It’s been a while since I did a gear review like this. In the realm of tactical rifles it’s easy to get into the multiple thousand dollar range fast, so the ones I’ve listed here do have price as a large concern. So for early 2019 looking across the market….
#1: Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor or 308 Win. This sub 400 dollar rifle tops my recommendation list because it can be had for under 400 dollars, without scope, sling or bipod. You get a great action and barrel, an acceptable synthetic stock with bedding block built in, and built in scope bases.
#2: Savage 10T-PT in 308 Win or 6.5 Creedmoor. This rifle retails between 500 and 600 US depending on retailer. Standard heavy barrel, Savage AccuTrigger, and aluminum bedding block in an acceptable hunting style synthetic stock.
#3: Bergara B-14 Hunting Match Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor. The first overseas contender on the list comes in between 900 and 1000 dollars before any sales. It’s good to go right from the box, with the most ergonomic stock option in the lineup so far.
#4: Tie: Savage BA and Howa 1500. Both of these retail north of 1,200 and come in various calibers (my preference is the 300 Win Mag chambering).
Now, Scopes. 200 to 300 dollar range.
#1: Swift Tactical 4-12x40mm. This isn’t the latest and greatest, highest magnification scope out there, but it is a solid choice for precision shooting under real world conditions. Clear glass (made by Schott), mildot reticle. Right around 220 dollars off of amazon right now.
#2: Tie: SWFA 6×42 or 10×42 Super Sniper. For 300 dollars these are a tough as nails optic that have a proven track record for consistent adjustment and holding zero. If you plan to hunt, get the 6×42 for increased light gathering at dusk/dawn. The 10×42 is a great scope as well.
Scopes in the 300 to 400 dollar range.
#1: Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50. For around 300 dollars on amazon you get a first focal plane scope with “christmas tree” reticle for ranging and holdovers.
#2: Swift SRP3911M 6-24×50 30mm. This is not as feature rich as the Athlon, but it does come with Schott glass for better upper magnification clarity.
So there you have it, four rifles, four scopes. The “cheapest” combination listed would be the Ruger Predator (roughly 390 US) with a Swift 4-12×40 mildot scope (220 US) for a grand total of 610 US not including rings, sling and bipod. The most expensive combination Would be a Savage BA or Howa (1,200 or more) with a 400 dollar scope for 1,600 not including rings, sling, and bipod.
There are other good rifles not listed here, and other good scope options not listed here. Feel free to throw suggestions in the comments.