The Marlin Model 336 was designed in 1948 for hunters to effectively take down targets in wooded areas at ranges up to 300 yards. The rifle was a staple for the Marlin company because it introduced a few features that most Marlin firearms did not have; the semi pistol grip wooden stock, side ejection, and a solid top receiver. Chambered commonly in .30-30 Winchester and .35 Remington, the 336 was heavier than most lever action hunting rifles of the time, a total of 7lbs, which gave a steadier base for accurate shooting. It’s one of the reasons Marlin is only second to Winchester for reputation amongst lever actions.
Number 9: Kel-Tec SUB-2000
The Kel-Tec SUB-2000 is an affordable, blow-back operated, magazine fed, semi-automatic carbine. It is chambered in the 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and .45 ACP pistol rounds, and a swappable frame allows shooters to not only exchange ammunition between their carbine and pistol, but entire magazines. Unloaded, the mainly synthetic polymer rifle weights four pounds, almost half that of most rifles. With it’s ability to fold in half for easy storage and share ammo with a pistol, the Kel-Tec has become a very popular option for Law Enforcement, offering quick firepower in a handy package. It’s a great carbine to extend existing firepower granted by a pistol, and a perfect low-profile bugout gun.
Designed in 1891, the Mosin-Nagant was the answer for the Soviet Union’s struggle to find a repeating rifle to replace their single shot infantry weapons that had proved grossly outdated during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877. The historic value of the Nagant is virtually endless. The Mosin-Nagnt was the Soviet Union’s first reliable repeating rifle, and it was produced in large enough numbers to still be found on battlegrounds over a century later. Even in the civilian market, sealed rifles can be bought for less than $100 at most places.
Though far from comfortable out of the box, the Mosin is one of the more customizable surplus firearms on the market, and it’s upgrades can be just as cheap as the base rifle. Weighing in at roughly 9lbs, the Mosin-Nagant still kicks hard with it’s powerful 7.62x54r chambering. It’s a rugged rifle that takes a tough shooter to utilize well, but it’s reliability and low cost have made the Mosin a hot seller.
Number 7: Ruger Mini-14
The Ruger Mini-14, often called the “Ranch Rifle”, was introduced in 1974 and designed to simply be a miniature version of the US military’s M14, hence Mini-14. With the ease of use and reliable action, the Ranch Rifle quickly became a popular choice of small-game hunters, ranchers, law enforcement, security personnel and target shooters. However, the design is not without flaws: the magazines are completely proprietary, the light barrel leads to a wandering zero, and the sights are not especially rugged.
Despite this, it’s inexpensive design has easily become one of the easiest to modify and accessorize, with a multitude of first and third party modifications available. The original rifle was made in .223/5.56mm, with variants as diverse as the AC-556 fully automatic assault rifle, or the Mini-30, chambered in the Russian 7.62x39mm.
The M1 Garand was the first semi-automatic rifle to become military general issue in any nation in the world. The Garand proved to be a highly efficient killer compared to the prior US service rifle, the M1903 Springfield, as well as other rifles of the era, such as the Karabiner 98 Kurz and the Enfield SMLE No. 4 (Short Magazine, Lee Enfield), it’s autoloading action giving a decisive edge in firefights. The internal magazine was loaded by means of an en bloc clip containing 8 rounds of .30-06 Springfield ammunition. By proving itself through World War II, the Korean War, and some of Vietnam, the M1 Garand earned its reputation as “the greatest battle implement ever devised”, as quoted by General George Patton.
Today, though more expensive than before, Garands are not horribly uncommon. Compared to other designs, the En-Bloc feeding system is pretty cumbersome, but one would be hard pressed to find a rifle that would hit as hard, or as accurately in a reasonble package.
Number 5: AR-15/M16
The modern AR-15 is the civilian legal version of the ever popular US military M16A2, M16A4, and M4 Carbine service rifles. Being the first rifle to use modern polymers to reduce weight, the AR-15 has an incredibly easy method for field stripping and cleaning, requiring only the user’s fingers to disassemble. Firing the 5.56x45mm NATO round, the effective range of the AR-15 is 600 yards, and speaking from personal experience, hitting a torso sized target at 500 yards is rather easy. With numerous accessories, receivers, and models available, the AR-15 is probably the most prolific rifle of the civilian market, and a dominant force in the field of law enforcement. It’s controls are also suited to many kinds of shooters, being easy to manipulate in all types of conditions.
One would be hard pressed to find, an if not more perfect rifle, then most definitely a more flexible one.
The H&K G3 was born out of the combined ideas of 3 foreign weapons manufacturers towards the end of World War II. The German company Heckler & Koch borrowed ideas from CETME of Spain and Fabrique Nationale de’Herstal of Belgium to create the first long lasting battle rifle of Germany’s history. Technologically, the G3 introduced firearms enthusiasts to safety features that modern militaries consider standard, such as a select fire mechanism (safe, semi, and fully automatic) and a spring system that prevented the bolt from bouncing off of the breech while a new round was being chambered. Chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO, the H&K G3’s roller delayed blowback created a reliable, accurate action, though one with a tendency to destroy brass. (not a concern for the military, bad for those on a budget!)
It’s variants span weapons like the famous MP-5 series of sub machine guns, the H&K 21 belt fed machine gun, the H&K 33 5.56mm assault rifle, and the MSG90 and PSG1 precision sniper variant. As sign of effective design, the G3 still serves as a front-line infantry rifle in 56 countries.
Number 3: Remington 700
The first true “sniper rifle” on the list, the Remington 700 has more variations than any other firearm listed here, including the AR-15. First produced in 1962, the 700 was intended to be mass produced in many different platforms to fill the needs of varmint hunters all the way up to anti-light armor applications in wartime. Chambered in 28 different calibers ranging between .17 Remington through the colossal .338 Lapua Magnum and .458 Winchester Magnum, with a staggering variety of stocks, barrels, and accessories, the average shooter is hard pressed to find a Remington 700 that doesn’t fit their shooting needs. Currently, 90% of the United States’ law enforcement agency’s sharpshooters use a Remington 700 or a similar rifle based on the original Remington 700 design, earning it the title of the most widely used modern tactical bolt-action rifle.
You’re now looking at the one gun that has killed more human beings than any other in the history of existence. With the Soviet Union facing the brutality of Nazi Germany’s weapon technology, namely the StG-44 assault rifle, the Red Army began designing a weapon with that would bridge the gap between sub machine gun and rifle. It’s sheer effectiveness was demonstrated in the Korean War against crack American G.I.s in the hands of Chinese troops, and the Russians were saddled with a rifle not only iconic of their own nation, but of war itself. Through seventy years of use as the most widely used assault rifle in the world, the AK-47 has become a symbol of terror and oppression, as well as that of revolution and change. It is one of the strongest symbols that humans can conjure.
While the “true” AK-47 is chambered in 7.62x39mm, the sheer number of countries that have recreated this weapon have opened the shooting world to a wide variety of calibers and accessories for the AK-47 while still making it affordable enough for the average civilian to own more than one. Aside from the ingenious design, the AK-47 is extremely cheap and easy to manufacture, is incredibly durable, and is almost childishly easy to use. It is commonly criticized for low accuracy at range, but an AK-47 is a rifle that will fight just as well or better as a comparable design at anything up to three hundred yards.
Number 1: M1 Carbine
Often said to be a miniature M1 Garand, the Carbine was actually build from scratch by the Winchester Gun Company during World War Two. However, the relation wasn’t totally unfounded, as the M1 Carbine maintained a very similar outward appearance, and even bore size. The M1 Carbine was never designed to be a general issue infantry rifle, but a weapon easier to handle than a rifle, but granting longer range than a pistol or sub machine gun. That’s right – the M1 Carbine is the same class of weapon as the P90 or the MP7. At the time of it’s implementation, the Carbine replaced the M1911A1 pistol as the defense weapon of cooks, drivers, and non combat personnel. However, it’s ideal handling characteristics and increased range made it a favorite for high-mobility troops such as paratroopers. Nearly thirty years later, the Carbine was still being used in the Vietnam war, with a thirty-round “banana magazine” and fully automatic fire, as the M2 and M3 Carbine.
Being the first weapon to use non corrosive primer ammunition, the M1 Carbine was a godsend to the Marines in the Pacific campaign where barrel and chamber corrosion was a major factor in weapon efficiency, effectively ushering in the age of modern non-corrosive ammunition. The M1 Carbine was also highly praised by paratroopers over France due to the mobility offered by an optional folding stock which at the time was an original idea for a rifle. The mix of high mobility, mid range accuracy, and ease of use made the M1 Carbine a very popular choice for soldier and civilian alike – not bad for a design that hasn’t changed in over seventy years.