The price of gas is again soaring, and with it the cost of groceries, raw materials and any thing else that needs to be transported is climbing as well. Seems the price of everything actually has gone up in recent years including the items hunters and shooters hold dearest to them — their firearms! It’s getting harder and harder to find a brand new tack-driving rifle that you won’t have to take out a small loan to buy. With many gun prices soaring well over the $1,000-mark, to find something below $500 would seem virtually impossible. Well, guess what? It’s not.
In fact, we found 10 options here that will all ring up at the cash register for under $500, hopefully leaving you with a little gas money to even get out to where you hunt or shoot.
Savage has developed some of the most iconic and quality-performing deer rifles in history -- think Savage Model 99 -- and for the modern hunter, they’re delivering Savage quality at a price that will help even the most cash-strapped among us get into the woods and putting venison on the ground. The Axis, now available in left-handed as well as right-handed models, is a bolt-action rifle made with a no-frills, yet extremely durable matte black synthetic stock paired with a matte black carbon steel barrel. Follow-up shots are fed from a four-round detachable box magazine, and the receiver is drilled and tapped for the mounting of optics. The gun comes available in a host of deer-suited calibers, including .243 Win., .25-06 Rem., .270 Win., .30-06, .308 Win. and the 7mm-08 Rem. The gun tips the scales at 6.5 pounds.
Howa Hogue Rifle
Positioned as the flagship model of the Howa line, the Howa/Hogue Rifle comes in short-action, long-action and magnum chamberings, and is built to truly withstand the elements and abuse outdoors. The entire gripping surface of the rifle is a single Hogue OverMolded stock (available in black or O.D. green), which is paired with a free-floated blued 22-inch standard barrel. The rifle additionally boasts a two-stage match-quality trigger, three-position safety and a forged, one-piece bolt with two locking lugs. The firearm weighs 7.25 pounds. The rifle is available in the popular calibers .243 Win., .25-06, .270 Win., .308 Win. and .30-06. The Howa Hogue Rifle’s base MSRP also skirts above the $500 mark, but like the Weatherby, can be found for much less online and in stores.
Price: $475 at Legacy Sports
H&R 1871 Handi-Rifle Synthetic
If you field the confidence to be a one-shot wonder in camp and tote a single-shot rifle to the stand, then H&R is your gun. Accurately delivered shots from a bargain-basement priced rifle can be easily had in the H&R 1871 Handi-Rifle Synthetic. This break-open single shot is built of a high-density matte black polymer Monte Carlo stock and forend, paired with a blued barrel that can stand up to the elements. The action is equipped with H&R’s Transfer Bar System, which makes for a solid, safe lock-up. Calibers are available in a wide range of deer-suited offerings depending on whether you’ll be hunting typically short-ranged whitetail woods and food plots where the .44 Mag., .357 Mag., 444 Marlin and .45/70 Govt. will work or more open country where a .243 Win., .270 Win. or .30/06 is necessary.
Marlin X7 Scoped Combo
For hunters seeking premium features in a bargain value rifle, the Marlin X7 brings a lot to the table. The company has owned the lever-action market for what seems like forever, but hunters who have overlooked their bolt-action offerings may be cutting themselves short. The new X7 Scoped Combo comes out of the box ready to shoot with a premounted and bore-sighted 3-9x40mm scope. Additional features include a precision button rifled barrel with target-style recessed crown, a fluted bolt for smooth cycling, a pillar bedded stock, a Pro-Fire adjustable trigger, Soft-Tech recoil pad and comes with a black synthetic stock. Chamberings can be had in compact versions of the X7 in .243 Win., 7mm-08 Rem. and .308 Win., while standard-sized versions are available in .243 Win., .270 Win. and .30-06.
Mossberg 464 Lever Action
Whether it was the stone-cold confidence of Lucas McCain as he levered shot after shot at the bad guys in The Rifleman, or just the fact that this was the gun design most visibly tied to the romanticism of America’s conquering of the West, the lever-action rifle remains one of the sleekest, most attractive firearm designs to ever grace a gun cabinet. Mossberg’s 464 Lever Action continues this legacy with superb in-the-hand balancing and a compact 35.75-inch length for superior maneuverability. Features include a button-rifled barrel, recessed muzzle crown, top-tang safety, recoil pad and smooth cycling lever action. The receiver is precision machined for reliable lockup and the ejection port is positioned to ensure ample scope clearance from spent casings. The receiver is drilled and tapped for optics, though the gun comes with front and rear adjustable sights -- some models have adjustable fiber optic sites. Available in .30-30, the 464 comes in several stock and metal finish variations, including blued and Marinecote barrels and walnut or plain wood stocks, some with checkering and some without. There are even several tactical-styled versions at a slightly higher price point for those looking for that modern twist.
Mossberg ATR Deer THUG Rifles
While Mossberg’s proven ATR (All-Terrain Rifle) has been around since 2004, the company partnered with Mossy Oak this year to produce a series of ATR Deer THUG Rifles in honor of Mossy’s popular TV program of the same name. The Deer THUG rifle will be available in .243 Win., .270 Win. and .30-06 and will feature: Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo synthetic stocks; an all-steel machined receiver; a free-floating, button-rifled fluted carbon steel barrel with a recessed crown; an integral top-loading five-round magazine; Mossberg’s user-adjustable Lightning Bolt Action (LBA) Trigger System with a skeletonized trigger blade, adjustable from two to seven pounds; scope bases; forend sling swivel studs; and a sling. The rifles weigh in at around seven pounds.
Remington Model 770 Stainless Camo
Remington’s bargain-valued deer rifle features true out-of-the-box accuracy and is now available with a high-end look to boot. This Remington Model 770 -- an upgrade from Remington’s popular 710 model -- pairs a barrel of stainless steel and a nickel-plated action and bolt with a stock finished in Realtree AP HD camo. The bolt is set at an easy camming 60 degrees, the barrel is button-rifled with six grooves and a detachable magazine holds four standard cartridges and three Magnum ones. It also comes complete with a factory-mounted and bore-sighted 3-9x40mm scope; just pull this Remington from the box and shoot. The stock is contoured for a better grip, and the raised cheekpiece ensures a solid weld between shooter and gun for better aiming and target alignment. Available in .270 Win., .30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag. and .300 Win. Mag.
Ruger American Rifle
Ruger hopes to establish a new American tradition of affordable quality with their new American Rifle, which was introduced with the deer hunter squarely in mind given the chamberings it is being offered in. A black composite-stocked bolt-action, the American Rifle’s barrel is made from alloy steel and boasts a comfortable, tapered forend and pistol grip with finger contouring for a sure grip. A thick rubber recoil pad smoothes any kick. A three-lug 70-degree bolt cycles rounds to the chamber from a flush-fit, four-round rotary magazine. The rifle also features Ruger’s Marksman Adjustable Trigger, which provides for tweaking the pull poundage between three and five pounds. Available calibers are .243 Win., .270 Win., .30-06 and .308 Win. The gun tips the scales at a mere 6.25 pounds, and depending on the chambering, is 42 or 42.5 inches in overall length. A rear tang safety provides easy visibility and accessibility.
T/C Venture Compact
An affordable rifle that comes guaranteed by the manufacturer to shoot under one-inch groups and works great for young or smaller sized shooters can be found in the Thompson/Center Venture, now available in a compact model. The bolt-action features a 20-inch precision machined T/C barrel with their 5R rifling matched to a 40.75-inch black composite stock. The Venture Compact’s length of pull is 12.5 inches, but as the shooter grows, an included 1-inch synthetic spacer and butt pad can be added to extend the length of pull another inch. Other features include an adjustable trigger, Hogue traction inlays in the forend and pistol grip, and a Melanite-coated bolt to aid smooth cycling. Calibers for this rifle are .243 Win., .308 Win. and 7mm-08 Rem.
Weatherby Vanguard 2 Synthetic
OK, I’m going to cheat a little on this one since its actual suggested retail price is above the $500 mark, but for anyone who has ever paid attention to pricing structures of products, nothing sells for what the manufacturer suggests except maybe breakfast cereal. Shop around most gun stores and online brokers, and you’ll find the average price tag on the Weatherby Vanguard 2 Synthetic more at the $464 to $483 mark. And for Weatherby quality, that’s simply amazing. This is the Weatherby for the non-SCI crowd, as it still features many of the company’s quality firearms features such as a match quality, two-stage creep-free trigger (adjustable down to 2.5 pounds), a lightweight Monte Carlo Griptonite stock with pistol grip and forend inserts, as well as a right-side palm swell for a comfortable grip and better control, one-piece machined and fluted bolt, hinged floorplate, a matte bead blasted blued finish on the cold hammer forged 24-inch barrel, and three-position safety. And it all comes with Weatherby’s Sub-MOA guarantee. Available in 16 calibers, ranging from the .240 Wby. Mag. all the way to the severe .338 Win. Mag.