By Shawn Skipper, American Hunter
There’s never a bad time to add a new rifle to your gun case—especially if you’re looking for a favorite new meat maker before the 2015 whitetail season kicks into high gear. Here are a few new-for-2015 offerings that deserve some consideration if you’re looking to make an addition to the family before your season begins.
Savage Arms Model 11 or 16 in .338 Federal
Though the rifle models aren’t necessarily new in themselves, Savage Arms has made a number of its offerings available in .338 Federal this year, and whitetail hunters should take note. Built on the .308 case and “necked-up” to hold a .338 diameter bullet, this load offers hunters a faster muzzle velocity than the 308 Win. but with a heavier bullet. As a result, the short-action cartridge provides magnum energy, without magnum recoil. The platforms adding the .338 Federal chambering this year include: the 11 Long Range Hunter, 11 Hog Hunter, 16 FCSS, 16 Bear Hunter, 11 Trophy Hunter XP and 16 Trophy Hunter XP. Prices range from $560 up to $1,100.
The XPR serves as Winchester’s entry into the “budget” rifle market. Don’t let that fool you, however—like its low-priced brethren, the XPR is affordable because of how efficiently it’s produced. You’re going to get above-price performance. No, you’re not going to find an XPR with a handcrafted wood stock or top-of-the-line attention to detail, but that’s not what this offering was designed to be. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The rifle is rugged, dependable and, after all, a Winchester. That it was designed in part to complement Winchester Ammunition’s new Deer Season XP is just the icing on the cake. MSRP: $549.
Ruger American Rifle Predator
Ruger’s had a lot of fun with its American Rifle line since its launch a few years ago—by expanding it to feature rimfire models, Ranch models and just about everything else—and now the Predator line is joining the club. Don’t let the name scare you off—there are a few configurations that whitetail hunters will want to pay particular attention to. Those being the .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor and .308. Win. variants. The Predator is lightweight, making it ideal for a deer hunt that finds themselves on the go. Oh, and it features a heavy-profile barrel that is tapered and threaded for use with muzzle devices. So if you’re one of those lucky dogs that lives in a state where hunting with suppressors is legal, all the better. MSRP: $499.
Mossberg announced its new Patriot bolt-action rifle at SHOT Show 2015, and the positive response was immediate. At the heart of the Patriot series is Mossberg’s twin-lug, push-feed machined-steel action which is fed from a lightweight polymer, flush box magazine with 4 or 5-round total capacity. In our full print review, Richard Mann said “The Mossberg Patriot just might be the rifle for those with champagne tastes who are living on a beer budget.” Make of that what you will, but trust that the Patriot will deliver. Mann’s test model produced groups averaging less than 1.5 MOA for five loads. Over 60 models are available, housed in walnut, durable grey laminate, black synthetic or camo-finished synthetic stock options. If you’re in the market this year, the Patriot definitely warrants a look. Prices start nearly as low as $350.