Late January is an exciting time for deer hunters and firearms enthusiasts. Well, yes, the days are starting to stay light a little longer, so we’re a little closer to deer season each day. Really though, the excitement is due to all of the new hunting gear being released this time of the year at the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Trade Show in Las Vegas. Manufacturers bring their best new gear and unlock the secret vaults they’ve kept it all in, releasing tons of new hunting equipment to dealers, retailers, the media, and eventually on to store shelves.
So if you’re in the market for a new deer hunting rifle to replace your old trusty rusty cannon, you’re in luck. Here are a few of the top new rifles for 2018.
I was one of the first few writers to use this new variation of the venerable Model 110 back in December during a deer hunt with Savage Arms and SOE Hunts in South Texas. Chambered in .30-06 and topped with one of the brand-new Simmons Whitetail Classic scopes, this Savage made an impression.
For starters, the highly adjustable AccuFit stock fit me perfectly with a just a couple of minor changes to the comb height and length-of-pull using only a Phillips-head screwdriver. When the fit was dialed in I rattled off a few shots to make sure the scope was on, and the rifle is without a doubt, more accurate than my skills are. Some other accuracy enhancing features included on the rifle are the adjustable AccuTrigger and solid Savage AccuStock.
By the time the hunt had ended, I was fortunate to shoot the gnarly old buck in the photo above, as well as a nice healthy doe for some added venison. The rifle performed flawlessly, despite the foggy, rainy weather and muddy conditions.
The new AccuFit system is designed around a synthetic stock with five comb riser pieces of different sizes, and four length-of-pull inserts. These can be changed in and out to customize the rifle’s fit to any shooter with only a Phillips-head screwdriver. It also features a soft grip fore-end and pistol grip, in addition to a detachable box magazine. With a price aimed at budget-minded hunters, it’s a great option for a young hunter that will need a rifle to grow with, or even a shooter that wants to swap out several different scope sizes for various hunting and shooting needs.
This AccuFit system is available in many caliber and barrel configurations on Savage Model 110 rifles for 2018.
Dubbed by Mauser as “The People’s Rifle,” the completely new M18 is designed to bring the legacy of craftsmanship that Mauser is so well known for, in a more affordable package. By the looks of it, they’re off to a good start with these features: Three-position safety working directly on the lug, cold-hammered barrel, soft grip inlays in the synthetic stock, double-row five-shot magazine, adjustable trigger, and .243 Win., .270 Win., .308, .30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag. and .300 Win. Mag. chamberings.
Ruger’s American Rifle platform has become a solid mainstay for the manufacturer over the years, with a multitude of calibers, barrels, stocks, styles and combos available to fit most any hunter’s needs and wants. Once again, Ruger has upped the ante by re-engineering the stock on all of the Predator models to allow the use of its rotary and AI-style magazines, in addition to AR-style magazines. This gives the Predator rifles unprecedented versatility for hunters, shooters, and the type of accessories they prefer.
In addition, the Predator models all come with factory installed, one-piece scope rails, and there is a new variation featuring a full Go Wild camo stock and Cerakote Bronze finished receiver, bolt and barrel.
For those of us that still like to see a walnut-stocked rifle on the gun rack, Winchester is now offering the popular XPR model with a close-grained, grade I walnut stock detailed with crisp checkering. The Sporter model keeps all of the features that have helped make the XPR so popular, like the M.O.A. trigger, button-rifled barrel and a full lineup of hunting calibers — which now includes the smokin’-hot 6.5 Creedmoor.
Mossberg’s Patriot bolt-action rifle series has continued to gain popularity and accolades each year since its inception, and for good reason. The accurate and feature-laden turnbolts now have a new brother in the family with the release of the Revere model. This variation adds a distinguished, classic style and grace to Mossberg’s rifles, and features a highly figured Premier 2.0 Grade European walnut stock, a rosewood fore-end tip and grip cap, along with fine checkering. Available in six calibers, a 24-inch barrel, the LBA adjustable trigger and more, it is sure to gather its own battalions of riflemen.
Hunters searching for a big-game gun with the options and performance offered in a custom rifle can now thank Browning for designing this X-Bolt with them in mind. Its designers took a stainless X-Bolt and reduced its weight with a carbon-fiber stock, weather-proofed it with a Cerakote Burnt Bronze finish, enhanced its accuracy with a glass-bedded, free-floating, fluted barrel with a target crown. I could go on about the bolt’s features, but the list would take a while. This is certainly a high-performance factory rifle package built for hard-core hunters in extreme conditions.
These are just a sample of all of the exciting new gear at SHOT Show 2018. Stay tuned for more new deer hunting gear each day this week.