First Look: Best New Bolt-Action Hunting Rifles For 2020

Looking for the latest and greatest bolt-action hunters? The roaring 2020s have arrived

by Mark Melotik

HuntStand Pro Contributor MORE FROM Mark

Looking for the latest and greatest bolt-action hunters? The roaring 2020s have arrived with a blaze of ultralight, precision and crossover guns, with models to please the most nostalgic and budget-conscious.

Savage110Ultralite 900_edited-1Savage 110 Ultralite. Having offered a 110 bolt-action rifle for most every possible game and style of hunting, the market was more than ready for Savage to dip its toe into the true lightweight rifle pool. Partnered with Proof Research for threaded 22-24-inch carbon-wrapped stainless barrels mated to a factory blueprinted action, Savage’s 110 Ultralite comes in at sub-six pounds in eight chamberings—including 28 Nosler, 6.5 PRC, and .280 Ackley Improved—among more common options. Drawing from the wildly successful 110 lineup of Accu-everything, the Ultralite rifles retain the user-adjustable AccuTrigger and customizable AccuFit stock system, which allows hunters to tailor both LOP and comb height in minutes. Retail pricing regardless of caliber is set at $1,499, and the rifles are already in production.SigSauerCross 900SigSauerCrossCamo 900Sig Sauer Cross. The first bolt-action rifle from Sig Sauer is indeed a cross of sorts—think precision performance meets hunting platform. Calibers for the initial launch include 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, and Sig’s new .277 Fury chambering. Drawing from its more tactical Sig roots, the rifle is fed by AICS magazines. There are 16- and 18-inch stainless steel barrel length options, each threaded for muzzle brakes or suppressed hunting. The Cross sits inside Sig’s skeletonized, fully-adjustable and foldable Precision Stock. A two-stage, adjustable match trigger aids with accuracy and brings precision shooting features to a hunting platform. Sig offers the Cross in either Black anodized or First Lite Cipher ArmorKote. One might think such a rifle would be too heavy for practical hunters, but Sig shaves weight on the Cross with the rifles weighing a scant 6.5 to 6.8 pounds, putting them close to some backcountry rifle weights. Designed and built in the USA, the flagship Cross retails for $1,699-$1,799.

WeatherbyBackcountryTi 900Weatherby Mark V Backcountry Ti. Gone is the high-gloss Walnut, deep blue, and skipline checkering that has come to announce the presence of a Weatherby Mark V rifle. In trade comes a carbon fiber stock, titanium receiver, and fluted barrel equating to a true sub-five pound factory production rifle capable of delivering sub-MOA groups. Those stats by themselves have the attention of mountain hunters the world over, but actually handling this rifle makes things even sweeter. There’s an adjustable Triggertech trigger, factory Accubrake muzzle brake taking recoil down up to 53 percent, and a patent-pending 3DHEX recoil-reducing lattice pad. The Backcountry Ti is available in 10 calibers, including multiple Weatherby options, with the new 6.5 Wby RPM among them. Lefties take note—there are three rifles for southpaw hunters as well. Lightweight doesn’t come cheap, with an MSRP of $3,349-$3,449, but when ounces count on the final leg of a grueling mountain hunt, the Backcountry Ti will be ready. Hunters looking for weight savings on a somewhat tighter budget can look to the company’s standard Backcountry rifle, which forgoes the titanium receiver for $850 less, yet retains many practical features and MOA accuracy. Kimber Open Range Pro Carbon 900Kimber Open Range Pro Carbon. Proof Research carbon fiber barrels are the rage already this decade, as Kimber joins the specialty material market as well. Kimber has introduced several Pro Carbon bolt action rifle additions to its existing Open Range line. Like the Weatherby, Kimber’s Pro Carbon also makes use of an AG Composites carbon fiber stock for the ultimate in weight-shaving while still maintaining strength. The 24-inch stainless steel core barrels are wrapped in carbon fiber, threaded, and capped—meaning hunters seeking both lighter weights and recoil reduction are well accommodated. There’s also a durable KimPro finish and adjustable match trigger. Kimber offers either textured granite or Gore Optifade stock finish options on these rifles that weigh just over six pounds bare. That controlled round feed Mauser action on the 84M bolt guns just never gets old, as any hunter will appreciate such reliability. The only calibers currently available on the Pro Carbon, however, are 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win. MSRP is set at $3,099 with rifles expected to ship in ample time for big game seasons. MB Patriot LR Hunter 900Mossberg Patriot LR Hunter. Long Range seems to be the buzz phrase these days, even among hunters. While Mossberg may be a bit late to the party, its new Patriot LR (Long Range) Hunter will be shipping in time for Fall 2020 hunting seasons. The rifle retains the spiral fluted bolt and fluted barrels of the original Patriot bolt actions, this time with both 22- and 24-inch threaded barrels. The stock is noticeably different from previous models, especially upon first touch, with a wooden core that lends it a more solid feel than hollow synthetic, yet has a grippy Spider Gray polymer textured coating with internal aluminum pillar bedding. The raised comb, wide and flat forend, and dual forward sling swivels are reminiscent of bench rest guns, yet serve practical purposes when shooting from field positions such as over a backpack in the hills. Mossberg’s LBA adjustable trigger comes standard, with the addition of a top picatinny rail ready for optics mounting. The four initial calibers—6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, 6.5 PRC, and .300 Win Mag—fill those extended-range hunting desires. MSRP is only $721, meaning that accuracy and affordability have met in a long-range hunting rifle. BenelliLupo 900Benelli Lupo. Italian powerhouse Benelli harnesses the power of the wolf—the Italian word, Lupo, that is—with its first-ever bolt-action rifle. This all-black rifle appears unassuming of both color and design from a distance, but closer inspection reveals an entirely new feat of engineering, with modern lines and features built into the two-piece receiver and stock combination. There’s a free-floating, threaded 22-inch Crio barrel, which draws from the success of the company’s cryogenically treated shotgun barrels. The trigger is adjustable, and the Lupo makes use of Benelli’s Progressive Comfort recoil reduction buttstock system, as well as the Comfort Comb setup, which allows users to purchase additional risers for a more customized fit. The Lupo forgoes calibers named Creedmoor to offer a trio of chamberings at launch: .270 Win, .308 Win, and .30-06 Spfld. With a sub-MOA guarantee and seven-pound weight, the rifles target modern hunters who may already appreciate the company’s successful scatterguns. MSRP comes in at $1,799, though it’s unclear when the Lupo will begin shipping.
RugerHawkeyeHunter 900RugerHawkeyeLRHunter 900Ruger Hawkeye Hunter & Hawkeye Long Range Hunter. Ruger’s beloved bolt-action rifles get a boost this year with the addition of the Hawkeye Hunter lineup. With 22- or 24-inch barrels, there are seven calibers from the 6.5’s to the 7mm and .300 Magnums, with several options for lefties as well. In a sea of synthetically stocked rifles, the Hawkeye Hunter (above at top) stands apart with its Walnut furniture and satin stainless metalwork. The 20 MOA rail brings precision rifle optics mounting to a hunting gun. Ruger’s Mauser-type controlled feed extractor shares the throwback love as well. MSRP regardless of caliber is $1,099. Lovers of Ruger rifles seeking something seriously loaded for extended ranges, should check out the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter (above) with its radial port muzzle brake, detachable magazine, and adjustable LOP synthetic stock, with chamberings only in 6.5’s Creedmoor and PRC.SeekinsHavakElement 900Seekins Precision Havak Element. With years behind perfecting its AR pattern rifles, Seekins Precision throws it down for hunters in the bolt-action market. We had the pleasure of ringing 950-plus-yard steel with the new Havak Element during a recent test-firing, and not only is this model a smooth and incredibly lightweight rifle, it plain shoots. There’s 7075 aerospace aluminum encasing the stainless steel action, which lends itself to the gun’s 5.5-pound overall weight. You’ll also find a widely-spiraled 21-inch threaded barrel, and an especially unique feature is the integral bubble level at the rear of the receiver, allowing hunters to achieve the greatest possible accuracy in sometimes-awkward field positions. Calibers center around flat shooters: 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, and .308 Win. The feature list is long but all geared toward weight-conscious hunters: Timney Elite Hunter trigger, hand-bedded action, camo carbon composite stock, and detachable carbon fiber magazine. MSRP is set at $2,795, but that gets hunters custom-built quality from a hands-on American factory in Idaho with a lifetime warranty. Rifles can be built to order, but there are also plenty of Havak Elements in stock and ready to ship. BERGARAWILDERNESS 900

Bergara B-14 Wilderness Terrain. Bergara threw back the curtain on its new Wilderness Series of bolt-action rifles at SHOT Show 2020 in January. With lighter-weight models like the Ridge and Hunter for more basic and lighter-weight hunting needs, and the hulky HMR (Hunting/Match Rifle) for dual use, it’s the Terrain that offers serious long-range field work in a heavy-built platform. Wilderness Terrain weights range from 8.9 to 10 pounds, so this is no mountain rifle, but it would excel in more-stationary hunting scenarios. Built around the company’s proven B-14 platform, the Wilderness Terrain rifles feature an adjustable comb, LOP, and trigger. Seven calibers round out the list, with interesting options like both 6.5 and .300 PRC, as well as 28 Nosler. Detachable AICS magazines feed the MOA-guaranteed Terrain. The 24- to 26-inch Sniper Gray Cerakoted barrels are fitted with an Omni Muzzle Brake. Retail prices for the Wilderness rifles range from $1,199 to $1,279.Browning X-Bolt HunterLR 900Browning X-Bolt Hunter Long Range. Nostalgic, veteran hunters seeking long-range features will embrace the classic-styling-meets-modern-performance of Browning’s X-Bolt Hunter Long Range. The Grade I Black Walnut stocks retain that vintage hunting appearance, though the addition of an adjustable comb blends in that desired contemporary customization. Heavier sporter contour barrels in 22-, 24-, and 26-inch lengths are geared toward distance shooting. An included muzzle brake and Inflex recoil pad help negate recoil from the magnum chamberings. A detachable rotary magazine makes for quick loading/unloading for hunters while the short throw bolt clears optics with ease and speeds cycling. Browning offers seven chamberings in the expected longer-range calibers from the 6.5’s on up to .300 Win Mag, with each weighing either just above or below the eight-pound mark. MSRP ranges from $1,299-$1,329 with Hunter Long Range rifles expected to ship later this year.




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