Elk hunting is a tradition steeped in heritage, requiring skill, patience, and the right gear. At the heart of this gear is the hunting rifle. Selecting the best rifle for your elk hunting trip is an essential task that can seem daunting due to the myriad available options.
Fortunately, our experts fired dozens of rifles to help you find the best one for your needs. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to finding the best elk hunting rifle, we broke it down into a few categories.
We think you’re going to love what you see.
How we chose the best elk hunting rifle.
Whenever we compare various products, whether hunting rifles or even fishing rods, we like to look at several factors. These are different based on what you want to do, but here are the factors we look at when selecting the best elk hunting rifle:
- Accuracy and reliability. Of course, this is the biggest factor when choosing any rifle. For elk hunting, you want a rifle that can reliably hit your target from long range while still having good accuracy.
- Durability. One area that is often overlooked but is essential for any hunting rifle is durability. You need a rifle that can handle the elements and the terrain.
- Weight. When you’re out in the field, you don’t want to be weighed down by your gun, so look for one that has a good balance between weight and accuracy.
- Comfort level. Different styles of hunting will require different levels of comfort. If you will be out in the field for days on end, choosing a comfortable rifle to carry and shoot is an important consideration.
- Price. Finally, you’ll want to consider your budget when selecting a rifle for elk hunting. You don’t need the most expensive model on the market, but you want one that is reliable and fits your budget.
By considering all of these factors, we could compare dozens of rifle models and select the best elk hunting rifles.
Breaking down the best of the best rifles.
As we scoured the market and tested the various rifles, we realized several firearms could potentially be classified as the “best elk rifle,” but for various reasons. So, we actually broke down the best into three categories to give you more insight into the differences.
- The best overall. This is the rifle that offers the most value in terms of accuracy, durability, weight, comfort level, and price. You can’t go wrong with this rifle.
- Best for accuracy. Sure, you want a rifle that can shoot long-range accurately, but there are certain features some rifles possess that make them best suited for the job.
- Best value. Trying to get the most bang for your buck? We picked the rifle that is the best value for your money.
- Most reliable. For those bush hunters who need a rifle they can always depend on, this is the one to choose.
- Best mid-priced. As we checked out all the rifles, we realized we had a few that fit in the middle of the price range- not too expensive or cheap. These are the best mid-priced rifles for elk hunting.
- Best lightweight. Not everyone wants a bulky rifle on their back. We chose the best lightweight rifle that won’t slow you down in the field.
These are our picks for the best elk hunting rifles and we think you’ll be pleased with whichever one you choose. So whether you’re an experienced hunter or just starting out, these should give you plenty of options when selecting your next firearm.
|Feature||Weatherby Vanguard||Premier Canyon||Tikka T3X Lite||Bergara B-14 Ridge||Ruger Hawkeye Hunter||Savage 110 Ultralite|
|Best For||Overall Performance||Accuracy||Value for Money||Reliability||Mid-Priced||Lightweight|
|Stock||Synthetic Monte Carlo Stock with Recoil Pad||Monte Carlo-style Stock||Lightweight Synthetic Stock||Soft-touch Synthetic Stock||Laminate Stock||AccuFit System for Customizable Fit|
|Barrel||Cold Hammer-forged Barrel||24″ Stainless Steel Barrel||Cold Hammer-forged Barrel||4140 CrMo Steel Barrel||Cold Hammer-forged Stainless Steel Barrel||Carbon Fiber-wrapped Stainless Steel Barrel|
|Trigger||Match-quality Two-stage Trigger||TriggerTech with Frictionless Release Technology||Adjustable from 2 to 4 lbs||B-14 Action||Two-stage Adjustable Trigger||User-adjustable AccuTrigger|
|Popular Caliber for Elk Hunting||.300 Weatherby Magnum||.300 Winchester Magnum||.270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield||.300 Winchester Magnum||.308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield||Varies|
|Special Features||Superior Knockdown Power, Long-range Capabilities, Value for Money||Exceptional Accuracy, Resistance to Corrosion and Wear, Rigorous Quality Control Checks||Excellent Accuracy, Lightweight Design, Value for Money||Durability, Excellent Grip, Smooth Feeding and Extraction, Rigorous Quality Checks||Reliable Performance, Durable Construction, Excellent Value for Money||Superior Performance in a Lightweight Package, Customizability|
Top 6 rifles for your next elk hunting trip.
Are you ready for them? You’re in luck because here are our top 6 picks for the best elk hunting rifles.
Best Overall: Weatherby Vanguard
When it comes to the best overall elk hunting rifle, the Weatherby Vanguard is a standout choice. This rifle boasts an excellent balance of performance, durability, and affordability, making it a reliable companion for any elk hunt.
The Weatherby Vanguard features a synthetic Monte Carlo stock with a recoil pad, a cold hammer-forged barrel, and a match-quality two-stage trigger. These features combine to deliver unparalleled accuracy and consistency in every shot. The rifle is chambered for multiple calibers, but the .300 Weatherby Magnum is popular for elk hunting because of its superior knockdown power and long-range capabilities.
But what truly sets the Weatherby Vanguard apart is its value for money. Despite its high-quality features and outstanding performance, this rifle is surprisingly affordable. This makes it accessible to a wide range of hunters, from beginners looking for their first rifle to seasoned hunters seeking a reliable backup. Its combination of performance, reliability, and affordability is what truly makes the Weatherby Vanguard the best overall choice for elk hunting.
Best for Accuracy: Premier Canyon
Not all rifles are created the same. Neither are hunters. Sometimes, even an elk hunter needs a little help when it comes to precision. That’s why we picked the Premier Canyon rifle. This gem stands head and shoulders above the rest. This rifle is renowned for its exceptional accuracy, delivering on-target shots consistently when it matters the most.
The Premier Canyon boasts a 24″ stainless steel barrel, renowned for its excellent resistance to corrosion and wear. The rifle features a TriggerTech trigger with Frictionless Release Technology, ensuring a clean, crisp pull every time. It’s also fitted with a Monte Carlo-style stock that provides a stable and comfortable platform for shooting. The Premier Canyon is available in several calibers, but the popular choice for elk hunting is often the .300 Winchester Magnum due to its long-range capabilities and powerful impact.
What sets the Premier Canyon apart is its meticulous design and construction aimed at precision. Each rifle undergoes rigorous quality control checks and is hand-assembled to ensure optimum performance. The result is an incredibly accurate rifle that can help transform any shot into a successful hunt. If accuracy is your primary concern, the Premier Canyon is undoubtedly the best choice.
Best Value: Tikka T3X Lite
For those seeking a balance between cost and performance, the Tikka T3X Lite emerges as the best value choice for elk hunting rifles. This rifle offers an impressive blend of features and quality that outperforms its price tag, making it a favored choice among budget-conscious hunters.
The Tikka T3X Lite is designed with a lightweight synthetic stock, reducing carrying fatigue during long hunts. It features a cold hammer-forged barrel and a crisp trigger adjustable from 2 to 4 lbs, both contributing to its excellent accuracy. The rifle is offered in various calibers suitable for elk hunting, including .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield, providing flexibility based on your hunting preferences.
Its incredible value proposition makes the Tikka T3X Lite a standout choice. Despite its lower price point, it doesn’t compromise on quality or performance. Its reliability, accuracy, and lightweight design rival those of higher-priced models, making it an excellent investment for both novice and experienced hunters alike. If you’re looking for an elk hunting rifle that offers the best bang for your buck, the Tikka T3X Lite is a top contender.
Most Reliable: Bergara B-14 Ridge
In the world of elk hunting, reliability can often mean the difference between success and disappointment. The Bergara B-14 Ridge stakes its claim as the most reliable option, designed to consistently perform in various conditions and deliver when it counts.
The Bergara B-14 Ridge is built with a world-class 4140 CrMo steel barrel, known for its exceptional durability and accuracy. It has a soft-touch synthetic stock that provides excellent grip even in wet conditions. The rifle also features Bergara’s renowned B-14 action, which is compatible with Remington 700-style bases, and a two-lug system with a sliding plate extractor and coned bolt nose to ensure smooth feeding and extraction of the cartridge. It’s available in several calibers, but the .300 Winchester Magnum is often favored for elk hunting due to its long-range capabilities and superior stopping power.
The true testament to the Bergara B-14 Ridge’s reliability lies in its robust construction and meticulous craftsmanship. Each rifle undergoes rigorous quality checks and testing to withstand the rigors of hunting in diverse environments. Whether you’re dealing with harsh weather or challenging terrains, the Bergara B-14 Ridge is a dependable companion that won’t let you down, making it the most reliable choice for elk hunting.
Best Mid-Priced: Ruger Hawkeye Hunter
Navigating the middle ground between affordability and performance, the Ruger Hawkeye Hunter shines as the best mid-priced choice for elk hunting rifles. This rifle offers a blend of excellent features and reliable performance at a price point that won’t break the bank.
The Ruger Hawkeye Hunter is built with a cold hammer-forged stainless steel barrel, ensuring exceptional durability and accuracy. It features a smooth, controlled round feed action that is known for its reliability in the field. The two-stage adjustable trigger, paired with a laminate stock, ensures a comfortable and stable shooting experience. Available in several calibers, including .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield, the Ruger Hawkeye Hunter gives hunters the flexibility to choose based on their preferences.
If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re huge fans of Ruger. They always make excellent guns. Its commitment to delivering high-quality features at a mid-range price sets the Ruger Hawkeye Hunter apart. Despite being more affordable than some premium models, it does not compromise performance or quality, making it an excellent value proposition. Its solid construction, impressive accuracy, and consistent performance make it a reliable choice for any elk-hunting expedition. The Ruger Hawkeye Hunter is worth considering if you’re looking for a well-rounded elk hunting rifle that provides excellent value for money.
Best Lightweight: Savage 110 Ultralite
Savage makes great firearms, but we don’t think they get the credit they deserve in the community. Well, they’ve made our pick for the best lightweight elk hunting rifle, designed with weight-conscious hunters in mind without compromising on performance or durability.
The Savage 110 Ultralite weighs in at just under 6 pounds, thanks to its skeletonized receiver and a carbon fiber-wrapped stainless steel barrel. Despite its featherweight profile, this rifle doesn’t skimp on features. It comes with Savage’s AccuFit technology that allows hunters to customize length-of-pull and comb height for a personalized fit. The user-adjustable AccuTrigger offers a crisp, clean pull, while the AccuStock rail system secures the action three-dimensionally along its entire length, enhancing accuracy.
What makes the Savage 110 Ultralite stand out is its ability to deliver superior performance in a lightweight package. The rifle’s minimal weight can significantly reduce fatigue during long treks in the wilderness, making the hunt more enjoyable and less strenuous. If you’re after a rifle that combines featherweight design with solid performance, the Savage 110 Ultralite is an excellent choice. Its blend of lightness, accuracy, and adjustability makes it a top contender in the lightweight category.
Elk rifle FAQs.
While you might have some of your questions answered above, you might have more. Below are some frequently asked questions about elk rifles.
What should I consider when choosing an elk hunting rifle?
When choosing an elk hunting rifle, consider factors such as caliber, weight, durability, and comfort. The caliber should be powerful enough to take down an elk, typically .270 Winchester or larger. Lighter rifles are easier to carry during long hunts but can have more recoil. The rifle should also be durable enough to withstand various weather conditions and rough handling.
Why is the caliber of a rifle important for elk hunting?
The caliber of a rifle determines its stopping power and range. Elk are large, tough animals and require a powerful shot to bring down ethically. Calibers like .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum are popular choices for elk hunting due to their balance of power and manageable recoil. We’re big fans of the .308 Winchester, but wouldn’t go any smaller than the .270.
How does the weight of the rifle affect an elk hunt?
The weight of your rifle plays a significant role during an elk hunt. Lighter rifles are easier to carry during long treks and stalks, reducing fatigue. However, lighter rifles often have more felt recoil, which can affect accuracy. It’s crucial to find a balance that works for you.
What makes a rifle reliable for elk hunting?
A reliable elk hunting rifle should have a robust construction, deliver consistent performance, and withstand diverse weather conditions. It should also have a smooth action for loading and ejecting cartridges and a comfortable grip for stable shooting.
How much should I expect to spend on a good elk-hunting rifle?
The price of a good elk hunting rifle can vary greatly depending on the brand, features, and materials used. You can find decent options starting at around $500, but premium rifles cost $1,000 or more. Remember, investing in a quality rifle can pay off in the long run with consistent performance and durability.
Can I use the same rifle for elk hunting and deer hunting?
Yes, you can use the same rifle for elk and deer hunting. Of course, if it’s powerful enough to ethically take down an elk. A .270 Winchester or larger is typically recommended for elk, which can also be effective for deer. However, remember that elk are significantly larger and tougher than deer, so what works well for deer might not always be ideal for elk.
Get ready for your hunting trip!
Hunting elk is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor, and having the right rifle can significantly enhance your experience. Whether you prioritize weight, price, or another factor, there’s a rifle out there that will meet your needs.
From the Ruger Hawkeye Hunter’s impressive value for money to the Savage 110 Ultralite’s excellent performance coupled with featherweight design, there are options across the board.
But remember, no matter the rifle, mastering it takes practice. Hit the range, get to know your firearm, and prepare yourself for the hunt.