Best Hunting Rifle of 2013: Ruger M77 Guide Gun

$1,199; (ruger.com) Here is a dangerous/heavy-game rifle with everything done right. It's a short-barreled (20 inches), all--stainless, laminated-stock bolt action with the controlled feed of the Model 77. Features include an excellent rubber recoil pad, an adjustable length of pull, first-rate iron sights, and an effective muzzle brake.

Pause for breath. Weight varies from 8 pounds to 8 pounds 12 ounces, and it's available in .300 RCM, .300 Win. Mag., .30/06, .338 RCM, .338 Win. Mag., and .375 Ruger. On our .375 Ruger test rifle, the trigger broke at 4 pounds 8 ounces with a very slight creep. (It's not adjustable by the user, but a gunsmith can work on it.) The mechanism is an open design that will not collect water or debris. Our groups averaged 1.40 inch at 100 yards, fine for a rifle of this type. The removable muzzle brake does a good job of suppressing recoil, but if you don't care for the noise it can be removed and replaced with an unported dummy brake of identical weight that allows you to keep your zero. The price is the same for all calibers: not cheap by any means, but a bargain considering the amount of thought that went into the design. Bottom line, the Guide Gun is a rifle to use when firearm failure is not an option.