rifle

Add all that up, and you get a versatile rifle that produces MOA accuracy straight from the factory.

And it has a price tag that makes buying one almost feels like stealing.

It’s easy to understand why dealers can’t keep these things on the shelves.

See our full review of the Ruger American here.

428

at GrabAGun

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Browning X-Bolt

Why is the Browning X-Bolt so popular? Well…it’s a Browning, so it should almost go without saying.

However, the X-Bolt has plenty to offer beyond its recognizable and respected brand name.

The X-Bolt brings a level of accuracy usually reserved for custom rifles, which definitely does more for its popularity than the brand’s legacy.

browning-x-bolt-left-hand-on-stand

The rifle features a free-float barrel, a crisp, no-creep three-lever trigger, and a 60-degree bolt lift that promotes fast, easy cycling.

Each rifle also comes standard with an Inflex recoil pad that supports “a directional deflection of recoil forces.”

Browning X Bolt Left Handed
They make lefty-friendly models too! (Photo: Browning)

What does that mean?

Essentially it makes the recoil a helluva lot easier on your shoulder and reduces muzzle climb.

So, you can more efficiently recover from each shot, get back on target, and hit it with accuracy. 

1032

at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Tried the Browning X-Bolt? Give it a rating below.

4. Weatherby Vanguard

Both of Weatherby’s bolt-action models, the Mark V and the Vanguard, are well-loved by hunters and target shooters the world over.

Both are high-quality rifles.

Weatherby Mark V Backcountry
Weatherby Mark V Backcountry

While we’ll admit the Mark V performs better than its younger brother, we’re giving a slight popularity edge to the Vanguard for one reason — it’s cheaper.

While most of us would love an unlimited firearms budget — top of my wish list if I ever find an Aladdin-style lamp that needs polishing — the average American gun owner must make concessions, pinch pennies, and continue to scour thrift stores and flea markets for antique lamps.

The Vanguard is a great weapon, don’t get me wrong.

However, Weatherby cut costs by outsourcing the manufacturing to Howa, dropping four lugs in the action design, and using a two-stage trigger in place of the true zero-creep break of the Mark V’s TriggerTech.

There are a few other differences, but it’s hard to notice them on the showroom floor.

Weatherby guarantees sub-MOA accuracy from both models.

Weatherby Vanguard (Aussie Hunter)
Weatherby Vanguard (Aussie Hunter)

Honestly, both rifles are solid, dependable, and plenty accurate.

Is the Mark V a nicer rifle? You bet your britches it is.

However, the Vanguard is fantastic in its own right; when held in skilled hands, it performs just as well as the Mark V in the hands of the average shooter.

My advice, buy the more popular and significantly cheaper Vanguard and then work on improving your shooting skills.

530

at GrabAGun

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

5. Savage Arms Model 110

The Savage 110 is “the oldest continuously manufactured bolt-action rifle in North America.”

Designed in 1958, the Model 110 occupied tens of thousands of deer stands across multiple generations.

Originally designed to provide the average American hunter with a strong, powerful hunting rifle, it also manages to be lightweight and relatively affordable.

Savage Model 110
Savage Model 110

Today, thanks to the Model 110, Savage is currently one of the largest bolt-action rifle makers in America.

One of the Savage 110’s best-selling points comes in the form of its patented AccuTrigger — which was added to the design in 1966.

Plenty of other gun manufacturers have attempted to copy the AccuTrigger design, some with better success than others.

Savage 110 High Country
Savage 110 High Country (Photo: Savage Arms)

The Savage AccuTrigger definitely sets the bar for adjustable rifle triggers, and that bar is pretty freakin’ high.

Modern Model 110s also feature Savage’s AccuFit modular stock system, which allows you to adjust the stock for a perfect, personalized fit.

If you’re going to run with the crowd, your firearm should at least fit you, which is more than I can say for most fashion trends.

I’m looking at you, skinny jeans!

Best All-Around

517

at GrabAGun

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

We rounded up some of the best Savage models here!

6. Tikka T3x

Why is the Tikka T3 so popular?

It offers a lightweight, affordable, and astonishingly accurate design. If those aren’t good reasons to jump onto a trend, I don’t know what will convince you.

However, not everyone loves the Tikka. It has its haters out there.

Haters
Haters

Most of them complain about Tikka’s penchant for adding plastic parts to an otherwise sturdy, dependable gun.

While plastic is certainly something to complain about, the T3 has plenty of shining features, including a crisp, adjustable trigger and a machined action with a reduced ejection port for improved accuracy.

Tikka T3X Black
Tikka T3x Black

The T3 series received an overhaul in 2016, and the newest models got an updated, although thoroughly unoriginal, new name — Tikka T3x.

The T3x promises MOA groups right out of the packaging, which means the T3x will definitely be carrying on the crazy popularity of its predecessor.

Best Mid-Range

749

at EuroOptic

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

7. CZ 600

CZ has continued to evolve their beloved bolt-action rifles, with their newest model being the CZ 600.

Top to bottom: CZ 600 Lux, CZ 600 Trail, CZ 600 Range, CZ 600 Alpha

Their current lineup of centerfire rifles consists of four models: the do-it-all Alpha series, the traditional and stylish Lux series, the highly accurate Range series, and the lightweight Trail series.

Each of these guns comes with a sub-MOA guarantee, with the Range series boasting an impressive guarantee of 3/4 MOA 5-shot group accuracy at 100 meters. All models feature threaded barrels from the factory.

A CZ 600 Lux (top) above an older CZ 527 rifle (bottom) (Photo: u/l_Beef_l)

While CZ is mainly known for their handguns, they have been quietly rolling out accurate, reliable, and high-quality rifles for reasonable prices for a long time.

684

at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

8. Savage Impulse

The Savage Impulse brings a straight-pull bolt-action rifle design. It provides a rock-solid, accurate, and easy-handling rifle. The recoil is low, the action is smooth, and the trigger is excellent.

There are three models of various calibers — the Hog Hunter, the Big Game, and the Predator.

Savage Impulse
Savage Impulse

Hog Hunter has barrel lengths ranging from 18 to 24 inches depending on the caliber and comes in everything from .243 Winchester to .300 Winchester Magnum.

The Big Game model comes with barrels ranging from 22 to 24 inches and calibers from .243 Winchester to .300 Winchester Magnum.

Savage Impulse
Shooting the Savage Arms Impulse

Finally, the Predator hits us with a 20-inch barrel and calibers that include .22-250, .243, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Winchester.

For a bolt-action rifle, anything over $1,000 is a lot of money. However, when you compare it to other modern straight-pull bolt action rifles, the Impulse is priced affordably.

Best Straight Pull

1085

at GrabAGun

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Final Thoughts

It isn’t always a good idea to do something just because everybody else is doing it. But in the case of these bolt-actions, following the crowd is a smart choice.

From Rugers to Weatherbys, these guns earn their hype.

Bergara B-14 HMR side look and mags
Bergara B-14 HMR

Several of them also made our list of the 9 Best Deer Hunting Rifles You Can Still Buy, which we think totally adds to their popularity.

Did we leave off something you think deserves a spot on the A-list? Tell us about it in the comments below. For even more rifle action, check out the Best Sniper & Precision Rifles for Beginners.

Read the full article here

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