Hunting season is almost upon us, and that means it’s time to take a look at some of the exciting new rifles for fall. The pandemic slowed production this year and ammo availability is still limited in some cases, but the good news is that some exciting new rifles have been released in anticipation of the season opener. If you’re in the market for a new gun check out these outstanding new offerings.
Kimber Hunter Pro Desolve Blak
Kimber’s 84 series controlled-feed action has proven itself to be robust and reliable, and the Hunter family of 84 bolt-action rifles is priced around $1,000. The original Hunter model—with its tan stock and matte stainless metalwork—was a superb value, but it was a rather plain looking rifle. The new Hunter Pro Desolve Blak model, however, is more eye-catching, with its Desolve Blak fiber reinforced polymer stock. Available in 6.5 Creedmoor, .280 Ackley Improved and .308 Winchester, the Hunter Pro Desolve Blak is also very light, weighing between 5½ and 5¾ pounds. It comes with a satin finish stainless-steel threaded barrel with a muzzle brake and thread protector, a match grade chamber, pillar bedding and a detachable box magazine. Perhaps most importantly is that this rifle is a real shooter. Kimber promises sub-MOA accuracy, but the rifle I tested did better than that. Bottom line: A CRF mountain rifle that looks great and an excellent price. MSRP: $1,006; kimberamerica.com.
Nosler Model 21
The new Model 21 is a sophisticated hunting rifle loaded with premium features like a 416 heat-treated stainless-steel action that’s machined from solid billet, EDM cut bore and raceways, a self-indexing 17-4 stainless recoil lug, a blueprinted receiver and bolt, a Shilen match-grade hand lapped ⅝x24 threaded barrel and a carbon-fiber stock with aluminum pillars. Other noteworthy features include a PVD-coated Trigger Tech trigger that is adjustable from 2.5 to 5 pounds, a bedded recoil and action, and a Cerakote Tactical Gray finish on the barrel, receiver, bottom metal and small parts (the bolt comes with a NIB-X black nitride finish). This is only a sampling of the premium parts built into the superb new M21, and while you might expect a rifle with so many add-ons to top $3,000, this rifle has an MSRP of $2,300, making it a great value in the premium rifle segment. Model 21s come chambered in .22 to .33 Nosler cartridge offerings, as well as 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .280 Ackley Improved, .308 Win. and .300 Win. Mag. If you’re looking for one top-shelf bolt gun to hunt any game anywhere, this new Nosler should be on your short list. Bottom Line: A factory rifle that shoots like a custom gun. MSRP: $2,295; nosler.com.
Browning X-Bolt Hell’s Canyon Max Long Range
Browning’s X-Bolt rifles have been around since 2008 and it’s been exciting to watch these guns evolve, and the new Hell’s Canyon Max Long Range will speak to all those hunters who pursue big game in open country where long shots are the norm. It comes with a A-TACS AU Camo stock with adjustable comb, length of pull spacers, a vertical pistol grip, a wide fore-end with dual sling studs and the stock is mated to an X-Bolt action with a 26-inch heavy sporter fluted barrel. The muzzle is threaded (⅝x24) and Browning’s new Recoil Hawg muzzle brake—which the company claims cuts felt recoil up to 73 percent—comes standard. All the X-Bolt features we’ve learned to love like a slick rotary magazine and tang safety also come on this rifle, and the Burnt Bronze Cerakote finish looks great with the A-TACS stock. The Hell’s Canyon Max Long Range is chambered for popular long-range hunting rounds including the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .28 Nosler and Browning’s own new 6.8 Western, among others. Not surprisingly, this gun is capable of outstanding accuracy. Bottom Line: Perhaps the best off-the-shelf production rifle for long-range hunters. MSRP: $1,429.99-$1,559.99; browning.com.
CZ 557 Eclipse
There’s no shortage of affordable bolt guns available, but few offer the features you’ll find on CZ’s new 557 Eclipse. Unlike the 550 action of years gone by, the 557 is a push-feed action. These guns come with a 20½-inch cold-hammer-forged, lapped barrel with threaded muzzle (6.5 Creedmoor only) and a CNC-machined billet action. Its 19mm dovetail mounts are machined directly to the top of the action, which eliminates the need to purchase aftermarket bases. The design is very strong and ensures that the scope stays mounted and zeroed on the rifle. A black polymer stock with dual front sling studs comes standard, and CZ has decided to buck the trend toward detachable polymer magazines by outfitting the 557 Eclipse with an internal box magazine with a hinged floorplate. The safety is a push-to-fire design, and the trigger is user-adjustable. Available in 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield, the 557 Eclipse is perfect for a wide range of big-game animals. This gun’s short barrel and correspondingly short overall length (41.5 inches) make it maneuverable in a blind and handy in thick brush. It’s also a great value. Bottom Line: A rifle that manages to be affordable without being cheap. MSRP: $659; cz-usa.com.
Winchester Model 70 Extreme True Timber VZX MB
With its Tungsten Cerakote finish and Bell and Carlson polymer stock with True Timber VSX camo, the newest Winchester Model 70 is a modern take on the classic American hunting rifle. The barrel is fluted and threaded and comes with a muzzle brake, and a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad helps tame recoil. Like other Model 70 rifles the Extreme True Timber VSX MB features Winchester’s MOA trigger, a three-position safety and a CRF action. It’s chambered for 14 different cartridges including classics like the .243 Winchester, .264 Winchester Magnum and .30-06 as well as hot new hunting rounds like the 6.5 PRC and Winchester/Browning’s outstanding 6.8 Western. Weights range from 6 pounds, 12 ounces to 7 pounds, 4 ounces so this gun is manageable even on high mountain hunts. Bottom Line: All the qualities we love about the Rifleman’s Rifle in a sleek, modern package. MSRP: $1,649.99-$1,689.99; winchesterguns.com.
Late last year Savage launched their Impulse line of straight-pull rifles, and while straight-pull guns haven’t been as popular stateside as they are in Europe (due in part to their limited availability here), the Impulse may change that. It features a cylindrical bolt with a floating, interchangeable bolt head and Savage’s innovative Hexlock lug design that provides secure lockup and consistent accuracy. Other important features include a barrel extension with locknut for precise headspacing, bolt handle that can be swapped for right or left-handed shooters, a bolt unlock button located at the rear of the bolt shroud, side bolt release, and an integral Picatinny rail for securing optics. An AccuFit stock can be customized for a perfect fit, and the tang safety is conveniently located for both right and left-handed shooters. Big Game, Hog Hunter and Predator models are currently available in a range of calibers, but they all have one thing in common: they’re ultra-fast and extremely accurate. Bottom Line: The superb Impulse has the goods required to make straight-pulls popular in the States. Will hunters respond? MSRP: $1,379-$1,449; savagearms.com.
Mossberg Patriot Walnut 350 Legend
If you’re searching for a classically styled bolt gun chambered in the hottest new straight-wall cartridge, Mossberg delivers the goods with the Patriot Walnut 350 Legend. As the name implies, this gun comes equipped with a straight-comb walnut stock with detachable 4-round box magazine and Mossberg’s bladed LBA trigger. The bolt is spiral fluted and Weaver-style scope bases are included. The 22-inch barrel comes with straight flutes and a matte black finish. Weight is right at 7 pounds unloaded and overall length is 42.75 inches, which means this gun is maneuverable in the woods or in a blind or treestand. This is an ideal Western whitetail rifle that’s priced right, but the 350 Legend is versatile enough for hunting just about any medium-sized game, including black bears and hogs out to moderate ranges. Recoil is very modest and Mossberg products have an enviable reputation for reliability, so this American-made bolt gun will serve you well for years to come. Bottom Line: A robust, reliable straight-wall deer rifle that’s reasonably priced. MSRP: $559; mossberg.com.
Weatherby Mark V Backcountry 2.0
Weatherby announced the launch of their new Mark V Backcountry 2.0 models on September 15, and this much-anticipated second-generation version of the company’s ultra-light Mark V mountain rifles offers everything serious mountain hunters want. There are four different versions available: steel receiver models of the Backcountry 2.0 offer a choice of either fluted steel or carbon fiber stocks, and the titanium receiver version also comes with a choice of a steel or CF barrel. Backcountry 2.0 Carbon rifles weigh in at as little as 4.7 pounds, which makes them the ultimate high-mountain Mark V hunting rifle. All Backcountry 2.0 rifles come equipped with Peak 44 aerospace grade carbon fiber stocks with 3D Hex recoil pads and fluted Cerakote Graphite Black bolts with removable skeletonized bolt handles. Ti models feature titanium receivers with matte bead-blasted finish. All four models (Backcountry 2.0 Steel, Backcountry 2.0 Carbon, Backcountry 2.0 Ti Steel, Backcountry 2.0 Ti Carbon) are available in both right and left-handed models. Available chamberings include classic Weatherby cartridges like the .240 .257, .270, .300 and .30-378 Weatherby Magnums, the hot new Weatherby 6.5-300 Magnum and 6.5 RPM, and standard chamberings like .308 Winchester, .280 Ackley Improved and 6.5 Creedmoor. Weatherby also backs all their rifles with a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. Bottom Line: Weatherby’s outstanding new flagship rifle is ready to compete with anything on the market. MSRP: $2,499-$3,849; weatherby.com.