Five Great Semi-Automatic Rifles for Hunting Deer

One Hunter's Recommendations

Semi-automatic rifles have a bad reputation in some circles. Some shooters regard them as appropriate only for target practice or for hunting small game or fast-moving predators. Others have concerns that hunters fire too often with semi-automatic weapons, creating a safety issue in areas where hunting density is high. 

There are arguments for using semi-autos in the hunting world. They're much faster and easier to use than other types of rifles, and.the reduced recoil makes them more comfortable to shoot. However, you always should check with local authorities to determine what types of guns are allowed,

When buying a semi-automatic rifle, consider hiring a personal instructor, who can teach you what you should know about owning and operating a semi-automatic rifle, including how to handle and maintain it and all appropriate safety measures. An instructor can tell you about trigger sensitivity, which varies between models and can cause you to shoot before you're ready. He or she also can walk you through the legalities of owning a firearm. 

Here are some of the best semi-automatic deer-hunting rifles:

A pair of Ruger Carbines, .44 Magnum Cal.

Russ Chastain

Although this model is no longer being manufactured, it offers a handy carbine length and hard-hitting .44-caliber Remington Magnum cartridges. It's an excellent gun for brush use at ranges out to 100 yards. If you can find a used gun in good condition, you won't be disappointed.

Remington semi-automatic rifles are probably the most popular big-game rifles of their kind. Long the most affordable semi-auto deer rifle using high-powered cartridges, the Remingtons have held their ground through various models, such as the 74, 740, 742, and 7400. Many hunters swear by Remington centerfire autoloaders, and to their credit, they have taken a lot of game over the years.

Since its introduction in 1967, the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) has set the standard for autoloading centerfire hunting rifles. Known for excellent accuracy and dependability, the BAR also lives up to Browning's reputation for high quality and usability. For decades, it was the only commercial semi-auto rifle chambered for Magnum cartridges.

Long Trac and Short Trac versions signify a newer generation rifle, and they bear little resemblance to the original. The BAR is available in calibers from .243 through .338 Winchester Magnums.

When Ruger discontinued the Model 44 in 1986, it left a vacuum in the rifle world. No rifle compared with the Model 44 carbine as a fast, hard-hitting brush gun. Fourteen years later, Ruger again produced a semi-auto carbine in the .44-caliber Remington Magnum, though it had an entirely new design. Similar in looks and size, the new gun's action is different and not as scope-friendly as the older Model 44, but it will hit 'em just as hard. The model 99 was discontinued in 2007.

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The Benelli R1 semi-automatic rifle was introduced in 2003. Benelli is a respected name, known for excellent auto-loading shotguns, and reviews of this odd-looking rifle sound promising. The R1 is available in .30-06-caliber,.300-caliber Winchester Magnum, and .338-caliber Winchester Magnum. Tactical versions in 5.56 X 45 mm NATO were also listed in 2013.