Death is inevitable. Like a cloud, it hangs ever on the horizon.

On this sea of life, all living things are like little boats being swept along by a great current, its force irresistible and its flow unimpeded. We look up, and see the cloud looming larger and larger, but the current never blinks. It forges us onward, always heading directly for the tempest.

So, when you think about it, all a well-seasoned rifle is is a ferocious blast of wind that blows directly at the transom of some deer's life. The animal's heading for the great beyond anyway. You might as well add some haste to the process with a well-placed shot.

The following rifles will help you do just that. If you're in the market, now's the time to buy so you can take some trips to the range to fire a few rounds through that freshly minted barrel.

Choose wisely. Selecting a rifle is a lot like choosing a wife. They're both going to be with you for life, they both kick with the slightest provocation and they both are louder than a cage full of monkeys.

Browning

Handsome European styling and unique features have made the ShortTrac and LongTrac rifles a popular and well-received addition to the BAR line.

Both models are quick, compact and easy to carry due to their high-strength, aircraft-grade aluminum alloy receivers, composite trigger guards and magazine floorplates.

Barrels are hammer-forged by Fabrique Nationale in Belgium to ensure accuracy.

The proven, seven-lug rotary bolt system engages tightly into the barrel for the same accuracy and strength serious marksmen have trusted for decades.

Both models have shim adjustable stocks to easily tailor the rifle to an individual's preference.

The ShortTrac is offered in .270 WSM, 7mm WSM, .300 WSM, .243 Win. and .308 Win.

The LongTrac is offered in .270 Win., .30-06 Sprg., 7mm Rem. Mag. and .300 Win. Mag.

Manufacturer's suggested retail prices for the rifles range from $912 to $994.

For more information, visit browning.com.

Henry

The Henry Lever Action is a classic Western-style lever action rifle, and one of the most popular .22s on the market today. The reason for its popularity is that it shoots great, looks great and is remarkably affordable - about half the price of the competition.

The Henry Lever Action features an extremely attractive American walnut stock, the quality of which can only be found on guns three times the price.

The action is exceptionally smooth, so smooth many first-timers remark that they cannot believe the rifle has nay internal parts.

The Henry Lever Action also features side ejection, an adjustable rear sight, a hooded front sight and a grooved receiver for mounting a scope. The blued steel barrel is machined with state of the art multiple groove rifling. The result is a highly accurate shooter.

The easy-to-load tubular magazine can handle 15 rounds of .22 Long Rifle, 17 rounds of .22 Long and as many as 21 rounds of .22 Short, making it a viable alternative to a semi-automatic .22, and a lot more fun to shoot.

For more information, visit www.henry-guns.com.

Kimber

The Kimber Model 84M is the lightest production rifle available today. Even more impressive, there is no compromise in performance.

Everything about them is based on a an action designed for the .308 Win. cartridge family, but barrels are still full-length and classic stocks are sleek and full-size.

Chambered in calibers from .223 Rem. to .308 Win., models suited for everything Louisiana hunters like to do are available.

In addition to all four WSM cartridges, the Model 8400 rifle family now chambers America's most popular standards and magnums like .25-06 Rem., .270 Win., .30-06 Spfd., .300 Win. Mag. and .338 Win. Mag. in a new version with a longer action.

Model 8400 rifles cover the range from stainless steel in lightweight Kevlar-reinforced fiberglass stocks to traditional polished blue steel mated with stunning AAA-grade claro walnut.

For more information, visit kimberamerica.com.

Marlin

Working closely with Hornady ballisticians, the Marlin engineers have developed a line of lever-action rifles (XLR) to take full advantage of the dramatic improvement in performance offered by new LEVERevolution cartridges.

Using the time-honored Marlin lever-action system as a start, all of the XLRs have 24-inch stainless steel barrels, as well as stainless receivers and levers, broached rifling, fluted bolts, black/gray laminated stocks and deluxe recoil pads.

Although varying by caliber, the improvements in velocity, energy and bullet performance are significant. The most dramatic gains are achieved in the classic 30/30, which is now a legitimate 250- to 300-yard deer cartridge.

Marlin is offers four different XLR models. The 336XLR is chambered in 30/30. Hornady also offers a 35 Rem. LEVERevolution round.

Three big bores were also introduced earlier this year: the 1895XLR in 45/70 Gov't.; the 1895MXLR in 450 Marlin; and the 444XLR in 444 Marlin.

Although the XLR Series is designed to maximize the ballistic improvements of LEVERevolution ammunition, the performance of standard Marlin models is also greatly increased.

Remington

In the field, patience is a virtue, but it's also true what they say about speed.

One season with the new Model 750 Woodsmaster will be proof enough. Featuring an improved gas system for faster, smoother cycling and a balanced, low-profile design that handles like lightning, it's a deadly-quick addition to Remington's centerfire autoloading line.

Rapid follow-ups are its speciality, but famed Remington one-shot accuracy comes standard.

The Model 750 replaces Remington's wood-stocked Model 7400 offerings, and features a restyled American walnut fore-end and stock with machine-cut checkering.

Felt recoil is diminished by its ultra-efficient gas action and the addition of Remington's revolutionary R3 recoil pad.

The Model 750 Woodsmaster comes in the following calibers: .243 Win., .308 Win., .270 Win., .30-06 Sprg., .35 Whelen, .308 Win. (carbine), .30-06 Sprg. (carbine) and .35 Whelen (carbine).

Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $769.

For more information, visit www.remington.com.

Savage

The revolutionary AccuTrigger is a standard feature of Savage's new 14/114 Classic with hinged floorplate. The new design allows the shooter to easily adjust the trigger pull from 2 1/2 to 6 pounds.

The stock is crafted from American walnut, finished in satin lacquer and features a traditional Monte Carlo Comb and cheekpiece with wrap-around checkering.

Savage's new feeding system offers a straight line feed for more reliability every time, and with one simple pull of the hinged floorplate's recessed release, the rounds fall out easily into one hand.

Both the short action - the model 14 Classic - and the long action - the model 114 Classic - come in a variety of calibers in either 22- or 24-inch barrel lengths. All actions are polished to a deep, rich, high luster blue, and offer a level of performance rarely found in a factory bolt-action rifle.

The 14 Classic is chambered in .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., 7mm-08 Rem., .308 Win., .270 WSM and .300 WSM.

The 114 Classic is chambered in .270 Win., .30-06 Spfld., 7mm Rem. Mag. and .300 WSM.

Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $606.

For more information, visit www.savagearms.com.

SIG Arms

The new Blaser R93 Professional delivers unprecedented accuracy, performance and reliability, making it the ultimate synthetic hunting rifle.

The innovative straight-pull bolt action design of the R93 permits ultra-fast cycling in a durable synthetic stocked rifle capable of hunting game worldwide.

Outstanding accuracy in the R93 Professional is derived from a combination of the 360-degree radial locking system, which ensures repeatable accuracy, and a crisp, precise 3 1/2-pound trigger.

Blaser's innovative interchangeable/free-floating barrel system allows the hunter to maintain the accuracy of the R93 from caliber to caliber.

Once an R93 barrel is sighted in, hunters can quickly change between calibers without a loss of zero.

This interchangeability of barrels, outstanding accuracy and durable synthetic stock in either dark green or Mossy Oak camo makes the R93 Professional the most versatile rifle capable of covering all hunting needs worldwide.

The rifle is available in 30 caliber options ranging from .222 Rem. to .416 Rem. Mag.

Manufacturer's suggested retail price starts at $2,595.

For more information, visit www.sigarms.com.

Thompson Center

The Thompson Center Encore Rifle system is capable of delivering minute-of-angle accuracy right out of the box, and now it's available in stainless steel and composite stock models.

The Encore is a full-sized, single-shot rifle with a break-open design for fast and easy loading, and it boasts easily interchangeable barrels as well.

With its classic Monte Carlo buttstock, this rifle mounts instantly with the scope aligned at eye level.

At about 7 pounds, the Encore rifle carries like a dream, and it's chambered for the most potent and popular cartridges in the world today.

If hunting with a single-shot rifle is your game - knowing that one well-placed shot is all you need - the Encore rifle is yours for the asking.

Hunting with a single-shot rifle speaks for itself. It says confidence. It says class. It says self-control.

For more information, visit www.tcarms.com.

Weatherby

Weatherby's Mark V Ultramark has returned as the company's new top-of-the-line traditional-wood production rifle for big-game hunters and shooters.

"Last seen in Weatherby's line from 1989 to 1991, the Ultramark returns this year as the bridge between our Mark V Deluxe and a custom-built rifle," said Brad Ruddell, Weatherby's vice president of sales and marketing. "The Mark V Deluxe is one of the most widely-recognized and copied rifles in the world.

"However, some customers have told us they want an even more deluxe Deluxe. That's the Ultramark, which is all about great wood, with additional custom touches normally found only on rifles from our custom shop. This rifle is truly distinctive."

Ultramark features a stock of highly figured, exhibition-grade walnut. The high-gloss, raised-comb Monte Carlo stock sports elaborate 20 LPI checkering and double spacers of maplewood and ebony on the buttstock, forend and pistol grip cap.

The Ultramark's walnut stocks are all hand-selected. Steel rods are epoxied strategically in the action mortice and wrist to aid in strengthening the stock in these areas. The rosewood forend and pistol grip cap are specially selected to match color and grain, then shaped and finished to feel like a single piece of wood. The recoil pad is precisely fit and finished to match the contour of the stock for a custom look.

The firearm features an adjustable trigger designed to be clean and crisp, and to break precisely for top-notch accuracy. The trigger features precise adjustments for sear engagement (factory set at .008 to .014) and let-off weight (factory set at about 4 pounds).

Rifle weight is 8 1/2 pounds.

Ultramark is available in .257 Weatherby Mag. and .300 Weatherby Mag.

Ultramark is guaranteed to shoot a 1 1/2-inch three-shot group at 100 yards from a cold barrel when used with premium or Weatherby factory ammunition.

Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $2,599.

For more information, visit www.weatherby.com.