Field and Stream Picks 3 Winchester Rifles as Best for Mule Deer, Elk, Coyotes and Hogs.

“Today’s Model 70s are better rifles than Winchester ever dreamed of building during the gun’s glory days of the 20th century.”

Dave Petzal's “Ultimate Guide to Hunting Rifles.”

The subject of much debate by hunters around the campfire, over breakfast on opening day and over a cold one at an afternoon BBQ is what rifle is perfect for hunting specific game, and more importantly, why.

David E. Petzal, the highly-respected, always outspoken (and occasionally tongue-in-cheek) veteran rifle editor at Field and Stream magazine weighed in on the subject in an exhaustive cover article entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Hunting Rifles” in the publication’s August 2017 issue.

“People ask me: ‘You write about all these rifles, but what do you use?’ Here it is,” stated Petzal. “I’ve either owned (as in spent my own money for), or shot at great length, every one of them. I’ve also gotten to shoot a lot of junk over the years, some of it with very impressive price tags. Those guns are not here.”

“What is here are rifles that have worked for me, and that will work for you,” Petzal continued. “And along with my top pick for each critter, I’ve offered a second choice based on value. This is…because some of today’s low-cost rifles are astoundingly good. You’ll notice I name some manufacturers multiple times. This is not an accident. There is no diversity for the sake of diversity on this list.”

First up were Petzal’s choices for hunting Mule Deer.

“Mule deer are strictly western and are bigger than whitetails but no harder to kill,” wrote Petzal. “The difference is that whitetails are usually a close or medium-range proposition. With mule deer, you get the occasional long shot. What if your whitetails live out in the open, too? Worry not. Any first-rate mule deer rifle is also a first-rate prairie or western whitetail rifle.”

“Today’s Model 70s are better rifles than Winchester ever dreamed of building during the gun’s glory days of the 20th century,” states Petzal without the slightest equivocation. “This one is all stainless steel with a Bell and Carlson synthetic stock and a fluted barrel. The weight is an ideal 7 pounds 2 ounces.” And Petzal’s favorite Mule Deer chambering? “Yup, the plain old .270 Win. How do you argue with perfection?”

“The 21st-century version of the Model 70,” wrote Petzal. “The Big Red W did everything right here, and it’s a steal.” 

Next up was Petzal’s choice for hunting Elk.

“What you need to know about Cervus canadensis is that they get very big (over 1,000 pounds), and are very tough,” Petzal writes, based on extensive personal experience. “If you shoot one well, it may stand there looking at you until you shoot it again. If you shoot one badly—with any rifle of any caliber—you will probably never see the animal again. The closest shot I’ve ever gotten at an elk was 25 yards; the farthest was way past 500. Anything can happen.”

“Yes, again,” Petzal notes. “It’s very hard to get around this rifle, given the quality and the price.

And then there was Petzal’s black rifle choice for hunting coyotes and hogs.


“Based on the XPR bolt action, this chassis-stocked .308 is brand new,” stated Petzal. “I fired one at the 2017 SHOT Show and liked it a lot. It is very well thought out and has all the correct bells and whistles.”

(Reader’s should remember that Petzal’s personal recommendations are the product of a lifetime of shooting and hunting, and reflects the guns he’s spent his own hard-earned money on, or those on which he’s spent many days behind the trigger. This is a highly-respected voice of vast personal experience, and as such should be given plenty of credence.)

Stop on by your local Winchester Repeating Arms retailer today and handle the classic Model 70, the versatile XPR and the new XPC. You’ll see why David E. Petzal personally picked, again and again, the rifles from the first name in hunting rifles – Winchester.

You can pick up a copy of the August 2017 issue of Field and Stream at your local newsstand. You can also read the entire article by David E. Petzal at

Original article copyright Field and Stream, 2017. Photos are copyright Field and Stream, Winchester Repeating Arms, and/or used with permission and/or attribution or in the public domain. Review written by Winchester staff writer, Scott Engen. Copyright Winchester Repeating Arms, 2017.