July 14, 2015
By Matt Haun
By far, deer are the most popular big-game animals in this great country. And the most popular weapon to harvest them is a centerfire rifle. While we are on the topic, the most-purchased type of rifle for recreational shooting in the last four years is the AR platform. When you look at those facts, it stands to reason that both shooters and hunters alike have a great interest in what's new in this category.
What you won't find on my list is the "everyday" rifle that you typically see in other articles or in most TV commercials. What you will see are new rifles that are unique in their category and fill a specific niche in your pursuits. If you choose to purchase one of the following rifles, I assure you that it won't be your newest "safe queen."
It will either be your go-to hunting rifle or the one that you wow your buddies with on the range.
Alexander Arms | Hunter
There are some of you reading this who have never heard of either the 6.5 Grendel cartridge or Alexander Arms. 6.5 Grendel
is a capable hunting round that has a wide variety of bullet options. It's also a fantastic medium- to long-range target round.
In the last five years, I have harvested more than 80 percent of my deer, hogs and varmints with the 6.5 Grendel cartridge. Its terminal performance on game is spectacular. The Alexander Arms Hunter is the only factory rifle in this chambering. It combines accuracy and light weight to form a fantastic deer-hunting rifle — based on the AR-15 platform.
The Alexander Arms Hunter is on our cover because it is innovative, accurate and well built. You'll get an 18-inch barrel, Ergo grip, AA tactical blade trigger and SOPMOD Bravo collapsible stock. Finished in Kryptek camo.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 323],750
Alexander Arms | Ulfberht
Another Alexander Arms firearm on the list is the Ulfbhert
It's unusual name refers to a Viking sword known for uncommonly strong steel. To say that this .338 Lapua Magnum is built uncommonly strong is an understatement. As an example, the gas piston is about the size of a lightweight AR-15 barrel.
The gun is also nearly 20 pounds. So while this piston-operated rifle won't likely spend any time with you in a tree stand or ground blind, its place on the range or battlefield is unparalleled.
I have never fired a magnum rifle that was so pleasant to shoot and allowed me to see impacts and send rounds downrange so quickly. It has a 27-inch barrel, side-folding Magpul PRS stock and a Geissele trigger.
Christensen Arms | CA-10
ll just say it: I have a soft spot for the AR-10 platform. But I'm also a hardcore hunter, and typically this type of rifle is heavy to say the least. The new Christensen Arms CA-10
changes the game when it comes to weight.
They have designed an AR-10 rifle that is an ultra-light 6 pounds and guarantees 1 MOA accuracy or better. To get to that weight, Christensen uses their signature carbon-fiber technology in the barrel and for end.
For its combination of weight and accuracy, the CA-10 was a shoe-in to make my list. This gas-operated .308 Win has an 18-inch barrel, Hogue grips, a CA-LTM trigger and MAGPUL stock.
G.A. Precision | Backpack Hunter
is a well-known custom rifle maker in Kansas City. But when I saw their new creation at SHOT Show earlier this year, built on the Remington Model 7 action with a folding stock, I knew they were onto something special. This little package, which I have nicknamed the 'Backpack Hunter, ' folds easily into a hunting pack.
The .300 Blackout stands apart for its extreme accuracy with both subsonic and supersonic rounds. I shot under 1-inch groups at 100 yards with each, which is a feat that most of my .300s won't do. It's on the list because of its compact size, accuracy and quality of construction.
The GAP weighs 8 pounds, has a carbon-fiber stock and 16 1/2-inch Bartlein match-grade barrel, and is just 25 3/4 inches long folded.
MSRP: gallery= 323,999
Kimber | Mountain Ascent
This is the lightest-weight production rifle on the market. But the Kimber Mountain Ascent
is also built of nothing but premium components similar to what you would find in a full custom rifle. The skeletonized bolt, fluted stainless barrel, bedded Kevlar stock, integrated muzzle brake and adjustable trigger all add to the appeal of this rifle.
With a .280 AI chambering, it's one of the few production rifles in this great cartridge. Whether you're hunting sheep in the mountains or on a long stroll through the pines, this rifle will be a pleasure to carry and shoot.
The 5-pound, 5-ounce Ascent comes in Optifade Open Country and has a pillar- and glass-bedded 24-inch barrel.
MSRP: gallery= 323,040
Marlin | 1895 GBL
The Marlin Guide Gun
has been around for a number of years, and I've been fortunate enough to hunt with one many times. The new GBL has the hard-hitting, quick-pointing features of the original, but it isn't ported, and that means a big reduction in noise level.
It also has a 'big loop ' lever, FNC treated stainless steel (think Remington XCR rifles) and a painted hardwood laminate stock. These features make the .45-70 GSBL a true all-weather rifle capable of taking down even the largest of North American big-game species. Marlin gives good attention to detail in this gun.
They modernized an American classic. It weighs in at 8 pounds and has an 18 1/2-inch barrel and a single-stage trigger.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 323],150
Mossberg | MVP-LC
I would have thought it impossible for a major firearms manufacturer to offer a gun with features like the MVP-LC
: chassis-based bolt-action that accepts AR mags, an adjustable trigger, stock and bipod, and then top it with a high-quality optic.
Well, Mossberg proved me wrong. The MVP-LC utilizes the same MVP action and line of barrels known to be accurate and dependable, and then they dropped them into a lightweight aluminum chassis instead of the standard wood stock. On top of that, they utilized a Magpul CTR stock and pistol grip, as well as a SilencerCo Saker muzzle brake to outfit the rifle with 100 percent quality components.
Then Mossberg pushed it all just one step further by being the first to offer a combo that includes a very high-quality Vortex 4-16x44mm scope. Mossberg took a chance by offering a premium product at a reasonable price. Chambered in 5.56 NATO and .308 Win, 16 1/4- and 18 1/2-inch barrels, respectively, weighing 8 and 8 1/2 pounds.
MSRP: gallery= 323,102
Remington | R25 GII
The Remington R-25 GII
is the only production AR-10-style rifle on the market today that is available in .243 Win, 7mm-08 and .260 Rem, plus the standard 5.56mm and .308 Win.
The combination of this platform with the lighter-kicking calibers makes this rifle ideal for youth hunters, as well as shooters who like the ballistic characteristics of the 6mm, 6.5mm and 7mm rounds over the 30-calibers.
At 7 1/2 pounds, the GII is also a full pound and half lighter than its predecessor, so it's now nicer to carry to and from the stand.
The gas-operated GII stands alone with its range of caliber choices and versatility.
Twenty-inch barrel with Hogue grip and 2-stage trigger. Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 323],670
Ruger | Hawkeye Magnum Hunter
With this rifle, Ruger
made buying rifles super simple. There are no options to choose, there are no caliber choices, only .300 Win Mag. Everything you need to hunt big game in North America is combined into one rugged, hard-hitting, soft-kicking and good-looking rifle.
If you could only own one big-game rifle, this would certainly be a fine option. This 8-pound rifle has a 24-inch barrel with a removable muzzle brake and exact-weighted thread protector. There's a fine LC6 trigger and Ruger scope rings.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 323],139
Savage | Model 16/116 Bear Hunter
has seen a steady rise in reputation for both accuracy and dependability over the last decade, and it's well deserved. The 16/116 is another do-it-all, in-all-conditions rifle with an Accustock and Accutrigger. But it has a feature that sets it apart from other magnums: you can turn off the muzzle brake without removing it.
This technology is not only innovative but extremely convenient. No more keeping up with a thread protector, or weighted extension. With just a quarter-turn of the brake, your rifle becomes much more friendly on the ears. If you frequently hunt from ground blinds or enclosed box stands, you will appreciate it.
Accuracy, dependability and ingenuity put the Savage 16/116 on the list. The 16/116 weighs 7 1/2 pounds, has a 23-inch barrel and comes in five bear-stopping calibers, from .300 Win Mag to .375 Ruger.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 323],101