In the video below, my new favorite firearms-friendly YouTuber offers deer hunters on a budget five rifles that can put venison on the table. Assuming the whole hunting, shooting, killing thing, of course. Feel free to add your choices below. As for God family and guns’ closing advice — love God, love family, love guns — it’s not the Holy trinity. But Mark my words, it’s no sacrilege either.

Between Brownells, 1800GunsAndAmmo, Cabelas, and Sportsmans Guide, these rifles are all available at great prices for transfer through your local FFL if they don’t have ’em.

47 Responses to Top 5 Deer Rifles for Under $500

  1. I saw the Savage 111 for just under $500 at Sportsman’s Warehouse with the Nikon BDC scope–plus there is a $100 rebate direct from Savage.

  2. Ruger American should be added or replace another, like the marlin on the list. Anyway an under $500 marlin with their QC sounds like a shit show on steroids.

    • There are two Marlin 336s (.30-30) in my store. The wood-to-metal fit is so bad that I cannot believe either rifle will ever shoot straight.

      • Hell, in the past couple of seasons I’ve had at least three Marlin 336s come into my store that had rear sights installed crooked – I can only guess that there is no human being who actually LOOKS at Marlin products before shipment any more.
        So help me, I’ve said to some folks “If you’re considering a Marlin, buy a gently used one made in the early 90s or before”.
        (sigh…) And I used to be such a fan of theirs..

        • I actually told a customer (after he noticed the poor quality of the Marlin 336s on display) that if he really wanted a lever action .30-30 and didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg, he should consider a late 60’s (post ’64) Winchester Model 1894. They can be found in MA for less than $500, and sometimes for a lot less. Because they are deer rifles, they weren’t shot much. I have a 1971 vintage M94, and it is awesome.

        • I now recommend only older 336’s or 36’s.

          Some of the new ones I’ve seen in gun stores are heartbreaking, they’re so rough and cobbed together.

    • I have the Ruger American in .243 with a redfield 3×9 scope. Rifle was less than 400 and the scope was 200ish.

      I’m comfortable with it for a 300 yard shot. I won’t go past that and that limit has nothing to do with the rifle. The limit is me.

      For a budget meat rifle it does the job quite well.

        • I’ll bear witness to the virtues of the .243 to any customer looking for a bolt rifle. Perfectly capable of taking any Texas whitetail they’ll encounter without beating up the hunter in the process. So what turns them off about it, I ask?
          “Well, that’s a kid’s rifle” they reply.
          ????
          No, seriously. Because the most common chambering of many “Youth Rifles” is .243, they assume it’s only suitable for kids.
          A few years ago a young fella (about 15 or 16 I’d say), came in with his father looking for a new rifle. He requested either a .300 Winchester Magnum or 7mm Rem Mag. After finding out that he would be hunting in the thick brush of the Texas Piney Woods, I wondered aloud why he felt he wanted such a bruiser of a rifle for deer less than 100 yards away. Before he could think of an answer I asked what he was using currently.
          “Winchester Model 7 in .243!” he crowed proudly.
          “And how many deer have you killed since you started hunting?”
          “Twelve!” he answered.
          “Well then, the .243 chambering seems to be working just fine for you with your obvious skill; so again, why do you think you need hurt yourself now that you’re big enough for an ‘adult rifle’?”

        • For hunting today, I’d never recommend the .243 over the 7mm08. The hunting bullets available in the 7mm08 are just so much better than what is available in .243.

        • I’m a big proponent of pawnshop rifles… after hunting season hit the pawnshops and you’ll find great deals on barely used guns.

          I got my Ruger M77 from pawnshop for around $300. Good condition, wood frame, 22 inch blued barrel, and chambered in .30-60.

          Replaced some parts (springs, screws, etc.) cleaned it up, and put a Leupold 3×9 on it. Boom, $500 rifle!

          And it downs those deer every time.

        • For white tail, .243 is all you will ever need, especially east of the Mississippi where ranges are typically short. For larger game, .270 or .30-06/.308 is all you need. I’ve never understood the desire for .300 Win Mag for North American game. I know a guy who takes elk every year out to 700 yards with .270; his rifle was $1000, his glass twice that. For brush guns, it is hard to beat a lever .30-30 or, for more dangerous animals, .45-70. The only modern add to this minimal list is .300 Blackout/ .223 in an AR (or 7.62-39 in an AK) for fast action shooting at sounders of hogs.

        • Ah, more angry atheists who must treat faith with condescension. If you want to believe in God, more power to you. If you don’t want to believe in God, that is your right. All these atheists and their arrogant attitudes make me wonder why they have to be so angry at a God that doesn’t exist or so rude to people who believe differently than they do. I can’t prove that God exists and you can prove that he doesn’t.

        • Many people profess disbelief in God and or the very existence of God because it is carnal and natural to do so . It is faith in a or the God that requires the step forward . It is the nature of man to believe they need nothing from nothing . It is also provocative to accept that there is truly a Deity when you do not accept the concept and the existence of which would be a mirror to your weakness and carnal cravings .
          It is easy to imagine myself being angry at believers , if I was a non believer .
          The best out of the box deer rifle under $500.00 , is the Savage in 30.06 .
          God told me .

      • Who’s keeping score? You?

        Hey everybody, jim doesn’t approve of your beliefs. Everybody knock it off and apologize to jim.

    • That MVP is a fine tool but I would consider the 223 on the low end of a sure kill for some of your bigger white tail . It is a great caliber and gun for hogs and smaller game and velocity does make up a lot of ground on size but I would not go in the woods on a white tail hunt with less than a 243 and many states do not allow for high cap. mags. so my MVP stays in the cabinet deer season …………….. great truck gun though .

  3. I have a book by the guy who started licensed leashed tracking dogs in NYS .
    He has been on over 1,000 searches with dogs for deer ” lost” by hunters . He said by far the .243 was the number one cartage for lost deer. When you consider that the .243 is not in the top 5 cartridges / GA used in the state that speaks volumes .

    • If I remember correctly, I read all of the MidwayUSA reviews for Winchester SilverTip ammo in .243 Win (95 grain I think). Those deer hunters claimed near instant death. Some claimed the damage was too great for best venison harvest, depending on shot placement. I am sure you can find cheap .243 Win ammo that is lousy for deer hunting.

  4. I have been getting good reports on the Mossberg Patriot, and I handled a Howa 1500 combo ($439.00) at the LGS. No Mossys in stock there, but prices should be similar elsewhere.
    Meanwhile I’ve got my eye on a sweet little CZ…

  5. Tommy I’ve killed over 100 whitetails , mostly with 12 ga slugs , but also .270, 30.06, .44 mags .Made a lot of good shots but some bad ones . Never lost but a pound or two due to bad shots . A .243 causing to much damage to harvest it makes zero sense , unless they mean they never found it ….

  6. I was interested in the XPR but it seemed to fall dead before it got started. This is honestly the first time I’ve heard someone recommend it since it hit stores.

    I’d nix the 700 (blasphemy, right?) because I won’t touch another Remington until they make some major changes to their entire business model. I’d replace it with the Tikka. And I know levers have their place in restricted areas, but I’d swap the Ruger American in there instead. I was really surprised at mine. I figured I couldn’t lose at $300, but I didn’t expect such a nice rifle. Not fancy, but nice.

    And why am I still having to re-enter name and email every comment? I thought that got fixed.

    • It’s a budget rifle. My Ruger .243 is everything an old fart like me needs. It’s fairly light. Handy. And for a mass produced factory rifle it has decent accuracy right out of the box with out add ons, other than glass.

      In mass produced factory rifles I could spend double what I have in my American and straight out of the box that rifle would not shoot any better than my Ruger.

      I chose .243 because the deer we get in northern CA are not big. They’re runts. The biggest pig I’ve seen here wouldn’t top 100 pounds. Likely closer to 80.

      Even tho you live in socal you hunt Wisconsin. You would be better served with a heavier caliber.

      But for my specific needs the Ruger in .243 does a good enough job.

      • Mine is also in .243, but I bought it for shooting coyotes. For deer I would honestly feel much better moving up to the 6.5 Creedmore, but when I bought mine nobody wanted to stock the 6.5.

        Predator model on sale at Cabelas for $350 or so, and I had just under that in Cabelas points so….

        Rifle is easily more accurate than I am in field conditions.

    • They are. Because of the crap stock they put on them you can easily change the POI just by holding it differently. The same is true for the Remington SPS and Savage Axis.

  7. Marlin quality has gone downhill since being bought out by raiders, Remington will not be bought in my house since buying a junk 710. Rugar was a sellout in 1994 so why support them.

  8. You could do a lot worse than going out and finding a used Remington Model 760 in .30-06, aka “The Mennonite Machine Gun.” A pump-action .30-06 that had pretty fair accuracy. Quick handling, decent iron sights, you can probably find a good one for $400 all over the midwest. They’re easy to take apart for cleaning, blued steel & wood, plenty of parts available, and they work.

    Almost no modern bolt guns are made with iron sights any more, so while you might spend less than $500 for the rifle, you’ll drop at least another couple hundred on a decent scope. Their bottom metal is now plastic, often the stocks are now plastic.

    Want a semi-auto? Look for a Remington 740 or 742. Again, plenty available in the $400 to $500 range.

    These rifles are accurate enough for hunting, the .30-06 was their most popular chambering, and they worked well. Easy to clean, easy to repair, easy on the wallet.

  9. A boltgun Savage is the shnizzle. Amazing accuracy and at a budget price. I’m fixing to get one in .308 cuz I’m also fixing to do an 80% AR-10 build soon – same calibre…..

  10. I’m a big proponent of pawnshop rifles… after hunting season hit the pawnshops and you’ll find great deals on barely used guns.

    I got my Ruger M77 from pawnshop for around $300. Good condition, wood frame, 22 inch blued barrel, and chambered in .30-60.

    Replaced some parts (springs, screws, etc.) cleaned it up, and put a Leupold 3×9 on it. Boom, $500 rifle!

    And it downs those deer every time.

    • Specially if you happen upon a pawnshop like the one I use. 10% down and 10% a month for 10 months. Along with decent prices on the weird stuff I like (mini 14s, old Ruger semi autos, and other kinda weird stuff). However a used gen 3 Glock 17 is still $569.00

  11. Just got a 1980s vintage model 94 in 30-30… Now I just need to put a new front sight and new scope mount on it. Apparently it was handled a lil rough.

  12. Remington 700 in SS for less than $500, that’s a deal but the trigger is absolute garbage and so is the stock. If it will put 3 shots inside and inch at 100yds with the factory bbl. You got a keeper. I have one of the early Ruger American’s in 308. It is a light weight, fairly accurate hunting rifle that is pretty handy in the woods and probably the only rifle in my collection that I don’t care what happens to as far as scuffs, scrapes, scratches, etc. I’ve taken quite a few deer with it. Not the last word in accuracy but I could probably still ring steel with it at 800 if not 1000yds with the right scope set up.

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