Looking for coverage of this year’s show? Here are the Best New Hunting Rifles of the 2020 SHOT Show.
Humans are genetically disposed to hunt. It would also seem that we are wired to continually seek out new rifles to hunt with. So, to that end and on behalf of all humans, I searched the 2019 SHOT show in Vegas for the year’s hottest new sporting rifles. What I found was an impressive new crop of highly innovative, extremely accurate, and in a few cases surprisingly affordable new guns. Regardless of how you like to hunt or what you like to hunt for, one of these new rifles should inspire you to get out your credit card and get into the woods.
A new Browning BAR MK 3 DBM Wood semi-auto rifle will be introduced for 2019. It will feature a non-reflective matte blued finish with an 18-inch fluted barrel. The alloy receiver has integral Picatinny rails, and it feeds from a 10-round detachable box magazine (DBM). The Grade II Turkish walnut stock and forearm have an oil finish and is shim-adjustable for cast on/off and drop. Available in 308 Winchester only, the rifle offers a more traditional option to an AR-10 black rifle for big-game hunting. $1,530.
Winchester Repeating Arms has expanded the XPR line to include the new Hunter Strata model. It has an advanced polymer stock in True Timber Strata camo, with textured panels to help improve wet weather grip. The flattened profile of the forend improves stability from sandbags, and the barrel, receiver, and bolt have a Permacote finish to minimize glare and protect from corrosion. An M.O.A. trigger system, detachable box magazine, steel recoil lug, bolt unlock button, and two-position thumb safety are standard. The rifle is available in most popular short action cartridges, including 6.5 Creedmoor, with 22-, 24-, or 26-inch barrels. $600.
The unique Monobloc rifle from Steyr is one of the most exciting new hunting rifles for 2019. With this introduction, Steyr has changed the notion of what a high-end hunting rifle can be. The Monobloc’s barrel is cold-hammer-forged from a single piece of steel and then milled to form the chamber and action; the barrel and action are one piece. The result is an ultra-accurate rifle with an aluminum bedding block and host of exciting shooter interfaces, including leather-accented inlays in the stock, a four-round detachable magazine, and a removable trigger group. It will initially be available in .308 Winchester and 30-06 Springfield. It’s about time a rifle made like this made it to America—even if it does cost more than $5K. $5,250.
The Remington Model Seven rifle has been way overlooked by Big Green for too long. Finally, it looks like someone at Remington realized that they actually build a great, compact, lightweight hunting rifle. For 2019, Remington has added the Model Seven SS HS Precision to the lineup. The gun features a 20-inch barrel, stainless-steel matte finish, an HS Precision stock, the X-Mark Pro adjustable trigger, and is chambered for the .243 and .308 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, and 6.5 Creedmoor. This gun should make a great whitetail rifle from coast to coast—or sheep rifle from ridge top to ridge top. $1,149.
The Savage 110 High Country bolt-action rifle is ready for the biggest bulls, tallest peaks, and longest shots. It has a spiral-fluted barrel and bolt, and lives in the highly adaptable AccuStock. It’s covered in TrueTimber Strata camo, comes with an AccuTrigger, and has a low-friction PVD coating on the barrel, receiver, and other critical parts. Chambered for a wide selection of big-game cartridges, this is a good-looking rifle suitable for worldwide hunting. $1,129.
The new Mark V Camilla Ultra Lightweight was designed by women, for women. The rifle has a shortened 13-inch length of pull, slender forearm, slimmer grip with a gentle palm swell, and higher comb for optimal scope-eye alignment. The recoil pad is fitted with an ergonomic cant, and the rifle features a composite stock with an aluminum bedding block. It’s chambered for the .240 Weatherby Magnum, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 and .308 Winchester, and the .30/06 Springfield. $2,300.
Introduced two decades ago as the most perfect rendition of Jeff Cooper’s Scout Rifle concept, the Steyr Scout was—and has been for 20 years—chambered for the .308 Winchester, which was Cooper’s cartridge of choice. But hunters and shooters are learning the 6.5 Creedmoor can compete with the .308 in the field, and on the range—especially at distance. Ignoring the screams of Scout Rifle purists, Steyr wisely decided to offer the Scout Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor. It will have all the features of the previous Scout, but come standard with a threaded muzzle and protective cap. Now, those who hunt with Scout Rifles can do what they’ve been doing for years, but do it even better at distance, and with less recoil. $1,787.
Big news from Mossberg is the introduction of the 450 Bushmaster into the Patriot line. Perfect for medium and large game at short to moderate rage—and ideally suited in states now allowing straight-wall rifle cartridges for deer hunting—these rifles come with all of the features associated with the Patriot rifle that has received so much acclaim. The four new 450 Bushmasters include two 16.25-inch-barreled Predators at 6.25 pounds, as well as synthetic and wood stocked Patriots with a 20-inch barrel at between 6.5 and 7 pounds. It’ll work for whitetails for sure, but for hunting over bait, this just might be the ideal hog whacker or bear buster. $542.
In line with the times and to support what is now the most popular rifle cartridge in the world—the 6.5 Creedmoor—Lipsey’s is offering a limited-edition Barrett Fieldcraft rifle. It will have a 1-in-8 twist, 24-inch, No. 2 contour, stainless barrel; a blind-box with a 4+1 capacity; a hand-laid carbon fiber stock; and a Timney trigger. At only 5.6 pounds, this gun sure to be popular with anyone who hunts on their hind legs as opposed to sitting on their ass in a treestand. $1,879.
Remington has added several new rifles to their model 783 line of entry-level bolt-actions. The 783 Varmint features a 26-inch heavy barrel with a black oxide finish, laminated stock with a beavertail forend, an oversized bolt handle, and a Picatinny rail. The rifle is chambered for the .223 and .22-250 Remington, .243 and .308 Winchester, and (obviously) the 6.5 Creedmoor. For those looking for an affordable long-range predator or prairie-dog-busting rig, the 783 Varmint, with an MSRP of a little over $600, is a great place to start. $625.
The Cascade is CVA’s first ever bolt-action centerfire rifle. It will be available in the most popular short-action hunting cartridges, such as 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Remington, and .308 Winchester. It has a 22-inch, 4140 carbon-steel barrel that’s finished in a rich matte blue. A threaded muzzle and protective cap are included. The bolt design incorporates a 70-degree throw, and the rifle has a charcoal gray synthetic stock with a SoftTouch finish for easy gripping. This should be a hot seller and appeal to those who have been hunting and trusting CVA muzzleloaders for decades. $567.
Most of us understand the importance of shotgun fit, but not enough hunters realize that a long-range precision rifle needs to fit perfectly, too, if you want to connect at distance. Shooter interface—how you and your gun mesh for optimum performance—is what the new Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range Hunter is all about. It features a new composite stock with an adjustable comb to dial-in eye-to-scope alignment. It also comes with spacers to fine tune length of pull. Three swivel studs; a stainless, fluted, heavy-sporter barrel; and a threaded muzzle brake (with suppressor threads and cap) round out the Long Range Hunter, which is chambered in in 6mm and 6.5mm Creedmoor, .308 Winchester, .300 WSM, 26 and 28 Nosler, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, and the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum, all with 26-inch barrels. To cap it all off, it’s quite affordable for what it is. Starts at $1,270.
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It wasn’t all that long ago that the MSR was the most popular rifle in America. Well, that’s changed. After the release of the movie American Sniper, the paradigm has shifted, and precision shooting at long range is driving new rifle design. Ruger has added two new chamberings, the 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC, in their excellent Hawkeye Long Range Target rifle, which features a uniquely configured stock sporting length-of-pull and comb-height adjustments. A free-floated barrel, muzzle brake, and a 20-MO scope rail are standard. It also has a two-stage adjustable trigger. For hunters who stretch the distance or match shooters who demand precision and optimum shooter interface, this rifle, too, has a lot to offer for the price. $1,279.
Austrians are known for their excellent engineering when it comes to firearms, but they’ve outdone themselves with the Strasser RS 14 Evolution. This is a straight-pull modular rifle that’s actually more modular than any MSR. It offers caliber conversions from .223 Remington to 375. The bolt face is self-centering and interchangeable, the action is magazine fed, and the gun can be taken completely apart in minutes—and, get this, the tools that take it apart are integral to the rifle.
The trigger is a dream to pull and offers three weight settings; it even has a half-pound set feature. All of the available barrels are Lothar Walther, so accuracy is stunning. This might be the last and only rifle you ever need. On one hand, it ain’t exactly cheap. On the other hand: Take my money! Starts at $3,400. —R.M.