1.) Remington 700
I think it’s a law that every gun writer must pick the Winchester Model 70 as the No. 1 rifle in history. But then, I have never been much of a crowd-follower. At the risk of being blackballed out of the gunwriting guild, I am going with the Remington Model 700. It is the best-selling bolt-action rifle of our times. It’s the foundation for the majority of custom rifles I see these days, and in my lifetime the Model 70 has never come close to matching it for consistent, out-of-the-box accuracy.
2.) Winchester 1894
The 1894 introduced smokeless powder cartridges to the masses and it became the gun of choice for them. The Model 94 is probably the most popular rifle ever made for hunting the most popular big game God ever created, the whitetail deer.
3.) Winchester Model 70
I had to put it in here someplace; after all, it is the “Rifleman’s Rifle.” The Model 70 is a great rifle and one of significant importance. You didn’t really think I would ignore it, did you?
4.) Mauser 98
This is the bolt-action that even today, well over a century later, is the baseline of comparison for all other rifles. It’s the basic design still used in most modern bolt-actions. Peter Paul Mauser got it right.
5.) Remington 760/7600
I believe each of us should include a surprise. This Remington pump-action is the unsung hero of hunting rifles. Infinitely popular in the Northeast where whitetail hunting has its deepest roots, the Remington pump is fast, accurate and points like a shotgun.
6.) Colt AR-15
Ten years ago I would not have included this rifle, but the day of the black gun has arrived. In many ways, the AR platform is the perfect rifle. It’s tough as nails, accurate enough for long-range target shooting, fast enough for close-range defense and versatile enough to be called the “ultimate kit gun.”
7.) Ruger No. 1
Without this gun, single-shots would be dead and buried. Bill Ruger defied the naysayers and built a gun they said would never sell. Today, 42 years later, it’s still making a profit for the shareholders.
8.) Savage 99
While the Model 94 was the deer rifle of the masses, the Model 99 was the “thinking man’s” deer rifle. In the formative years of modern whitetail hunting, gun guys picked this lever-action.
9.) Winchester Model 1873
Hey, it’s “The Gun that Won the West.” It was the first practical, high-capacity, repeating rifle using a reloadable cartridge.
10.) Ruger 10/22
I’ll bet you have one. Everybody does. It makes the list by volume alone. It has to be great, because no shoddy rifle could fool that many people.