Whether you’re in need of a new rifle or just in the mood for some eye candy, we’ve got your 2014 centerfire fix.
Every year manufacturers outdo themselves to give rifle shooters new state-of-the-art products, and every year we fight the urge to make our gun lockers a little more crowded. We don’t blame you if you cave this year—2014 has one hell of a tempting selection.
We’ve compiled and reviewed a large variety of centerfire rifles to give each brand of hunter—hog, dog or deer—a well-rounded collection to choose from. Any rifle shooter worth his weight in game meat will be able to tell you that every rifle has a unique personality and that the best rifle is the one that best fits your personality as a hunter.
So, we’ve laid out what we think are some of the best centerfire options for this season, it’s up to you to find a match.
<h2>Ambush | 300 Blackout</h2>The <a href="https://ambushfirearms.com/shop/rifles/ambush-300-blackout.html" target="_blank">Ambush 300 Blackout</a> puts the power of the popular cartridge into a wieldy platform for hunters who share an equal passion for potting hogs and deer. <p></p> Featuring a shotgun-style fore-grip and a cold hammer forged 16-inch barrel, the Ambush's modular design will allow you to furnish the rifle to your heart's content. The adjustable buttstock comes in handy when you find yourself torquing a tight angle in a treestand or blind. The rifle is also remarkably light, another welcomed bonus. <p></p> Compatible with the standard M4 Bolt Carrier Group and existing magazines, the Ambush is available in black or Realtree AP. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,800
- <h2>Ambush | 300 Blackout</h2>The <a href="https://ambushfirearms.com/shop/rifles/ambush-300-blackout.html" target="_blank">Ambush 300 Blackout</a> puts the power of the popular cartridge into a wieldy platform for hunters who share an equal passion for potting hogs and deer. <p></p> Featuring a shotgun-style fore-grip and a cold hammer forged 16-inch barrel, the Ambush's modular design will allow you to furnish the rifle to your heart's content. The adjustable buttstock comes in handy when you find yourself torquing a tight angle in a treestand or blind. The rifle is also remarkably light, another welcomed bonus. <p></p> Compatible with the standard M4 Bolt Carrier Group and existing magazines, the Ambush is available in black or Realtree AP. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,800
- <h2>Blaser | R8 Professional Success</h2>One of the most innovative and unique rifles to debut at the 2014 SHOT Show was the <a href="http://www.blaser-usa.com/index.php?id=182&no_cache=1&L=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=65&cHash=bff635db2ba22e062ccdec4f99a9290b" target="_blank">Blaser R8 Professional Success</a> rifle. The Professional Success is a modified version of the company’s existing R8 line-up, which uses the highest quality materials and is built with the highest standards in the industry. <p></p> Of course, with an MSRP of more than $4,500, you should expect nothing but the best. Instead of rotating the bolt to chamber another shell, the R8 only requires a quick pull-back of the bolt. The Professional Success uses the same reliable barrel, action and trigger, but it’s mounted on an ergonomic pistol-grip stock. The trigger assembly and box magazine are a single, detachable unit, making the rifle one of the safest available. The Professional Success is also available in a left-handed model and dozens of calibers. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>4,500
- <h2>Browning | A-Bolt III</h2>The <a href="http://www.browning.com/products/catalog/firearms/detail.asp?fid=034B&cid=035&tid=800" target="_blank">A-Bolt III</a> is an affordable way for hunters to own a Browning rifle. It features the same barrel, three-lug locking system and 60-degree bolt throw as the A-Bolt. The free-floated barrel is button-rifled for accuracy, while the chamber is hand-reamed for a more precise headspace. <p></p> It also comes with an Inflex Technology recoil pad that makes the gun a joy to shoot, along with a crisp 3.5-pound trigger. The safety is on top of the tang for easy access without losing the firing grip. Accuracy was in the M.O.A. range, with one 100-yard group measuring .83 inch. <p></p> The only sacrifice on this rifle is the plastic-feeling stock that just doesn’t seem to belong on a Browning. Of course, to be able to sell the gun at almost half the price of the A-Bolt, something had to be reduced. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>599.99
- <h2>Browning | X-Bolt Micro Buckthorn Pink</h2>This ain’t your daddy’s A-Bolt. Built on Browning’s sleek <a href="http://www.browning.com/products/catalog/firearms/detail.asp?fid=023B&cid=035&tid=327" target="_blank">X-Bolt</a> action, the new Eclipse Hunter has a barrel heavy enough to offer precision, yet not too heavy to carry. <p></p> Bedded into a laminate wood stock that shrugs off extremes in temperatures and humidity, it’s a tough, good-looking rifle that feels great and should shoot even better. <p></p> Ten popular calibers are available, from .243 up through .300 Win. Mag., and weight ranges from 6.5 to 7.5 pounds, depending on caliber and barrel length. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>939.99
- <h2>Colt | M2012</h2>Colt extended its <a href="http://www.coltsmfg.com/Catalog/ColtRifles/ColtBoltActionRifles.aspx" target="_blank">M2012</a> line-up by adding three new bolt-action models in partnership with Cooper Firearms. Two stock configurations are available in .308 and one is chambered in .260 Remington. <p></p> The guns are ideal for a variety of applications, but they excel in long-range hunting and shooting thanks to a custom-fluted, chrome moly steel, match-grade barrel and a single-stage, adjustable Timney trigger. The .308 and .260 come with a handsome gray laminated hardwood stock and a Desert tan composite stock. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>2,795 - 3,195
- <h2>CZ-USA | Western Series 550 Badlands Magnum</h2>Long-range hunting is the hottest trend in big game hunting right now, and numerous rifle makers are jumping on the train. CZ is one of them. The company’s new <a href="http://www.cz-usa.com/products/view/CZ550Badlands/" target="_blank">Badlands Magnum</a> is made for the wide-open spaces of the west and big game that is so abundant in the mountains and prairies. <p></p> Chambered in hard-hitting, flat-shooting .338 Lapua, the Badlands Magnum comes with a 25-inch medium-weight barrel, a recoil-taming muzzle brake and a full-length aluminum bedding block. At 9.2 pounds, it’s not a light rifle, but the extra weight will help you stay on target and make a better shot at any distance. It also comes with an adjustable trigger and a fixed four-round magazine. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>2,599
- <h2>Howa | Hogue Kryptek</h2>Predator hunters and target shooters have the perfect package gun in <a href="http://www.legacysports.com/hogue-kryptek-heavy-barrel-full-dip-package" target="_blank">Howa’s Hogue Kryptek Full Dip package</a>. It comes in three Kryptek camo patterns that cover the stock, barrel and even the included 4-16x44 Nikko Stirling Gameking mounted and bore-sighted scope. <p></p> The rifle comes with a heavy, 20-inch barrel and is available in .22-250, .223 and .308. It also includes a two-stage, creep-free match trigger, a Hogue recoil pad and a three-position safety. It weighs 10 pounds and comes with Howa’s Ammo Boost magazine conversion kit. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>820
- <h2>Kimber | Adirondack</h2>OK, who can look us in the eye and say that they didn't covet the sleek Kimber Mountain Ascent when it was introduced last year? Yet the price seemed steep at more than $2,000. <p></p> Kimber has now added a similar gun with a reduced price. The <a href="http://www.kimberamerica.com/rifles/model-84m/adirondack" target="_blank">84M Adirondack</a> looks a lot like the Ascent—carbon fiber stock, Gore Optifade camo, minimalist lines—but costs several hundred dollars less. <p></p> It weighs just 4 pounds, 13 ounces. The barrel is a very compact 18 inches, so it's no long-range poker. Still, it would be fine for a stand or tighter cover in aspens or pines. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,768
- <h2>Mauser | M12 Extreme</h2>Loved your grandfather's Mauser? Then you're going to want to get your hands on this revamped piece of tradition. <p></p> The <a href="http://www.mauser.com/en/products/m12/m12extreme/" target="_blank">M12 Extreme</a> features the modern comforts we've come to expect without losing the classic feel—a synthetic stock with a Soft Touch coating, detachable synthetic box magazine that holds five rounds and the traditional Mauser 3-position firing pin safety that will make your finger feel right at home. <p></p> The M12 is a fine piece of German engineering that won't punch a whole in your wallet. You can now take down deer with the classic Jaeger platform and have enough Deutschmarks left over to buy a round of steins at the beer garden. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,499
- <h2>Merkel | RX Helix Explorer</h2>The ingenuity behind the <a href="http://www.merkel-usa.com/" target="_blank">EX Helix Explorer's</a> bolt-action design puts this rifle at the top of our must-have list. Merkel took special care in crafting a geared system that allows the bolt to travel more than the bolt handle, resulting in a quick, smooth throw for a seamless follow-up shot. <p></p> A work of modern engineering art, barrels are easily interchangeable so you can make this your multipurpose gun when a sudden caliber change in the field might be required. The rugged synthetic stock may not be the handsome wooden Merkel stock you are used to seeing, but it will withstand the years of abuse you'd be putting this trusty rifle through. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>3,295
- <h2>Mossberg | MVP 762</h2><a href="http://www.mossberg.com/products/rifles/centerfire/mvp-series" target="_blank">Mossberg’s popular MVP line-up</a> just got a little larger with the addition of a .308/7.62 NATO version. The MVP line accepts AR-style magazines, and the MVP Flex line looks very much like an AR platform rifle, including an adjustable butt stock and a pistol grip, but it’s a bolt-action rifle. It’s also available with a standard stock. <p></p> It comes in a variety of configurations, including a bull barrel, a flash-suppressor barrel and a barrel threaded for a suppressor. The Patrol model comes with a 16.25-inch barrel, a Picatinny rail and a 10-round magazine. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>681 (rifle) or 829 (scope and rifle)
- <h2>Nemo Arms | Pratka Edition .300 WIN MAG AR</h2>You're familiar with ARs in 5.56/.223 and 7.62mm/.308, but last year <a href="http://nemoarms.com/" target="_blank">Nemo</a>, a premier gun-maker out of Kalispell, Montana, went out on a limb and produced an AR-10 that chambers the venerated .300 Win Mag cartridge. <p></p> It was heavy at 12 pounds and had a high price tag. So this year, Nemo introduced the Pratka, a 9-pound gun that is closer to the $4,000 range. Features include a 416 stainless steel fluted barrel and a sweet Geissele SSA-E two-stage trigger. Successfully dealing with the higher pressures of the .300 in an AR action made this a substantial engineering accomplishment. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>4,000 MSRP
- <h2>Remington | Model 783 Crossfire</h2>The three things that make the <a href="http://www.remington.com/model783" target="_blank">Crossfire</a> nice are things you can’t see from across the room. <p></p> First, it shoots minute-of-angle three-shot groups. Second, it only costs around $450. The combination of accuracy and cost make this rifle a great value. <p></p> Third, it was designed with stability and durability as goals. It has a proprietary cylindrical receiver with a small ejection port — both characteristics that improve the rifle’s rigidity and help it produce tight groups. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>451
- <h2>Ruger | American Compact</h2>In the .243 caliber tested, this rifle would be a good choice for a youth hunter, especially considering its street price is less than $400. <p></p> The <a href="http://www.ruger.com/products/americanRifleCompact/models.html" target="_blank">American Compact</a> has some well-thought-out features. The grip and the forend are particularly well designed. The trigger was very nice. It’s also adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds. <strong>Price: $</strong>449.99
- <h2>Sako | 85 Long Range</h2>Go the extra distance with the <a href="http://www.sako.fi/sako85models.php?longrange" target="_blank">85 Long Range</a>. When dropping your trophy requires precision with a far reach, the 85 goes the extra yard and then some. <p></P> Chambered in .300 Win. Mag. and .338 Lapua, the action is coupled with a Finnish match-grade barrel and bedded into a solid, laminated wood stock. <p></p> Designed for hunters who prefer the prone position, the stock features dual forward swivel studs for easy bipod mounting. Sako includes a spiffy muzzle brake at the end of their Finnish steel—a much obliged addition when firing the big ol' .338 Lapua through such a lightweight rifle. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>2,865
- <h2>Sauer | 101 Classic XT</h2>Any gun that helps us shoot better is ausgezeichnet, which means excellent. The Sauer <a href="http://www.sauer-101.com/nav-1/s-101/s-101-classic-xt/" target="_blank">101 Classic XT</a> produces amazing groups. The tightest was just over 3/8 inch, center to center. The trigger is superb, and the stock is über-ergonomic. <p></p> Sauer is known for making switch-barrel guns, but this is a fixed, which knocks hundreds off the price. The barrel mates to the action through a heated-fit process: the receiver is super-heated and the barrel is placed into the expanded receiver. As the receiver cools, it contracts and “welds” to the barrel. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,400
- <h2>Savage | Axis II Combo</h2>The <a href="http://www.savagearms.com/firearms/model/axis2xp" target="_blank">Axis II</a> grip is slim and the forend has a generous amount of texture for a solid feel. The butt had plenty of padding, which made shooting lots of rounds a comfortable experience. <p></p> For a sub-$500 rifle with a detachable, four-shot magazine, it’s a fantastic shooter, especially when the combo comes with a Weaver Kaspa 3-9x40mm scope. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>489.99
- <h2>Thompson/Center | Dimension</h2>The Germans — with their Blasers, Sauers and Merkels — produce excellent modular bolt-action rifles. In the United States, Thompson/Center has been king of the switch-barrel guns. <p></p> T/C’s latest, the <a href="http://www.tcarms.com/firearms/bolt-action-rifles/dimension" target="_blank">Dimension</a>, lacks the aesthetics of the walnut-shrouded classics from the Old World. But the engineering behind it is world-class. We’ve used a Dimension in .30-06, .22-250 and other calibers — all the same basic gun — while hunting deer, coyotes and shooting groups at the range. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>689.99
- <h2>Thompson/Center | Venture Predator</h2><a href="http://www.tcarms.com/firearms/bolt-action-rifles/venture/venture-predator" target="_blank">Thompson/Center's Venture</a> isn’t a new rifle this year. Neither is the Predator version, but it’s a gun worth mentioning because it’s one of the best rifles for predator hunters anywhere. Wrapped in Realtree HD Max-1 or Realtree HD AP Snow Composite, predator hunters can hide in plain sight in any situation. <p></p> Hogue grips on the forestock and pistol grips allow for a firm hold even with gloved hands. The Venture Predator is chambered in .204 Ruger, .22-250, .223, .243 and even .308 and 7mm-08. It weighs just 6.75 pounds, making it a great rifle for hunters who don’t mind chasing coyotes and cats on foot. The Predator also has an adjustable trigger, a corrosion-resistant bolt and an available matching scope. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>638
- <h2>Weatherby | WBY-X</h2>Is the youth and 20-something market a worthy target? <a href="http://www.weatherby.com/" target="_blank">Weatherby</a> certainly thinks so. The company unveiled its new <a href="http://wby-x.com/#page-1" target="_blank">WBY-X line-up</a> of shotguns and rifles. The bolt-action rifles are built on the same Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 actions and barrels, but with an extreme new look designed to appeal to a younger demographic. <p></p> The Whitetail Bonz, for example, uses images of antlers to make a camo pattern; Boneyard Camo Blaze incorporates images of flames on the stock; and the Hog Reaper uses hog skulls to create a camo pattern. There are also use models with adjustble stocks to fit young shooters as they grow. The various models come in a variety of calibers, from lighter centerfires up to .300 Weatherby Magnum. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>749
- <h2>Winchester | Model 73</h2>The <a href="http://www.winchesterguns.com/" target="_blank">Winchester</a> name is synonymous with history, and the new <a href="http://www.winchesterguns.com/products/catalog/detail.asp?family=027c&mid=534202" target="_blank">Model 73 Case-Hardened lever-action</a> will take you back to a different era. The rifle isn’t just a historical artifact; it’s a straight-shooting, reliable gun that is as fun to shoot as it is functional. <p></p> The Model 73 has a full-length magazine tube that holds 10 rounds, a 20-inch barrel and a color case-hardened crescent butt plate, receiver, lever and loading gate. It’s available in .357, .44-40 and .45 Colt. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,579.99