Best Hunting Rifle under $400

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

Are you short on budget and want a cheap but good-quality hunting rifle? This article is exactly what you need. Hopefully, you will be able to get a bang for your buck after reading this article. Let's dive into it.

Firstly, we need to realize what are the main features of a good hunting rifle.

A good hunting rifle must have the following features:

  1. Accuracy (you want a smooth bolt action, wide trigger guard since it's easier for gloved hands to pull the trigger if necessary, free-floating barrel for more consistent shots at longer ranges (bonus points if it has threaded muzzle), an overall lightweight design but still tough enough not to break easily)
  2. Durability (specifical resistance to external factors like dust, water, and corrosion)
  3. Safety (such as a 2-position safety which allows the gun to be carried safely with an engaged safety or ready to fire in case there is danger)
  4. Minimum Recoil (some rifles have barely any recoil, others can knock you and your shoulder back and leave a welt the next day. Or worse: break your collar bone!)
  5. It should be comfortable to hold and use.
  6. It needs to fit your budget (obviously).

We will now rank the 5 rifles in accordance with how well they fit each factor. Just know that all of them are great rifles so don't be disappointed if you have a favorite one.

We will be comparing 5 great rifles: Savage Axis, Ruger American, Thompson Center Compass, Mossberg Patriot, and Remington 783, to see which is the best affordable rifle.

Mossberg Patriot

When we pulled this gun out of its box (packing), we thought this would be our favorite gun on the list because of its wonderful appearance. Honestly, this gun has an outstanding aesthetic appeal as well as a solid build.

Its magazine also worked smoothly, which was a surprise because they do not work on many rifles. It's very easy to pop it in and out.

Unfortunately, our shooting experience was very bad with it. Even within 100 yards, the rifle had very low accuracy. We tried to replace some of the equipment and used a good quality scope, but the result was unsatisfactory. Others might say this is a good gun, but we will not recommend it based on our experience.

The $350 was pretty much a waste, so we placed the Mossberg Patriot at the 5th position.

Thompson Center Compass

The TC compass is a blend of good and bad, but overall we found it a good firearm. You certainly have to watch out for a few things like the irritating bolt release and the funky security.

The recoil pad was not good, a bit too firm but if I tell honestly, all of the guns on this list have this same problem. The model we purchased was $250, and it was without a scope. The rifle was OK to shoot and also quite precise. It shot with a MOV of 1.35" in 100 yards.

We placed it at 4th place because of the annoying bolt and safety. Also, the accuracy was not the best, and the trigger pull was the worst thing about it.

Remington 783

This rifle gave us the worst impression due to its toy-like plastic stock, which was also very firm and unable to provide any type of relief.  Not the favorite, but it was an average rifle that was good enough.

The $300 Remington 783 cannot compete against other rifles in the same price range. The stock was not good for shooters with long arms, and it also lacked features like free-floating barrel and accuracy.

One thing we would like to mention is that the bolt was not easy to use. Also, we would recommend not to use the scope that comes with it. Its shot was an MOA of 1.24" in 100 yards.

We placed it on 3rd because it is quite a solid shooting rifle, and its trigger was our favorite and quite good for this price tag. We placed it at this place because you get what you pay for. And its accuracy was just OK. Nothing more, nothing less.

Savage Axis

This rifle was not the best but quite good. The trigger, bolt, and safety were functioning properly. The shooting experience was above average as it shot with an MOA of 1.035" in 100 yards. Savage axis is also known for its accuracy.

You can buy different types of stocks for this rifle (check instructions manual before buying) but some people say that installation is not easy; it's more of a one-way process which means you cannot easily put the stock back on if you take it off. Also, the bolt release was irritating. But don't worry about it too much as time will ease your tension with these things.

We placed it in 2nd place because it is a solid choice for $400.

Ruger American

It is quite obvious that Ruger American worth $350 is our 1st pick on this list. At first, the rifle looked unremarkable, but its solid stock, great safety, and easily usable bolt make it a great rifle. It can shoot with an MOA of 0.8995" in 100 yards.

It is a fantastic upgrade from the Remington 783 which you can buy for $100 less. There were no problems with the stock but some people may find it hard to reach its bolt. But if you consider these things, it is an outstanding rifle and we will definitely recommend it as the best choice on this list. This gun performed well in all our tests; that's why we placed it at number one on our list. 

Final Verdict

Considering all of our hunting experience with these rifles, Ruger American was the winner when compared to the other four rifles in this review. It is not only well made but also versatile in usage so everyone can use it no matter what your age or height is.

The price tag on this rifle makes it one of our favorite choices because you won't need another one after 2-3 years of use. If you want reliability, accuracy, and a solid shooting experience, go for it as it is worth every single penny spent on it.

We hope that this review will be useful to our audience in making the right choice when buying rifles under $400. All of these are great choices but there is only one winner! We hope you learned something new today. Good luck with your hunting adventures!