We hit up one of the world’s biggest gun shows to find the newest hunting rifles for the year. Luckily, there’s something on this list for most rifle hunters.
I’m typically pretty stoked to head to SHOT Show and shoot guns. And this year we were finally back in person since COVID-19 rocked the world, moving the show to a virtual platform in 2021.
Unfortunately, COVID continued to upset the trade show floor, with many popular brands needing to pull out for various reasons. Typically, we’re able to shoot a lot of guns in person on range day. Or we get to see them in-hand on the floor.
But this year, things were a bit scrappier. So we cobbled together our top picks for new hunting-specific releases.
Below, you’ll find guns that range from $320 to nearly $2,800. And they can serve nearly any hunting need you can find for a rifle, from small game to varmints to a Yukon moose.
Read on for the best new hunting rifles of 2022.
New Hunting Rifles for 2022
One of the few rifles we shot at SHOT, the X-Bolt Speed is a mountain-focused X-Bolt rifle for the backcountry hunter. It also checks out as a great lightweight option with minimal recoil for the smaller hunters among us.
At 6 pounds 5 ounces, the Speed is not only lightweight but affordable. It offers barrel lengths from 22 to 26 inches and wide availability of common and less-common calibers, from the classic 30-06 Springfield to 28 Nosler and beyond. A Cerakote finish protects the gun, and a weather-resistant composite stock ensures durability over the long term.
Recoil presented easily and in a barely noticeable way. The included muzzle brake certainly helps with this. And though the gun is light, it remains steady in hand. The trigger felt a little heavy for my liking, but this is adjustable.
It’s currently only available in Browning’s OVIX camo pattern, but it’s a nice one that will blend into a lot of settings. And MSRP doesn’t induce wallet shock, with prices beginning at $1,380 and maxing at $1,460. The Speed is also available in a Long Range option for those looking for accuracy at farther distances.
The new Ridgeline Scout bolt-action rifle walks the line between what some might think of as a personal protection rifle and what most of us would consider a more traditional hunting rifle. But this unique little gun does tout a lot of benefits for hunters.
Scout rifles are designed to be small, light, and packable, and yet they should pack enough punch to take down big game like deer, elk, or bears. Scout rifles typically feature a forward-mounted optics rail, which Christensen shies away from in its examination of the model. This, however, allows for traditional scopes to be mounted on the Scout, which is a nice addition for the majority of us.
Chambered in four substantial options, the short action and combined power of this rifle suggest that you might want to invest in a suppressor if you choose to hunt with it. The Scout also comes with a detachable magazine. If you choose to hunt with or add modifications to this rifle, you’ll need to know your state regulations around suppressors, round capacities, and magazines.
Without anything attached, the rifle itself weighs 5.9 pounds. Even after loading it up with everything you need, you still have a short, light, maneuverable rifle that packs a serious punch when needed. And it clocks in at an MSRP of $2,200. It’s not the most expensive we’ve seen, but it’s also not the most affordable.
All in all, it’s a very cool rifle with plenty of applications in the sporting field.
Technically released last fall, the Nosler Model 21 series is still featured as a SHOT Show 2022 release. Unfortunately, Nosler wasn’t able to make it to the show, so we weren’t able to catch the new Model 21 at Range Day or on the floor.
It is, however, an exciting release for Nosler. Designed in collaboration with the Mack Brothers, the M21 is all about the action. The M21’s action blends the best of the Mack Brothers’ EVO action with proprietary Nosler attributes for added performance. Fluting lightens the action and lessens the chance of jamming in sandy or dirt-addled atmospheres. And a threaded muzzle adds options for brakes or suppressors.
An M-16 extractor combines with a one-piece bolt body for fluidity and ease of operation. And Nosler maintains its high level of excellence previously seen in the Model 48 series with a carbon fiber stock designed for comfort. I also like that Picatinny rail sections for optics are standard on the M21, a nice addition the M48 lacks.
It’s chambered in 12 options, and it’s protected by an all-weather epoxy-style stippled gray paint. Though more affordable than the M48, we’d hardly call the Nosler Model 21 economical. It clocks in at $2,795.
But you’re looking at a helluva gun for a lifetime of shooting. And as someone who hunts with a Nosler M48 myself, it’s hard to go wrong investing in this level of quality.
It’s always exciting when entirely new lines come out, and it’s even more exciting when they’re innovative and affordable. That’s what CZ does with its new 600 line, with each rifle priced somewhere between the $749 and $1,200 marks.
The series is available in four options: the Alpha, Lux, Range, and Trail. Quick to cycle, each option has a 60-degree bolt throw, adjustable triggers, and a slick and foolproof option for removing the barrel to change out calibers with an optional conversion kit.
Between the Alpha and the Trail are a lot of options in both caliber and materials. The Alpha is your more barebones economical option whereas the Lux dresses things up with woodgrain and is chambered in your most popular hunting rounds. The Range focuses on the needs of the long-range shooters, and the Trail leans more tactical, with AR-type features and a more militaristic than traditional silhouette.
For hunting purposes, the Alpha or the Lux (pictured) will suit just fine. With all those bells and whistles, what’s not to like at that price tier?
This little gun packs a serious punch for the 22 LR enthusiast. A heckuva small-game option, the Winchester Xpert takes its cues from Winchester’s auto-loading Wildcat but translated into a bolt action.
A lightweight polymer stock aids in the gun weighing in at a scant 4.5 pounds. And it comes with an adjustable rear sight and blade front sight ready to rock, though the receiver is still drilled and tapped should you want to add a scope. A 10-round rotary magazine ensures that your next shot is close at hand, and all controls were designed with ease of use in mind.
If small game (or just simply shooting a ton) is on your agenda for the year, the Xpert 22 LR will only set you back $320. We’re in.