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.
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.