Many hunters wouldn’t bat an eye at paying $800-$1,500 or more for a rifle, but I am not one of them. If money were no object, you could buy a rifle that costs as much as a good used pickup truck. My budget isn’t unlimited, but I am not interested in a bargain basement rifle that won’t have my utmost confidence when I pull the trigger, either. There is a point a balance of sorts where the value of the rifle and the quality meet. For most of us working stiffs, that’s somewhere around $500 for the right brand and quality.
This is true if we are talking about a favorite deer rifle, or the gun that will be carried around the fields and forests in the pursuit of predators. When I hunt coyotes and fox, my rifle gets banged around in the truck, slid under a fence, laid on the ground, tossed across my back while belly-crawling, and all too often, dropped in the snow. I want a rifle I can use every day while concentrating on hunting, not on avoiding scratches.
I have picked out four rifles that meet these qualifications and retail for under $500. I have made one exception to that price range but you will understand in a moment. These four rifles not only fit the right price, but feature the kind of quality needed for everyday use and a high degree of confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the gun. They are each available in at least two of the three main calibers most varmint hunters are looking for: .223, .22-250 and .243 so here goes.
The Remington 700 ADL Varmint
The 700 series by Remington has had a long reputation for reliability and accuracy and this model continues that tradition. At $499, it’s a great balance between quality and price. It features a synthetic stock sports with ventilated, beavertail forend for enhanced grip, reduced weight and increased heat dissipation. The box magazine offers the opportunity for quick reloads (I like to carry a spare loaded magazine in my pocket for quick follow up shots.) It’s a bolt action with an adjustable trigger.