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The Best Long Range Guns/Rifles

The Best Long Range Guns/Rifles

Long-range shooting is at its core a relative term. After all, for a new shooter, 50 yards may seem like long range, while other folks such as the Long Range Shooters of Utah may consider anything under 800 yards child’s play, shooting at milk-jug size targets from 1,000 yards out to a mile.

Whatever your definition of “long-range” shooting, the sport has been exploding in popularity, particularly since the development of the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) and National Rifle League (NRL), a dynamic type of competition where shooters must navigate various obstacles and shoot from unconventional positions, solving ballistic/wind problems on the fly and hitting steel targets at varying ranges, all under the pressure of the clock.

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Long-range hunting has been popular since the days of the “great buffalo hunts” of the American West, but recently rifle manufacturers and ammunition makers have developed cartridges and rifles specifically optimized for longer ranges than have been typical over the past century or so.

Whether you’re interested in PRS-type rifles, long-range hunting rifles, or even shooting handguns at longer ranges, we’ve got you covered. Let’s go over some factors to consider, and then we’ll share some of our pics of long-range-capable firearms in several categories.



What to consider when making your choice

One of the first things to nail down when considering a long-range firearm is what type of shooting you want to do. Do you enjoy benchrest shooting at a formal range? Do you want to get involved in hunting? Are you interested in PRS-type shooting? Do you favor rifles or handguns?

And then there’s the inevitable question of budget. While Ruger, Savage, Mossberg, and other rifle makers have introduced astoundingly affordable rifles that are capable of excellent accuracy, when you start pushing the distance farther, or adding the pressure of a long-range hunt or a competition where you may need to fire multiple shots from a hot barrel, the little details start to become more important, and of course the details are where a significant amount of money can be involved.

Just for perspective, the new PRS “Production” class rules state: “Production Division rifles shall not exceed $2,500 USD as listed on the company’s website. The optic shall not exceed $2,500 USD as listed on the company’s website.” This is the “budget” end of PRS competition, and as you can see, rigs up to 5 grand are considered “entry level” in this game.

If you plan to shoot PRS-type events, benchrest target shoot, or hunt, you’ll definitely want to look into the best long-range scopes for your particular discipline, and be sure to budget for a good optic. Many shooters plan to spend at least as much on a good scope as they do on their rifle, and in some cases several times more.

Another factor that may influence your choice is how much you intend to shoot. If you want to get good at long-range shooting, you’ll need to shoot a lot. In a “traditional” hunting situation, where your longest potential shot on a deer may be 250 yards or less, you might get away with checking your zero by shooting one group before the season, and then shooting only a few shots per year (or even one).

However, ethical hunters know the limits of their own capability, as well as that of their cartridge and rifle, and being able to take “long-range” shots on game will require diligent and potentially expensive practice.

Shooting enough to be competitive in PRS or other LR competitions will definitely chew through your ammo budget (only match-quality ammo need to apply), and of course, you must also factor in replacement barrels at regular intervals if you want the utmost accuracy. Every competitor is different and has varying standards for accuracy, but many change barrels as often as every 1,000 rounds or less, depending on their cartridge, throat erosion, and other factors. Barrels are not cheap.

If you use a standard-type barrel/receiver interface, you’ll need to either learn how to remove/install new barrels and set proper headspace yourself (and purchase the appropriate tools and gauges) or budget for a gunsmith to do it for you.

Now that we’ve covered some of the primary considerations when choosing a long-range firearm, let’s dive in and show you some of our favorites in a few different categories.

Our favorite long-range weapon manufacturers

In this section, we’re primarily going to discuss PRS-type, long-range capable, bolt-action rifles. (We’ll cover hunting rifles and long-range handguns in the sections below.) PRS Open Division champions don’t often shoot “factory” rifles, electing instead to buy blueprinted receivers/actions, separate barrels, separate chassis, and either build their rigs themselves or have a reputable gunsmith build their rifles. However, many top manufacturers produce complete rifles that are out-of-the-box, and competition ready. Here are some of our favorites.

Impact Precision Shooting

Impact Precision is known for producing some of the winningest actions in the LR shooting game, and several prominent smiths use Impact actions. Impact says theirs were the most popular action among the top 100 shooters in Precision Rifle Series for 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons and Impact shooters have won 6 out of the last 7 national series championships. That’s one hell of a pedigree.

Impact sells complete hunting and “match ready” rifles, as well, built with Impact actions, Bartlein barrels, and Foundation stocks. Check out the Impact 737R Foundation MC1 Match Ready Rifle, at the bargain price of $4,706, without scope or magazine.

This may seem like a fair chunk of change, until you read the following: “All rifles are shot and tested for accuracy before they leave our shop. No rifle leaves unless it is shooting under 1/3 MOA. These rifles often shoot well under 1/3 MOA with our generic testing ammo.” In layman’s terms, that means this rifle will shoot groups UNDER 1/3 of an inch at 100 yards. Yowzah.

Impact 737R Foundation MC1 Match Ready Rifle

Accuracy International

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the granddaddy of the “chassis”-based, long-range bolt-action rifle, or what Accuracy International terms “The World’s Finest Sniper Rifles.” The English firm’s groundbreaking screwed-together, polymer-and-metal, barrelled-action-isolating AICS (Accuracy International Chassis System) helped revolutionize sniping/high accuracy long-range rifle design in the late 1980s, and its influence can be seen in the ubiquitous rifle chassis systems used to this day.

AI rifles (particularly the iconic L96A1) have been featured in multiple movies and video games, and if you want to flex at the range, an Accuracy International is sure to fit the bill. You will likely pay a little extra for the brand cachet. Check out the new AX308 platform, with quick-change barrel, folding/adjustable stock, and free-floated rail forend. Barrels in popular PRS calibers are available from various manufacturers (if your pockets are deep enough… the AX308 sells in basic colors for about $6,000-plus currently, and extra barrels are at least a grand. Ouch).

AI AX308

*AI AX308 photo credit Sporting Services/Accuracy International

G. A. Precision

GA Precision (often misstated as “Georgia Precision” for obvious reasons), is a Kansas City Missouri-based rifle builder known for extreme precision and quality. GAP offers multiple styles and platforms for competition, hunting, and tactical use, including several rifles built on the proven Defiance Machine custom actions, and dead-ringer replicas of the USMC M40A1-A5, the US Army’s M-24, and the FBI’s HRT sniper rifle. Check out GA’s current inventory of ready-to-ship rifles. Most GA Precision rifles include a 3/8 MOA accuracy guarantee.

For PRS/NRL shooters looking to keep costs reasonable, GA Precision’s Pinnacle Production Rifle (PPR) is a hot contender. Featuring an action by Curtis Customs, a heavy-duty .750” spiral-fluted bolt, 60-degree bolt throw, drag-reducing roller-ball cocking piece, 20 MOA pinned/screwed scope base, Manners MCS-T2A GAP-profile stock, threaded Bartlein 5R barrel, and Trigger Tech Special trigger, the PPR brings a lot of premium features to the table for the maximum allowable PRS Production-class list price of $2,499.00.

GA Precision PPR

*GA Precision PPR photo credit GA Precision

MasterPiece Arms

MPA’s excellent and popular BA Comp rifles start around $3,500, which is still actually a great deal for the quality you get.

For PRS Production or for a great long-range rifle that’s a bit friendlier on your wallet, have a close look at the MasterPiece Arms PMR (Precision Match Rifle), an excellent value for those shooters who want a world-class hand-built rifle at a great price, starting around $2,200. The PMR features MPA’s excellent Hybrid Chassis, 20 MOA rail, a hand-fitted MPA/Curtis action, a threaded 416R stainless hand-lapped, air-gauged barrel, Trigger Tech or Timney trigger, and a 1/2 MOA accuracy guarantee.

MPA says, “The PMR is also lighter than our other PMR Pro rifles, making it a great option for long-range hunting from a blind or with a tripod.”

MasterPiece Arms PMR

*MASTERPIECE ARMS PMR photo credit MasterPiece Arms

American Rifle Company

Proudly engineered and manufactured in the USA (as you may have guessed by the name), American Rifle Company’s receivers and rifles are loaded with innovative, patented, and patent-pending features. Their “Mausingfield” action features a Mauser extractor and a Springfield ejector, a unique fusion of modern design and battle-proven features from the most successful bolt actions of the past. Complete ARC Mausingfields start at about $3,600.

The ARC Archimedes (starting around $3,100) features a super-cool “pivoting” bolt handle that gives you an extreme mechanical advantage for extracting stubborn cases from the chamber.

All ARC factory builds currently feature their excellent, sexy-looking, and innovative Xylo chassis with integral ambidextrous bubble level and intuitive stock and cheek rest adjustability.

At the sub-$2,500 price point, the ARC Nucleus Gen 2 is a great choice, with a super-smooth, super-strong controlled-round-feed action. One of the many innovative features is that ARC specs their barrels be machined with a 12-point interface that accepts a common 1-1/8" box-end wrench. So you don’t need a barrel or receiver vise to remove or reinstall barrels; you just use a hardware store wrench and a ~$70 American Rifle receiver insert to attach your torque wrench to.

Here’s a cool video of Ted from American Rifle fully assembling a rifle at the range using common tools, including installing the barrel, bolt, action, chassis, scope rings, scope, brake, and trigger.

The Nucleus bolt head is easily interchangeable. Headspace is pre-set and the Nucleus is compatible with many off-the-shelf barrels such as Savage small-shank pre-fits, so you can replace barrels yourself when they burn out or you want to change calibers. Conventionally threaded and shouldered barrels can also be used with the Nucleus. Super cool stuff.

American Rifle Company Nucleus

*AMERICAN RIFLE COMPANY NUCLEUS photo credit American Rifle Company

Tikka

Manufactured by the Finnish rifle powerhouse Sako, Tikka produces some excellent choices in this arena, including the T3x Compact Tactical Rifle and the Tact A1. Both rifles are near best-in-class for quality and features for the money. The CTR (street price around $1,100) has a more “traditional” stock, while the Tact A1 (around $1,900) gets the full tactical Monty, with an interchangeable, free-float 13.5” M-LOK forend, aluminum-bedded chassis, threaded barrel, adjustable stock, and crisp, adjustable 2-stage trigger. Pretty much the only thing we have to complain about is the lack of a 20 MOA rail, but your local smith should be able to sort that out for a few bucks. Bonus: It’s also available left-handed.

Tikka T3x Tact A1*TIKKA T3X TACT A1 photo credit Tikka

Good Hunting Rifles

In the western US, “hunting” often is shorthand for “hiking with a gun.” And in the South and East, you may be climbing into and out of tree stands or walking lumber or power-line access roads. So a 15-plus pound PRS rifle isn’t going to cut it, unless you have a good friend willing to lug your rifle around for you.

There are a lot of great hunting rifles that are light enough and rugged enough, with accuracy suitable for long-range shooting. We’ll list just a few of our favorites.

Seekins Precision Havak Pro Hunter 2

At 6.9lbs (short action) or 7.2lbs (long action), the Seekins Havak PH2 features a carbon-composite stock (in several available colors and patterns), carbon magazine, distinctive fluted 5R 416 stainless barrel with a 5/8x24 threaded muzzle, hand-pillar-bedded action, and 20 MOA rail so you don’t run out of elevation adjustment on your long-range scope.

Starting at around $1,800 plus optics, the Seekins is not cheap for a hunting rifle, but the quality is undeniable and the accuracy can be jaw-dropping.

Seekins Havak PH2*SEEKINS HAVAK PH2, Photo credit Seekins Precision

Bergara

The Spanish maker Bergara has been tearing up the pages of virtual and physical gun rags for several years, primarily due to their popularization of the “hunting and match rifle.” The 9.5-ish pound Bergara B-14 HMR helped pioneer the “mini-chassis” stock configuration that allows ergonomic adjustability while not offending traditionalists with a too-radical appearance, and at a still-manageable weight for hunting.

Or, if “match” shooting isn’t on the menu, the B-14 Hunter, with its glass-fiber-reinforced polymer, traditional-looking stock, is a couple of pounds lighter still, and has the same silky-smooth B-14 action.

All B-14 rifles are guaranteed to produce groups of 1.0 MOA or less at 100 yards with quality factory match grade ammunition. There was a time when 1” groups at 100 yards were considered more than accurate enough for hunting, but with today’s shooters stretching their shots out farther and farther, a 1/2 MOA-capable rifle is better. Fortunately, many shooters have found their B-14s to be capable of stellar accuracy with hand loads.

One reason the Bergara has been such a hit is its long list of desirable features and high level of accuracy at a reasonable price. MSRP for the HMR is around $1,200, but several retailers have been selling them for a bit over 9 bills. The B-14 Hunter sits around $700 street price.

Bergara B-14 HMR*BERGARA HMR, Photo credit Bergara

Savage

For a long time, the Savage 110 was sort of the “sleeper” in the long-range shooting and hunting world. Those who knew how good Savage’s rifles were, and how little they cost (relatively speaking), often kept this info to themselves. But now the secret is out, and Savage is reveling in its well-deserved reputation for almost unbelievable accuracy, and many of its offerings are astoundingly inexpensive.

Particularly for hunting, where a 1/4 MOA group isn’t going to make a practical difference, the Savage Axis line, with many models selling for under $400 street price, is a no-brainer. Many shooters find their Savage Axis rifles to print groups well under 1” at 100 yards with the right loads.

Savage Axis II*SAVAGE AXIS II, photo credit Savage

Christensen

Christensen Arms has been pioneering the use of carbon-fiber-wrapped barrels and lightweight stocks on hunting rifles since the mid-90s. With roots in the aerospace industry, Christensen saw early on the benefit of space-age materials and manufacturing techniques, and the company has a lot of dedicated fans among high-elevation hunters who know that every ounce equals pain over a long mountain hunt.

We like the new Ridgeline FFT Titanium, starting at a nearly unbelievable 4.8 lbs. Featuring a carbon stock, carbon-wrapped barrel, precision-machined titanium action, titanium brake, and spiral-fluted bolt, the Ridgeline FFT is as handsome as it is lightweight. Plus it’s available in left-handed models and comes with Christensen’s sub-MOA guarantee.

Caveat: bring money. Your wallet will be even lighter than your rifle after you pay the Ridgeline’s $3,300 entry fee. But that once-in-a-lifetime-draw, trophy mountain goat isn’t going to shoot itself, is it?

Christensen Ridgeline FFT Titanium*CHRISTENSEN RIDGELINE FFT TITANIUM, photo credit Christensen Arms

Long Range Pistols

It really depends on what you’re planning to do here. Pretty much any pistol or handgun can double as a long-range plinking gun if you’re motivated enough. This gentleman shoots his CZ P09 9mm pistol with dovetail mounted red dot on paper targets at 100 yards, and it may sound incredible but he gets around 3” 5 shot groups fairly regularly.

If you’re a superhuman like Jerry Miculek, you may be able to hit targets with a snub-nosed revolver at 200+ yards. Not hard enough for you? How about holding the gun upside down and pulling the trigger with your pinkie?

Or, how about shooting at 1,000 yards with a .44 magnum?

Handgun silhouette shooting gained popularity in the mid-1970s and has spawned many innovations in long-range handgun designs and cartridges since shooters have to engage very small metallic targets out to 200 meters.

If you’re trying to shoot tiny groups offhand with a pistol, the 25-yard and 50-yard Bullseye competition is usually difficult enough for anyone, and any reasonably accurate handgun with a good trigger is suitable for practice.

For longer-range handgun hunting and target shooting, have a look at the guns below.

Smith & Wesson X frame

S&W’s cartoonishly large X frame double-action revolver was launched in 2003 with the intent to settle once and for all the “most powerful handgun in the world” argument. The new.500 S&W Magnum cartridge produces muzzle energy of up to 2,600 ft/lbs (for reference, a typical .45 ACP 230-grain ball puts out around 356 ft/lbs), so you’ll appreciate the available muzzle brake and the revolver's 4.4-plus pound heft.

For a flatter hunting trajectory, S&W also developed the .460 S&W Magnum cartridge and the 460 VXR revolver, which they say is “The highest velocity revolver in the world - 2330 FPS/200 grain.” According to S&W, “If you zero its sights at 200 yards you will bag your buck with a center hold 0-250 yards with no hold over! Just center it and fire. The 460XVR will do the rest.” (Pro tip: wear earplugs AND earmuffs. And maybe a helmet.)

S&W X frame*S&W X FRAME photo credit Smith & Wesson

Magnum Research BFR

Magnum Research, most famous for the iconic Desert Eagle pistol, also produces an extensive line of large-frame hunting revolvers known as the BFR (which they say stands for “Biggest, Finest Revolver.” Weighing up to 5.3 pounds unloaded, the BFR is a behemoth, but you’ll appreciate that extra bulk when shooting some of the ridiculously hard-thumping rifle cartridges available, such as the .444 Marlin, .450 Marlin, and .45/70 Government. Hold on tight!

Magnum Research BFR*MAGNUM RESEARCH BFR photo credit Magnum Research

Remington XP-100

A true pioneer in the handgun hunting world, the Remington XP-100 bolt-action handgun was launched in 1963 and was made up through the mid-1990s. It was relatively unknown outside of truly “in-the-know” long-range handgun shooting circles such as the silhouette competitions mentioned above, or among dedicated handgun hunters seeking the velocity and ballistic superiority of spitzer-bulleted rifle cartridges in a smaller, handier package.

Remington XP-100*REMINGTON XP-100 photo credit grunty89/guns.fandom.com

FK BRNO

FK Brno is a Czech company that has introduced their Field Pistol, which they say “is a sporting pistol designed primarily to be used in long-range competitions, silhouette shooting, hunting, and generally any pistol shooting activity and tasks that require the ability to engage targets at longer ranges. . . . Most importantly it had to be able to accurately shoot the cartridge with the goal being [a group] less than 100x100 mm at 100 meters. The Field Pistol meets and exceeds all of these requirements.”

The new 7.5 FK cartridge, with muzzle velocity up to 2,000 fps, is “Accurate and effective for defense and medium game hunting up to 300 lbs to 100 yards, and dangerous game up to 500 lbs to 50 yards.”

FK BRNO Field Pistol*FK BRNO FIELD PISTOL photo credit FK Brno

Savage 110 PCS

A modern evolution of the Remington XP100 concept, the Savage 110 PCS “Pistol Chassis System” is a left-hand bolt, right-eject handgun designed specifically for compact, long-range shooting. Available in popular calibers such as .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, .223, and .300 Blackout, the 110 PCS has Savage’s user-adjustable AccuTrigger™, a one-piece aluminum chassis from Modular Driven Technologies that includes an AICS-style detachable box magazine and a threaded barrel. Picatinny rails at the back of the chassis allow for the attachment of folding braces or (with appropriate NFA paperwork) stocks.

Another nice feature is the PCS accepts most AR-15-style grips to suit your preference. The current MSRP is $999, but once supply catches up with demand, we expect the street price will settle around $700.

Savage 110 PCS*SAVAGE 110 PCS photo credit Savage

Keep your long-range rifles and handguns in a Liberty safe

As you can see, long-range shooting isn’t cheap, and most serious shooters don’t have just one long-range capable gun. So be sure to keep all your firearms and other valuables in a USA-made, fire-resistant Liberty safe for peace of mind. Find your best gun safe online, or search for a Liberty safe dealer near you.


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