With the Holiday season in full swing, you see lots of hunters scrambling for Christmas discounts of the newest firearms accessories. We might just see lots of insane price drops for rifles, too. So, why not take advantage of the low prices and get yourself a reliable and cheap bolt-action rifle that’s less than $500.
Big brands like Savage Arms, Remington, and Ruger are constantly finding new ways to improve the hunting rifle. Though they cut off a few features here and there, they consistently offer us great budget rifles that are capable of both hunting and competition shooting.
That’s why I rounded up some of the best cheap rifles you can find on the internet today, and I tried to make it as diverse as possible with bolt-action rifles, plinkers, and AR-15 rifles that anyone can afford.
Though the price tag is a defining factor when purchasing a suitable rifle, the ergonomics, bolt action, safeties, caliber, and additional features are important aspects to consider as well. That being said, we’ll consider all of them in our list of rifles that are in the lower end of the price range spectrum.
Here, we’ll provide you only with the rifle reviews, but you can check out a buyer’s guide section on our round-up for the best bolt-action rifles to learn about the important factors and what to look for when choosing a suitable rifle.
Best Cheap Rifles
Our Top Pick – Ruger American Predator Bolt-Action Rifle
- Impressive 1000-yard precision shooting
- Adjustable trigger
- 4+1 detachable magazine capacity
- Cold hammer-forged, fully threaded barrel
- Lightweight with 6.5 pounds
- Includes sling swivel studs and detachable magazine
- Easy customization and aftermarket options
- Takes some time to break in the bolt
- Hollow molded synthetic stock
You’ve heard of the Ruger American that began turning heads in the hunting world in 2012.
Well, check out the Ruger American Predator, launched in late 2016. It has been hitting sub-MOA groups and receiving praise as one of the most reliable budget rifles ever since.
The difference between the Ruger American and the Ruger American Predator models is that the Predator rifle has a one-piece, three-lug bolt, and a cold hammer-forged, fully threaded barrel with a 1:8 twist rate that can accommodate a suppressor and muzzle brake.
I personally chose the Ruger American Predator 6.5 Creedmoor Bolt-Action Rifle because it’s easy to operate, has a pistol grip with an embossed angular design, a gritty finish for your cheek, and a lightweight, moss green synthetic stock.
It’s designed for efficiency and precision shooting up to a thousand yards, not to mention how easy it is to find accessories for it and customize it with ease.
I’m not a fan of plastic stocks, but there’s a spongy rubber pad on the buttstock that reduces recoil. The Marksman trigger can be adjusted from three to five pounds.
For the ultimate bang for your buck experience, you might want to pair the Ruger American Predator with a rifle scope that’s just as cost-efficient as the rifle itself.
Runner-Up – Mossberg Patriot Predator Bolt-Action Rifle
- Mid to high-end features with an attractive price
- Fluted and threaded 22-inch barrel
- Conveniently oversized bolt handles
- Easy to use detachable magazine
- Available aftermarket options
- Synthetic stock with a raised cheek piece
- Patented LBA-adjustable (Lightning Bolt-Action) trigger
- Plastic magazine well
This is yet another mainstay in the budget rifle sections, and the reason why it’s so popular as a cost-effective rifle is its sheer Mossberg reliability.
The Mossberg Patriot Predator is a well-rounded, bolt-action rifle with a 5+1 round detachable magazine and a Picatinny rail for your scope mounts.
The synthetic camo stock has a raised cheek piece with a rough texture on the fore-end that offers a much-needed grip with a two-position safety that’s easy to operate.
These are all standard and very affordable features that both veteran and newcomer hunters can enjoy for mid-range hunting as well as competition shooting.
The Patriot Predator offers impeccable sub-MOA accuracy with its patented LBA-adjustable trigger that breaks at around 2 pounds and 11 ounces. The spiral-fluted bolts and the oversized bolt handle are easy to manipulate, even with gloves.
I personally like how the 5-round double-stack detachable mag is easy to load and remove, but it’s plastic. Some may find the overall weight of the rifle troublesome, especially if you go for a muzzle brake.
This Patriot Predator model is a 6.5 Creedmoor, but I’d also recommend the 6.5 PRC as well as the Mossberg Patriot Walnut in the 30-06 Springfield caliber if you’re looking for a bolt-action rifle with a walnut stock.
Second-Best Runner-Up – Winchester XPR Hunter Bolt-Action Rifle
- Larger trigger guard
- Hardened steel parts
- Drilled and tapped receiver for scope mounts
- Comfortable recoil pad
- Recessed crown that prevents muzzle damage
- Solid hammer-forged barrel
- Crisp, three-lever trigger system
- Heavy trigger pull
- 3+1 round capacity
Winchester hasn’t touched a bolt-action rifle since 1937, and their XPR line is here to fill the gap. You got several different models and configurations, but I personally like the .308 Winchester caliber.
The Winchester XPR Hunter was the first bolt-gun to be chambered in the .350 Legend. It’s a definite departure from their highly-regarded Model 70 with a walnut stock, but it’s optimized for the ultimate hunter.
It has a free-floating barrel, a traditional Winchester three-lever MOA trigger system for accuracy, and an FDE (Flat Dark Earth) Perma-Cote finish that Winchester states is more durable and more weather and rust-resistant than a blued finish.
The full-diameter bolt with three locking lugs works like clockwork, while the two-position thumb safety with a bolt release button on the right rear of the receiver reminds me of the Browning AB3, in a good way.
The receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounting, including sling swivel studs, and a comfy recoil pad. The barrel is precision-rifled with a 1:12-inch twist and a recessed target crown that prevents muzzle damage.
Overall, this is an excellent rifle with all the essential features that a bolt-action should have. Feel free to check out our list of best .308 Winchester rifles as well.
Best Lightweight Budget Rifle – Savage Axis XP Bolt-Action Rifle
- One of the most affordable bolt-action rifles money can buy
- Drilled and tapped receiver
- Easy to load and reload 4+1 detachable magazine
- Carbon-steel barrel
- Synthetic stock with a matte finish
- Lightweight (6.3 pounds)
- Only bare essential features
If you’re considering saving up money for a low-cost scope to go in combination with your rifle, I give you, the Savage Axis XP.
With a very low price around the $300 mark, Savage Arms somehow managed to take away all the excess and just keep the bare essentials to make this bolt-action rifle work like a charm.
Formerly known as the Savage Edge, the Savage Axis XP has been rated as one of the best lightweight, entry-level rifles.
It offers super smooth and reliable bolt-action operation, an easy-to-use detachable box magazine with a 4+1-round capacity, a matte black finish, two-position safety, and a black synthetic stock.
The 22-inch free-floating barrel with a 1:10-inch twist, a 13.4-inch LOP, and drilled and tapped Picatinny optics rail is standard procedure.
What makes it great, though, is the combination of these barebones features that work together to enhance your hunting and competition shooting experience.
It’s one of the most lightweight bolt-action rifles you can find at this price range, and I personally recommend you the .308 Winchester model because of the decent recoil.
Premium (Fanciest) Option – Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic Bolt-Action Rifle
- Push-feed, fluted bolt-action for added reliability
- Hinged floorplate
- Crisp, 2-stage adjustable trigger
- Three-position safety
- Anti-corrosion finish
- Durable stock with rubber fore-end inserts
- Drilled and tapped for any scope base
- Easy cleaning and maintenance
- Somewhat expensive
- Heavy (7.5 pounds)
Don’t fret. The Weatherby Vanguard Synthetic is an expensive rifle only when compared to the other rifles on this list—it’s still well within the affordable price range of $500.
The Weatherby Vanguard series has around 20 variations with different calibers and features, but I went with the Synthetic because it’s a rifle that anyone can use with ease and satisfaction.
It has a push-feed, fluted bolt-action that offers excellent reliability, a traditional dual-lug design, and a hinged floorplate for convenience.
The crisp, two-stage adjustable trigger and 24-inch barrel guarantee sub-MOA accuracy.
As for the stock, it’s a gray Griptonite Monte Carlo composite stock with black rubber fore-end inserts for comfort and a tactical grey Cerakote finish with an anti-corrosion finish which explains the higher price.
The three-position safety is a nice touch as well, and it offers reliable cycling every time.
I wouldn’t exactly consider the hefty weight as a con, as it’s still easy to carry and operate. It offers smooth and reliable operation and it’s carefully designed to be customized and easy to clean.
Overall, the Vanguard Synthetic 6.5 Creedmoor is an accurate and smooth bolt-action rifle, as advertised. I bet it could end up on the competitive list if it had higher-end features.
Best .22 LR Rifle – CZ 457 Varmint Bolt-Action Rifle
- Best .22 rifle on the list
- One of the best rifles for varmints like coyote and fox
- High-quality walnut stock with a blued finish
- Receiver-mounted push safety with a loaded chamber indicator
- Laser-cut stippling offers a nice grip
- Heavy for a plinker
Based on the CZ 455 rimfire rifle that was harshly criticized by hunters, CZ USA made amends and came up with the CZ 457 Varmint Blued Bolt-Action Rifle.
The manufacturer listened to the people, ditched the horrible trigger, and kept all the good features and standard blueprint.
The CZ 457 is available in up to 10 configurations and models, and you can also check out the .22 WMR version as well.
The Varmint is a .22 Long Rifle plinker with a 20.5-inch barrel, high-quality, Turkish walnut stock with a blued finish and an American-style comb, 11 mm dovetail optics rail, and a knack for hunting coyotes.
It has a receiver-mounted push safety with a loaded chamber indicator, but what makes this a great plinker is the bang switch trigger that’s adjustable for weight, creep, and travel.
The stippling is laser-cut for a better grip, while the wide and flat fore-end allows stability when placed on sandbags.
It’s relatively hefty for a plinker with its 7.08 pounds, but what do you expect from a standard heavy-barrel with a .866-inch cylinder? The heavy barrel allows the CZ 457 Varmint to perform with exceptional precision in any rimfire caliber.
If you’re looking for a hunter’s shotgun, check out our list of best deer hunting shotguns.
Best Scope Combo Rifle – Remington Model 700 ADL Bolt-Action Rifle Package
- Easy to use, standard blind box magazine
- Steel trigger guard
- Drilled and tapped receiver
- Available in 24-inch and 26-inch barrel models
- Extra steel swivel studs with your purchase
- Ambidextrous models available
- Low-quality, entry-level scope
- Heaviest on this list (7.8 pounds)
I bet most of you would just rather go for a classic rifle than risk it with any other that claims “innovation.”
That’s alright. Here’s the Remington 700 ADL (Average Deluxe). A modern-day interpretation of the original from the 60s that the US Army used.
Chambered in the .243 Winchester, the Remington Model 700 ADL comes with an entry-level 3-9×40 scope with Leupold rings. The scope is low-quality, but the rifle itself offers serious, high-end performance.
I recommend you ditch the lousy scope and grab a Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope if you want a more reliable glass to properly honor this classic rifle (makeover).
More importantly, it has the famous Remington 3 rings of steel action that encloses the head of the cartridge. The rings surround the recessed bolt face, the end of the barrel, and the front receiver. This design offers high-end durability and precise bore alignment for better accuracy.
The rifle is heavy, but the weight and synthetic stock even out the recoil, while the handy grip panels, patented SuperCell recoil pad, and raised cheek offer additional stability and comfort when shooting.
You can hit sub-MOA groups if you put that saved money to good use. Namely, quality ammo boxes like the Winchester’s 195-grain Deer Season XP.
Best Cost-Effective Option – Savage Axis II XP Hardwood Bolt-Action Rifle
- Excellent AccuTrigger
- Very smooth bolt-action rifle with a 2-position tang safety
- Includes swivel studs for attaching slings and bipods
- Comes with a high-quality Weaver Kaspa 3-9X40 rifle scope
- Easy to customize
- Bolt release requires both trigger and release to be pulled
- Heavy (7 pounds)
- Heavy trigger pull (7 pounds)
Here’s another one from Savage Arms if you’re looking for a .270 Winchester model that shoots directly out of the box.
The Savage Axis II XP is the updated version that further humors the prospect of cost-efficiency by modifying some features and adding a factory-mounted Weaver Kaspa 3-9X40 Ballistic-X Rifle Scope with fully multi-coated lenses. It’s easy to zero and it comes pre-fitted with standard rings.
The Hardwood’s definite improvement is the AccuTrigger. The old model had a terrible trigger that prompted many customers to go for a Timney, but this is a far superior version that’s lighter, easily adjustable, and precise.
It has a matte black finish with a satin finish hardwood stock and a Picatinny optics rail if you decide the Weaver Kaspa scope is not to your liking. The 22-inch, button-rifled barrel is made of carbon steel and has a 1:10-inch twist rate.
The only downside is that its trigger pull is the same as its overall weight, and you have to pull the trigger and the release which might be annoying for some.
If you want to see more .270 options, check out our list of best .270 Winchester rifles.
No matter the budget, anyone can purchase a solid hunting rifle, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
Now, I know that most would claim that “budget hunting rifles” is a fancy term for “trash rifles.” But, it’s 2021, and nowadays we have manufacturers coming up with new and improved designs for rifles with very attractive price tags that allow you to spend that leftover cash on much-needed ammo, slings, and rings for your rifle.
I would recommend the Ruger American Predator Bolt-Action Rifle to anyone looking for a good budget rifle. It’s well-balanced, has all the essential features for a decent bolt-action rifle, and its overall performance is so much more than its price.
That being said, before you consider a purchase on the web, I strongly advise you first go to your local gun shop and hold the exact rifle model. Even better, if you can find a rifle range, try it out.
Stay safe, shoot straight!