Which combat rifle should you buy? Some of the most popular rifles may not be the best choice for you

In the normal course of events, very few people ever think about being in any situation where they would have to take the life of another human being. Outside of men and women in law enforcement, the military, security work and a couple of other professions, most people will never have to consider such a circumstance.

That is, unless they’re forced into it.

Police, soldiers, security officers, military contractors and the like have to come to terms with the reality that, at some point in their careers, they may have to take a life, either in defense of self, defense of other persons or defense of country, before they ever carry a weapon. But in a societal collapse situation – which could prove to be a reality at some point in our near future, given the political, cultural and social divide in our country – ordinary people will also have to decide if they will have the courage to defend themselves if or when the time comes.

Defending oneself will require obtaining and mastering firearms, and in particular a rifle that is best suited for combat. [RELATED: Advantages and disadvantages of carrying a concealed handgun in a fanny pack]

Unless you’ve got tens of thousands of dollars to pay for automatic weapons, the ammunition they use and the federal licensure required to own them, you’re going to have to settle for semi-automatic rifles commonly available on the market. Truth be told, under most conditions, one of these will do just fine.

So, let’s examine some of the more popular semi-automatic rifles that you can easily obtain, learn to shoot and master. Some are widely available, but when all is said and done, they may not be your best choice:

— AR-15: There are numerous civilian versions of the U.S. military’s AR-series of rifles, and most of them are decent quality and realistically priced. The AR-15 models use .223/5.56 ammunition which is also very easy to find and stockpile. It, too, is competitively priced, though for a while during the Obama administration it was difficult to obtain because Americans were concerned about efforts to limit access to so-called “assault rifles,” which the AR-series is considered (wrongly) to be part of.

Also, AR-series rifles are very accurate and extremely adaptable. There are many types of optical sites on the market that range from fairly cheap in price to very expensive, leaving you a number of choices. AR-series rifles are also accurate without using an optic device, and come with 20- or 30-round magazines.

One thing: Carbines (the shorter version) are less accurate at longer ranges (250–300 yards) than the longer, standard AR-15, but they are lighter to carry and easier to handle in an urban environment.

Some drawbacks to the AR-15 rifles and carbines include price (yes, they are affordable but not cheap) and the fact that they are more complex, which makes them more of a challenge for new AR-15 owners to learn to break down and clean. Your best bet is to find someone who’s been in the military or who has owned an AR-series rifle for some time to show you how the process works. Also, these weapons can be prone to jamming if the ammunition is old or dirty.

— AK-47/74: One of the most popular alternatives to the AR-series rifles are the AK-47 lookalikes. These rifles are generally much less expensive than the AR’s, are less complex when it comes to breaking them down for cleaning, and jam much less frequently, on average. Also, AK-series rifles fire a bigger, heavier round (7.62x39mm), which gives you more stopping power. They also come with 10, 20 or 30-round magazines.

Drawbacks include slower muzzle velocity (2,350 feet per second on average) than the ARs (3,300 feet per second on average), less accuracy with the rifle’s own sites (no optics), and less ammunition availability. [RELATED: Eight embarrassing gun technique mistakes amateurs make]

— SKS: This rifle is also very affordable, and like its Eastern European counterpart, fires the 7.62x39mm round for better stopping power. And it is very simply to operate.

However, drawbacks include less accuracy, less adaptability, and it is slower to load (it does not have a detachable magazine, only a fixed one).

— M-14 type: There are a number of variations of the M-14 series of rifles, and most of them are good. Some platoons and route clearance units fighting in Afghanistan were issued these, and by all accounts they perform well. The rifle fires a much heavier round – .308 – and has a good muzzle velocity (about 2,800 fps). The rate of fire is good too, at around 700 rounds per minute.

These are heavy rifles, however, and will wear down an average-sized guy who isn’t used to carrying a rifle everywhere. Also, the ammunition isn’t rare but it isn’t common, either. Plus, these rifles can be a bit tricky to break down, though it’s not hard to clean the barrel and magazine well.

There are many other rifle choices – all with pros and cons – but not every choice is the best choice for you and your situation. You need to make sure you can be reliably accurate with your rifle, easily obtain ammunition for it, easily clean and perform maintenance on it, and above all, trust it not to fail when you need it most.

J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.




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  1. Near worthless article since it only gives a high level opinion of various combat rifle styles/types. Why not take it a step further and make a recommendation: e.g., based on size, weight, previous rifle handling experience, male/female, purposeful use, etc..
    It’s common knowledge that a AK 47 or variant has much more “knock down” power than a 223/556. And as for long distance targets (killing them before they get too close) would be the 6.5 Creedmore as it has both knock down power and much better flatter trajectory than the 308/7.62 AK variant.
    And, as for close in battle (home defense) either a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun is better than a more powerful bullet, or choosing an effective “Bull Pup” short barrel rifle/pistol in a 9MM may be best.

  2. since when is 7.62×51 uncommon? Was that after the army adopted plasma rifles? Who wrote this article, Al Gore?

  3. There are literally thousands of bad guys that have reached room temperature from the proper application of a 5.56x 45 round. Unless bragging rights is one of your considerations, Mr. Stoners weapon will do just fine. But if you must be high speed, low drag why not carry a mini gun, with a Barrett as a backup.
    The ability to hit what you are aiming at is far more important than the equipment, IMHO. Way back when I was in the Big Green Machine, I was issued an M16A1/M203. it was comforting.

  4. They did not do very good research. The SKS is accurate and there are ways to modify it for a scope. Also you can put a 30 round clip on it. When you get the rifle it has a 5 round clip on it.

    1. The SKS comes with a 10 round “fixed” magazine, not 5. You can use a ten round stripper clip to load it through the top of the receiver. There are aftermarket 20 round and 30 round magazines available, not clips. And yes, the SKS is very accuate, especially with the quality ammo that’s available.

  5. A firearm is a tool. There is no ‘best rifle’ just as there is no ‘best tool’. What counts is the task at hand. The number of assailants, distance, situation, timing, etc., all influence the most appropriate weapon to use. Semi-automatics, for most situations, are overkill and meant for the untrained and excitable, giving them a chance to get at least one lethal round in the victim. Other than dealing with a mob attack, most civilian episodes involve an individual, so a single shot can end a confrontation. A bolt action is sufficient for an experienced shooter and can be reload in the blink of an eye if a second or third shot is required.

    An unfortunate number of ‘gun enthusiasts’ are, unfortunately, rather childish and suffer from a Rambo complex when discussing firearms, raving on about mag capacities, rate of fire, best calibres, and other usually irrelevant facts. If you are in a conversation with one of these guys, try to organize his thoughts just by asking him ‘What’s the situation?’

  6. I found this article to be woefully inaccurate. The biggest inaccuracy was the comment of carbine length ar-15’s being less accurate than longer barrel ones. It’s been proven that this is actually opposite the truth all else held equal, such as barrel thickness, material, type and twist of lands and grooves in barrel. Longer barrels whip/deflect more than shorter barrels and lead to more inaccuracy. A 24 inch bull barrel would probably be more accurate than a pencil profile light weight 16 inch barrel. However the 16 inch barrel in a heavy profile would be as accurate or more accurate than the 24 inch one. The difference and it can be significant is that longer barrels in .223/5.56 will cause the bullet to exit the barrel at higher velocity’s which will give extended range with a flatter trajectory.
    You can currently buy a basic mil spec ar in 5.56/.223, 300 blk, 7.62×39 for 350 to 400 dollars, or a one built with higher quality materials for 1200 to 2000. The basic lower price rifle is perfectly fine and will last reliably for many thousands of rounds. I have seen basic AR10’s shooting 7.62×50/308 winchester in the last few months going for between 600 and 700 dollars. Though I wouldn’t recomend one to a new shooter due to the recoil.

    The standard milspec AR15 is just a jumped up 22 rifle with not much more recoil. It gains it’s muzzle energy by shooting a slightly heavier bullet 3 times as fast as your standard 22 rifle. It is also unlike the authors opinion very easy to break down and clean. Without tools, after learning how, you should be able to field strip the rifle in less than 20 seconds and put it back together in a comparable time frame. Having used and maintained them for many years I have been able to do it in 7 seconds when trying to do it as fast as I could. It is an excellent first semi automatic rifle for anyone. It particularly lends itself to women, smaller men and teaching youth/teens due to the low recoil and light weight if you don’t load it down with lots of accessories.

    The AR is also on average one of the most accurate out of the box semi auto rifles you can purchase. Your average AR will shoot a 1 to 1.5 inch group at 100 yards. If you luck out even with the cheaper AR’s you can get one that shoots 1 inch or under. A more expensive custom AR with a precision barrel can potentially should groups at 100 yards of .3 inches. This is more accurate than most shooters can shoot. Just the basic level AR is usually more accurate than the average shooter is themselves.

    AK — has a harder to operate manual of arms due to having to reach under the weapon with your non primary hand if right handed to trip the bolt release. Not to mention the mag release is harder to learn to use compared to an AR-15. Next it is inherently less accurate based on the traditional design unless you get an after market built ak that has been built to very tight tolerances, which then make it more liable to have reliability issues with jamming in sandy or muddy conditions. It is a harder hitting round than the AR-15 in 5.56/.223

    The AK is an incredible design for 2 reasons only. 1. It can be built cheaply on low tech machine equipment. 2. It is due to the loose tolerances incredibly resistant to jamming under the worst of conditions. fact number two though comes with a trade off in accuracy. The average AK will shoot 2.5 inch to 4 inch groups at 100 yards. A new manufactured one from an American company that is building to a higher standard will sometimes get closer to 1.5 to 2 inch groups. Now that I have dissed the accuracy of the AK let me state that at distances to 100 to 200 yards it is perfectly adequate for shooting at a man sized target.

    This is a throwaway article with not a lot of thought or care taken in the writing of it. I packed more accurate information in my comment than is in the entire article and I could have expanded on what little I did say into a small book. If your going to write short little articles like this at least be accurate about what you do write. It was the inaccuracies that irked me.

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