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Four Great Semi-Automatic Rifles for Deer Hunting

Ever popular with trackers and still-hunters, autoloaders are now gaining favor with others simply because gas-operated actions soften recoil and are more fun to shoot. Below are four excellent choices.

BENELLI R1 ($1,265–$1,465; 301-283-6981; benelliusa.com)

AVAILABLE CALIBERS: .308 Win., .30/06, .270 WSM, .300 WSM, .300 Win. Mag.

THE SKINNY: This isn't the prettiest gun, but it may well be the softest kicking and most versatile. The R1's ARGO gas system automatically compensates for different cartridge pressures, which lets traveling hunters switch from, say, a .270 WSM to a .30/06 just by swapping barrels, magazines, and bolt heads. No other auto can do that. With the revolutionary ComforTech stock, perceived recoil is reduced by almost 50 percent. My .280 turnbolt, for example, seems to kick harder than the .300 Win. Mag. R1 I tested. New for this year is a Realtree APG finish that almost makes the gun look good.

BROWNING SHORTTRAC BAR ($930–$1,139; 800-333-3288; browning.com)

AVAILABLE CALIBERS: .243 Win., .308 Win., .270 WSM, 7mm WSM, .300 WSM

THE SKINNY: The latest in a long line of Browning Automatic Rifles, the ShortTrac is easily the most stylish, lightweight, and accurate version yet. Unlike its blocky predecessors, it features a rakish, contemporary stock, and its streamlined aluminum-alloy receiver and composite components make it a pleasure to carry. In .308, it weighs just 6 pounds 10 ounces. The trigger is surprisingly good, and the hammer-forged Belgian barrel gives accuracy as good as many bolt guns. A friend owns a 7mm WSM ShortTrac that consistently produces sub-MOA groups. A left-handed version is now available.

REMINGTON 750 WOODSMASTER ($732–$831; 800-243-9700; www.remington.com)

AVAILABLE CALIBERS: .243 Win., .308 Win., .270 Win., .30/06, .35 Whelen

THE SKINNY: Early Woodsmaster models were sometimes derided as "jam-o-matics," especially when dirty, but the new 750 should shed that label once and for all. The fourth generation in the Woodsmaster line, it has a slick, redesigned gas action that provides faster and more reliable cycling. Remington's cushy new R3 recoil pad helps make it the softest-kicking Woodsmaster ever. Other changes include a low-profile receiver, a restyled stock, and a widened fore-end that sits nicely in the hand. A carbine version in .35 Whelen has already become something of a cult gun among North Woods hunters.

RUGER ALL-WEATHER RANCH RIFLE ($835; 203-256-3860; ruger.com)

AVAILABLE CALIBERS: .223 Rem., 6.8mm Rem. SPC

THE SKINNY: Ruger recently enhanced this already improved version of its hardworking little Ranch Rifle by chambering it in 6.8mm Rem. SPC—a .270 military cartridge. Its 115-grain bullet will take deer out to 300 yards. With an 18½-inch barrel, a synthetic stock, a stainless matte finish, and an improved, rounded receiver with ghost-ring aperture sights, the 6 7/8-pound All-Weather Ranch Rifle promises to be a rugged, compact gun, perfect for the whitetail woods (where legal). It will serve double duty on the ranch or farm for hogs, predators, or varmints, too. The rifle includes integral scope mounts and rings.

Comments (10)

Top Rated
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from CPT BRAD wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

I loved the Brownings back when they were round on the fore end. The new short tracks and long tracks just don't do it for me.

What about the new Winchester?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ye ole Coaste wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

all this new stuff is great!! I still remeber the ruger 44Cal semi auto-moved out to Oregon and got rid of it.Stayed there abt 5yrs and moved back east and relaized the error of my ways.Nest Dang gun for w/tail or hog ever made in my opinion.Had it toped w/a 1.5 tactical mini scope and hade thingsd coverd upto 150yds w/a lil kentucky windage added.AhH!! such fond memroies.anybody got one they wanna donate to an old disabled Vet!! let me know OK will even pay ship&handle fee. ruger Uall listening to my plea??? Thks Carry ON!! YOC

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from Ye ole Coaste wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

Opp's an addenum to my comments: Used to use the famous hog-hunter 44mags made famous in the pistol hunting fraternity back a few yrs.worked exceptionally well on whitetails and BIG hog's never droped anything more than abt 70yds but sure it would kill out further?? Sometimes the old works better than new?? Good Hunt'N!! Carry ON!! YOC

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from Reid Jones wrote 5 years 2 weeks ago

i entirely disagree with what you say about the R1 on how it's not the prettiest gun. it's one of the coolest guns i've ever seen.

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from cootie wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

No person should be allowed to use a semi-automatic rifle or pistol for deer hunting .

-10 Good Comment? | | Report
from IanS wrote 4 years 31 weeks ago

I've never had a semi-automatic but I have seen people be very irresponsible with them. That probaly wasen't the rifles fault though. How are they for accurasy?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from YoungHunter wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

I definitely like the older style BAR the best.My dadio has a BAR and that baby shoots almost as accurate as the A-Bolt in the same caliber, which my grandpa has with the BOSS on it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JW7MM-08 wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

I recently purchased a new Remington 750 in 30-06 and topped it off with a Nikon 3.5-10x50, and it is nearly as accurate and so far as reliable as anything else in my safe. Ive put nearly 250 rounds through it so far without a single malfunction. I can say this gun is a vast improvement to the old 742's and 7400's because I have one of those also. Its not only more reliable, its more accurate, lighter, and has a better stock design. I carried it 3 days straight in the Appalachian mountains and it has proven to be worth every penny so far.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from cas0905 wrote 4 years 3 weeks ago

ive got a bar and it shoots as accurate as any gun i have seen

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from Greg Franklin wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I say the SKS is a great semi-auto deer rifle! I've taken quite a few with mine.

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from JW7MM-08 wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

I recently purchased a new Remington 750 in 30-06 and topped it off with a Nikon 3.5-10x50, and it is nearly as accurate and so far as reliable as anything else in my safe. Ive put nearly 250 rounds through it so far without a single malfunction. I can say this gun is a vast improvement to the old 742's and 7400's because I have one of those also. Its not only more reliable, its more accurate, lighter, and has a better stock design. I carried it 3 days straight in the Appalachian mountains and it has proven to be worth every penny so far.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from CPT BRAD wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

I loved the Brownings back when they were round on the fore end. The new short tracks and long tracks just don't do it for me.

What about the new Winchester?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ye ole Coaste wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

all this new stuff is great!! I still remeber the ruger 44Cal semi auto-moved out to Oregon and got rid of it.Stayed there abt 5yrs and moved back east and relaized the error of my ways.Nest Dang gun for w/tail or hog ever made in my opinion.Had it toped w/a 1.5 tactical mini scope and hade thingsd coverd upto 150yds w/a lil kentucky windage added.AhH!! such fond memroies.anybody got one they wanna donate to an old disabled Vet!! let me know OK will even pay ship&handle fee. ruger Uall listening to my plea??? Thks Carry ON!! YOC

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ye ole Coaste wrote 5 years 4 weeks ago

Opp's an addenum to my comments: Used to use the famous hog-hunter 44mags made famous in the pistol hunting fraternity back a few yrs.worked exceptionally well on whitetails and BIG hog's never droped anything more than abt 70yds but sure it would kill out further?? Sometimes the old works better than new?? Good Hunt'N!! Carry ON!! YOC

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Reid Jones wrote 5 years 2 weeks ago

i entirely disagree with what you say about the R1 on how it's not the prettiest gun. it's one of the coolest guns i've ever seen.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from IanS wrote 4 years 31 weeks ago

I've never had a semi-automatic but I have seen people be very irresponsible with them. That probaly wasen't the rifles fault though. How are they for accurasy?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from YoungHunter wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

I definitely like the older style BAR the best.My dadio has a BAR and that baby shoots almost as accurate as the A-Bolt in the same caliber, which my grandpa has with the BOSS on it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from cas0905 wrote 4 years 3 weeks ago

ive got a bar and it shoots as accurate as any gun i have seen

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Greg Franklin wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I say the SKS is a great semi-auto deer rifle! I've taken quite a few with mine.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from cootie wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

No person should be allowed to use a semi-automatic rifle or pistol for deer hunting .

-10 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment