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Long range shooting is considered by many to be the pinnacle of shooting.
This is true for a lot of reasons. Very few types of shooting require the mastery of the fundamentals that long range shooting does.
Not only that, but being able to shoot long distances has applications beyond showing off your shooting skills.
The most notable of these uses is hunting. Most types of hunting concentrate on ranges between 200 and 400 yards. However, for some game, you’ll need the capability to shoot out to 700 yards or more.
So, good shooting technique is paramount. But at a certain point, the hardware you’re using becomes a factor in whether or not you get the hit.
Our Top Choices
Our Best Choice
If you’re looking to wisely choose your rifle right now, the Howa KRG Bravo 1500 is the top long range model overall that will get you excellent long range performance at a really reasonable price.
Choose Your Firearm Wisely
So then, what makes for wise firearm selection?
Think about these things when you’re marveling at all the rifles at the gun store:
In recent years, a number of rifle calibers have overtaken the old champions of long range accuracy.
There’s plenty of overlap, but the top long range rifle caliber may not be the top long range hunting caliber, since flight path ballistics don’t equal terminal ballistics.
Fortunately, there’s a round that lives in the overlapping area of this venn diagram: 6.5 Creedmoor.
While the 6.5 Creedmoor isn’t the answer to every shooting problem, it’s a really strong contender for the ultimate long range competition and hunting round.
Right now, the cost and availability of the 6.5 Creedmoor are a bit restrictive. The price is coming down and more stores are carrying its ammunition. But there are other great options with solid flight path and terminal ballistics that won’t hit your wallet so hard.
Although .308 has fallen out of favor in competition circles, it’s very affordable and has decent terminal ballistics. If you’re main concern is budget, .308 is still a legitimate option, even if it’s no longer the most popular long range round.
Trigger control is important for every type of shooting.
But it’s absolutely critical in long range shooting, where even tiny movements of your muzzle can equate to inches or even feet of difference in the point of impact.
Your trigger squeeze is the thing with the most potential to move your muzzle. So the trigger on your long range firearm is a vital piece of the long range equation.
So check out the trigger on a long range rifle before you make a buying decision. Of course, if you’re planning on installing an aftermarket trigger, this is a non-issue. But if you’re going to compete or hunt with your long range weapon out of the box, check the trigger before you buy it.
There’s going to be some subjective variation when it comes to triggers. But, here are a few guidelines to help you evaluate triggers:
- Pull weight. The most accurate shooters in the industry run their triggers between 2 and 3.5 pounds.
You may find that you prefer something outside this range. An adjustable trigger is a great thing to have for dialing in your trigger squeeze. Just keep in mind that an extremely light trigger can compromise the drop-safety of your rifle.
- Uptake, break, overtravel. A good trigger squeeze involves solid follow through. Squeeze steadily until the shot breaks, press until the trigger bottoms out, then release the trigger until you feel the reset.
A trigger that requires very little movement to accomplish a complete trigger squeeze reduces muzzle movement during the shot, and therefore provides better accuracy.
- Pull length. This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of triggers. The pull length is the distance from the center of the trigger to the end of the buttstock.
Pull length is entirely subjective. The right pull length for you depends on the length of your arms and the size of your hands.
Some firearms include spacers or an adjustable stock to adjust the pull length. But for many firearms, the potential to adjust the pull length is very limited.
Pull length is no issue if you plan on swapping out the stock. But most of the time the right thing is to get a firearm you’re considering in your hands and see how comfortable it is when you’ve got a firing grip on it.
A great way to get a feel for all three of these things is to dry fire the rifle. Get a feel for how steady you can be as you squeeze the trigger.
The waters of accuracy can get muddy fast.
So let’s clear one thing up right away: you cannot evaluate the inherent accuracy of your rifle by shooting it yourself. The only way truly check the accuracy of a rifle is to fire it from a vice. There’s nobody on the planet that can hold a rifle in exactly the same spot for multiple shots.
When I help people at the range, 99.9% of shooters who think their gun is inaccurate or that their sights are off actually have an issue with their shooting technique.
Most long range firearm manufacturers will include the accuracy of their rifles in the documentation. Accuracy is usually measured in minutes of angle (MOA).
One MOA is a one inch circle at 100 yards. So a one MOA firearm will consistently place bullets inside a one inch circle when fired from a vice at 100 yards.
So, check what the manufacturer says, and get a gun that delivers the accuracy you need. But don’t blame your firearm if you don’t shoot one inch groups at 100 yards.
A firearm that shoots very tight groups is good, but the vast majority of shooters won’t notice the difference between a .5 MOA and a .7 MOA rifle.
So have a look at these characteristics as you’re choosing your long range firearm, but remember that the shooter is the most important part of the shooting equation.
Now that we’ve got a selection criteria, let’s have a look at some of the top long range rifles you should have on your shortlist.
The Best Long Range Rifles by Purpose
We've compiled an excellent lineup for all your long range shooting needs:
1. Howa RPG Bravo 1500
The stock is synthetic, but Howa reinforced the stock with aluminum.
The action and barrel are bedded in aluminum to make the KRG more rigid, and therefore more accurate.
Additionally, the stock features two adjustments:
- Cheek weld adjustment.
- Trigger length of pull adjustment.
This means that you can adjust the KRG to get the most possible fit for you, so you can achieve the most excellent possible performance.
The barrel is free floating and features a threaded muzzle for attaching muzzle devices and suppressors. The barrel is 26 inches long, which is outstanding for extreme long range accuracy.
However, the 26 inch barrel might make the KRG a bit unwieldy for walking around in the woods, if you’d like to use one rifle for competing and hunting.
Howa states that the KRG is capable of shooting sub-MOA groups at 100 yards. They’ve also tuned the trigger to help you take advantage of the inherent capabilities of the product.
The KRG comes with a 10 round magazine, which is excellent for competitive shooting and beyond adequate for hunting.
The last thing we’ll talk about here is the price. The KRG comes at a price point far below what many high-performance long range rifles cost. It’s an amazing deal.
If you’re looking for a rifle that fits into multiple shooting contexts, sports impressive performance, and is incredibly affordable, the KRG is absolutely the perfect option.
2. Bergara B14 Ridge
First, it’s chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. The B14 is part of a growing trend to bring 6.5 Creedmoor to shooters on tighter budgets.
The B14 is built on a synthetic stock with embedded epoxy mounts for the chromoly barrel.
The epoxy works with fiber reinforcements in the stock to provide a rigid platform for more accuracy.
The barrel is 22 inches. This may be a little bit short for hardcore long range competitors. But it’s perfectly adequate for hobbyists and hunters.
Where the B14 really shines is the trigger. Bergara fitted the B14 with a well-contoured trigger and set the pull weight at 3 pounds—right in the middle of the sweet spot for long range shooting.
A nice perk of the B14 is that Bergara drilled and tapped the receiver to accept Remington 700 mounts and rings. This is handy because there are so many mounts and rings that fit the Remington 700. This gives you tons of options for mounting hardware and optics.
The Bergara B14 is so affordable and so capable that it’s one of the top models for shooters who want a great firearm to customize.
But, if you want to take your rifle out of the box and go straight to the bench, you can easily do that with the B14 too.
3. Browning X-Bolt
Best for Hunting
When it comes to concealing a lock box, the Paragon Flat comes in at the top.
Its ultra-slim design makes it ideal for placing in a very inconspicuous place or right out in the open behind your favorite painting.
It is constructed using solid steel and features two steel locking bolts with its electronic keypad lock. It also comes with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Speaking of the barrel, it’s 26 inches and free floated in the stock to provide an extremely accurate platform. Additionally, the barrel is fluted to reduce the weight and improve cooling without compromising accuracy.
Testers have found that the X-Bolt reliably shoots groups of .75 inches, which is outstanding. So all the accuracy features seem to be working.
To help you get the accuracy you need, the X-Bolt comes with Browning’s adjustable Feather Trigger system. The trigger is adjustable, and designed to eliminate take up and minimize overtravel. So there’s very little movement in the trigger press.
The only area where the X-Bolt skews toward hunting is the magazine capacity. The X-Bolt comes with a 4 round magazine. Hunters will be fine with this. Competitive shooters may find that this is a tad low for longer shooting stages.
However, the bolt cycles quickly and has a low lift angle to keep your hand from knocking your optic while you’re running your firearm, which is handy for competition shooters.
Overall, the Browning X-Bolt is a hunting tool at heart. But the barrel is a competition length, and the accuracy features make this a very capable competition rifle.
If you focus on hunting, but want to compete as well, the X-Bolt is a great option.
4. Savage Arms 12 Long Range Precision (LRP)
Best Out of the Box
Savage Arms was once considered an off brand of rifles. However, they’ve become legitimate contenders in the bolt-action firearm market. Savage Arms has achieved an attractive blend of affordability and quality that’s hard to beat.
The Savage Arms 12 Long Range Precision (LRP) is quite possibly the pinnacle of this combination of performance and price.
Savage Arms offers the LRP in 6.5 Creedmoor for those who concentrate on long range performance. However, a .243 Winchester variant is available for those looking for a more economically minded option.
The barrel is 26 inches, which is a competition focused length.
It’s great for hunting as far as precision is concerned. However, a 26 inch barrel can be inconvenient during walks in the woods.
To tighten your shot groups, the barrel is fluted and made of carbon steel. Savage free floated the barrel in a fiberglass stock for more rigidity. This creates a lightweight, high accuracy package.
The barrel is excellent, but the thing that really sets the LRP apart is the trigger. Savage fitted the LRP with their AccuTrigger. The trigger is adjustable from 6 ounces to 2.5 pounds, and has an integrated safety that prevents the firearm from being unsafe when you set the trigger pull to a very low weight.
The AccuTrigger is also designed to minimize the movement in a complete trigger press. So you can achieve the sub-MOA accuracy the firearm is capable of.
The magazine is a 4 round, detachable magazine. This might be a bit low for competition shooters. Hunters won’t mind the capacity as much, though.
Even though the stock is synthetic and the barrel is fluted, the LRP still weighs in at 11 pounds. So it may be a bit cumbersome for those who hunt on foot.
Overall, though, the LRP provides the most adjustability and capability for those who want a firearm that they can make their own and hunt or compete extremely well with right out of the box.
5. Ruger American Predator
On a Budget
Ruger is known for producing high-quality, affordable firearms. They’ve actually pushed this to the point where there aren’t many expensive ruger guns that are well-known.
The Ruger American Predator follows this trend. But it’s a capable product that can help lower the financial barrier to long range shooting.
Ruger offers the Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308.
So you can choose the round that matches your priorities and long-term budget.
Ruger built the Predator on a synthetic stock with their proprietary Power Bedding system that increases rigidity in the bolt and free floats the barrel to improve accuracy.
The barrel is 22 inches long. To offer some versatility, the barrel is threaded so you can add muzzle devices or a suppressor.
The accuracy features bring the precision to less than a minute of angle, which is admirable—impressive, even—for a firearm at this price point.
Ruger fitted the Predator with an adjustable trigger, which is adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds. The trigger adjustment may not go as low as some shooters would like, but it still hits the top of the preferred range for trigger pull weight.
The trigger pull length isn’t adjustable. But the Predator has a rubber buttpad to reduce felt recoil and enable you to artificially tweak the trigger pull length by pulling the rifle in tighter.
Then, Ruger also equipped the Predator with a three-lug bolt that’s easy to cycle from the shoulder, which is a good feature for hunters who shoot from a standing position.
The receiver features a scope rail for quickly attaching optics. This is handy if you’d like to use different optics for different shooting contexts.
In the end, the Ruger Predator is an outstanding option for anyone looking to get into long range shooting. It’s especially great for hunters who want an affordable firearm that they can take to the competitive range.
6. Savage Arms 10BA Stealth
Savage Arms made themselves known with their hunting rifles. However, they’ve made impressive strides into tactical firearm territory.
So Savage Arms comes up again with the Savage Arms 10BA Stealth. Tactical long range rifles can get pretty pricey. But Savage has kept the cost down without compromising on performance with the Stealth.
The first thing that stands out on the Stealth is the chassis.
The monolithic chassis is machined from a single piece of aluminum that delivers outstanding rigidity and exceptional accuracy.
The 24 inch barrel is free floated to wring the most precision from the single-piece chassis. The barrel is long enough for legitimate long range performance, yet short enough that the Stealth is maneuverable in tight spaces and manageable out in the woods.
The barrel is also fluted to reduce weight and threaded for attaching muzzle devices or a suppressor.
The Stealth utilizes the Savage AccuTrigger. The trigger is adjustable down to 6 ounces without compromising the drop safety of your rifle.
Additionally, the stock is adjustable. This means that the trigger pull length is also adjustable. The adjustable stock also helps you dial in your eye relief on your optic.
In keeping with the tactical design, the magazine is detachable and holds 10 rounds. Both competition shooters and hunters will be satisfied with the magazine capacity.
One more thing: the Stealth is very configurable.
The chassis is fitted with a rail for easily adding and swapping optics. The forend has M-LOK attachment points so you can add any attachments that you’re into.
Although the Stealth is a solid tactical rifle, the price is quite reasonable. Savage offers the Stealth in 6.5 Creedmoor to satisfy the long range specialists. But you can also get the Stealth in .308 and .223 if you need a round that’s easier on your budget.
So, if you’re looking for a tactical firearm that could easily be pressed into service as a hunting or serious competition rifle, you’ll have a tough time finding a better option than the Stealth.
Closing the Range
Long range shooting is largely a matter of applying the fundamentals. However, you still need a tool that’s adequate for the job.
Most hunters will get by just fine with a reasonably priced rifle. However, if you’d like to dabble in the really serious precision shooting game, you’ll need to consider more serious hardware.
To this end, the Howa KRG Bravo 1500 is a solid model that won’t send you to bankruptcy court. Both hunters and competitive long range shooters will be impressed with the performance they get for the money.
So these are the models that will help you make the most impressive shots (using good fundamentals). So pick up a rifle, and get it out on the bench and line up some shots.