What Is The Best All Around Rifle If You Could Only Have 1?

If you are looking for a top-quality rifle that can be extremely versatile and offers the best all around rifle performance, then this is the article for you.
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Picking a best in class rifle is what we all want to accomplish, but sometimes we are looking for a performer in a field we aren’t too experienced in. Sometimes we hear only one side of the story before we buy, and we come to find out later that what we bought is far too niche for us. Sometimes we just want to explore what is out there. This article addresses these concerns. 

If you are looking for a top-quality rifle that can be extremely versatile and offers the best all around rifle performance, then this is the article for you. In the following recommendations you will find a great list of rifles with very good potential, and each will have a specific use case that makes it a very good choice. With that use case will come a designated caliber that we feel does the job exceptionally well. There may be a couple in the category because the field is so voluminous. Either way, there is a very nice list of premium best in class rifles that signify an all-around field of performers.

Best All Around Rifle Comparison

Rifle Caliber Weight (lbs)​ Capacity Barrel Length Length
Marlin 1895SBL 45-70 Government 8 6 18.5" 37"
Savage 112 Magnum Target .338 LM 12 1 26" 49.75"
Ruger 10/22 Takedown Lite .22LR 4.5 10+1 16" 34.6"
Browning BL-22 Rimfire .22LR 5 15+1 20" 36.75"
Century Arms RAS47 Zhukov 7.62x39mm 7.22 30+1 16.5" 25.25 - 37.25"
Q - Honey Badger 300 AAC Blackout 5.7 30+1 16" 29-34"
Heckler Koch MR762A1 .308 Winchester 9.85 10+1 16.6" 35.94"
Daniel Defense DDM4V11 5.56 mm NATO 6.28 30+1 16 32.25-35.8"
Ruger Precision 6.5 Creedmoor 10.7 10+1 24 43.25-46.75"

Marlin Model 1895SBL

MARLIN - 1895SBL

This is a surprise for a lot of people reading this list probably, but it is one of the most versatile guns ion the planet, regardless of use case. For that matter, it’s probably surprising that we chose two very high powered rifle cartridges for the two best all-around hunting rifles.  

This lever-action is rugged, proven, almost single-handedly revitalized the levergun market segment when it was released, and is built around a cartridge that has historically, and can currently, be used for game from 200 lbs to 1400 lbs, from deer to the largest North American Bear. It is fast to fire, easy to handle and built to last. If there was a single gun in contention for most versatility, this would be high on the list. 

Pros:

  • Easy to carry and maneuver
  • Incredibly versatile cartridge with factory loads ranging the entire spectrum
  • Very durable

Cons:

  • Less accurate than some of the top picks on this list, even if the trajectory and ballistics of the cartridge are very predictable and easy to accommodate

This is best for:

Hunting use

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Savage 112 Magnum Target

Savage 112 Magnum Target​

Because of the heavy recoil and the expensive per shot cost, this is a gun that we wouldn’t ordinarily put on the list, but the capability of the round and the extreme value of the rifle from Savage makes this an easy inclusion. No other .338 Lapua has this kind of value. Most .338LM are priced at over 4 times as much money as this rifle’s MSRP.

No other mainstream cartridge has more innovation right now for long range precision shooting, and the performance is firmly understood, so the cartridge is going nowhere.

Furthermore, this caliber is usable all over the globe from Alaska to Michigan to South Africa to Eurasia. You can hunt anything considered big game with it, including Africa’s Big Six dangerous game.

Pros:

  • Very inexpensive gun relative to peers

  • Cartridge is proven for major distances and on heavy game

Cons:

  • It’s not the highest quality or most accurate rifle you can get for the venerable .338LM, even if it is a sub 1.25MOA rifle

  • Very expensive to shoot on a per shot basis

This is best for:

Hunting use

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Ruger 10/22 Takedown Lite

Few guns have come anywhere close to putting as many smiles on shooter’s faces as the Ruger 10-22. In fact, it may be one of the most popular guns in history. The accessory market, availability to cheap ammunition and high reliability and accuracy makes this a legitimate choice for all shooters looking for a fine firearm at a decent price. For fun seekers who want to shoot a lot, there are few guns that can compete with the overall performance of the Ruger 10-22.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive to own and shoot in large volumes

  • Very robust accessory market

  • Super versatile

Cons:

  • No real Cons

This is best for:

General fun

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Browning BL-22 Rimfire Rifle

Browning BL-22 Rimfire Rifle​

Browning is a little bit of class, and a lot of performance, with a gorgeous fit and finish that constantly reminds you of the time and effort put into the guns at factory. This gun is on another level compared to most rimfires. It is easy to shoot, cheap to use and offers a lot of versatility. The gun is easy to handle for new shooters and allows for a high-volume shooting load. It is also accurate and reliable, so your range trips aren’t wasted praying and crossing your fingers that the gun will perform like you want it to.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous fit and finish

  • Easy for everyone to use

  • Legacy build quality

Cons:

  • It is still just a .22LR, so there is a bit less versatility in use cases

This is best for:

General fun

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Century Arms RAS47 Zhukov Rifle

Century Arms RAS47 Zhukov Rifle​

No “best of” rifle list would be complete without an AK variant. It is among the most well known and most beloved battle rifles in history. We chose this, not as a military style weapon (though it would have been our third choice) but instead as a home defense rifle, because the caliber is good for the use case; the small overall size is easily maneuverable in a home and it is proven to be reliable. All these attributes make it one of the best all-around home defense rifles in history, to go along with hundreds of other accolades this timeless design has received.

Pros:

  • Few more proven rifles have ever been built

  • Reliability is key to a home defense firearm

  • The caliber is good for the use case

Cons:

  • No Cons really

This is best for:

Home defense

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Q - Honey Badger

Q - Honey Badger​

If you are willing to spend the money and you understand how to use it properly, the .300 AAC Blackout is hands down the finest short range (CQB) ammunition choice available. It offers suppressible sound; heavy grain weights; substantial velocity; no real danger of overpenetration; and a robust market for the round. It is simple, intuitive, and when built right with the right accessories; a suppressor and special load varieties few calibers or firearms could keep up with the performance.

If you aren’t willing to customize the rifle or consider a suppressor, there may be other options that make more sense to homeowners looking to protect their homes and loved ones.

Pros:

  • Excellent design that is lightweight and maneuverable

  • A near perfect caliber for 15-50 feet, that still offers rifle ballistics

  • Based on the AR platform, so it’s customizable beyond belief

Cons:

  • A bit pricey

This is best for:

Home defense

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Heckler Koch MR762A1

Heckler Koch MR762A1​

Very expensive, but with few peers for intermediate caliber tactical shooting, with reliability on another level. This is a top tier item used by some of the most elite forces in the world. The caliber, accuracy, reliability and history of this rifle means it is something very special. Yes, it looks a lot like an overgrown AR-15, but it’s performance and reliability; not to mention durability, makes it so much more. If you can stomach the price and find one that isn’t waitlisted, then this is a fine choice for any shooter who wants good firepower and reliability.

Pros:

  • Serious credentials

  • Durability and reliability that has no peers

  • An instantly rare and sought-after firearm

Cons:

  • Very expensive, even if it does have a very unique value proposition

This is best for:

Using as a military style rifle.

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Daniel Defense DDM4V11

Daniel Defense DDM4V11​

No “best of” rifle list would be complete without the penultimate choice in a modular and therefore customizable gun: the AR15. This is among the better factory builds and the price is very good for what you get. A massive aftermarket makes customization a fun project and the resulting personalization makes this rifle a significant option. The caliber is relatively inexpensive to shoot, and this is the most versatile small caliber, high powered rifle ever made.

Pros:

  • AR15 is a perfect design for the moniker “best all-around”

  • Maker is a legitimate producer of high-volume, high-quality firearms

Cons:

  • Starting to get a bit pricey for a simple design that you will already want to drop another $1000 on to customize it heavily

This is best for:

Using as a military style rifle.

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Ruger Precision - 6.5 Creedmoor

Ruger Precision - 6.5 Creedmoor​

The 6.5 Creedmoor is among the most accurate mainstream cartridges available. It wasn’t chosen because if it the most accurate cartridge ever; rather because it is extremely versatile, while simultaneously being incredibly accurate. For target use there are few guns that can hit the target at the range or with the accuracy that this gun can, while still being quite durable, usable on game and fun to shoot.

The round is still a bit more expensive to shoot because of the lower relative volume of production, but it will get better. The best all-around rifle for target shooting right now is the Ruger Precision 6.5 Creedmoor in a moderate barrel length.

Pros:

  • An improving cartridge availability

  • Superior accuracy to most high-power cartridges

  • Only moderate to low recoil

  • A ton of adjustability on the rifle to enhance accuracy

  • A sub MOA rifle

Cons:

  • Somewhat pricey to buy and shoot

This is best for:

Target rifle use.

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What makes a good All-around Rifle design?

Clearly, build quality will be a top priority. Having something built well, and with attention to detail will be required before any rifle could be considered to be on a “best of list”. Given the steep competition in rifles though, it should also have some metric of value delivery, whether that means it is cheap with solid attributes, or whether it means it has excellent innovation, or whether it is a premium version of the best choice. It should be well-suited to the use case and have a history of performance. Innovation means nothing if it doesn’t deliver on promises. 

A best all-around rifle should be something you could be happy owning, even if it were your “one gun”. It doesn’t mean you can only have a single gun, but that the balance and performance the rifle can deliver, is sufficient to make it a legacy gun.

Is there really such a thing as the best all around rifle?

More than an all-around rifle that is “best”, it’s more of a very good version of a very good cartridge platform. That is, a rifle that is very well made with all the right design aspects and built on a cartridge platform that is versatile and allows for a lot of use cases. What we’ve done here is to break the “Best all-around rifles” down into categories based on use cases and calibers, and then we have chosen a rifle that best displays the characteristics that the pairing demands. Thus, you will have a very good choice for a best all-around rifle in a number of different use cases, which utilize a cartridge well suited for that use case and has a great performance potential in that space.

Since it’s so versatile, what can I use it for?

Hunting use:

The best all-around hunting rifle will be a rifle that is capable of taking a wide range of game, without being too weak and without being overpowered, to ensure humane kills, and promote a good experience on a hunt. This will mean it is accurate, durable, somewhat lightweight and easy to use. It will also be a gun that will last a long time and has a proven track record.

General fun:

The type of rifle that will have you grinning ear to ear when you shoot it, will be something that can be shot a lot, without too much money, and can easily get other people into shooting. It will be a balanced rifle that can do a lot of things well. Generally, it won’t be built around a heavy recoiling cartridge.

Home Defense:

Made to stop the threat and give you the best chance of protecting your loved ones and property, this rifle will be built in a way that improves your capabilities through unique design features or by providing a good harmony between handling and stopping power. It will also be easy to move with and not a difficult gun to fire or put a second round on target. Accessorizing and customization will also be important.

Military Style rifle:

Military style rifles have seen a lot of love over the years. It’s because they have credibility. They have been to battlefields all over the world and have proven track records. They are generally easy to understand and maintain, and they usually shoot an ammunition that is competitively priced, or even cheap to shoot.

Generally, you will find the better military surplus or military style rifles will be great for all aspects of, and have a very good balance between, shooting styles and disciplines. From target shooting, to plinking, to hunting, the best all-around military style rifles will be very capable of delivering results.

Target Rifle:

This is a rifle capable of extreme accuracy and made to shoot sub minute of angle in most conditions at moderate to long ranges. It is a rifle that prioritizes accuracy over all else, and it is not necessarily a cheap to shoot gun. It should perform well with all types of ammunition, even bargain priced loads. It should also be something that is generally enjoyable to shoot without being too hard to handle. Recoil is less of an issue than for guns that will be shot a lot in each session, but it is still a factor. The gun should not be recoil heavy if avoidable.

Below are the offerings, with a brief statement about where they fit into the list of best all-around rifles, by the categories laid out above. The section titled “This is Best For” will cover the category it fits int

Conclusion

Clearly, it’s difficult to pick a single gun that can do it all for every use case. But we didn’t have to. We just needed to offer you some choice in the matter. We tried to pick calibers and attributes that made the most sense for the use case. Any of these rifles can be used as a dedicated “target rifle” as all of them have good or better accuracy. None are particularly “expensive” to shoot, except for the .338 Lapua Magnum, but the benefits of the cartridge give extreme capabilities for the largest game in the world. The choices here reflect a diverse and capable field of rifles, and each is a top tier firearm in its own right.

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