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As a homesteader, you have to rely on tools each and every day. One of those tools is a firearm. This is because firearms can perform several tasks that few other tools can. They can be used for self-defense, for hunting, for protecting livestock, for target shooting, and for pest control, to name a few things.
It’s important that you choose your homestead firearm carefully, and while you will absolutely need pistols and shotguns, a rifle is arguably the most important type of rifle to have in your arsenal because it can touch targets at the longest distances and can just be used for the biggest variety of purposes.
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Here are the top five best homestead rifles (in alphabetical order).
1. Marlin 336 .30-30 Winchester
An old-fashioned lever action rifle presents many advantages. Due to the fact that there is no box magazine protruding out of any part of the gun, it is very narrow and easy to transport and store in a vehicle. Lever action rifles also permit a very fast rate of fire in contrast to bolt actions, though obviously less so than semi-autos.
The Marlin 336 in .30-30 Winchester is arguably the best option for a lever action rifle today. Economically priced at around $400 or less, the 336 has been around for decades and is noted for its robustness, durability, and the fact that it ejects spent shell casings out the side rather than the top as the more expensive Winchester 1894 does. This permits the mounting of a scope or optic unlike the 1894.
The .30-30 is an excellent round to use for hunting smaller to medium sized game such as wild boar, deer, coyotes, and black bear out to distances of around one hundred yards.
NOTE: If you want more power than the .30-30 caliber in a lever action offering, the Marlin 1895 in .45-70 is also available.
2. Ruger 10/22 .22 LR
The .22 LR is one of the most versatile rounds ever invented, and when combined with the 10/22 it makes for an excellent homesteading rifle for pest control, small game hunting, and casual plinking.
The 10/22 is one of the most popular and customizable firearms ever made. Originally introduced in the 1960s, it was built to the same quality and standards as rifles in larger calibers. This is what has made the 10/22 so successful and enduring over the years.
While standard magazines hold 10 rounds, extended 25-35 round magazines can also be purchased for the 10/22 that can give you plenty of firepower. Lightweight and yet durable and robust, the 10/22 is one of the best .22 rifles ever made and an excellent choice for an overall homestead rifle.
NOTE: Good alternatives to the Ruger 10/22 would include the Marlin Model 60 or the S&W M&P 15-22.
3. Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle (GSR) .308 Winchester
If you want something that has lots of power in a small and light package, you’ll need to give the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle (GSR) a hard look. The scout rifle concept was popularized by the late Jeff Cooper, who called for a carbine length bolt action rifle chambered in .308 with a forward scope for proper eye relief.
There are many such Scout rifles on the market, but the Ruger GSR is definitely among the most popular. It accepts a 3 round, 5 round, or 10 round detachable box magazine, and features a forward Picatinny rail for the mounting of red dot sites, scopes, or other types of optics.
Its compact size makes this an excellent brush or truck gun, and the .308 Winchester round is large and powerful enough to bring down large game such as elk.
NOTE: Suitable Scout rifle alternatives include the Savage Scout Rifle or the Mossberg MVP.
4. Ruger Mini-14 5.56x45mm NATO
Yes, this is yet another Ruger, but having served as both a law enforcement rifle and as a ranch rifle, the Ruger Mini-14 can be used for everything from deer hunting to pest control to defending livestock to tactical use in defending your home and property against multiple attackers.
Even though the Mini-14 has been largely overshadowed by the extreme popularity of the AR-15, this does not at all make the Mini-14 a bad rifle. On the contrary, it’s an excellent rifle with a reputation for ruggedness and reliability.
NOTE: The AR-15 would be a suitable alternative to the Mini-14.
5. Springfield M1A .308 Winchester
Finally, if you’re looking for a lot of firepower and long range capabilities in a semi-automatic offering, then you should definitely consider the Springfield M1A. A civilian version of the M14 rifle, which has been in military service since the 1950s and today continues to serve as a DMR rifle, this is about as American as rifles get.
The M1A is available in three different barrel lengths: 22 inch, 18 inch, and 16.5 inch. The 22 inch is the best option for long distance shooting with the best velocity, while the 18 and 16.5 inch versions would be better suited as a brush or truck rifle.
The M1A is a rifle that you can use for anti-personnel use at long distances, for big game hunting, for defending your home and property against intruders, and for defending your livestock.
NOTE: Suitable alternatives to the M1A would include the HK G3/C308, AR-10, or the FN FAL.
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Robert Bigelow says
I have a scoped 10/22, a scoped .177 air rifle, 1976 Mini 14 (iron sights), two .50 muzzleloader rifles, one percussion one flint, and an antique percussion smoothbore musket. Adequate ammo for all, and a wife not afraid to pull all the triggers.? Hand guns, .380, 4 9mm, one Colt Python in .357 (my favorite) and ammo. My goodness, that arsenal is a chore to haul to the range!!
Sadly, my Arsenal was lost in a boating accident on Lake Rabun. I swear it was.
Good answer, the abc clowns are always spying.
Well I am happy the first rifle I bought is a 336 Marlin 30-30 and my wife’s first is the Ruger 10-22. I guess we hit it right on for a start for our armoury. I have a double action revolver in .22 and an old Russian semi auto 7.62×25 which is close to 9 mm and my wife has two semi auto’s one .22 and one 9mm. I have the m14 in 7.62×51 ( 308 ) and the .223 ( 5.56 ) which is mentioned in the article. I am partial to 303 British and have two #4 mark III and one #1 mark IV as I understand they can take anything in North America down. I enjoy the old Russian rifles as well and if you cannot afford a lot they are reasonable in price as the ammo is as well. I have three SKS in 7.62×39 ,which could be used for smaller game. Also four in 7.62×54 , two Mosin Negant bolt action and two SVT40 semi auto. It is suppressing how accurate these old rifles are and these surplus weapons ammo comes in large box’s any where from 1000 to 2550 rounds at very reasonable prices. It seems to be an addiction buying these firearms and for sure you don’t need to buy a lot to have what you require to get the job done. Good luck and don’t get carried away lol !
The recommendations listed in this article are very refreshing. It’s nice to read something that doesn’t revolve around the AR platform. Don’t get me wrong the AR is a wonderful platform but it’s not the “be all and end all” of firearms.
I’ve had a Ruger Scout for a few years now and it is my go to rifle for hunting and pest control, as in bears. On top is mounted a fixed 4X LER pistol scope that works very well. If it’s within 500 yards and I want to drop it, consider it dropped.
The Ruger 1022 is also a good choice. I’ve had a 1022TD for a couple of years and this rifle is outstanding. The only things I’ve done to it was swap out the sights on the barrel for a Skinner peep sight combo. The difference between the factory sights and the Skinner sights is the difference between a 4-inch group at 50 yards and a 1-inch group at fifty yards. Since the peep sight is mounted on the barrel there is no change in alignment every time the rifler is disassembled and put back together.
I think the Mini 14 is nice but the .223/5.56 isn’t a great choice. The only thing that’s in its favor is the commonality of the round. For things like taking a deer, unless one is a very good shot and bullet placement is spot on, this is not a good choice. Much better would be a Mini 30 in 7.62X30. Much greater knock down power than a .223/5.56 and better range than a 30-30.
As for the Marlin 30-30, it’s a wonderful rifle with one huge advantage over semi-autos. When there is the dreaded “click” after a trigger is pulled, a simple stroke of the leaver gets you back in business. Worse case when the leaver is extended one can place a bullet in the chamber then carry on reloading knowing that if needed quickly the rifle can be used. Add to this, the light weight, easy handling, and the ability to top it off as required and you have a heck of a package.
The M1A is also a great rifle but I think for what one gets the price is a little high. A few years ago I picked up a Norinco M14 semi-auto clone and after replacing the return rod it is every bit as accurate and dependable as the M1A. The difference between the two is in Canada the M1A costs well over $2,000 while the Norinco clone costs around $600. Performance wise, I’ve used my clone in ORA/DCRA competitions and it has stood the test very well.
I personally like the Ruger PC Carbine. It is 9mm, and have mine with the capability to be able to take the Glock Magazine. This way I only have to carry one ammo (9mm) and the mags fit bot my Ruger and Glock. I have scoped the Ruger, and have consistent hits at 125 yards.
I carry the M&P Bodyguard (.380) as my daily carry gun.
Todd Roy says
I am somewhat of a backwoosman, the choices I believe is where you live. My primary is a good quality So underfoler. 7.62 x 39 does all I need.
Also 2nice sks, one with scope 4 power. 5 Morin nagants, 2 scoped. 7.62 x 54r. Those guns are super reliable. And I’ve stockpiled plenty of ammo.
Don’t forget black powder. I’ve acquired over half a dozen TV Hawkins .50 cal from pawn shops under $200 each. I prefer the Marlin60 over the 10/22, because its tube fed & both are good gund. To each his own.
Truth is most time I’m out I’ve got a shotgun in hand.
Made some amazing shots with the marlin 60. Incredible actually. Not bragging because I’m not a professional shooter but that .22 is accurate. I own a 10/22 and am happy with it but if I had to pick which one I have made the best shots with it would be the marlin.. side note, if I had to pick one and only one rifle it would be my A.K. And I love A.Rs..
John Browne says
Good article and fine choices. I do have a .308 to reach out, but it’s pretty wooded where I live. Like Todd and others I have an assortment of black powder weapons for short ranges and backup. My main weapons are a Glock 22 in 40 S&W, Glock 44 in .22LR, a 380 and a .45/.410 pistol. My most recent purchases have been to satisfy my former 12 year old self…3 Henry rifles: .357/38, .22WMR and a .410 shotgun….but I also have a 12 & 20 ga shotguns. I do have other .22LR and .22WMR weapons…..one can carry lots of .22 ammo and it doesn’t hurt the pocket book. I’m not too into spraying bullets. I follow ol’ Wyatt Earp…accuracy is more important than speed. Everyone be careful and be safe.
I will not say on here what I have because of prying eyes from the government and their alphabet agencies. But I will say that what is mentioned in the article is a small part of what I have. Being a retired US Marine who served in Vietnam for two tours I know what is needed and what will and will not work and am prepared for what is so close to happening. Get ready everyone it is closer than most think. Watch closely the actions of the evil three in Washington, Biden, Pelosi, and Hillary.
Best most versatile weapon you can own as a homeowner is a 12 gauge pump shotgun! From bird shot to slugs it does it all!
Vince J says
Yep. You can definitely get away with owning like 2 or 3 guns in general: a 12ga, some sort of 22 rifle(probably 10/22 since it’s one of the more reliable 22 rifles and some sort of higher caliber – 30-30 or .308, but then again, if you have 12ga – might aswell skip .22 completely and just go with shotgun and high caliber rifle).