Follow-Up To The Follow-Up Post

A couple Readers (one assumes New ones) wrote me and asked (and I paraphrase):  “So what’s YOUR list of ten rifles everyone should own?”  Of course, keeping it down to ten is a little difficult — certainly for me, and I suspect for most others too — but I’ll give it a shot, so to speak, and confine it to center-fire chamberings (no rimfires) as the original article did, with mostly bolt-action types (and only one semi-auto).  Rather than advocate specific rifles, however, I’m going to classify them by category.  I understand that not everyone is active in every category, of course;  but it helped me crystallize my thinking.

So let’s imagine that you must have at least one rifle per category, just to make this interesting.  There are nine categories, so you only get an extra rifle in one of them. And the finalists are:

1)  High-capacity (10+ magazine) semi-automatic combat rifle.  I don’t really care whether it’s an AR-15 type or AK-47 — and for the old-timers, the M14/M1A and even the M1 Carbine can be acceptable — but everyone should own at least one of these because
a.)  the Socialists want to take them away, and
b.)  you never know if a random Pantifarian / BLM uprising may occur in your neighborhood.  (And I don’t have to tell you that you need LOTS of ammo for this category, do I?)  Here’s a pic of some choices, as an example.

2)  Mauser 98k-type.  This category exists because in the domain of Emperor Kim, everyone has to own at least one Mauser.  Once again, the choice of which one is up to you. Personally, I favor the CZ 550/557 type because of its set trigger:

…but should you want to go all traditional 98k in this category, you won’t get any arguments from this  side of the keyboard:

Caliber is up to you;  the CZs offer just about any chambering you wish, while the actual 98k comes pretty much only in 7x57mm or 8x57mm.  Not that this would leave you disappointed, of course.

3) All-Purpose Bolt-Action.  As the name suggests, this should be the rifle that in a pinch you can grab and use for just about any application.  It could also be called “My Last Rifle” (last to be let go, last to be purchased, last gun to be taken from your cold dead hands, whatever).

4)  A vintage battle rifle. These old ladies are desirable for pure nostalgia reasons, and because I think it behooves every rifleman to be aware of and appreciate our rifles’ heritage.  I will leave the actual rifle up to you, because far be it for me to be all judgey when it comes to my favorite class of rifles of all time.  (And if you picked the 98k above, then feel free to drop it in here.)  Here are just a couple of obvious choices that were not covered in the Great War Rifles  post:


M1 Garand

5)  Deep-woods hunting rifle.  I already covered a part of this earlier, in recommending the wonderful Savage 99 (here).

But if you want to keep it to “traditional” lever rifles such as Marlin, Henry or Winchester, then have at it:

6)  Reach Out And Touch (a.k.a. “sniper”) rifle.  This is for when your quarry is further out than a city block, for example.  It doesn’t have  to look all “urban-SWAT-y”, but whatever.  Here I’m going to get specific, because you need several characteristics to make this shot more than a “by guess or by God” proposition, as seen below.  Any one of these would be an excellent choice.

Savage 110 FPS

CZ 557 UCS

Note that each of these rifles has a honking great scope on it — don’t skimp on your glass:  Nightforce, Zeiss, Swarovski, Steiner, Minox etc. should be your standards.

Now as I said, it doesn’t have to be a “sniper” rifle as above.  But whatever it looks like (see below), you need to be absolutely confident that you can make a sideplate-sized grouping at 500 yards minimum with whatever you choose.  Here’s an idea of what I’m talking about:

Remington 700 VTR

Winchester Mod 70 Extreme Weather

Remington 700 AAC-SD

They could also be older rifles (e.g. pre-’64 Winchester Mod 70), but they must be dependably accurate.

With this type of rifle, chambering is very important.  My choice would be 6.5x55mm Swede (simply because I know the cartridge so well), but .308 Win, 6.5mm Creedmoor and .300 Win Mag are also excellent choices.  (Watch out for exotic cartridges like .338 Lapua and such:  they’re expensive and scarce on the ground.)  Lighter bullets will get blown around a lot, so be very discriminating in your selection.

7)  Trunk rifle.  Generally speaking, a trunk or “truck” rifle should be able to be abused and handle extreme temperature changes, and still be able to fire.  It should also be cheap enough that if it’s stolen, you won’t be out serious money.  From my perspective, if it’s got to be cheap, ugly and effective, it’s gotta be Russian.  Like this one:

Mosin-Nagant M44

It’s uglier than Hillary Clinton’s backside and will kick you around worse than a drunken rugby player, but it will do everything you ask for, and then some.
I do know an old boy who has an ancient Marlin .30-30 lever action stashed in his car, but then he has at least a half-dozen other  Marlins in his safe, so that’s to be expected.

8) Varmint rifle.  Think “prairie dogs” or similar, and that’s what I’m talking about.  It’s a variation on the “reach out and touch” principle, but in a much smaller caliber like .223 Rem, .22-250, or even .22 Mag or .17 HMR.  Given that you’re going to be hunkered down, it doesn’t have to be an especially light rifle, but you’ll know best how heavy a rifle you can handle comfortably.  I have a Marlin 882 in .22 Mag for this purpose:

…but you’d probably need something with a little more legs / oomph than .22 Mag, like the Cooper Mod 21 in .22-250 Rem:

9)  “Safari / Dangerous Game” rifle. This is going to be the least-necessary category for most riflemen, unless you have a thing for Kodiak bears, African lions and such.  And in this category, you can’t think that your trusty .30-06 will do the trick — well, not in Africa or Alaska, anyway.  (Doc Russia once shot a warthog with a .30-06, absolutely nailed  it with a heart/lung shot, and he finally caught up with it over half a mile  from where it was shot.  For his Cape buffalo, he went to .375 H&H and it still took more than one shot to kill the thing.)  There are only a few rifles to choose from in this category, but the go-to rifle — the one which when you uncase it, the PH will nod approvingly — is the venerable Brno 602 (nowadays the CZ 550 Safari).  But there’s also the Mauser 98 Magnum, which is offered in .375 H&H, .416 Rigby and .450 Rigby:


So after looking at all that, here are Kim’s Top 10 Rifles, in category order as listed:

“Pantifa Repellent”:

SAR-1 (AK-47) (7.62x39mm)

“All-Purpose Bolt-Action”:

Mauser M12 (6.5x55mm)

“Heritage Rifles” / Mauser 98k type:

Mauser M48 (98K) (8x57mm)

SMLE No1. Mark III (.303 British)

Browning Hi-Wall (.45-70 Govt)

“Deep-Woods Hunter”:

Savage Mod 99 (.243 Win)

“Reach Out and Touch”:

Mauser Mod 41b (6.5x55mm Swede)

“Trunk / Truck Gun”:

SKS (7.62x39mm)


Cooper Arms Mod 21 (.223 Rem)


CZ 550 Safari (.375 H&H Magnum)

You all knew  I was going to be heavy on the “Heritage” rifles, didn’t you?

But let’s say that you disagree with all the categories (and it’s a valid argument), and just want to see the rifles I want to own*.  In that case, Kim’s Top 10 Rifles (uncategorized and unranked) are:

  1. Mauser M12 (6.5x55mm) — do everything
  2. M1 Carbine (.30 Carbine) — because it killed Nazis and Commies
  3. SMLE No1 MkIII (.303 British) — smooth action, kept the Empire going
  4. SAR-1 (7.62x39mm) — Swalwell and Beto, eat your fucking hearts out
  5. CZ 550 Safari (.375 H&H) — just in case I’m ever invited to hunt grizzlies
  6. Browning High Wall (.45-70 Govt) — sentimental reasons
  7. Savage 99 (.243 Win) — ditto
  8. Cooper Arms Mod 21 (.223 Rem) — in case I’m ever invited to a varmint shoot

and the last two (not on the list above):

9. CZ 527 Carbine (7.62x39mm) — my idea of a “cabin” rifle

10. Marlin 1894 CB (.357 Magnum) — companion piece to my .357 revolver

Those are my top 10… this week.  Choices may be subject to change without prior notice.

*I don’t own any  rifles, ever since that canoeing accident on the Brazos lo those many years ago… wait, I do have a bolt-action .22 rifle, but it’s old and rusted, can barely shoot.


  1. Does a Swedish M96 count as a Mauser type? I had one of those before that tragic hot air balloon gondola tipping accident over Lake Michigan.

    And, is that M44 actually an M38 (or even better, an M91/59)? I don’t see a bayonet or lug.

  2. Awhile back, Brownells had huge sale on Howa barreled actions. I snagged one of these for $300–

    Sadly, it looks to have been discontinued, along with several other models.

    Installed this stock (bolt on)–

    and this glass (was on sale for $299.95) —

    Still in the process of working up handloads to see what it likes.

  3. CZ 527 in 5.62x 39mm is a personal favorite. Dropped a 108 lb javelina at 185 yards and aside from a little twitching, he didn’t move from the spot. Real slobber knocker (loud AF though).

    1. You mean 7.62x39mm? I just finished building an AR in 6.5mm Grendel, which uses what amounts to a blown-out 7.62x39mm case. At longer ranges, it stomps on its parent round because of the better ballistics of the bullet. I hope to go hog hunting this fall.

  4. My list would have to place an M1 Garand over any Mauser for the heritage rifle. As much as I enjoy the 1903 Springfield, the Garand is just a tougher, better, and for me more memorable rifle. And I have a Swedish Mauser that fills the niche, even if its not a 98.

    Plus to followup on your M1 Carbine comment “because it killed Nazis and Commies”. …..

    Because it killed Nazis and commies carrying Mausers and Mosins and SKS’s and AKs.

  5. Kim, If I may add a comment to the subject of Mauser action rifles. A few years ago I picked up an Argentine crest stamped Mauser action chambered in 30-06. It was apparently customized for them in that the barrel was shorter than would be expected, kind of similar to the 98K only with the fore wood reduced to the second band with more barrel exposed even if shorter. This made it a very light rifle compared say to the M1 Garand.

    Last week I took both the Mauser and the M1 to the range for my son and I to have a go with, seeing that I had not fired either one since purchase. Let me tell you that even at 280 lbs with that Mauser firmly to the shoulder, the recoil was a bear. 8 rounds and the shoulder was hurting fierce. Switched to the M1 and it was like plinking with a 22 in comparison, no where near the recoil and a joy to shoot and memories revived in that I qualified Marksman with one in 1970.

    This brings me to the comment you made about Mauser action with lighter and smaller chambering which I now see as a very valid and wise move. If the CZ line ever gets within reach financially, I think that will be the way to go maybe in 6.5 or even lighter. The Argentine goes into the safe for hibernation or until desperate times.

  6. Hmm….the big problem I have is that I just don’t have any need for that many rifles. Not to mention the overlap of categories. By role:

    Defensive rifle: LaRue OBR in 5.56. Special mention to something like a LWRC SPR-IC.

    Generic bolt gun: Remington 700 in .243 Winchester. Merely because it’s the rifle I inherited.

    Reach out rifle: Tossup. Part of me says LaRue OBR in 7.62, the other says Remington 700. Either way, there’s a suppressor on the front.

    Milsurp: M1 Garand.

    Truck gun: Cheap AR

    Special goodie: Romano Spencer carbine in 56-50 Spencer.

  7. I have every category covered, most multiple times. I don’t have what you would think of as a classic varmint gun, i.e. a bolt action centerfire .22 with a heavy barrel, but if someone were to say to me “Let’s go shoot some prairie dogs” I think my Bushmaster Varminter would be up to the job. I never caught the Russian rifle bug, even though I had a C&R back in the nineties when SKS’s and Mosins were going for a song. Wish I had stocked up just for the investment value.

  8. A beautiful list of guns I drooled over many times. But you may have missed one which I bought years ago when I had my C&R license. The Swiss K-31 fits several of the categories, and is a fantastic hunter of medium game, a “reach out “ rifle, battle designed and old, but a beauty especially in walnut, which my specimen was made from. And the ammo (7.5×55) is not hard to find, even today, 15 years later.

  9. I’m going to be pedantic and point out that the rifle pictured as an example of a trunk/truck gun is a Mosin, but not an M44.
    It’s a Finnish M39, an altogether finer variant of the breed.

  10. I’m sooooo glad to find you blogging again, Kim (found you several months ago, but chagrined to learn I was a couple years behind). I still have fond memories of meeting you and Connie with my wife, Rose, and you and I shooting my Springfield 1903 and M1 Garland. You are a national treasure, and this post is ironclad evidence of it! I’m glad to say I have 7 categories covered, some with multiple entries, and not being a hunter, I don’t feel the need to rush out and fill the last couple of categories.

    Having built about 7 or 8 AR types with my son, and since Maobama so greatly expanded the manufacturing capacity of AR-15 rifles of all types, lowering the price point in the process, might I boldly (making any firearm suggesting in your presence is fraught with risk) suggest allowing another high-cap semi-auto combat gun in the Trunk Gun category?

    Yes, they are somewhat more expensive than the Mosin-Nagant, but infinitely more well-suited to the likely situation where one might be needed (e.g., a “Pantifa” uprising, Rodney King or Ferguson, MO type riot, Hurricane Katrina type riot, a Hillary in 2020 campaign rally—NOTE TO NSA HERE, I am KIDDING about the Hildebeest crack! I know you are humor challenged, so please understand this is satire! :rolling eyes:). I believe you settled on a Palmetto State Armory AR in your post on affordable AR’s, and that would be a good choice—surveying their daily deals for a while, one should be able to put together a basic, 14.7-16”, mid-length gas system carbine with Magpul furniture for maybe $700, and you can find an even more basic “standard” carbine on the used market for probably around $400. Or less.

    Modern AR’s are paragons of reliability—there are numerous YouToobs of folks shooting literally many thousands of rounds through the gun without real cleaning, simply scrape out the muck, wipe parts with a rag and relubricate, and keep on shooting. There are YouToobs of these guns being tossed in mud, rinsed in a river, and firing hundreds of rounds. These guns are tough. Not Mosin tough, but plenty tough to toss in your trunk along with a couple of full magazines and let it bounce around back there. Ignore it for a year, then shoot the ammo (heat is an enemy of ammunition), clean, heavily lube (with some CLP containing PTFE) and throw it back in the trunk with fresh ammo for another year. True, if you run out of ammo, you cannot use it as a lethal club, like the Mosin, but I’d sure like to have “America’s Rifle” in my trunk when some sort of balloon goes up. Scares the shit out of the hoplophobes, too in a way the Mosin may not. A little psychological warfare side benefit that may prove helpful.

    I’d still love a Mosin, and it should remain in the trunk gun category, but I’d get one to round out my 1903, M1, Swiss K31, and Persian Mauser milsurp collection. I’m just suggesting a very basic, probably used, AR type should be added to the trunk gun category. The standard military peep sight (large aperture) is fine for a trunk gun, but if desired, one can add an excellent Primary Arms red dot sight for less than a Benjamin. If done, replace the battery every year with the ammo. Probably not necessary, but this piece of kit is like a smoke detector, it needs to work when it needs to work or what’s the point? Batteries are cheap.

    Anyway, thanks for a world-class firearms post, glad to find you blogging again, and I will strive to figure out how to get to Texas for a conference or something so we can share an adult beverage or three, and bring the Persian Mauser along with me. Because I know how much you would appreciate it.

    Cheers, John

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