The 10 Best Rifle Systems

If you were to choose a weapon in which to defend your life and property, which one might you choose; a pistol, a shot gun, or a rifle?

While I can’t make that decision for you, I can show and explain to you the different types of guns that could make you life a little safer.

But where do we start? Let’s start with what I know best…. rifles, especially those that are used for the long range hunt.

So here is my list of the best rifle systems available, my top 10 so to speak.

10. M24 Sniper Weapons System (U.S.A)

The M24 (SWS) is the military and police version of the Remington 700 rifle, M24 being the model name assigned by the U.S. Army after adoption as their standard sniper rifle in 1988. The M24 is referred to as a “weapons system” because it consists of not only a rifle, but also a detachable telescopic sight and other accessories. The M24 SWS has the “long-action” bolt version of the Remington 700 receiver but is chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO “short-action” cartridge. The “long-action” allows the rifle to be re-configured for a dimensionally larger cartridge.

Considering that in younger days I shot over a thousand rounds using this gun gives me some perspective and knowledge of the history on this bad boy and this one has been transformed over the years.

Originally this weapon came tapped for the Leupold Ultra M3A 10×42mm fixed-power scope, which came with a circle-shaped mil-dot glass-etched reticle.

The barrel is made of 416R Stainless Steel. The bore twist is 1-turn-in-11.25 inches and the rifling is five radial lands and grooves (5-R) with a right-hand (RH) twist. Because of the odd number of lands, none of the lands are 180° apart, i.e. in direct opposition. While there is some difference of opinion on this, the results show this means less bullet deformation, which (at least in theory) produces more consistent point of impact. In 5-R rifling, the “side” of the land is cut at a 65° angle, rather than 90° in conventional rifling. This results in less barrel fouling, and more consistent point of impact, compared to conventional rifling when relatively high numbers of rounds are fired between cleaning, as might be expected in military applications.

Although the original stock was walnut which proved to be a problem in the conditions in which it was used; the stock was altered to a polymer foam reinforced with fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar to reduce weight and then painted with a heavy duty polane paint however walnut can still be found on some models.

The maximum effective range is given as 800 meters (875 yd), but record shots have been made with the M24 at over 1,000 meters (1,094 yd). My experience with this rifle was at somewhere between 300 and 600 meters using .300 Winchester Magnum with minimal deflection. Because of the difficulty in obtaining ammunition of this caliber, I had to retreat to a 7.62 round and reconfigured rifle.

Pricing is variable from $1200.00 to $12,000.00 from standard to custom.


9. Knight’s Armament Company SR-25 (U.S.A)

The SR-25 (Stoner Rifle-25) is a semi-automatic special application sniper rifle designed by Eugene Stoner and manufactured by Knight’s Armament Company. The SR-25 uses a rotating bolt and a direct impingement gas system. It is loosely based on Stoner’s AR-10, rebuilt in its original 7.62x51mm NATO caliber. Up to 60% of parts of the SR-25 are interchangeable with the AR-15 and M16 – everything but the upper and lower receivers, the hammer, the barrel assembly and the bolt carrier group. SR-25 barrels were originally manufactured by Remington Arms with its 5R (5 grooves, rounded) rifling, with twist 1:11.25 (1 complete turn in 11.25 inches or 286 millimetres). The heavy 20 in (510mm) barrel is free-floating, so hand guards are attached to the front of the receiver and do not touch the barrel. I like this rifle. It is economical to own and shoot.

Pricing is about $4500.00

8. L42A1 Enfield (U.K.)

The L42A1 was a British Army sniper rifle chambered for the 7.62mm NATO cartridge which entered service in 1970. It served until replacement by the Accuracy International L96 in 1985. It was the last model in a long and famous line of Lee bolt action rifles using the rear-locking action designed by James Paris Lee to serve the British Army, which had first entered service in the Lee-Metford rifle of 1888. During its British Army service, the L42A1 saw active service during several conflicts including the Dhofar Rebellion in Oman, The Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Falklands War and Gulf War.

Production of the “Enforcer” and L42 rifles ceased circa 1985, and it was replaced in military service by Accuraly Intl. L96A1 rifle.

I was lucky enough to shot this one and this is one impressive weapon considering its history and age. Simple to take apart and maintain. Most today are collector pieces.

Price can range from $200 to $700.


7. M21 (U.S.A.)

The M21 Weapon System (SWS) is the semi-automatic sniper rifle adaptation of the M14 rifle. It is chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. The United States Army wanted an accurate long range rifle during the Vietnam War. The M14 was selected because of its accuracy, reliability, and the ability for a quick follow up shot. As a result, in 1969, the Rock Island Arsenal converted 1,435 National Match (target grade) M14s by adding a Leatherwood 3-9x Adjustable Ranging Telescope and providing National Match grade ammunition. This version, called the XM21, had a specially selected walnut stock and was first fielded in the second half of 1969. An improved version with a fiberglass stock was designated the M21 in 1975. Wood was not a good choice for the southeast Asian climate. The M21 remained the Army’s primary sniper rifle until 1988, when it was replaced by the M24 Sniper Weapon System; some M21s were later re-issued and used in the Iraq War.

Another weapon that I got to play with in my younger days and not one I liked that much…. I didn’t care for the case eject system which left the shooter exposed when the casing flew out and up. It did provide a secondary use at closer ranges.

Price range about $3500.00 used.

6. Heckler & Koch PSG1 (Germany)

The PSG1 (“precision shooter rifle”) is a semi-automatic long range rifle. The PSG1 is mechanically based on the G3 rifle and features a low-noise bolt closing device (similar to the forward assist on many M16 rifles). Its shot-to-shot variation is expected to be better than 1 minute of angle (MOA) with match ammunition. Although this level of accuracy is unremarkable in modern semi-automatic rifles, it was claimed that the PSG1 was “one of the most accurate semi-automatic sniper rifles in the world.” PSG1s are not supplied with iron sights but come equipped with the Hensoldt ZF6x42PSG1 scope with an illuminated reticle. The scope has a built-in range adjustment feature which can be adjusted from 100 to 600 m. It has a heavy free-floating barrel with polygonal rifling and an adjustable stock.

A shooters gun but I was never trilled with the accuracy at 600 yards.

5. Dragunov SVD (Soviet Union)

The Dragunov rifle (“Sniper Rifle, System of Dragunov, Model of the Year 1963”) is a semi-automatic long range rifle/designated marksman rifle chambered in 7.62x54mmR and developed in the Soviet Union. The Dragunov was designed as a squad support weapon since, according to Soviet and Soviet-derived military doctrines, the long-range engagement ability was lost to ordinary troops when submachine guns and assault rifles (which are optimized for close-range and medium-range, rapid-fire combat) were adopted. For that reason, it was originally named “Self-Loading Rifle, System of Dragunov, Model of the Year 1963.”

The weapon is fed from a curved box magazine with a 10-round capacity and the cartridges are double-stacked in a checker pattern.

The accuracy requirements demanded of the SVD with long range grade ammunition are similar to the American M24 Weapon System with M118SB cartridges.

The Dragunov is an original rifle design. What I mean by that is that it was not meant for highly trained and specialized teams, but rather for designated marksmen. These marksmen were often chosen from personnel who did well in terms of rifle marksmanship while members of DOSAAF. Such marksmen were estimated to have a 50% probability of hitting a standing, man-sized target at 800 m (875 yd), and an 80% probability of hitting a standing, man-sized target at 500 m (547 yd). For distances not exceeding 200 m (219 yd) the probability was estimated to be well above 90%. To attain this level of accuracy the sniper could not engage more than two such targets per minute.

The rifle was meant to be a relatively cheap mass-produced firearm.

4. Accuracy International AS50 (U.K.)

The AS50 is a .50 BMG sniper/anti-materiel rifle manufactured by British firearms producer Accuracy International. The AS50 enables operators to engage targets at very long range with high accuracy using explosive or incendiary ammunition. The AS50 employs a gas operated semi-automatic action and muzzle brake, allowing for lower recoil than the AW50 bolt action rifle and faster target acquisition. The rifle is highly transportable, ergonomic and lightweight. It can be disassembled in less than three minutes and serviced without tools. The AS50 is designed for the British Armed Forces and United States Navy SEALs, the rifle is employed due to its high rate of fire (five rounds in 1.6 seconds). This high rate of fire is due mostly to the floating barrel and the lightweight titanium frame.

The rifle is highly transportable, ergonomic and lightweight. It can be disassembled in less than three minutes and serviced without tools.

The rifle has an accuracy of 1.5 MOA (minutes of arc). The barrel is free-floating. The two-part machined steel receiver features an integral accessory rail for mounting optical sights. Two additional rails are mounted on the sides of the short barrel shroud. An adjustable bipod and rear support leg/hand grip allow for stable shooting. This weapon can accurately engage targets at a range of 1,500 meters (1,600 yd).

3. CheyTac Intervention .408 (U.S.A.)

The CheyTac Intervention an American bolt action sniper rifle manufactured by CheyTac LLC. It is fed by a 7-round detachable single stack magazine. It fires .408 Chey Tac or .375 Chey Tac ammunition. CheyTac LLC states that the system is capable of delivering sub-MOA accuracy at ranges of up to 2,500 yards (2,300 m), one of the longest ranges of all modern-day long range rifle systems.. It is based on the EDM Arms Windrunner. The Intervention holds the world record for best group at a distance, landing 3 bullets within 16-5/8 inches at 2,321 yards near Arco in Idaho. On the Discovery Channel TV show Future Weapons, the April 9, 2007 episode “Massive Attack’ the host Richard Machowicz, a former United States Navy SEAL, made 3 out of 6 shots, hitting a human-sized sheet of metal at a distance of 2,530 yards at Arco Pass in Idaho. CheyTac states that “the CheyTac LRRS is a solid anti-personnel system to 2,000 yards.”

I haven’t shot this one…. but would love to…. This one is on my wish list……

2. Accuracy International AWM (U.K.)

We have come a long way baby…..

Designated L115A3 AWM (Arctic Warfare Magnum) is a bolt-action long range rifle system manufactured by Accuracy International designed for magnum rifle cartridge chamberings. The Accuracy International AWM is also unofficially known as the AWSM (Arctic Warfare Super Magnum), which typically denotes AWM rifles chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. In November 2009, British Army sniper Corporal of Horse (CoH) Craig Harrison, a member of the Household Cavalry, set the current record for longest recorded kill by killing two Taliban machine gunners consecutively south of Musa Qala in Helmand Province in Afghanistan at a range of 2,707 yards using a L115A3 Long Range Rifle.

Price range $8000 to $17500.00 custom.

1. Barrett M82 (U.S.A.)

The M82, standardized by the US Military as the M107, is a recoil-operated, semi-automatic anti-materiel rifle developed by the American Barrett Firearms Manufacturing company. Designated as a heavy SASR (Special Application Scoped Rifle), it is used by many units and armies around the world. It is also called the “Light Fifty” for its .50 BMG (12.7x99mm NATO) chambering. The weapon is found in two variants, the original M82A1 (and A3) and the bullpup M82A2. The M82A2 is no longer manufactured, though the XM500 can be seen as its successor. The M82 is a short recoil semi-automatic firearm. When the gun is fired, the barrel initially recoils for a short distance, before being securely locked by the rotating bolt.

Price a little over $10,000 to $18000 custom.

God Bless and Good Shooting

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