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Top Rifle Choices for Hunting White-Tail Deer in Texas

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In Texas, hunting is a popular pastime, with enthusiasts routinely embarking on trips to their favorite hunting spots when the annual season kicks off. Of the many animals to hunt in Texas, White-Tail Deer is one of the most sought-after due to their abundance in the area.  

Though some opt to hunt deer with traditional and primitive weapons like bows, by far the most popular method of hunting is with a rifle, and there are lot of them to choose from. With so many options available, finding the right one can be a challenge. Below we’ll be exploring some of the most popular rifle choices for deer hunting: 

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What is a Hunting Rifle? 

Simply, it’s a rifle you hunt with. More specifically, it’s a rifle designed primarily for hunting or one that’s been optimized for this purpose. For most hunters, it’s common to use traditional bolt-action rifles and lever guns for hunting deer.  

While it’s often a divisive topic amongst hunters, choosing one platform over the other comes down to your personal preference and whatever the law dictates in your area. When it comes to hunting, there are many rules and regulations in place to make sure that local wildlife is sustained properly and above all, humanely. As such, you are responsible for knowing and abiding by the rules and regulations about hunting in your state and local area. Fortunately, for Texas deer hunting, each of these popular rifle options is allowed. 

Having the right hunting rifle is just as important has having a good field dressing kit, and there are a lot of good rifles to choose from. With these considerations in mind, let’s look at what distinguishes them as some of the best hunting rifles.  

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Hunting Rifles: Bolt-Actions  

Bolt-action rifles are what most enthusiasts usually think of when they hear the term “hunting rifle”. Part of what makes bolt-actions so alluring is their accuracy. Bolt-action rifles offer unparalleled accuracy thanks to their straightforward design and lack of moving parts. 

To use them, you need to manually open the bolt to eject spent cartridges and close it to load new ones. Additionally, they can be chambered in a wide array of calibers. Depending on your preference, you can easily find rifles chambered in either common hunting rifle calibers, or even niche ones that better fit your shooting style.  

Renowned manufacturers like Remington, Browning, and Mossberg are just a few examples of the many brands known for producing high-quality rifles for both entry-level and seasoned hunters. While no single model can be crowned as the best bolt-action rifle for hunting, there is a lot to choose from. 

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Hunting Rifles: Lever Actions 

Lever action hunting rifles, like bolt-actions, are operated manually, requiring you to use the built-in lever to eject and chamber cartridges. What separates them from bolt-actions is that they use tube magazines and offer a quicker firing rate. Whereas bolt-actions have integral magazines (and sometimes detachable ones), lever-action rifles use a tube magazine that can store upwards of 8 to 10 rounds, depending on the caliber. They’re also faster to operate, allowing for quicker follow-up shots if you were to miss your target.  

While they aren’t available in as many chamberings as bolt-actions, lever action rifles still have a lot of solid choices to choose from. Some popular options are .30-30, .45-70, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum. There are some niche options available too, such as .360 Buckhammer, but they aren’t as common compared to the other calibers mentioned. 

If you’re interested in owning a lever gun, there are a lot of brands producing high-quality options. We’ll touch more on them below, but some of the most popular rifles come from Henry, Marlin, and Rossi Firearms.  

Top Rifle Choices for Whitetail Deer Hunting 

Now that you have an idea of what’s available, you’re ready to start searching for your next hunting rifle. While there isn’t necessarily a ‘best’ rifle to hunt deer with, there are a lot of solid picks. We understand that since there are so many options, choosing just one can pose quite a challenge. So, we have some recommendations below to help get you started:  

Top Bolt-Actions 

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Remington 700: Arguably the most popular bolt-action rifle ever designed, the Remington 700 has been a staple hunting rifle since its introduction. Today, the Remington 700 is just as popular and can come chambered in a plethora of calibers, barrel lengths, and even have different stocks/chassis systems.  

One of the most popular choices available is the Remington 700 SPS. It comes standard with a lightweight synthetic stock, a carbon steel receiver, and even an upgraded Timney Impact trigger. Also, because of the 700’s popularity, there are a ton of products and accessories made specifically for this rifle too, giving you the opportunity to enhance your rifle ease.  

Browning X-Bolt: Another solid bolt-action hunting rifle pick is the Browning X-Bolt. Browning rifles are known for their exceptional quality, accuracy, and smooth actions. The X-Bolt emphasizes all these qualities. One of Browning’s flagship bolt-action rifles, it’s available in multiple different calibers and configurations. 

Some popular options are the X-Bolt HC McMillan and Western Hunter. The HC McMillan comes with an upgraded lightweight stock, an upper picatinny rail for rifle scopes, and it comes standard with a threaded barrel and enhanced muzzle brake. The Western Hunter, while similar, doesn’t come with an upper picatinny rail, and only has a standard muzzle brake. Regardless, both options are great for hunting deer.  

Mossberg: One of the more popular budget-friendly rifles, the Mossberg Patriot is one of the most affordable bolt-action rifles on the market. The Patriot is available in multiple barrel lengths and calibers, though it’s most commonly chambered in .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor.  

The Standard Patriot has a basic stock and a 5-round integral magazine. The upgraded Patriot MVP comes with a detachable 10-round magazine and a shorter barrel. If you’re a looking for a more modular rifle, the Patriot LR Tactical comes standard with an adjustable chassis system with M-LOK compatibility, an upper picatinny rail for optics, and a threaded barrel. Regardless of which one you pick; they each are priced competitively and make for a great beginner’s hunting rifle. 

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Savage: Another excellent rifle manufacturer is Savage. Having been around since the late 1800s, they have had multiple rifles to their name, with the Model 110 being one of their top offerings. Like other rifles in this list, the 110 comes in many configurations, ranging from your standard bolt-action setup, to upgraded models with optic mounts and M-LOK chassis systems. For hunting deer, some of their most popular options are the 110 High Country and 110 Tactical.  

The High Country comes with a synthetic camouflage stock, a spiral fluted barrel, and a threaded barrel for muzzle devices. The 110 Tactical is similar, but comes standard with a black synthetic stock, detachable 5- to 10-round magazines, and an upper picatinny rail for mounting optics. 

Ruger: Though they’re best known for their handguns and semi-auto rifles, Ruger produces bolt-actions as well. Currently, one of the most popular models they offer is the Ruger American Rifle. It’s a basic bolt gun in its simplest configuration, but depending on which one you look at, they have plenty of features to make them ideal for hunting.  

In its standard configuration, they come standard with synthetic stocks, internal magazines, and an upper picatinny rail for mounting optics. Upgraded models come with detachable magazines, threaded barrels, and camo stocks. Something to note is that these rifles take AR-15 and AR-10 magazines when chambered in 5.56 NATO, 300 Blackout, .308 Winchester, and 6.5 Creedmoor.  

Top Lever Action Models 

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Henry: Henry is one of the most popular lever action rifle manufacturers around. With dozens of rifles to their name, one of the more prominent rifles they’ve introduced in recent years is the X Model rifle. While it keeps the look and handling of a traditional lever action rifle, the Henry X Model has many modern comforts that make it a solid hunting rifle compared to their more traditional offerings.  

The X Model comes standard with lightweight, synthetic furniture, upgraded fiber optic iron sights, and even a threaded barrel. Depending on the model, it comes chambered in a multitude of different calibers, with some of the more popular options being .45-70, .30-30, .45 Long, .44 Magnum, and .357 Magnum. There are plenty of accessories available for these rifles too. Both scope rings and upper picatinny rails are available for this rifle, giving you the freedom to mount the optic of your choice. Additionally, the handguard has integrated M-LOK compatibility, as well as a lower picatinny rail for accessories like bipods.  

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Marlin: Marlin has been producing world-class lever-action rifles for a long time. As such, they have many models that are great for hunting, with the SBL and Dark series rifles being particularly well suited for the job. Starting with the SBL, it keeps the classic look of Marlin’s historic lever action models but has some modern touches to make it a more ideal hunting rifle. It comes standard with a high-visibility fiber optic front sight, an upper picatinny rail for mounting optics, and even has a threaded barrel for muzzle devices. Additionally, it comes standard with a gray checkered laminate stock and a big loop lever instead of the standard one.  

If you’re looking for more of a tactical lever gun, the Dark Series is where it’s at. It comes with many of the same features as the SBL, but it has some extras that make it worth considering. Instead of wooden furniture, it comes with a polymer stock that has replaceable grip panels, an adjustable cheek riser, and it comes with an aluminum M-LOK handguard. It also comes standard with a muzzle brake. In addition to these core features, it retains many of the SBL upgrades too, coming with an upper picatinny rail, big loop, and fiber optic sight.  

Rossi: Over the years, Rossi has produced multiple rifles, and they’ve built a reputation surrounding their affordability and reliability. Today, their R95 and R92 are some of the most popular rifles they offer.  

The Rossi R95 is a capable rifle that is currently only chambered in .30-30. However, the R92 is a slightly smaller platform that can come chambered in .45 Long, .44 Magnum, and .357 Magnum. Both rifles offer the same core features and can even come equipped with various upgrades as well. Depending on the model, they can come with upgraded furniture, upper picatinny rails, threaded barrels, and paracord wrapped big loop levers.  

Enhancing your Rifle Setup: 

All the rifles we’ve discussed above are well-suited for hunting, however, not every model comes equipped with sights. Although some options come with iron sights, not all do, so you’ll need to have an optic to effectively use some of these rifles. While iron sights can be a good option, the precision and clarity provided by variable power optics easily outclass them. 

Comparatively, the sight picture and variable zoom of magnified optics allow you to make as precise a shot as possible, which is crucial when hunting. A further consideration, modern optics offer specialized reticles that lend themselves to hunting. They often come with key features like windage holds and bullet drop compensation. Specialized options like the ACSS Reticle System found on Primary Arms Optics scopes are an excellent choice.  

Premium options like Vortex Optics, Primary Arms Optics, and Leupold each make high-quality optics and rifle scope mounts that are compatible with the models mentioned above. When choosing an optic, there is a lot to consider, and fortunately, our guide on the best rifle scopes for deer hunting goes in-depth on this topic.  

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The abundance of hunting rifle options can be, at times, overwhelming, but they provide you with the opportunity to find the right one that meets the needs of your personal preferences. And choosing the right rifle can transform a basic hunting trip into a memorable experience. 

Whether you prefer the time-tested accuracy and larger calibers offered by bolt-actions, or the quicker firing rate and handling of a lever gun, they both offer a degree of versatility that’s sought after when hunting.  

With your rifle selected, you’re ready to start prepping for the upcoming hunting season. In the meantime, you can grab any last-minute hunting essentials before you head out on your next trip.  

Remember to always check your state and local laws before heading out on your next hunting trip.