Today I’m going to show you the best bolt action rifle on the market today.
I’ve hand-tested over 10 bolt action rifles alone for this review.
The best part?
I’ve sorted them by use. So whether you’re on a budget or looking for the most premium rifle, you’ll find it here.
Let’s get started!
The 4 Best Bolt Action Rifles
If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best bolt action rifles:
- Remington Model 700: Best Tactical Bolt-Action Rifle
- Winchester XPR: Best Budget Bolt-Action Rifle
- Savage 110 Storm: Best Bolt-Action Rifle for the Money
- Ruger American Ranch: Best 5.56 Bolt-Action Rifle
1. Remington Model 700: Best Tactical Bolt-Action Rifle
The Remington Model 700 is the best tactical bolt-action rifle on the market today.
Law enforcement and militaries across the world have been using the 700 for decades now. It’s that good.
Let me explain…
The accuracy of the Bolt-Action 700 at incredible yardage is undeniable.
Fully tested on my dedicated long-range course, I was consistent on 3-inch targets at four hundred yards.
Everything about the design was intended for one thing, and that is staying on target with as little effort as possible. The unique V-block stock design of the Magpul .260 allows for more rigidity. Reduction of flex, thanks to the passive magic of the physics engineered into that design, functions to improve accuracy without altering the feel or handling of the rifle.
Additionally, the 5R rifling adds another well-designed boost to keep my bullets stable and on target.
Science is cool.
Reliability and bolt-action rifles tend to go hand in hand in a way similar to revolvers. That’s part of the appeal to the Remington 700 rifles for so many agencies.
With the belly feed and smooth bolt operation, the purely mechanical function of the action is as satisfying to shoot as it is steadfast. There is a feel of purity, and security, in eliminating the machined mechanisms that are so popular in rifles.
If you find that you are having failure to fire issues, it’s more than likely your ammo and not your rifle. You can always take a look at your primer for markings from the strike, or swap out and put more rounds through the rifle to test it.
One of the best things about the 700 is how easy it is to customize.
The adjustable stock, included cheek risers and spacers in multiple sizes as well M-Lok along the fore-end each provide a bevy of options to ensure that I am comfortable and working with the best rig for me.
It was so easy to change up the parts provided to tailor-fit this rifle for my build and preference.
The M-Lok functionality for all of the tactical accessories is a no-brainer in full customization. Any of the additions needed for night-use or environment-specific assist can complete the package for all possible tactical needs.
With a trigger that was clearly intended to be used in tactical situations, the X-Mark Pro trigger is another solid design move.
The enlarged trigger guard made shooting with my gloves on effortless, and the trigger itself is wider than most with vertical grooves in the face for better grip.
The X-Mark trigger is adjustable from 3-5 pounds of pull. I’m sure that over time, I may tweak mine to my personal preference. The factory set, which was closer to the higher end of the range, had a nice crisp feel to keep me in my zone.
It was a dry and gorgeous day when I tested the 700, but I’m certain that had it been raining or wet, the practical trigger design would have been key.
Trigger control at the distances I shoot is everything, and anything to help in that regard is appreciated. There are days when muddy everything happens. The design features that may seem small to some, will be appreciated when everything gets slippery.
Magazine & Reloading
With a belly loaded magazine, the .260 Magpul 700 carries a 4 + 1 load.
Again, Remington keeps this function neat, smooth, and everything I’d expect from a bolt-action.
They also, in their apparent love for options, have BAR’s that are single-load or other load capability magazines depending on the model and caliber.
Length & Weight
Easy to carry for short and long treks this rifle weighs approximately 8 pounds, which is about the same as a gallon of water.
My .260 sports the 22” barrel, which assists with the more optimum carry-footprint that tends to come with tactical use. You may not think it but, considering some of the Model 700 rifles sport a sizeable 26” barrel, “compact” and “long gun” really do go together when your mission is to get in and out of your firing positions quickly.
By design, the .260 is intended by Remington to be comfortable to shoot for anyone.
The caliber of this rifle, matched with the barrel length and solid grip holds are a perfect combination to keep the recoil to a quite manageable level. The ease of the feel made for an effortless return to target.
The cushy rubberized buttpad kept my shoulder from taking the minimal hit the recoil dished out and rounded off my excellent perception in this category.
With some 120 grain and 140-grain options on the range with the Remington 260, my tests with each met with great results.
That said, my three choices for full load shooting are:
- 140-grain Core-Lokt ammo options (standard soft point and an Ultra Bonded)
- Remington .260 140-grain Managed Recoil option.
The latter is your best option for comfort, but as far as performance went at 400 yards, all three were on the money.
For long-range tactical use of this bolt-action, it’s all about the accessories.
The first thing out of the box that I needed for targeting an egg-sized goal, on a field several hundred yards long, was optics.
The Leupold Mark IV Picatinny Rail is included with several Remington 700 models, so that was an easy choice to get me started.
My go-to choice for working with rifles on the long-range is the Leupold VX Freedom.
Taking full advantage of that M-Lok, a bi-pod completed the rig to make my platform stable and easy to shoot with.
You can get by without either of these accessories and still enjoy the 700 rifles, however, to use them to their full potential I wouldn’t have been fairly able to attest to their capabilities without them.
Priced in the $700-800 range my heavy barrelled .280 rifle, with its standard package, is priced right for the market.
Not even close to the most expensive side of the 700 rifle line, my test rifle was a good representative for the most common sniper rifle price point from Remington for the bolt-action series.
There are 178 different models of this weapon, with pretty much every caliber option available.
From tricked out uber-fancy tactical war dogs that will set you back more than $2,000, to the bargain-barrel end of the spectrum that may or may not be frequented by underpaid officers working for departments that require them to purchase their weapons, there are just too many options out there to nail down how much every 700 will cost.
Here’s to hoping you’re not one of those officers I was just talking about.
Is the Remington Model 700 worth it?
Everyone likes a custom rifle, and Remington has already made one for all of us.
Not to beat a dead horse, but Remington’s vast array of options with the 700 series really does ensure that this weapon is intended to be perfect for every single shooter in every single long range application, and price range, imaginable.
2. Winchester XPR: Best Budget Bolt-Action Rifle
I’ve always been a sucker for a nice budget bolt action and the more I saw them, the more enamored I became.
After a buddy at the range had me try out his custom Remington Model 700, it was all over.
Flash forward in time and here we are with me reviewing the Winchester XPR. While not a 3 grand wonder gun, it sure does a great job of what it set out to do.
The Winchester XPR is accurate.
I was able to shoot at a little less than one MOA. That’s less than in inch of a distance of 100 yards.
This accuracy can compete with some rifles at 1000 bucks. I’d even say that the XPR has essentially set the minimum standard for a budget rifle. Its accuracy comes from an intelligent design with a free-floating barrel and a steel recoil lug in the stock.
Naturally, this is gonna be great if you’re a new hunter or even a seasoned hunter that wants to mix things up.
Accuracy is arguably the most important aspect of a gun so this is a good sign for the XPR.
This was exceedingly easy to write because I had absolutely no malfunctions with my XPR in my time with it.
The bolt system is smooth and is super intuitive to operate and helps prevent rounds from jamming, outside of human error of course.
The XPR’s reliability is a huge asset and it’s definitely unexpected for such a low-cost rifle. You can keep your mind at ease knowing that this firearm won’t jam up or misfire when taking down that next big buck.
Speaking of reliability, if you need a reliable home defense shotgun, check out my best tactical shotgun for home defense guide.
The XPR has a lot of great things about it, but the ergonomics and handling can be a mixed bag.
The biggest issue for me is the stock. It’s thin and it’s low, so it was pretty difficult to get a good cheek well when I was shooting despite my best efforts to get my scope as low as possible.
Tacking on to that is that the gun just has a noticeable “budget” feel. It’s obvious that this isn’t a Winchester Model 70.
Moving up on the rifle, things get astoundingly better. The bolt is incredibly smooth and brisk, the adjustable trigger ain’t no slouch either.
All of the moving parts are great and it’s clear that great care was taken to make sure that the parts that matter work, and work well. Overall the handling is decent, only drawn back by the stock, but luckily that’s fixable by a quick swap of parts.
I have to say, the trigger is surprisingly good.
The pull comes in at a smidge under 4 pounds and is adjustable for overtravel and pull weight. There’s not any squish, creep, or any other undesirable trigger traits. It’s just a short clean action and I don’t think I need to ask for much more.
I’m absolutely sure that the trigger was one of the biggest factors in my accuracy.
Struggling with a trigger that doesn’t have a clear breakpoint easily throws off my aim and for a hunting rifle. Clean and straight shooting is imperative to having successful and fun shooting experiences.
Magazine and Reloading
The magazine and reloading are nothing to write home about.
The XPR comes with a cheap and disappointingly small three-round mag. Spares are pretty cheap and abundant at about $20 bucks. Still, carrying three mags for a total of nine rounds doesn’t seem so good to me.
The magazine is the biggest shortcoming in my eyes. I don’t want a full 30 rounds, but five would probably have been a better route to go.
The reloading is neither good nor bad, its nothing new, but it works, and that’s all you really need. The release is located just in front of the mag well. If you’re a hunting rifle fan, this is nothing new to you. This portion of the weapon isn’t really even that bad but seems like more effort could have gone into the design.
The magazine and reloading definitely took a backseat during the XPR’s development cycle.
Length and Weight
The Winchester XPR measures in at 42 inches and weighs 6 lbs and 12 oz. This rifle is sleek and light, making it pretty dang easy to maneuver.
Even at a small 6lbs and 12 oz, less than a sack of potatoes, this rifle doesn’t kick like crazy which is a big win for following up shots and realigning with your target.
The rifle-length lends itself well for shooting accurately and had me rather grateful for an easily handled weapon.
There aren’t really any changes I’d make to the weight or length beside it weighing zero pounds and nonexistent recoil, which almost definitely won’t happen in my lifetime.
Recoil isn’t bad at all.
The recoil pad is honestly incredible and high quality. That recoil sting is completely gone.
This is really good news for the shooter. Having a softer recoil is optimal for smooth shooting and just a better overall experience.
After trying a variety of ammo types and brands, I unsurprisingly had the most luck with Winchester Expedition Big Game Long Range 142 grain Nosler AccuBond Long Range.
Winchester ammo works best in a Winchester gun. How about that?
The XPR isn’t a great gun if you’re into customization, but there’s a couple of options out there if you’re wanting to tweak some of the parts.
Your customization is limited to optics, slings, and changing out the stock.
The biggest accessory you’ll want to focus on is the optic. I decided that I’d choose a budget scope for a budget rifle. The Weaver V16 4-16x42mm was my optic of choice.
It worked for what I was going for, but I’d opt for a more expensive scope if you can swing it.
The Winchester XPR .308 will run you $479.99. At that price point, the XPR is right in the middle of the pack for budget rifles.
Is the Winchester XPR worth it?
The answer is a resounding yes!
- Accuracy (1 MOA groupings)
- Reliability (Zero Malfunctions over 1000 rounds)
- Budget (Low cost with great performance)
- Tigger (Phenomenal for such a low-cost gun)
Buying this gun almost feels like straight-up robbery for all of its great qualities.
The Winchester XPR sets a new industry standard for budget bolt action rifles. With virtually no negatives, the XPR has won my heart and my wallet.
3. Savage 110 Storm: Best Bolt-Action Rifle for the Money
If you want a bolt-action hunting rifle that’s worth every penny, look no further than Savage 110 Storm.
With this long gun, you can drop a quarry from over 200 yards with the satisfying action of operating a bolt after every well-placed shot.
The best part?
The Savage 110 Storm is priced right under $900. This is by far one of the best custom 30-06 hunting rifles I’ve used.
The Savage 110 Storm is highly accurate, maintaining a tight spread at 100 and even 200 yards. Savage Arms has never failed to produce an accurate rifle, and this is no exception.
Every Model 110 is built for consistent accuracy, and the Storm is no exception. With a 24-inch barrel, well-crafted grip, and adjustable stock (more on that later), this affordable hunting rifle delivers a tight spread.
On a still day, with a clear target and a steady hand, you could even bag a deer that’s over 200 yards away.
There are better performing hunting rifles out there, including from Savage Arms themselves, but at this price point, the accuracy of the 110 Storm is phenomenal.
The Storm, like all of Savage Arms’ hunting rifles, is unerringly reliable.
Bolt-action rifles have a reputation for being reliable, due to the simple manual-action of the platform: fewer moving parts means fewer chances of malfunction.
I was using .30-06 Springfield ammunition when testing the rifle, but the Model 110 is available in over 15 different chamberings, including the .223 Remington, and without a doubt takes every bullet put into it.
Being the affordable model of the 110 platform, the Storm is lightweight for a long gun, and remarkably easy to handle.
Rubberized grips help keep your hands steady around the body of the gun, while the aforementioned customizable stock makes it fit nearly perfectly into your torso.
I can’t say enough about how spectacular the adjustable stock is. An affordable rifle that feels like a custom-molded stock out of the box is something to take note of.
The gun’s “Accufit stock” feature has components that let you adjust both height and length.
Accufit lets you better grip the stock, better line up your sights, and adjust your trigger pull to the perfect length for your arm and trigger finger.
You really can’t get a better fit on a hunting rifle for this price point.
Savage seems to love their “Accu” marketing tag, which is why in addition to the “Accufit” stock, they also have an “Accutrigger” system.
In short, Savage Model 110s have an in-trigger safety lever that doesn’t sacrifice lightness for security. It’s also adjustable, going from about 2 to 6 pounds of pull.
I didn’t fiddle with the Accutrigger too much, preferring to see how the Model 110 handled out of the box. The trigger feels crisp and breaks clean.
Another feature I liked on the 110 Storm is the three-position safety.
While most guns have a two-position safety (on, off), a bolt-action rifle has another mechanism that is handy to have locked: the bolt.
The three-position safety goes from fully locked, to having the bolt unlocked but the trigger locked, to being fully unlocked.
The bolt itself is smooth and easy to operate, so I had zero issues with it.
Length & Weight
The Savage 110 Storm is remarkably lightweight at a mere 7.45 pounds empty.
The stock is polymer molded to an aluminum chassis, making it easy to carry around for more mobile hunters.
The Accufit stock actually deserves another mention here, as it needs only two screws to keep it in place, saving some weight compared to more common adjustable stock mechanisms.
As a hunting rifle, it’s fairly long at 43 inches, with a barrel length of 22 inches. The length certainly helps with how accurate the 110 is, as mentioned above.
The Savage 110 Storm handles recoil as well as any other hunting rifle of its caliber.
When mounted or in a prone position, felt recoil is easily manageable. Shooting free from a standing position, recoil is much more noticeable, in part due to the lightweight design of the gun.
However, in every case the adjustable stock and well-placed grips on the body of the gun help tremendously in maintaining purchase while squeezing the trigger.
In every position, the gun was easily manageable in a way that let me maintain sights on my target.
I highly recommend the Federal Premium Gold Medal 30-06 Springfield rounds, which I used when testing the gun.
The Savage 110 can come calibrated for a variety of different rounds, but I recommend the 30-06 Springfield.
It’s tried and true: this bullet has been used for over a century, and is now one of the most popular rounds for hunters.
That makes ammo easy to find and flexible, depending on the game.
For a budget option, look at Wolf Military Classic.
This highly-accurate hunting rifle begs for mounted optics, coming pre-threaded for rails (not pre-installed).
If you have a favorite hunting scope, I strongly recommend installing it with an appropriate rail on the Savage 110 Storm.
If you don’t, I recommend looking into the Leupold VX-Freedom. With 3x-9x magnification, water- and fog-proof design, and a compact form factor, this is the perfect hunting scope for use with the 110 Storm.
The Savage 110 Storm is the affordable version of the Model 110, but at this point there should be no question of its quality.
With an MSRP of $865, it’s a great hunting rifle for beginners who don’t want to invest too much or long-time hunters that have never handled a Savage Arms long gun before.
You can often find it for less than $700, so it’s a no-brainer for anyone on the market for a hunting rifle in .30-06 caliber.
Is the Savage 110 Storm worth it?
If you want a hunting rifle and you’re on a budget, you need to pick up the Savage Model 110 Storm. This gun is lightweight, easy to use, customizable, and as accurate as you need it to be.
It’s easily one of the best 30-06 bolt action rifle on the market today.
The Accufit stocks make this a great option for beginner hunters starting young, as you can adjust the stock length and height as they grow.
Other Model 110 variants might edge it out in performance, which mostly speaks to Savage Arms’ craftsmanship, but for a do-it-all hunting rifle in the three-digit price range, you’re getting quite a lot with the 110 Storm.
4. Ruger American Ranch: Best 5.56 Bolt-Action Rifle
The Ruger American Ranch is the best 5.56 bolt-action rifle on the market today.
Ruger’s known for crafting dependable, reliable firearms.
How does the American Ranch measure up?
Let’s find out!
The American Ranch has retained wild popularity over the years due to its impeccable accuracy.
It’s actually surprisingly accurate for how light it is, consistently providing 5-shot groups within just 1”.
While it doesn’t come with any standard sights, the cold hammer-forged barrel features ultra-precise rifling. This makes up for the lack of sights in terms of accuracy.
The American Ranch’s accuracy makes it the perfect gun for hunting moving game. You’re sure to hit your target each time.
This is a very well-crafted rifle. It won’t jam on you, and it feeds completely clean.
Ruger is known for its durable and reliable firearms, and the American Ranch’s magazines are just as reliable as the rifle itself. You can expect no jams or malfunctions of any kind, even with heavy use or cheap ammo.
The rifle features a pistol grip with aggressive grooves and texturing, which extends onto the fore-end. The fore-end is also contoured to further provide a positive grip.
The textures provide a non-slip grip in any environmental condition you can think of, and the 3-lug bolt has a short 70-degree rotation, which enhances the speed at which you can cycle.
The stock is made of relatively “cheap” feeling synthetic FDE, but it’s not bad for the low price.
The trigger is one of the more unique features of the American Ranch.
It comes with a Marksman Adjustable trigger, which is adjustable between 3-5 lbs. Out of the box without any adjustment, it breaks around 4 lbs.
The trigger pull is light and crisp, with just a hint of creep.
The light weight of the trigger, along with the crisp pull, allow for maximum precision shooting.
Magazine & Reloading
The magazines this rifle comes with are 5+1 capacity detachable box mags.
The release is a paddle located on the rear of the mag well, and it’s designed for ambidextrous use.
It loads very easily. Simply load the magazine, push upward until it locks, slide the bolt to chamber a round, and fire.
The bolt can be cycled even with the safety engaged, and the magazines fit flush with the bottom of the stock.
This flush fitting is a big bonus, because they won’t snag on clothing or anything else.
Length & Weight
The barrel length is 16.1”, and the American Ranch is 36” overall.
Empty, it weighs just under 6 lbs. Just about the same weight as a half-gallon of paint.
It’s very lightweight, just about as lightweight as a centerfire rifle can be. This is great for anyone who goes hunting for long periods of time and needs something a little lighter to carry around.
This rifle has a rubber pad that absorbs a great deal of the recoil.
Despite the gun’s extremely light weight, the recoil on the American Ranch is extremely mild, even with heavy rounds. If you install a suppressor or brake, it’s basically non-existent.
I had fantastic results using Remington’s Hog Hammer Barnes TSX 130-grain ammo. My average group was under 1”, and my largest group was just over 1”.
However, it is pretty pricey.
If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, Hornady Custom V-Max 100-grain was another top contender. My average group using these was just around 1”.
The American Ranch features a conventional aluminum Picatinny rail on top, with 1913-style slots.
It’s also threaded to accommodate a suppressor, which is always ideal for hunting.
Since this rifle doesn’t come with any standard sights, the first thing you’ll want to do is install some of your own. I used a Leupold Tactical Mark scope, which I mounted using M10 medium-height 30mm rings from American Rifle Company Inc.
With the right sights, you can get as long-distance shots as a .338 Lapua rifle!
A suppressor is almost necessary if you’ll be hunting with the American Ranch, and I opted for the LaRue Tactical TranQuilo sound suppressor. It reduces the noise significantly and all but completely eliminate flash.
The final accessory I’d recommend is a basic one: a sling.
I got a Ruger 10/22 Leather Cobra sling, which comes in your choice of brown or black leather.
Ruger sets the American Ranch’s MSRP at $599, but you can find it at most retailers for around $450. It truly is the best bolt-action rifle under $500.
Is the Ruger American Ranch Worth it?
The American Ranch is a reliable, durable, and accurate firearm.
It’s high-performance and affordable, designed with the features people want in mind. To recap, here are its best features:
- Suppressor compatible
- Adjustable trigger pull
If you want the perfect gun to use for hunting or as a truck gun, look no further than Ruger’s American Ranch.
Now It’s Your Turn
I hope you enjoyed my best bolt action rifle guide.
So as a recap:
Looking for a tactical bolt action rifle? Get the Remington Model 700.
On a budget? I’d recommend getting the Winchester XPR. It’s affordable, accurate and reliable.
Or if you want the best bolt rifle for the money, get the Savage Model 110 Storm.
Lastly, if you want a cost-effective 5.56 rifle with all the features shooters would like their rifle to have, I’d recommend the Ruger American Ranch.
Now I want to turn it over to you:
Which bolt action rifle would you pick?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.
6 thoughts on “The Best Bolt Action Rifles [Hands-On Tested]”
I’m an author currently writing a book about a crime that took place in the 1940s and would like to talk to someone about what kind of guns were used at the time. Can you help with some specific details?
Hey Jerry, you may want to send an email to Mike Helms. Here’s his website: https://mikehelms.org/. Mike is a historian and firearms expert with a focus on American firearms from the early 19th to early 20th century.
Best of luck!
I’m not sure what criteria was used to choose these but the “best” production rifle made today is the Rigby Highland Stalker.
No tikka. No way !
No mention of Rigby,Mauser,Sako,Dakota(now Parkwest), Weatherby, Steyr, and the like? Smells like another gun scribe getting perks- lol. What a farce !
I always enjoy gun tests where a limited number of guns are tested in an unrealistic way. In Europe, where stricter gun laws and higher prices require gun hunters and shooters to put a great deal of thought into what they buy, Blaser rifles are hugely popular. This is deserved as they are uniformly excellent. Those who criticize them seem not to have owned them. Those who have used them as I have on 3 Safaris and 20 plus animals, recognize how good they are