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Chris Fortenberry Feb 02 2023 20 min read

Best Long Range Rifles [2023]: For Hunters, Precision Shooters, and More

Introduction

Not all shooting activities take place at the 25 yards or less distance many indoor shooting ranges have. There are plenty of shooting opportunities at distances well north of 100, 200, and 500 yards. Long-range shooting is a super popular activity for many.

For the NRA, long-range shooting is defined as 1,000 yards. Mid-range is considered 600 yards. When you want to really test your skills as a sportsman, it is these longer-distance shots that can set you apart from your peers.

Shooting long distances gives less area for mistakes. A half-inch miss from the exact center of the target at 25 yards can quickly turn into a 10-inch miss at 500 yards or a 20-inch miss at 1000 yards. This requires shooters and their equipment to function at incredibly high levels to achieve the best possible results.

In this article, we will discuss the best long-range rifles to achieve the best results for a given shoot.

Accuracy vs. Precision

When selecting your rifle, you must consider accuracy vs. precision. Most think they want an accurate rifle, but the reality is most are searching for precision.

This image is a great example. A wise person once said, “Accuracy is hitting where you want; precision is doing it over and over again.”

accurate precise graphic

Long Range Shooting Styles

When talking about long-range shooting, shooters fall into two categories. The first category is target shooters. The target shooter is less concerned with the rifle’s weight as they won’t be lugging their 10+ pound rifle up and down mountains searching for their quarry.

long range sighting in
Image Courtesy of Tactical-Life

Target Shooter

This shooter is looking for a match-grade rifle. This will shape many of the characteristics this shooter is looking for when selecting their long-range rifle and optic. The Ruger Precision Rifle is a good example of this type of rifle.

Hunter

The second category of shooter is the hunter. Someone who is hunting animals like moose, elk, or mountain goats that often reside in areas where longer ranges are required to harvest an animal.

Weight is an important consideration for these shooters when selecting their rifles and optics. They need something capable of being carried long distances and tough enough to handle the abuse that comes from this environment.

The Tikka 3x Compact Tactical Rifle is a good example of this type of rifle.

Image Courtesy of Cody Enterprises

Hybrids

There is a third – the hybrid shooter. This is someone who wants to participate in both long-range target shooting as well as hunting.

Suppose this third shooter does not want to have a dedicated rifle for hunting and another dedicated rifle just for target or match shooting; they need a rifle that is designed to do both. The Bergara B-14 HMR fits this requirement perfectly.

Stocks vs. Chassis

When selecting your long-range rifle, and based on whether you plan to be a target shooter, hunter, or hybrid will determine whether you want your rifle to be a “traditional” stock or chassis.

The traditional rifle stock is usually made of wood, plastic, or fiberglass. Each of these materials has strengths and weaknesses.

Selecting which one best suits the shooter’s needs is important. When deciding which rifle to purchase, you need to consider whether you plan to change the stock or stick with what the rifle came with.

bolt action rifle
Image Courtesy of MDTTac

Chassis systems are machined from solid aluminum.

The chassis, since it is metal, doesn’t flex when shooting heavier calibers with stouter recoil. The strength of this system allows greater precision from the shooter, and increasingly, shooters are moving to chassis systems.

Chassis systems also allow the shooter to utilize an AR-15 style pistol grip. Even stocks that would appear to not be chassis based are. The stock on the Bergara B-14 HMR has a mini-chassis system.

bergara b-14 hmr
Image Courtesy of MDTTac

Barrels

The barrel on your rifle will dictate the accuracy and precision of your rifle. It does not matter how skilled the shooter is if their barrel is a garbage rod. With that in mind, what should you look for from your long-range rifle’s barrel?

Barrel Harmonics

Every time you fire your rifle, the barrel will undergo a significant amount of stress that will lead to the barrel oscillating up and down in a series of micro-vibrations.

To achieve the best accuracy, you want the bullet to leave the barrel when the barrel is at the top of the upswing. This is one of the benefits of reloading. Reloaders can adjust their cartridges to achieve optimal precision by adjusting the powder charge to change the speed of the bullet and get the smallest groups.

barrel harmonics
Image Courtesy of AR-15tuner

Heavier barrels help negate the effects of barrel harmonics. The thickness of the barrel adds to its rigidity and, therefore, less extreme whipping of the barrel.

The second benefit of a thicker barrel is that it provides better dissipation of the heat that comes from firing a round. A hot barrel also changes the barrel harmonics and, therefore, the accuracy and precision of your rifle.

Free Floating Barrel, Barrel Length, and Twist

Free floating your barrel means that the barrel and the rifle stock or handguard are not in contact with the rifle barrel itself. The barrel attaches to the rifle’s receiver and has no other contact with anything else. With fewer variables being introduced, the rifle can be more precise.

Barrel length is important when achieving optimal accuracy. If the barrel length is too long for the cartridge, the powder will all burn up before the projectile has left the barrel leading to slowing of the projectile and inefficient ballistics.

The same is true for too long of a barrel. If the barrel length is too short, then not all of the powder will have burned off by the time the projectile leaves the barrel again, leading to inefficiency.

One of the reasons that reloading your own ammunition leads to increased accuracy and precision is the shooter can tailor their loadings to their specific rifles’ barrel length and harmonics.

The rate of twist of your barrel relates to your barrel’s ability to stabilize the projectile in flight. This is a very similar concept to an NFL quarterback throwing a football. Too fast or too slow of a twist, and your bullet will begin to oscillate in flight, disrupting the airflow and leading to issues. If this gets bad enough, your projectile could even do something called keyholing. This is where the projectile is actually tumbling through the air and hits the target sideways.

Image Courtesy of Firearmshistory

Where to Start: A Buyer’s Guide

The first thing to consider when planning on a long-range rifle build is your budget. Plan to spend at least $2000, if not $3000, to assemble a high-quality long range rifle build.

You need to budget at least $1200 for the rifle and $800 for a high-quality optic. If you are going to do much long-range shooting, you also need to invest in reloading equipment and begin to reload your own ammunition.

Another $500 spent here is a good investment. 

Once you have your budget set, you need to decide what the purpose of your rifle will be. Are you going to focus exclusively on target shooting and competitions? Are you less interested in the competition aspect and want to be able to harvest game animals humanely?

Are you interested in a hybrid approach, wanting to do both competition shooting and hunting with your rifle? The answers to these questions will go a long way in guiding your rifle selection.

Finally, your long-term plans as a long-range shooter matter. If you plan to be a long-term participant in the precision shooting world, you need to consider things like replacement barrels, new guns, and optic upgrades, and the costs associated with procuring or producing your ammunition.

All of these, coupled with your financial situation, will shape which rifle, optic, and cartridge you should buy.

Best Long Range Rifles

Best Overall – Ruger Precision Rifle

RUGER PRECISION® RIFLE

Specifications

Weight12.8 lbs
Overall Length42.25 inches – 48.75 inches
Barrel Cold Hammer-Forged, 5R Rifling
Barrel Length20 – 26 inches
Magazine Capacity10
Scope MountPicatinny Rail
Caliber/Twist6.5 Creedmoor/1:7.5, .308 Win/1:10, other calibers available

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Accurate
  • Military Aesthetic
  • Customizable
  • Relatively affordable
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Military Aesthetic

The Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) is our choice for the overall best long range rifle. A very good “turnkey” rifle, the Ruger Precision Rifle, has a reputation for excellent accuracy right out of the box. You will not go wrong with picking this rifle up.

In the precision, long-range shooting world, custom rifles can dominate the shooting environment. While not a custom rifle, the Ruger Precision Rifle can compete with the best of the rifles available and perform admirably.

The Ruger Precision Rifle has solid ergos, which makes shooting the rifle enjoyable and helps to maximize the shooter’s ability to shoot with high precision. The top rail of the RPR is flush with the handguard. This means that you will need an AR mount height for your optic. If not, you may deal with space issues between the optic and the handguard.

Supported by a strong aftermarket, many options are available to customize your rifle, including aftermarket barrels. The M-Lok handguard allows the attachment of rails and accessories.

Not everything is perfect for the Ruger Precision Rifle. It is a mass-produced rifle that will look and feel like one. The rifle is heavy. This is not a rifle you want to carry for a day going up and down hills or mountains hunting your preferred game animal.

That being said, this is an excellent rifle, one any shooter should have confidence in using to make long-distance shots.

Runner Up – Tikka T3x Tac A1

Tikka T3x Tac A1

Specifications

Weight11.24 pounds
Overall Length43.8 inches
Barrel Hammer Forged
Barrel Length24 inches
Magazine Capacity10
Scope MountPicatinny Rail
Caliber/Twist6.5 Creedmoor/1:8, .308 Win/1:11

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Accurate
  • Sub-MOA guarantee
  • High quality chassis system
  • Made in same factory as SAKO
  • Performs above price point
Cons
  • Some proprietary parts including the magazine

Tikka rifles are made in the same factory as the renowned SAKO rifle. If the SAKO is a Mercedes, then the Tikka (pronounced tick-ah) is a Toyota, a solid rifle that works every time and will do everything its owner requires. The Tikka T3x Tac A1 is no different.

Right out of the box, the Tikka T3x Tac A1 has a 3-shot sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. For most shooters, this means that the rifle is more precise than when they take their first shot with the Tikka.

Like the barrels on SAKO, the Tikka T3x Tac A1 rifle barrel is a hammer-forged barrel leading to longer barrel life. In fact, the barrel on the Tikka T3x Tac A1 is the same as the one on the SAKO TRG 22. The longer barrel life on Tikka barrels can be extra important because, at times, it is difficult to get replacement barrels for Tikka rifles.

The Tikka T3x Tac A1 includes a 2-stage trigger, muzzle brake, and an improved grip shape over previous models. All of this makes the Tikka a really great production rifle. Shooters using the Tikka T3x Tac A1 can participate in shooting competitions and perform at a very high level.

Best Value – Savage 12 Long Range Precision

Savage 12 Long Range Precision

Specifications

Weight11 pounds
Overall Length46.25 inches
Barrel 26 inch, fluted, full-profile carbon steel barrel
Barrel Length24 inches
Magazine Capacity4
Scope MountPicatinny
Caliber/Twist6.5 Creedmoor/1:8, 243 Win/1:9.25

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Reasonable Price
  • Accurate
  • Savage Reliability
Cons
  • Basic stock with no adjustments
  • Not a threaded barrel

The Savage 12 Long Range Precision rifle is exactly what you would expect from our value pick. This is a no-frills rifle that puts bullets down range and consistently and does it while consistently achieving sub 1 and even sub ½ MOA.

Equipped with the user-adjustable Target AccuTrigger. The Savage 12 Long Range Precision Rifle features a 26-inch barrel that is high quality, fluted, carbon steel. The rifle sits in a black synthetic stock and is made with traditional Savage quality.

The no-frills nature of the Savage 12 Long Range Precision means it does not have the length of pull or comb height adjustments that other rifles on this list have. These absences though can be overcome through aftermarket additions to the existing stock or getting an aftermarket stock to replace the factory one.

At 11 pounds the Savage 12 Long Range Precision is not a light rifle. For a target shooter, this weight won’t be an issue. This is a rifle designed to be shot from a shooting bench or sandbags. Take the rifle to the range, put some lead down, and have a good time.

Just don’t plan to carry this rifle on a 5 mile hike up and down the hills looking for a trophy.

The Savage 12 Long Range Precision is an entry-level long-range rifle. It will be more accurate than most shooters and provides a gateway into precision shooting.

Put the money saved on the rifle into a high-quality optic that can be used when one day purchasing another of the rifles on this list.

Best Hybrid – Bergara B14 HMR

Bergara B14 HMR

Specifications

Weight9.5 lbs-9.9 lbs
Overall Length40 inches – 47.5 Inches
Barrel No. 6 Precision threaded 5/8-24”
Barrel Length20 – 26 inches
Magazine Capacity5 round mag provided
Scope Mount:Fits Remington 700 bases with 6-48 screws
Caliber/Twist6.5 Creedmoor/1:8, .308 Win/1:10, .300 Win Mag/1:10, other calibers available

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Will perform straight out of the box
  • Aftermarket support
  • Threaded barrel
  • Highly adjustable
  • Very accurate
Cons
  • Potential to be on the heavier side

The Bergara B14 HMR is an incredibly popular rifle in the precision shooting community. Based on the Remington 700 action, the Bergara B14 HMR is a rifle equally at home on the range and out in the field. The HMR, in the name of the rifle, stands for hunting and match rifle, which is what the rifle hopes to achieve.

Out of the box, the Bergara B14 HMR is excellent. The trigger is very crisp and can be compared to many aftermarket triggers. The quality of the trigger goes along with the quality of the barrel. The barrel on the Bergara B14 HMR is a Bergara 4140 CrMo steel barrel that comes threaded with 5/8-24” threading from the factory allowing the fitting of a suppressor or other muzzle device.

The magazine is the AICS magazine and comes from the factory with a 5-round magazine. There are steel and polymer magazines available, and assuming a high-quality magazine, like Magpul is used, you should experience no issues.

The one drawback of the Bergara B14 HMR is the weight. Approaching 10 pounds in some configurations the rifle’s weight is a major drawback if you carry it long distances.

Despite this drawback, the Bergara B14 HMR is our choice for the best hybrid rifle. Its other features ensure the hunter can do the job most required of him or her, and that job is to ensure an ethical kill of the target animal.

Long-range hunting is not a skill that can be learned in a day, and it requires the best of both the hunter and their equipment. The Bergara B14 HMR rifle is up to the task.

Best For Hunting – Tikka Compact Tactical Rifle

Tikka Compact Tactical Rifle

Specifications

Weight7.5 pounds
Overall Length40.2 inches – 44.2 Inches
Barrel Hammer Forged
Barrel Length20 inches – 24 inches
Magazine Capacity10
Scope Mount:Picatinny
Caliber/Twist6.5 Creedmoor/1:8, .308 Win/1:11, other calibers available

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Aftermarket support
  • Threaded barrel
  • Highly adjustable
  • Very accurate
Cons
  • Potential issue with replacement parts

The second Tikka rifle on this list, the Tikka T3x CTR is an excellent long range rifle. The Tikka T3x CTR, or compact tactical rifle, fills an important spot on this list. That spot is of the best long-range hunting rifle.

Weight is a very important factor when hunting. Anyone who has carried an overly heavy rifle, especially for long periods of time, can testify to the strain it places on the carrier. The Tikka T3x CTR is one of the lightest rifles on this list, checking in at 7.5 pounds. This makes the rifle a much better option for a day of hunting on foot than something like the Ruger Precision Rifle.

The light weight of the Tikka T3x CTR does not equal a light rifle performance-wise. Like the other Tikka rifle on this list, the T3x CTR is made in the same factory as SAKO and offers a 3-shot sub-MOA accuracy guarantee right out of the box.

Like all Tikka rifles, the action on the T3x CTR is incredibly smooth. The high-quality action, coupled with the hammer-forged barrel that typifies Tikka rifles, makes the Tikka T3x CTR an incredibly accurate and precise rifle and a gun that will help anyone have a successful hunt.

Long Range Rifle $5,000+ – Cadex CDX-R7 LCP

Cadex CDX-R7 LCP

Specifications

Weight12.95 & 13.15 pounds
Overall Length45.05 & 45.93 inches
Barrel 26 inch, fluted, full-profile carbon steel barrel
Barrel Length20, 24, 26, & 27 inches
Magazine Capacity5, 7, 10
Scope MountPicatinny
Caliber/Twist6.5 Creedmoor/1:8, 308 Win/11.25

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Incredible accuracy
  • Easy Rebarreling System
  • Custom Grade Action
  • One of the best rifles money can buy
Cons
  • Price
  • Weight

Cadex Defense is the manufacturer of some of the best precision rifles in the world. We selected the Cadex CDX-R7 LCP, but other Cadex rifles could just as easily have been on this at higher and lower price points. Let’s talk about what sets the Cadex CDX- R7 LCP, LCP stands for Lite Competition, apart from other precision rifles.

A Remington 700-based action (the action on the Cadex CDX-R7) is incredibly smooth with a four lug 50° bolt allowing the shooter to shoot effortlessly and with precision. Cadex mates this action with a Bartlein straight taper fluted match-grade barrel with 5R single point cut rifling.

This high-quality barrel allows both increased cooling and weight reduction without adversely affecting the rifle’s precision.

Another factor that really sets the Cadex CDX-R7 LCP apart is the quality of the trigger. The rifle has a DX2 Evo two-stage trigger. The quality of this trigger helps the shooter place rounds on the target.

Cadex puts these high-quality components into a chassis system that has been designed for competition and, at the same time, maintains a lightweight. An M-Lok system on the rifle provides ample opportunity to customize the rifle and accepts AICS pattern magazines.

Best Under $500- Ruger American Predator

Ruger American Predator

Specifications

Weight6.6 pounds
Overall Length42 inches
Barrel Alloy Steel
Barrel Length18 & 22 inches
Magazine Capacity3, 4, 10
Scope MountPicatinny
Caliber/Twist6.5 Creedmoor/1:8, 308 Win/1:10, other calibers

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Light Weight
  • Adjustable trigger
  • Threaded barrel
  • Good accuracy at price point
Cons
  • Rough finish
  • No sub-MOA guarantee

The Ruger American Predator is our choice for those on a much more limited budget. These rifles can be found for less than $500 and are even available at sub-$400 price points if you look around and do your research. The Ruger American Predator can be a great intro rifle to the realm of shooting.

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The Ruger American Predator is a low-budget rifle. It lacks the fit and finish of the more expensive options on this list. The stock is of lower quality, and the barrel, while heavier than a sporter barrel, isn’t a true heavy barrel.

These negatives might make it strange for this rifle to be on this list. There are areas where Ruger cut back to save money and lower the price but Ruger also made sure to put money in the areas that would yield the best results. The barrel is very capable of hitting targets with high levels of accuracy. There are plenty of videos of shooters hitting targets at mid-range and long-range distances with their Ruger American Predator.

The second amendment community is a big tent community. If it is limited to only those who can afford rifles over $1,000 is it a dying community and that is not going to happen. It is important to find ways for everyone to exercise their second amendment rights and with this rifle Ruger is doing just that.

How We Chose our Top Picks

There were many high-quality contenders to be on our list for the best long-range rifle. Rifles from Tikka, Howa, Weatherby, and others all could have made the list. Still, ultimately the list was chosen because we wanted to provide the buyer with a curated list that selected the best options for the current market without forcing the buyer to explore custom rifles.

When selecting the rifles on our list we considered multiple factors.

  1. The first factor was precision. To be considered, the rifle had to be 1 MOA or Better.
  2. The second factor is price/value. When purchasing a firearm, you can always spend more. If money was not a factor, then custom long-range rifles would have been the focus of this list.
  3. The third factor was the availability of aftermarket parts. Everyone likes to customize their toys, and firearms are no different. Being able to swap a stock or trigger can go a long way in making a rifle “fit” the shooter.

Upgrades to Consider

Optics

Optics and their quality go a long way in determining the shooter’s precision. Be prepared to spend at minimum $300 to get an optic capable of accurately shooting long-range.

With scopes, it is better to buy once and cry once than to buy a low-end optic and discover it cannot provide the clarity needed for long-range shooting.

We even put together a guide of our favorite long-range scopes.

Triggers

The trigger is one of the most important upgrades you can make to your long-range rifle. Considering the prices of many other upgrades a shooter can make, the trigger is a cheaper option to improve your accuracy. An inconsistent trigger will prevent the shooter from getting the best precision possible from their rifle.

One thing to note when purchasing a long-range rifle is that some rifle platforms have proprietary triggers. While these triggers may be excellent their proprietary nature will limit the options for aftermarket triggers.

Helpful Video Guides

FAQs

What is considered long range for rifles?

For the NRA, long-range shooting is defined at 1,000 yards. Mid-range shooting is considered 600 yards.

What is the best caliber for long-range shooting?

There is not a one size fits all response to this question. Every shooter is different. Every environment is different. The shooter needs to consider all of the factors shaping their individual situation, the environment they will be shooting in, and the purpose of their shooting to make this determination.

For someone just starting out with long-range shooting, start with the 6.5 Creedmoor. It has been developed to address some of the .308 Winchesters issues and is a more modern cartridge that takes advantage of the advances in ballistics over the last 40 years.

How do you hit a target at 1000 yards?

Train. Practice. Repeat. Shooting is a skill. Long-range shooting is a skill that can be learned and refined over time.

Like any skill, though, it must be learned, and it is perishable. If you expect to hit a target 1000 yards away consistently, you need to spend the time required to learn the skill and then practice the skill frequently enough to achieve competence.

Last Words

Long-range shooting is an incredibly rewarding activity. Being able to hit a target 1000 yards away is something not many can claim in their skill set.

To be able to achieve this feat consistently requires the right equipment, and for us, that means the Ruger Precision Rifle. The Ruger Precision rifle is an excellent rifle that is affordable and will shoot better than most people who shoot one.

Top your Ruger Precision Rifle with a Vortex Razor HD Gen II, and you should be able to participate in shooting contests across the United States and be successful doing so.

Chris is a firearms enthusiast and collector located in Texas. Chris’ passion for firearms started at a young age and was fueled by his passion for history. Chris used that passion to become a historian and feels that spreading the understanding of firearms functionally, socially, and politically is one of the paramount jobs of the 2nd Amendment community. He seeks to share his knowledge with those around him.

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