There have been a countless number of different rifles built and produced around the world, but only a select few of them have actually stood the test of time. In this article, we’re going to run through the best rifles ever built.
Here are the greatest rifles of all time for you to vote on:
Known as the Greatest Battle Implement Ever Devised by General George S Patton, the M1 Garand was an eight shot semi-automatic rifle that fired the .30-06 Springfield round. The big advantage to the M1 Garand over other rifles of the time was the fact that it was a semi-automatic whereas most other services rifles were bolt action. While the Soviets did use the SVT-40 and the Germans the STG44 and Gewehr 43, each of those rifles were produced only in limited runs and the M1 Garand was the only primary service rifle of the war that was semi-automatic.
The AR-series of rifles, such as the AR-15, AR-10, M4, and M16 variants are the second most common rifle ever designed, after the AK-47. They are available in a myriad of different calibers, with the most common and plentiful being in the 5.56x45mm NATO. Today, the AR-15 is the best selling rifle in the United States, with the most popular variant being the 16 inch barrel with the 5.56 caliber. They are also built by a wide number of manufacturers, with Colt, Daniel Defense, SIG Sauer, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger being among the most prominent.
After the Korean War, the .30-06 M1 Garand was re-chambered for the .308 round and equipped with a detachable box magazine instead of an en-bloc clip, and the result was the M14 rifle. The M14 served as the primary service rifle until the adoption of the M16, but continues to be deployed today as a DMR, or Designated Marksman’s Rifle. The civilian version is manufactured by Springfield, and is called the M1A.
It should be no surprise to see the AK-47 on this list. The AK variants are simply the most popular firearms ever made. In fact, there are more AK-47s, AKMs, and AK-74s in circulation worldwide than any other firearm. The original AK-47 was a 7.62x39mm assault rifle with selective fire capabilities. It served as the standard rifle for the Soviet army. It later developed into the improved AKM and then the AK-74, which fires the ballistically more accurate 5.45x39mm.
The FN FAL was often known as the Right Arm of the Free World, because during the Cold War when most Communist nations were using the AK-47 or some variant of it, most of the Western nations (except the United States), were using the FN FAL or some variant of it. The FN FAL is a .308 Winchester battle rifle, that is available in a number of different configurations and barrel lengths. It comes standard with twenty rounds in the magazine.
The Springfield M1903 was a bolt action rifle in .30-06 that was the primary service rifle for the United States in World War I and continued to serve as a sniper rifle in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The rifle was virtually identical to the Mauser rifle, so much to the point that the German government sued the American government, and the latter had to pay the former royalties during World War I (even though they were on opposite sides of the conflict).
The Remington Model 700 is the best selling bolt action rifle in American history and one of the most popular bolt action rifles across the globe. Utilizing dual opposed locking lugs with a recessed bolt face, the Model 700 was designed to compete directly with the Winchester Model 70 at a significantly lower overall price point. Today the Model 700 is available in a countless number of options, finishes, and calibers.
The Lee Enfield rifle in .303 and its many variants served as the standard issue rifle of the British Army for around half a century. They were most notably used throughout the First and Second World Wars, in both rifle and carbine variations. The big advantage of the Lee Enfield over its competitors such as the Mauser K98 or the Mosin Nagant was the fact that it held ten rounds of ammunition at once, whereas most bolt action rifles of the time held just five rounds of ammo. The Lee Enfield was eventually replaced by the FN FAL as the primary service rifle of the British (technically they used a version called the Enfield L1A1), but the Lee Enfield can be found around the world today.
If there’s any such thing as the ultimate survival rifle, it is without question the Ruger 10/22. This rifle has consistently been the best selling .22 semi-automatic rifle since its inception, being built to the same level of standard as centerfire rifles, in contrast to other rimfire rifles, which were often cheaply made at the time. The 10/22 is today one of the most customizable firearms ever made and one of the most popular firearms offered by Ruger. One of the best to get for survival purposes will be the Ruger 10/22 Takedown, which can easily break into two halves in a matter of seconds than be reassembled.
In an age of single shot muzzle loading rifles, the Henry rifle in .44 Rimfire was a luxury. For one thing, the rifle had a very large magazine capacity of sixteen rounds and a very fast rate of fire thanks to its lever action. The Henry rifle first saw major action during the American Civil War, and then became a favorite of settlers and frontiersmen and outlaws and lawmen alike the years afterward. Its lever action design and use of actual cartridges rather than ball and powder directly influenced the lever action rifles that came right after it, such as the Winchester 1866 Golden Boy.
The Winchester 1894 is the most popular sporting rifle ever made, by far. Most often available in the .30-30 Winchester round, this rifle was originally designed by John Browning and has been an American staple as a truck gun and as a brush gun or deer hunting rifle. The 1894 is well known for being well balanced, lightweight, compact, and nimble.
The Mauser 98k was the standard service rifle for the Germany military in the Second World War. Chambered for five rounds of the 8mm Mauser round, the Mauser rifle in general is one of the most influential rifle designs ever built, being known for its durability and buttery smooth action, and the fact that it has been almost directly copied into other famous rifles such as the Springfield M1903 and the Winchester Model 70.
The Mosin Nagant in 7.62x54r is a five shot rifle that was primary service rifle of the Russian (later Soviet) army from the 1890s until 1948, when it was replaced by the AK-47 and SKS rifles. The Mosin Nagant is still being used in conflicts around the world, such as the Syrian Civil War, and has a well deserved reputation as being a very robust and durable rifle, if also a little admittedly crude. Today, Mosin Nagants are widely available on the United States surplus market at very affordable prices.
The Winchester 1873 is known as the Gun That Won The West. Most commonly chambered for the .44-40 round, it was a short carbine rifle and the successor to the 1866 Golden Boy. The 1873 was well used throughout the west, being handy, compact, and lightweight. Cowboys would often also purchase a Colt Single Action Army in revolver in .44-40, and then have a caliber that would be used for both their rifles and handguns.
The SIG Sauer 550 serves as the primary service rifle for the Swiss military, and has been since the 1980s. Outside of Switzerland, the 550 has never really caught on as much as the AR-15 or AK-47, but it still has a reputation for being one of the most reliable and finest assault rifles ever made. A version of the 550 called the 556 was briefly made in the United States for a number of years, being virtually except the same rifle except using AR-15 magazines.
There’s a reason the Winchester Model 70 is often called the Rifleman’s Rifle. The pre-64 Model 70s in particular are widely regarded as being some of the very best bolt action rifles ever made. Today, Model 70 rifles are still being produced and are available in just about every caliber you can think of.
The Marlin 336 is a .30-30 lever action rifle that is the second best selling sporting rifle in American history, only behind the Winchester 1894. The 336 has sold millions since it was first introduced in the year 1948. Today, it is available in many different configurations and finishes and barrel lengths. The big selling point of the 336 over the 1894 is the fact that it has a side ejection feature on the side of the receiver. This means that shells eject right out of the side, rather than through the top on the Winchester, which allows you the option to add an optic such as a scope or a red dot if you so desire.
Ruger’s flagship bolt action rifle is the Model 77, also known as the Hawkeye. From the beginning, the Hawkeye was designed to be a more modernized version of the Mauser rifle. It basically utilizes the same Mauser action, only with investment casting instead of the forged receiver of the original Mauser, and with a simpler ejector. Two of the more notable versions of the Model 77 today are the Guide Gun, designed to fire larger calibers, and the Gunsite Scout, which is a carbine version with a detachable box magazine.
The Winchester 1895 was the last lever action rifle designed by John Browning for Winchester. It was notable for being able to handle larger calibers such as the .30-06 Springfield, .405 Winchester, and the 7.62x54r. It is loaded by having the rounds fed in a box magazine rather than a side loading gate. The 1895 was also the rifle of choice of President Theodore Roosevelt on his hunting trips.
The Marlin Model 60 is the second bestselling rimfire semi-automatic rifle ever made, only after the Ruger 10/22. The Model 60 is also very soft shooting, accurate, and easy to shoot. It is available in both 14+1 and 17+1 configurations. The main difference between the 10/22 and the Model 60 is the fact that the rounds of the Model 60 feeds in a magazine tube underneath the barrel. Some people prefer this system, and it allows you to lie prone on the ground without having to worry about an extended magazine or anything.