The 3 Best Single Shot Rifles [2020 Update]

Not sure what single-shot rifle to get?

Look no further.

I’ve exhaustively tested ALL the best single shot rifles on the market. In fact, I tested everything, including: accuracy, handling, ergonomics and so much more.

By the end of this guide, you’ll find the perfect single-shot for you.

Let’s dive in!

The 3 Best Single Shot Rifle

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best single-shot rifles:

  1. Henry Single Shot Rifle: Best Single Shot Rifle for the Money
  2. Thompson Center Encore Pro: Best Single Shot Rifle for Deer Hunting
  3. Ruger No. 1: Best Overall Single-Shot

1. Henry Single Shot Rifle: Best Single Shot Rifle for the Money

Sometimes you want a gun that you can “spray and pray.”

A shotgun for waterfowl or a military weapon that will take out the target with minimal aiming necessary.

But sometimes you want an old-timey break-open piece of solid wood and steel in your hands that can challenge you and cause you to be careful and deliberate when making the shot.

A gun you can sling over your shoulder and head out into the woods with. A gun that takes you back to another age where man and mountain are one, giving and taking in equity.

In the latter case, the Henry Single Shot rifle is what you’re looking for.


Accuracy

With traditional iron sights, a dove-tailed brass-bead on the front and adjustable folding U-notch at the rear, the Henry Single Shot is ready to go out of the box.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Rear Sight
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

It doesn’t give quite as good of groupings as something like the best 300 AAC Blackout rifles but still provides consistently good groups.

Without any additional sighting assistance, this rifle averages grouping under 1.3 inches. Though the chrome-moly steel barrel is drilled for a scope add-on, I’ve found a scope unnecessary and even annoying as the scope tends to interfere with the firing mechanism.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Front Sight
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

If you do want a scope, make sure to use one that fits a Weaver 82 type base.

I’d recommend the Riton RT-S Mod 5 3-9x40mm. Just make sure to purchase Henry’s additional hammer extension.

While this gun will take down the animal, it isn’t as accurate as it could be due to a heavy-weight trigger (which I’ll cover more down below).


Reliability

This rifle is an ultra reliable, classy-looking piece of American-sourced and made material.

It has a strong hardened brass receiver that can be finished in either brass or black steel and is capable of handling larger magnum rounds.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Brass Receiver 2
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

Made from gorgeous oil-finished walnut, the stock is sturdy and made to last.

Henry made this weapon to last using as few moving parts as possible and adding on a lifetime guarantee for the purchaser.

The metal components of the Single Shot have a matte-blued finish while the brass pieces are actually composed of sturdier-than-actual-brass Brasslite.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Model Number
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

Handling

When shooting this weapon, I’ve found the Single Shot to be smooth in practically every way from the action to the feel.

The dual-directional top lever is easy to work and convenient for both right and left-handed shooters.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Grip
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

Most models come with a comfortable pistol grip, but the .44 Rem Mag and the .45-70 can be customized with a straight grip.

The fore-end and buttstock are nicely checkered for a firm hold.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Forearm
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

One feature of the Single Shot line is that the action must be closed to cock the extended rebound hammer. While the hammer spur is sturdy, it is a little thin which can make for a sore thumb over time.

The thoughtful craftmanship of this rifle is what you would expect to see in a higher-end single shot.


Trigger

The trigger of the Henry Single Shot is probably the greatest flaw in the design of this gun.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Grip and Trigger
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

While it is supposed to come factory set somewhere between 5 and 6 pounds, most users said their rifle came out closer to a whopping 9 pounds of pull weight. Mine came at about 7 pounds.

This is the number one cause of decreased accuracy.


Magazine & Reloading

As the name implies, the Henry Single Shot rifle takes only one cartridge.

The top lever makes a clean-breaking action that pops the spent casing up to a convenient level for the shooter to manually remove.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Locking Lever
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

To reload, simply take out the spent shell, insert another round, snap the single hinge pin action back in place, and cock the hammer.

Smooth, fast, and simple.


Length & Weight

With a 22-inch barrel plus a length of pull around 14 inches, the overall length of the gun ends up being about 37.5 inches in total.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Length 3
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

The Single Shot does include swivel sling mounts which make for a convenient way to carry the 7.1-pound rifle.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Swivel Studs
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

Recoil Management

Depending on the caliber you choose, this gun could kick a little or a lot.

If you go with a lighter 30-30 cartridge, the rubber recoil pad will be more than enough.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Walnut Stock
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

However, if you go with a larger caliber 45-70 Government, the soft pad will hardly make any difference.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Stock
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

Price

Depending on your choice of model, you can expect to pay anywhere between $379.99 and $519.99 for the Henry Single Shot.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Brass Receiver
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

In my opinion, you get much more than you pay for with this little rifle and it makes a great first gun or classy addition to the experienced marksman’s collection.

Henry Single Shot Rifle Length
Via: Henry Repeating Arms

Henry Single Shot Review: Is It Worth It?

The Henry Single Shot is one of the best break-open rifles around.

Here’s why. It’s:

  • Ultra-reliable (Simple design, high quality craftsmanship)
  • Accurate (1.5 inch groupings)
  • Affordable (Average $450)

In short:

This gun is one of the most affordable single shots out there that gives you a whole lot more than you pay for.

If you’re a beginning hunter looking to get into the game, you can’t go wrong with the Henry Single Shot.


2. Thompson Center Encore Pro: Best Single Shot Rifle for Deer Hunting

Looking for a hunting rifle? Debating the Thompson Center Encore Pro Rifle? Here’s all you need to know before making your purchase.


Accuracy

The Thompson Center Encore Pro Rifle is extremely accurate.

The reason?

It features a Quick Load Accurizer which aligns the projectile with the barrel’s rifling.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Barrel and Sight
Via: NRApubs

At 100 yards, I scored about 1” groupings. If I throw on a quality optic, I’m sure I can go up to 300 yards with solid accuracy.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Rear Sight
Via: NRApubs

Reliability

The rifle is reliable.

The 28-inch fluted stainless barrel gives each bullet the range and velocity I need to hit my target before it gets away. With extra features to reduce felt recoil, I can rely on this gun to give me (and my shoulder!) a softer shooting experience.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Barrel Length
Via: NRApubs

Handling

I love how the barrels are interchangeable.

All I have to do is remove two screws and a pin, and I can transform this gun from a muzzleloader to a shotgun or even a centerfire rifle.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Barrel
Via: NRApubs

The ambidextrous Swing Hammer is even better.

You no longer have to worry about a scope restricting access to the hammer since the hammer can be positioned in three different ways to accommodate any hunter’s shooting style or dexterity.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Hammer
Via: NRApubs

Easier access to the hammer equates to a quicker shot for the hunter.


Trigger

I don’t like how the trigger break is around 6.5 pounds.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Grip and Trigger
Via: NRApubs

That’s a little high for a hunting rifle. The plus side though?

Almost no creep which means a more precise and accurate shot.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Trigger
Via: NRApubs

Magazine & Reloading

The rifle is available in more than 20 different centerfire cartridges, a plus for a hunter (like myself) who hunts different game in different seasons.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Steel Frame
Via: NRApubs

Even better is the Quick Load Accurizer and its decreased rifling at the tip of the muzzle.

This translates into what I found to be an easy loading and reloading experience.

Who doesn’t want that?


Length & Weight

The barrel on this beauty measures 28 inches long. The overall length of the rifle is 42.5”.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Length
Via: NRApubs

Weighing in at about 7-8 lbs, this rifle is light enough to carry around while still remaining sturdy and reliable.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Forend
Via: NRApubs

If you’re looking for something a little lighter, you might want to try a 30-06 rifle like the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight.


Recoil Management

The stock of this rifle boasts FlexTech recoil reduction technology.

The shock-absorbing chevrons of synthetic material on the stock flex upon firing.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Stock
Via: NRApubs

The result?

A much less punishing recoil for the shooter.

The stock also features two additional recoil absorbing innovations:

A Limbsaver recoil buttpad which cushions the shoulder and a comb of the FlexTech® material to lessen the felt recoil on the cheek.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Recoil Pad
Via: NRApubs

Price

It retails for around $800. You can get a great 7.62×39 rifle for less, but this is very affordable if you’re just looking for a single shot.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Packaging
Via: NRApubs

Keep in mind that the rifle features Weather Shield coating. Which means your gun is 50x more corrosion resistant than plain stainless steel.

So even if you hunt in the harshest climates or weather conditions, this gun will remain rust-free.

Thompson_Center Encore Pro Hunter Length 2
Via: NRApubs

(Of course, you still need to clean your gun after each use. That’s gun maintenance 101 after all).

If you’re looking for something a little easier on your wallet, the muzzleloader FX version of the rifle retails for around $649. Why’s it cheaper? You can’t interchange the barrels.


Thompson Center Encore Pro Rifle Review: Is It Worth It?

If you’re looking for a highly versatile rifle that is reliable and accurate, the Thompson Center Encore Pro Rifle is for you.

With this rifle, you can use different…

  • Barrels
  • Projecties
  • Cartridges
  • Hammer positions

…and transform it into a:

  • Muzzleloader
  • Shotgun
  • Centerfire rifle

This versatility makes it perfect for those who hunt year-round or who hunt in multiple states with differing firearms restrictions.

In short:

The Thompson Center Encore Pro is a top-rated rifle that boasts accuracy, reliability, and versatility. If that sounds good to you, give it a try:


3. Ruger No. 1: Best Overall Single-Shot

The Ruger No. 1 is the best overall single shot.

It’s accurate, reliable and lightweight.

In fact, Ruger is known for creating top-notch rifles like the American Ranch.

But that’s not all. Here’s why the Ruger No.1 is the number 1…


Accuracy

The accuracy of the Ruger No. 1 varies with the bullet. Here’s the average shot groups with different types of bullets (shot from 100 yards):

  • .220 Swift Hornady V-MAX – 1.00 inches
  • .220 Swift Remington XP – .75 inches
  • .220 Winchester Super X – 1.25 inches
  • Buffalo Bore 250gr JHP – 2.9 inches
  • Buffalo Bore 275gr XPB – 1.5 inches
  • Buffalo Bore 300gr JHP – 2.7 inches
  • Hornady 250gr FTX – 1.25 inches
  • Hornady 250gr FTX Black – 1.25 inches

While shot group is one thing, the accuracy out in the field has been positive.

Big game hunting with this rifle consistently proves that it is accurate, as you won’t have many wounded or lost animals to deal with.

The only caveat that I’ve experienced was the front sight. Being too small and dull, it’s best to get something that is larger and brighter if you are going to be hunting well into dusk or in the dark.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Front Sight
Via: Gunblastdotcom

All in all, the Ruger’s accuracy really depends on the round you choose as well as patience and trial and error.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Rear Sight
Via: Gunblastdotcom

But, Hornady seems to be the most accurate round for the Ruger No. 1. Just don’t forget to check up on that front sight.


Reliability

The Ruger No. 1 is INSANELY reliable.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Safe
Via: Gunblastdotcom

No matter the condition — whether it’s blazing hot or freezing cold — the rifle will still be standing and ready to go.

In fact:

I’ve shot over 500 rounds and hiked dozens of miles, and still haven’t run into any issues with it.


Handling

The Ruger No. 1 loads quickly and smoothly.

Rounds go in smooth and nothing gets stuck. And since this rifle is reliable on ejecting a spent round – thanks to a massive ejector spring – you won’t have to worry about adding on an extra couple of seconds removing the round.

Yet, even this can be changed if you don’t want rounds flying all over the place. All you’d have to do is make an adjustment on the ejector spring, and your cartridges will be captured at the safety bar, and not fly out.

Another great feature is there is no bolt handle protruding from the side.

This makes hunting on a horse easier since it is flat and won’t have the chance to get caught up in something.

For those long treks through thick, brushy country, the barrel is shorter. Meaning you typically won’t hit anything overhead.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Barrel
Via: Gunblastdotcom

The best part?

It doesn’t matter if you shoot with your left hand or right hand — you’ll be able to easily handle the rifle as it’s made for both sides.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Grip and Stock
Via: Gunblastdotcom

The stock is comfortable and reaching the safety is easy. It’s a toggle that slides forwards and backwards behind the receiver and catches well with or without gloves.


Trigger

The Ruger No. 1 has a crisp and light trigger. It breaks cleanly at 3 pounds with no pull or creep.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Trigger 2
Via: Gunblastdotcom

The trigger shoe is also curved and has a solid placement.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Trigger
Via: Gunblastdotcom

Magazine and Reloading

The Ruger No. 1 requires no magazine and can take a variety of rounds.

Just remember that certain rounds tend to group together better (see above paragraph on accuracy).


Length and Weight

This is why I like the Ruger No.1:

It’s shorter than the average rifle, allowing me to carry it upright through trees. It measures in at 36 inches, with the barrel coming in at 26 inches.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Length
Via: Gunblastdotcom

The rifle weighs only 7-8 pounds, so it’s a great piece to carry all day. And with that, it’s easy to lift and hold in a prone, sitting, kneeling or standing position comfortably.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Barrel Length
Via: Gunblastdotcom

Recoil Management

Here’s the bad news:

The recoil is a bit heavy. In fact, some have described it as ‘soul-crushing’. But again, everyone feels recoil differently.

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Stock
Via: Gunblastdotcom

I’ll just say that the recoil isn’t as gruesome as a .460 Wby.


Price

I do have to admit:

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Frame
Via: Gunblastdotcom

The Ruger No. 1 isn’t cheap — MSRP coming around at $1,900. Which leads us to the final question…

Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot Rifle Engraving
Via: Gunblastdotcom

Ruger No.1 Review: Is It Worth It?

The Ruger No. 1 is for anyone who is:

  • Likes the ease of chamber reloading
  • Enjoys a reliable, light and well-handled rifle
  • Looking for accuracy while hunting big or small game

Overall, the Ruger No. 1 is a solid rifle that won’t let you down.


Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best single shot rifle guide.

Single-shot rifles are great for all purposes, from hunting to home defense, as long as you have the right gear.

So as a recap:

If you’re looking for the best single shot rifle for the money, I recommend getting the Henry Single Shot.

What about deer hunting? Then the Thompson Center Encore Pro is for you.

Or if you simply want the best overall single-shot, then get the Ruger No. 1.

All of these are proven picks that are reliable and accurate. Just pick one based on your need and budget, and take it out for a spin. You won’t regret it.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which single-shot rifle will you pick?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

Leave a Comment