The Classic Winchester Model 70
If you're in the market for an upper-end bolt-action piece, you may want to look into the Winchester Model 70, considered the "Rifleman's Rifle," and dubbed the best rifle ever manufactured in the United States. This is an extremely versatile weapon that comes in just about every chamber you can think of, including the standard 243, 270 and 300 WIN MAG for hunting deer.
This is a rifle that was manufactured by Winchester from 1930s until the 1980s, until an agreement between Olin Corporation and U.S. Repeating Arms allowed the continued manufacturing of the Model 70 using the logo and name. Production ceased in 2006, but a Belgian company by the name of FN Herstal resumed production of the Winchester 70 in 2012, and continues to this day. In terms of size, you can get a number of variations that are lightweight and compact, which is why the Model 70 is a prime choice among law enforcement, so they can keep the rifle in their cars. You can get such models as Extreme Weather, Shadow Hunter, Feather, among others. The look of the gun is one thing, but you'll need to be aware of the changes in internal mechanics that has taken shape over the decades.
Because this gun has been around for so long, you can get it with different functions. The pre-1964 models had a barrel size of 24-26 inches and came with open sights, a Mauser-style extractor and controlled-round feed.
The main advantage of the Mauser style is its firm control over the rim of the cartridge, due to its non-rotating function, as it is fed from the magazine into the chamber. This results in better feed capabilities better suited for tracking game like deer, and for big game hunting as well.
In an effort to reduce manufacturing costs, the post-1964 contained a wedge extractor in place of the Mauser style concentrated in the bolt-head lug. Instead of retaining a firm grip over the cartridge rim, the wedge extractor skims over the rim as it is pushed into the chamber, otherwise known as push-feed.
As a result, you'll get a higher chance of jamming, and a higher likelihood of failing to get a new round in the chamber. There have since been improvements to the newer models to improve the quality, but the newer models never truly lived up to the classic pre-1964s. You can't go wrong in either direction, but it is important to distinguish between the pre-1964 and post-1964 before deciding to get a Model 70. Overall, when it comes to pre vs. post, it will largely depend on the hunter's preference, and there are strengths and weaknesses in both guns. In 1992, the classic version was reintroduced to address consumer complains, and to give buyers more choice.
You may be able to get a good deal on a 70, depending on where you look, but the typical range on a new model would be in the $800 to $1100 range for a pre-1964, depending on the type of 70 you get. For the post-1964 versions, you'll get about the same price range, although this will vary. If you're looking for a cheap bolt action under $500, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Winchester in that price range, but you're likely to get a better deal from a used piece.