During the past few months, we have taken a hard look at some of the better choices for older shooters. There are many older shooters — I am one of them.
Some of us have lost a bit of body mass, strength and even visual acuity. Some of us have nagging injuries that become more aggravating as we age.
Just the same, none of us are willing to give up and let age or injury stop us from shooting — far from it. There are rifles that offer plenty of performance, but which are easy on the shoulder and easy to use well.
We looked at the best choices and used several criteria in choosing these rifles. A fairly light rifle is important. A decent trigger action is important.
The rifle should not be a problem for the shooter to hold firmly. Ergonomics are vital. This means easy loading and unloading, and a safety that isn’t difficult to manipulate.
The sights should be easily picked up or the rifle should have an optical sight. Recoil should be modest. Recoil tolerance varies a great deal among shooters.
Most of us feel the .223 Remington is a light kicker, but after a few hundred rounds it adds up. The 6.5 Creedmoor is something of a wonder cartridge as just one example.
Let’s look at some of the best rifles.
This is the classic American .22. Light enough, dirt-tough, proven and reliable, the rifle is practically an icon. The 10/22 as issued, is fine for most uses.
The Ruger 10/22 may be upgraded to a tack-driving target rifle for competition use. It is even well suited for tactical practice. Don’t discount the .22 LR for personal defense.
A rifleman skilled in the use of this firearm has saved his life or his family’s on more than one occasion. The 10/22 is the default rimfire rifle in my opinion.
If you pay less, you may not get as great a rifle, but you may get a useful rifle. If you pay more for a .22, be certain you get something for the money.
The 10/22 may be upgraded with match-grade barrels, trigger groups and stocks. Optics options are limitless. Load it with the Winchester Super X hollow point and rest easy.
Thompson Center T/CR22
The T/CR22 is similar in operation to the 10/22. The trigger action is good, the sights are excellent, and the rifle uses Ruger 10/22 magazines.
The supplied ten-round magazine offers a hold-open latch for the last shot, an important improvement. The T/CR22 comes with a Magpul stock standard.
I enjoy this rifle very much and it is my go-to rimfire rifle. My personal T/CR22 has fired over 2,000 rounds of Winchester Wildcat with excellent reliability, and a lesser quantity of Winchester M22 with good results.
Chiappa Double Badger
The Magnum would be a crackerjack option. Just the same, the .22 Long Rifle is the classic small-game cartridge. The Double Badger is a fast-handling rifle and quite accurate.
The sights feature a fiber-optic front and a highly-visible, fully-adjustable rear sight. A one-inch group for five shots at 25 yards with Winchester’s .22 Wildcat ammunition is average.
The Super X hollow point is just as accurate. As for the shotgun barrel, it is tightly-choked and will put a load of Winchester buckshot into less than three inches at 15 yards.
The Winchester .410 slug will group into an inch and a half at 25 yards. I like this little rifle a lot.
Traditions Crackshot XBR
This friendly .22 is affordable, accurate and a light burden in the field.
Winchester Model 1894
The Winchester is simple and easy to use well. Load the tubular magazine, press the lever forward, snap it shut, and the rifle is loaded. Press the trigger, repeat.
If you want to carry the rifle around loaded, carefully lower the hammer to the half-cock notch. Mine is loaded with the new Hornady LEVERevolution.
Savage 110 Storm
The Savage 110 is a consistently accurate and reliable bolt-action rifle. The heavy nut affixing the barrel results in excellent accuracy. A well designed bolt-action rifle is a joy to use and fire.
The Savage rifle is offered in many calibers. A strong favorite for deer-sized game is the Savage 110 Storm in 6.5 Creedmoor. This makes for excellent accuracy and good results. Hornady’s ELD-X offers excellent performance.
Remington Model 783
For those on a budget, an affordable ‘package gun’ is attractive. The Remington Model 783 is often offered with a quality rifle scope at an affordable price.
Despite its modest price, the 783 is often as accurate as higher-priced rifles. Available in a wide range of calibers, my personal rifle is chambered in .308 Winchester.
With the Winchester ‘White Box’ economy load, the rifle has put three shots into 1.2 inches at 100 yards — and a little better with hunting loads.
The rifle is topped with a Bushnell rifle scope.
The ultra-modern Mauser M18 is a fine successor to a long line of proven rifles.
The M18 offers a chambering that is a Godsend to older shooters wishing to own and use a powerful hunting rifle, but who are not as likely to handle .30-06 Springfield or 7mm Remington recoil as well as we once did.
The 6.5 PRC is a powerful loading. Hornady’s 143-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter loading has demonstrated excellent accuracy.
Every rifle I have tested in this caliber has been capable of 1 MOA accuracy and the Mauser is no exception. It is also a very good buy.
Remington Model 700
The Remington 700 offers a smooth action, a nice adjustable trigger, and superior handling. The rifle is usually very accurate.
The Remington 700 is available in a variety of chamberings, including those particularly attractive to older shooters such as the .223 Remington, .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester.
The author’s .223 Remington has been paired with Hornady Black loads for first-class accuracy.
Savage Model 12
The Savage Model 12 is among my favorite rifles for accuracy. It may be a bit heavy to carry in the field, but this is also an aid in controlling recoil in long firing sessions.
Even in .308 Winchester, I find recoil modest. The Model 12 is a fine all-around bolt-action rifle.
If we are discussing ergonomics, high accuracy potential and easy recoil, we cannot leave out the AR-15 rifle.
The 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington is affordable, readily available, and offers a formidable rifle for hunting varmints and mid-size game with proper load selection.
It is also a good choice for personal defense. The Springfield SAINT is becoming a modern classic with much to recommend.
From Winchester White Box loads to the new Hornady Black, the rifle has proven reliable, accurate and controllable. This is a modern classic.
A rifle that I have enjoyed very much is actually a full line of rifles, from rimfire to .450 Bushmaster and others. This is the Ruger American.
These are affordable, friendly, accurate and easy to use well. The rifle is available in calibers with modest recoil. Some of these calibers are excellent short-range deer killers.
This is something of a wonder cartridge. However, I would not stretch the truth to say the Ruger American is comparable to rifles costing quite a bit more.
Conclusion: Best Rifles for Older Shooters
There are just a few favorite rifles for older shooters. There are others, many others, but these are great choices that are in use every day with shooters across the country.
What is your favorite rifle to shoot? Has it changed as you’ve aged? Let us know in the comments section below!