The bolt-action rifle is one of the classic firearms for hunting, sporting, and many other purposes. They are simple, elegant, and reliable. It’s no wonder they are one of the most popular firearm types for many uses. Maybe you’d like one of your own and you’d like to pick the best bolt action rifle for your needs. Read on to learn more and find your best bolt action rifle.
- WHAT MAKES A GREAT BOLT ACTION RIFLE?
- BEST BOLT-ACTION RIFLEs ON THE MARKET
- WINCHESTER MODEL 70 FEATHERWEIGHT
- RUGER AMERICAN PREDATOR
- CZ 550 AMERICAN 416 RIGBY
- TIKKA T3X TAC A1
- BERGARA B-14 HMR
- SAVAGE RASCAL YOUTH SINGLE SHOT
- RUGER AMERICAN RANCH .450 BUSHMASTER
- RUGER PRECISION RIFLE
- RUGER PRECISION RIMFIRE RIFLE
- SAVAGE 93 F 22 WMR
- ACCURACY INTERNATIONAL AT 308
- MOSSBERG MVP
- SAVAGE 110 FCP HS .338 LAPUA
- CHRISTENSEN ARMS RIDGELINE
- DANIEL DEFENSE DELTA 5
- WHAT IS A GOOD FIRST BOLT ACTION RIFLE?
- WHY DO SNIPERS USE BOLT ACTION RIFLES?
- WHY ARE BOLT ACTION RIFLES MORE ACCURATE?
WHAT MAKES A GREAT BOLT ACTION RIFLE?
How can you tell a good bolt action rifle from a bad one? Well, there are some things you’ll want to consider.
A good rifle will point exactly where you want it and fit the shooter just right. A good stock is important for quick aim, proper technique, and good recoil control. A rifle should be rigid, well balanced, and have the right stock shape to fit the shooter. The ideal weight of the rifle can change depending on the use - a mountain hunter might appreciate a lighter rifle, while a long-range shooter might choose a heavier rifle which is more stable and has less recoil.
TRIGGER AND ACTION
A good, clean trigger helps the shooter make the right shot when they need to. Some match rifle triggers will require less than one pound of force to activate. Triggers don’t have to be this light - a good hunting rifle can be as heavy as 5 pounds or more, especially if it’s designed for cold weather hunting where the shooter is wearing gloves. But the trigger should be consistent, predictable, and smooth.
The action of the rifle (in this case, the operation of the bolt) does not necessarily affect accuracy, but it does affect the feel and performance of the rifle. A nicer rifle will have a smoother action which requires less force to operate and feels consistent to the shooter.
The bolt-action rifle is an instrument of precision. Since their popularization in the last half of the 19th century, they have been seen as a tool of marksman. With only one shot to hit your target before cycling the action, you want your rifle to to hit your shot every time.
Accuracy is typically measured in minutes of angle (MOA). 1 minute is equal to 1/60th of one degree. Conveniently for shooters, the math works out so that 1 MOA equals almost exactly 1 inch at 100 yards, 2 inches at 200 yards, ½ inch at 50 yards, etc. With modern technology, a good rifle should be capable of shooting groups of 1 MOA or smaller with high-quality ammunition.
Competition shooters, long-range hunters, and other highly skilled shooters may desire a rifle that shoots even tighter groups. There are rifles today that are capable of shooting ½ MOA or smaller groups, but you can expect to pay a lot more for a rifle that will do this consistently.
Finish is a matter of personal choice. Hunters and collectors might want a rifle that has a high polish blued finish and a beautiful wooden stock. While these rifles can be truly works of art, they may not be suited for hard use as wood can be affected by weather (degrading the accuracy of the rifle) and blued metal is not as durable as more protective finishes.
On the other end, more modern rifles may feature polymer or fiberglass stocks or even aluminum chassis stocks which are precision machined. These are very durable, more resistant to environmental changes, and may easily allow a number of attachments such as bipods. Some can be relatively inexpensive, while some precision manufactured stocks can cost more than many entire rifles. The right selection will be up to the shooters’ needs.
BEST BOLT-ACTION RIFLEs ON THE MARKET
WINCHESTER MODEL 70 FEATHERWEIGHT
The Winchester Model 70 is a true classic of a bolt-action rifle. The design is based around the Mauser rifle, which is considered to be one of the most successful bolt-action rifle designs in the history of the world.
The Model 70 features a three-position safety - one position locks everything, one position allows you to cycle the bolt but not fire, and the third position is the fire position. This rifle also uses the popular claw extractor design, which holds onto the cartridge during feeding and extraction and prevents a jam or double-feed from occurring if you do not run the bolt all the way.
Weighing in at 7 pounds for the .30-06 bolt action rifle, it is light enough to carry for comfort while hunting, but is not too light for the recoil to be painful. The stock features a satin finish with nice checkering, and comes with a Pachmayr Deccelerator recoil pad which further reduces recoil.
- Classic design with attractive finish
- Good weight for hunting and sporting
- Comes in 4 common hunting calibers (.243, .308, .270, and .30-06)
- Claw extractor for controlled fee
- Not well suited for Intense Uses
THIS RIFLE IS GOOD FOR:
A classic, wood-stocked .30-06 bolt action rifle is considered by the gun industry to be the “American Classic Sporting Rifle”. A rifle such as this one is the quintessential bolt action hunting rifle in America. For the outdoor sportsman/enthusiast, the Model 70 Featherweight represents a classic, reliable, lightweight bolt action rifle that is best suited for medium to large game to about 500 yards. With a classic brand name and beautiful finish, it is also likely to become an heirloom firearm in the family for generations.
Good news to left-handed shooters also; if you need a left handed bolt action rifle, you can find the Winchester Model 70 available in various configurations for left handed shooters.
RUGER AMERICAN PREDATOR
Ruger Firearms has long prided themselves on making affordable firearms entirely in the US to fill the needs of the American working class. The Ruger American series of rifles has gained great popularity for being affordable, dependable, and accurate right out of the box. It is a great bolt action rifle under 500 dollars. At under 7 pounds, it is also a lightweight bolt action rifle.
The Ruger American Predator features a weather-resistant polymer stock. Inside is a metal bedding system which rigidly secures the action of the rifle and free floats the barrel, leading to enhanced accuracy even in adverse environmental conditions. The stock also features attachment points for a sling or bipod, and a shock-absorbing butt pad to mitigate the effects of recoil.
The rifle action features a 70 degree bolt throw which is quick to cycle and allows a scope to be mounted at a lower height with good clearance. Speaking of scope mounting, the American Predator comes with a Picatinny rail already attached to make scope mounting even easier. The rifle is available in several calibers, including the increasingly popular 6.5 Creedmoor.
- Adjustable trigger, 3-5 lbs.
- Integral bedding block for better accuracy
- Picatinny rail attached
- Smooth action and reduced bolt lift
- Barrel threaded to add muzzle brake or silencer
- Finish is durable and utilitarian but not the most attractive
- Some may criticize the stock as feeling flimsy
- 4 round magazine capacity (most rifles hold 5 or more rounds)
THIS RIFLE IS GOOD FOR:
If you are on a budget and looking for a good bolt action rifle for the money, the Ruger American series is a great choice. It is a working tool with a good value and good accuracy out of the box. If you don’t mind it being plain and don’t need a fancy rifle, but just need something in your budget that you know will do the job for hunting, ranching or informal target shooting, this would be a good choice for you.
CZ 550 AMERICAN 416 RIGBY
CZ Firearms has a reputation for high quality sporting firearms with beautiful finish and great performance. The .416 Rigby is built on CZ’s 500 magnum action - built to handle the most powerful calibers available.
Designed as a dangerous game rifle, the 550 American fills a niche for a bolt action hunting rifle that delivers no-fail kill capability on the most dangerous animals. The .416 Rigby cartridge is capable of killing even large, aggressive animals including those encountered on safari. The rifle has a number of features to support this.
Although the 550 American is designed for use with magnified hunting optics, it also comes with a set of 3 folding express sights, each of which is calibrated for a different range and quickly flips up to allow a shot at an approaching animal. Using a large claw extractor removes the chance of fumbling the bolt and inducing a malfunction in your gun when seconds count.
The rifle features a beautiful walnut and blued steel finish, single set trigger for accurate shots, and a hammer forged barrel made in-house by CZ for great accuracy.
You will also find that the stock has quick-detach (QD) sling attachments embedded for quick attachment and removal of your sling, and a thick rubber butt pad to tame the recoil of the heavy caliber.
- Very powerful caliber for killing dangerous game
- Reliable and strong action
- Option for a scope as well as reliable backup sights
- Set trigger
- Claw extractor and fixed ejector
- Hammer-forged barrel
- Relatively heavy - almost 10 pounds without scope or ammo
- Rifle and its ammunition are expensive
- Harsh recoil, not for beginner shooters
If you are an experienced shooter who needs a reliable stopping rifle to protect yourself or your clients from dangerous game animals (and wants to do so with a little bit of style) the 550 American in .416 Rigby is a great choice for you. It is great for safari hunters, hunting guides, or for outdoorsmen in remote areas where large animals are a safety concern. However, it is a pretty big investment and requires a very skilled shooter to be used effectively.
TIKKA T3X TAC A1
Tikka may not be a brand name that many American shooters are familiar with, but they are a formidable manufacturer in hunting and precision products. Their T3 series has had cult popularity for some time, and the T3X Tac A1 overhauls what is a well-regarded hunting rifle into a tactical bolt action rifle capable of great performance and versatility.
Available in .308, .260 Remginton, and 6.5 Creedmoor, this rifle covers most of the popular bases for precision rifle shooting. The action uses a short 70 degree bolt lift, and the bolt is Teflon coated to reduce friction and make for a very smooth action.
The action itself is fitted to a machined aluminum chassis configuration, becoming more popular for sporting and tactical uses. The stock folds to the side for transport, and is adjustable both for length of pull and for the height of the cheek riser to align the shooter’s eye with the scope. It also accepts a monopod at the bottom for a second point of stability.
The chassis accepts most AR-15 grips and free-floating handguards for those who want to modify the rifle to their liking. As it stands, the handguard has plenty of attachment space to fit accessories including bipods, lights, lasers, and night vision devices. The chassis also has a number of QD sling points to adapt to the shooter’s needs.
The trigger has an adjustable pull weight range from 2 to 4 pounds, an ideal range for a precision rifle. The hammer forged barrel is matte black to reduce glare, and is also threaded 5/8X24. The rifle utilizes 10-round detachable magazines for increased capacity and faster reloads.
- Very accurate, and a stable platform for shooting
- Smooth action and short bolt-lift
- Great trigger
- Highly modular and versatile chassis system
- Detachable 10-round magazines
- Integral picatinny rail is more stable than bolted-on rails
- Expensive for many shooters
- Chassis and attachments can make the rifle heavy
- 10 round magazines may not be legal for hunting (check your local laws)
- May be too bulky and complicated for some activities, such as brush hunting
As the name implies, the T3X Tac A1 is designed to be a tactical bolt action rifle. Primarily it would be designed for shooters such as law enforcement professionals that need the capability of a rifle like this, as well as civilian shooters who may shoot tactical-styled competitions (such as Precision Rifle Series) or who may want a tactical bolt action rifle of their own.
For many shooters, the rifle could be expensive. All of the extra accessories to attach to it will only increase the cost (and the weight), so that should be considered also. Maneuvering the rifle through tight areas such as thick woods might be difficult, especially if you take advantage of those accessory spaces to attach things to your rifle.
A .308 bolt action rifle or 6.5 Creedmoor bolt action rifle are both very popular for tactical uses, both professional and recreational. The T3X TAC A1 is a good rifle that offers a lot of these features at a very competitive price point. Although it may be expensive compared to many hunting rifles, it does offer a good value for the shooter who needs all the extra capabilities.
BERGARA B-14 HMR
If you haven’t heard of Bergara before, it’s because the Spain-based rifle maker has started making a name for themselves over recent years. The name HMR stands for “Hunting/Match Rifle”, and you will see how its features live up to the name. Seeing the divide between a typical hunting rifle and some of the complicated match rifles, Bergara sought to offer consumers a rifle which would fit in between the two categories at an affordable price.
The HMR uses a lightweight molded stock which is a little more square and aggressive than many hunting stocks, but not as bulky as many match or tactical-style rifle stocks. It also features an integral aluminum bedding block to hold the action rigidly and keep great accuracy. The stock features attachments for both QD and stud-mounted slings and a bipod, as well as a stock which is adjustable for length of pull and cheek riser height.
The B-14 HMR features a 3-lb trigger, a good medium for hunting and match use. It ships with a 5-round detachable magazine, but because it uses AICS pattern magazines, it is easy to find 10-round magazines as well for competition or tactical uses. The barrel is matte finished and threaded.
For under 1,000 dollars, the B-14 HMR delivers a lot of value to shooters who want versatility from their rifle.
- Good trigger
- Uses common magazines
- Smooth action
- Very accurate
- Good mix of features and price
- Relatively heavy
- Competition shooters will need to purchase extended magazines
- Does not include scope rail
Shooters who want a good mix of long-range competition or tactical capability as well as a bolt action rifle for hunting activities. If you are on a medium budget and need one rifle to cover a variety of activities you’ll be participating in, the B-14 HMR is a good choice to cover all of your bases. However, if you are going to do only one type of shooting - purely hunting or purely tactical - then you might consider finding a dedicated rifle for that purpose instead.
SAVAGE RASCAL YOUTH SINGLE SHOT
Generations of American children have grown up learning to shoot on a .22 bolt action rifle. The low recoil, noise, and light weight make these great beginner bolt action rifles. The Savage Rascal is an inexpensive, light, single shot .22 bolt action rifle intended for youth and beginner shooters to learn to safely shoot a firearm.
At under 3 pounds, the Savage Rascal is light enough to be safely used by a youth shooter. It accepts only a single cartridge at a time, and the oversized loading port makes it easy for the beginning shooter to load the rifle. The trigger features a safety blade, preventing it from being pulled unless the center of the trigger is intentionally activated, reducing the risk of negligent or accidental discharge.
The Savage Rascal can fire .22 Short, Long, and Long Rifle for maximum versatility, and the shorter cartridges should reduce the noise and recoil even further for sensitive shooters. All of the controls are designed to be easy for a young shooter to use safely. Peep sights with a long sight radius make the rifle easy to aim and provide good accuracy.
- Very inexpensive, great value
- Fun plinking for shooters of all ages
- Focused on safety for young shooters
- Very lightweight
- Limited use outside of training and small game
- Not designed to fit adult shooters
- Single shot only
Anybody who wants to pass the skills of responsible marksmanship onto the younger generation. This rifle was designed from the ground up to teach safe, responsible shooting to beginning shooters. It is a great beginner bolt action rifle. The low cost and easy shooting also makes it a fun plinking rifle for shooters, or even a survival rifle for shooting small game.
RUGER AMERICAN RANCH .450 BUSHMASTER
We already talked about the Ruger American series of rifles, but this rifle is different enough to deserve its own entry on the list. Designed as a short range, capable ranching rifle, it chambers the powerful .450 Bushmaster cartridge. The .450 Bushmaster was designed to fit in a short, light rifle and deliver a heavy .45 caliber bullet. The bullet definitely packs a punch and is a great close-range caliber for shooting hogs, coyotes, bears, and other animals that you need to drop quickly.
The American Ranch rifles are lightweight, ergonomic, and quick to point. With a powerful round like the .450 Bushmaster, this could mean the recoil would be unpleasant. That’s why Ruger ships the rifle with an attached muzzle brake to reduce the recoil and keep it comfortable to shoot. The barrel is threaded underneath the muzzle brake to upgrade it or attach a silencer - which would work particularly well with subsonic bullets in this caliber. It’s a good bolt action rifle under 500 dollars for a shooter to protect their ranch or farm, or throw in the truck or ATV while adventuring in the woods.
- Powerful caliber
- Good value
- Ready to attach a scope
- Detachable magazines
- Muzzle brake reduces recoil
- Lightweight and handy to shoot
- Low magazine capacity
- More recoil than other calibers
- No option for iron sights
- Heavy bullet drops fast, not a good long range caliber
- Muzzle brake will increase the noise of the rifle
- Very plain rifle
RUGER PRECISION RIFLE
Designed to meet the needs of the growing precision rifle market, the Ruger Precision Rifle offers long-range precision capability at a very competitive price. The rifle has all of the things you expect from a modern tactical bolt action rifle - detachable magazines, adjustable stock, integral picatinny rail, and a free-floated handguard with plenty of attachment spaces.
The bolt utilizes three locking lugs and a 70 degree bolt lift to create a strong, quick action capable of standing up to high-pressure cartridges. The rifle ships with two ten-round magazines, but also accepts magazines from the AR-10 and Ruger Gunsite Scout rifles.
The barrel is attached with an adjustable barrel nut, allowing for tight chamber headspace (better accuracy) and easy removal to replace the barrel or upgrade it with an aftermarket barrel. The rifle ships with a muzzle brake attached, and is available in .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, and the newer 6mm Creedmoor.
- Good value for a tactical rifle
- Ships with two magazines and can use a wide variety of other magazines
- Very accurate out of the box
- Adjustable trigger
- Modular configuration
- Muzzle brake included
- Heavy - 10 pounds unloaded, with no scope or accessories
- The chassis, action and trigger do not have as nice a fit and finish as more expensive competition rifles
THIS RIFLE IS GOOD FOR:
The shooter who wants long range bolt action rifle capability at a competitive price. The Ruger Precision Rifle comes with all of the necessary features to get you started in long-range shooting for competition, hunting, or target purposes. These rifles are commonly seen at long-range shooting competitions by shooters who are getting started in the sport and don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a custom rifle.
RUGER PRECISION RIMFIRE RIFLE
Not long after the release of the Ruger Precision Rifle, Ruger announced a rimfire companion. Smaller, lighter, and much less expensive than the centerfire version, the Precision Rimfire Rifle fills the need for a less expensive option for recreation or tactical bolt action rifle training.
For a bolt action rifle under 500 dollars, the Ruger Precision Rimfire delivers a lot of features and value. The rifle feeds from Ruger 10-22 magazines, and ships with either 15 or 10 round magazines depending on your state’s laws. Even better, the rifle can feed from Ruger BX-25 magazines which hold a total of 25 rounds - a lot of shooting for a bolt action rifle.
Holding the same form factor as the centerfire version, the rifle features a chassis with an adjustable stock and a free-floated aluminum handguard.
The Ruger Marksman trigger adjusts from 2.5-5 lbs with included wrenches. A nice training feature of the rifle is the ability to change the bolt throw from 1.5” to 3” to mimic the manipulation of a full-sized centerfire rifle while training. It also includes a threaded muzzle to attach a silencer (or a muzzle brake if you really wanted one on your rimfire rifle).Great valueAdjustable triggerGood trainer for full sized rifleUses common magazines and can hold a high capacityThreaded muzzle
- Great value
- Adjustable trigger
- Good trainer for full sized rifle
- Uses common magazines and can hold a high capacity
- Threaded muzzle
- Heavy for a .22 - 7 pounds
- Larger magazines may be restricted in some states
THIS RIFLE IS GOOD FOR:
Target shooting and training on a budget. Not only is the gun a great value, you can shoot about 10 rounds of .22LR ammunition for the same cost as a full centerfire cartridge. More repetitions enhances your skills and technique, so this is a huge advantage. Aside from that, the rifle is great fun for serious target shooting or plinking, and would be a great rifle to instruct a new shooter on.
SAVAGE 93 F 22 WMR
Some bolt action rifles do not need to be as big or powerful as others to do their job effectively. A .22 magnum bolt action rifle is a great choice for many outdoor and hunting uses, and that’s why we’ve added one to the list.
The Savage 93 F is a great utilitarian rifle at a very affordable price. The .22 magnum cartridge is similar to a .22 long rifle, but packs more power. It is ideal for dispatching pests, small game, and livestock predators from 100-200 yards with little recoil and little damage to fur.
The 93 F is a classic bolt action rifle configuration, using a 5-round detachable magazine and a streamlined polymer stock. The bolt features dual extractors for enhanced reliability at removing cases. The firing mechanism uses both a 2 way manual safety and a bladed trigger safety to prevent accidental discharges.
- Light weight
- Low recoil and pelt damage
- Adjustable accu-trigger
- Very accurate
- Not a long-range rifle
- Lacks power for larger targets
- Does not include scope mount or sights
It’s a great “woods walking” gun to carry with you in pursuit of small game and pelts. It’s also handy as a working rifle on a farm or homestead to control pests and predator animals. The low weight and light recoil make the rifle easy to handle for people of all levels of physical ability, and make it pleasant to shoot for extended target shooting or plinking sessions.
ACCURACY INTERNATIONAL AT 308
Accuracy International is one of the leading names in precision rifle technology used by professionals including military and law enforcement all around the world. Although there are many tactical bolt action rifles on the market, Accuracy International is one that can be called a true bolt action sniper rifle as their rifles are used by professional snipers.
The Accuracy International uses a 6-lug bolt with a 60-degree bolt throw, and it is one of the smoothest and fastest actions on the market. A trained shooter can easily cycle the bolt with little effort while looking through their scope. The action is known for high strength, reliability, and extreme accuracy.
The AT 308 model shown here is an improvement on their famous AW series. In particular, this model offers a folding stock for storage and transport. The stock is adjustable for a wide variety of shooter fit, and features 6 QD sling mounting points so the user can configure it as necessary. It also has an integrated Harris bipod mount.
The receiver is machined with an integral Picatinny rail with a 20 MOA rise in elevation to allow for more adjustment at longer distances.
- Extremely high quality and precision
- Very smooth action
- Great trigger
- 10 round detachable magazines, can be loaded through the action
- Highly adjustable stock
- Comparatively very expensive
- Heavy - 12.5 lbs unloaded without scope or accessories
THIS RIFLE IS GOOD FOR:
Professionals and other shooters who need the most precise tactical bolt action rifle that won’t compromise on features, and has the money to spend on it. It’s not for your average recreational shooter, but Accuracy International rifles are frequently seen in professional shooting communities and in national competitions.
In many cases, there is a rift between shooters who prefer bolt action rifles and semi automatic rifles such as the AR-15. The Mossberg MVP, however, combines these worlds. Chambered in 5.56mm NATO and capable of feeding from standard AR-15 magazines, the MVP provides dual-use utility for those who already have magazines and ammunition for their AR-15s or similar semi automatic rifles.
The MVP Patrol features a short 16” barrel along with fixed iron sights and an attached flash hider. It could be said to be a tactical bolt action rifle, but also has other uses such as a light varmint or hunting rifle. The trigger is adjustable from 2 to 7 pounds. It ships with a 10-round detachable magazine, but because it can accept AR 15 magazines, you can fit as many as your other magazines hold - even a 100 round drum magazine!
- Relatively inexpensive
- Comes with iron sights and fixed Picatinny rail
- Accepts AR-15 magazines and 5.56mm NATO
- Lightweight, easy to handle
- 5.56mm lacks power for larger animals
- Not a great long-range option
THIS RIFLE IS GOOD FOR:
Anybody who wants another option to fire their 5.56mm ammunition and magazines. The particular rifle is designed for law enforcement or other professionals who need a 5.56mm bolt action rifle with fixed iron sights and easy handling. It could be a good option for survivalists or “preppers” who want a backup tactical bolt action rifle to use with their stockpile.
SAVAGE 110 FCP HS .338 LAPUA
When it comes to long range bolt action rifles, .338 Lapua is one of the most prevalent calibers for the best long range performance. A very high pressure round shooting heavy bullets, the .338 Lapua is capable of shooting targets more than 1 mile away.
The Savage 110 FCP HS offers the long range capability at a very competitive price for a rifle in this caliber. It uses an HS precision stock, shooted to long-range tactical and prone position shooting. The stock features an integrated bedding unit to keep the firearm rigid and accurate under recoil and bad environmental conditions.
The rifle features the Savage Accu-trigger which is user adjustable for the optimal weight of trigger pull to suit the user. It feeds from 5 round detachable box magazines for convenience and reloads as necessary.
Although the .338 Lapua Magnum is a high-powered round that can cause heavy recoil, the Savage rifles are still comfortable to shoot. The rifles weigh in at over 10 pounds without ammo or attachments, which helps soak up recoil. In addition, they ship from the factory with a muzzle brake which reduces recoil further and makes the rifle comfortable to shoot - although muzzle blast will be notable.
- Very good accuracy
- Competitively priced for a long range bolt action rifle
- Set up with features for long range shooting
- Adjustable trigger
- Detachable magazines
- Heavy and not suited to mobile shooting
- Ammunition can be very expensive
- Muzzle blast can be obnoxious to the shooter and those around them
THIS RIFLE IS GOOD FOR:
Anybody who needs a long range bolt action rifle that is capable of shooting extreme distances. The rifle might be suited to long distance hunting (such as across mountain valleys), or extreme long distance target shooters. It could also be used in a law enforcement setting for special purposes, such as shooting through armored targets and vehicles.
CHRISTENSEN ARMS RIDGELINE
Some shooters need rifles that work in a tight budget and deliver reasonable performance. On the other end, some shooters have highly specialized needs for their rifles and will pay more money for a rifle that does a niche job and does it very well.
The Christensen Arms Ridgeline rifle is designed to be a durable, ultra-lightweight hunting rifle that is superbly accurate and capable of firing long-distance cartridges. It’s intended for the shooter who needs a rifle light enough to carry with them anywhere, yet capable enough to do the most demanding tasks.
The weight reduction is largely thanks to their carbon fiber stocks and carbon fiber-wrapped barrels. By reducing much of the steel in the barrel and wrapping it instead with carbon fiber, the rifle is much lighter than a rifle with a standard barrel. In addition, carbon fiber has a much higher thermal coefficient and better rigidity than steel - meaning the barrel will remain more stable and accurate even as it heats up or if it’s tested by the elements.
Every Ridgeline rifle has a sub-MOA guarantee - meaning it’s guaranteed to shoot better than 1 MOA with good ammo. To reduce recoil in the lightweight rifle, a radial muzzle brake is included. The metal is finished in high-tech black nitride finish to reduce friction (for a smoother action) and give an incredibly hard, corrosion-resistant finish. Each action is machined specifically to its caliber, and the bolt is fitted with an extra-reliable M16 style extractor.
Finally, the rifles feature very nice match grade triggers which break at a weight of between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds.
All of the rifles come in at under 7 pounds, very impressive for the long action lengths and high-pressure cartridges they fire. The Ridgeline is offered in some very impressive long-distance cartridges such as 6.5 and .300 PRC, .28 Nosler, 7mm Remington Magnum, and many more.
- Incredibly lightweight
- Tough and highly resistant finish
- Available in a wide-variety of long-range calibers
- High-quality match trigger
- Smooth and reliable action
- Muzzle brake and recoil pad added to reduce recoil
- Expensive for some shooters
- Designed for hunting - not necessarily a target or tactical bolt action rifle
The hunter who tackles rough conditions, exerts themselves physically, and needs a rifle that they can carry with them anywhere and will tackle any job they ask it to. The price is high for many consumers, but actually very competitive compared to a custom purpose-built rifle which could cost several thousand more than the factory Ridgeline rifle.
DANIEL DEFENSE DELTA 5
Daniel Defense is known as a manufacturer of professional, no-fail AR-15 rifles for military, law enforcement, and civilians. It was a surprise to the gun community when, recently, they announced the launch of their new bolt action rifle.
The Delta 5 comes in at a mid-range price compared to other tactical bolt action rifles designed for professional use. It features a bolt with a 60-degree bolt throw for smooth cycling and low scope mounting. The bolt also uses a floating bolt head which provides additional accuracy.
The rifle feeds from detachable magazines holding 5 rounds each. As it uses standard AICS pattern magazines, larger capacity magazines are available.
The rifle action is bedded into the polymer stock, which is reinforced with carbon fiber to reduce weight and enhance accuracy and rigidity. To fit the shooter, the stock is adjustable for a wide range of fitting features. 11 M-lok slots allow for attaching a variety of attachments directly to the stock.
The scope base has a 20 MOA cant to increase elevation capability when being used as a long range bolt action rifle. The rifle also features a TImney Elite Hunter Trigger for increased shooting capability.
- Quick and smooth action
- Detachable magazines, uses common AICS pattern
- High quality trigger
- 20 MOA mount for additional elevation
- Carbon reinforced polymer stock, highly adjustable
- The cost is not the best value for the features offered
- Limited caliber options
THIS RIFLE IS GOOD FOR
A shooter who wants a reliable tactical bolt action rifle from a well-known manufacturer of professional defense products. The rifle is specifically good for defense and professional security operations, but is also capable of being used for hunting or for a long range bolt action rifle as the shooter requires.
WHAT IS A GOOD FIRST BOLT ACTION RIFLE?
Hands down, the best beginner bolt action rifle is a good rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle. Rimfire bolt action rifles create almost no recoil, muzzle flash, or noise, so they are very friendly to beginning shooters. In addition, ammunition is much cheaper for a rimfire rifle, so the shooter can get more repetitions of shooting practice for the same price. This is very important for establishing good technique and form, and will set the shooter up for success on bigger calibers.
After this, it’s a good idea to get a bolt action rifle in a low-recoiling caliber - such as .223 Remington or 5.56 bolt action rifle, 7.62X39 bolt action rifle, .243 Winchester, etc. This will allow the shooter to have more capability of a centerfire caliber but still keep recoil (and maybe ammo costs) lower.
Shooters should decide what type of shooting they want to do before spending a lot of money on a nicer rifle. Get a rimfire trainer version of the rifle you want - a basic rifle for hunting, or a more complicated rifle with a chassis set up for competition or tactical shooting.
And of course, get a rifle that you will enjoy shooting. A first rifle is no good if you don’t enjoy it enough to practice with it and stick with it when learning is tough. Buy a rifle that you like that will encourage you to keep practicing with it.
WHY DO SNIPERS USE BOLT ACTION RIFLES?
The bolt action sniper rifle has been a part of warfare since the first military forces determined that the extended range allowed them to harass and debilitate enemy forces from a superior distance.
Today, bolt action rifles are not the only rifles used for sniping, but they are still a fixture of military and police sniper forces. There are some reasons for this.
Semi-automatic rifles can come close to the accuracy of bolt action rifles today, but when the one shot absolutely has to count for everything, bolt action rifles are still the preferred method - especially at extreme distances.
Because bolt action rifles use a manual operation system, they are more versatile with different types of ammo. Semi-automatic rifles are limited on changing ammo types based on overall cartridge length, pressure generated, etc. Bolt action rifles can use a wider variety of ammo, sometimes ammo which is more suited to long-range shooting.
SIMPLICITY AND RELIABILITY
Compared to other rifle types, there are relatively few moving parts in a bolt action rifle. There are also relatively few things which can go wrong and stop the rifle from functioning or firing. This simplicity also means that bolt action rifles are simpler to maintain, and keep them functioning correctly.
WHY ARE BOLT ACTION RIFLES MORE ACCURATE?
Some semi-automatic rifle systems today are very accurate, but as a whole, bolt action rifles are more accurate than most action types. This comes down to a couple things. A big one is the ability to have a simple barrel which is entirely free-floated. Although some semi-automatic rifles are technically free floated, it is very hard to have a rifle of this type function without adding parts and pressure to the barrel. On the contrary, a bolt action rifle can have a very simple and heavy barrel profile which is entirely free from outside pressures. This gives bolt action rifles a very big advantage in repeatability.
Additionally, there are fewer moving pieces. Rifle accuracy relies on every part of the rifle being in exactly the same every single time the rifle fires. Believe it or not, every part of a rifle flexes and moves under recoil and tries to return to its static shape. Because a bolt action rifle is simpler and has fewer parts which must move to function, they are better at returning to exactly the same state every shot, creating fewer variables which can affect accuracy.
Finally, the ammo part of the equation must be considered again. Semi-automatic ammunition has to not only be accurate, but be formulated to operate the rifle very reliably even in bad situations. Because bolt action rifles are manually operated, these requirements are less stringent. Bolt action rifle ammunition can be fitted much more finely to the rifle, and operate under tighter tolerance without worries about function issues.
The bolt action rifle is one of the classic firearm actions, and one which has stood the test of time and been adapted to modern needs and technology. It can be one of the most versatile and rewarding types of firearm for shooters. However, as there is such an availability of guns in the market, it can be difficult to find the best bolt action rifle for you and your needs. After reading this guide, you should have the tools you need to buy the best bolt action rifle for you.