Top 10 Combat Rifles

I’m watching the Top 10 Combat Rifles on Top Tens on the Discovery Military Channel.  As you might have guessed, they’re making a list of the Top 10 Combat rifles in history.  Since I’m bored, I’m going to blog it as it goes.

10.  The M-14.  Interesting choice.  Honestly, the M-14 wouldn’t make a top ten list of rifles that I’d put together.  Most of the pundits are talking about the stopping power of the M-14, as well as it’s accuracy.  I’d agree with both of those points, it is accurate and powerful.  There’s a lot of hyperbole about it’s knockdown power and “massive recoil”.

9.  The Sturmgewehr 44.  Ah, the father of the assault rifle.  I’m definitely on board with this pick; the historical value of the StG-44 alone should place it on anyone’s top ten list.  On a side note, looking at the StG-44, you can really see the resemblence to the HK G3.

8.  1903 Springfield.  Another interesting choice; although at number 8 I can only assume that the Mausers on which it was based will show up higher on the list.  There are some good arguments for this rifle, and at number 8, that seems reasonable.

7.  Steyr AUG.  This is the first choice that I really disagree with.  Sure, I wouldn’t have put the M14 on a top ten list, but I certainly wouldn’t have ranked the Steyr AUG above the M-14 on anyone’s list.  I’d call this the fanboy vote if I’d call it anything.

6.  Mauser Model 98K.  The only comment I really have about this rifle is that I’m surprised that it’s not higher up on the list than number six.

5.  FN FAL.  Unlike the M-14, the FN FAL was a successful 7.62 NATO battle rifle.  You can still find FN FALs in the hands of freedom fighters all over the world.

4.  M1 Garand.  Putting the “greatest battle implement” at number seems like kind of a travesty to me.  On any list that I’d put together, the Garand is top three for sure.

3.  Lee Enfield SMLE.  Pefectly logical choice for number three.  I won’t contest the SMLE being in the top three of any list of the greatest rifles ever designed.

 – Note: We’re at a commercial break right now, who wants to bet me that number two and number one will be the M-16, and the AK47, in that order?  Any takers?

Back from commerical, I knew it, the M-16 is number 2.

2.  M-16.  You know honestly, I can’t talk shit about this choice.  It’s been in service for over 40 years, and has probably taken out more enemy combatants than any other US service rifle in history.  Once they corrected the issues with the ammo, it really is worthy of the number 2 spot, and on some people’s lists, the number 1 spot.  These days, there are probably more AR-15 pattern rifles being made than almost any other platform.

1.  AK47.  For the record, I’m typing this before the show actually tells me that the AK is number one, but it’s a foregone conclusion at this juncture.  We’re at a commercial right now; so I’m just waiting for my prediction to come true.  Oh, we’re back from commericals, and there it is, the Kalashnikov.

Intersting show, although as you can see I disagree with some of their picks.  If I were picking, the list would have included the Mosin-Nagant, and not the AUG, and replaced the M-14 with the Israeli Galil.  Because you’re going to ask, my top ten list would look like this:

  1. The M1 Garand – the father of the semi-auto combat rifle
  2. M16/AR15 pattern rifles
  3. Kalashnikov pattern rifles
  4. SMLE
  5. Mauser 98k
  6. StG-44
  7. Galil
  8. Mosin-Nagant
  9. FN FAL
  10. ’03 Springfield

Now show me yours.


  1. I agree that the AUG does not belong there at all. What’s so special about it?

    M14 is based off the M1 Garand. Not sure it really belongs there either.

  2. My secret suspicion is that the AUG is on there because it owned the bullpup fanboy vote; which is fine, but in terms of great battle/assault rifles, I don’t see it having a place on the list.

    Someone sent me an email saying that the M-14 was basically a .308 M1 Garand with an external magazine. Which, is, well, pretty damn accurate, actually.

  3. You could probably take the Springfield off that list as it is based off the Mauser design.

    I think the M1 Carbine might qualify, though mostly for being lightweight.

  4. I would take the ’03 Springfield off the the list, and replace it with another Springfield.
    The Civil War 1861 Springfield musket. Hey, we’re talking combat rifles in general right, not just 20th century combat rifles.
    The 1861 Springfield was the most popular rifle of the Civil War, with over 1.5 million produced. It was one of the first combat firearm to use a rifled barrel instead of smoothbore, and it was the first to use a bullet shaped projectile instead of a round ball. The combination made the Springfield far more accurate in battle then any previous firearm.

  5. I agree, your revised list is much more accurate. It surprised me that the Mosin wasn’t included on the original show.

    If you’re located around central Indiana and want to meet up for some range time, shoot me an email: red450 AT (gmail) DOT com

    My friend has a decent strip of land near Kokomo and he’s always willing to get some range time.

  6. I’ve always liked the M-14 and the fact that it’s making something of a comeback in Iraq among US Forces really says something.

    I’d also toss in the SKS, but that’s just me. As the author of put it, the SKS is the Rodney Dangerfield of battle rifles…gets no respect.

  7. 1. Kalashnakov
    2. Garand
    3. Mauser 98K
    4. StG-44
    5. FN-FAL
    6. SMLE
    7. Martini-Henry
    8. Mosin-Nagant
    9. SKS
    10. M1 Carbine

    Can’t include the Galil, as it was never widely used, nor did it figure decisively in any war, the mid-east wars were decided by armor and air power. Also, it was not innovative but a refinement of existing designs.

    Can’t include the Springer either, as it was based on the Mauser, as you said.

    I agree with your reasons for leaving the M14 and AUG off the list.

    Finally, I can’t include the M16, since although it is now widely used and has served in many conflicts, I can’t help but wonder how many US deaths would have been prevented if the US forces had had a better rifle, using a short stroke piston and firing a 6.5-6.8mm cartridge. IMHO, the M16 was a handicap to all that were forced to use it in combat.

  8. I can see DQ’ing the M14 for basically being a magazine fed M1 and thus essentially a duplicate, but I can’t see not liking it when you like the M1. It’s like saying you’re wild about the Infinity G35 but can’t stand a Nissan 350Z.

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