What’s the Best Rifle for Beginners? 10 Great Options for New Shooters

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If you’re looking to buy a new gun for yourself or a loved one, you’re not alone. With the turbulence of the times, Americans purchased nearly 23 million firearms in 2020 alone.

That’s a 64-percent jump from 2019.

And then, January 2021 had the third-highest monthly firearm sales ever recorded, at over 2 million.

With so many people realizing the need to have firearms and a supply of ammunition, everyone needs to know what the best options are for their situation.

We’ve covered the best 9mm pistols in general. Now, let’s take a look at the best rifle for beginners.

Why Start With a Rifle?

You have no shortage of options when looking for a new gun. While the choice between a rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun is personal, starting out with a rifle may be a good idea.

When you handle a rifle, you have more points of contact with your body than with a handgun. This can translate into better handling and higher accuracy. For this reason, it can be easier to become proficient with a rifle.

Rifles also tend to offer higher magazine capacities, so you get more rounds to practice.

And, generally, there are fewer regulations around long guns than short ones, often making rifles easier to purchase.

What Factors Should I Consider?

Before you part with your money, you need to decide what type of rifle best suits you. Are you thinking of becoming a skilled hunter or an expert marksman? Or do you just want to go plinking with friends on weekends?

And, if you haven’t yet, it’s imperative that you educate yourself on gun safety before you shoot your first round.

Simplicity

You may think that spending a few extra thousand on the most advanced components and accessories will help you become a better shooter.

But, in the beginning, the opposite is more likely.

Keep your beginner rifle simple. Bells and whistles get in the way of learning the fundamentals you must master to become a skilled shooter.

Some accessories and components can compensate for poor technique. Shooters who learn like this often don’t catch the deficiencies and mistakes that are keeping them from achieving proficiency.

Investing in specialized equipment yields a much better return when you’ve already maxed out your natural ability with the basics.

Then, if you’re ever in a situation where all you have available is a basic rifle, you’ll have no problem using it with great effect.

How You’ll Use It

There are countless ways you can use a rifle, and some rifles are good at more than one use.

Hunting rifles will be exposed to the elements, so they need to be rugged and reliable. And they need to be pretty accurate at a distance.

Precision-shooting rifles need to be a step up in accuracy from hunting rifles. This level of accuracy can get pricey, but it’s worth it if that’s what you want to do.

Rifles for self-defense need to be reliable above all; you don’t want them failing when your life and those of your loved ones are on the line.

Rifles for casual shooting can be inexpensive as long as they’re reliable.

Rifle Characteristics

Some of the most important rifle characteristics are caliber, action, and price.

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Most guns are made to shoot one specific caliber. You may want to pick an inexpensive caliber to start with so you won’t feel discouraged from practicing by the cost per round.

The action is the way the gun loads (“cycles”) the next round after you fire. The two most common types are bolt action and semiautomatic.

Bolt-action rifles are known for their accuracy, since there are fewer moving parts when you fire the bullet. That’s why they are used for hunting and long-range shooting so often.

Semiautos, on the other hand, cycle much faster, making them ideal for speed.

How high you’re willing to go with the price point is up to you, but we recommend starting out with a simpler rifle that won’t cost you a fortune.

The Best Rifle for Beginners: The Contenders

The best rifle to buy for beginners is the one that suits your needs. Here’s a list of 10 fantastic options from which you can decide.

1. Remington 700

Ah, the classic Remington 700. In production since 1962, it has been the yardstick for comparison among bolt-action rifles for decades.

It comes in several variants and over a dozen calibers, from .223 to .30-06 and beyond, so you can take your pick.

The M24 sniper rifle used by the U.S. Army and the M40 sniper rifle used by the USMC are both based on the Remington 700, with some modifications. Police and military forces around the world also use some of its variants.

But it doesn’t take an expert to handle this rifle well. Its simplicity and elegance make it an ideal choice for beginners and experts alike, without having to worry about an exorbitant cost.

The Remington 700 makes a perfect beginner hunting rifle. Or, thanks to its durability, you can use it for target practice as often as you want.

2. Ruger 10/22

Another timeless classic since 1964, and with good reason. It is reliable, durable, and inexpensive.

In any of its many varieties, it makes an ideal beginner .22 rifle. Its initial price is very affordable, but it also won’t cost you much to put rounds through it.

It shoots the extremely affordable .22 LR caliber, so if you stock up on enough rounds, you can shoot and shoot all day.

Besides, you can carry a thousand rounds of .22 LR in your pocket. It won’t be light, but it’s possible. Which also means that you can stock up with a lifetime supply of it in a big drawer or backpack.

Many beginner shooters are afraid of two things: The recoil and the loud noise of a bullet firing. Those two things keep many people from practicing and becoming experienced shooters.

But recoil and noise are minimal with a .22 LR. That doesn’t mean the ammo can’t be deadly, but it does mean that it’s a whole lot less intimidating to many beginners.

For many, a .22 rifle such as the Ruger 10/22 can be a great learning platform. That knowledge easily transfers to bigger, heavier calibers later on. And, for lots of people, the 10/22 has been known to last a lifetime.

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3. Savage AXIS

Savage has a reputation for making guns that shoot well. The Savage AXIS, one of the most competitively priced rifles in the US market, is no exception.

This functional, lightweight bolt-action rifle is among the contenders for the best beginner rifle for its high quality and accuracy, especially for the price.

The detachable steel-and-plastic magazine is easy to load and handle, even when wearing gloves, which is important if you’re hunting. The bolt is smooth and the magazine, flush with the bottom of the stock, feeds reliably.

Overall, this is a fantastic choice for someone who’s just getting started shooting.

4. Aero Precision AC-15

What can you expect from a company that used to make aerospace components for clients such as Boeing? Precision and durability at the very least.

Aero Precision puts several higher-end features into a budget-friendly package. They forge the upper and lower receivers of the AC-15 with aerospace-quality aluminum.

They add a mid-length gas system, a feature that increases cycling reliability and is normally only in systems costing quite a bit more.

They also use a military-spec trigger, takedown pins, and bolt-carrier group to make this AR-style rifle a top contender that also looks pristine thanks to its fit and finish.

Being an AR-style rifle, this gun will accept pretty much any standard AR magazines and accessories, which is a plus if you ever decide to make some upgrades.

5. Ruger AR-556

Ruger is known for putting extra effort at the introductory level. Many of their introductory offers are among the best within their tier.

The Ruger AR-556 is a no-frills but reliable way to get into the AR game. Thanks to its included rear sight and magazine, it comes ready to use as soon as you purchase it. Just lube it, throw in some ammo, and off you go.

Like Aero Precision with the AC-15, Ruger also machines the upper and lower receivers of the AR-556 with 7075-T6 aluminum.

Some users report putting 500 or more rounds through the AR-556 in a single session with zero malfunctions. The rifle is not particularly picky about the type of ammunition you feed it.

While this may not be the perfect long-range rifle, it’s a solid choice for a beginner.

6. Century Arms C39v2

An AK-47-style rifle for a beginner? Yes, and one completely made in the USA.

See, beginners often stay away from AK-pattern rifles, and there are good reasons for that. The safety can be difficult to operate. The magazine is hard to insert and seat. The gun seems less familiar than an AR.

But the most important factor is that it takes considerable skill to shoot an AK well. Its design favors cost savings over accuracy.

The engineering of the C39v2 overcomes that liability. Instead of a traditional stamped receiver, it features a receiver milled out of 4140-grade steel, which makes it very stable and, therefore, accurate.

It also comes with an improved trigger, a welcome addition for those familiar with often-subpar AK triggers.

In all, this is a great rifle that may appeal to some for being different, outside the mainstream.

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7. Tikka T3X Lite

The T3X Lite is more of a lightweight precision rifle that won’t break the bank. Made in Finland, it weighs 6.5 pounds and can shoot 1 MOA straight out of the box.

There are a plethora of upgrades for this rifle, which is available in both right-handed or left-handed versions.

The T3X Lite comes with a modular synthetic stock with interchangeable pistol grips, so you can change the grip angle for multiple shooting positions.

There is also a recoil pad on the buttstock to minimize discomfort for the shooter.

8. Aero Precision M5E1

The M5E1 is an AR-10-style rifle. That’s not a typo. The AR-10 is the predecessor of the more popular AR-15.

But where the AR-15 succeeds in popularity, the AR-10 succeeds in accuracy. The basic design is the same, but the AR-10 shoots .308/7.62 ammunition.

That makes the M5E1 a super-versatile rifle. You can use it the same way you would an AR-15, but you can also use it to bring down big game with higher accuracy at long distances.

And lots of parts are interchangeable between the AR-10 and the AR-15, so if you have parts for one, chances are, you have parts for the other.

As an AR-10 platform, the M5E1 in build quality and reliability, in addition to being very accurate.

9. Bergara B-14 HMR

The action of this starter long-range rifle is built on the already-proven Remington 700 design. Beyond that, Spain-based Bergara has a reputation for making some of the best factory barrels ever.

This rifle has a comfortable buttstock with a comfortable cheek rest. It has an incredible trigger and the bolt handles well. The free-floated barrel comes already threaded.

Best of all, this is a highly accurate gun even at 600 yards and beyond, if you know how to use it.

10. Marlin 60

We couldn’t finish off this list without mentioning another great beginner rifle in .22 LR: The Marlin 60, which has been around since 1960.

The Marlin 60 has all the advantages of a .22 LR we mentioned earlier. It also has the stamp of approval for reliability that only decades of widespread use under a myriad conditions can bestow.

One of this rifle’s defining traits is its tubular magazine that can hold 14 rounds—a few more than the standard mag on the 10/22.

Simple to operate and to become proficient with, this simple design can take some abuse and still keep going strong for years.

The Freedom to Make Your Choice

There you have it: In your case, the best rifle for beginners could well be one of the 10 we’ve reviewed.

Remember, there’s no one best rifle for every situation. You have to consider what you want to use it for, under what conditions, and how much you’re willing to spend.

And don’t forget to factor in your personal preference.

Mull this information, make your choice, and go have some fun.

Are you looking for ammo for a new rifle or an old workhorse of a gun? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help you.