If you’re looking for the “best” deer rifle, the good news is there are a lot of very good choices today. Whether you hunt in the wide open Western plains or the dense piney woods of Texas, there’s a gun to fit your needs.
But when it comes right down to it, there are only a handful of rifles that can truly be classified as great. In this competitive market, a gun doesn’t become legendary overnight.
Not to be confused with the military rifle designed by John Browning in the early 1900’s, the BAR carbine hunting rifle came onto the scene in 1967. Design and production began at the FN plant in Belgium, and assembly was done in Portugal (despite rumors to the contrary, that is where production has occurred ever since the gun’s introduction).
The BAR has been available in a wide variety of configurations for years, and the ability to deliver fast follow-ups makes this one of the favorite deer rifles of our time. Over the years there have been a wide variety of configurations in different calibers and barrel lengths. The gas operating system is reliable, and the BAR is very accurate.
Winchester’s 94 may have come first, but the Marlin 336, which appeared in 1948, had a couple significant advantages over the Winchester. The primary difference was that the 336 had a flat-top receiver and offered side-ejection, making it easier to mount a scope.
When telescopic sights became the rage, the 336 became a serious threat to the Winchester 94’s lever gun domination, and it was available in both the .30-30 and the .35 Remington, two versatile lever-gun loads that could tackle almost anything in North America. The Marlin 336 was extremely reliable, too, and hunters passed their rifles down to younger generations and created a whole new generation of 336 fans.
The 336 is still in production, and the introduction of the .308 and .338 Marlin Express cartridges, as well as the ability to load pointed ammo into tubular magazines (thanks to Hornady’s LeveRevolution line), only serve to make the 336 an even better option for deer hunters. It’s short, light, fast, and accurate. What’s not to love?