Firearms

Throwback Thursday: Wanna Fight? The Top 5 Combat Rifles of All-Time

AR-15 AK47 leaning against a barnwood fence

What’s the quickest way to start a fight? Be conservative or liberal, black or white, American, a man, or the easiest way—just be me. Another way to start a fight is declare you have ‘the’ list of the best combat rifles from the last century. So come one, come all! I am challenging all takers to come up with a better list! It’s King of the Hill time, and I am looking for anyone who thinks they have what it takes to knock me off my royal throne.

My first step was to compile a list, which was harder than you may think. The first few entries came easy enough, and then a few more. Before I knew, the list grew into a leviathan—that was the easy part. The hard part came when I tried to whittle the list down to just five and then decide the order. Before I knew it, I was fighting with myself. The honorable mentions were many, but I’ll save them and see what the challengers offer.

Mosin Nagant

Mosin Nagant

Mosin Nagant M9130 Sniper Rifle
Mosin Nagant M9130 Sniper Rifle

The Mosin Nagant traces its roots back to 1891. During the past 120-plus years it has earned a reputation for reliability. Best of all, it is still available and one of the most affordable guns, so it fits any budget whether you are a collector or first time shooter. Packed with five rounds of 7.62x54R, the long-action bolt rifle has the knock down power for medium and big game, but is also ready to return to battle should the home fort need defending. Given the price, the Mosin Nagant is an ideal rifle to stash in the back of the safe, hunting cabin or even as an emergency truck gun.

M1 Garand

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M1 Garand, One Rifle to Rule Them All
M1 Garand, One Rifle to Rule Them All

Choosing the M1 was only tough because I carried the M14 and it did not make the list, although it is very high on the honorable mentions. There is simply something about a rifle that you served with that earns it an eternal place in your heart. However, the Garand revolutionized a generation and the “ping” of an empty en bloc clip is as sweet a sound as a touch of Hoppe’s No. 9 is to the nose. The M1 Garand saw action in WWII and Korea and many GIs would not have made it back otherwise.

The M1 can be stoked with eight rounds of .30-06. The M1 Garand should rightfully hold a higher place on the list, however, many find reloading difficult at best, especially under pressure. I have never really experienced this phenomenon, but I have watched enough shooters to say it isn’t the easiest.

Springfield 1903

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Springfield 1903
Springfield 1903

Dominant for the first half of the 20th century, the Springfield is another rifle chambered for the .30-06. Officially adopted as a U.S. military bolt-action rifle in June 1903, the Springfield 1903 saw plenty of action in WWI. Although it was officially replaced in 1937 when the M1 became standard issue, the Springfield 1903 still had a special place in WWII. In WWII as the battle lines changed and the sniper became a high-value infantryman, the 1903 was decked with a scope and viola! —instant sniper rifle. When you consider the 1903 Springfield’s history as a battle and precision rifle of its day, and the fact that it is chambered for the .30-06 how could you deem it any less than America’s penultimate rifle?

M-16

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Black Colt M4A1, barrel to the right on a white background
The modern M4 can easily be ranked above the AK-47, but over the course of decades, the AK-47 reigns supreme.

Here is a decision worth scrapping over—placing the M-16 lower than the AK-47. This fight is as old as the 9mm vs. .45 ACP, Navy and Marines vs. Army and Air Force or blondes vs. brunettes. Back in A school while in the Navy, the instructors used to write “RTFQ” on our tests. Well, it had to do with us not ‘reading the question’ close enough. We are talking the M-16 here, not the civilian AR-15 version. The M-16 features tight tolerances, plenty of capacity, spits its peas at a sufficient cyclic rate for combat, and dominates the accuracy column. The downside especially on early models during the Vietnam era was reliability. The design has been greatly improved and today’s M4 would take the AK-47 hands down (fortunately for our men and women serving, the M4 wins most battles), but when observed through the lens of history, the M-16 just can’t best the AK-47.

AK-47

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Camo AK-47 pointed to the left on a white background.
What can I say that has not already been written a million times? The AK-47 is the world’s assault rifle for a reason—it works!

It hurts to have to give the top spot to anything but an American design. However, tough as nails and proven the world-round, the AK-47’s reliability is legendary. In fact the design, with very few modifications, is still a leading combat rifle in too many countries to count. Generous tolerances allow you to bury the AK-47 in mud, pack it in sand, submerge it in the ocean or subject it to just about any other torture test you can devise, then pick it up, shake it off, pull the trigger and hear it go bang!—everytime…

A design, nearly 70 years old, that is still formidable on the battlefield, still in production, and cheap to produce is hard to beat, but if you want to call me wrong… put ‘em up and get ready to box!

What’s your list of the top 5 combat rifles of all time? Share it with us in the comment section and be sure to include your soft spot for any rifle you served with.

[dave]

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (414)

  1. OK, so let’s talk US and German Snipers for a moment, a WWII moment that is, at say 400yds/400m(437yds) respectively.

    US – 30-06 (.308) Springfield 03/03A3 or M1-C1/D-1 with WWII 2.5X scope
    German – 7.92 (.324) Mauser K98/K98k with WWII 4X, 6X or 8X scope.

    Yes, it’s just specs, but does anyone already begin to see the problem?

    Have to go, will continue later . . .

  2. OK, so let’s talk US and German Snipers for a moment, a WWII moment that is, at say 400yds/400m(437yds) respectively.

    US – 30-06 (.308) Springfield 03/03A3 or M1-C1/D-1 with WWII 2.5X scope German – 7.92 (.324) Mauser K98/K98k with WWII 4X, 6X or 8X scope.

    Yes, it’s just specs, but does anyone already begin to see the problem?

    Have to go, will continue later . . .

    1. Otto my friend

      In WWI the US Snipers often carried a 1917 Enfield with a 2 power Weaver Scope. Not the greatest scope in the world but it did the job. Remember if you only have a 2X scope you use what you have and you make it work. It was a challenge I am sure, but the Brits (England and Canada) used the SMLE Mk 1 No 4 without scopes, and in later years they used SMLE Mk 4 No 1 in 303 British without a scope right up and even into Vietnam.

      My AR-15 does not have a US Military scope on it, they are only 4 power and 30mm. I have a Russian Scope from the middle late 1990s on it, more power and more field of view which lets more light in. But that does not make me a sniper, only a better shooter. I am sure there are some older military snipers that are better than me with that small scope I rejected. It takes practice….

      But point well taken.

      The scope does not make the sniper, its the man. When there is inaccuracy its not the gun but the shooter.

  3. What on earth is the 03 Springfield doing on that list? It’s a copy of the one that should be there in its place, the Mauser 98. And I’d probably substitute the Enfield for the Mosin.

    1. @ Icebear.

      Wild Guess being Author’s Favorites! And recent Developments of Lost Documentation on the M1 Garand, M1903, 98k Mauser, and Lee-Enfield Mk. I’s can be Converted to use High-Capacity Magazines.

    2. The 03A3 is by far better than the M1 Garand and rates far above the Mosin Nagant. While I like the 98 Mauser the 30-06 is a better round. Now if the Germans had bored their Mausers out to 8mm 06 they would have been by far the heavier hitters!

  4. The M-16 has its place but I agree the AK is a better caliber choice. The M-16 was lightweight in Nam, but the AK did more damage when shot accurately.

    The introduction of the M1 Garande helped the troops compete with the Gew Mausers, but due to weak operating rods the loads had to be brought down pressure wise, so they kept the same powder charge and dropped the bullet weight from 165 grains to 147-149 gr. The Grande would not be my choice! I would replace it with the K-98 or Gew Mauser.

    The Springfield 03-A3 will always be my choice for a Sniper or Scout rifle even tho it only holds 5 rounds, load it up hot or light and it still performs! We used it as a preferred rifle in Nam even tho the M14 was more popular, and another fine weapon… too hard to keep the list to five!

  5. Lee Enfield SMLE or ShtLE (which I have) in 1916 version. Shoot it regularly. Hard to beat the British 303 in 10 round magazines. Should have made the list.

  6. “… bury the AK-47 in mud, pack it in sand, submerge it in the ocean or subject it to just about any other torture test you can devise, then pick it up, shake it off, pull the trigger and hear it go bang!—everytime…” BS!!

    Refer to the “Mud Tests” conducted by Desert Coyotes in 2014:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9APzYqwXckw

  7. I know, I know; everyone wants to say “what about … ” Seriously, how can anyone write about the Top 5 Combat Rifles without including the Lee-Enfield? It was first adopted by the British War Office in 1895 and later modified with a shorter barrel, becoming the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield, or SMLE (the barrel was shorter, not the magazine!) It was the standard-issue infantry rifle for British and commonwealth forces in both World Wars, and Korea.

    One of the great features of the rifle is the very smooth bolt action – especially when compared with the awkward and clumsy Mauser’s. To be accepted into the small professional British Army before WWI, an infantryman had to be able to hit a man-size target three football fields (300 yds.) away 30 times in one minute. It was commonly known as the “mad minute.” The soldier was trained to use the thumb and index finger on the bolt knob while the middle finger was on the trigger. The record was held by an NCO at 43 shots in the minute. Today, with optical sights and a semi-automatic action, this would be a breeze, but for a bolt-action one, which had to be reloaded twice during the mad minute, and using iron sights, it was outstanding.

    Another great feature that separated the SMLE from other bolt-action rifles was the 10-round detachable magazine, easily and quickly refilled by 5-round stripper clips. Actually, although not officially encouraged, many soldiers kept one extra round “up the spout” (in the receiver), allowing 11 shots before reloading – incidentally, three more rounds than the M1 Garand. Many an unfortunate enemy has heard ten rounds go off and said to himself, “now he must reload,” only to end up with a hole in his head from round #11.

    Again unlike its contemporaries, the SMLE’s magazine was detachable. In theory a rifleman firing from cover could have several filled magazines next to him and reload quickly in the same way that modern rifles like the AR 15 can be. In practice this was discouraged by command.

    The SMLE, outstanding in a century-old design, was still I use by Canadian Rangers as late as 2014, and is still in use by fighters in the Middle East.

    But you ignored this? It should have been #1 on your list.

  8. I agree with the three autos on the list, but I’d rate the SMLE above both the Nagant or the ‘03 Springfield. Higher magazine capacity and a much longer service life.

    1. @ Allen Richardson.

      One other added Bonus of the SMLE!/? With the SMLE you can T=Keep the Trained Rifle on Target even while Rechambering a round after each shot. Other “Bolts” don’t have that advantage…

  9. I know that Parker Ackley TRIED and Failed to Break the Arisaka type 99 Barrel!/? But DID anyone EVER success in Breaking the 1061 series Stainless Steel Chrome-Lined Barrel…

  10. Well, I almost have 3 of the rifles listed; just slight variations. I have a Mosin 91/30, but not the sniper variety; and agree it’s a whole lotta bang (7.62x54R) for the buck. I have a Saiga IZ132 (7.62x39mm) made at Izhmash; so that’s my Kalashnikov pattern rifle, and if that dip$#!+ in North Korea somehow managed to land a warhead in my zip code, cockroaches and that rifle would probably be all that survived it. I love the Garand, but even in this day and age of lightweight materials that thing’s still a boat anchor. And I’m a .30 caliber guy with little use for .223; so I kill 2 birds with 1 stone by making my AR pattern rifle one with a chambering similar to the Garand’s .30-06, 7.62x51mm/.308. Not really sure why the 1903 is on the list; that spot should be taken by the Mauser K98.

  11. well im not a war historian so i wont get into this debate directly. i will comment on my guns bc i stock two of these cartridges. my mini 30 w garand action wont shoot steel 762×39 which kind of defeats the purpose of shooting this caliber. Ruger makes this gun and the americans still cant compete with the ak47!. baffling. . so reliability wise ill take my ar15 over the ruger mini30 any day. lethality wise i wish i had an ak47 instead of the mini30. i just dont know why nato never switched to 6.8 spc.en mass. personally i think something btwn 6mm and 6.5mm would be ideal and better than 556. 6.56x45mm anyone?

  12. I DISAGREE WITH YOUR PICK OF THE 1903 SPRINGFIELD, IT WAS A STRAIGHT COPY OF THE K98 MAUSER WHICH WAS A BETTER COMBAT WEAPON…

  13. While the list is accurate but not complete, I have to agree that leaving out the FN FAL is an oversight. A rifle that was NATO standard, reliable, powerful, still in production, been used by over 90 countries, and a cartridge easily available. It should have made the list. Maybe having a “Ten Best” would have been more suitable, as there are other rifles that should have made the list as well.

  14. Hey Dave!
    As actual “have seen extensive combat and are proven platforms” I’m more interested in your 6th thru 10th place choices! In looking at your 1 thru 5 list I’m thinking that the Mauser M1908, FN/FAL, Lee-Enfield No.1 MkIII ,, StG44 and perhaps the M1 Carbine. Although I wasn’t a fan of the M16 I understand why it’s listed. I liked the CAR15 very much however but that’s another kinda list.
    Can we do a top 5 combat pistol list next month?
    Always a good read, Dave! You certenly know how to start a fight! LOL.

    1. Maybe not a fight, but a “spirited debate…” I’ll definitely serve up something on the top combat pistols for October! Thanks for the idea. ~Dave Dolbee

  15. Howdy, So if the AK47 is the best, where does the AK74 fit in? Superior in my opinion, yet so many shooters have still failed to learn of it, despite being the Russians go to rifle since 1974. Time to catch up?

  16. Just an FYI, Vasily Zaytsev was not a real person. He was a fictional character created by the Russian propaganda machine to embolden and give hope to their own troops while disheartening the Germans. They reported the actions of many Russian snipers as the acts of Zaytsev to make a super sniper figure. It was brilliant. So good, that many people today still think he was a real soldier. Of course the movie ” Enemy at the Gates” didn’t mention he was fictional, so that helps continue the confusion. Don’t feel bad, it’s a common mistake. Some time ago and writer for the NRA had to apologize for writing an article demonstrating that he did not know the truth either.

    1. @ Mark.

      Try reading “War of the Rats”, the book in which the “ Hollywoodized” movie “Enemy At the Gates” is based on, Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev was a Sailor in the Soviet Navy, NOT the Soviet Army. And was Stationed in Vladivostok before War with the Germans began…

  17. Not sure what criteria you used to form your opinions. However the absence of the FN/FAL Stg58 from this list is IMHO a mistake. Still in use today, a far more lethal cartridge than any 5.56 could ever be. A more reliable weapon than the M14, easier to load the the M1, issued by more countries than the M1 or M14 ever were. While the M4 is sorta OK for CQB, its not very effective at much else.

  18. DI “dirty breech” problems, that’s why HK does their NATO AR rifles (HK416/417) using SS piston action . . . NO direct gas in breech!

  19. i can think of quite a few bolt guns that are far superior to the mosin. and yes i own a mosin as well. i agree that for the cost, it is a steel, and lets face it if it can be carried by expert snipers like Vasily Zaytsev and Lyudmia Pavlichenko it is good enough for me. but i still prefer the m24 (modified Remington 700 in 7.62x51mm). but then that is one of the weapons i used in my military time.

    also though i do love my Garand, i feel for you sir, the m14 is supposed to be the M1 perfected. having used both in training i would have to agree with that sentiment.

  20. I’m sorry the M16 has no place on any list of best combat rifles, as it’s not a combat rifle, but a flawed design in an anemic caliber. It’s best left to tacticool commandos and a range plinker. The rest of your list is spot on.

  21. I carried, and qualified with, an M1 in Navy boot camp, 1959 and I liked the balance and “feel” of the rifle. However, I own a .303 Enfield Sniper rifle and love the way it handles. I have taken deer and black bear with it and would not to hesitate to “take” a Grisly or a large moose with it. The .303 Enfield was a battle rifle, not an assault rifle such as the M4, AK47, etc.

  22. See my ’03 Springfield comment above. Interesting K98 knockoff note, “Dangerous Game” rifles, think African Safari, are limited to a minimum cartridge size of the HH.375 rifle. The ONLY exception is the Mauser 9.3×62 (.366), of course with a Mauser 2-lug action, but mounted with 2 cross-bolts rather than one

    1. @ OttoB.

      As I recall, the Largest Caliber Cartridge that can be Safely Chambered in a 98 Mauser is the 8x60mm S round…

  23. Honorable mention might be the SKS. Although not so much in major conflicts other than Vietnam, it was used by Russia, China, N. Korea, Albania, Poland, Yugoslavia and others.

  24. I can’t argue with your choices great article. AK-47 above M16 is maybe not the best choice IMO but how long has this argument been made. To hear it told by some the AK is flawless and never malfunctions – and the M16 is lucky to shoot. To the contrary I have seen many an AK fail in combat in I/A over the last 14 years. Also we only seem to talk about the M16 types problems that have been solved for 40+ years, the major issue not even being the weapon itself and during these arguments we all too often fail to mention the much more protracted teething issues with the AK.
    Also those sights. No doubt however the AK is a fantastic weapon. Thanks for a great read.

  25. Trained with the M1 at Parris Island, migrated to the M14 and then to the M16. Many of my fellow Marines lost their lives because when the M16 was initially distributed the rifle collected and held sand and mud causing many malfunctions. One of many poor decisions McNamera made to cut costs. How much extra does it cost to chrome a barrel. Today, the rifle is outstanding. There will always be a special place in my heart for the M1 and M14.

  26. Never seen so many comments to one of these articles before, read a lot of what folks are saying and I’m surprised that the .303 Enfield isn’t being mentioned much. 10 round capacity bests the k98 or the moisen, quick action, and mine is more accurate then my Springfield 1903 A3 and my Moisen Nagant. The .303 round itself may be inferior to the K98’s 8mm or the 762×54 of the Moisen, but it’s still used often in Afghanistan and served the British Army throughout the world wars. Thought it at least deserved a mentioning.

    1. You are quite right. Any rifle with this history deserves recognition. My Enfield is butter smooth, fast and still accurate after years and a sporter stock change. I couldn’t possibly equal the speed with a Mauser derived bolt configuration. But in this test we are mixing Bolts with Semi and full a
      utos so WTF what is the point of my objection.

    2. @ Hoovmeister.

      I believe the “British Mad Minute” STILL Stands as a World Record for a Bolt-Action Rifle for the Lee-Enfield SMLE as being 10-rounds in 6.5-seconds…

  27. There is absolutely no way you can substitute a 91/30 Mosin Nagant for the M98 Mauser. The 98 Mauser has no peers when it come to influencial design, worldwide distribution and refinement. The 98 along with it’s many variations and copies easily exceeded all other rifles in sheer volume of production, well over 100 million. Simply compare how many countries chose Mausers rather than Mosin Nagants – the numbers speak for themselves.

    1. Mauser K98 successfully sued US ’03 Springfield for Patent infringements and then WW1 happened, Germany lost and Springfield never had to pay any penalties awarded. Punitive WW1 reparations along with the worldwide recession of the ’30s was, of course, THE primary cause for WW2 in Europe.

      Germany armed their armies with shorter K98k battle rifles until the much higher firepower of the StG44, the first true AR (StürmGewehr), became necessary for close combat. Russians copied the StG44’s shortened K98k based round (7.98×33) for use in their AK47’s Mosin-based round (7.62×39). Nuff said.

  28. Dave,
    Love the list and your passion for each of these venerable platforms. Agree that AK-47 must be #1. My only contention is with the Springfield, which is a superb rifle, but a derivative of my nomination, the Mauser. Given that after 120+ years the design and function have changed little, that there were dozens of variants, many, many countries that licensed or outright copied the design, it has to be my pick for #2, with the M-16 #3. Let the debate continue …

    1. Greg,
      I can’t disagree with your logic. Whittling it down to five is really tough, but the Mauser, with its claw extractor really set the stage for rifle design from the 1800s to today. ~Dave Dolbee

  29. “…the “ping” of an empty en bloc clip is as sweet a sound as a touch of Hoppe’s No. 9 is to the nose.”

    It wasn’t a sweet sound to the soldier in a firefight. Even setting aside the popular myth of Germans somehow hearing the ping and focusing on that one empty rifleman (there’s no actual record of this happening), the sound of being empty is *never* a sweet sound to someone in a firefight.

  30. The M14 an “honourable mention?” NEVER. Thirty lashes with a wet noodle if you were issued the M14, then deemed it should hold such a lacklustre position!

  31. You list the Springfield and the Mosin-Nagant but not the Mauser? Prior to the AK-47 there were doubtless more Mauser rifles in the armies of the world than all other designs combined.

  32. A bit biased arent we? Ak wins for sure for all the reason, realibility, durability, service life etc., with the m16 a close second as realibility the deciding factor. The Moisin desrves 5th simply for chambering the longest serving military round if for.nothing else other than reliability and durability. Where is the Kar 98? The springfield action is a copy of the Kat98. And the Kar’s realibility, accuracy and service life are at least as good if not better than the Springfield. And where is the Lee Enfield? It served in more theaters longer than any of these other rifles except the Moisin and has an action that is faster to use and has a larger magazine capacity than the others. And the argument for the Stg44 could be made simply for it’s revolutionary cartridge and design.
    Your list leaves a lot to be desired.

  33. Honestly I wouldn’t put the 1903 on there for a variety of reasons. Don’t get me wrong. It is historically a very significant war rifle. However the asking price for most of them, atleast the ones I’ve found, is usually well over the $900 mark. Parts a very hard to find.If anything I would list the m1a for that price or even the sks which is cheaper.Simply because reliability, functional usage, and parts are still easy to come by.
    If I had to list one more it would be a Schmidt Rubin straight pull rifle. Yes it’s odd, yes parts are hard to find, yes ammo is hard to find cheap BUT, that is a hardcore durable and accurate rifle.My experience with any swiss rifle has always been top notch. Very accurate. Very powerful. Not to mention one of the best looking war rifles I have ever seen.

  34. I’d take out the Nagant and Springfield and put in there place #1 the mod 98 Mauser and #2 the H&K 93 . The Springfield was basically just a copy of the Mauser and the H&K’s feel and function right. That’s all I got have a great day.

  35. The longest serving and perhaps greatest infantry firearm was left off the list, probably because its not a true rifle. The British Land Pattern Musket served with the British Army from 1722–1838, over 115 years in front line service. The arm continued in reserve, colonial, and secondary troop service for another 50 years, and some are still found, albeit modified for brass cased ammo, in Nepal today.

  36. I disagree with the ak47 being in the top spot this is not vietnam era
    so you cant lunp the AK and fo. I will give you that they are reliableget the M4 has 10 to 1 kill rate over the old AK 47 between the spam can ammo and the poor accurate fire the M4 shoots the pants off the old girl. I will give you that the old girl is reliable but you can hearit cimming for a half a mile
    ans sray and pray just wont get the job done

  37. Mosin Nagent over the K98? Sorry, but every MN I’ve fired has had accuracy/performance issues when compared to a Mauser. MN’s look like something made in shop class compared to a Mauser. Besides, you don’t see modern rifles based on the MN design, but just about every modern bolt action is a Mauser clone.

  38. Think you might have your signals a bit crossed. The Hakim in 8×57 was the result of the Egyptian gov’t. buying what amounted to an entire rifle factory from Sweden. The original design, the Swedish AG-42 Ljungman (sp?) in 6.5×55 was slightly redesigned into the Egyptian Hakim in 8×57. This was followed up by a smaller version called the Rashid (Rasheed?), in 7.62×39, the SKS/AK-47 chambering, not the older German 8×33.

    1. @ Bill

      I’m aware of the Swedish Influence. but I’ve heard that they produced 7.92×33 Kurz chambered Rifles of current models.

    2. @ Bill.

      I suspect more likely reason would be from groups like the “Einsatzgruppen” and ALL Egyptian Unit that Fought alongside the Waffen-SS from 1941-1945. And were Credited with the killing of ~2-Million Minorities, including ~1.3-Million Jew. Which they HATED with a Passion even greater than the Waffen-SS, and Loved the Mauser 98 in 7.92×57…

  39. The DSA products are much later developments, and are all in the much more powerful 7.52 NATO round. Bigger cartridge, bigger rifle. The original Saive design was developed during WW II, and used the German 8 x 33 round. Smaller cartridge, smaller rifle, the concept behind both the AK-47 and AR-15/M-16.

    1. @ Bill

      The 7.62x51NATO (7.82×51.2, actual) is virtually identical to the .308Win. The DSA SA58 should have no problem chambering to 7.62x51NATO.

    2. @ Bill

      Have you tried Hakim of Egypt. They make Reproduction FN-49’s in 7.92×57 and is rumored to make them in 7.92×33 Kurz too.

  40. And the real shame of it is the US bullied the rest of the western world into maintaining the outdated main battle rifle dogma with 7.62 NATO. If we had had any foresight at all, the genius of Saive’s original, small FAL would have been accepted across the board, or at least been the basis of the eventual rifle. Stamped parts, intermediate cartridge, lighter weight rifle itself, easy to break down and clean, all of the salient points the Russkies nailed with the AK-47. The M-14 and M-16 would never have seen the light of day. The “small FAL” would very likely STILL be in universal use.

  41. I think that the discussion could use some more distinctive parameters such as a particular era. My choices by era would be:
    Single shot-Remington Rolling Block
    Bolt Action-Lee Enfield SMLE
    Semi-Auto-M1 Garand
    1st Generation Assault Rifle-FN FAL
    Current-M16/M4

  42. Personally, I would stick the Enfield in place of the Springfield ’03. Faster shooting, and was in service for much longer, over a wider range of services/countries, etc.

  43. I went thru MCRD in 1954 and was issued the garand. Like you I fired expert and carried the M1 or a thompson until 59. Also like you I ise an AK. It kicks like a .22 is as accurate as anything I have and at my age I’m not gonna shoot over 300 yrds. I don’t own an ar type rifle and see no reason ever to. My opinion is that these people who brag about them so much are wannabees and never had the time to really test the difference. I hunr elk, bear with a bar .399 mag, One shot, one kill!!

  44. When I made the effort to become a US Marine in 1974, I was issued an M16 in boot camp. Having grown up with hunting and shooting. I found the M16 to be an accurate rifle to aim and shoot. Jamming was never an issue, do to us “boots” having to clean it daily. Of course at the age of 18, any new gun given to me to use,would impress me. Needless to say I qualified as an Expert shooter in boot camp, shooting the M16 rifle. The M16 hit what you aimed at, a very accurate shooting rifle. However, as of today I do not own a AR15. I own and shoot an AK47. Why? Because I found this rifle to be the best short range (300yds max.) rifle to shoot in any harsh environment. Where as the M16 was not. Even though the M16 could reach out further and touch you. I still will only own and shoot an AK47. If I wanted a long distance shooter, there are other rifles for that.I wanted a rifle that could punch through cider block easily, I prefer the AK47 and the 7.62X39 round for that purpose. Maintaining the AK47 is easier and cheaper than an AR15. AK ammo is cheaper too. And is more readily available.

    AND Yes, I know the AR15 is a very capable rifle and a better made rifle too. But, to me, the AK47 meets all of my needs.

    When you buy a rifle, buy the one that meets your needs. After all, you are the one shooting that rifle.

  45. ‘Nam ’68-69. B 1/4 3rd MarDiv I-Corps
    “They” took M14’s & gave us M16’s.
    Bad decision – as usual – made x the fat-cats in DC.
    MOS 0331 so wasn’t effected directly.
    Today’s M4 is a far cry from the original’s. 1-10 or 12 twist. Pencil barrel. Misaligned locking lugs. Etc., etc., etc.

  46. Back when shep was a pup I was a Marine. We used the M-1 to 500 yards then the .03 back to the 1000 yrd line. The 30.06 was tumbling long before the thousand yards. Course that was long before all this modern tech stuff!!

  47. I think a lot of people (like most hard core M-16 fans) are hung up on Kalashnikov’s background as a tank mechanic, and refuse to give him credit for being a brilliant firearms innovator and designer.
    I also wonder who should get the credit for developing the 7.62 x 39 round, itself. Another tremendous achievement (altho I do wonder how closely it was based on the German 8×33).

    1. I used to know who the innovator of the 7.62×39 was but that has evidently gotten lost in the fog of age … at any rate, the SKS used it so it was around before before the AK

    2. About 8×33->7.62×39, I see nothing wrong with it. It just shows the Russians did think the Germans had a valid point. The US, on the other hand, thought the mighty 30-06 (which one must ask if it was the American version of the 7 an d8mm Mausers, specially after they learned what those can do by being on their receiving end in Cuba) and stuck to it.

      Other European nations thought so too; remember the FAL was designed to use an intermediate cartridge until the US, which wanted to “convince” NATO to switch to the revolutionary and all-new 7.62×51 (which just happens to have the same ballistic properties of the 7.5×54 cartridge), which was easy to do since they do own NATO anyway.

      And later on the 5.56×45 came about and was touted as the first in a new revolutionary idea: the intermediate cartridge! Which was then adopted by NATO along with the best and most reliable magazine ever made in the universe, the M16 one.

  48. “Heavy trench gun” is the best description I’ve heard. That is in fact precisely the purpose for which it was designed. Soviet offensive doctrine dictated that mechanized infantry would ride onto the objective under the cover of massive artillery fires, dismount and spray/ shoot the defenders while still in their trenches/ fighting positions.

  49. Dave – Be interested to know where the Enfield No.1 Mark III & No.4 Mk I .303’s ranked – damned rugged rifles. Regarding your bio, I also grew up, and have hunted 50+ yrs, in the PA Allegheny (Allegany in NYS) region, It’s not so game-rich anymore, despite the PAGC propaganda.

    1. I am with you Ralph. The Enfield was a very reliable and accurate rifle. It was used in Africa, Europe, Asia and all over the world in WWII. Used in jungles, deserts, snow and rain. I know of many hunters who still use this rifle to take down moose and other large game.

    2. Here is another interesting tidbit about the Enfield rifle. In Canada’s Arctic there are military reservists composed of Native people. They still use Enfields. The reason is they don’t jamb at -40 f like many modern rifles will. Where they live there are few trees and flat landscapes. They would see the enemy from a distance. Enfields are extremely accurate over long distance and pack a big punch. And while they are out training and see a Caribou they become dual purpose. Caribou is yummy.

  50. Ken, the man that designed both the AK 47 and the AK 74, cursed the US for convincing the USSR to go to a toy round, and ruining his design. He also got pissed when the interviewer asked about him copying the German unit they captured….

    1. I mentioned the AK 74 because the M4 was pictured. The AK 47 round 7.62×39 has more stopping power than the AK 74 5.45×39. Having said that though a modern infantry requires larger capacity magazines and lighter equipment. In comparison the 5.56 NATO round was smaller in caliber than it’s predecessor and does not pack as much of a punch. A natural progression from flintlocks to what we have today I would say. The difference between the stopping power of the 5.56 or the 5.45 is minimal at best. Both are deadly and accurate. A modern military will adapt or go extinct.

    2. I’d be pissed to since there is no resemblance … other than the magazine.

      I don’t recall the AK having a swing down lower, or a stock held on with a pin, that sounds more like a G3 / HK-91 … except it hadn’t been developed yet. The AK has a rotating bolt where as the bolt in the MP-44 is like that of an SKS which also hadn’t been developed yet.

      Mikhail Kalashnikov may have gotten inspiration from other firearms like the Garand but it sure as heck wasn’t the MP-44.

    3. Regarding the rotating bolt, the RSC 1917 used it, and I believe Browning had a design that used it too.

  51. I don’t see the AK 74 here. It has the reliability of the AK 47 but with the accuracy a smaller, higher velocity round provides. 2-6 MOA vs 1-4 MOA on the AK 74 The bullet will tumble upon impact to increase stopping power. It also has less recoil than a 5.56 NATO round which aids in target acquisition between shots. Factor in the weight at 2.4 kg (lightest version) vs the 4.3 kg AK 47 and it is a formidable contender.

  52. I’ve heard of people having problems with Combloc milspec steel case ammo in the Mini-30, mostly extraction trouble. Ruger, itself, highly recommends against using the steel cases in the rifle. I can’t see much reason for buying a $700+ semi-auto in 7.62×39 and then being required to shoot expensive brass cased ammo in it. Get an AK, SKS or Vz-58 and have fun with it with the “normal” ammo they were designed for.

  53. Nam,67′-68,Tet Offensive 9th Inf, M-14, Bar None.I’m Home, DAV, don’t leave home without it.Ak47, second, M-16 killed a lot of us,enough said.

    1. When they took the M-14 away from the Marines it was a catastrophy! They found dead Marines with jammed .223’s or any of many different stoppages.

  54. I haven’t seen anyone mention it, but lately I’ve become quite fond of the VZ58. Over a million were made, and it has been used by the Czech and Slovakian armies, by Cuba, and by various African countries.
    At first glance t bears close resemblance to the AK, but about the only thing they have in common is reliability and the 7.62×39 cartridge. The VZ is short-stroke gas-piston striker-fired! It has a milled receiver, but still weighs about a pound less than the stamped AK. It incorporated a better safety, a huge ejection port, last round bolt lock-back, a much better trigger, and improved accuracy. It’s still easily disassembled and cleaned.
    Incidentally, I cut my teeth on the Garand, and love it to this day. I never grew fond of the M-14, and regard it as a puny little brother to the M1.

  55. I carried the M-16 in Vietnam in 1968.My unit did not work out of a base camp, we stayed in the bush 24/7.I spent a lot of time walking point and have put thousands of rounds threw my weapon. The M-16 never misfired and I never cleaned it (nothing to clean it with). This is a beautiful weapon and I would take it over a AK47 without a second thought. It saved me and my squad many many times.

  56. When it all boils down a sharp stick is better than fists, so every body to their own opinion. I have doubt about a fella who shows up for a hunt with half a dozen different fancy rifles all in different calibers, I have great respect for the fella that shows up with ONE well worn beat up ugly weapon that he knows well.
    Superstes ventus puteus paratus

  57. people can say what they want about the AK47. I have an Egyptian that I will put up against anything out there at 150 yards. the Ak is the most dependable rifle out there, they shoot every time dirty or not.

  58. The 8mm x 50R French Berthier made in 1927 through 1929, was the fastest bolt action rifle of the day going into WWII, and is very deadly at 800 m.

  59. Guys-you are right. The AK is a piece of crap-however it depends how you are going to use it.Like an Uzi-its just a good sprayer’The Aks strong point is that you can use in the desert or in the jungle and it goes BANG every time.Want a good AK? Get a Galil.

  60. The Mauser! You left out the 98 K Mauser! What were you thinking. Ditch the Mosin since it really is a truck gun. Oh my.

  61. The Russian Mosin is a hard difficult rifle to shoot and handle (a little to long and bolt action a little to rough). Why did you not take the best bolt action of WWll? which is the British Enfield. Hands down the best and easiest to fire, clean, load and handle. Apparently who ever made out the list never fired both. Goes to show that a lot of experts don’t know a rifle from a carbine or hand gun. They all should have a year or so in the army.

  62. Well another Vietnam dinosaur. The M14 is equal in every aspect to the m1 and superior in most. It was just an improved M1 that never got a long chance to prove it. everybody wanted a mouse gun.

  63. Never used the Grande in combat but I know that loading it was a bit of a pain. The M-14 was the best us made combat rifle as far as I am concerned, though as my mission was different than most I carried the Thompson 45 in both Nam and as a merc in Angola Africa. As mentioned before in these comments The FAL/FN was a great gun and it and the M-14 were what most everyone wanted but could not get enough of in Angola. As for the ARs the biggest problem with them is the caliber they are made in, in my opinion they are useless in combat ecept that they are light weight, I would much prefer to trade off some weight for a bit more knock down power. I would have loved to have had a gas operated Thompson in 50 A&E when I was in Angola Africa.

  64. Close as I can get to a ‘real’ battle rifle is my Mini-14, which is at least patterned / copied from the M1 carbine. The other is my AK, which of course is ‘second rate’ to AR….but you gotta run with what you can afford and the thing is damn near unbreakable.

  65. I’m with Tom…Nam era U.S.M.C.. …m-14 on it’s way out…..what a sin…..7.62 IS KNOCKDOWN, and a tack driver. AK is junk, and the range sucks………ED

    1. LOVE the M14! It is an M1 with a clip, and a great performer! The M1 settles a little faster, but I keep the M14 next to the bed !

  66. Did the Nam thing 68-69, used the M-16, M-14, M-21 Sniper platform and an AK-47, I liked the fire power of the 14 the best out to 400 meters, thought the AK was a piece of junk. Had FN-FAL Match of my own in the 80’s, liked it best of the 7,62’s, wish I still had it.

    1. I also did the Nam tour twice…I refused to give up my m 14 for the m 16….I was short on time and did not want to lean something new. The AK 47 was a piece of crap….spray and pray….I have no idea why all these so called experts love this junk gun…..shot the M1 loved it…..great out to 500 yds….the M 14 800 yds if you had the dope…..m16 400 yards plus …the ak 47 just spray….I call it a heavy trench gun.

  67. Even though the M14 wasn’t any so called major war, I think it should be listed as one of the rifles. It has proved its self as a good long range and very accurate rifle. Also the 762. Or 308 has the knock down to do what was needed.

  68. During the 73 War many Israelis ditched their weapons for AKs in Sinai.My cousin kept insisting we go up toGolan for a Czech Ak.We had
    both spent too much there.America resupplied us with NATO caliber stuff.It saved my butt.Israel is Americas only friend in the Middle East and we are VERY proud of that!

  69. In discussing RIFLES and not semi-autos, I would ditch the Mosin and add the SMLE No. 4. I’ve shot both and the Lee-Enfield is far superior, especially the “D” sniper rifle. Plus you have 10 rounds vs. 5, cock on forward and full barrel protection. And with my jungle carbine, I can match the newer ‘scout rifle’s being promoted.

  70. No mention of the FN-FAL, was in service from the 1950’s to present still in some countries, one of the best battle rifles ever produced, should rank right next to the Garand.

  71. Bill,

    Rifle v. Carbine is not a word game.
    The whole point of this “Top 5 Combat Rifles of All Time” listed the AK as a rifle, it is not. I never said it wasn’t lethal because it wasn’t specifically a rifle, its plenty lethal and so is its ammo. A McMillan TAC50 is a rifle, an AK47 is a carbine and is no way in the same class as a rifle, nor is the AR15 platform. Gimme a break, so you’re saying a .223 or 5.56mm round is a rifle round comparable to a Remington 700 or the TAC50?

    1. It is always refreshing and enlightening to hear it from one who knows what that whiney buzz was that just went by. Thanks for serving.

    2. I never served.

      I have fired an AK, quite a bit actually on a air conditioned indoor range, it is minute of man accurate in the first few rounds, but then the barrel “strings” and the rounds start to walk off the paper target. BTW, paper targets don’t shoot back nor do they move.

      I’ve never claimed to be that which I am not. As Flip Wilson used to say, “What you see is what you get.” when it comes to me.

      I’m willing to bet more than a few of the folks who have posted here speak from theory, not experience.

      I have some experience, nothing like those who have served in combat.

  72. I realize this article is dated, but I have to comment on those folks who think the German G3/HK91 is a great battle rifle. I have carried and fired the G3 while training with the Norwegians and I have owned the HK91 (made by Heckler and Koch). The G3/HK91 has terrible ergonomics, a terrible trigger, mediocre sights, it is clumsy, not particularly easy to maintain, and if you are a fussy reloader, the striations in the chamber (required to allow the roller-locked breech to function effectively) leave your brass permanently marred. When the Clinton assault weapon ban hit and the price of military style rifles went up I was happy to dump the HK91 at a nice profit. I have never missed it.

    Also, I own and have fired the Moisin Nagant M1891. Yes, it is reliable, other than that I can’t think of another feature that makes it superior to or even equal to the SMLE, 98 Mauser, M1903 or M1917 Enfield. It was produced in huge quantities from 1891 to the end of WW2 which may be its biggest claim to fame, for as it is often said, “Quantity has a quality all its own.”

    Generally, all the weapons comments come down to personal preference. For an old goat like me, I prefer the M16 platform. It is a lot easier on the arthritic joints than any of the big “boomers”.

  73. With all due respect, playing the rifle vs. carbine word game is silly. Long barrels are fine for glass equipped, stationary sniper rifles, but 16-20″ length barreled “carbines” are totally adequate for most modern combat situations (less than 200 yards).The ultimate question is utility in action and that will almost always be at less than 200 yards, usually much less. 7.62 x 39 is perfectly adequate at those ranges, not under-powered at all.

  74. Bill… the AK is not a rifle, it is a carbine. That is why it has an under-powered “rifle” cartridge, hence, why its called a carbine and not a rifle.

    Chuck Nagel, read “The Gun” by Chivers, it explains the origins of the AK in exhaustive fashion.

    The AK is not just an updated Stg-44
    But if we go along with your opinion, then the AK is just an automatic version of the M1 Garand… they both have long stroke pistons and fire rifle rounds.

  75. No mention of British Enfield? Quite possibly the greatest bolt action miitary rifle. Deadly accurate and fast for the day.

  76. That last comment is selling the AK way short. Taking an existing design (MP-44) and making it more durable, easier and quicker to manufacture, and brainlessly easy to clean and maintain is genius. At the same time chambering it for a relatively light cartridge good enough for center of mass accuracy at a hundred yards or more guarantees the rifle top of the infantry heap status way into the future. The AK-47 is easily the equal or better of any battle rifle ever, in my opinion.

  77. The AK is just an update version of the German Mp 44. The filthy commie that thinks he invented the world’s best assault rifle is a fool and anyone that believes the AK is not an upgrade of the Mp 44 belongs in the same basket.

    1. Well that was an interesting couple of hours of reading up on the obscure German assault rifle I never knew about until today.

  78. I think your spot on except for the 1903, it is a copy of the mauser 98 so i think its spot should go to the mauser 98. It was shipped to and produced in many different countries since 1898. And is in the same price range as the mosin nagant maybe a 100$ more and surplus 8x57mm is just as easy to find as 7.62x54r. You got to give it to the mauser 98

    1. Nickolas, The K98 is a good rifle, but is WWI facing a Springfield, the advantage was always to the 1903. The 1903 had better distance accuracy, and kept more energy. Part of the reason was the ammunition, and part was the clean rifle design. The 1903 was close, but with better accuracy. This is supported by the fact that at a gun show, the cost of the 1903 will be double the cost of a K98. I have, and shoot, both, and they are both good rifles, but the 1903 is a better rifle. In point of fact, the Turkish Mauser is mre accurate than the K98, if you want a hunting weapon. The K98 controls recoil a little better than the Turkish, and fits the hand slightly better, but the Turkish Mauser is a better bargain.

  79. I haven’t seen anyone mention it, but lately I’ve become quite fond of the VZ 58. Over a million were made, and it has been used by the Czech and Slovenian armies, by Cuba, and by various African countries.
    At first glance t bears close resemblance to the AK, but about the only thing they have in common is reliability and the 7.62×39 cartridge. The VZ is short-stroke gas-piston striker-fired! It has a milled receiver, but still weighs about a pound less than the stamped AK. It incorporated a better safety, a huge ejection port, last round bolt lock-back, a much better trigger, and improved accuracy. It’s still easily disassembled and cleaned.
    About the only thing i fault is the flimsy aluminum magazine.

  80. The only thing I don’t like about the M14/M1A is the tricky way in which you have to attach the magazine. Why couldn’t it be easy, like the M1 Carbine is? I do love that 7.62 NATO round though. Maybe it’s time to look into getting an AR-10.

    1. @ Manchu77.

      The 6.8SPC (7.0×42.6mm/Remington) “if that’s the round your referring to” is worth mentioning. But, it’s not in service in large numbers and nobody know’s exactly where to put it, in the scheme of things. With a Minimum Effective Range of 500-meters and a Maximum Effective Range of ~750-meters, it still out classes the 5.56x45Nato. But, fall way short of the 7.62x51Nato,

      If I were to field an Interim Round, that fills the gap between the 5.56x45Nato and the 7.62x51Nato. It would be the 6.5 Creedmoor (6.72×48.8mm/Hornady), with Performance Specifications comes closest to the .308Win. But thats only my opinion.

  81. SF/SOG operators had the option of using the AK for their ops and stuck with the M16 and most of the SOG cross border teams preferred the CAR15.

  82. In the jungles of Viet Nam the distinctive sound of the AK drew fire from any American soldier within hearing.. That provided a disincentive to Americans to pick one up for personal use.

  83. Don’t know if what he said is true, but if so why aren’t others in the same situation doing the same, specifically SF in Vietnam when the M16 wasn’t as good as it is today? As for your friend, I have been around many SF and other spec ops and black ops people and have yet to see or hear a single one of them advertise it. Even when we had the same security clearance. I get very suspicious of people who broadcast their level of experience but then get vague about specifics

  84. A coworker-when asked about odd stickers on his flight bag-told me that he was with “special forces” in Desert Storm.

    My only question was how he compared US with Russian-designed rifles.
    As we approached the Courtyard hotel at EWR Airport, his only response: “Our guns jammed so we picked up AKs”.
    There was no time to find out why they jammed, or any other context.

    1. I guess it depends on what “branch” of service you are in or what government agency you were part of that determined whether or not you had a battlefield pickup. Sure, they could pick up AKs as they went along but where did they get the appropriate ammo for it? Not from their quartermaster, right? Perhaps ANA that were tag-alongs?

  85. I’m very happy with my Bushmaster… especially living in California where I am lucky I am allowed to have one… even if they do restrict me to 10 round mags. Of course, I have a dozen of those so I don’t have to keep reloading mags. Same thing with my M1A which is also MilSpec.

  86. Why is it that everyone who “likes” an AK 47 immeadiately sites massive abuse as the qualifying reason it is “good”? I have no rifle, including the AK 47 that I will ever allow that kind of abuse. GET over it, if that is your only reason to select a rifle, I hope you are on the “other” side! THAT is NOT the only factor that separates one Battle rifle from another! You should KNOW how to strip and clean whatever rifle you select, INCLUDING the AK 47! Grow up…. >:O >:O >:O

    1. It’s the same reason that AR fans immediately cite accuracy. Each rifle has its claim to fame. In the book “Lone Survivor”, Marcus Luttrel was using a Mk 12 rifle which is an M4 variant. He wrote that he got blown off of a mountain a couple times and his rifle never failed. I think the M4 is super reliable now. It’s just that the AK started out that way and achieves that goal with a much lower price point.

    2. Toby, if you’ve never been in a muddy foxhole or a typhoon, etc. with a weapon that jammed easly you wouldn’t understand why the AK47 is so appreciated. There are times and places where you can’t say “time out” and clean a weapon.

  87. Tony, the M60 ammo belts would be a slow load for sure. I tape dual clips back to back on mine. The M4 in 308 is a battle rifle for sure, but a poor substitute for an M14 in my mind. The M16 platform with a 308 is streaching the edga of reliability for the design. I heard they were issueing some M14 for stopping power at roadblocks.

    Someone mentioned the FAL, but I have a policy to never trust French Engineers, never saw them make anything elegant. I have carefully avoided their rifles as they are loose and crudly constructed.

    1. FAL (Fusil Automatique Léger) is manufactured in Belgiumby FN (
      Fabrique Nationale de Herstal), not France! Belgium has two national languages, predominantly Dutch in the North (they call it Flemish (Flaams)) and French in the South.

    2. The only FAL I have fired (I did look at buying one) had the same mushy trigger that all French guns seem to have, clear back to the Lebel, and did not feed the lower half of the clip well. Call it Beguim if you like, but if it smells like a skunk, and has a white stripe down it’s back….

      Maybe the design was affected by osmosis (or they had a few French Engineers working there), or MAYBE I just got a bad one, but it “smells” “French” when you fire it. Accuracy at 100 yards was less than my SKS, even though it had more barrel and more bullet. You are welcome to it, I was not impressed. Too many nice guns to buy, and so little time, LOL Each to his own, enjoy your FAL….

    3. Don’t own or have ever fired one, Toby, I’m more of an M1, K98k Mauser and HK416/417 kinda guy. Belgium markets exports in French language because it’s their own also and more readily understood “internationally” . . . who’s going to understand anything in their other choice, Dutch/Flemish?

    4. @ 1MALIG.

      I’m starting to hate international politics. Example being HK416, now being the G36 Military-version and the MR556A1 Civilian-version. And the HK417, now being the G28 Military-version and the MR762A1 Civilian-version. Love the M1 Garand, own 2. One M1E5 Tanker/Garand and one M1E6 Sniper/Garand. Looking to accuire the Waffen (Arms)-Greger/Browning BAR 1 Bullpup in .30-06Sprnfld. (7.62x63mm). And just starting to love the Mauser 98k…

    5. Yup, the M1 is a king of the hill for sure! I actually have an old Lebel, that I might rework into a bolt action 30-30, just for fun. I’d have to fix the trigger group, LOL! I do like the M14 as a close second to the M1. Add a 1911 pistol, and you are properly armed!

  88. I usually have a problem when ANYONE uses statistics. I remember when we were winning the war because the body counts were so high the enemy was running out of people to fight.

  89. WRONG!!!! Fact of the matter is, soldiers qualif on targets ranging from 50m to 300m. The M4 is great out to 450m if you can see the target clearly. Bottom line is, the platform is great but the cartridge can use some beefing up. Maybe a 300blk or .468 might span the space between 5.56 and 7.62×51.

    1. @ Steven.

      Kind of drifting off the track there. Both the 300blk and .468 (.465 H&H Magnum actual) are Specialized Military Rounds and NOT Standard Combat Rifle Rounds.

  90. I agree(with clenched teeth) i read a firsthand account of a LRRP that kept an AK-47 for rat’s and fun. Out in the field for 3 weeks,rainy season, after stomping the rusted bolt open it emptied a 30 rd mag on rock-n-roll. Im not sure a M1 Garand would do that. M3 Greasegun maybe.

  91. The Bushmaster is built to MilSpec. It will handle both types of NATO 5.56 as well as civilian .223. That was one of the reasons I chose it.

    I don’t think I said it (Bushmaster) was ever used by the military, but it might have been. Special Ops forces have a far wider range of weapons to choose from. USAF/SF Snipers build their own M-4 rifles using a variety of parts sources. I have not heard of any using other weapons like the M24. A surprise was learning the Special Ops quite often opt for the 1911 in the field for it’s knockdown power. That may be just a psychological feeling for them, but I share the feeling. I didn’t like the 9mm or the revolvers in law enforcement, though I might have considered the .40 cal. The 9mm was fast and light, and often would ricochet endangering innocent bystanders.

    1. DaveW,
      You should read the backstory as to why Bushmaster left Maine and moved to North Carolina and is now owned by Remington. They had been in cahoots with Magpul in their re-design of the Masada rifle to create the ACR which went head to head with FN SCAR. Why the FN SCAR was adopted I don’t know, all the rifles used in the competition to replace the M4 had issues during testing but for some reason they went with the FN SCAR which requires a special tool to replace the barrel whereas the ACR has that “tool” built-in to the rifle (so it can’t get lost). SPEC OPS needs to, on occasion, to swap out their barrels so they can shoot indigenous ammo to leave no American ammo shell casing “footprints” behind them to make it appear locals were the cause of a firefight and not Americans. Bushmaster makes a very fine wep.

  92. Fun times? Interesting times…. yes. Since a number of my close friends were quickly packed up and left Hurlburt because their fathers didn’t return from missions (this was in 1963/64) at a time when we were just “advisors”. Another number were killed during training while trying out different aircraft for close air support suitability, like B-25s and B-26s, etc, but wing stress took them out. They finally settled on the C-47 with gattlings and the C-123 with a howitzer firing from the load bay cargo ramp. My father had come over from Air Sea Rescue and Recovery to train them in radio. Everyone was on alert along the Gulf and Atlantic clear up to Otis on Cape Cod at least. USAF cops from as far west as Travis AFB, CA were moved to Florida.

    The M-16 really was the kind of rifle the Air Commandos were looking for. Perhaps the regular troops should have stayed with tried and proven arms, and we did indeed use M-14s and M1/M2 carbines in SEA.

    By the way, the USAF is considering a return to the 1911 because troops with smaller hands (not just females) have problems with the double stack 9mm.

  93. I didn’t read the book. My father was an instructor for the newly formed Air Commandos at Hurlburt Field, FL, when the M-16 was tested. I was able to go watch some of the testing. Part of that testing was on the ranges, and part was conducted during field exercises which included shore landing at the south end of the runway, crossing the highway and “infiltrating the base” in simulated commando raids. The area is very sandy, but that was about it. Conditions were quite different in Vietnam.

    They were still trying to adapt the 7.62 round in late 1967 when I when to combat training and one of the instructors was blowing up concrete blocks with one.

    I carried the M-16 for 20+ years without problem, including Vietnam. I retired in 1988. What has happened since then, I can not speak to. I presently own a Bushmaster AR-15 which has given me no problem. Of course, I don’t generally contend with sand and dust storms.

    The AK was mass produced by the Russians and given away to anyone who was willing to support the spread of communism, just as they did with all military equipment. (Sort of a lend lease concept.) They presently have an agreement to build a factory in Venezuela.

    Meanwhile, the AR-15 was being sold to the public as a varmint rifle before the USAF began testing the M-16. Feinstein and the rest of the gun grabbers, including the Supreme Court always ignore that fact.

    1. Well read the book, its a very informative piece of literature written by an excellent writer and ex-Marine. I’ve lived in Florida most of my 50+ years and I too own a Bushmaster in 5.56mm, excellent rifle but was never used as a service weapon with the US Military, but allegedly built to MILSPEC. My dad flew for the USAF, sometimes out of Hurlburt, served in Korea during that “conflict” and was on a runway somewhere in south Florida, engines running, ready to invade Cuba while his family was home waiting for the nukes to hit. Fun times, right?

  94. 5,200 yards or 2,300 yards. How often do those kinds of ranges become needed. Either one? Such ranges were rare in Vietnam (my own experience), and from what I have seen the same has applied to the middle east urban fighting. Maybe out on LRP, but then you are faced with added weight. In RVN we carried an M-60 and distributed the belts of ammo among the squad. In Iraq, they have the M4 SAW which is considerably lighter. (That’s a personal view since it didn’t exist when I retired.) I look at the packs the troops carry today and I am thankful for the ALICE gear we used in Vietnam. We left a lot of extra stuff behind in order to carry stuff we felt we really needed, like water, dry socks, and ammo.

    1. From Wikipedia: “A 2009 study conducted by the U.S. Army claimed that half of the engagements in Afghanistan occurred from beyond 300 meters (330 yd).[25] America’s 5.56×45 mm NATO service rifles are ineffective at these ranges; this has prompted the reissue of thousands of M14s.[26]”

    2. When my nephew was in OIF he had me send him a scope for his M16. It was not cheap but it allowed him to engage targets out past 600 yards (he says meters). His problem with the rifles was that the enemy using the AK could shoot through walls and he and his brothers could not. That’s a huge tactical disadvantage.

    3. Reminds me of the Northridge bank heist in Northern California back in the 1990’s; the bank robbers had full-auto AK and what appeared to be an FN FAL. The local police had 9mm handguns and 12ga shotguns. They had the same complaint about the AK rounds slicing through concrete walls like it was tissue paper. BTW, the perps got their full-auto weps south of the border, illegally.

  95. @ Toby.

    Actually, the M60 is 7.62x51NATO. Not, .308Win. While tecnically the same round, there actually two different BEASTS. The 7.62x51NATO (7.82×51.2mm) and .308Win (7.8×51.18mm).

    This is where the connundrum come into play, you can fire the 7.62x51NATO through a .308Win. barrel, you CAN’T fire the .308Win. through 7.62x51NATO barrel. Different bore pressures, .308Win/75,275psi vs. 7.62x51NATO/61,191psi.

    “You can shoot one out of the other, but you can’t shoot the other out of the one”.

    1. Thanks, i am aware of the difference (and you are 100% right), as I shoot both in my M14 and Browning 30 cal.

      I have infinate respect for anyone that has placed themself in harms way to protect others! My quandry is that there seems to be no appreciable difference in the weight of the 7.62 x 51 vs the 398. A box of either is (in the same ballistic tip weight) about the same basic weight. As a result, I don’t unbderstand what would be the weight advantage of using the M60 round (7.62 x 51) in plave of the M14 (308)? There might be some variation if 1000 rounds were carried at a time, but not a significant difference in any smaller amounts,

      I guess maybe the M60 ammo has low weight ballistic tips, and that would make a difference? I see less than 10% difference in velocity between the two on the chrono, with about the same recoil. When I reload them, I load them the same, because I have no M60 (unfortunately).

    2. @ Toby.

      My suspicions is either in the Propellant Composition or the Thickness of the Cartridge Casings. Or even the metals used in the manufacturing of the barrels…

    3. @ Toby.

      Another possibility is considering the 7.62x51NATO, is a NATO specified ammunition round. It has to meet NATO Countries specifications or requirements, whereas the .308Win. is a US. domestically produced ammunition round. It only has too meet Winchesters specifications.

    4. Interesting. I do not doubt that he was correct,. I am head scratching at the difference in weight. I have both NATO and Win rounds, and just don’t see much difference between the two. Just interesting, not important.

      If i had to go to war, I would take the M-1, it is just to repeatible and too sturdy. I know it is heavy, but I think the downrange accuracy and impact justify the weight. I actually huunt with a 300 Win Mag that is a similar weight, and have carried it many miles, through nasty conditions. The time on target for the M-1 is just impressive.I do keep the M14 next to the bed just in case my wife might need to use it too, as it is a close second to the M1, and easier for her to use.

    5. @ Toby.

      Agreed, also the M-1 Garand (7.62x63mmSprnfld) has a Flat Trajectory Range of ~5,300-meters, while the M14 (7.62x51mmNATO) has a Flat Trajectory Range of ~2,600-meters.

    6. I am astounded at the differences in flat trajectory ranges. I shoot both .30-06 (o3) and .308 (W88) and find little difference at ranges up to a 300 yds with 165-180 gr bullets..

      Could you offer a little more info on this?

    7. @ bIf

      If you use the original M1903 .30-06Sprnfld. (7.62x63mm) specifications of propellant charge used, the Flat Trajectory Range was ~3,900-meters. But with new 21st century propellant charges being used, range was increased to ~5,300-meters. Also muzzle velocity was increases to ~3,200-ft/sec. approximately 11% increase.

    8. Yes, it is interesting. I may have to play with my lab scale, but they are SO close, it may be wasted effort.

      Thor, the M1 is just one of those designs that came together just right. When you pull the trigger, it bounces slightly, and drops back on target by itself. The M14 is basically a clipped M1, and would be a little more impressive if it was left in the 06 round. I have never had an accuracy problem with either.

    9. @ Toby.

      Never had a chance to fire the standard M14, but have use several bullpup versions of the same caliber. I do own two M-1 Garands though. One M1E5 Tanker/Garand and one M1E6 Sniper/Garand. And am interested in acquiring the Browning BAR 1 .30-06 Bullpup Rifle w/22-inch barrel.

    10. My thought, though probably completely wrong, is that belts of M-60 ammo are easier to carry and you simply de-link and fill mags as needed … which hopefully doesn’t happen in the midst of a fire-fight.

  96. Study the history of the M-16 and you find that the Stoner design was for a 7.62 NATO, but the lightweight materials couldn’t stand up to the power. After a few rounds, parts began to break down.

    The troops in the field were the ones who clamored for a lighter weight weapon. The USA and USMC brass wanted to stay with the old style, heavy, weapons which they considered “time tested”. The 5.56 was offered to the USAF for the Air Commandos to use. After testing, it was adopted as a lightweight rifle which could do the job and was more comparable in firing rate as the opposition, which used 30 round magazines up to 90 round drums. The USAF adopted the weapon. Probably because the USAF was more in tune with modernizing the force with space age systems like missiles, sleek fighters, and a new rifle. The USA and USMC adopted the M-16 after the USAF, and after some of their troops in the field had tried it out. Essentially, the troops got what they demanded… a lighter weight weapon with the ability to carry more ammo into the fight. After it was in use, they discovered problems which had not been previously identified during testing. Foremost was that the tolerances were so tight that the slightest dirt interfered with cycling. After the tolerances were eased, the reliability improved. That’s one of the positive things about the AKs. From the start, the tolerances were “loose” allowing it to take far more punishment.

    Again. It was the troops who had carried M-1 Garand and M-14s who pushed for a weapon and the M-16 became that weapon. The brass gave them what they asked for. They also saved Colt Firearms which had purchased the Armalite patent. The troops had also complained that the M-1/M-2 Carbine was great but the round was too light (many a hunter has not heard that complaint from deer).

    1. The deer have a tough time with English. The carbine is illegal in most states for deer. Probably OK for pests like coyotes. Seems that a number of wimpy cooks, typists, and other office workers whined about their inability to handle the Colt 1911 .45ACP which was their issue weapon until the M1 carbine was introduced. Every soldier has a basic primary MOS. Rifleman. Big game rules limit the capacity if magazines and mandate a minimum cartridge.

    2. The Armalite-Stoner design was never “adopted”, it was forced on the US military and “testing” was specious at best and most of the time falsified “data” was used to defend/improve it’s reputation. Ya, I read the book “The Gun” which explained to me what I had previously did not know about all the problems the M16 design had and still has.

      The lightweight-space-age Armalite design dovetailed nicely into Robert McNamara’s view of the US military with new technology and space-age designs like missiles, nuclear subs, jet fighters with no guns, and a US infantry fighting battles with ultra-lightweight weapons and ammo.

      No thought was given to practicality, reliability, effectiveness, or human life (re: American soldiers) only reducing costs and removing waste was on McNamara’s mind; this is what happens when you put a Ford Motor Company executive in charge of the US military… thank you JFK.

      The AK was designed to be used reliably anywhere in the world, so much so that it could be made cheaply, in mass quantities, then shipped to partner-states FOR FREE as an easy incentive to lure fellow Communist regimes into the Soviet sphere of influence. Accuracy was not an issue with the AK, spray and pray was. The USSR then, and still to this day, is a BIG believer in cannon fodder.

      Millions of AK’s, new, never used, are still in stockpiles around the world, probably slathered in cosmoline, just waiting to be used. Maybe they are only good for minute-of-man accuracy but that’s all you need in urban warfare. The days of thousand yard MOA hits on a man-sized target went away with the end of WWI.

    3. Wrong again, take it from someone that has seen and lived it. Pointing an AKO AND BURNING OFF 30 rounds at a target doesn’t mean you hit the target by far. The only thing that matters in combat is killing before you get killed. Trust me if you could compare rounds fired with enemy killed the M16/M4 family smokes the AK by far.

  97. I see 6.5 and 6.8 mm versions of the AR from time to time. Going to something around 100 gr would be a huge improvement, IMO. The last war we won was WWII and nothing less than 100 gr went down range with each trigger pull back then. And nobody was worried about twist count, either.

  98. I’ve never had cause to shoot out that far but my milled receiver AK is much nicer and more accurate than my stamped receiver one. But, yeah, longer range is pretty much not the calling of the AK.

    1. I agree with you, I think a LOT of guys here are constantly amazed the AK can’t knock a man down at 1,000+ yards with sub-MOA and have the 7.62 round that can still crack an engine block in two the ricochet upwards and take out a jet fighter before slowing down only slightly before it finally decends to earth and take out a Taliban on the other side of the planet while smoking his hookah inside his T72 tank in AFG.

  99. I’m sorry but ranking the AK-47 based on worldwide use and and ease of production is insane. Yes, many nations use it but that’s because it is cheap and low-tek. Think of it like this, if you had to put a round in your target to save your or your fellow soldiers life would you really choose the AK off the rack over an M4. If it’s so great why do we kill so many of the opposing force that use it. Even when you take the option of full auto away from the M4 it still smokes whatever retard that is using it. Quality over quantity any day.

    1. While I do not own an AK 47 I have used the civilian AR 15. The AK has more looseness than the AR/ M-16 and seems to feed most anything that is put through it. I have never been in favor of a 5.56mm caliber round ( light bullet at higher velocity) over a 7.62mm round and yes, I have heard the arguments on both sides. Full auto fire by foot soldiers seemed to have given more consideration to the M-16 / M 4 format gun. The high carry handle of the M-16 has gone by the wayside in deferrence to the flat top / removable carry handle of the M 4 and its variations. The AK 47 seems to have retained its basic design with the exception of collapsible stock. The 7.62 x 39 mm is not the equivalent of the 7.62 x 51 mm but seems to have served America’s adversaries. I still think that the M 14/ M1A is a better rifle but it is what it is.

    2. @ Steven.

      I place the Soviet AK-47/ChiCom Type-56 in the same category as the WW2, Soviet Pistolet-Pulemyot Shpagina PPSh-41 submachine gun.

      With a cyclic rate of fire of 900rpm and a effective range of 125-meters and a maximum range of 250-meters and, NO single shot capabilities. At full auto your bound to hit something.

      But at 200-meters with an AK-47/Type-56 on single shot control aimed target fire, your chances of hitting anything is ~4%.

  100. Question for you? Would you rather have stopping power over cyclic rate? 5.56 has a steel core but it’s expensive. Kind of like body armor and plate armor for bummers. Both few and far between in my day but I hear it’s better now.

  101. Try carrying an m40 with the m40a5 and m40a6 barrels with US optics mounted on it. This is the primary weapon with .308 and .338 ammo to boot. Then we can talk secondary weapon which was 5.56 but in a SAW format, take it over 7.62 AK anyday. I loved every minute of my 12 years though.

  102. I am in agreement with you. I served with the Marines in Somalia and that was my first combat mission that I learned that the Ak47 could take us out with one shot as most Ak47 ammunition is made of steel core. The stopping power of the Ak47 vs. M4/M16A4/5.56 cal. Is not even fair to compare. The US. Military answer is that you can carry more ammo but, 3 to 1 shots to bring an enemy combatants down then that idea of more ammunition is mute. At 100 yards engagement distance the Ak47 is just as accurate and 3 times as deadly.

    1. @ Sgt Hueck USMC.

      Yeah, but the “Line of Progression” works against you as your range increases. At 50-meters you may be ~100% accurate, but at 200-meters. You accuracy drops to ~4%…

    2. Is the AK 3 times more deadly, or is the AK ammo 3 times more deadly?

      Would the same type ammo make our M16 equally deadly?

    3. If the M4 had a stronger bullet I would love the M4. The Ak47 is very simple in design and that simplicity makes it very reliable. The M4 platform has way more moving parts that most battle combat rifles. If you look at the Sig F550, Ak47, G3, FN FAL, they have far fewer moving parts. The original M1 Garant and the M14 have the same systems as those rifles mention before. Also look at the M240, M60, M249 they also have the same systems as the rifle mention above. The only weapons platform that is totally different is the M16 and derivatives. Just think about this for a moment.

  103. Great list in “one mans opinion”. A hard decision on any list with as many weapons created to date that have been used in combat. Bravo to you and keep the lists coming.

  104. Over the mountains and through the woods….. Almost all these have had there place. In Nam I carried a 16 most of the time. It was rough in brush and jungles as would be knocked off target with slightest branch or twig (which were more than 10 to 20 yds away). I also carried the 14 which I love to this day buttttt…. the ammo was so heavy. (even though I cheated with carrying M60 ammo, which fit my 14), I also carried the shotgun pump and double barrel walking point along with the M79. Still do not know of the “perfect” combat rifle. AK has a distinct sound that the ear can follow!!!!

    1. Mike, would you please explain:….. ” I also carried the 14 which I love to this day buttttt…. the ammo was so heavy. (even though I cheated with carrying M60 ammo, which fit my 14),”

    2. The M14 uses 308, as does the M60. I don’t know why M60 308 would be lighter than 308 for the M14? But, when the M14 goes off, the downrange damage was always impressive. They should have stayed with the M14. The change to the M16 got a lot of good people killed. :'(

      The 556 was a mathmatical mistake tryng to add damage by using the V squared portion of the equation for delivered energy. They got too small on the ballistic point, to have enough mass left to carry the added energy. It looked good on paper, but didn’t deliver at the tartget. Changing the platform to a 308 solved the power loss problem. The 6.8 is likely the best size for the M16 platform.

      The AK47 is a medium powered rifle like a 30 30, or an Enfield. All are functional, to a limited distance, but are marginal for combat with reduced penetration. I also find a SKS to be more accurate than an AK 47, but both are serviceable. The single thing the AK has is sheer number, there are a LOT of them out there, but it is a pig of a rifle that does go bang every time you pull the trigger.

  105. I prefer the AK over the AR because of stopping power and expense. The M4 and civilian ARs are very reliable now but the stories of having to shoot jihadis more than once or even twice while their guns appear to penetrate our guy’s armor at will are too much to bear. The best AK’s run $1300 and will run forever on the cheapest ammo available. It seems to me when fielding a military weapon, the cost to produce, maintain, and fire must also be taken into consideration and the AK owns that category.

  106. As much as it is human nature to do so, this isn’t a comparison … this blog was started by just one mans opinion of what the “Top 5 Combat Rifles” are.

    1. You state the obvious. The idea of a “comparison” by many of the posters was to bring to light what I’ve been saying all along and that is “WHAT IS A COMBAT RIFLE” as defined by the author of this article. Since there were no guidelines, by the author, as to what a “COMBAT RIFLE” is, in his opinion, then it is natural to point out that CARBINES are not COMBAT RIFLES, therefore, putting them on this list IS INDEED like comparing apples to oranges. Once again I think some here have missed that not-so-fine point.

  107. Comparing the M4, M16, and AK47 to the Moisin, Springfield, and Garand is comparing apples to oranges. The rifles designed before WWI were designed to take out horses used by the cavalry. After mechanized vehicles came into play and WWII reveled their excess cost and power weapons like the 8mm Kurtz, 7.62×39, and 5.56 came into play.

    1. I agree with the AK47 being the top of the list as a matter of functionality, durability, and world wide use. The list, in my not so humble opinion, loses veracity by omitting the Brittish Lee Enfield and the German K98. Two military rifles that eclipse the Moisin and the 03 Springfield. Doing so in all measures of a battle rifle. Just saying.

    2. I agree that the Mossin Negant should be rated below the Enfield and the K98. It is an inexpensive rifle, with a poor angle on the stock, that increases recoil from a weaker cartridge. The Enfield has service life and magazine size. The K98 was innovative (the Springfield, esentially was a copy) when designed, and almost all bolt actions owe some of their design to this rifle. I also like the M14, it is a very forgiving accurate rifle.

      From an over all preformance rating, I have to say that the M1 is the best combat rifle I have ever owned. I own all of these, and was actually surprised by the M1. If you know how, reloading is FAST and easy.

  108. The H&K 91 was the real deal not a clone. I sold it in my grandfather’s pawn shop. I bought a Poly Tec M14S about a year later. I still have it and I shoot a 1 foot square piece of steel that I have welded to a chain and hanging from a tree at my mother’s ranch. Me and my sons shoot at it from a bench with sandbags to steady our aim and it hits the target about 50% of the time. The other 50% is probably something the shooter did wrong. Great rifle. There have been comments about the metal in the receiver but the Poly Tec receivers are superior to the Springfield Armory. I did put a scope mount on it several years ago but I can use the iron sites also. I think I can shoot as well with the iron sites as I do the BSA scope on it. I have 3 FN FALs and their sites suck. I wish they had better sights to see what accuracy they may be capable of. I have one with a Vortex Viper scope. The scope mount is a replacement for the dust cover. Not entirely stable. Looking for a Trilux SUIT scope that the British used.

  109. SHLEMIEL, SCHLIMAEL:

    I am logging on as SCHLIMAZEL, for a reason. I purchased, what thought to be a honest deal, from a an honest man. Called in this DISQUS, the Shyster, as DIS-Honest Dave’s. You know the guy’s and/or type’s. I thought I was making and honest “Back-Room” offer for what I thought was, a Beautiful 8-mil Mauser Karabiner 98k Krag, in pristine condition. It actually wound-up being a “Odd-House/S@#t-House” deal. It looked great within its glass case, protected from the elements. Beautifully varnished Wooded Stock. Later to find out the only reason it looked good was. Because, the Word Stock had a Varnish/Superglue base, to keep the wood from falling apart. And then covered with a thin layer of Clear Coat Paint, to give the Wood Stock its nice and shinny gleam. The only part of the rifle that was in “Pristine Condition”, was the Receiver. The barrel was “Shoot” and Didn’t meet Specs. Apparently, DIS-Honest Dave, shave of 6/10,000th of a inch, off the barrel to remove any “Rust, Oil, and Other Blemishes”. Also X-Ray Scans of the barrel revealed that DIS-Honest Dave, use Compression Load Cartridges, which exceeded the Recommended Bore Pressure Rating of the Rifle Barrel. Test show that it was at least 100 Normal Load Shots from Bursting the barrel. I’m not worried about stock replacement scources. But, does anyone have any recommendations for a Steal, EO1, or Chrome barrel replacement sources.

  110. Wayne & Steven,
    I wouldn’t buy anything made by Norinco considering their suspect metallurgy all with the idea of upgrading it piece by piece later on. Save your money then buy the real deal as in a new M14. I had the opportunity to purchase the SOCOM version of the M14 but didn’t, I kick myself often for not doing so.

    1. Another reason not to buy Norinco is. That Norinco, is a Chinese State controlled and owned company, sanctioned by the state to produce “Counterfeit” American and other western goods. And resell back into the American markets, at cheaper prices. Taking away American jobs.

    2. Well in my day they used to refer to these weapons as “Chicom” for Chinese Communist and people seem to have forgotten that China is still a Communist nation. Actually a lot of firearms are made overseas like Springfield Armory is made in Brazil but, allegedly, assembled in USA

    3. Which firearm made in China are you referring to as being inferior in metallurgy? I’ve never owned one of the Polytech M-14’s, (made at China’s State Arsenal 386). I did hear of a few problems on the non-Polytech M-14’s, exported by Norinco, made at one of the many other Chinese State Arsenals. But after owning and using many other Chinese military and made-for-export copies of military firearms, I have no complaints. Only praise and respect. As far as the “Commie Gun” angle goes, we import so many firearms and milsurp ammo from pretty much all the known scum-bag, or, just previously scumbag, countries.
      And, yeah, I wish I had bought at least one of the SOCOM rifles! Awesome rifles!

    4. I’m partial to 1911’s and though low prices, they are notoriously made of inferior metallurgy. Then I read about their M14’s being of the same poor quality. If you have been happy with their quality, good for you. In as far as the commentary about the commie thing, many today giggle at the idea the men of my generation don’t speak kindly of communist countries or those who look kindly on communism, I don’t know when it became fashionable to smirk at guys like me but it happened and I don’t care but for a lot of us to consciously buy ChiCom firearms, well I don’t understand it. I realize a lot of what we buy is made in China, even food now, so I think something is seriously wrong here in the US that we’re importing food from China for God’s sake. I shoot Russkie ammo, it’s cheap, smokeless powder, HAH! Blown out primers, lots. But it’s cheap. I drone on.

  111. I had a HK-91several years ago which I believe is the civilian equivalent of the G3. It had a fluted chamber and it jammed several times on me. Without a forward assist I could not get it to seat a round. The gun was new and was not dirty and was lubricated properly. Therefore I am not a fan. I had several Mosin Nagants but sold them to make room in my safe. My sons used to shoot at a 1 foot square metal plate at 500 yarda and when we hit it, it rang like a bell. I still have that target and shoot it with my M14 and hit it 8 times out of 10. The 3 FN FALs I have do good if I hit it 2 out of 10. Th e M14 shoots better than my bull barrel Savage with my 168 grain handloads with 45 grains of Varget powder.

    1. Was your HK-91 a factory Heckler & Koch rifle or a clone? I too, owned a HK-91 that I bought new in the early 1980’s. I never had any feed problems with that rifle. I used all different types of 7.62×51 NATO and .308 Winchester. I put a lot of rounds through that rifle and loved it. Only sold it because of the CRAZY cash that I was offered for it. I have heard that many of the clones had major feed problems because of manufacturing errors. Even the PTR-91’s had some issues. Just wondering.

  112. Whiles we’re talking about other rifles, I haven’t seen a mention of the Barrett available in both 50BMG and 338 Lapua. My thoughts are that the Barrett while an incredible rifle (not a carbine, LOL) is not as iconic but it certainly has changed the field of battle.

    1. @ Greg.

      The same Apple’s and Orange’s. Both the Barrett and Lapua are specifically designed Sniper Rifles. And, not Combat Rifles. Also, the same reason you don’t hear the word BAZOOKA mentioned, as a Combat Rifle.

    2. @ Bob.

      Exactly. While their many, to numerous cases to mention, where Sniper Rifles have MORPHED from the Combat Rifle design. I can’t think of one case, where a Combat Rifle has MORPHED from a Sniper Rifle design…

    3. I agree, I guess everyone has their favorite. As a long time collector, historian, gunsmith and builder, I look at the history of firearms. Which is why I listed what I did in my first post. I would not consider the FAL, Barrett, AK or M-16 to really be in the group listed here for the reasons I mentioned before. Just like I wouldn’t list the Tommy gun, Grease gun, Sten or any pistol or mild carbine round firearms a combat rifle. If we expanded the list we could certainly inlcude the M14 and FAL but we’re talking about the best combat rifles.

    4. If you read Chris Kyle’s book “American Sniper” you’d see the impact sniper rifles (though some here do not think they qualify as “combat rifles”…whatever that is…) on the battlefield in IRQ and AFG. Muktada Al Sadr’s Ramadi army tried to negotiate with the US Military to have them remove our snipers from Sadr City because of their lethal effectiveness with one shot, one kill, capabilities. Some snipers used the Barrett to amazing effectiveness, much to the chagrin of our enemies.

  113. If you’re going to list the mosin and springfield, you really should have placed the mauser. In 8mm, hard hitting with an action 2nd to none and was the basis for your first choices.

  114. All are true but unfortunately for the last one in my state silencers are illegal. Vermont the one state you have never needed a permit to carry concealed. Why? Because almost all of our firearms laws were passed as hunting laws, no loaded long guns in cars, and no silencers (too easy to poach deer).

    1. I HAVE A 410 BOPF RIFLE MODEL 59A 21/2-3″ SHELLS. J STEVENS ARMS CO. CHICOPEE FALLS, MASS. DO YOU HAVE INFORMATION ON THIS, IF SO WOULD YOU EMAIL THIS TO ME.

      THANKS

    2. @ CHARLES PEARCE.

      I’m sure about the question. But if you interested in purchasing one, GUNSAmerica.com has one for $165.00 USD. Using both 2-3/4-inch and 3-inch .410-Bore/Gauge shells.

  115. Mr. Dolbee,
    The Ak-47, M4, M-16, are indeed rifles, but, they are technically Carbines which shoot underpowered “rifle” rounds, whereas the Moisin, 1903, M1 Garand, all shoot rifle rounds, not carbine rounds. My point being your article’s title “Top Five Combat Rifles” really needed to be clarified and delineated better to indicate what YOU consider a combat rifle. Lands and grooves make a rifle and rifle…. hence the term rifling. We all accept the idea that a rifle is a small arm capable of being carried by one man, brought to the shoulder and fired by one man. The M82 Barrett is man-portable, can be brought to the shoulder (if you have the muscles) and fired by one man and yet its not listed here and its devastation and effectiveness on the battlefield cannot be denied but it is more of a sniper rifle, not a “combat rifle” that is standard issue carry combat rifle for US infantry. This is why I think you not delineating what you consider a “combat rifle” made this article border on being more incendiary, generating a lot of hoo-hah and not a lot of thoughtful discussion as to what a combat rifle should be, which are best at what it should be, and so on.
    Trying not to be a Debbie Downer here but…
    What do I think the top five combat rifles are?
    To me a rifle has to be delineated as a small arm that can be held easily by one man, brought to the shoulder, fired by one man, and hit a man sized target at 100-200 yards, fires semi or full auto, and fires a rifle caliber round and not a carbine round.
    My favorites are the ones that when the trigger is pulled, they go bang, hit what you are aiming at, are reliable, battle proven, and are reasonably accurate as most men may qualify as marksmen but few are snipers, hence the need to hit a man at 1,000 yards is esoteric at the least and banal at the most.

    1. I’m with you 100% Bob,
      I said the same thing back on page 7 but I didn’t elaborate like you did and at least one person missed what I was trying to convey … and if one person missed it, others probably did too.

      This is my list …

      1. Mauser K98 and variants
      2. Enfield S.M.L.E.
      3. M1 Garrand and variants
      4. FN FAL
      5. HK G3

      Honorable mention to the Mosin Nagant

    2. I agree with both of you but may put the FN FAL higher up since it was used by more than 90 nations. The right arm of the free world has been more than battle tested

    3. Mosin Nagants used to be cheap, hence the reason so many people have bought them for SHTF stockpiling. Sure, it has a storied history with the Russians and WWII and no I’ve never owned one. I saw a gentleman TRY to work the bolt in it, Mauser has nothing to worry about as their bolt action is silky smooth, the Mosin… not so much.

      I didn’t list my five faves because I felt it would detract from the point I was trying to make. I covet the 1903 but can’t afford one right now and like it purely for its history and accuracy. But in the same line of thought I covet the Remington 700 and Barrett M82 and M107.

      A combat rifle, or as its more accurately known as a BATTLE rifle, is a rifle carried into battle by a single soldier, it is issued to him and carried by him, therefore I think the M14 IS a battle rifle, so is the Mosin and Garand, the AK and M4 are carbines and are good at close-in fighting, door to door, room to room. The days of standing armies facing off on a field of battle are over, never to return to modern warfare.
      CJ Chivers wrote a book “The Gun” and even during WWi, the Brits still thought putting steel bayonets on the ends of their already lengthy Enfield rifles, thinking that the enemy would shudder in fear at the sight of charging infantry, bayonets gleaming in the sunlight, resurrecting images of days of yore where steel tipped spears were the weapon of choice. Then the German’s just opened up on them with their machine guns and mowed them down by the thousands, in one day. The British command didn’t “get it”, so they sent their boys out a 2nd day and guess what? The German’s mowed them down by the thousands and only then did the Brits stop full frontal assaults and dropped the idea that a bayonet on the end of a rifle struck fear into their enemies. Sometimes you have to hit stupid people, be they command or not, over the head, twice, for them to “get it”. Unfortunately thousands of other’s lives had to be wasted for command to change their alleged minds. I digress.

    4. I put back a couple SKS’s when the Russian armory referb’d hard wood ones were $69.95 at Century or S.O.G. (when you bought 5 or 10 at a time) and also a couple cases of 7.62×39 when it too was $69.95/1,000 … Of course this was over a decade ago 🙂

    5. If you’re talking about only fullpowered rifle calibers than if you were to switch the Mosin with the G3 I would totally agree.

    6. Nah, really? I didn’t know rifle meant only bolt action in this article’s title and the author’s choice of automatic “rifles”.

  116. I agree, A rifle is a rifle.
    Everything else is something else.
    However they all have their place in the fray. WW

  117. That’s what I like about the 30-06 round, it can reach out and touch someone at distances that make the 7.62×39 look like a pop gun.

  118. I’m not sure what your point is overall. As I stated before and agree with you on the AK being great at close range, but it isn’t superior to the M4 and the M4 is superior at extended ranges. General Singlaub wanted SOG operators to carry AKs on their cross border ops during the Vietnam conflict but they stuck with their short barrelled CAR-15s. The CAR-15 was also the choice for the Son Tay raid. As for the M1 Garand, it was found lacking against the Chinese which is what started the search for a replacement. I can’t debate what are the top five battle rifles. That is a matter of opinion. But things like which weapon people choose when they have the option indicate that the M16 series of rifles starting with the A1 are the best all round choice. That why SF , the IDF and others use it. Only poor armies choose the AK and most of the people killed with the AK are unarmed, poorly armed or at best armed with AKs.

    hinese

  119. The M-16 was just a rifle. The manual I received, and the handout they gave us in Vietnam, identified is only as the M-16 Rifle, as in “Care and Maintenance of the M-16 Rifle. I believe it was the AR-15 which was first identified as a military assault rifle by none other than the most rabid gun grabber of all… Senator Diane Feinstein. It was so identified in order to add it to the list of weapons she wanted banned, even though it had not previously been so identified.

    Aside from what rifle should fall in what order, I have a hard time figuring all the negative comments on the M-16. I carried it in war and peace for over 21 years, and never had a lick of problem. It’s not like I got a good one and never let go of it. Every transfer brought another one which had to be sighted in for my use. No one I ever worked with encountered a problem with them, except when there was a shortage of ammo and we had to use .22 caliber adapters.

  120. Keeping things relevant and insightful (unlike those M16’s in Vietnam’s rivers–which are out of sight). I prefer something not designed for prairie dogs or even 30-06 wimp like the .308. I wonder if battle rifle isn’t a better term than the grabbers favorite (assault rifle). Of course few of the grabbers have ever been in battle or assaulted anything except the US Constitution. I think taking a real AR10 and converting it to .338 Federal would be dandy. I wondered if I got an Winchester 1886 in 45-70 if there wasn’t a round that equaled that brass necked down to 35-70. Didn’t want to modify the bolt and maybe the .348 would come close or……..??????? Ideas????

    1. @ Thor.

      Back in either 2012 or 2013, there a cable show called Trigger’s on the Military Channel. And they had a Shoot-Off Competition between the M1 Garand and the AK-47. I can’t remember weather there 10 or 12 categories in the competition. But, the M1 Garand beat the AK-47 in all categories, except one. And that category was, Ammunition Storage Capacity. That was the only category in which the AK-47, beat out the M1 Garand. I don’t no weather Trigger’s is still on anymore, but you can probably find it on YouTube.

    1. @ jerryj.

      Well I won’t worry, because I’m pretty sure your M16 isn’t the only M16 laying at the bottom of that river. Or, in fact any other Vietnamese river.

  121. If you are referring to the French MAS, the M1949 and the original 1949-56 were chambered in 7.5X54 before the switch to 308 (NATO) . The 308 will chamber in the older 49-56 but bad things happen. The 7.5 uses a 139 grain bullet and the 308-7.62 uses a 150 grain. Despite that, the French round was much more powerful. My 49-56 has all the grenade launcher goodies with it and is a real blast to shoot. (pun intended). This info is from “GUN TESTS” March 2011. Hope this helps. Capt. Wiley

    1. [what was the caliber, before going to 7.62x51mm NATO]

      From 1906 to 1954 the standard U.S. military caliber was 30-06, including the Garand, the M1903, the M1917 Enfield, M1941 Johnson, the Browning Automatic Rifle, and several machineguns.

    2. People often forget why the military went with that particular round.

      In that era, most young American men they wanted for military service were farms boys … long used to hunting and guns. The most popular rifle for the hunter of larger game was the 30-06 … which is pretty much true to this day. Those boys knew that round, its performance, its recoil, and all the little instinctive tricks the serious hunter needed to bring home the family’s food.

      When they were arming up our young men for the field of battle, the efficiency of using variations of the most common hunting rifle were lost on no one in procurement. They had a ready made long range round that fit in with the bean-counters “one-shot, one-kill” mentality of saving on ammo usage – which changed little until the farm boy stopped representing the average American soldier and stuff like accuracy became less important as there were less “snipers” – hunters … able to engage accurately.

      The M-14 was in the interim. It was still a “sniper’s” rifle – basically still a Garand with similar ballistics but a bit lighter and carrying a lot more ammunition that could be reloaded a lot faster PLUS the full auto feature from the BAR (which though heavy as hell also fired 30-06 – that didn’t work out so well as the M14 (without modern muzzle breaks) was pretty useless in rock-and-roll.

      Laying down suppressing fire in jungles … where visibility often made accurate fire only a wish since most actual on-target fire was at close ranges … made a fast, heavy round a hindrance compared to being able to disable enemy soldiers requiring the enemy to be forced to care for their wounded. Again more ammo was needed and less weight – hence the Armalite – which once its bugs were worked out, WAS a better gun for the average soldier in the jungles and close quarters where volume of fire and light weight are more the need – not to mention it could be carried and used by women whereas it is a rare female who can effectively deploy a heavy battle rifle to effect.

  122. I think it is, but with better sights and a more accurate design. The problem with the AK is the poor sights inaccurate design and weak cartridge. If you can’t reliably hit targets beyond 100 meters then mechanical reliability makes little difference. The Soviets designed it to be used at very close ranges after dismounting armored vehicles that had been driven on to the objective under a cover of artillery fire.

    1. Most combat firefights in todays modern wars are fought at distances of less than 100 yards. IMO the AK and the M-1 Garand are both rather heavy and clunky but both are superb combat weapons. I started out in the military using the M-1 and then the M-14 and finally the AR-15. The early A.R. 15 was too temperamental for the jungle.

  123. There are many ways to classify these. Most firepower, largest body count, number of firearms made or longest life in use.

    I tend to look at it from the stand point of not just how good a firearm was but how long it was kept in service and what influence did it have.

    Looking at the above, I would have to leave out the M-14, M-16 and AK-47 as they all came after other the rifles that had greater influence and made a bigger differnce. The AK although used through out the world is clunky and not very efficient or accurate especially when you calculate how many rounds you may need to expend to hit your target. As mentioned before it is a spray and pray weapon like the .45 ACP Grease gun.The M-16 was the biggest flop until several changes were made to both the firearm and the ammunition and the M-14 was basically a Garand with a removable mag.

    SO my call would be #1 the Mauser, it served at least half the world at some point for over 70 years and was the basis of all modern firearms. Springfield even was ordered to pay Mauser royalties (which were never paid because of the out break of WW I) as the ’03 was too close of a copy. (Imagine if we could hold China’s ass to the fire for patent infringement like was done back there).
    #2 The Lee Enfileds, all models, as this firearm was the most efficient bolt action in trained hands of any bolt action and served much of the other half of the world. During WW I Germans facing the English with their Lee Enfields often thought they were facing down automatic weapon fire.
    #3 M-1 Garand as it was at the time as George Patton claimed “the greatest battle implement ever created” at the time and inspired armies around the world to shift to auto loading riles both semi and full.
    #4 ’03 Springfiled, was the first very efficient and “accurate” bolt action used my the US in the most efficient small arms caliber ever developed. Other than specialized sniper rifles, there has never been a more powerful and efficient round. Soldiers firing black tipped 30-06 rounds from the 1917 Browning could penetrate the armor of many tanks. It was also the preferred weapon of the US Marines right through WW II.
    And #5 the US 1917 or P-17 Enfield/Eddystone as it was the weapon most widely used by the US who’s entry turned the tide of WW I and as mentioned was the favorite of heroes the like of Sargent York. It is the strongest of all military bolt actions for building large caliber custom rifles. The ’03 remains a favorite because of it’s nice light stream lined design but if I’m building something in the likes of a large magnum, it will be my first choice of action.

    1. @ Greg.

      The problem comparing the .30-06Sprngfld. (7.62x63mm) with the .308Win (7.62s51mm NATO) with a Magazine theory is. That the (7.62x63mm) ~5,300-meters, has more than twice the range of the (7.62x51mm NATO) ~2,600-meters.

  124. I haven’t heard any mention of the “right arm of the free world” or the FN FAL. I have 3 of them. They are not as accurate as my M14 but are reliable, and certainly capable of outshooting the AK47 junk. I am not a fan of 22s (ARs) unless I am hunting squirrels and the AK round falls on its nose way too early. Just my 2 cents worth.

  125. One observation about the AK-47 that you loosely mentioned when discussing why you ranked it over the M4. You are correct about the M4 winning more battles. The truth is that until equipped with optics, the AK is near totally ineffective, regardless of reliability. The majority of people killed with an AK were either also carrying AKs or were disarmed, (Africans).
    If the AK were the better rifle, the Israelis would use it.

  126. The M-14 should have been right there near the top. Same rugged reliability (I carried one in Vietnam for two years without fail) and when compared to the AK was capable of much better accuracy at a far greater range.

    1. I do own a modernized Mosin and a Romanian WASR-10 but I’ve never been able to find an M-14 that I can afford . I also have a Gewher 98 8 MM and a mini-14. All work well but nothing has the feel and the awesome effect of an M-14 especially on full auto..

    2. You might nose around on some places like Gun Broker and see if you can find some of the Chinese made Norinco M14’s. They do have some issues, but the receiver is forged and you can buy the other parts as you get the money. I’ve heard of Norinco’s going as low as $500 to $700. Just make sure the guy selling it is legit and has some other sales under his belt and a good reputation.

  127. You include the Springfield 1903 but not the Mauser 98? What makes that decision even worse is the fact that the 1903 was nothing but a copy of the 98. Most every modern bolt action rifle traces it’s roots to the 98 so it is without a doubt the best rifle of all time let alone the best combat rifle of its age.

  128. I note that the US used the Moisin along toward the end of WWI, the US soldiers in Murmask and Vladivostok were issued them, probably ones made by Remington. My Moisin is Finnish.

    Better than the springfield 1903 was the Enfield P-17. The Springfield would have been better if they had mounted a sight.

  129. You are correct the M14 (M1A1) should have been on this list. It has the best of both worlds. Great at close range, plenty of potential at long range, and great for sniping.

    1. The first time I fired that bean shooter in combat it fired and that was it I was very glad to be in a huey at the time .At that time plenty of ammo but had a hand full of nothing. Now I own two of the 16 and two ak47 I like the 47’s I was in the First Calvary 2/20 ARA 66-67

  130. Hello. I think your are leaving out of some of the more important battle rifles of our time. The FAL and the HK G3 rifles which are still in use worldwide. Thx bob.

  131. I like the Gerrand well enough and the Mauser s, the M4, the 303 and oddly enough the M1 carbine. The M1 carbine holds 10 rounds doesn’t hurt your shoulder nearly as much as the rest. That flinch in the expectancy of the shot and the hurting shoulder after shooting really bug me. Having owned all of the above I choose the M1 for it’s fast shooting and it keeps their heads down while troops maneuver. although the bullet is slow it still does it’s job. Also you can carry a lot of ammo because of it’s small size and weight.

  132. I was quite surprised not seeing the m14 on the list. I found the reliability and accuracy quite fitting for the times. Just a personal favorite. And now Springfield has their civilian model which quite literally is an exceptional weapon with all the accessories available.

  133. If you want to open this up that far, then you’d have to include the BREN gun, as well, maybe even more so than the BAR. Both were brilliant rifles……

  134. I couldn’t agree with the author more. I have at least 1 of all five and several (some modified) of the rest. One not mentioned that I quite enjoy is the French Mas. 10 rounds down range right now with a flawless box mag.
    My .02 WW

  135. I wonder why no one has mentioned the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). It has now been modernized with syn. stock and shortened a little. I hear it is being used by S.F. types in theaters not near you.

    1. Yeah, you are defintely correct for the older model, they have a newer refined model has a shortened barrel, and might qualify it as one, but still it is just out and really doesn’t have any history as one. I spoke before I really thought about it. :o)

    2. @ George.

      Like you, I was starting to think of Offshoots or Branch Offsets. Like the M60, the Kalashnikov RPK (7.62x39mm), the Kalashnikov PKM (7.62x54mmR), and the Fallschirmjagergewehr FG.42 (7.92x57mm). But that was starting to stray of, somewhat from the subject matter of the article.

  136. I hadn’t thought of the Lee Enfield models, any rifle that can fired at a rate of more than 15 rounds a minute with the punch of the .303 on target has to be #1 or #2. For those who are wondering what I’m talking about google Lee Enfield mad minute. A marksman had to put 15 rounds into a 12 inch plate at 300 yards (270 meters) in a minute or less. The record was 45 rounds in 1 minute all on target. No record of anything like that being done with any other large bore rifle.

  137. Not a bad list, but I think the K98 and No. 4mk 2 easily surpass the 1903 and Nagant…

    Give me an Enfield on the battlefield any day over a Nagant. It holds twice and much, has a faster rate of fire, has a useable safety and a superior trigger. Plus it (together with its older brother, the No. 1 mk 3) have seen just as much use in conflicts over the globe, if not more.

    And although the 1903 is a nice copy of Herr Mauser’s greatest creation, it isn’t the original, and the K98 never had heat treating issues.

    Just my $0.02!

    1. What about the 1917 Enfield? It was superior to the 1903 in many ways and was the rifle Sgt York used… It also outnumbered the 1903 Springfield do to shortages when we entered WW1. I also don’t understand why the K98 was left off this list.

  138. @Jimmy Hays.

    You know the old saying of: “Keep Your Friend’s Close, But Keep Your Enemies Closer.” The problem with and in the Middle East, you don’t know Which Is Which.

  139. To Jim Peacher:
    I left the academy in Mar of 2006. I was told that the academy was closed shortly after due to Ministry of Interior would not fund it. I later learned that members of the Iraq Highway Patrol broke through the wall of the armory and made off with all 85 AKs, all 65 Glock 19s, all 15 PKs and all of the 7.62×39, 7.62x54R, and 9mm ammo. (about 12 pallets in all). I’m sure the loot was sold on black market. Perhaps ISIS has some of it now. Our tax dollars down the drain.

    1. Jimmy Hays – Nothing new there. Supply Sergeants in WW2 ran a pretty lucrative business. I suspect the same of Korea and Vietnam, and likely Iraq… and these people were supposed to be on our side.

      I acquired a Colt Gov’t with two magazines and a can of hardball from an ARVN armorer. Seems they had a fire. Apparently, only the paperwork for the shipment got burned. It beat the S&W K-15-4 .38 we were issued. Of course, it remained behind when I came home. Already had the web belt. Got the holster and ammo pouch from the Army MPs.

  140. I cut my teeth on the Garand, and loved it. I was never particularly fond of the M-14, although I probably was more proficient with it because, as Battalion Range Officer, my AIs and I had access to large quantities of ammunition that we needed to get rid of at close of day.
    I was therefore pleased when the Cav replaced it with the M-16 prior to our departure for sunny RVN. I did not experience problems with that particular rifle, although others did.
    While there I had ample opportunity to appreciate the reliability of the AK.
    I’ve owned, and fired, MNs (Russian and Finnish), “’03s, ’03A1s, and ’03A3s as well as anything else shootable I could get my hands on; but looking back over the 55 years since I first fired the Garand, it’s still my favorite.
    I’ll bet there are folks who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who would have wished they had something that would reach out and touch the enemy like the old M-1.

  141. I believe the Mauser rifle, with its variants, has been more widely used around the world than our Model 1903. In fact, it was the efficiency of the Mauser 1893 that prompted our Ordnance Corps to look fondly on the Mauser to develop the 1903. I’m afraid the ’03, for all its sentimental value, etc., just doesn’t make the cut when we go talking about Top 5 battle rifles.

    OMG! I can’t believe I almost forgot this: What about the British Enfield percussion battle rifle used around the world – including in our own Civil War?

  142. Tuff call to limit my choices to just five, there’s just so many to pick from, so I’ll just list my personal favorites.
    1.the moisin nagant.
    2.M 1 Garand
    3.H&K 91
    4.M-14
    5.M-16/M4
    They are in no order just my picks, but I’m allso partial to the following.
    K98
    Springfield 1903
    M1 Carbine
    FN-FAL
    AK-47.

  143. I believe the Mauser rifle, with its variants, has been more widely used around the world than our Model 1903. In fact, it was the efficiency of the Mauser 1893 that prompted our Ordnance Corps to look fondly on the Mauser to develop the 1903. I’m afraid the ’03, for all its sentimental value, etc., just doesn’t make the cut when we go talking about Top 5 battle rifles.

    1. Match and wheel-lock firearms tended to be smoothbore muskets, not rifles. I don’t recall any match or wheel-lock rifles that saw mainstream military use.

    2. @ LarryArnold.

      I only put out the words Matchlock and Flintlocks, because the discussion group was kind of straying far-a-field from the forum. If you know what I mean.

  144. @ Reginald.

    Your more likely to hit someone at long-ranges, shooting the rifle straight up into the air. Then to actually hit someone, taking an carefully aimed shoot at long ranges.

    1. The Military Qual. is 1000 yards on a Man size target and I did it with an M-1 at the Marine Rifle Range, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 1986

    2. And while you were pitting the ace at 1000 yards, I hope nobody was trying to disturb your concentration by shooting back at you and maybe getting your adrenalin pumping.

      I met a female USAF Security Forces sniper in SWA who could very likely duplicate your shot. USAF SF snipers are quite well trained. Her weapon of choice was a ccustom built M4.

  145. First off, the AK & M16 shouldn’t even be on the list as they aren’t battle rifles … They shoot intermediate cartridges so they do not even qualify as MBR’s

    1. Mauser K98 and variants
    2. Enfield S.M.L.E.
    3. M1 Garrand and variants
    4. FN FAL
    5. HK G3

    Honorable mention to the Mosin Nagant

    1. Sorry if you didn’t get the point of my post Glenn;
      It’s not that the AK & M16 aren’t used in Combat, it’s that they aren’t RIFLES … They are CARBINES.

      I suppose you could argue the point that the 20″ M-16 is a rifle simply due to its length, but the M-4 pictured above is definitely is a carbine and fact remains that they do not shoot a rifle cartridge, the 5.56/.223 is a intermediate cartridge, not a rifle cartridge …

      This is just my opinion, YMMV

  146. I have the 5 you picked but I would substitute the K98 for the 03. but the M1 is tops, 8 rounds of 06 on target gets the job done.

    1. @ Ron Davis.

      I have a 98k Mauser in 7.92x57mm, livery, A M1E5 “Tanker/Grande and M1E6 “Sniper/Graande, both in .30-06Sprnfld (7.62x63mm), livery. And would really like too complete the collection with a Winchester G 30R .30-60Sprnfld (7.62x63mm) Carbine with either 10, 20 or 30-round magazines. But trying to find one in working condition and my budget is going to be nearly impossible.

  147. Uh. Your article says “the best combat rifles from the last century” but the title says “of all time.” That’s two different lists. Limited to the 1900s, I pretty much agree.

    “Of all time” though? Number one has to be the world’s first “battle rifle,” the Kentucky Long Rifle, which served the colonies, then the U.S. over 100 years, from the French and Indian War all the way to the Civil War. It started out as a flintlock, then converted to percussion caps, and was perfected by the Minie ball. During the Revolution it impressed the English enough that they formed the 95th Foot, their own Rifle Corps.

    1. @ LarryArnold.

      I agree with you, There’s no such thing as an Obsolete weapon, Archaic maybe. Obsolete, NO. A Black-Powder Flint-Lock Kentucky Long-Rifled Barrel Rifle, is just as effective and deadly. In the 21st century as it was back in the 18th and 19th century. I saw a picture of a old Afghan Villager, proudly posing with a Well-Worn and Still-Functional 18th century Brown-Bess Smoothbore Musket. How he acquired it is unknown. Most likely passed down from Father’s to Son’s over many Generations. I’d love to have to own, or at the very least fire a Kentucky Long Flint-Lock Rifle, and just pretend to feel like Hawkeye or Daniel Boone. Sorry, thing are starting too get sobby, beyond this point!

    2. Have at. Replicas are still being made. In fact, more black powder muzzleloaders are being manufactured today than during the Revolutionary War. Most states have black powder hunting seasons, and the NRA has a variety of basic muzzleloading classes.

    3. @ LarryArnold.

      I know how to load and fire a Kentucky Long-Barrel Rifled Flintlock Rifle. The problem is, that I’m Wheelchair Bound and have Advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis. Just shooting a weapon is a luxury for me! Staying alive is the standard of the day, for me. The last time I shot anything long-barreled, I WENT TURTLE. But, someday fairly soon, I plan to go Hawkeye!!!

    4. Then you’d have to include rifles like the Sharps and Winchesters, etc They served the military well.

  148. You have ignored mostly big boy guns like the fn fal and the m14. The .223 are accurate to 400 yards but the ak variants won’t hit shit after 300 yards. My point you’re list is good for women and metro sexuals but real men shoot grown up guns . My opinion

    1. Reginald – Isn’t that a slap in the face of all those who carried many of these rifles (incl both men and women) in combat?

      You might have a choice what you’d carry today, but the troops rarely were given a choice. They made do with whatever they were handed, good or bad by anybody’s standards.

      I can’t speak for the Middle East, but Vietnam, I can not recall any time when any weapon we carried was used out to 300 yards and looking for anything more than suppressive fire. For my group, that was usually from one side of an open expanse of rice paddies to the tree line on the other side, or from one field of cane to another. When we were hit, we were usually in the open (trail, road, field) and they were well concealed.

  149. Not a bad list, but it distinctly favors U.S. weapons, which is not a bad thing but fails to include more international choices. My Top 5? 1. Mauser M98, 2. Moisin Nagant 7.62×54, 3. Springfield 1903, Enfield Mk II, 4. AK-47, 5. SKS rifle. Why these choices? 1. all the bolt actions are accurate, dependable, and have stood the test of time. 2. The AK is dependable and in very wide use for over 50 years, 3. The SKS, though only semi auto, is reasonably accurate (I have one) more so than the AK, and it, too, is still in wide use across the globe. I discounted the M-16 due to its finicky-ness in comparison to the AK & SKS and its early issues in development and its comparative cost. Yes, it is accurate and greatly produced, but not to the extent of the other two.
    This type of list is NEVER easy for anyone to compile because there are so many variables of subjectivity and the difficulty of maintaining objectivity.

  150. I would replace the Mosin Nagant with the Lee Enfield. The Enfield was carried by the entire British Empire, the Brits, Canadians, Aussies, NZ, Indians, and more. Reliability and accuracy, with equal to or better knock down than the 7.62x54R. The best is that it is the fastest cycling bolt action ever made in any numbers. The K98 should replace the Springfield 1903 on the list.It is is a knockoff the Mauser which fought in both wars, unlike the Springfield which saw most action in WWI and limited action in WWII.

  151. Great article. I personally have owned 4 on this list and currently own three. It would be both helpful as well as interesting to know the criteria by which these particular firearms were chosen

  152. One weapon overlooked is the SKS. Sergei Simonov designed this rifle off his PTRS and that one from the AVS36, purely his concept using the reliable and simple tilting bolt design. The SKS is one of the few weapons that is great but Un utilized because of timing, designed to defeat the Wehrmacht but released to late for that and then surpassed by the AK which is really just a fine tuned SGT43/MP44. The SKS proved an effective weapon by the Vietcong and was instrumental in wearing down US Forces in SE Asia. If I had a choice for top slot, it would be the SKS, followed by Mosin-Nagants like the type 53 and M44, then M1 Garand, then K98 and finally the evolution of the AR15 to M4.

  153. 1st. M1 Garand. Semi-auto and accurate. 2nd. M98 Mauser. Dependable and accurate. 3rd. M16. Full auto capable, accurate and light weight. Also, you can carry more ammo due to it’s light weight. 4th. M1 Carbine. Works, convenient and easy to carry. It was a great replacement for a Colt .45 for officers and ancillary personnel. 5th. AK 47. Goes boom when you pull the trigger but not real accurate. Spray and pray.

  154. AK-47, definitely the top of the list, but I also think the Mauser 98 should be #2 due to it’s influence on the bolt-action rifles from the late 19th century to the present day.

    The M1 Garand and later variant, the M14, should have 3rd placement for its role in helping to establish the place of the semi-auto rifle on the battlefield.

    The FAL should be 4th for the wide distribution and adoption by so many countries.

    The M16 should be 5th for setting the stage for small-caliber battle rifles and use of “space-age” plastics and polymers.

  155. I do own an AK. Very good shot with it too, right out of the box for the very first time.
    However, I was wondering, what is the definition of “assault rifle.” What does the NRA use for its def? I already know what the unreasonable call it.
    I will guess that it has to do with it being auto or semi. Am I right?

  156. This is some what accurate but the k98 should be in there due to the fact that all bolt action rifles to date still use the mauser action. It was accurate, reliable and some what easy to manufactor.

  157. I think the FAL should be on the list. 90 countries can’t be wrong. I have two of them and they are dependable, accurate and have ammo capacity that the Garand doesn’t have. I carried both the M14 & the M16. Both are excellent but my top pick is the M16 especially with a gas piston system and modularization available. There may be a bunch of AK;s out there and, yes, it’s reliable but the sight’s suck and (IMHO) the round doesn’t have as good characteristics as the 308 or the 5.56.

  158. Any “short” list that does not include the Mauser 98 is flawed. It had a profound influence not only on bolt-action designs for many guns yet to come, but in its day it was as numerous and prolific as the AK-47 was in its day….the 98 was built all over the world and used by dozens of countries, either built by Mauser or under contract at their country locations . For it to be off this list is a travesty. The Springfield 03 pays homage to the 98 …but can only be considered a subset or “chapter” of the 98 history…. its “reach” in history cannot match the 98 and probably shows a US-bias from the author.

    1. I would agree that the Mauser should be in the top 5 and I would have listed it as #1 as it and it’s predecessors were the grandfather of all modern bolt actions including the ’03 and P14/17. I would have left off the Mosin as although it was a great battle riffle it was always a bit clunky and never inspired duplication.
      The M1 Garand inspired many great semi-auto sporting rifles and was the father of the great M14 as well as the inspiration for many foreign battle riles. If I had to choose between an AK-47 or M16 or an M1 Garand loaded with 30-06 black tip amour piercing, with today’s light amour that will stop everything up to a .308, I think I would take the Garand.

  159. It is hard to leave the M98 Mauser off the list. The list should be made in to two sections, one for pre-1950 and one for post-1950 rifles. The ’03 just is not as good as a M98 from a mechanical point of view. The features Springfield made to the M98 to create the ’03 were steps backwards. Primarily the two-piece firing pin, where broken pins have caused significant injuries to shooters. The feeble sights on the early rifles, although fine for the range were too weak and too fine for combat. Given a choice the M98 is a superior rifle.

  160. All five of these are excellent rifles, but the list has some serious omissions, in my humble opinion. If you are going to take on “the greatest combat rifles of all time” the we must eliminate competing rifles and pick the best one for an era. Therefore,

    AK47 is the greatest assault weapon (battle rifle) of all time. There simply is no way to argue that the AR-15, as excellent as it is, can claim supremacy over the AK-47.
    In the submachine sector, it is a close match between the Russian PPSh-41, the German MP-40 and the Thompson submachine gun. Really tough call, going to the PPSh-41.
    Then, in the semi-automatic rifle sector, it is clearly the iconic M-1 Garand. Nothing has been able to compete and it was still in use during the Vietnam War.
    Then, the bolt-action battle rifle section, you have the hardest choice of the Mauser K98, the Mosin Nagant, the Springfield 1903 and the venerable Lee-Enfield II Mark 4, still in use in Pakistan and Afganistan. This is the toughest group to make the call, but in the end I would have to go (in this order) Mauser, Lee-Enfield, Nagant, Springfield. We could fight over this one for years. It is the toughest group and a very close call. They were all superb.
    Then, in lever action, magazine fed, the win goes to the most excellent Martini-Henry Mark IV. The other competitor, the Henry, had basically the same action as the Martini
    Then you have your black powder, percussion rifle (rifled replaced the musket during the Civil War in the US) was the British Pattern 1853 Enfield.
    The finally, the black power musket, led by the weapon of the Grand Armee, the Musket Modèle 1777 corrigé an IX, but was not technically a “rifle” but was the top of the “musket” group.

    Great discussion!

    1. Number 4 Mk 2 Enfield’s are the best of the Enfield line. The rimmed .303 cartridge is just a problem. Every Enfield I owned over the last 60 years gave feeding problems. I never owned the 7.62mm variant, and suspect it worked well.
      The ’03 was OK, when it was in the O3-A3 configuration. Original 03’s had weak designs, not found on its parent the M98 Mauser.

    2. The Lee Enfield was a great WWI weapon. But by WWII it was out dated. Even the K98 was a better weapon than the L.E. Ask the boys at Dunkirk.

  161. Wow. Yep. Those there are fighting word. The Mauser was ground breaking, and the Springfield is a copy of… Enfield? P17? They kept a lot of doughboys alive. History forgets…This list is a mismatch of personal taste. M14? That is a upgrade of the best battle implement ever devised. I carry a varmint gun on a daily basis, and when work gets serious, I get out the M14. Ironic that firearm development over the decades was based on knockdown power, and the .223/5.56 was because of a tactics change of weight (combat load) over performance/spray and pray. The list should be based on rounds expended per kill. Some would not even be honorable mention.

  162. I agree with your 5 choices.As to the order of effect on the combat field I would put the AK47 at the top of the list as far as a dependable, complete, low maintance all around firepower.

  163. I trained Iraq Highway Patrol when I was a police trainer in Taji Iraq in 2005. The AK is all you said it is except for one very important thing.
    Take it out to 300 meters and I’ll take the M-4 or M-16 anytime. Also fully automatic, the AK is OK for spraying downtown Baghdad at 50 meters, but don’t try it at farther distances. The recoil prohibits accurate longer shots in full auto mode.

    1. hello,Mr Hays,I was supporting you guys at Taji with KBR as a rtch operator,call sign peachfuzz,glad to see you made it back!.What ever happened to all those ishmash machined receiver AK’s you guys collected?did they shoot better than the stamped variants.
      PS,I still have the Iraqi highway patrol shirt you guys gave me,nice reminder of when we were winning over there!

  164. Come on, the 03 Springfield is a Mauser rifle, which isn’t even on your list. It’s the most influential rifle in the modern day. It practically invented the high powered high velocity smokeless powder pointy tipped bullet revolution in rifles.

  165. I would agree with all those choices accept the 1903 springfield and replace it with the mauser instead. The 1903 was based off the mauser as are even most of our hunting rifles today. The very reason that its action changed firearm design at the time is reason enough for me to replace the springfield with it.

  166. the problem with the m-16 weapon was they changed the powder in the brass , the one they started with was non hydroscopic , the new powder was . i’ve talked with Vets who said in a firefight , at least 1/2 of the weapons were down jammed and being cleaned .one man said his weapon of choice was a model 12 shotgun .it never stopped working .

  167. Here’s a thought … nostalgia is a great thing, BUT, how about a top 5 or top 10 list and comparison / buying do’s and dont’s of battle rifles that today’s patriot can buy for dealing with the situation of right now … conflict with DC, Jihadi mass chaos, or the zombie apocalypse because of Ebola or some other pandemic.

  168. While anyone can agree that these are all great rifles, I would have put the Mauser K98 in place of the Springfield 1903. The K98 has spawned scores of variants, including those made in and for many countries all over Europe, the Middle East, Asia, South and Central America. it could be argued that the ’03 Springfield as a blend of features from the Krag and the Spanish Mauser is itself one of those variants – the US even ended up paying royalties to Mauser for the patent rights to several components, including the 3-position safety.

  169. I think that the British Enfield should have been listed, After firing the Mosin , The Enfield is far superior to the in every way.

    1. @ mike jaral.

      I agree, after reading the article I was surprised, that the Lee-Enfield .303-caliber (7.7×56.4mmR). Wasn’t included as well. And the Mauser Karabine 98 Kurz (7.92x57mm) also.

  170. Interesting thread. There are many great rifles, but I’ll leave nostalgia out of it. Like at least one of the other posters, I’m also a former Marine. For me,it’s simple:

    What rifles are most commonly used worldwide for battle, world wide, since the end of WWII?

    My answer is this (in no particular order):

    *M16/AR15 platform – M16A4 being the most versatile. While it’s a rugged platform, it requires a lot of maintenance, and knockdown power at close range is not ideal. Sold to many U.S. allies, and has migrated into the hands of those who would do us harm..

    *AK47 Platform – most commonly produced combat rifle in the world. Well renowned for reliability and simplicity, if not accuracy.

    *M14 Platform – Also sold to many U.S. allies. After shooting an M1A SOCOM II for several years, I am scratching my head as to why the AR15/M16 was ever invented. Yeah, yeah weight. That’sa bunch of McNamara wizkid BS We had the ARVN using M1 rifles at the beginning of Vietnam. If I can hump an M1A through a 3 gun match as a middle aged, out of shape,overweight , so-and-so, I could have humped it in the field easily enough as a much leaner 22 year old Marine. Has all the accuracy and reliability of the M1 Garand to boot.

    FN FAL variants – next to the AK, probably the most common battle rifle in the world.

    G3 – German battle rifle throughout the cold war. Simple design. Easy to maintain. Licensed to many other countries and sold to many third parties. Rugged, relatively accurate, easy to maintain.

    In the world today, these are the five most common battle rifle platforms.

    1. John S – The problem with the M-14 was indeed weight. Not just of the weapon, but of the ammo. You need to look at it in the context of the conditions in which we were fighting. It was never a bad weapon. It was rugged and pretty darn accurate. But, in the heat and humidity, coupled with the terrain, it was a killer to carry. Up mountainsides, through the muck, with magazines, etc. And we didn’t carry packs anywhere near what troops carry today.

      Totally different than the short period of time it takes you to run a 3 gun phase before you get a break. (Not knocking your fitness, just recalling the conditions we experienced.) Remember, the M-16 was 50 years ago. The space race was on. Sputnik and all that. Trying to stay ahead of the commies with modern technology.

      The ARVN in my area (IV Corps) were carrying M-2 carbines and M-16s. There were some with M-14s and M-1s, but most of those were designated shooters. They also carried a number of other weapons. At the first opportunity, people traded in their rifles for something lighter and easier to carry.

      The M-16 design arose because of what the troops said about the arms carried in WW2 and in Korea. The primary complaint was weight. It almost never got adopted but for the fact it was offered to the USAF first. The AF was more into the new, like the nuke missiles. They liked the new fangled space rifle. Also, Colt needed a big contract. Armalite was already selling the AR-15 to civilians as a varmint rifle because they needed the cash flow, prior to the USAF testing. At the same time the M-16 was being tested, a 7.62 version was also being tested, but they early rifles didn’t hold up as well as the M-16.

    2. A common complaint of troops in the Middle East is that the M-16/A4 does have the range to reach the snipers in the hills shooting down at them….or the punch to go through a wooden door, etc. In Korea, similar complaints were lodged against the M-1 carbine (another light gun with lighter ammo….and I’ve spoken with vets who hit Chinese at 300 years only to see them get back up and keep coming!).

      The M-14? I’ve heard they’ve been showing up again on the battlefields of the Middle East….where sometimes the only other option to range and power is the .50 cal!

      In my younger days, I used to shoot competition….Enfield, Mosin- Nagant….can’t knock them. As a battle rifle, however, I can’t imagine why the M-14 didn’t make the list (even though it was replaced as standard issue….suddenly they are reappearing as failings of the M-4 are becoming apparent…at least according to the folks who carry them for a living…)

    3. A common complaint of troops in the Middle East is that the M-16/A4 does not have the range to reach the snipers in the hills shooting down at them….or the punch to go through a wooden door, etc. In Korea, similar complaints were lodged against the M-1 carbine (another light gun with lighter ammo….and I’ve spoken with vets who hit Chinese at 300 years only to see them get back up and keep coming!).

      The M-14? I’ve heard they’ve been showing up again on the battlefields of the Middle East….where sometimes the only other option to range and power is the .50 cal!

      In my younger days, I used to shoot competition….Enfield, Mosin- Nagant….can’t knock them. As a battle rifle, however, I can’t imagine why the M-14 didn’t make the list (even though it was replaced as standard issue….suddenly they are reappearing as failings of the M-4 are becoming apparent…at least according to the folks who carry them for a living…)

    4. Just to throw my two since in here. I have experience in carrying a m14 EBR, with 6 mags, plus my m4 with 8 mags. As a marksmen in the Army while in support of OIF. I carried this two guns all over northern Iraq for a year and I will tell you first hand it sucked. Me being a 5’5 145lb light weight the m14 was almost as tall as me. But I may have complained and wish I didn’t I will say, I’m glad I had it the times I needed it I’m glad it was there, a M4 is not very good at that distance. Even this I will tell you, you can be accurate at 700 yards with an m4 😉

  171. Sgt Hueck – I won’t disagree with your choices, but I disagree with your description of the M-16. Considering when it was first adopted (1964) by the USAF Air Commandos, it was well designed for what it was supposed to do. The troops wanted a lightweight weapon, especially for special ops. Something which was easier to carry and maintain, yet still had the ability to put down an enemy. Early runs had tolerances too tight, but that was typical of American engineering. That was 50 years ago. It’s still a great little lightweight rifle, but there have been a lot of advances made in the past 50 years. Except for a couple of brief periods, I carried one throughout my 21+ year career, including combat in the Mekong Delta.

    1. I dunno carry it then and carry now. Accuracy is excellent. Knock down power is not there. Like it in .308. Stoner got it right the first time. Push me though and I’ll say an AK. You damn sure know when one of those is shooting at you.

  172. Good list all around! I think I agree with many of the previous comments about the M1903 Springfield being on the list vs. the Mauser K98 and so won’t elaborate too much. Not to say I don’t like the Springfield (cause I do!) and it’s on my “want list” for my next firearm purchase. Totally agree with the other choices, however, and I’m very glad to have a couple in my collection already, including an M1 Garand and M4/AR15. There’s just something about shooting a Garand that’s fantastic! Really a more fun and real feel to it than an AR15, though loading an M1 with the en bloc clip is most definitely a pain… I can understand why the M14/M1A is perhaps in honorable mention status, since really it’s an updated version of a Garand, but I love my M1A for its accuracy, reliability, and ease of loading!

  173. 1. The 7mm Spanish Mauser that forced the US Army to rethink its love affair with the .30-40 Krag, leading to…
    2. The .30-06 out of a 1903 Springfield packs the same punch as the 7.92mm out of the K98 with less recoil so I top my list with that.
    3. Though I carried the M1 Garand in Korea, I’ll take the SKS over it for one reason — 10 rounds of 7.62×39 instead of 8 rounds of .30-06
    4. I carried the M14 and the M16 in Vietnam — the AK47 beats them both, the M14 because it has 30 rounds instead of 20 rounds, the M16/M4 because I still hear horror stories coming out of Afghanistan about having to call for the M60s to come up because the 5.56 will not penetrate a flipping mud wall with a sniper behind it…the 7.62 will
    5. Put a 6.8MM upper on the M16/M4 lower…

  174. “Penultimate rifle?” hardly. The US Model of 1917 should make the list. It’s a much better rifle than the ’03 and it served in WWI in greater numbers and persisted into WWII. Hell, it still rides with the Danes in Greenland. Also, the Lee-Enfield SMLE is a far better rifle than the ’03. While the ’03 tops it in accuracy it’s hard to argue with a buttery smooth action backed by 10 rounds of .303. The SMLE is also still in service. Is the ’03? No. And yes, I’ve shot them all, and no argument here about the AK topping the list.

  175. #1- German PT-7; original design of the AK-47
    #2 – FN-FAL standard base line of post WWII military battle issue weapons
    #3 – German H &K G3 individual assault battle rifle
    #4 – Sig Sauer F550 battle rifle.
    #5 – Israel galil battle assault rifle: by product of the AK-47 and the M16.

    The M16 and derivatives are poorly design weapons for the battle field. It need to much maintenance and it does not have sufficient knock down power.

    I am a former U.S Marine. With active combat experience.

    1. I would have put the M-14/M1A ahead of the M-1 Garand. The M1A is in the safe. Heavy rifle and round. M-16 was my Vietnam rifle but the M-14 provided 3 KIAs in quick order.

      I have my-
      Springfield M1A (.308/7.62×51 NATO),
      Ruger Mini-14 (.223),
      Bushmaster AR-15 (.223/5.56 NATO)
      Saginaw M-1 carbine (.30),
      Marlin 336W (30/30),
      Ruger 10/22 (.22LR),
      Ruger M-77 (.22LR),
      Ruger American Rifle (.308)
      Remington 870 (12 GA)

      Not sure what else I might like to have, but I am happy with what I do have.

  176. # 2 comment, if you are in a close up firefight, I will pick up my AK47 first my min 30 next then my AR15 with high capacity mags,the one designed for modern day battle, if i need to eliminate a target 200 to 300 yards then I will use my bolt action 270 or 308.

    1. The M-16 is a good lightweight weapon, that’s easy to care for if you pay attention. It gets the rounds out in a hurry. In Vietnam, I saw it penetrate steel plate, but I also saw rounds deflected by blades of grass, and bounce off of water. We were limited to 20 round magazines. Put that up against a 7.62 AK with a standard 30 round magazine, or 90 round drum and we were facing serious knockdown power. You could beat the heck out of them and they still kept slinging lead, we, dry, muddy, sandy, etc.

      Today, I have a Bushmaster in my safe, and it appears, thanks to Obama, an AK isn’t going to share space with it.

  177. My dad used the M1 Garand in WWII. At his first opportunity, he opted for the M1 Carbine – which didn’t make your list. The Garand was great at long range and packed a punch. However, most firefights occurred at under 100 yards. He said he wanted lots of .30 rounds out bound. He packed numerous magazines and could carry many more. The M1 Carbine was his choice. I found out in boot camp many years later what he meant. On the range the M1 Garand was great. However, in Nam, I wanted lots of rounds out bound. The M16 met that requirement and was a lot lighter to carry.

    1. Jim – Personally, I agree with your Dad. When I entered the USAF in 1967, I started with the M-16 in Basic training. My first duty station in the Air Police/Security Police career field was with the M-16, walking the flightline. It was awkward to carry, as we were not permitted to carry is barrel down unless it was raining. The USAF took away our M-16s in 1968 to be refurbished for the buildup in Vietnam. They issued us M-2 carbines. Much easier to carry and not a lot of weight difference between weapons and ammo… especially considering the size and weight of the radios we carried back in the day. The ammo for both are lightweight punchers. I have an M-1 carbine today which takes a beating and keeps on feeding. I carried the M1 Garand regularly at Travis AFB, as part of the Honor Guard receiving bodies from Vietnam and attending funerals. It was hefty, but tired us out lugging it.

    2. @ Jim.

      If your going to add Carbines, into the discussion. Then I think the Winchester G 30M .30-06Sprngfld. (7x62x63mm), Carbine should also be mentioned.

    3. There are a number of carbines which could be chosen. I think it’s a lot like cars. Some people like Chevys and some like Fords.

      If a rifle does what I want it to do, then I am happy. In Vietnam, I could carry extra ammo, and leave behind things I really didn’t need. The more weight I left behind, the more ammo in the field. Light as it was, I never had an M-16 or 5.56 ammo do what I wanted when I wanted. It’s the old question of more ammo or more power?

      Today, I carry a .45 single stack. It’s only 7 rounds per magazine, but I prefer accuracy over quantity. It’s a personal thing, not a condemnation of anyone who chooses something else to carry.

  178. I love and own a Springfield, but, let’s face it, it is a modified Mauser. It was the Mausers’ performance in Cuba that forced the US Army to come up with a better rifle than what we had. The Springfield may or not have been better than the Mauser, but it served well. And, of course, if we are to talk cartridges, the .30-06 is the most versatile out there, and some of its greatness shines on the Springfield 03.

  179. The 1903 should be disqualified as it was a patent infringement on the 1898 Mauser. The 1898 Mauser and its slight variants, has been in continuous use from its inception to today! It is still solving conflicts in the balkan states due to its accuracy and reliability.

    1. @ Mad dog.

      I don’t no why? Every country that adopted the 98 Mauser design, as their own rifle. Also had their own Caliber as well. And while the Springfield M1903 take is design characteristics form the 98 Mauser. It’s a whole different “Beast”, and with a `40% greater range then the 98 Mauser. Put’s it in a class of itself. Even the Mosin Nagant M9310 gets it’s design parentage from the 98 Mauser, as well.

    2. How do you come up with the 40% greater range statistic? The military issue (most common) 7.9mm ball ammo is essentially the same as the .30-06.
      Once Germany adopted a spritzer (and later fmj-bt) projectiles the difference is minor. Don’t use the data from US sporting ammunition tables, as it is down loaded out of fear. Mausers were used in a wide variety of cartidges including .30-06 and a very heavy Swedish load that outperforms many “modern” cartridges.

    3. @Kivaari – TIC . . . I thought I knew pretty much everything about my K98 history, but must admit that I hadn’t ever heard about that ‘spritzer’ bullet ammo in 8mm (7.92) Wehrmacht standard ammo before.

      Isn’t ‘spritzer’ what you add to a cocktail? . . . any BW ’20/’30s Hollywood movie! I think you likely meant “Spitzer – peak/pointed” bullet . . . which I HAD known about earlier. 😉

  180. The FAL whether in the metric or the inch version has seen more continuous use than the M4 to date. The FAL has also been used for longer and issued to more countries than the M4 as well. It is still the rifle of choice of many countries as compared to the AK or the M4. I would lose the 1903 and move the M4 down a notch but the FAL has to be ranked 2nd in the use over the entire world. It was even the weapon to compete for use when the M14 came about. In testing it beat the M14 but due to national pride of the group doing the selecting after testing the M14 was chosen…..Gotta add the FAL .

  181. If the American Army’s Ordnance Dept. hadn’t have been so block-headed stubborn during the early ’50s, mandating a full power battle cartridge to replace .30-’06 and .303 (eventuating as the 7.62 NATO), we’d have had Saive’s original, small FAL in 8mm Kurz well before the Korean War. IOW, no M-14, no M-16, no large FAL, no need for another LARGE infantry rifle. We would have had an AK-47 beater for the West that would STILL be up to date, today.

  182. The greatest combat rifle of all time was the one that saved your life in battle. Each one had its improvements over the others and some were ahead of their time. 20 years from now there will be another battle rifle that will trump all. In my humble opinion, the M-14 is my overall favorite. It worked in any environment and never failed me.

  183. I’m sorry you’ve bought in to the myth of the Springfield ’03, Dave. You say “the Springfield 1903 saw plenty of action in WWI.” No it didn’t! Pershing wouldn’t let his men go to the front lines with that rifle. When the Americans got to France, their Springfields were replaced by M1917s, for my money the best battle rifle of WW1.

    1. One weakness of the M 1917 is the ejector spring. It is the most frequently broken part. The British P14 introduced that weak link. I suspect to limit the money due the Germans for using patents. Simply using the heavy duty Mauser design would make it a much better rifle.

  184. Are you kidding me? The FN FAL has see. More action and proven reliability over the M16. The M16 suffered from poor reliability and overheating. The FN FAL is the original black rifle !!!

  185. I agree with 4 of the 5, but I would toss the M16 and add the M14. I carried both and the M14 is the toughest weapon ever made.

  186. If I were to make up this list:
    1. 1898 Mauser
    2. AK-47
    3,4 (tie) 91/30 Mosin, Lee -Enfield 3/4/5
    5. Garand

    Others: 1861 Springfield/1853 Enfield (tie) , AR-15/M-16, K-31 Swiss, 1893/1895 Mauser …………… P-14 Enfield/1917 US Enfield, ’03 S’field.

    1. top on my list are:
      1- Ak47
      2- Swedish M41B Sniper rifle
      3 – Swiss K31
      4 and 5 would be M1 and Mosin Nagant

  187. So, the ’03 rated higher than any of the mid to late 1890’s Mausers, even tho the ’03 was largely based on the previous Mauser model, the 1893 Spanish? Only real difference is Springfield felt the need to add the Krag’s cocking piece to the Mauser bolt, a questionable move. Don’t say the .30-’06 cartridge choice makes the ’03 better, either. 6.5 x 55 and 7 x 57 are just as good as military calibers as the ought 6 (maybe even better, as they have less recoil).

    1. Mauser added a “re-cocking” piece to the rifles. That little groove on the right side of the cocking piece is made to hook a cartridge case into so the firing pin can be drawn to the rear. It was a minor addition, that did not add a significant increase in manufacturing time and used less material. Except for old ammo I found that re-cocking is rarely needed. Certainly between 1890s-1940s, the likelihood of needing such a feature was more common. Primers are much better today.

  188. IF the day ever comes, and I find myself in “Zombie-land”….it will be my short scoped, (with night-vision), collapsible stock AR-15, my long scoped plastic stock Remington 770 (30-06), and my Glock 30 with S&W 686 (seven round cylinder, 357 Mag).
    With these trusted firearms, I have consistently shot with dependable accuracy and NEVER a misfire.
    I’m looking to add a AK to my inventory, but there are so many different countries making them that I don’t know how to decide which to pick. Any suggestions?

    1. David – Great choices and I am a fan of the British .303 SMLE, but when you have to whittle the list down to only five…~Dave Dolbee

  189. I was a bit surprised that the M14 was not among the top 5 it had remained the top sniper rifle for the longest time through WWII and Southeast Asia and even later. I personally rate it at the top of any list for accuracy and dependability.

    1. Alan,

      Not a bad choice and it certainly made my short list, plus I carried the M14 while I was in the service. However, as I noted in the article it came down to the M1 and the M14 and historically, I went with the genus. ~Dave Dolbee

    2. I also carried the M14 plus I also used it in competition shooting as part of an marksmanship team. The M14 was the most proficient sniper rifle with open sights of any rifle I have ever shoot. Matter of fact I have my rifle from my competition years and that is some 30 plus years ago.

    3. The M14 had a troubled history. It was a problem child with warped stocks, burning hand guards, poor quality control. When the Army adopted it to replace the M1 rifle, M2 carbine, M1911A! and M3A1 SMG, it was a silly idea. The secretary of defense made the right choice in replacing the M14, even though the early AR15 (not M16) was not developed enough. A great book on the subject is, “The Great Rifle Controversy” by Ezell. The findings of the Icord committee showed how flawed the army testing was.
      It took time but the M4 carbines, Mk12 and Mk18 are great weapons.
      If the AK had good sights, it would be a much better rifle than it is in its normal configuration.

  190. DAVE,
    As I sat here and read your article for the third time sir, I can only agree you made the right choices. I love my AR but would reach for my AK if headed out the door for real ‘business’. Thanks for a well thought out article.

  191. Well, now… we’re talking the “best of all time”, then limit ourselves to one era. Not really sure how that works in “of all time”. Still, these are great choices for the 20th Century as they are all prototypes of that era.
    Going back a little bit, one would have to include the Spencer as being the Number One choice for “of all time”. Or was it the Henry? Gee… even farther back, the “Kentucky” squirrel rifle was a formidable weapon in the hands of all who used it. (Yes, we know the “Kentucky” was actually a “Pennsylvania”.) But should we exclude the Brown Bess just because it was a smooth bore? Gosh… “all time” is a long time…

    1. JSW,

      Agreed, if we broke it up more by era the choice would be drastically different, but not too many Brown Bess’ to be had these days. ~ Dave Dolbee

  192. I agree with all of your choices, except one. Picking the ’03 Springfield over the ’95/’96 Mauser, or (especially) the ’98 Mauser is flat wrong, IMO.

    1. Bill,

      Both made the short list of honorable mentions, and I own both ’96s and ’98s! ~Dave Dolbee

    2. the 1903 Springfield rifle Was made off of the 98 mauser rifle , after Cuba we brought some home, liked the design , and mauser works Sued us for use of their patten design. we paid them for it . 1903-03.

  193. I’m not sure where to squeeze it in, but the FAL deserves a spot. If I had to bump one, it would be the 03…but that still is a great rifle. Tough choice, but great list!

    1. Chefjon,
      No doubt about it, the FAL would be a great choice. However, I would say the FAL was more in line with the M1 and between the two I would pick the M1 hands down…~Dave Dolbee

    2. the fn-fal has a lot of small parts in the trigger group , some of which will stop it from working if lost,good strong gun.

  194. TOUGH CALL: Hardly any rifle is an all purpose. My love is still in .308. I do believe the 30-06 is just as good. More modern rifles pulls you around to the .308 though. Heavy load on the cartridges in the field as with the 30-06 so you then start to look more closely at the .223 variants. Im not choosing an AR in standard cal because at some point you may not be able to find ammo as readily. I do like the AR in .223. It works and has that advantage of light ammo to carry around. As I said, tough call. There just is not an all purpose rifle.

  195. I feel sort of cool and comforted to know I own 3 out the 5 types listed here. I have several of each – Mosin Nagant, ARs, and AKs.

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