Since their creation in 1824, bolt-action rifles have been a staple piece in nearly every gun owner’s private arsenal. Perfect for precision plinking, hunting, or recreational shooting, the bolt-action platform will always be a versatile tool to keep around.
Throughout history, bolt action rifles have been used in nearly every major conflict since their inception and were a standard issue rifle for most countries at one point or another. Of course, they have become much more advanced in the modern era of firearms technology. With the legendary accuracy attributed to this platform, it’s no wonder they are still in use in some capacity almost 200 years later.
There are many bolt action rifles available today, but which is the best? Which is the most used? We’re going to go over all of that right now:
Brief History of the Bolt-Action Rifle
The first bolt-action rifle ever produced, the Dreyse Needle Gun, was built in 1824 by Johann Nikolaus von Dreyse. Not only was it the first bolt-action rifle ever built, but it was the first to see service in a military capacity. It was adopted into service in 1840 by the Prussian Army and would later be renamed the Zündnadelgewehr M1841.
This rifle set the stage for new weapons design to come as its success became known. Different rifles would be designed and developed from different countries, and eventually, the bolt-action rifle became the global standard, for a while at least.
Rifles like the Russian Mosin Nagant, French Chassepot Rifle, American M1903 Springfield, and the German Mauser Gewehr 98, are all examples of historic bolt-action rifles used by militaries at one point. Each of these rifles would stay in service for each country for quite some time, though during the time of World War II, they were superseded by modern, magazine fed semi-automatic rifles.
Bolt action rifles are still used in the military service today. They just aren’t the standard issue for most soldiers. For long distance shots, most militaries still use a bolt-action rifle in various applications. For the modern enthusiast, however, bolt-actions are one of the best all-around rifles. Whether you’re looking to have something fun to shoot on the weekends or you need a rifle to hunt big game, a bolt-action is one of the best choices for the job.
Out of all the bolt-action rifle brands and models available, there are plenty tough enough to survive in even the most challenging conditions. Choosing the best one, however, will be up to your preference, but we can definitely point you in the right direction.
4 Most Popular Bolt Action Rifles
Like we said before, the bolt-action platform is one of the most popular types of firearms available. And as such, there are a ton of different models to choose from, with dozens of manufacturers producing their own take on the platform.
If you have to rely on one, you’ll want to make sure you’ve had some time behind the trigger. Below, we’ve broken down some of the most popular bolt action rifles available and why each is a great choice for your arsenal:
1 – Remington 700
The Remington 700 is one of the most iconic and widely used bolt action rifles available. It was originally produced to be a direct upgrade from the Remington 721 and 722, which were implemented in the late 1940s after World War II. Today, a lot of different bolt-action rifle manufacturers build rifles based on the 700 action.
The Remington 700 is popular among big game hunters and precision enthusiasts. The 700 action itself is simpler to make than other bolt actions; there is a lot less machining involved in making it, yet it remains one of the most accurate bolt action rifles available.
Generally. you can get the 700 in two styles: long and short action. Long actions are used when running larger cartridges, like .30-06, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .270 Winchester, to name a few. Short actions are for smaller caliber cartridges like .223/5.56x45mm, .308/7.62 NATO, and 6.5 Creedmoor. The caliber you choose will determine which action you run.
In America, one of the most used rifles for hunting is the Remington 700 in .30-06. Any deer hunter knows that .30-06 is a popular cartridge that delivers more than enough energy downrange, and that won’t be changing anytime soon.
This version of the R700 has a standard capacity of 3-rounds to 5-rounds, depending on the model, but there are some models that come with a detachable box magazine that holds upwards of 8-rounds to 10-rounds; magazines can also be installed as an aftermarket upgrade.
Speaking of upgrades, the Remington 700 is likely the easiest bolt-action rifle to customize, as many companies continue to make aftermarket upgrades and accessories for it. With over 5 million units produced since 1962, the Remington 700 has been configured to fit just about every role and purpose. Pair this with the fact that it comes in many calibers, the Remington 700 is an obvious choice for a quality survival rifle.
2 – Winchester Model 70
Based on the legendary Mauser-98 action, the Winchester Model 70 is yet another classic rifle that would make a great option in a survival scenario.
Originally, it was produced in 1936 and operated using a controlled-feed mechanism. It stayed in this configuration until 1964, when it changed to a push-feed system. Fast forward to 2006, Belgium’s FN Herstal took over production of the rifle, introducing the Winchester Model 70 “Classic”, which has been in production ever since.
The Model 70 has been a popular rifle for a long time and has been renowned by recreational enthusiasts and hunters since it was first developed. It saw military service during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War until it was finally retired. Its popularity has been largely contributed to the fact that it’s based on the Mauser-98 action.
Mauser actions are incredibly popular amongst bolt action enthusiasts. The Mauser action itself is the world’s most widely produced action, with over 100 million units made since its inception. Since Mauser rifles are known for their smooth movement, reliability, and solid construction, it’s no surprise that the Model 70 became as prolific as it is.
Another plus in favor the Model 70 is its aftermarket availability. Because of the popularity of the Mauser action, it has an aftermarket comparable to the Remington 700. There is a plethora of stocks, trigger groups, and scope mounts available for this rifle.
Besides having multiple parts configurations available, the Model 70 was produced in over 30 different calibers. While it’s chambered in all the usual suspects like .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30-06, .270 Winchester, etc., it is also chambered in some more obscure calibers like .300 RUM, .375 H&H Magnum, and .416 Rigby as well, though those models aren’t as common to find.
All of this makes the Model 70 a strong contender for a good do-it-all survival rifle. The legendary reliability of the Mauser action alone sets this rifle apart from others, and you can still set it up in dozens of different configurations like that of the Remington 700.
3 – Tikka T3 and T3x
Tikka is a Finnish rifle manufacturer and subsidiary of the renowned SAKO firearm manufacturing company. While Tikka makes a variety of different bolt-action rifles, their T3 series has made a name for itself and is widely used for different purposes, including hunting, competition, and long-range recreational shooting. It has been used by defense forces for various countries and deserves an honorable mention, even if it isn’t as popular as others on this list.
While the original T3 was a successful rifle, it’s since been updated to feature better components to make it lighter and more durable. These new rifles keep the same T3 action but are designated as the T3x. The fundamental differences are the enlarged ejection port and new steel recoil lug. Besides this, all parts from standard T3 models are compatible with the newer T3x.
Just like the previous models mentioned, the T3 and T3x come in many calibers, with .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor being the most common you’ll find; keep in mind that they come chambered in other common calibers like .30-06 and other large/magnum calibers as well.
Since Tikka is considered to be one of the most popular bolt-action brands, they have a lot of aftermarket parts available for their rifles. Like the previous models, you can easily swap out the stocks and triggers. Depending on which T3/T3x model you choose, it will also have a threaded barrel for muzzle devices or suppressors.
While slightly less common than the others on this list, the T3/T3x is still a great rifle worthy of your consideration. Their high-quality parts make them accurate, lightweight, and durable enough to withstand anything the outdoors might throw at you. As such, it’s no surprise that Tikka is one of the fastest growing bolt-action brands on the market.
4 – Mosin Nagant
A true classic. The Mosin Nagant is another iconic rifle that has been around and in use for over 130 years. Chambered in the popular Russian caliber 7.62x54R, the Mosin Nagant is a great rifle for hunting and recreation. Originally developed in 1891, it was brought into service for the armed forces of the Russian Empire, and it has stayed in service to this day. It’s seen use in almost every major conflict since its development.
Like the Remington 700, the Mosin Nagant is a very common rifle both in the U.S. and around the world. There were many different variations of the rifle produced, and now, the Mosin Nagant is commonly used for recreational shooting, though there are some people that use it for big game hunting.
Its 7.62x54R cartridge is still incredibly easy to find to this day. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of rounds were imported from Russia before there were any sanctions, and because of its popularity, many European ammunition manufacturers still produce the cartridge. Brands like Sellier and Bellot and PPU are commonly found on gun store shelves and kept in stock fairly regularly, and sites like GunBroker actively have listings for surplus ammo available. While surplus ammunition still works and is generally accurate and reliable, more often than not, it’s corrosive. This is the case for most surplus ammunition in general but remember to clean your rifle’s bore after shooting surplus ammo.
You can purchase a Mosin Nagant fairly inexpensively. Usually, they go for anywhere from $150 to upwards of $800+ depending on the condition it’s in or the variant. The Mosin M1891 is by far the most common and generally the most inexpensive, while rarer models like the Mosin M44 Carbine are typically more expensive. Regardless of which model you’re searching for, with over 37 million units produced (just out of Russia), you can find a good deal on a quality Mosin Nagant with relative ease.
While it’s an effective and durable rifle, there aren’t a lot of options for customizations available. Some companies like Archangel and ATI Outdoors make aftermarket stocks and chassis assemblies while Timney makes Mosin trigger assemblies. The problem lies within the Mosin itself. Given its age and number of variations, no two rifles are built identically, and there are often slight variations in the fitment of the parts. While not guaranteed, it’s likely that you’ll have to send your rifle a gunsmith to have certain aftermarket parts fitted to your rifle’s specs.
If you plan on leaving it stock, the Mosin Nagant is a great option for a survival scenario. It’s accurate, durable, and ammo is plentiful in the States. Keep in mind that surplus ammo can be corrosive, and the rifle itself is heavy compared to more modern alternatives. Though outdated in some aspects, the Mosin Nagant has been around for 132 years and is still going strong today.
While the rifles listed above are definitely some of the most used and prolific bolt-action rifle platforms in America, there are still some that can be a little more cost-effective that we feel should be included. Some of these could even be classified as fun guns, a category onto itself.
Savage Model 110
The Model 110 from Savage has been in production since 1958 and was developed specifically for hunters. It was lighter than other rifles at the time, and popular enough to keep it in production to the present day.
Though it’s seen some alterations over the years, it has remained a popular economical choice for hunters and recreational enthusiasts alike. Savage 110 models can come with either a detachable box magazine or an internal push or controlled feed internal mag. They also have threaded barrels on some models; like the previous models, it has a substantial aftermarket parts availability with stocks, chassis systems, and triggers being easy to source online or at most gun stores. You can usually find variants of the 110 priced around $550 to $1,200, depending on the model.
The Ruger American Rifle is an excellent, affordable option that comes chambered in a few different calibers. Using their proprietary action, the Ruger American ranges from $450 to $600 depending on which model you get, and there are a few different variations of it.
It’s available in common calibers including .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, 5.56x45mm, .300AAC Blackout, and 7.62×39. A neat feature, they come with detachable magazines, but the smaller AR-15 sized calibers allow you to use AR-15 magazines.
Also, they come with a fixed picatinny rail section to make mounting optics easy, and the muzzles are already threaded to run a compensator or suppressor. There isn’t too much available in terms of aftermarket parts, but there are still some stocks and trigger assemblies you can get to upgrade your Ruger American.
Which one should you choose?
Determining the best bolt-action rifle isn’t as easy as it sounds. While you can look at the pros and cons of each to determine which is best, it’s going to come down to user preference.
Of the recommended models above, the Remington 700 is a great place to start since it has the most options for aftermarket customizations and comes chambered in an array of calibers. Plus, it’s mostly affordable, with new or used models commonly found below $750.
Your local range may have some models mentioned available for rent. Getting some time behind a bolt-action rifle is the best way to figure out what you like and don’t like. Either way, if you’re wanting to get your start shooting bolt actions, any of the models mentioned above are a great place to start.
Bolt action rifles are some of the most popular and versatile firearms available. Whether it’s for recreation or hunting, the legendary accuracy and larger caliber cartridges make it a great tool to have for a survival rifle.
Remember to always check manufacturer websites and compatibility charts before buying parts or upgrades for your rifle. The last thing you want is to have a pile of cool upgrades you can’t use. A good bolt-action rifle, though, is hard to beat, even in stock form. With any of the rifles above, you can hunt large game, or take precision shots out from a distance.
Source link: https://survivedoomsday.com/most-popular-bolt-action-rifles/ by Guest Writer at survivedoomsday.com