Best Sniper Rifles – 2020 Complete Buyer’s Guide

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“One Shot, One Kill - No Luck, Pure Skill” - These words clearly define what a sniper is. A sniper is one of the most respected positions in any military unit, but what completes a sniper is his rifle.

Here we will delve deeper into the concept of a sniper rifle, pros and cons of having one in your collection, and how to choose it.

We will also review the best sniper rifles on the market in an extensive list, so you have a myriad of options to choose from. So take a deep breath, and keep scrolling. 

Comparison of the Best Sniper Rifles

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best Overall
  • Chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor Round
  • AR Style Forend and Picatinny Rail for Customization
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  • Cold Hammer Forged Target Barrel
  • Most Adjustable and Precise .22 Rifle
  • Configurable AR Style Grip and Selector
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  • Best 300 Win Mag Sniper Rifle
  • Heavy Contour Target Barrel With Hybrid Muzzle Brake
  • Adjustable and Customizable Stock With Other Accessories
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  • Best Civilian Sniper Rifle For All Skill
  • X-Mark Pro externally adjustable trigger
  • Impervious to Even the Most Extreme Conditions
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  • Best Value for Money Sniper Rifle
  • Carbon Steel Barrel for Unmatched Accuracy
  • Includes a Bushnell Banner 3-9x40mm scope
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  • Fully Adjustable and Removable Stock
  • Magwell Front Works As A Support Brace
  • Barrel Nut for Quick and Easy Barrel Changes
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  • Best Semi-Auto Sniper Rifle
  • Side Charging Handle for Easy Operation
  • Compact AR Style Design With Customizability
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  • Fluted and Threaded Barrel
  • Best Bolt Action Sniper Rifle
  • Fluted Bolt For Better Cycling
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  • Best Tactical Sniper Rifle
  • Shoots the Powerful .50 BMG Ammunition
  • Used Extensively By Many Militaries for Sniping
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What is a Sniper Rifle?

A modern sniper rifle is a semi-auto, or bolt-action, high-precision rifle which is used to scout, aim and hit targets at long range with sheer accuracy. 

Sniper rifles are mostly fitted with a high power telescopic optic and are chambered for high powered cartridges to attain the right level of ballistics for long-range shooting. These can also be used for reconnaissance.

All modern militaries have designated sniper units, who mostly act as support and backup for CQB troops, and also help them take imminent or high-value targets. 

There are numerous sniper rifles being used across the world, but due to their nature and technology, some of them are not available for the general public. 

How Far Can a Sniper Rifle Shoot?

This question does not have a specific answer. The maximum effective range of a sniper rifle is as far as the person shooting it can evaluate and hit accurately. 

To give you an idea, the longest recorded sniper kill in history was made by a Canadian JTF (Joint Task Force)-2 Sniper in May 2017 against IS militants. The kill was made at 3540 meters (3,871 yards) using a .50 BMG round shot from a Macmillan TAC 50 rifle. 

How to Choose a Sniper Rifle

Before you choose a sniper rifle for yourself, consider these factors to get the most out of your weapon. 

Range and Caliber

The first thing you must consider is your intended range of shooting. This will eventually decide the kind of caliber you will be shooting. If you are a novice, you might want to give smaller rounds a try. Just to get the knack of sniping. However, if you are a pro and want to shoot longer, you might go for a .338 Lapua or .50 BMG

Semi-Auto vs Bolt-Action

Bolt-action rifles are known to be more stable since there’s little movement after the trigger is pulled. However, modern semi-auto sniper rifles have come on par with them in terms of stability (adding extra weight). Eventually, it is your personal preference. 

Customizability and Tactical

Focus on what level of customization the rifle is offering. Some rifles have a plain stock with just two sling swivels, while others have a whole lot of adjustment options like cheek riser, storage, keymod, etc.

Price

There’s no point in spending thousands of dollars after a high-end military sniper rifle if you have no specific use for it (unless your wallet is too heavy). Considering your budget is also a good virtue. 

Quick Take - Best Sniper Rifles

Review of the Best Sniper Rifles

Let's take a look at this year's top models and the qualities that make for a great pick.

Pros

  • Double stage adjustable trigger
  • Fully adjustable stock with cheek riser
  • Modular removable handguard with M-Lok ports
  • Redesigned ejection port allows easy single shot feeding
  • Metallic shroud to cover the rear of the bolt and firing pin
  • Full aluminum bedding, plus threaded muzzle for adding devices

Cons

  • ​Price (if that concerns you)

What Recent Buyers Report

This is probably the only sniper rifle on the market with absolutely zero negative reviews. It’s users seem enchanted by the accuracy, modularity, and smooth operation of this rifle. Many ex-marksmanship veterans also prefer this rifle over many others.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Tikka T3x TAC A1 is comparable to a fully modified AR in terms of customizability. The 6.5 Creedmoor is an exceptional sniping round, plus the rifle has enough room for adjustment, to make every shot count. The threaded barrel also delivers an extra advantage.

Who Will Use This Most

Considering its design, the rifle seems ideal for tactical operations, competitions and practice. The rifle can also be used for hunting, except for the fact that it is too-advanced for woods. The rifle can also be used for taking down coyotes and nocturnal varminting, because of the large rail space which allows you to mount night optics.

Bottom Line

The Tikka T3 TAC A1 has been built on the T3 platform and is an exceptionally accurate and tactical rifle. It allows you to mount multiple accessories and works flawlessly in all conditions due to the shrouded bolt design. A must-have for serious snipers.

Pros

  • 18 inch long threaded barrel
  • Ruger marksman adjustable trigger
  • Aesthetically pleasing “tacti-cool” design
  • Fully adjustable stock and M-Lok handguard
  • Glass bedded stock for durability and accuracy
  • 10 and 15 round capacity 10/22 magazine options

Cons

  • Bolt takes time to break-in
  • Will face legal issues in some states

What Recent Buyers Report

All buyers of this rifle seem satisfied by the performance and accuracy. The rifle is very adjustable, customizable and looks very tactical. The comparatively heavy frame for a .22LR makes recoil almost zero.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is by far the most tactical .22LR precision rifle on the market. It resembles an AR in terms of customizability, and the features of a high-end tactical rifle. The bolt throw adjustment, also allows you to mimic centerfire cartridges.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is great for introducing young shooters to precision shooting. The rifle is ideal for competitions and also hunting small vermin. It is also a great tool to improve your shooting skills and do some recreational shooting.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The rifle has absolutely no scope for improvement. However, you can still attach a good bipod for added function. Adding a good rifle scope is highly recommended to get the best out of this rifle.

Bottom Line

There’s no more you can ask from a .22LR rifle. The Ruger Precision rifle is the best in its class. Although the .22LR is not a sniper round, this rifle will make sure that it reaches it maximum potential in terms of range and accuracy.

Best .300 Win Mag Sniper Rifle:
Ruger - Hawkeye® Long Range Target .300 WIN MAG

Pros

  • Adjustable two-stage trigger
  • Heavy barrel and muzzle brake
  • Simple design with adjustable stock
  • Package includes extra attachments for customization
  • .300 win mag is an inexpensive and easily available sniper round

Cons

  • Grip corners might feel uncomfortable
  • Wooden stock requires extra attention and care

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers appreciate the craftsmanship put into designing the rifle. The heavy sporter barrel coupled with a hybrid brake brings recoil down to a minimum, which is also a very appreciated point. Additionally, the rifle has been found to be very accurate by all buyers.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Ruger Hawkeye is a member of the Ruger M77 family and shoots the common .300 Win mag round. The rifle is well-built and offers adjustment and customization without adding too much extra weight. The right is durable and will withstand harsh environmental conditions.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is great for hunters, competitive shooters, and range practice. The .300 WSM round has enough power to bring down mid/big sized game from a distance. The rifle is also great for practice since the ammo is inexpensive and readily available.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The rifle has been designed intricately, but one thing that might concern you is the trigger. It is not very crisp compared to other precision rifles. So you might consider upgrading it, if you are using the rifle for competitions. Additionally, the wooden stock of this rifle requires some extra care, and might not be fit to take too much beating.

Bottom Line

The Ruger M77 Hawkeye is a lightweight, accurate and simple sniper rifle, that allows you to hunt and practice without spending too much money over ammo. The heavy profile barrel is very accurate, and the adjustments and complementary accessories deliver good value for money.

Pros

  • Hinged floorplate magazine for easy cleaning
  • Durable coating to withstand extreme conditions
  • Tactical style barrel fluting for better performance
  • Recessed thumb hook feature for optimum performance

Cons

  • Doesn’t include sights

What Recent Buyers Report 

Most users find the rifle to be very easy to handle. The long-range capability coupled with a simple design is a big plus with this rifle. The gun shoots exceptionally well and is quite lightweight compared to other sniper rifles. It has a decent and smooth action and a great finish.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The rifle features a right mix of accuracy, looks, durability, and pricing. Its XCR finish allows you to use in any weather conditions. The fluted barrel promotes cooling and the uniquely designed stock helps with the ergonomics. Additionally, the externally adjustable trigger is also an amazing feature.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is best suited for people who like to carry lightweight sniper rifles. It doesn’t have too many tactical attachments so people with a minimalistic approach would love this rifle the most.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Since the rifle comes without sights, you might consider adding a good pair or at least keeping it in your bag for backup. The rifle has a thick recoil pad, which might interfere with people having small arms, so keep an eye out for this.

Bottom Line

The Remington 700 has been a trusted rifle by many military and police agencies around the world. This model, in particular, can withstand extreme conditions and is apt for both beginners and pro shooters.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable accu-trigger
  • Lightweight and durable design
  • Thumb reachable 2 position tang safety
  • Detachable box magazine for fast reloading
  • Thread-in barrel headspacing for further customization

Cons

  • Not designed for extreme long range precision
  • Scope needs to be upgraded for long range shooting

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers appreciate this gun for giving out the good value for money. The rifle is apt for mid-range shooting and shoots very well. The stock feels light, and the adjustable trigger is also a great addition. You cannot expect better accuracy at this price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The rifle is lightweight, simple and durable. It includes a scope and an adjustable trigger which adds to the value for money. The design of the rifle is quite ergonomic, and the head spaced barrel allows you to thread and mount muzzle devices if you want.

Who Will Use This Most

30-06 is a popular hunting round, especially for deer. Due to the lightweight and durable nature of this rifle, it can be carried easily on rugged terrain. It is also good for practice and recreational shooting. Great for beginners to learn the basics of precision shooting.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The rifle has been designed for basic needs and isn’t very tactical or customizable. You can use it for hunting and practice, and that’s it. The scope is not very long range and of very high quality, so you might consider upgrading it.

Bottom Line

The Savage Axis II is a budget sniper rifle which offers exceptional value for money. It has the attributes of a good sniper rifle and is ideal for hunting and practice. The rifle shoots well in the 400-500 yard range, but if you want something better, you should consider spending more money.

Best .308 Sniper Rifle:
Bergara B-14 BMP .308 Winchester Rifle

Pros

  • AR style grip for better control
  • Threaded barrel with protector cap
  • Adjustable and feature-packed stock
  • Uniquely designed action for flawless cycling
  • Versatile rifle, can be used for multiple applications

Cons

  • Barrel heats up quickly
  • Priced towards the higher ends
  • Ejection port on the top is closed

What Recent Buyers Report

The users of this rifle seem very impressed with the chassis, smooth operation and the accuracy of this rifle. The adjustable stock is liked by most users. The solidarity and design of this rifle are also widely appreciated among shooters.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The rifle has an amazing design, and the manufacturer guarantees sub MOA groups at 100 yards. The barrel can be changed at a moments notice, and every inch of this rifle has been designed to support the shooter. Due to its short barrel, the rifle is also quite maneuverable.

Who Will Use This Most

Competition shooters and hunters would use this rifle the most. The rifle supports accessories and is durable and compact enough to be taken through woods and brush. It is also a great gun to polish your skills with the .308 caliber, and test it out to the maximum capabilities.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Since the rail is placed just above the extractor, you might experience problems with loading a single round or pulling out jammed ones.

Bottom Line

Bergara is renowned for producing high precision rifles, and this one is no different. The rifle has an ergonomic design and can be used for almost every application you can think of with a bolt action rifle.

Pros

  • Magpul PRS Gen3 buttstock
  • AR-10 design for familiarity
  • Nickel Boron treated two-stage trigger
  • Accepts 10/20 round detachable magazines
  • Faster rate of fire compared to bolt actions
  • Full-length picatinny rail for adding accessories
  • Both non-reciprocating side charging handle and top handle

Cons

  • Barrel length a bit less than other sniper rifles
  • Bolt recoil might impede accuracy over long range

What Recent Buyers Report

Most users prefer the AR-style design of this weapon. The side charging handle allows the user to charge the weapon without taking their eye off of the target after every shot. The quality of this rifle is top-notch, and the users seem satisfied with every aspect.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Since this rifle has been built on an AR-style design, the rifle will feel very tactical and similar to most users. The nickel boron coated trigger is flawless, and the semi-auto operation allows for a quick rate of fire, even at close ranges. The rifle has 10/20 round capacity which is enough to prevent you from reloading.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is great for hunters, competitive shooters and even home defense in some situations. The rifle has a customizable design which lets the user mount accessories. Due to its design, ergonomics and low recoil, the rifle is great to introduce new shooters to the .300 WSM series of sniper rifles.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The rifle weighs about 10 pounds. Adding other accessories (scope, mount, sling, bipod, etc.) will bring it up to about 13 pounds. So you must consider buying a good sling to carry this beast. Since it uses a direct impingement gas system, consider cleaning it regularly.

Bottom Line

The combination of the semi-auto capability and a heavy but comparatively short barrel makes the rifle more versatile and ready for every situation. The rifle has a full-length rail which allows you to add multiple accessories, including iron sights. A great addition to the collection for AR users.

Best Bolt Action Sniper Rifle:
Mossberg Patriot Predator .308 Win FDE Rifle

Pros

  • LBA adjustable trigger (2-7 lbs)
  • 4 round detachable box magazine
  • Oversized bolt handle for better grip
  • Lightweight design and inexpensive price
  • Top mounted picatinny rail for adding scope

Cons

  • Stock material is not very good
  • Barrel might need time to cool after a few rounds

What Recent Buyers Report

The rifle has a clean breaking trigger and shoots very accurately right out of the box. Some users did face barrel heating and bolt play issues, but that turned out to be manufacturing defects. The rifle costs way less than most other similar rifles, which is also a differentiating factor for many buyers.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The rifle shoots accurately, the trigger breaks clean, and it has a simple yet ergonomic design. This rifle gives you full room for customization, however, it works very well the way it is designed. The fluted bolt runs very smoothly, and the detachable magazine makes handling easier.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is for hunters. No matter what game you plan to shoot at whichever range, this rifle will ensure that you make a humane kill. Other than that, this is an all-rounder in terms of plinking, defense, and competitions. It can also be used to introduce beginners to a .308 bolt action rifle. Lest they’ll forget the accuracy lessons.

What Could Be Improved and Why

As already mentioned, the rifle has little room for customization. It has a simple design and adding a good scope will convert it into a deadly killing machine. The barrel might have heating issues, so you might want to check it out, before blaming your accuracy.

Bottom Line

The Mossberg Patriot is a very inexpensive, budget-friendly, good bolt action rifle on the market. It stands halfway in terms of price compared with other famous brands. It is also a versatile rifle that’ll put food on your table and keep your home safe.

Best Tactical Sniper Rifle:
Barrett M82A1

Pros

  • Includes a detachable bipod
  • Powerful caliber with long range
  • Semi-auto operation for quicker shots
  • Full-length rail and M-Lok handguard for accessories

Cons

  • Too much weight (32.7 lbs)
  • Will cost you an arm and a leg
  • Nasty recoil, requires adherence

What Recent Buyers Report

The users are enchanted by the looks, power, and function of this rifle. It is effective, efficient, accurate, extremely well-designed, and easy to field strip & clean. It shoots flawlessly and can bring down the largest of game instantly.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The rifle is a decimating beast and requires no introduction at all. It has been successfully used by the military for years. Even after shooting the heavy .50 BMG rounds, the rifle is very controllable, accurate and easy to hold. The ample rail space also allows you to mount accessories and use them in any situation.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is great for hunters, competitive shooters, and range shooters. The rifle has been used in wars, so self-defense is also an option, given that you have the appropriate distance and position. The rifle is really fun to shoot, so recreational shooters would also love to get a hand on it. Additionally, there are also people who are simply in love with it.

What Could Be Improved and Why

There’s no room for improvement in the rifle, but there are several points to consider. Since the rifle is bulky, you cannot use it for quick maneuvers. Using hearing protection is advised at all times. Plus, the rifle has a heavy recoil so longer shooting sessions may leave your shoulder and palms bruised.

Bottom Line

The Barrett M82A1 is one of the most deadly sniper rifles ever to be made. Its tactical capabilities need no testimony since it is used by militaries worldwide. This rifle would have been on top of this list, but the price is not very suitable for everyone desiring it.

Pros

  • Adjustable savage accu-trigger
  • Carbon steel sporter profile barrel
  • 4 round, detachable box magazine
  • Uniquely designed adjustable length of pull
  • Includes a scope with dead-hold BDC reticle
  • Ready to fire, with scope mounted and boresighted

Cons

  • Some people might require a cheek riser
  • Trigger guard is plastic (but of good quality)
  • Muzzle not threaded to accept muzzle devices

What Recent Buyers Report

According to recent reviews, the buyers cringe over the impeccable combo which offers great value for money. The rifle is pretty decent and ergonomically very stable. The package includes everything you need, including the stock spacers for adjusting LOP.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This rifle is a great and accurate shooting weapon right out of the box. The included Vortex Scope, rings, and rail are about $300 in total, which is amazing. The rifle is also available in 17 different calibers and left-handed versions.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is exceptional for practice and hunting. You can also consider it for SHTF situations. Due to its compact and lightweight design, hunters won’t face any problems carrying it all along through woods and bushes. The adjustable LOP makes it suitable for all members of your family. A great rifle for beginners.

What Could Be Improved and Why

There is very little room for upgrades and improvements. However, you may consider adding a cheek riser, if your head doesn’t align perfectly with the scope. The stock spacers take time to install and remove, so consider evaluating your LOP carefully.

Bottom Line

The Apex Hunter is a relatively new line from Savage but offers good features and a nice combo at a great price. This rifle is lightweight and shoots 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges, which is a high performing round. It requires little maintenance, and surely won’t burn a hole through your wallet.

Best Long Range Sniper Rifle:
Ruger Precision .338 Lapua 26" MLOK

Pros

  • Ambidextrous manual safety
  • Cold hammer forged 5R rifling
  • Three lug bolt with 70 degree throw
  • Muzzle brake with tunable compensator
  • .338 Lapua round is accurate and long range
  • Externally adjustable Ruger marksman trigger (wrench stored in bolt shroud)

Cons

  • Big and bulky weapon (weighs 15.5lbs)
  • Large brake produces too much side blast

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers appreciate the features, accuracy and most of all the price of this gun. Almost every user has managed to get sub MOA groups right out of the box. The adjustable muzzle brake is a great relief and reduces the recoil significantly.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The rifle is feature-packed and allows you to mount a ton of different accessories. The recoil mitigation of the rifle is excellent, considering the caliber. The folding stock gives some relief while carrying the rifle. Plus, the trigger adjustment tool stored in the bolt shroud is also appreciable.

Who Will Use This Most

The rifle is ideal for competitions and practice. .338 Lapua is a long-range round, and you’re probably going to hunt with this rifle. The rifle can be used for SHTF and home defense if you live in a county or on a farm. An amazing weapon for both avid and pro .338 shooters.

What Could Be Improved and Why

You should consider adding a sling to this rifle because of its sheer weight. Carrying it can be tough, especially if you have to maneuver too much. Plus, the rifle gives away a big dust signature due to the large muzzle brake. So keep that in mind too.

Bottom Line

The Ruger Precision .338 Lapua is densely packed with features and has been aptly priced considering its qualities. The rifle shoots exceptionally well and is a great alternative to more heavy and costly .50 BMG rifles.

Pros and Cons of Adding a Sniper to Your Collection

Sniper rifles also have a set of pros and cons associated with them. Some notable ones are: 

Pros

Here are the main attractions to owning a sniper:

Range and Accuracy

A sniper rifle turns long-range into your ally. It allows you to take down a target from a very long distance with pinpoint accuracy. The range can be an effective factor when SHTF, or the game is sighted far away. 

Decimating Power

Sniper rifles are designed to shoot high powered calibers, and designed to destroy the object they hit. Many calibers are capable of damaging and piercing concrete blocks and even armored vehicles. This also gives you an opportunity to shoot large game from a distance. 

Silent Killer

A properly camouflaged and concealed sniper has an element of surprise. With a sniper rifle, you don’t have to give away your position. Whether it is your game or a hostile in a home defense situation. 

Honing Skills

Practicing with sniper rifles is a great way to polish your shooting skills, and attaining the highest levels of precision and accuracy. 

Cons

With the ups come some downs as well, the (limited) downsides of sniper rifles:

Limited Use

Sniper rifles have limited use. They cannot be used for CQB because of their design and size. Plus they are difficult to carry and consume a lot of storage space. Additionally, they are more costly than an average rifle. 

Less Situational Awareness

While shooting a sniper rifle, the shooter’s situational awareness is blinded. Which makes him/her prone to threats. 

Conclusion

A sniper rifle is a precision shooting weapon that can take down targets from a very long range. You must consider several factors like range, caliber, operation, design, and price before choosing a sniper rifle for yourself. These rifles are ideal for skill sharpening and long-range hunting, however, they are also limited in use and pricey, on the other hand.  

People Also Ask

Below are some common questions surrounding this topic.

Now that we have reviewed the best sniper rifles available for civilians on the market. It’s time to answer some general queries and get hold of some interesting facts about snipers and their rifles. 

What Caliber Did Chris Kyle Use as a Sniper?

Chris Kyle used .300 Win Mag for most of his kills using a Magnum M24 rifle. He was also assigned the very advanced McMillan TAC-338 rifle in his later tours chambered in 338 Lapua for long-range shooting. He made his record-setting shot (2,100 yards) using a 338 Lapua magnum with the aforementioned rifle. 

Chris Kyle (Source)

Do Snipers Carry Two Rifles?

Snipers carry an extra weapon other than their main sniper rifle. It can be a handgun or an assault rifle. However, this depends on a mission-to-mission basis. Snipers mostly operate in pairs so the spotter is always equipped with tactical close range weapons in case their cover is blown or they have to scour their way through the battlefield.

What is the Most Deadly Sniper Rifle?

Since the judging factor for a sniper rifle is its long-range accuracy. We’ll consider the rifles used to make the 19 longest recorded sniper kills in modern history. The M82 leads this list with six spots, followed by Mcmillan TAC 50 with three spots (all in the top 5). The sniper rifle with the highest confirmed kill count to date is technically the M-28/30 used by Simo "Simuna" Häyhä’s, with 505 confirmed kills. 

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!