7 Best Budget Long Range Rifles: Semi-Auto / Bolt-Action

If you’re looking for a list of the 7 best budget long range rifles, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article we will review 7 amazing rifles, and cover all the relevant details you need to know. As you’ll see, I’ve included an even mix of AR10 style, semi-automatic rifles, as well as more traditional bolt-action rifles. We will also cover some of the basic accessories like optics and bipods, you’ll want to equip your rifle with. Keep reading for all the details.

Long-range shooting has been experiencing a bit of a resurgence recently. I can understand why, there is something addictive to shooting a long-range rifle at distances up to a 1000 yards or more. You can learn to shoot a rifle in an afternoon, and spend the rest of your life trying to master the skill, if you’re not careful.

Understandably, there has been an explosion of medium caliber, long range rifles on the market. This can be quite confusing to the new long range shooter. You can spend $500 bucks on something that looks exactly like something that costs $5000.

In this article I hope to cover some of the basics that make a rifle a quality choice for your particular needs. We’ll also cover things like long-range scopes, and other accessories, that you’ll need to actually shoot your rifle at extended distances. Here’s a quick overview of the best budget long range rifles article.

7 Best Budget Long Range Rifles : Overview

  • Your skill with the rifle matters more than how much you spend on it
  • Bolt action rifles will generally be cheaper, and more mechanically accurate
  • Semi-Auto rifles are more expensive but more versatile, and customizable
  • The price range for this list is between $1000 – $2200
  • Don’t skimp on your optic to buy a more expensive rifle

While shooting a rifle at longer ranges is very cool, we don’t need to be overly concerned about the minutia of the equipment. I wrote an article several years ago where I highlighted some interesting lay research conducted by competitive long range rifle shooters.

This information comes from an excellent website called, Precision Rifle Blog. In it they wrote an article where they used some sophisticated ballistic software to model exactly how changing certain variables will effect the outcome on the target.

As the name implies, they are only interested in precision rifle shooting, at extended distances. I’m talking distances out to like 2 friggin miles! You don’t even want to know how much they spend on their rifles and ammo.

The writer of the article used a sophisticated software suite that models every variable imaginable for precision rifle shooting. They then started to change variables like cartridges, load consistency, accuracy in distance estimation, and wind calling, to see what effects these variables had on the target.

They found that by far the biggest factor that affected long range accuracy was the accuracy of the wind call, which is a human factor. Incredibly, increasing the mechanical accuracy of the weapon system from .8 MOA to .3 MOA only increased the odds of hitting a target at distances between 700-1000 yards by 4%!

This means that doubling the mechanical accuracy of the rifle only increased the odds of hitting the target marginally. The real cost of going from a .8 MOA gun to a .3 MOA gun might be $3000 extra dollars. However, one of the rifles below actually managed to group .3 MOA, which is extremely impressive at this price point.

They found that if you decreased the wind call error from 4 mph down to 2 mph, your accuracy would increase, up to a 31% greater chance of hitting your target at distance. Now let’s discuss some of the things we need to consider when finding our best long range rifle set up.

What Makes One of the Best Budget Long Range Rifles?

I would describe myself as a very practical person, and I carry this mentality over to firearms. First, and foremost, the rifle needs to be reliable. There’s nothing more annoying than trying to shoot a weapon that doesn’t always go bang. Even it’s only a fun gun, it can still ruin a nice day out.

Secondly, I think it needs to be in a caliber that you can afford to shoot. Sure, that .338 Lapua rifle can hit targets at 2000 yards, and it looks totally bad ass, but you might be interested to know that quality ammo goes for $10 a round. I don’t know about you, but that makes me cry a little.

You’d be much better off choosing a smaller, more popular cartridge like the venerable 7.62 x 51mm ( .308 round) which can easily hit targets at 1000 yards or more. You can generally find quality .308 ammo for 1-2 dollars per round.

Lastly, I think you need to consider the overall comfort factor of the rifle. It’s a fact that bolt guns have more recoil than a semi-automatic rifle. They have no moving action to absorb recoil energy. This is why they’re more accurate, but they can be punishing if you’re shooting calibers like 300 (Win Mag) Winchester Magnum.

You can also decrease felt recoil by shooting a heavier rifle, or one with a muzzle brake. Some rifles have carbon fiber stocks, and are very lightweight, which is great for hunting. You want a light weight setup if you plan on carrying it up and down mountains all day.

If you plan on target shooting from a bench, or there is no need to carry it around, then you can choose a heavier rifle, to absorb some recoil. As you’ll see later on you can also shoot muzzle brakes, suppressors, and use other devices to make shooting more fun.

I think we’ve covered enough of the basic information. Let’s move onto the list of the 7 best budget long range rifles. We’ll start off by discussing the semi-auto offerings first.

7 Best Budget Long Range Rifles : Semi-Auto

I’m going to get the bad news out of the way. All of these are AR10 pattern long range rifles. That means that they’re more expensive than the comparatively simple bolt gun. There are simply more parts to machine and more tolerances that need checked with this style of rifle.

These rifles have some awesome features that make them good choices, depending on your needs. They can make good hunting setups for medium game, that might require fast follow up shots. They’re all 1-2 MOA rifles which is as accurate as we are likely to need.

Comparatively speaking they have less modification available, like adjustable stocks. As you’ll see, the bolt guns can be fine tuned to your hearts content.

Remember, you can certainly buy more mechanical accuracy, but that won’t do you much good if you don’t yet have the skill to match it. If you really want a laser beam, check out the bolt gun section in the best budget long range rifles list. On to the gas guns!

Ruger SFAR AR-10 Rifle

The Ruger SFAR AR-10 style rifle is by far the best deal you’re likely to find for a semi auto rifle. This rifle’s biggest innovation is its size and weight. SFAR stands for Small Frame Autoloading Rifle. This rifle is the size of most AR15 rifles, but is chambered in .308 NATO.

This rifle comes in a 16 inch barrel version, however, I’ve linked the longer barrel, 20 inch version as this is a long range shoot list after all. Most testers report that it can group under 1 inch at 100 yards, or 1MOA. It features a mid 3 pound trigger, and an effective muzzle brake. It also has MLOK slots on the handguard, and picatinny rail sections on the receiver.

This direct impingement AR rifle, comes with an adjustable gas block which is great for running different types of ammunition with suppressors. Shooters report that this rifle is extremely light weight. Given that it comes in at 6 pounds and 13 ounces, I think this would make a great hunting rifle.

There’s more good news. It’s very reasonably priced. As of this writing you can buy the rifle for less than $1200. This is a screaming deal for an AR-10. Next let’s talk about another of our best budget long range rifles from Sig Sauer. Before we do that, don’t forget to join the email list.

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Sig Sauer 716i Tread AR-10

The Sig Sauer 716i Tread is a great mid priced offering which is available thanks to the Indian Army. A few years ago Sig was awarded a contract to purchase thousands of these rifles by the Indian Army. As it turns out this is a big boon to us, as they basically payed for all the tooling and development costs. This allowed Sig to sell this high quality rifle for a very low price.

This rifle features ambidextrous controls, and a free floated barrel. Most reviewers are able to obtain sub MOA groups with this rifle, from the box. The trigger pull weight is between 7-8 pounds, which is nothing to right home about, but is in line with it’s intended use. The good thing about AR style rifles is that there are numerous companies that will sell you a lighter trigger, if you decide that’s something you need.

Interestingly enough, Sig chose to use a rifle length direct impingement gas system, which makes for a softer shooting firearm. They had to compensate for this choice by lightening the bolt carrier group. It seems like Sig got their math right, as this rifle has proven to be very reliable.

As of this writing you can purchase the Sig Sauer 716i for right at $1500. This is about a thousand dollars less than what similar rifles sell for from other high quality manufacturers. Now let’s move on to an interesting piston driven AR-10.

PWS Mk218 MOD 1 in 6.5 Creedmoor

The PWS Mk218 is clearly the best rifle, if you want a rugged, accurate rifle that’s effective at long range and close range. This rifle has an 18 barrel, chambered in 6.5 mm Creedmoor. Even if you’re not a long range shooter, you’ve probably heard about the 6.5 Creedmoor. It’s become one of the top calibers for long range shooters as it has a high velocity, and a flat trajectory.

Primary Weapon Systems, PWS, is also known for their long stroke, AK-47 style, gas piston systems. These systems have proven to be incredibly reliable, and rugged. If you plan on running this rifle with a suppressor, like my favorite Deadair Sandman, then a piston driven rifle is almost a must.

Pistons keep the bulk of the gas, and unburnt powder away from the internal action, unlike a direct impingement gun. Consequently, the gun runs cleaner, and doesn’t bake on carbon that takes hours to clean off.

Most shooters report they can shoot roughly MOA groups. They find they can use this rifle for a variety of purposes. It comes in .308, and 16 inch barreled variants as well. Because the rounds are similar prices I think it’s a smart decision to go with 6.5 Creedmoor. Because this is a piston system it does not have a free-floating barrel.

As of this writing you can purchase this rifle for right around $2250. I know, I winced as I wrote that, but that’s still great value if you compare other piston driven AR10 rifles on the market. It costs money to look this cool. Now let’s cover the bolt action section of the best budget long range rifles list.

7 Best Budget Long Range Rifles : Bolt-Action Rifle

Bolt action rifles have been around for well over a hundred years, for good reason. They work. They’re simple to make, and they’re incredibly accurate. They also tend to be cheaper than semi-auto guns, as there are less parts to machine, and fit together.

These are going to be your best long range rifles if you need long distance shooting capability, as long as you don’t mind having slower follow up shots. For the vast majority of you, that isn’t an issue. Even hunters rarely need to shoot a follow up shot immediately, when hunting big game. Varmint hunting is a different story. Let’s get to our first rifle, the venerable Remington Model 700.

Remington 700 Magpul 6.5 Creedmoor

The Remington 700 Magpul Edition in 6.5 Creedmoor is a long range laser beam. I can attest to this as I first shot a model very similar to this in the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Platoon Commanders Course, over a decade ago. It feels very solid, and almost impossible to miss with.

Granted those rifles were custom built to Marine Corps Sniper specification, but the fundamental rifle was the exact same. The Remington 700 is a tried and true action, that is quite durable. Most reviewers report that this particular long range rifle is capable of sub MOA groups, with the best group coming in at .399 MOA. That is more than enough mechanical accuracy for anyone.

This rifle represents Remington making some good decisions with the most common accessories that customers were putting on their rifle. It features and nice black cerakote, and a great adjustable Magpul stock. Some reviewers noted that the trigger is a little heavy at 4+ pounds.

However, because the 700 is so popular, there are hundreds of aftermarket options available should you want to modify it. As of this writing your can pick up this rifle for right around $1050, which is a very affordable price. Next let’s talk about a great option for long range hunting.

Tikka T3X UPR

The Tikka T3X Ultimate Precision Rifle (UPR) is a great rifle for hunters, and shooter who need a rugged bolt action rifle. This rifle features a new composite synthetic stock, that makes for a light weight build. The UPR comes in at 8.3 pounds, with a relatively long 24 inch stainless steel barrel. If you plan on shooting at very long distances, then you’ll want every inch of barrel length you can get.

The UPR features a 10 round, detachable magazine. Just like other Tikka rifles, this UPR features and excellent trigger which comes in between 2.5-4 pounds. You can also expect sub MOA accuracy from this rifle. If you’re after medium sized game, then this might be the right rifle for you. As of this writing, it comes in at a little over $1600. Now let’s talk about the rifle that helped kick off the long range shooting craze.

Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR)

The Ruger Precision Rifle is probably the best value for accuracy you’ll find on this list. In fact, Ruger advertises this rifle as being capable of shooting at 1600 yards. This is quite the claim, however reviewers are routinely able to obtained groups as small as .285 MOA. That’s extraordinary, especially at this price point.

The RPR features a great folding chassis that is reminiscent of AR15 style rifles. In fact, the RPR accepts any popular AR15 style pistol grip, so you can customize it to your liking. It also accepts AICS or MAGPUL magazines. This gun does come in on the heavier side, at 10.7 pounds.

You can see it that it features a 24 inch barrel. It also has a user adjustable trigger, between 2.25 – 5 pounds. If you want to learn to shoot at extremely long distances, then this is your best bet. As of this writing the RPR will cost you right around $1500. Now, on to the last gun in our list of the best budget long range rifles.

Sig Sauer Cross

The Sig Sauer Cross, is an amazingly accurate lightweight rifle. In fact Sig specifically created this rifle for modern hunters who want a light compact rifle, that can be easily carried in a pack. The Cross weighs only 6.8 pounds with its relatively short 18 inch barrel. It also folds down to a very compact 27 inches, which makes it great for storage and carrying.

This rifle is best for users who will be carrying the rifle for long distances, in challenging terrain. It also has 5/8 x 24 inch threaded muzzle, which means that it can accept most common suppressors, and muzzle devices. It’s trigger measures right under 3 pounds.

While some shooters might be worried that the shorter barrel would ruin the muzzle velocity, most reviewers report muzzle velocities of 2500 feet per second. This rifle will easily shoot half MOA groups, with the right ammunition. As of this writing you can buy the Cross for around $1850.

Now that we’ve covered all 7 of the best budget long range rifles, we need to spend some time talking about the accessories you actually need to shoot the rifle. After all, you want be hitting much without a sighting system. In the next section we’ll cover some great budget optics, and bipods that you can pair with these best budget long range rifles.

The Best Long Range Budget Optics

Now that you’ve figured out which of these budget long range rifles is best for you, we need to figure out which optic you need. There are thousands of options on the market and the details can be quite confusing. They range between a few hundred dollars, to a few thousand.

The good news is you don’t really need to spend thousands of dollars on an optic, to enjoy shooting at long range. You need a reasonably durable optic with clear glass, and an easy to use reticle. Wouldn’t you know it, those are just the optics that we’ll be talking about below.

Vortex Viper HS 4-16 x 50mm Scope

The Vortex Viper HS 4-16 x 50mm scope is a great all around option. Vortex has been around for a while and they have awesome products, backed by one of the best warranties in the business. The Viper HS is the best scope for medium to long distance shooting, at this price point.

It features a second focal plane reticle, and is built to be shock, fog, and waterproof. It has a non illuminated reticle and quite a wide range of magnification, between 4-16x. This is the perfect amount of variability for any long-range shooter, as this will allow you to see and shoot small targets out to a 1000 yards or so.

It is a second focal plane reticle, which means that your holds are specific to the magnification level. This is fine if you tend to shoot at just a few magnifications. However, if you have need to engage targets from very close to very far, you might be better served with one of the first focal plane options below.

As of this writing you can pick this rifle scope up for $600. You can also pick up a compatible scope mount using the same link above, for a total cost of $708. This is a very good deal in the world of optics.

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8 x 24 First Focal Plane Scope

The Strike Eagle 1-8 x 24 is a great low powered variable optic. The Strike Eagle line of optics is Vortex speak for entry level. However, I can tell you that after shooting the Viper (Mid Range), and Razor (high end) optics, that 95% of shooters will be served perfectly well with the Strike Eagle, which is a good quality scope.

I think this 1-8 magnification optic is the best choice for those semi-auto AR-10 style rifles, featured in the beginning of this article. Most shooters tend to shoot no further than 800 yards with .308, and 8 power is enough magnification to shoot at that distance. Keep in mind that it has a 24mm objective lens, which will limit its low light performance, compared to the 50mm lenses on the other scopes.

Vortex Strike Eagle First focal plane long range rifle optic

This optic also has a true 1 powered setting, meaning that you can look through the illuminated reticle and shoot at close range, including CQB distances. Because this optic is first focal plane, you can use the holds and reticle at any magnification, and they will be the exact same.

As of this writing you can pick the scope up for $600, or a little more than $700 with a scope mount. This is a great deal for such a flexible optic. Now let’s talk about our extreme long range option.

Burris Extreme Tactical 5-25 x 50mm

The Burris Extreme Tactical 5-25x scope is your best bet if you need to shoot at very long distances. If you crank this bad boy up to 25 power, you’ll find that things become quite shaky, unless you’ve got a very stable shooting position. Most often shooters won’t shoot these very powerful scopes at top magnification. They tend to use it to find their target and shoot at a magnification that shows a little less reticle movement.

The Burris Extreme Tactical is a great option for some of the longer range rifles on this list (looking at you RPR). If you’re shooting at 1000 yards or more, you will need a high magnification optic. Because this optic is high magnification, it has an illuminated first focal plane reticle, which is a nice feature.

Burris Extreme Tactical Budget Long Range Rifle optic

It’s also nitrogen filled which will keep water and condensation from forming on the inside of the 34 mm tube. This optic is best for those shooters that need to shoot at long distances and don’t mind the weight. This Burris scope tips the scales at 30 ounces, without mount.

As of this writing you can pick this optic up for $740 with a scope mount. That’s a very good price for a packaged deal. Next, we’ll cover things like bipods and a few other things you might want for long range shooting. Don’t forget to join the email list.

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Long Range Shooting Accessories

You can certainly buy tons of gadgets aimed at improving your long range shooting. However, there are relatively few pieces of gear that you will really use a lot. The first and most important is a good quality bipod. You can pick up this great entry level Harris Bipod for a little over $100. It’s suitable for long range shooting from a variety of positions, and is adjustable from 13.5 – 27 inches.

If you’re feeling a little more fancy you can pick up this Atlas V8 bipod for $280. It has a little more adjustability, and is going to be a very good option for long range engagements.

Lastly, I think you could really benefit from this long range shooting book for beginner shooters (Amazon Affiliate Link). It’s written by a former Army Ranger Sniper, Ryan Cleckner, who is currently a media personality, and attorney. It’s received some great reviews, and will keep you from making beginner mistakes for years on end.

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered a lot of info about the best budget long range rifles. I want to review a few key points before I sign off. First, if you are worried about the cost of these rifles, I encourage you to check out Guns.com, or your local gun store. You can find great deals on used rifles.

Most folks shoot these rifles very infrequently, and this allows you to pick up a newish rifle for hundreds less. Secondly, you don’t actually need a .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor rifle to shoot at medium to long range distances. I’ll tell you a quick story to illustrate this point.

A few months ago I was shooting with some cool guys who had $10,000 dollar plus rifle and optic setups. We were at close range (200-300 yards) and were shooting IPSC A zone steel. They were hammering a way at those targets, hitting them easily.

I on the other hand broke out my LWRC M6IC and decided to have a go. I’m currently running a 3x magnifier and red dot setup from Aimpoint. This is not a precision rifle, but I was able to clang steel from this range, with no difficulty.

I say all that to point out that if you have a rifle right now, you can most likely shoot out to 400-500 yards with no issues, if you get your fundamentals down. I understand buying cool guns is fun, but don’t wait and spend all your money on something you could be doing right now with what you have. Now get out there and get shooting!

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