Bolt action rifles became popular with the military forces of the world way back in the early years of the twentieth century. These rifles proved their accuracy and dependability on the battlefield. Those same qualities also make the bolt action an effective hunting weapon. When soldiers returned home from the war front, it only made sense for them to take the rifles they had become familiar with into the woods to prove this point.
Hundreds of different bolt-action rifles have been developed in the years since the end of the First World War. As a result, modern big game hunters and competition target shooters have a wide selection of turn bolt rifles to choose from. Today’s bolt action rifles are lighter, more accurate, and more affordable than ever before.
The sheer number of bolt action options is enough to leave even experienced shooters feeling overwhelmed. If you’re in the market for a new rifle, whether it’s your first or your fortieth, this guide will help you narrow down the options and find a rifle to suit your shooting needs.
Best Bolt Action Rifles on the market in 2020
Here is our list of what we consider the best bolt action rifles on the market today.
Remington Model 700
The Remington Model 700 may be the most popular bolt action rifle ever built. Originally designed as a budget rifle, the Model 700 is surprisingly reliable and dead-on accurate, especially for a mass-produced rifle. The M24 and M40 sniper rifles used by the United States Army and Marine Corps are both based on the Model 700, so you know you’re getting pinpoint precision and durability. Whether you’re sharpshooting paper targets at 600 meters or pegging big game beyond 300 yards, the Remington Model 700 does not disappoint.
Winchester Model 70
Available in configurations for everything from varmints to dangerous game, the Winchester Model 70 is nicknamed “The Rifleman’s Rifle” for good reason. Highly regarded by generations of shooters, the Model 70 was named the “Bolt-action Rifle of the Century” by Shooting Times magazine in 1999.
This classic bolt action rifle remains popular among hunters and target shooters today and continues to feature a long claw extractor and a three position wing safety.
Mauser Model 98
Originally designed by Paul Mauser, this bolt action has remained a popular choice among discerning gun owners for more than a century.
One of the most influential designs in firearms history, the Mauser M 98 shares DNA with a number of other popular bolt actions. The M 98 first saw action during the Boxer Rebellion, but is most famous as the German infantry service rifle of World War I.
Mauser rifles remain true to the original design, and these strong and reliable firearms are built to last for generations. This is a rifle you can proudly hand down to your great grandchildren.
Savage Model 110
Designed in 1958 by Nicholas Brewer, the Savage Model 110 has remained largely unchanged for over 60 years. Although Savage has updated this classic bolt action with modern finishes and stock materials, the essence of the original design is still here.
The beauty of the Model 110 is its basic simplicity. It features a push-feed design, plunger type ejector, and a tang mounted safety. Economically priced for working class shooters, the Savage Model 110 performs like a much more expensive rifle, delivering tight shot groups and an extended effective range.
Weatherby Mark V
Roy Weatherby styled this robust bolt action rifle to safely contain the high pressures produced by Weatherby’s signature high performance cartridges. The Mark V was first introduced in 1958 and was relatively unchanged until 2016. Although the original design is still present (the hallmark nine-lug “magnum” bolt remains), the new Mark V has undergone a few adjustments to maintain relevance in a modern world. Along with an updated trigger, the Mark V now features an Accubrake ST to reduce felt recoil by up to 53 percent and lightweight synthetic materials on some models.
The Weatherby slogan states, “nothing shoots flatter, hits harder or is more accurate,’ and they are probably right. The Mark V is hands down one of the finest factory rifles ever made.
Truly worthy of its name, the Ruger American is rugged, reliable, and accurate. The Ruger American features a one-piece, three-lug bolt, patent pending Power Bedding System, and a cold hammer forged barrelI. And while that should be enough to make you pull out your wallet, it also has a lightweight synthetic stock, Ruger’s Marksman Adjustable Trigger, and an ergonomic design that makes it super easy to shoot.
Introduced in 2015, the Mossberg Patriot is a relative newcomer to the bolt action scene. Available in a variety of configurations for the most popular long-distance big-game cartridges, the Patriot offers tons of performance with a surprisingly reasonable price tag. The best features of the Patriot include a fluted, button-rifled barrel, a spiral fluted bolt, a lightweight detachable magazine, and an adjustable trigger.
Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range
If you need to engage targets at extreme distances, the Browning X-Bolt Max is the bolt action rifle for you. This practical rifle can pull double duty for varmints or big game and still hold its own on the long-range precision target competition field. It features a lightweight synthetic stock with an adjustable comb, a target-style palm swell, and a flat-bottomed forend, offering a stable shooting platform whether you’re shooting from a treestand or range bags.
Another great feature is the extended bolt handle with a fat knob that adds leverage to open the bolt after firing and allows for rapid follow-up shots.
Whether shooting stationary targets on the gun range or big game animals in remote hunting areas, the bolt action rifle delivers a level of reliability that’s hard for other rifle designs to match. These rifles are easy to use and deadly accurate, even in the hands of inexperienced shooters. With a little practice, you’ll be piercing bullseyes and boiler rooms with any of the top quality bolt action rifles on our list.