Best 6.8 Western Rifles for Hunting – Ultimate Guide [2022]

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What are the best 6.8 Western rifles for hunting in 2022?

Released in 2021 by Browning and Winchester and designed to provide outstanding long range performance out of a .277 caliber cartridge, the 6.8 Western was quickly adopted by a number of hunters. In fact, 6.8 Western is currently one of the hottest centerfire rifle cartridges in use today. For that reason, Browning and Winchester both produce a wide range of 6.8 Western rifles for hunting deer, pronghorn, black bear, elk, and other big game animals.

Also known as the 6.8 Winchester Western, the flat shooting and hard hitting 6.8 Western was an almost instant hit among hunters and shooters in North America. Known for having great accuracy potential and for packing magnum performance into a short-action rifle cartridge, the 6.8 Western is an outstanding hunting cartridge that’s especially well suited for hunting deer and elk sized game under a variety of conditions, but especially at extended range.

To that end, all 6.8 Western rifles are built with a faster twist rate (usually 1:7.5″ or 1:8″) that enables them to shoot the high BC bullets best suitable for long-range shooting. Specifically, the 6.8 Western is designed to shoot heavy-for-caliber bullets (specifically 162-grain, 165-grain, 170-grain, and 175-grain .277 caliber bullets) with great accuracy. It can also shoot the lighter bullets in the 130-150-grain range commonly used in the 270 Winchester and 270 WSM cartridges (which use the same 277-caliber bullet).

However, not all 6.8 Western rifles are created equal and different situations require different characteristics in a rifle.

For instance, a heavier rifle with a longer barrel will work great for hunting elk or pronghorn in more open country that’s relatively flat or gently rolling. On the other hand, that same rifle would not be a lot of fun to carry up in the mountains hunting mule deer or sheep.

Fortunately, there’s still a wide variety of 6.8 Western rifles well suited for most big game hunting situations. So, regardless of whether you’re planning on hunting elk in Colorado, moose in Alaska, mule deer in Idaho, whitetail out east, or some other big game hunting adventure elsewhere in the world, there is pretty much guaranteed to be something for everyone on the list below of the best 6.8 Western rifles for hunting.

In this article, I’m going to show you the best 6.8 Western rifles for hunting elk, deer, pronghorn, black bears, moose, and all sorts of other big game. I’ll also go over the pros and cons of each individual rifle and help you select the right ammunition for your specific hunting situation.

Before we get started, here’s a disclaimer: some of the links below are affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase. This commission comes at no extra cost to you. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue to create free content that’s useful to hunters like yourself. Thanks for your support.

It’s also important to realize the rifle is just a single part of the equation. Even the best rifle won’t be of much use without a high quality scope and without appropriate ammunition. Learn more about what I consider the best scope and factory ammo options for the 6.8 Western at the link below.

Best 6.8 Western Ammo For Hunting Elk, Deer, & Other Big Game

9 Reasons The Leupold VX-5 HD Is A Great Hunting Scope

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s get started.

Browning X-Bolt Western Hunter

The Browning X-Bolt Western Hunter Long Range is an outstanding 6.8 Western rifle for hunters wanting an easy to carry rifle with plenty of reach, that’s capable of great accuracy, and has a reasonable price tag to boot. 

Browning X-Bolt rifles in general are well regarded by many in the hunting community for their nice trigger (with a crisp pull and minimal overtravel),  good accuracy, top-tang safety, bolt unlock button, and for their very short 60° bolt lift that’s incredibly fast to cycle.  

The X-Bolt Western Hunter Long Range has all those characteristics along with a few other nice touches that set it apart from the rest of the pack like a composite stock with an Ovix camouflage pattern, a great recoil pad, a detachable rotary magazine, and a free floated 24” threaded barrel with a muzzle brake.

Of note, this particular rifle has a thinner, sporter contoured 24-inch barrel. However, it’s belled at the end with a 5/8″-24 thread pattern for use with the included muzzle brake or for a suppressor.

Tipping the scales at just over 7 pounds, this rifle is also pretty easy to carry. While that will increase perceived recoil a bit with the powerful 6.8 Western cartridge, the recoil pad and included muzzle brake will both definitely reduce perceived recoil for the user. That muzzle brake may also be removed and replaced with a thread protector (included) or a suppressor. 

Additionally, the stock has a height-adjustable comb to help facilitate proper cheek weld and sight alignment, even with bigger long range optics.

The Browning X-Bolt does not come with a formal accuracy guarantee, but these rifles in general are known for being really accurate rifles right out of the box and 1 MOA groups with good quality ammo are not uncommon.

All in all, this is an outstanding 6.8 Western rifle with plenty of capability and a reasonable price tag. It should perform really well up in the mountains of Colorado pursuing mule deer or out on the open prairie of Wyoming in search of pronghorn where encounters with game at longer ranges are more common. 

This is my #1 recommended 6.8 Western rifle recommendation for those wanting a good all-around rifle that’s capable of good accuracy at extended range, but isn’t so large or heavy that it’s difficult to carry or use in thicker vegetation.

  • , 5/8″-24 thread pattern)
  • (detachable rotary magazine)
  • No

BUY A BROWNING X-BOLT WESTERN HUNTER HERE

Also Available At: Sportsman’s Warehouse

Browning X-Bolt Speed

picture of best 6.8 western rifles for hunting xbolt

The Browning X-Bolt Speed is another great 6.8 Western rifle for hunters, especially those wanting something that’s lighter and easier to carry. 

In addition to all the standard features of the X-Bolt model rifles, the X-Bolt Speed has some other nice characteristics like a cerakote finish for corrosion resistance, a composite stock with an Ovix camouflage pattern, a great recoil pad, and a free floated 24” threaded barrel with a muzzle brake.

Weighing just under 7 pounds, this rifle is also really lightweight and easy to carry.

This rifle also has a sporter contour barrel that’s fluted at the end to keep weight down while still being threaded for a radial muzzle brake (included) or suppressor.

This rifle will probably recoil a little more than other 6.8 Western rifles, but still shouldn’t be too bad, especially with that recoil pad and the use of a brake or suppressor.

All things considered, this is a true mountain-style rifle and is definitely one of the best lightweight 6.8 Western rifles available. While it still is capable of great accuracy and will serve as a good shooting platform for longer range shots, the X-Bolt Speed is ideal for those who prioritize a lightweight rifle for use in rough terrain over something that’s heavier, but easier to shoot accurately at long distances.

  • (detachable rotary magazine)

BUY A BROWNING X-BOLT SPEED HERE

Also Available At: Sportsman’s Warehouse

Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range

picture of best 6.8 western rifles browning x bolt max long range

On the flip side of the coin from the Browning X-Bolt Speed is the Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range. Just as the name states, it’s a 6.8 Western rifle optimized for target shooting or long range hunting performance.

The new caliber is designed to use heavier bullets with higher ballistic coefficients and this particular rifle is a good way to pair those heavy bullets with a faster muzzle velocity and a very stable shooting platform optimized for accuracy.

To that end, this rifle has a longer 26″ stainless steel, fluted heavy sporter barrel for the long range accuracy and performance. The composite Max stock has an adjustable comb for proper eye-to-scope alignment and also comes with 1/4″ and 1/2″ length of pull spacers to help the shooter adjust the stock for proper fit.

This particular model rifle uses a black and gray textured finish composite stock, but Browning also offers an identical rifle with their Ovix camouflage pattern.

The stock also has 3 separate sling swivel studs for use with a sling and/or bipod. The barrel also has a 5/8″-24 thread pattern and comes with a very aggressive Recoil Hawg muzzle brake Browning claims can reduce recoil up to 76%. For those who don’t want to use the brake, a thread protector is included and the rifle can also be used with a suppressor, which should also result is less recoil.

This rifle weighs just over 8 pounds without a scope, so it’s not exactly lightweight. However, this rifle is designed more for long-range performance than for ease of carry.

With that in mind, this rifle should be a very stable shooting platform that helps the shooter wring all the performance possible out of the flat shooting and hard hitting 6.8 Western cartridge.

That extra weight, when combined with the recoil pad and very aggressive muzzle brake, will also really help tame recoil.

This is pretty far from a good mountain hunting rifle. However, this is definitely one of the best long range 6.8 Western rifles you can buy these days. The Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range also not so large or heavy that it’s impossible to carry either.

This is an absolutely perfect 6.8 Western hunting rifle for those hunting in more open and/or gently rolling terrain where a stable shooting platform and the best long range performance are more important than a lightweight and easy to carry rifle.

Get the Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range if you want a great rifle with a long effective range. Go with something else if that’s not what you’re looking for.

  • Length of Pull: 13.75″
  • Rifling Twist Rate: 1:7.5″
  • Threaded Barrel: Yes, (5/8″-24 thread pattern)
  • Magazine Size: 3 (detachable rotary magazine)
  • Accuracy Guarantee: No
  • Left Handed Models Available: No
  • MSRP: $1,479.99

BUY A BROWNING X-BOLT MAX LONG RANGE HERE

Also Available At: Cabela’s and Guns.com

Winchester XPR

picture of Best 6.8 western Rifles for Hunting xpr

Winchester’s XPR rifle has gained a reputation for being one of the most reasonably priced centerfire hunting rifles available in the United States. There was once a time where calling something a “budget rifle” was just a polite way of saying it was junk.

Fortunately, things have changed and the XPR is a great all-around 6.8 Western hunting rifle that’s also functional, serviceable, and well built.

The Winchester XPR is not a fancy rifle by any stretch of the imagination though and comes without a lot of bells and whistles. That does lower the price point though and the Winchester XPR is currently the least expensive 6.8 Western rifle available. For example, Winchester offers their XPR scope combo (with an included Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×40 rifle scope) with an MSRP under $800.

All things considered, the Winchester XPR is a nice 6.8 Western rifle for hunting a variety of big game, but especially whitetail deer and feral hogs. It will also work great on a high country mule deer hunt, for hunting black bear, or for pursuing pronghorn antelope in open country.

In fact, this is the rifle I’d recommend for a person looking for a 6.8 Western hunting rifle that will work really well for most deer hunting situations without breaking the bank.

  • (detachable box magazine)
  • 799.99

BUY A WINCHESTER XPR HERE

Also Available At: Guns.com

Browning X-Bolt Speed Suppressor Ready

picture of best 6.8 western rifles browning x bolt suppressor ready

Suppressors are rapidly growing in popularity among hunters, especially in the United States. While there are many benefits to hunting and shooting with a suppressor, they aren’t without downsides either.

Most notably, an attached silencer adds weight and length to a rifle. For instance, a Browning X-Bolt Speed is a staggering 53″ long with a 9″ long Banish 30 suppressor attached!

With all that in mind, Browning and Winchester decided to offer a line of “suppressor ready” rifles in several different lineups and chamberings starting in 2022.

Of these, the Browning X-Bolt Speed Suppressor Ready is one of the innovative new rifles available in 6.8 Western.

This rifle is basically identical to the baseline X-Bolt Speed model, but has a shorter 20″ barrel, is only 40″ long, and weighs a little less. Naturally, the rifle is also threaded with 5/8″-24 thread pattern for ease of use with a suppressor or a muzzle brake.

Shortening a rifle barrel comes at the expense of reduced velocity and more muzzle blast, but both of those issues are mitigated to a certain extent when a suppressor is used. Additionally, shorter barrels are also stiffer and (somewhat counterintuitively) are often capable of even better accuracy.

Note that while these rifles are designed and marketed specifically for use with a suppressor, they’re not required. With those shorter barrels, these rifles are excellent brush guns and will work great in the tight confines of a box blind as well.

All things considered, the X-Bolt Speed Suppressor Ready does give up a little bit of long range performance, but should still be more than capable enough to fill the needs of most hunters pursuing big game under a variety of situations. The 6.8 Western excels at longer range, but is also a great cartridge at shorter range too, especially in a rifle like this.

These firearms are arguably among the best 6.8 Western rifles for use with those who want a smaller and easier to carry rifle, both with and without a suppressor.

  • (detachable rotary magazine)
  • No
  • 1,479.99

BUY A BROWNING X BOLT SPEED SUPPRESSOR READY HERE

Winchester Model 70 Long Range MB

picture of best 6.8 western rifles winchester model 70 long range

Looking for a Winchester Model 70 that can fully take advantage of the 6.8 Western’s long range performance? It’s a recent development, but Winchester offers the Model 70 in 6.8 Western and their Long Range version of the legendary rifle should appeal to those who want to wring out all the performance possible from the cartridge.

Like all current production Model 70 rifles, the Model 70 Long Range incorporates Winchester’s Pre-64 type claw extractor with controlled round feed. This rifle also utilizes a Bell and Carlson™ composite stock with a wider than usual fore-end that also has a flat bottom to provide a balance of great performance from a shooting bench without being too heavy while afield.

The rifle also has a free-floating fluted barrel with a recessed target crown and a Pachmayr® Decelerator® pad. The rifle also has a threaded barrel and comes with a removable muzzle brake.

All things considered, this rifle delivers long range performance almost on par with the Browning X-Bolt Max Long Range, but is a fair bit lighter and easier to carry.

I still wouldn’t recommend this as a mountain hunting rifle, but it’s still a good all-around 6.8 Western rifle that leans more towards long range performance without being excessively heavy.

  • Length of Pull: 13.5″
  • 8oz
  • Rifling Twist Rate: 1:8″
  • Threaded Barrel: , 5/8″-24 thread pattern)
  • Magazine Size: 3 (hinged floorplate)
  • Accuracy Guarantee: No
  • Left Handed Models Available: No
  • MSRP: $1,709.99

BUY A WINCHESTER MODEL 70 LONG RANGE HERE

Also Available At: Sportsman’s Warehouse

Winchester Model 70 Super Grade

picture of Best 6.8 western Rifles for Hunting model 70

A hunter looking for a 6.8 Western rifle with a good mix of elegance and functionality would be hard pressed to beat the Winchester Model 70 Super Grade. While a rifle with a synthetic stock and cerakote finish may be very functional, those rifles often don’t look nearly as nice as a rifle with a walnut stock and a blued steel barrel and action.

Jack O’Connor was a noted fan of the Winchester Model 70 and current production Model 70s by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company incorporate a lot of the features and characteristics that hunters like him appreciated in the rifle. Fortunately, Winchester now offers these rifles in the .277-caliber 6.8 Western cartridge as well.

These rifles have a pre-64 style controlled round feed with a claw extractor for maximum reliability when feeding a new cartridge and extracting a fired cartridge. This action type is ideal when hunting dangerous game like brown or grizzly bear where the ability to reload and quickly take a follow-up shot could be the difference between life and death. In my opinion, the best hunting rifles for pursuing dangerous game all have a controlled round feed action like the Model 70.

I don’t advocate using the 6.8 Western for hunting dangerous game like grizzly bear, but a controlled feed action like this one is a nice option when hunting game like deer, elk, or moose in areas where an encounter with a big bear is a possibility. A controlled round feed isn’t necessarily a requirement, but I’d definitely rather have one than not if I had to defend myself against an angry bear in a chance encounter on an elk hunt!

This rifle also has a fixed magazine using a hinged floorplate (in contrast to the detachable box magazines some rifles use). The Model 70 Super Grade also has an excellent Pachmayr Decelerator Recoil Pad to reduce perceived recoil.

Weighing 8 pounds unloaded, this is not an especially heavy or lightweight rifle. It’s a touch on the heavy side, but not excessively so. It wouldn’t be my first choice for a super light mountain rifle, but will work really well in that role.

Instead, I think the Model 70 Super Grade is an excellent 6.8 Western hunting rifle for someone who wants a very stylish rifle that’s also well suited for a wide range of hunting situations ranging from mule deer and pronghorn all the way up to large game black bear, elk, and moose.

  • Overall Length: 44.25″
  • Barrel Length: 24″
  • Length of Pull: 13.75″
  • Weight: 8lbs 0oz
  • Rifling Twist Rate: 1:8″
  • Threaded Barrel: No
  • Magazine Size: 3 (hinged floorplate)
  • Accuracy Guarantee: No
  • Left Handed Models Available: No
  • MSRP: $1,629.99

BUY A WINCHESTER MODEL 70 SUPER GRADE HERE

Also Available At: Cabela’s and Guns.com

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