Hunters in need of a rifle are flocking to new budget bolt-actions:

According to Todd Sarotte, a manager at Van’s Deer Processing and Sporting Goods, highly accurate, low-priced Savage Axis, Ruger American and Marlin X7 hunting rifles are dominating sales this fall as more hunters are becoming budget-minded.

While many bolt-action rifles topped with quality optics can quickly break the $1,000 mark, the Ruger American sells for $389, the Savage Axis with a 3X9 Burris scope is $399 and the Marlin X7 carries a price tag of $339.

Holding a Savage Axis, Sarotte said, “They can get this for less than the price of a used Remington 700.”

At Firearms Outfitters, Inc. in Vicksburg, owner Jimmy Bagby sees the same buying habits. “People aren’t spending on high-dollar guns, especially hunting guns,” Bagby said. “People are out of work and have part-time jobs. It’s just the way things are.”

Are hunters really buying less expensive guns because of economics, or because they are spreading their dollars out to buy more several more specialized utilitarian firearms geared towards specific kinds of hunting?