Rifle season’s just around the corner, and you’re still fiddling around with the lawn mower. A whitetail isn’t going to serve itself on a platter, so if you plan to get the family some steaks, you better get in gear. Here are five new guns that offer zero excuses for buying meat from the grocery store again.
CVA Accura MR Nitride ST
In several Booner-buck-producing Midwestern states you must choose a shotgun or muzzleloader for the firearm season. I opt for the muzzleloader—specifically CVA’s Accuru MR Nitride ST—because it feels like a modern, albeit single-shot rifle with its Dura Touch stock, glorious trigger, and quality Bergara barrel. With its new Nitride finish, you’ll have to clean it even less, because unlike many other anti-corrosive finishes, it’s also on the inside of the barrel—and that, my deer hunting friends, is worth an extra buck. The downside? It’s a muzzleloader. For that you can blame ridiculous state legislators, not CVA. They retail for $592.
Browning AB3 Composite Stalker
Don’t even think about giving your boy your heirloom A-Bolt before you’ve kicked the bucket. Besides, he probably won’t appreciate its walnut stock or engraving yet anyway. Instead, consider the new A-Bolt 3 (AB3), a modern-lined version of the cult-classic deer rifle. It features the same short bolt throw, accuracy, and excellent trigger, yet it’s meant to be dragged through the mud and your teenager’s truck without worry thanks to its tough-yet-grippy composite stock. And if he spends more time with his girlfriend than in the woods, no matter. Store your A-Bolt for safe keeping and beat his up instead. They sell for $599.
Savage 11/111 Long Range Hunter
For something different, buy Savage’s Long Range Hunter chambered in 6.5-284 Norma. A necked-down .284 Winchester, the Norma will push a 120-grain pill over 3,100 fps. While ammo is tougher to find than new dollars at the dump, brew your own or have Gunwerks.com do it. Savage’s inherent accuracy is enhanced via this 8.65-pound rifle’s 26-inch barrel and adjustable cheekpiece that aligns the eye with the scope consistently. Its AccuTrigger and ingenious, aluminum-enforced AccuStock allowed my test rifle to turn in groups of .90-inch. If your buddies bemoan its muzzle brake, simply rotate it to “off” and shut them up. This one runs a bit higher at $1,104.
Yankee Hill Machine HRC 200
I like the HRC 200 because it doesn’t have a lot of wannabe warrior crap on it, and mainly, because it’s in 6.8 SPC II, a caliber that delivers 400 foot-pounds more energy than the anemic .223. The HR in “HRC” stands for “Hunt Ready,” mine indeed came “zeroed”—more or less. Its Bushnell scope isn’t a Swaro, but it works; it comes with the rings, bases, sling, and case to get you in the field without catastrophe. This rifle offers hunters an excellent trigger, a unique, diamond-pattern fluting on a quality 20-inch barrel, and a bunch of fast follow-up shots. The whole package comes in at $1,563.
Sako 85 Synthetic Black
Sako makes one of the best factory rifles, period. The reason you hear more about Savage’s accuracy record is because that brand costs less—but there’s no comparison in quality. The 85 is loaded with features for hunters, like a quiet safety mounted off-center on the tang, an excellent fluted barrel, a superb trigger, and a rigid, grip-enhancing stock. Its pistol grip is not boxy, but conducive to instinctive shooting. Its semi-Monte Carlo buttstock aligns the eye while not forcing undue recoil to the face. As for negatives, Sako’s dovetail system is arcane. Still, you can’t go wrong with an 85. They’ll cost you roughly $1,600.
What will you be taking to the field this fall?