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Best Centerfire Hunting Rifles for 2020

SHOT Show 2020: Whether it's hunting Rocky Mt. elk or Southern whitetails, here are 10 great new guns.

Best Centerfire Hunting Rifles for 2020

Each year the SHOT (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show in January is an opportunity for firearms manufacturers to officially showcase new products to the shooting and hunting world. This year, there are a lot of new guns for hunters to like in the centerfire rifles segment, whether hunting elk in the Rocky Mountains or whitetails in the Southeast.

Benelli’s new Lupo bolt-action drew lots of attention at SHOT Show 2020 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

As far as overall trends in new rifle design and production, there are perhaps a few. Namely, a renewed emphasis on creating lightweight hunting rifles and a continued focus on long-range shooting and hunting. Certainly not all new rifles follow these trends, but these were just a couple commonalities I observed at the show this year.

But, you’re probably here to learn about new centerfire rifles, not perceived industry trends. So, while the list below is nowhere near a full accounting of the latest hunting rifles, here are a few new options for those in the market for a new game-getter.

Benelli Lupo

Benelli’s first-ever bolt-action rifle enters the market with a lot to offer hunters. Accuracy is the linchpin of any good rifle, and the new Lupo doesn’t disappoint in that department, featuring a precision CRIO-treated free-floating barrel securely bedded via a steel-to-steel connection into an alloy chassis receiver and coming with a three-shot sub-MOA guarantee. I spent time with this rifle at the range and in the field this past fall, and while I wasn’t successful in tagging out (through no fault of the rifle), I did come away with great appreciation for the Lupo. Benelli has also carried its expertise in ergonomics, adjustability and recoil reduction over from its extensive shotgun manufacturing background to this new rifle. Because of this, the Lupo has to be one of the most user-adjustable and ergonomically designed hunting rifles on the market. Benelli’s patented Perfect Fitting system permits adjustments to drop, cast, length of pull and even trigger reach through the use of various spacers. On the recoil reduction side, a modified version of Benelli’s Progressive Comfort system—first implemented on the Ethos shotgun several years back—is found within the stock to mitigate felt recoil, and Benelli’s CombTech cheek pad offers further comfort and defense against recoil. The rifle also features a user-adjustable (2.2 to 4.4 pounds) trigger, an excellent detachable magazine and a bolt with a fluted shape that, in addition to looking good, increases feeding reliability. | $1,699

Kimber Open Range Pro Carbon

Kimber Open Range Pro Carbon

I said lightweight rifles are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, and Kimber’s Open Range Pro Carbon is just one such example. With an approximate empty weight of just 6 pounds, 3 ounces, this is a gun that could be toted all day without issue. It achieves this weight courtesy of a carbon fiber stock (available in camo or black) paired with a 24-inch medium-heavy contour PROOF Research carbon fiber-wrapped barrel. The barrel comes equipped with a thread protector and muzzle brake. Other features, such as a user-adjustable trigger (3 to 3.5 pounds), a three-position safety and Kimber’s time-tested 84M controlled round feed action, with the renowned Mauser-style claw extractor, should be familiar to Kimber rifle fans. Of course, a Kimber rifle, by necessity, must be a shooter, and the Open Range Pro Carbon comes with a sub-MOA guarantee. | $3,099


With its tactical background and military connections, SIG Sauer isn’t a brand most heavily associate with the hunting side of shooting sports. Indeed, a cursory glance at the manufacturer’s firearm offerings shows a bevy of pistols and semi-auto rifles. Conspicuously absent, until recently, was a bolt-action rifle, and, to get even more specific, a bolt-action rifle designed for hunting. Now SIG has the CROSS, which the manufacturer describes as a precision bolt-action hunting rifle. The goal with the CROSS, according to SIG, was to develop a sort of crossover rifle—hence the name—between hunting rifles, which are sometimes prized more for their reduced weight than their accuracy, and precision rifles, which are designed for extreme accuracy and with little or no regard for overall weight. Thus, the CROSS weighs in at just over 6 pounds and yet looks and feels remarkably like a precision rifle. It has a push-button, foldable SIG precision stock, a free-float MLOK handguard to accept a variety of attachments and a one-piece aluminum receiver that eliminates the need for bedding the action. A full-length picatinny rail permits optics mounting, a user-adjustable (2.5 to 4 pounds) two-stage match trigger allows for smooth trigger press, and a three-lug bolt design translates to a quick cycling of the bolt. The rifle feeds from reliable AICS-style detachable magazines. The CROSS will be available in .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor and SIG’s new .277 SIG Fury. | $1,776

Bergara B-14 Wilderness Series

Bergara B-14 Wilderness HMR

This new series of rifles from Bergara is intended to bridge the gap between the manufacturer’s high-end Premier line and its standard B-14 series. This rifle lineup currently consists of four new models: Terrain, HMR, Ridge and Hunter. As its “Wilderness” moniker suggests, this series of rifles is built to endure whatever Mother Nature can throw at it, all while featuring a pattern that helps it blend into the very wilderness in which hunters spend time. Stocks are hand-painted and include added webbing for improved texture and gripping. Barreled actions have a Sniper Grey Cerakote finish for protection from the elements. I had the opportunity to shoot the B-14 Wilderness Terrain at the SHOT Show Industry Day at the Range, where members of the media get a first-hand look at new products ahead of the show, and while the Terrain molded stock with mini-chassis looked cool and felt good to shoulder, it was the accuracy, courtesy of the fantastic Bergara barrel and smooth-pulling Bergara Performance Trigger, that impressed me most as I was consistently ringing steel hundreds of yards downrange. The Terrain model also comes equipped with seamless, omnidirectional multi-ported muzzle brake that reduces recoil, by up to 35 percent according to Bergara. Naturally, it uses Bergara’s respected dual-lug B-14 action with sliding plate extractor and coned bolt nose and breech, which provides smooth feeding and extraction. At 9 to 10 pounds, depending on configuration, the Terrain might be a little heavy for many hunters; however, the lighter Ridge and Hunter models range from 7 to about 8 pounds and might be a better choice. | $899-$1,340

Thompson/Center Arms Compass Utility

Thompson/Center Arms brought out several new rifles this year, including the Compass II, Compass II Compact and Venture II rifles, which all utilize T/C’s new Generation II trigger system. All three of these new rifles offer ample features and are priced under $600. But, for the hunter operating on a budget, for 2020 T/C Arms is also offering the Utility, a no-frills, do-all rifle that provides accuracy and reliability without breaking the bank. The Compass Utility is backed by T/C Arms’ Limited Lifetime Warranty, comes with a 100-yard MOA guarantee courtesy of a match-grade barrel equipped with 5R rifling. The rifle utilizes a tri-lug bolt design, which translates to a reliable, smooth and short 60-degree bolt throw with ample scope clearance. The rifle is available in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield and feeds from a flush-fit detachable rotary magazine.

Recommended | $359

Savage Arms 110 Ultralite

Savage Arms 110 Ultralite

This exciting new rifle offering from Savage is another example of a manufacturer designing a gun with reduced weight in mind. The new 110 Ultralite weighs in at 6 pounds or less across its entire caliber lineup. Like some other ultra-lightweight rifles, this one utilizes a carbon fiber-wrapped stainless steel barrel from PROOF Research. To further reduce weight, this barrel is paired with a melonite skeletonized receiver. The basis of the 110 Ultralite is still Savage’s excellent 110 action, and the rifle comes equipped with the manufacturer’s user-adjustable (1.5 to 4 pounds) AccuTrigger and AccuFit Technology for adjustable length of pull and comb height. Overmolded textured surfaces are added for extra grip. It loads from a detachable box magazine, features a spiral fluted bolt and the receiver is drilled and tapped for mounting optics. Available in several popular hunting calibers, including a few relatively new ones, such as 6.5 PRC and 28 Nosler. | $1,499

Mossberg Patriot Long Range Hunter

Although the lightweight rifle trend has seen a comeback in recent years, the long-range trend has been quite steady for several now. The new Patriot Long Range Hunter is a hybrid long-range/sporting rifle of sorts. The basis of the rifle is of course the manufacturer’s push-feed dual-lug Patriot action, which has proven itself pretty well in the years it’s been around. This action is combined with a new Mossberg-designed Monte Carlo stock with aluminum bedding pillars for stability. The stock itself has a Spider Gray polymer coat for durability and a full-length light micro-textured surface for enhanced grip. And, of course, the rifle comes equipped with many standard Patriot features, such as the LBA Adjustable Trigger, a spiral-fluted bolt, detachable box magazine and an oversized bolt handle. Available in four popular calibers and comes with a 22- or 24-inch fluted and threaded barrel. | $721

Ruger Hawkeye Hunter

This rifle might’ve been announced back in September, but it’s still new, and this January was the first time I’d seen it up close. Game & Fish’s Dr. Todd Kuhn successfully took an aoudad sheep with the rifle in Texas this past fall. In a time when so many manufacturers seem focused on modern aesthetics, it’s nice to see a more traditionally styled rifle. The Hawkeye Hunter has an ergonomically designed walnut stock and the same Mauser-style controlled round feed claw extractor that many rifle enthusiasts love because of its time-tested reliability. A three-position safety allows hunters to lock the bolt entirely or load and unload the rifle with the safety engaged—always a nice feature when carrying the rifle afield. The new Hawkeye Hunter comes equipped with Ruger’s crisp LC6 trigger and a free-floated cold hammer-forged stainless steel barrel with 5R rifling. A 20 MOA picatinny rail offers scope mounting possibilities, and a hinged solid steel floorplate permits easy unloading. The Hawkeye Hunter is available in an array of hunting calibers ranging from .204 Ruger to .300 Winchester Magnum. | $1,099

Winchester XPR Renegade Long Range SR

Winchester XPR Renegade Long Range SR

Another entry into that long-range segment is Winchester’s new XPR Renegade Long Range SR. This rifle takes Winchester’s classic XPR up a notch with features intended to improve its long-range capabilities. This starts with a Grayboe Renegade Long Range stock with a trim, upright-profile pistol grip as well as a wide, flattened fore-end and undercut buttstock. An Inflex Recoil Pad directs energy downward and away from the shooter’s check to reduce felt recoil The gun also comes with length-of-pull spacers to fine-tune the stock to fit the shooter’s body size and shooting position. Winchester’s MOA trigger system provides a clean, crisp and smooth press, and an enlarged bolt knob offers greater leverage and faster cycling of the bolt. The steel barrel is button rifled and free-floated and the muzzle is threaded 5/8x24 for adding muzzle devices, including suppressors (hence, the SR, or Suppressor Ready, designation). Barrel, receiver and bolt handle all receive a Perma-Cote matte black finish. Calibers run the gamut from .243 Winchester to .300 WSM. | $1,069

Weatherby Mark V Backcountry Ti

Weatherby Mark V Backcountry Ti

Less than 5 pounds. That’s what the new Weatherby Mark V Backcountry Ti weighs across the range of calibers in which it is offered. According to Weatherby, the intent with this rifle (and its new 6.5 Weatherby RPM cartridge) was to create the best backcountry rifle-and-cartridge combination in a 5-pound gun. Whether or not Weatherby has achieved this goal is ultimately up to the marketplace and shooters to decide, but there is a lot going on with the Backcountry Ti. A lightweight AG Composites carbon fiber stock pairs with a fluted barrel, Weatherby’s excellent Mark V action and a TriggerTech Field user-adjustable trigger to provide a lightweight yet accurate gun that comes with a three-shot sub-MOA guarantee at 100 yards. To tame recoil on such a light rifle, Weatherby has taken a few steps. Namely, it has added an Accubrake ST slimline muzzle brake to reduce recoil up to 53 percent according to Weatherby and the company’s new patent-pending 3D HEX Recoil Pad to dissipate recoil. At less than half the weight of a traditional recoil pad, it utilizes a high-strength lattice structure engineered to distribute directional forces and diminish muzzle lift. | $3,349

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