What qualities make up a perfect elk hunting rifle? First it has to be durable and light enough to carry into the backcountry. But at the same time, it has to be able to handle large calibers (without pummeling you with recoil) and shoot accurately at long distances. Also it should be well balanced and handle quickly enough to snap off-hand shots incase you bust a bull in the timber. Oh, and It wouldn’t hurt if the gun also looked good and came at an affordable price.
So in other words, we need a cheap gun that is nearly indestructible, ultra-light weight, is a tack driver out to say, 400 yards, packs enough punch to tip over an 800-pound animal and it has to look good while doing it. Does such a gun exist? Maybe not, but these 20 rifles get pretty damn close.
BROWNING BLR LIGHTWEIGHT ’81
Among the most versatile in the Browning BLR Lightweight series, the ’81 model is a rack-and-pinion, lever-action, carbine-length rifle that comes with an aluminum alloy stock, rotary bolt locking system, 20-inch barrel and a detachable four-round box magazine that drops free when the release is pressed. It is available with a straight-grip or a curved pistol-grip, and there is a take-down version for easy transportation and shipping that has earned broad accolades. The short-action and long-action model ’81s can chamber a variety of hard-hitting calibers, including 270 WSM, 300 WM, 308 W, 30-06, 358 W and 450 Marlin.
At about 7 3/4 pounds and 40-inches long with scope and mount, the ’81 not only packs a punch, but it is relatively easy to carry in the field. Its short barrel makes it ideal for shooting from a tree stand, ground blind and in the timber. The easy-loading magazine allows for fast follow-up shots. Its $900 manufacturer’s suggested retail price makes it a mid-range gun in terms of cost, but its durability and flexibility make it a good investment.