The Best .30-06 Rifles of 2024

Best 30-06 rifles lined up along tree

The .30-06 Springfield cartridge is arguably the most significant cartridge in American history. As Ron Spomer put it, it’s “the Grandaddy of them all.” It was first introduced to the US Army in 1906 and became the standard rifle caliber our boys used in World War I. The cartridge carried on with the military through World War II with the famous M1 Garand rifle. The best 30-06 rifles of today are a little different and sorting through all the differing opinions on them can be overwhelming.

After extensive research into modern hunting rifles that are currently produced and chambered in .30-06 Springfield, Ron and I came up with a short list of about 20 rifles from reputable brands that we wanted to test. Then we managed to beg for and borrow a dozen of them for hands-on testing and review.

With Ron as the primary evaluator, we put them up against each other at the range where Ron must have shot a couple hundred rounds sighting in scopes, shooting groups with different loads, and having a little fun to boot. Having handled, shot, and compared these twelve rifles side-by-side firsthand, this is our report on the best 30-06 rifles that are worthy of your consideration.

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This article is sponsored by Maven Outdoor Equipment Company, who also provided the scopes for this project.

The 12 Best .30-06 Rifles: Tested and Reviewed

  1. Best for the Money: Howa Model 1500
  2. Best Budget: Mossberg Patriot Synthetic
  3. Upgrade Pick: Sako 90 Quest
  4. Best Lever Action: Browning BLR Lightweight ’81 Stainless Takedown
  5. Best Semi-Auto: Benelli R1 Endurance
  6. Best Looking: Weatherby M307 Adventure
  7. Also Great: Savage Model 110 Trail Hunter
  8. CZ 600 American
  9. Winchester Model 70 Featherweight
  10. Christensen Arms Ridgeline
  11. Winchester Model 1895
  12. Browning BAR Mark III

DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Many links in this article are affiliate links. If you click on a link we may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

All of the rifles included in this review were temporarily loaned to us for free by their manufacturer, a distributor, or in some cases, a friend of a friend. Each company agreed to let us evaluate them as is, on our terms, with no strings attached. Nobody paid for a rifle to be included and the companies were not allowed to preview or comment on the content in advance. We maintained full editorial control over both the videos produced on Ron Spomer Outdoors and this article. What we say is what we think and we did our best to simply share our real experience with you.

You can watch the entire .30-06 Springfield Week video series on Youtube.

Ron Spomer and I did this project together as a sequel to .308 Winchester Week, a video series I co-hosted with him on his straight-shooting YouTube channel in 2023. It was a pleasure for me to work with Ron again this time around on .30-06 Springfield Week in the Spring of 2024. Ron is incredibly knowledgable about firearms, hunting, and wildlife conservation. The opinions expressed in this article reflect both his and my experience with these rifles.

Accuracy Comparison Table

Here is a summarized chart of the group sizes (in inches) we saw from our range test. A more detailed table can be found near the end of the article if you’re interested in muzzle velocities as well.

Browning BLR0.671.901.33
Browning BAR MK 31.504.202.63
Benelli R12.704.503.80
Mossberg Patriot1.461.531.50
Savage 110 Trailhunter0.512.821.35
Howa 15000.502.311.45
CZ 600 American1.232.401.75
Sako 90 Quest0.851.581.22
Weatherby M307 Adventure1.302.211.84
Christensen Arms Ridgeline0.95~6*2.28*
Winchester 1895Data Not Recorded
Winchester M70 FeatherweightData Not Recorded
*We ran into some issues with the Christensen Arms Ridgeline that resulted in some irregularly large groups and inconsistent accuracies. We suspect this is unique to the particular rifle we had, so take it with a grain of salt.

1. Best Value .30-06 Rifle: Howa 1500

The Howa Model 1500 barreled action is like a pair of Nike sneakers. The core product provides reliable quality, but you can pick the colors and look you like best. The Howa 1500 we used for this review had a carbon fiber stock from Stocky Stocks that made it feel like a rifle that costs twice as much, but you can find this rifle starting around $600. From what we saw, that’s a fantastic value.

Best Value
Howa 1500
  • Accurate
  • Affordable entry point
  • Mild recoil
  • Grows with you
  • Hard to find sometimes
  • May not shoot all ammo well
Check Price at
May be out of stock. Many configurations exist.

Key Specifications

  • Action: bolt, 2-lug, push feed, M-16 style extractor
  • Barrel: 22” cold hammer forged, threaded, free-floating
  • Trigger: 2-stage HACT
  • Measured trigger weight: 3.75 lbs
  • Safety: 3-position
  • Stock: Stocky Stock carbon fiber
  • Magazine: 4-round hinged floorplate
  • Weight: 6.1 lb
  • Overall length: 42.5”
  • MSRP: Starts around $600, approximately $1,100 as tested
  • Our best group: 0.50 in

The Howa Model 1500’s free-floating barrel, threaded muzzle, and 3-position safety to lock your bolt create a foundation for a high-performance mountain hunting rifle. But what really blew us away was the accuracy of this rifle. It shot the single best group of all the rifles we tested (0.5 in) and ranked 4 out of 12 for overall average (including the additional shoot-off round) at 1.45 inch. It might have been the best overall if it weren’t for the fact that it didn’t like the Federal ammo we shot where it shot 2-inch groups or larger.

One thing we found irritating was how the picatinny rail gets in the way of reloading your rifle. Since it’s a hinged floorplate magazine, you load rounds from the top of the action. A full length pic rail leaves a tight gap that you’re bound to catch your thumb in and peel some skin off. This is no fault of the rifle itself, but word to the wise, just use split scope bases instead of a picatinny rail. You’ll save a little weight this way too.

Inspecting the howa 1500
Ron and I were diving deep into discussion about the Howa 1500. Or maybe I was making up a fish story.

The nice thing about the Howa Model 1500 is that you can start with a pretty basic trim and stock, then upgrade down the road to a nicer, lighter stock if you want. Started the first year buying a cheap molded plastic stock Howa 1500 along with a basic scope for around $700 total. The following year you can upgrade that optic to what you want. Then the year after that you can save up and upgrade the stock to something sleek and lightweight like the carbon fiber Stocky Stock we had on the one we tested. There are a lot of aftermarket stocks made for the Model 1500 and given how well it shoots, you’d start with a budget rifle and end up with a high-end, lightweight mountain rifle.

2. Best Budget .30-06 Rifle: Mossberg Patriot

Consistency was what impressed us the most about the Mossberg Patriot in our range test. While this budget rifle may be the least expensive of all the rifles we tested, it liked every load we shot through it. Every group was almost exactly an inch and a half.

Budget Pick
Mossberg Patriot Synthetic
  • Affordable for most folks
  • Lightweight
  • Consistent huntworthy accuracy
  • Nice stock line
  • No bells or whistles
  • Doesn't feel high quality
Check Price at Sportsman's Warehouse Check Price at Cabela's
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Key Specifications

  • Action: bolt, spiral fluted, 2-lug, plunger ejector, push feed
  • Barrel: 22” matte blue, fluted
  • Trigger: LBA adjustable 2-7 lbs
  • Measured trigger weight: 2.5 lbs
  • Safety: 2-position, non-locking bolt
  • Stock: synthetic
  • Magazine: 5-round
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs
  • Overall length: 42 ¾”
  • MSRP: $482
  • Our best group: 1.46 in

We put a pic rail on the Mossberg Patriot, but the Synthetic stock trim we had comes with scope bases, making it even more of a bargain. The rear stock line of the Patriot shoots straight back and resembles the “rifleman’s rifle”, the Winchester M70. While there are no bells or whistles, when you bring it up to your eye it lands in the right place with ease. You can rely on it to be an effective all-around hunting rifle.

Shooting mossberg patriot rifle from bench
The Patriot didn’t shoot the best groups of the crowd, but it did shoot the most consistent groups at 1.5 inches.

We love how lightweight this rifle is for the price. They even flute the barrel and the bolt which is uncommon at this price point. If you’re looking for a .30-06 rifle under $500 as a starter rifle that you can hunt just about anything with, the Mossberg Patriot is a hard one to beat.

3. Upgrade Pick: Sako 90 Quest

The Sako 90 is available in a number of trims and stocks starting at $2400 with the Sako 90 Quest near the top of the line with its advanced, ultra-ergonomic carbon stock. This was perhaps the most comfortable rifle I’ve ever shot and the fact that I shot a sub-MOA group on my first try is a testament to the rifle’s quality, especially since I’m not an overly impressive shooter.

Most Accurate

Sako 90 Quest

  • Magazine locks in place to avoid accidental drops
  • Adjustable stock for different shooters
  • Ergonomic pistol grip
  • Accurate
  • Expensive
Check Price at EuroOptic
Hard to find.

Key Specifications

  • Action: bolt, 3-lug, Sako extractor, dual plunger ejector
  • Barrel: 24” cerakote stainless steel, cold hammer forged, fluted, threaded
  • Trigger: single set, adjustable
  • Measured trigger weight: 3 lbs
  • Safety: 2 position, locks bolt, bolt release button 
  • Stock: coated carbon fiber, adjustable
  • Magazine: 5-round drop out aluminum and stainless
  • Weight: 7 lbs 6 oz
  • Overall length: 44 ¾”
  • MSRP: $3,999
  • Our best group: 0.85 in

The Sako 90 Quest is arguably the most accurate rifle in this review since it had the best average group size of all at 1.22 in. It was prety clear that if you find the right load, you’ll be shooting sub-MOA all day.

We like it when a gun manufacturer builds their receivers so that you can mount your scope directly onto it and the Sako 90 Quest does that. This ensures a precision mount for your optic as well as no extra weight from hardware.

The stock is what really sets the Quest apart from other Sako 90s. It’s a carbon fiber stock with a target style pistol grip, a flat forend for bench shooting, an adjustable comb height and length of pull on the stock, and an extra stud to accommodate both a sling and a bipod. Some folks (ahem, Ron) find that all the features of the stock can get in the way for a typical hunting scenario.

Shooting sub-moa group with sako 90 quest
You can see the sub-MOA 3-shot group I shot withe the Sako in the upper right target.

I was a big fan of that pistol grip and it fit my hand just perfectly. There’s a large palm swell and an undercut above where your thumb rests that makes your hand instantly nestle into the right spot. I felt like I had full lateral control and a solid grip on the rifle with it, so no wobbling side to side or up and down. Ron, however, doesn’t get excited about that style of grip and found the Sako to be too tight a fit between the grip and the trigger guard for his hands. He even busted a knuckle open from the recoil, which was mild. So if you have large fingers or where gloves a lot when shooting, take that into consideration. You may prefer a more traditional hunting stock.

4. Best Lever-Action .30-06: Browning BLR

There are two things that set the Browning BLR Lightweight ’81 Stainless Takedown apart from other lever-action rifles. And the ridiculously long model name isn’t one of them. The ‘Takedown’ part of the name does, however, hint at the first unique features which is the no-tool removal of the barrel for easy cleaning and maintenance. Not even the other BLR models do that.

Best Lever Gun

Browning BLR Lightweight ‘81 Stainless Takedown

  • Great woods hunting rifle
  • Excellent accuracy for a lever action
  • Smooth and reliable action
  • Heavier than a synthetic stock bolt-action
Check Price at
This rifle may be out of stock.

Key Specifications

  • Action: lever, rack and pinion, 4 position hammer, 6 lug rotating bolt
  • Barrel: 22” stainless steel sporter, matte finish
  • Trigger: integrated lever, gold
  • Measured trigger weight:
  • Safety: hammer, half cock folding
  • Stock: satin finish laminate, straight grip
  • Magazine: 4-round, detachable box
  • Weight: 7 lbs 4 oz
  • Overall length: 43”
  • MSRP: $1,479.99
  • Our best group: 0.67 in

The rack and pinion action is perhaps what makes the BLR truly stand out from its peers. When you work the lever there’s less chance of catching your finger in it and it’s just really smooth. The four-position hammer is pretty interesting as well with the typical hammer positions you’d expect (closed, half-cocked, fully-cocked) and then you can actually hinge the top of the hammer forward to further lock it in the half-cock position. It’s an added safety feature.

The drop out magazine doesn’t jut out which allows you to grip it right where it balances best when you hike around the woods.

We did run into a couple hiccups with the action chambering a new round. Eventually we noticed the rim of the magazine was a hair out of whack and once we bent it back into alignment we didn’t have another problem. The trigger is also pretty heavy and has some creep, which isn’t unusual for a lever gun, but it is for a precision rifle if that’s what you’re looking for.

Chase fly shooting browning blr rifle
A sub-MOA (0.86 in) group I shot with this BLR is encircled in blue on the target.

We found the BLR really liked the heavier 175 and 180-grain bullets. While we had a couple two-inch groups, both Ron and I shot sub-MOA with it. But what really shocked us was that it won our final shootoff between a few of our favorite rifles from this list with the best 3-round group of all at 0.67 inch and the best average of three groups at 1.13 inch. We were impressed by how this lever-action hung right in there with the best 30-06 bolt-action rifles.

The Browning BLR is an excellent choice for a throwback hunter who wants a lever action with some modern features. You find plenty of those in the Lightweight ’81 Stainless Takedown trim especially. You can mount a scope on it and it has that quick rack and pinion action as well as potential for some nice accuracy.

5. Best Semi-Auto .30-06: Benelli R1

The Benelli R1 Endurance is a relatively new offering from Benelli where they are bringing some of their tried and trusted shotgun technology into a semi-automatic big game rifle. It currently only comes chambered in either .308 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield.

Best Semi-auto

Benelli R1 Endurance

  • Low recoil
  • Threaded muzzle
  • Quick and smooth cycling of rounds
  • Built-in picatinny rail
  • Relatively poor accuracy limits uses
  • Minor trigger creep
Check Price at
May be out of stock.

Key Specifications

  • Action: semi-auto, A.R.G.O (auto-regulating, gas-operated) system borrowed from shotguns, 3 lug rotary bolt
  • Barrel: 22” steel, gloss blued, free-floating, threaded
  • Trigger: 2-stage
  • Measured trigger weight: 4 lbs
  • Safety: crossbolt
  • Stock: Synthetic Comfor Tech
  • Magazine: 5-round
  • Weight: 7.3 pounds
  • Overall length: 44”
  • MSRP: $1,829
  • Our best group: 2.70 in

What we found most impressive on this rifle was the low recoil compared to all the other 30-06s we tested. Benelli’s Comfor Tech stock really came through here and we hadn’t even added a brake or a suppressor to the threaded muzzle. Ron felt just a little bit of creep in the trigger and preferred the magazine on the Browning BAR over this Benelli, but everything functioned smoothly and it ejected the empty casings smoothly, unlike the BAR.

Shooting the benelli r1 rifle from standing position at steel target
Here I am failing to shoot a steel target at 200 yards from a standing position as many semi-auto hog hunters would do.

The biggest problem we had with the R1 was the overall accuracy. At 3.80 inches, it had the worst average group size of all the rifles we shot. It may just require some extra maintenance or experimentation with different ammo, but those numbers won’t excite any precision shooter and it limits what you can use this rifle for. That said, both Ron and I eventually managed to hit a steel target at 200 yards just fine. Plus, the other semi-auto in the group, the BAR, didn’t shoot very accurately either. So perhaps there are just some tricks we don’t know with these autoloaders.

Keep in mind, however, that this is more than good enough for guys who are shooting hogs running through the woods at 50 yards. They’re more interested in speed and firepower than they are accuracy, and the R1 delivers on that. For driven hunts, this rifle would be a joy to work with and the flexibility of a threaded barrel makes it a versatile semi-auto rifle overall.

6. Beauty Contest Winner: Weatherby M307 Adventure

The Weatherby M307 Adventure lies at the intersection of the old and the new. They went back to the retro California style stock of the 1960’s that was Weatherby’s signature, but then added the first new Weatherby action in decades, the 307.

Best Looking
Weatherby M307 Adventure
  • Beautiful detailed wood stock
  • Thoughtful design
  • Threaded muzzle
  • More recoil than others
  • Not as accurate as expected
  • Heavy to pack around
Check Price at
New model with limited availability.

Key Specifications

  • Action: bolt, 2-lug, M16 extractor, plunger ejector, fluted bolt
  • Barrel: 24”, graphite black cerakote, fluted, threaded
  • Trigger: TriggerTech adjustable down to 2.5 lbs
  • Measured trigger weight: 3 lbs
  • Safety: 2 position, does not lock bolt
  • Stock: Walnut with rosewood forend and grip cap and maple inlays
  • Magazine: 4-round, hinged floor plate 
  • Weight: 7 lbs 10 oz
  • Overall length: 44 ¼”
  • MSRP: $1,799
  • Our best group: 1.30 in

The Weatherby M307 has a lot of potential. It’s set up to take all sorts of aftermarket appointments and the sexy wood stock isn’t just for looks. For example, the cheek piece on the butt of the stock is designed to reduce the amount of slap you might feel when the rifle recoils by sending the rifle underneath your cheek. This is appreciated given we felt more recoil out of this rifle compared to others.

This Weatherby didn’t quite meet our expectations for accuracy. Its best group was only 1.3 inch and while the average of 1.84 will certainly kill a deer, it probably won’t win any competitions. We usually got two good shots, but it was the third one that blew it off MOA. The windage was spot on, but the vertical crawled a bit.

Pressure point on weatherby m307 adventure rifle
The paper can’t slide past the pressure point where Ron is pointing where the barrel is fixed to the stock.

If you like this rifle, though, try some different ammo until you find what it likes. We also noticed that even though the barrel appears to be floating, there’s a pressure point (likely epoxy) that adheres the stock to the barrel at one precise point. That is likely intended to improve accuracy, but it may be having the opposite effect in our case. The good news is you could take some sand paper and relieve that pressure to see if that helps improve accuracy as well.

If you like the Monte Carlo retro look with that beautiful wood stock and those accent inlays, this is a rifle that you’d be proud to hang on your wall. You can still take it to the field if you don’t mind a little extra weight and recoil.

7. Savage 110 Trail Hunter

New for 2024, the Savage Model 110 Trail Hunter is the second least expensive rifle on this list after the Mossberg. And yet, it shot some of the best groups of the whole field, including a half-incher. So much for having to pay the big bucks for an accurate rifle!

Also Great
Savage 110 Trail Hunter
  • Excellent MOA or better accuracy
  • Good for both hunting and targets
  • Affordable
  • Heavy for hunts on the move
Check Price at
New for 2024. May be out of stock.

Key Specifications

  • Action: bolt, 2-lug, push feed, plunger ejector
  • Barrel: 22” carbon steel, tungsten cerakote, button rifled, threaded, medium heavy, free-floated
  • Trigger: 2.5-6 lb adjustable AccuTrigger
  • Measured trigger weight: 3.5 lbs
  • Safety: 3-position tang
  • Stock: Hogue overmolded in OD green
  • Magazine: 4-round detachable box
  • Weight: 8.2 lbs
  • Overall length: 43 ¼”
  • MSRP: $639
  • Our best group: 0.51 in

Compared to all the other rifles we tried, this Savage just feels beefier in the hand. The cerakote finish on the medium heavy barrel sets the tone then the Hogue overmolded stock has a real rubbery, grippy feel to it. That would be nice in humidity or rain, but some folks won’t love it all the time. Ron noticed the stippled grip on the forend made it hang up more than he liked on the bench rest. That may be a concern to folks looking to do a lot of target shooting.

Savage 110 trail hunter rifle on shooting bench
The Savage 110 Trail Hunter is a reliably accurate shooter.

Of our more budget-friendly group of rifles we shot together, the Savage had the best average group size at 1.08 in. We did have one anomaly group in the final shoot-off with a different 165-grain bullet where it had a flyer that left us with a 2.82-inch group. But that was the exception, not the norm. Otherwise, this rifle held up to Savage’s reputation for excellent accuracy for the money.

While it may be contrary to the name of this rifle, in our opinion, this Savage 110 Trail Hunter is for your stand hunter, primarily due to the weight. But if you’re a burley fellow that’s willing to pack it to a ridgetop for a mule deer hunt where you’ll glass all day then make a longer shot, that works too.

8. CZ 600 American

The CZ 600 American, as the model name suggests, is a pretty traditional American hunting rifle with a few modernizations. The thing we like most about this rifle is the fit and finish. It simply looks and feels like a well-built rifle.

CZ 600 American
  • Looks and feels well-built
  • Threaded muzzle
  • Locking drop-out magazine
  • Classic hunting rifle with modern features
  • Heavy
  • Average accuracy
Check Price at
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Key Specifications

  • Action: bolt, short extractor, controlled round feed, 3-lug, 60 deg bolt throw angle
  • Barrel: 24” cold hammer forged, free-floating, threaded
  • Trigger: single stage, 1-3 lbs adjustable 4 positions without removing receiver
  • Measured trigger weight: 2 lbs
  • Safety: tang, vertical, locks bolt, bolt release button
  • Stock: black walnut
  • Magazine: 5-round drop out, lockable
  • Weight: 8 lbs 3 oz
  • Overall length: 44.9”
  • MSRP: $1,299
  • Our best group: 1.23 in

I really like the CZ600’s bolt-release button that allows you to unload a round from the chamber without taking the gun off safe. It has a short bolt lift because it has three lugs instead of two, which makes it quick to cycle and keeps the bolt handle clear of a larger scope. The adjustable trigger has preset positions that are easily adjusted with a hex key. And the threaded muzzle is a nice 21st century touch to a classic hunting rifle.

Finding the safety button on the bottom of the cz600 rifle
Like a couple of bozos, Ron and I were stumped by the tang safety button which you press down for safety, then up from the bottom of the stock for the fire position. But ultimately we found it to be quite a clever design.

This CZ 600 American is a good example of a 20th century walnut stock hunting rifle with some upgraded features like that safety mechanism and locking magazine that avoids accidental releases. If you appreciate a precision-made rifle with a wood stock and a classic feel to it, this CZ might be for you. And while it’s list price is well over $1,300, you can likely find it for $800-$900 if you shop around.

9. Winchester Model 70 Featherweight

We tried for months to get a hold of a current production Winchester Model 70 Featherweight factory rifle in .30-06, but we came up short. The M70 we tested was Ron’s personal rifle with a custom barrel and different scope, so the range results from this rifle aren’t a direct comparison with the others. We also handled a current Featherweight, but it wasn’t a 30-06. However, since a lot of folks looking interested in the traditional .30-06 cartridge are likely equally as interested in a classic hunting rifle, we had to include it on this list.

Classic Hunting Rifle
Winchester Model 70 Featherweight
  • Traditional look and feel
  • Reliable controlled round feed
  • Great for active hunting
  • Heavy compared to newer guns
  • No threaded barrel
Check Price on
May be out of stock.

Key Specifications

  • Action: bolt, 2-lug, round feed with claw extractor, blade type ejector
  • Barrel: 22” steel, featherweight profile, free-floating, polished
  • Trigger: M.O.A. stainless steel
  • Measured trigger weight:
  • Safety: 3-position
  • Stock: black walnut, satin finished, Decelerator recoil pad
  • Magazine: 5-round, hinged floorplate
  • Weight: 7 lbs 0 oz
  • Overall length: 42 ¾”
  • MSRP: $1,279.99

The controlled round feed in the bolt of the Winchester is one of the main features that earned this rifle the name, the rifleman’s rifle. The claw extractor grabs so much of the rim of your casing that it’s rare to have an issue feeding a new round. I’m a big fan of the three-position safety that let’s you lock the bolt, or free the bolt but lock the trigger.

Pointing out the odd shaped forend of winchester model 70 featherweight
The odd-shaped forend of the Model 70 Featherweight shaves off some ounces, but people either love or hate it. Ron’s custom M70 sits on the bench.

Traditional hunters who are fond of that blued steel and walnut look will appreciate the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight. Ron says, “It’s the epitome of the best 20th century hunting rifle.” That’s quite a statement coming from a man who has probably shot thousands of rifles in his career and take game with hundreds. The M70 in .30-06 Springfield is poised to to hunt deer, elk, moose, and more.

10. Christensen Arms Ridgeline

The Christensen Arms Ridgeline is a known to be a precision rifle, but it shot a bit erratic for us. When we requested a rifle from Christensen to include in this project, they didn’t have one in .30-06 available on the shelf to send out, so they built one for us in a hurry. We saw some surprising results from it in the range test.

Christensen Arms Ridgeline
  • Lightweight
  • Durable carbon fiber stock and barrel
  • Muzzle brake included
  • Company offers MOA guarantee
  • We had accuracy issues that require manufacturer intervention
Check Price at
Hard to find in .30-06.

Key Specifications

  • Action: bolt, 2-lug, M16 extractor, plunger ejector, fluted bolt
  • Barrel: 22” 416R stainless steel, carbon fiber wrapped, stainless steel 2 in muzzle brake, free floating, threaded, sporter
  • Trigger: Trigger Tech adjustable
  • Measured trigger weight: 3.5 lbs
  • Safety: 2 position, does not lock bolt
  • Stock: carbon fiber composite
  • Magazine: 4-round internal hinged floor plate
  • Weight: 6.3 lbs (5 lbs 15 oz at home)
  • Overall length: 44 ¼”
  • MSRP: $1,799
  • Our best group: .95 in

The best group we got out of it was indeed sub-MOA at 0.95 inch, but that was an exception. We got a few two-inch groups and a few others that were as much as six inches in size. There was especially a lot of horizontal wandering going on. Some shots even flew off paper. We even shot this rifle more off camera with different scopes and things to rule out user error or scope defects, but all that checked out.

Fortunately Christensen has a sub-MOA guarantee and a reputation for quality. When we contacted them about what we were seeing, they responded right away. We sent the rifle back so they could dive into it deeper and address the issue. In the end, we expect there was something going on with the particular rifle we had, so don’t expect this to be an issue with every Ridgeline. It’s worth noting that .30-06 Springfield isn’t the most popular cartridge for these modern precision rifles, so perhaps it doesn’t get as much love and attention as some other calibers.

Bad group size with christensen arms ridgeline
Ron was surprised to see this Ridgeline shoot a near 3-inch group.

Besides the hiccups, we really liked the fit and finish of the rifle, the carbon fiber stock, and even the paint job on it. It brings in some of the fancy features guys like nowadays like the carbon-wrapped barrel. And despite the 6.3 pound weight they advertise, we weighted it at only 5.9 pounds on our scale. That’s impressively lightweight and it allows you to put a bigger, better, heavier scope on it but still end up around 8 pounds total field weight.

11. Winchester Model 1895

The Winchester Model 1895 in .30-06 was the first lever-action rifle chambered for a modern high-pressure cartridge with a bottleneck and no rim. This rifle has a lot of history. Theodore Roosevelt took it to Africa, the Russian Empire purchased it as a military rifle, and this was John Moses Browning’s last lever action that he ever designed.

Winchester Model 1895
  • Classic look and feel
  • Quick shooter
  • Accommodates large hands and gloves well
  • Safety mechanism (uncommon on lever guns)
  • High recoil
  • Doesn't accommodate an optic easily
View at Sportsman's Warehouse View at
This rifle may be out of stock.

Key Specifications

  • Action: lever, rebounding hammer, rear locking bars
  • Barrel: 24” steel, blued finish, gold bead iron sight
  • Trigger: lever action
  • Measured trigger weight:
  • Safety: 2 position top-tang
  • Stock: black walnut, straight grip
  • Magazine: 4-round, blind, top-load
  • Weight: 8 lbs 0 oz
  • Overall length: 42”
  • MSRP: $1,469.99

The magazine is nested in the lever, but it’s fixed in place, so you load it from the top. The lever has a clever design that accommodates folks with fat fingers or gloves on.

The Winchester 1895 is great for woods hunting, but it’s not a modern rifle. If you’re interested in high accuracy, this is not the one for you and be aware that this rifle in this caliber has more recoil than many others. But it’s a real fun rifle to shoot. So much fun that it was even a favorite of Pancho Villa, true story.

Winchester model 1895 hammer
It has a rebounding hammer and a safety on the tang, which makes it a relatively safe lever action to handle.

We borrowed this rifle from a friend of a friend who shoots in open sight competitions with it. We didn’t want to mess with his setup, so we didn’t test it with the same scope as the others.

12. Browning BAR Mark III

The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was originally developed by John Moses Browning in the early 1900s and it was later adopted as a squadron rifle in the U.S. Military. The BAR Mark III is the modern, civilian, sporting version of that and it’s popular among hunters in North America and Europe who do a lot of active or group hunting for running deer, boar, and other game.

Runner-up Semi-auto
Browning BAR Mark III
  • Light consistent trigger
  • Semi-detachable magazine easy to load
  • Nicely balanced
  • Inconsistent accuracy
  • Problems ejecting
Check Price at
May be out of stock.

Key Specifications

  • Action: autoloading, gas piston, 7-lug rotating bolt
  • Barrel: 22” sporter, polished bluel
  • Trigger: single stage
  • Measured trigger weight: 3.25 lbs
  • Safety: crossbolt
  • Stock: Turkish walnut, shim adjustable cast and comb, inflex recoil pad
  • Magazine: 4-round detachable box, hinged floorplate
  • Weight: 7 lbs 2 oz
  • Overall length: 44 3/8”
  • MSRP: $1,479.99
  • Our best group: 1.50 in

The BAR has a lighter trigger than Ron anticipated, but that was a nice thing about it. But we experienced one major issue repeatedly–it wouldn’t eject the empty case after a shot. We never managed to sort that out, but we expect it’s something that could be resolved with some intervention from Browning under warranty on a new rifle or a qualified gunsmith.

Reloading the browning bar rifle
Ron couldn’t stop smiling about that quasi-detachable magazine on the BAR. He loved that thing.

The magazine is unique because it’s like a drop out, but it’s on a hinge so that when you release it, it won’t just fall out in your hand or on the ground. That’s convenient for active hunting when you may want to reload on the move. Ron couldn’t stop saying how much he liked it.

How We Tested These Rifles

This review isn’t just a regurgitation of specs, features, and crowdsourced opinions from the interweb. We actually had all of these rifles in our possession and evaluated them together over the course of several days. Here’s how we did it.

Ron spomer cleaning a rifle by chase fly
Ron inspecting a patch while cleaning the Browning BLR Takedown barrel.

1. Cleaned barrels. The first thing we did when Ron and I got together for this was we unboxed and inspected all the rifles to ensure they were in good working order. We found most of them had dirty barrels, so we cleaned the barrel on each gun in the same way.

2. Mounted identical scopes. With clean barrels we proceeded to mounting the rifle scopes. Thanks to Maven we had four identical scopes, the Maven RS1.2 (2.5-15 x 44 FFP), which helped rule out variations in optics as the reason some rifles shot better or worse. Talley provided rings for all the scopes and, if the rifle didn’t come with a picatinny rail we added one from Talley as well. This enabled us to work with these rifles in batches of three to four at a time, then move the scopes to the next cohort.

Mounting maven rs1. 2 rifle scope on benelli r1
We mounted the same Maven RS1.2 scope on every rifle for this test.

3. Sighted in scopes. It was a lot of mounting, bore sighting, and firing a few rounds through each rifle to get on paper and close to zero before the real shooting began. We weren’t looking for a perfect zero, just close enough so we could aim at the same point and get our groups on the target.

4. Shot groups with different loads. Once each rifle was dialed in, we shot three groups of three shots with three different loads at 100 yards, letting the barrel cool between groups. We recorded the group sizes and bullet velocities. We used ammunition from different manufacturers with different bullet types and weights to try and find a load each rifle might like. After we shot all the rifles, we picked a few of our favorites to do a final shoot-off with a couple new loads.

  • Remington 150-grain UMC
  • Federal 165-grain Trophy Bonded Tip
  • Federal 175-grain Terminal Ascent
  • Winchester (used for sighting in scopes)
  • Norma (used in final shoot-off)
Looking down range at targets from behind shooter on a bench
Here was our setup at the range, plus we added a chronograph once we had the rifles zeroed.

5. Compared side-by-side. Besides the range test we compared the function, fit, finish, and features of each rifle. Naturally the few rifles we ran into minor issues with didn’t rise to the top as our favorites. And it goes without saying that our opinions on certain features or furnishings are subjective. Ultimately, you should pick a rifle based on your own tastes and priorities.

Range Test Data

If you just want to see the raw data we recorded, here you go. Though we did run into some technical difficulties with the chronograph and some good ole’ human error once or twice, so the data wasn’t all recorded perfectly, but what you see in the table below is reliable.

Rifle and LoadMuzzle Velocities (ft/sec)
HighLowAverageGroup Size (in)
Browning BLR
150gData Not Recorded1.9
150g (Chase)0.86
Browning BAR MK 3
Benelli R1
Mossberg Patriot
175gNo Data (Chronograph Error)1.46
Savage 110 Trailhunter
Howa 1500
CZ 600 American
Sako 90 Quest
150gNo Data (Chronograph Error)1.58
175g (Chase)0.85
Weatherby M307 Adventure
150gNo Data (Chronograph Error)2
150g (Chase)1.86
Christensen Arms Ridgeline
165gNo Data (Chronograph Error)3.31
Browning BLR
Savage 110 Trailhunter
180g2830No Data (Chronograph Error)0.9
Howa 1500
Christensen Ridgeline
150g295628982925No Data Recorded
175g (Chase)No Data Recorded2.30

NOTE: Since it was borrowed from a friend of Ron’s and we didn’t want to mess with his setup, we didn’t mount a scope on the Winchester 1895. Instead, we shot it with open sights. We also didn’t use the same Maven scope on Ron’s personal Winchester Model 70 which is a custom rifle with a scope he already had mounted. Since it’s not a stock factory rifle (and the factory Featherweight M70 we had was not a 30-06), it wasn’t on the same plane as the others anyway. That’s why for these two rifles we didn’t fully include them in the shoot-off, record all the data, or follow the same shooting protocol as the others.

Target with bullet holes from semi-automatic rifles
From the autoloader rifles.
Targets with bullet holes from budget-friendly 30-06 rifles
From the budget-friendly bolt-action rifle cohort.
Targets with bullet holes from high-end 30-06 rifles
From the high-end bolt guns.
Targets with bullet holes from 30-06 rifles
From the final shoot-off round of some of our top .30-06 rifle picks.

Why Trust This Review

In-depth research. Hands-on experience. Expertise.

This isn’t a regurgitation of press releases, opinions, and “that one time I shot that rifle a few years back.” We went through several months of research and planning, as well as a lot of working the phones and emails to round up a collection of currently produced .30-06 rifles. We managed to not purchase any rifles out of our own pockets this time (which made the ordeal more tolerable for our significant others), but we spent plenty of our own money on all the logistics, supplies, and fuel to make this happen.

We treated all the rifles the same regardless of how we acquired them. All loaners were lent to us with no strings attached with the condition that we could give an honest review based on our firsthand experience. We’re not in the business of selling rifles anyhow, we’re simply providing helpful information for educational purposes that will hopefully help you know what to expect from these rifles.

Ron has been a student and teacher of firearms for his entire career and there are few people with a wider breadth of knowledge on the topic than him. I know I learned more from him about firearms and shooting in a few days working with him on this and another project than I have my entire life on my own.

One Last Shot

If you’re looking for a new .30-06 hunting rifle, the good thing is, you have a lot of options both new and used. With a cartridge that’s been around for over 100 years, you can always find one. It’s a great all-around big game rifle caliber which is why it was the first rifle I purchased when I started out deer hunting about a decade ago. Decide which features are most important to you, what distances you want to shoot at and accuracy you realistically require for the hunting you plan to do, then get the rifle YOU think is best. As Ron put it, your rifle should help you enjoy your experience outdoors, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the sharpest shooter in the shed.

If you’re looking for something sexy, look at that Weatherby. For something inexpensive but reliable, the Mossberg Patriot will do the trick. For a semi-auto Ron preferred the Browning BAR, mainly for the look and feel, but I prefer the Benelli R1. The Browning BLR is a great blend of an old-timer lever-action rifle with a modern twist. Ron and I both agreed that out of this group of rifles, the Howa 1500 offered the best value for the money. But if money is no object, that Sako 90 Quest is amazing. I think I’m ready to trade my Hyundai in for one.