Having predicted it, I’m not surprised that the great Savage 99 put down the very, very good T/C Icon. But I am shocked — do you hear me — shocked that both the Marlin X7 squeaked past the Sako 85 and Ruger No. 1, handsome and handy as it is, outlasted the excellent Kimber 84M. I never saw either of those coming, and judging by the comments neither did some of you.
In any case, our Elite Eight is set–all good matchups to be sure, but probably none better than the 700 vs. the 99. I can’t begin to guess what you folks will do with that. But whatever you do, more heavyweights are going to fall in this round. So let’s have at it.
As usual, check out the bracket (you can click here to print out a copy if you want to fill it out by hand). Then vote for your preferred all-purpose whitetail rifle in each matchup below to begin the Elite Eight round. We’ll soon follow up with the Final Four, and the F&S Whitetail All-Around Rifle Championship.
Division I Elite Eight
1. Winchester Model 70: The rifleman’s rifle is back better than ever, and the Featherweight version is both easy to carry and deadly at long ranges. Jack would approve.
2. Savage 11/111: One of several modern successors of the classic Model 110, this one features Savage’s proven AccuTrigger, the new AccuStock, and is nicely priced.
3. Weatherby Vanguard: Weatherby changed the face of American firearms more than 50 years ago. Its latest rifle features guaranteed sub-MOA accuracy, standard calibers, and an eye-catching price (MSRP: $599).
5. Ruger Model 77: Like all things Ruger, it’s rugged, reliable, and a proven performer. The LC6 trigger on the new Hawkeye models make it more accurate than ever.
Division II Elite Eight
1. Remington Model 700: Perhaps the most popular American bolt action ever made, even though it’s a push feed. Its time-tested accuracy has only been enhanced by the new X-Mark Pro trigger.
5. Savage 99: A classic lever that was ahead of its time and remains in high demand despite being out of production for 15 years. It’s old-school cool. But mounting a scope is tricky on older models and the trigger is only okay.
6. Marlin X7: Loaded with premium features–adjustable trigger, pillar bedding, button-rifled barrel, and fluted bolt action–it’s a best buy at under $400.
7. Ruger No. 1: If you’re a really good hunter, this single-shot is all you need. A compact killer that looks as good as it shoots.