If this is the year you’ve decided to upgrade your hunting battery to include a brand-new hunting rifle, you’re in luck. There’s a laundry list of new guns for the upcoming year, with new models to suit every taste, budget and hunting scenario—from long-range varmint and predator shoots to dangerous game in the thick bush. Here’s a rundown of some of the most exciting new guns for 2018.
The Franchi name is synonymous with “shotguns,” but this year, the Italian brand is launching its first bolt-action hunting rifle. Named the Momentum, this gun includes a fluted bolt with three locking lugs, a free-floated, cold hammer-forged threaded barrel, TSA recoil pad and adjustable (2- to 4-pound) trigger. The black synthetic stock comes with stylized cutouts and textured panels.
But these avant-garde additions are for more than just aesthetics. Franchi took the standard synthetic rifle stock and made it as user-friendly as possible: There is a recessed area near the rear sling stud to accommodate your hand when shooting off bags, and the grip panels provide a firm and stable platform for holding the rifle when shooting in a number of different positions.
The sling studs are recessed and sit flush with the contour of the stock so they won’t hang up. Yet, they are large enough to easily accommodate most swivels. There are six caliber options: .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win, .308 Win, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Win Mag; and there’s also a combo version that comes equipped with a Burris Fullfield II 3-9×40 rifle scope already mounted. The Momentum weighs 6.6 to 6.7 pounds unscoped, so it’s easy to carry in the field.
MSRP: $609 (rifle); $729 (scope combo)
The 110 Hunter is an excellent production rifle—made better by the addition of Savage’s new AccuFit system. It comes with five separate comb risers and four length-of-pull spacers, all of which allow the shooter to customize the gun for a perfect fit. Combine this with the 110’s Accustock (featuring a rail system that engages the entire length of the action), adjustable AccuTrigger and a 110-barreled action with barrel nut for precise headspacing, and you’ve got a versatile, accurate hunting rifle that doesn’t cost a fortune. A new stock design incorporates new, soft-touch finger grooves and grip inserts for maximum control and comfort.
In addition, there are a dozen caliber offerings that range from .204 Ruger all the way up to the powerful .300 Win Mag (including the superb .280 Ackley Improved—a hunting round that’s just now getting the attention it deserves). This rifle’s weight ranges from 7.15 to 7.35 pounds, depending upon caliber.
It was big news in the hunting world when Mauser announced it was releasing a new rifle in 2018. Dubbed the M18, or “Volkswaffe” (“people’s rifle” in German), this bolt gun comes with a synthetic stock that offers two soft inlays for a secure grip in any conditions, along with a cold hammer-forged barrel. The five-round, detachable box magazine fits securely in place, and the trigger is adjustable and very crisp. There’s a three-position rocker-type safety that’s easy to find, with clear demarcations.
Mauser backs this rifle with a serious accuracy guarantee: five shots under an inch at 100 yards. That’s a bold promise, especially because this “people’s rifle” is priced under $700. There are a number of caliber options, including .243 Win, .270 Win, 7mm Rem Mag, .308 Win, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Win Mag and 6.5 Creedmoor. Christian Socher, CEO of Mauser’s North American distributor, Blaser USA, sums up the M18 by saying, “Being able to produce a rifle this good at such an affordable price means more sportsmen than ever can realize their dream of owning a Mauser.” Very true.
The Model 48 Long Range Carbon is a gun that’s built from the ground up for serious long-range shooting. The most striking feature on these rifles is their PROOF Research match-grade, carbon-fiber-wrapped barrels. These are lighter and stiffer than stainless steel barrels and dissipate heat more efficiently, making them a great option for dedicated long-range hunting rifles. The barrel is matched with a trued and faced Model 48 push-feed action, and the barreled action is then dropped into a Manners MCS Elite Midnight Camo carbon-fiber stock.
Both the action and bottom metal are protected by Cerakote in Sniper Grey. A Timney trigger and two-position, rocker-type safety round out this long-range rig. The threaded barrel comes with a knurled end cap, and Nosler promises MOA accuracy with its prescribed ammunition. Even with a 26-inch barrel, these rifles weigh around 7 pounds, so it’s suitable for hunts for which you need to do a lot of hiking. Available chamberings include 6.5 Creedmoor, .300 Win Mag, and the flat-shooting .26, .28, .30 and .33 Noslers. These aren’t cheap guns, but if you’re serious about hunting at long ranges and need a rifle that’s up to the task, the Nosler is a natural choice.
Remington’s budget 783 bolt rifles are designed to be accurate and affordable. For 2018, the company is adding a new model to the growing 783 family—the Synthetic Heavy Barrel. With a stubby, 16½-inch barrel, the overall length of this rifle is just a shade more than 3 feet. As a result, it’s perfect for maneuvering on the inside of a blind or in a treestand and works very well when hunting in heavy brush. The Flat Dark Earth synthetic stock stands up well to the elements. This rifle comes equipped with Remington’s CrossFire adjustable trigger.
There’s a top rail for mounting optics, and the barrel is threaded, so adding a suppressor or other muzzle device is simple. Current chamberings include .223 Rem, .300 Blackout, .308 Win and 6.5 Creedmoor. This compact bolt gun weighs 8 pounds, which is a bit heavy for a short rifle; but that extra heft should help tame recoil. Plus, it’s very affordably-priced.
London gunmaker John Rigby & Company produces exquisite hunting rifles. While we might not all be able to carry one of these guns in the field, if the looks of this elegantly styled British Highland Stalker don’t stir your blood, you’d better check your pulse. The bolt-action Highland Stalker—named in honor of the Scottish Highlands, where the “stalking” rifle concept was born—is inspired by the smaller-caliber rifles Rigby produced at the turn of the 20th century. They were carried by the likes of Karamoja Bell and Jim Corbett.
Rigby spent three years developing this new rifle, which comes standard with grade V walnut, an ambidextrous stock, rounded grip shape, Rigby pattern iron sights, hand-finished checkering and original-style engraving. Available calibers include .275 Rigby, .308 Win, .30-06 Springfield, 8x57mm Mauser and 9.3x62mm. These rifles weigh 7.8 pounds. Of course, if the stock version of this “Aston Martin” of hunting rifles isn’t lavish enough for you, there are innumerable upgrades and custom options available through the Rigby Custom Shop.
Incredibly beautiful and built to the highest standards, these drool-worthy guns should be on your short list of purchases … if your lotto numbers ever line up.
Anyone who thinks all MSRs are basically the same needs to visit the CMMG website. This brand constantly manages to come up with fresh, new AR-platform hunting, tactical and target rifles. The CMMG Mk4 V2 in .22 Nosler is no exception. The Mk4 harnesses the potential of the exciting, new Nosler round by chambering it in a rifle with a 24-inch, medium-taper, 416 stainless barrel with a 1:8 twist rate. A Geissele Automatics SSA trigger allows for precision shots on varmints, hogs and predators at long distances. At 7.5 pounds, this rifle is actually fairly portable, considering its impressive long-range capabilities.
In addition to the V2, CMMG is offering three other variants of the Mk4 in .22 Nosler this year, with barrels of 18 and 22 inches. All these rifles come with forged 7075-T6 uppers and handguards that are KeyMod compatible for adding accessories. If you’re serious about taking long shots at song dogs and other varmints, this rifle needs to be on your short list.
MSRP: $1,450 (V2)
With the exception of Rigby’s nearly $9,000 Highland Stalker, the new XPR Sporter is the only other rifle on this list with a wooden stock. Despite the abundance of synthetic-stocked rifles on the market, there are still plenty of serious hunters who believe nothing can replace the look and feel of a walnut stock. Those hunters will appreciate Winchester’s affordably priced XPR Sporter. At its heart, the Sporter shares the same push-feed action, box magazine design, two-position safety with bolt unlock button and crisp MOA trigger as other XPRs, but the close-grain grade I walnut stock gives this gun a classic look. Despite its low price point, the walnut on the XPR Sporter is actually quite good, with crisp checkering and an excellent wood-to-metal fit.
Perma-Cote finish on the metal reduces glare and protects against corrosion, and the bolt has a nickel Teflon coating for a smooth bolt stroke. There are 12-caliber options ranging from .243 Win to .338 Win Mag, including .270, .300 and .325 WSM.
The Marlin 1894 CST offers the company’s time-tested, pistol caliber, lever-action design with modern upgrades. This .357 Magnum/.38 Special rifle holds six rounds in its tubular magazine and measures just 35 inches long, which makes it ideally suited for blind and treestand hunting. The stainless steel metalwork has a matte-silver finish that won’t produce excess glare, and the hardwood stock has been painted black. It has enough texturing to be easy to grip when firing. The large loop design is easy to manipulate for fast follow-ups, even when wearing gloves. The XS ghost ring sights allow you to get on target quickly, making this an ideal rifle for hog hunters who might need to take multiple shots at running animals.
The 16½-inch barrel is threaded, allowing for the addition of a muzzle device, and a thread protector is included. For hogs, predators and deer-sized game at close to moderate range, this is an excellent choice—especially if you’re hunting in an area where elbow room is at a premium.
If you dismiss air-powered pellet rifles as being underpowered for serious hunting, take a look at the two new, big-bore offerings from GAMO—the TC35 (.35 caliber) and TC45 (.45 caliber). These single-shot pellet rifles are capable of shooting 1-inch groups at 50 meters and are suitable on game as far as 100 yards away. Muzzle velocities range from 600 to 900 feet per second, and energy figures can top 150 foot-pounds. There is a growing number of states in which air rifles are legal for hunting big game.
Both rifles come with a black carbon-fiber, 480cc air cylinder capable of filling to 250 bar; an adjustable two-stage trigger; integrated suppressor; and a Weaver-style rail for mounting optics. You can expect to get roughly 15 shots per air tank fill too. The TC35 is designed for small game and coyotes, while the larger TC45 is better suited for game up to and including whitetail deer.
The G2 isn’t brand new, but this year, Traditions’ single-shot rifle gets a power boost with the addition of the mighty .450 Bushmaster version. These rifles are undoubtedly marketed toward deer hunters who are allowed to hunt with straight-wall cartridges; even so, the G2 guns make sense for anyone who needs a safe, affordable big-bore. The break-open design is easy to use, and a transfer bar safety offers peace of mind.
The 22-inch Lothar Walther barrels come outfitted with muzzle brakes, which is a good thing when you consider the level of recoil generated by the Bushmaster cartridge in a light gun. If you don’t need the level of power the Bushmaster version offers, there is also a wide array of other centerfire options, including .44 Mag, .243 Win (including a youth model), .444 Marlin and .35 Remington. There are combo packages available with optics and cases as well.
Most shooters probably know the name, Roy Weatherby, but it’s his wife, Camilla, who is being honored with the introduction of Weatherby’s first Mark V built by women, for women. Camilla rifles come with shortened lengths of pull and stock geometry designed to better fit a female shooter’s frame, which translates to faster shots and more comfort under recoil. The newest Camilla, the Subalpine version, features a synthetic stock covered with Gore Optifade’s Subalpine camo.
The action and hand-lapped, fluted barrel are treated with a Flat Dark Earth Cerakote finish to protect the rifle, and the new LXX trigger is light and crisp, with a broad face for maximum control. The Camilla Subalpine, like other Mark Vs, is capable of sub-MOA accuracy; and, at just 5¾ pounds, these are rifles you can carry all day in the high country. Available chamberings include .240 Weatherby Magnum, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win, .308 and .30-06. If you are (or know) a serious female hunter who wants a sub-MOA rifle that fits properly, the Camilla Subalpine might be the perfect choice.
Bergara is still a relatively new name to many shooters, but if you haven’t heard of this brand, listen up. This Spanish company has produced quality barrels for years, and a few years ago, the brass at Bergara decided to start using those barrels as the basis of building a series of high-quality, affordable, bolt-action hunting rifles. The Bergara B-14 Series of rifles has won over many critics in short order—including many of my gun writer colleagues and me. These rifles walk the line between production affordability and high-end performance, so what hunters end up with is an MOA hunting rifle that looks good and doesn’t cost that much.
The Ridge uses the same push-feed action as other Bergara B-14 guns, but it incorporates a #5 contour CrMo barrel in 22- or 24-inch lengths with a threaded muzzle. Add that barrel and action to a molded synthetic stock made of glass-fiber-reinforced polymer, throw in a 3-pound trigger that’s crisp and smooth, and what you have is a heavy-barreled hunting rifle that’s capable of MOA groups yet weighs around 8 pounds. What does a gun like that cost? How about $865? The Ridge is available in a number of calibers, including .22-250, .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win, .308, .30-06, 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the May 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.