Best Long-Range Rifles of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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Published Aug 18, 2023 11:00 AM

There have never been so many rifles on the market—in so many price ranges—that are precise enough for long-distance shooting. Triggers, optics, factory ammunition, and bullet design have all gotten better, too. And there is a trove of niche accessories geared toward the hunter or shooter that wants to make far-away hits. The only problem with this wealth of long-range riflery is that it’s hard to cut through the noise and gauge how much to spend on the best long-range rifle that fits your needs.

What’s universally true is that practice will make you a better marksman—not the money you spend on a rifle. It isn’t hard to find a cheap rifle and ammunition combo that will shoot sub-MOA groups today. With a setup like that, you can connect with targets out pretty damn far. You’ll need a good optic, too, but those are getting more affordable every day.

Still, it helps to have the right equipment. A rifle geared toward long-range shooting is going to perform better at the task. Some may give you an edge in shooting competitions, like PRS and NRL Hunter. Others will just make shooting at long distances a bit easier with features like a premium adjustable trigger, a heavy barrel, and a stock designed for shooting from supported positions. The following list will help you sort through all that’s out there when it comes to long-range rifles. For the most part, we’ve shot, tested, competed with, and/or hunted with each of the guns below. Here are the best long-range rifles you can buy.

How We Picked the Best Long-Range Rifles

From our in-depth annual rifle test to time spent in the field on hunting and shooting trips, the staff at F&S gets to handle a variety of rifles every year. With the exception of one below, we have shot and spent time evaluating each of the following rifles either in the field or during formal rifle tests. The evaluations consisted of timed drills, shooting groups with a variety of ammunition, and testing the rifles between multiple shooters. We have also taken a handful of the rifles below hunting and shot with them in long-range rifle shooting matches.

rifle on bipod
The Nosler Model 21 is a highly versatile rifle loaded with features hunters will appreciate. Nosler

Best Long Range Rifles: Reviews & Recommendations

Best for Hunting: Nosler Model 21

Nosler Model 21 Show Show 2022

Specs

  • Length: 41.65 inches to 44.5 inches
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds to 7.1 pounds
  • Barrel: Shilen Match Grade 22-inch or 24-inch
  • Action: 4340 Chrome Moly Steel
  • Trigger: Trigger Tech (adjustable) 3.25-pounds as tested
  • Finish: Cerakote & Nitride
  • Stock: McMillan Hunters Edge Sporter Stock
  • Available Chamberings: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested), 22 Nosler, 6.5 PRC, 26 Nosler, 27 Nosler, 280 Ackley Improved, 28 Nosler, 308 Winchester, 300 Winchester Magnum, 30 Nosler, 33 Nosler, 375 H&H

Pros

  • Beautiful craftsmanship
  • Extremely accurate
  • Balanced

Cons

The Model 21 was the clear winner in the 2022 F&S rifle test—and I consider it the complete package for a hunting rifle. It has a nitrided bolt that can be taken down without tools, a high-quality threaded Shilen barrel, an M16-style extractor, carbon-fiber stock, and an adjustable Trigger-Tech trigger. It’s available in cartridges capable of hunting any game animal on the planet, dangerous or otherwise.

But for long-range purposes, that all wouldn’t mean a thing if the Model 21 didn’t shoot. On average, our test rifle shot .94 inches with 5-shot groups at 100 yards from 11 different loads. Our shooting editor Richard Mann even shot a 31-shot group at 100 yards during Nosler’s suggested break-in procedure that measured 1.25 inches. And our best group fired with the Model 21 measured only .566 inches at 100 yards. In other words, this rifle is capable of precision beyond what most shooters can do in the field.

In my opinion, the Model 21 feels like a hunting rifle should. With its classicly proportioned stock, it comes up fast to the face for snapshots in the timber, yet it’s easy to steady on cross-canyon targets. It’s lightweight enough to carry just about anywhere, but it feels sturdy enough for repeatable accuracy. Pick one up in just about any chambering except the .375 H&H, and you’ll be ready to take game and hit targets at any distance you feel comfortable shooting.

Best Lightweight: Bergara MG Lite

BERGARA PREMIER MGLITE Shot Show 2022

Specs

  • Length: 43-45 inches
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Barrel: 22-inch or (24-inch in 300 Win. Mag.) CURE carbon barrel
  • Action: Bergara Premier
  • Trigger: Trigger Tech (adjustable)
  • Finish: Cerakote
  • Stock: XLR magnesium chassis w/ folding stock
  • Chambering: .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 300 Win Mag

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Comes standard with premium features

Cons

  • Price
  • Limited chamberings

Another rifle that took top honors at our 2022 rifle test, the Premier MG Lite is right at home strapped to a backpack or waiting in line to shoot at an NRL Hunter competition. Part of this rifle’s appeal is its nearly impossible lightness. It feels like it’s made of race-car parts. In a way, it kind of is. The MG Lite has a carbon-fiber barrel, carbon-fiber grip, and carbon-fiber stock (if there was any more carbon fiber on this gun, it would float away). It also has a lighter-than-aluminum magnesium chassis. But what I like best about the MG Lite is that it can really shoot.

We laid down multiple sub-MOA groups with a variety of match and hunting ammo. And the rifle didn’t feel flimsy or like it was being thrown around by recoil while we were doing it. The MG Lite is easy to maneuver and handle around barricades during a match. And it has smart features today’s long-range competition shooters expect, like a full-length ARCA rail and adjustable cheek riser.

Because the MG Lite is so light, it’s easy to get away with mounting heavier high-powered optics like the Trijicon Tenmile. With its folding stock, this rifle also packs down easily for transportation, whether that be in a vehicle or a backpack.

Best Budget: Bergara HMR

Bergara B-14 HMR

Specs

  • Length: 40-47.5 inches
  • Weight: 9.5-9.9 lbs
  • Barrel: 4140 CrMo Steel No. 6 Taper
  • Action: Bergara B-14
  • Finish: Cerakote
  • Stock: Bergara HMR Molded with mini-chassis
  • Chambering: .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 22-250, 450 Bushmaster, 6.5 PRC, 300 Win Mag, 300 PRC

Pros

  • Price
  • Left-hand versions available

Cons

  • A bit on the heavy side
  • No ARCA or Picatinny rail for accessories

There are cheaper rifles capable of long-range shooting, but few that come out of the box as well-suited to the task as the B-14 HMR. Bergara put this rifle together to serve as a cross-over between hunting and competition. And it’s a good rifle to take in the woods, though it is a bit on the heavy side. When it comes to hunting, it is best served for sitting in a blind or treestand. But the HMR really shines as an entry-level rifle for competition shooters.

Spend any time at a PRS match and you’ll probably see a few HMRs kicking around. They’re affordable, adjustable, suppressor or muzzle-break ready, and easy to shoot. They come standard with accessories like QD cups for a sling (a great feature for lugging a rifle around during a match), sling studs for mounting a bipod, and accept widely-available AICS magazines. HMRs are also built on a Remington 700 footprint, so it’s easy to upgrade to an aftermarket stock or chassis instead of buying a new rifle when the time comes. The HMR was the first rifle I shot to 1,000 yards with. It will eat a wide variety of ammo and leave plenty of money for an optics budget. Pair yours with a Brownells MPO 5-25×56 scope, and you’ll have a competition-ready setup for around $2,000.

Best for Competition: Daniel Defense Delta 5 Pro

Daniel Defense Delta 5 Pro

Specs

  • Length: 44 1/4″ inches (varies with barrel length)
  • Weight: 11.4 lbs
  • Barrel: 16-26 inch, Heavy Palma, cold-hammer-forged
  • Action: Mechanically bedded stainless steel action with integral recoil lug
  • Trigger: Adjustable single-stage Timney Elite Hunter
  • Finish: Cerakote
  • Stock: Daniel Defense fully-adjustable chassis
  • Chambering: .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor

Pros

  • Comes with a Daniel Defense Full-Latch Impact Plastic Case
  • Competition ready out of the box
  • Premium features standard

Cons

  • Heavy for use outside of PRS shooting

Daniel Defense released the Delta 5 Pro a few years ago to give the production-class PRS shooter every advantage a custom rifle shooter would expect. At $2,499, it comes standard with a .5-MOA guarantee and premium features like an integrated Area 419 ARCA-lock rail, Hellfire muzzle break, cold-hammer-forged barrel with 5/8×24 threads, fully adjustable chassis with a barrier stop, and an M-LOK forend with a front bridge.

But what’s most exciting about the Delta 5 Pro is its interchangeable barrels. You can switch between 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Winchester, without going to a gunsmith. This is huge if you have a 6.5 Creedmoor but happen to luck into a pile of .308 match ammo or if you burn through multiple barrels a year. Daniel Defense’s Barrels are also nearly an inch thick, allowing you to stay on the gun longer during a match.

I shot the Delta 5 Pro in my first PRS match, and I had very little gear to go along with it. Still, out of the box, it was a solid set-up. I’d recommend it to anyone with a bit of money to spend who wants to get into PRS or a seasoned pro who’d like to duke it out in the production class.

Best Extreme Long-Range Rifle: Accuracy International AXSR

Accuracy International AXSR

Specs

  • Weight: 15.2 lbs
  • Barrel: Bartlein, 2018 profile
  • Action: Bolt Action, Front Locking Six-Lug
  • Trigger: Adjustable AI Competition Trigger
  • Stock: AXSR Chassis with Folding Stock
  • Chambering: 300 Winchester Magnum, 300 Norma Magnum, 338 Lapua Magnum, 338 Norma Magnum

Pros

  • Incredibly adjustable
  • Built to a high standard of accuracy and reliability

Cons

  • Proprietary AI mounting system on forend (not Keymod)
  • Price

Originally developed for the USSOCOM Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) program, the AXSR leans more toward a field-artillery piece than a long-range rifle. It is chambered for cartridges with more than enough horsepower to reach out past 2,000 yards. Though we haven’t spent any time shooting this rifle, it is built to the high standard of quality Accuracy International (AI) is known for, and trusted by ELR competition shooters. 

A competition trigger comes standard on the AXSR. It can be adjusted from 12 ounces to 2 pounds and converted from single stage to two stage. The trigger can also be moved forward and backward to match your grip style and hand size.

AI built the AXSR with two blast channels for an extra measure of safety. In the event of a catastrophic failure within the chamber, gasses will be vented out the side of the receiver, away from the shooter. The rifle also has plenty of room for mounting accessories and weights; however, the forend uses a proprietary Key-Slot system, so you might need to buy hardware from AI. Otherwise, the AXSR is equipped with a standard 20 MOA rail, a full-length Picatinny rail for optics, and a full-length ARCA rail below the rifle.

Best Crossover: Savage 110 Magpul Hunter

Savage 110 Magpul Hunter Shot Show 2022

Specs

  • Length: 38.25 inches
  • Weight: 8.9 pounds
  • Barrel: 18-inch Carbon steel
  • Action: Carbon steel
  • Trigger: Savage AccuTrigger
  • Finish: Cerakote
  • Stock: Magpul synthetic
  • Chambering: 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Out-of-the-box precision

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Action cycles rough

Not everybody can afford a hunting rifle and a long-range rifle, and some just don’t want a different rifle for every type of shooting they do. And why should you when there’s a rifle that can do both? The Savage 110 Magpul Hunter is right at home in a treestand or on a sandbag in a shooting competition.

We put a lot of rounds through the 110 Magpul Hunter during our rifle test in 2022 and found the stock to be comfortable and easy to shoot offhand and off the bench. During the same test, out of 10 rifles, the 110 Magpul Hunter was one of the most accurate—likely due to its factory-blueprinted action. Every 5-shot group we fired measured under 1 inch.

Savage’s Magpul Hunter comes with a short barrel, making it handy in the woods and easy to maneuver in a box blind. It’s also perfect for use with a suppressor. Our only complaint with the Magpul Hunter was the large bolt handle and its weight. It is a little on the heavy side, but some shooters might like that for stability when taking long shots.

Best for NRL Hunter: Springfield Waypoint 2020

Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint

Specs

  • Length: 41.5 inches
  • Weight: 6lbs 9oz – 7lbs 11oz
  • Barrel: BSF carbon fiber or fluted stainless steel
  • Action: Springfield Model 2020
  • Trigger: Adjustable Triggertech Field Trigger
  • Finish: Cerakote
  • Stock: AG Composites Carbon fiber, adjustable (on some models)
  • Chambering: 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 6mm Creedmoor, .308 Winchester

Pros

  • A lot of gun for the money
  • .75 MOA guarantee

Cons

  • Radial brake kicks up dirt while shooting

Because NRL Hunter puts a weight limit on the guns you’re allowed to use, you need a lightweight, accurate rifle. For me, it’s the 2020 Waypoint. I may be biased because I own a Waypoint and used it to compete in my first NRL Hunter match. But after shooting it and carrying it for three years, I can honestly recommend the Waypoint to any field-style match shooter.

Springfield lent me an early-model Waypoint in 2020 for an elk hunting trip, and I liked it so much that I decided to buy it. The Waypoint was something of a first in a trend of lightweight, target-style rifles geared toward hunters. It fulfills this role beautifully, giving you the feel of a stable long-range rifle you’d take to the range at the weight of a rifle you’d take to the woods.

In terms of long-range precision, I’ve shot my Waypoint out to a mile, which is much farther than any NRL Hunter target would be. I’ve also taken it hunting at over a mile high in elevation, and it carried just as easily as any hunting rifle should. This rifle is a screaming deal, giving you a custom-quality build at around $2,500 (around $2000 for the steel-barrel version). Top yours with a Leupold Mark 5 3.5-18×44 and an Atlas bipod, and you’ll come in well under the 12-pound cutoff for a Hunter match.

Springfield model 2020 rifle
The Springfield Model 2020 is a custom-level rifle offered at a retail-level price. Leupold

Best for Beginners: Browning X-Bolt Target Max

Browning X-Bolt Target Max Adjustable Suppressor-Ready Centerfire Rifle

Specs

  • Length: 46 inches
  • Weight: 9 pounds, 14 ounces
  • Barrel: 26-inch Stainless fluted
  • Action: Browning X-Bolt
  • Trigger: Target DLX adjustable
  • Finish: Matte blue
  • Stock: Black composite
  • Chambering: 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 308 Winchester

Pros

  • Extremely accurate
  • Easy to shoot

Cons

  • Only available in three chamberings

The Browning X-Bolt Target Max does not have an ARCA rail, a gas-pedal thumb stop, or M-LOK compatibility. But it does drive tacks. During our 2022 rifle test, the Target Max turned in half-inch groups with a variety of ammunition and outshot every other rifle we tested. This rifle is heavy, kicks like a bunny rabbit, and has a trigger that breaks like a glass rod—making it just plain easy to shoot.

The Target Max feels a bit like a throwback long-range rifle, from a time before more dynamic shooting matches like PRS and NRL Hunter. But if you’re the kind of shooter that just wants to see if you can hit a Coke can at 500 yards, this is the gun for you. Because of the Recoil Hawg muzzle break, just about anybody can shoot the Target Max. The rifle is loud, but we found the recoil to be negligible. The rifle’s 60-degree bolt throw is nice, too, as it doesn’t interfere with the adjustment knob on most modern long-range scopes. Aside from that, and a well-built adjustable stock, this rifle doesn’t have many bells and whistles. But it more than makes up for that in accuracy.

Best for Builders: Weatherby Model 307

Weatherby Model 307

  • Length: 41.5 to 45.75 inches (Range XP)
  • Weight: 7.3 to 7.5 lbs (Range XP)
  • Barrel: 24- to 28-inch threaded and fluted
  • Action: Weatherby 307
  • Trigger: Triggertech Field Trigger
  • Finish: Graphite Black Cerakote
  • Stock: Your own, MDT Chassis, or adjustable synthetic
  • Chambering: 240 Weatherby Mag, 243 Win, 257 Weatherby Mag, 270 Winchester, 280 Ackley Improved, 30/06 Springfield, 300 Win Mag, 308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 Weatherby RPM, 7mm Rem Mag, 7mm PRC (in the Range XP)

Pros

  • Easy to modify with Remington 700 Aftermarket parts
  • Pre-built rifles are accurate out of the box

Cons

  • On the Range model, the comb height needs to be adjusted with tools

If you like to play Legos with guns, Weatherby might have just made your next long-range rifle. The 307 is a brand-new action from Weatherby, named after their Sheridan, Wyoming, area code. It’s been made with rifle builders in mind and spec’d out to a Remington-700-style footprint.

The 307 action sells for around $750 by itself or in two different builds from Weatherby—the Alpine MDT and the Range XP. On a recent visit to the Sierra Bullet headquarters in Sedalia, Missouri, we took three Model 307 Range XPs, loaded them with Matchkings, and rang steel out to 1,200 yards.

I plan on spending some more time at the range with the 307 this summer, but what I’m most excited about is tearing this rifle down and building something totally different with the action. Weatherby says that barrel changes are simple and can be done at home, and there are plenty of short-action cartridges to choose from with a 308-sized bolt face.

The new Weatherby Model 307 action set up from the factory in an MDT chassis.
The new Weatherby Model 307 action set up from the factory in an MDT chassis. Weatherby

What to Consider When Buying a Long-Range Rifle

There are a lot of long-range shooting disciplines to consider when trying to narrow down the best long-range rifle. The first thing you need to ask yourself is, what kind of long-range shooting do I want to do? Is it just a stretched-out plinking session in a farm field (nothing wrong with that)? Or are you trying to participate in shooting matches to hone your skills? Are you going to take this rifle hunting, or is it just for the range? Will it ever leave the bench, or do you want to shoot off of barricades and such? Here are a few more considerations you might want to make before laying down the cash for a long-range rifle.

How deep are your pockets?

Getting a long-range rifle is just the beginning of long-range shooting. You’re going to want to buy a pile of expensive ammo, possibly get into reloading, drop at least $1,000 (probably more) on an optic, pay for shooting classes (money well spent), and buy pricey accessories like shooting bags, bipods, tripods, a ballistic calculator, and a rangefinder.

There is a way to get into all of this before shelling out the cash, though. I suggest finding an NRL Hunter match and signing up as a “skills” shooter, where you’ll be paired up with an expert. Last time I checked, NRL Hunter will loan you gear and even a rifle if you talk to them ahead of time. At the match, you’ll get enough trigger time to tire you out, and all you have to do is pay the entry fees. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than all of that other stuff.

How Adaptable Does My Rifle Need to Be to Accessories?

Many of the rifles above have attachment points or things like ARCA rails—which allow you to lock your rifle into a tripod and bipod. If you want to run your rifle with thermal and night vision for varmint hunting, you might want to check out the Delta 5 Pro because of its front bridge. You also will want to consider how the rifle may interface with accessories you already have. Again, going to a match or finding other long-range shooters in your area will give you a better idea of what you should expect out of your setup and what kind of accessories are worth buying.

Ease of Use and Maintenance

If you want to get good and make consistent hits at a distance, you need to shoot a lot. That means that you’re also going to clean your rifle a lot, and possibly burn out barrels. Many of the rifles above are easy to work on. They have published torque specs, and they have bolts that disassemble without tools. On some, you can even change a barrel without going to a gunsmith. You should try to find a rifle that you can work on or your gunsmith can work on without throwing tools across the room in frustration.

What Cartridge Do You Want to Shoot?

Long-range rifles come in a variety of chamberings. Before you buy your rifle, you need to decide how deep you want to go into this world. There are some chamberings you can really only reload for. Others are hard to find and expensive.

I like to shoot rifles that will take factory-loaded match-grade ammo because these days, I’d rather spend time shooting than reloading. In the future, I plan on going deeper with my reloading setup, and for now, I’m saving high-quality brass from my factory loads like a kid puts away tooth fairy money. 

If you’re just getting started, go with a 6.5 Creedmoor or .308. Quality .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor ammo is easy to find. The .308 will kick a little more, drop a little more, and get blown around by the wind a little more, but it’s good enough for government work. The 6.5 is a bit easier on the shoulder, and more friendly when it comes to ballistics. Both are great for targets at distance and will perform on game at reasonable distances.

The Nosler 21 is a great rifle for in the field and at the range.
The Nosler 21 is a great rifle for in the field and at the range. Nosler

Best Long-Range Rifles: Final Thoughts

Long-range rifles are great, but there really just an entry point into the world of long-range shooting. Like anything else, the more you practice, the more you’ll learn about what you should expect out of a rifle. Any of the rifles above will deliver the kind of precision necessary for hitting targets out to 1,000 yards and beyond. But they can’t do it by themselves. My best advice for anyone getting into long-range shooting is to find other long-range shooters in your area. Look for PRS and NRL matches nearby. And if you can afford it, take a long-range shooting class.


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