Top 10 Bolt Action Rifles Ever Made [Video]

From battle to hunting to home defense, there may be no more versatile and useful firearm ever made that the accurate, reliable bolt action rifle. Rugged, reliable and easy to maintain, a good bolt gun lets a shooter reach out and touch anything  from a can on a fencepost at 25 yards to an enemy insurgent a mile away.

It took some careful consideration, but we managed to come up with our list of the top 10 bolt action rifles every produced. Did we miss anything?

comments

  1. avatar Joe R. says:

    “Did we miss anything?”

    ummmmm ? Did WE miss anything?

    If we have to put another quarter in to see the list, ok. But at least tell us where the quarter goes. My checkbook is ready, are your operators standing by?

  2. avatar Anthony1911 says:

    I didn’t watch the video or read the article but you seriously messed up! You left out rifle x and put in POS garbage rifle y!

  3. avatar strych9 says:

    There’s something about this guy and, by extension his channel, that drives me absolutely bonkers. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is though.

  4. avatar pwrserge says:

    “Best” is a highly subjective definition. I am a fan of many rifles that didn’t make the list, but mostly due to their prevalence. The SMLE (pick your favorite version) was a fairly good rifle for its day. Similarly, the Mosin was a perfectly serviceable rifle at the turn of the 20th century designed to be made by illiterate peasants for illiterate peasants.

  5. avatar Art out West says:

    Bolt action rifle being one of the best options for home defensive?
    Crazy
    One of the best options for battle?
    Possibly
    Best options for hunting?
    Probably

    Of course semi autos alsowork perfectly well for all three

    Don’t get me wrong. I like bolt, lever, pump, semi-auto, break action, etc.

    Rate of fire is relatively slow with a bolt. Autoloader, pump, lever, are all usually quicker

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      The idea that a bolt action is slower than other action types has been proven incorrect many times. All you need to do is increase the range where the targets are, and the bolt action comes into its own – usually at about 300 yards.

      The US Army proved this with tests during the Garand’s development. Under 300 yards? The Garand won the “most rounds on target per time interval” test.

      Once they got to 300 yards, the Springfield 1903 started winning and it kept on winning at longer ranges.

      The results are in Hatcher’s “Book of the Garand.”

      1. avatar Art out West says:

        The article mentioned bolt actions for home defense. Most home defense done at less than 300 yards.

        A majority of hunting, and war fighting is likely also at sub 300 yard ranges.

        I’ll agree the bolt action is generally superior at longer ranges.

        That’s why I have a scoped bolt action .270 for long range, AR/AK/SKS for short to mid range, and shotgun for home defense.

        My .270 and Mosin are down the list a ways for home defense, though the bayonet on the M44 would be pretty imposing.

  6. avatar Specialist38 says:

    LMAO – Seven point five by “fitty” five….must be from Alabama.

    Neat list – shoulda started with Mauser and followed with all the rifles that wanted to be Mausers. Model 70, Ruger, O3.

    Then follow with the Enfield which is probably a better fighting guns than the Mauser.

    Then they could have added the odd-duck like the Schmidt and the venerable Moison Nagant.

    Then finished up with all the rifles that could never share the rack with a Mauser. Remington and Arisaka

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      The 98 Mauser action has some advantages over the SMLE cicla WWI anyway. The MkIII SMLE has a notoriously finicky action that has a tendency to malfunction. The 98 Mauser has issues with single feeding rounds into the rifle. (I’ve seen many people cry over broken extractors when the last cartridge in the clip doesn’t fully seat. I think this video was overly focused on hunting / sporting applications. FFBF.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Yeah. The focus seemed to be hunting and heneral target shooting.

        Never had a problem with my Mausers or my son’s Gunsite Scout Ruger ( a neat bolt gun).

        I had a friend with several Enfields (bought in the 70s and 80s when they were dirt cheap. Those things were faster for me than any Mauser. The drop of the stock, the 10 round mag, and clip feeding made those things fast for me.

        Never cared for the Nagant or the Arisaka – functional but uncooperative in my shooting.

        My favorite but not the fastest was a Short Swede. Love that rifle.

  7. avatar T Baggins says:

    The Mosin? Seriously? Aka the Moist Nugget, Aka Garbage Rod.

    There’s a reason the following was a saying.

    The Germans brought a hunting rifle, the Americans brought a target rifle, the British brought a battle rifle, and the Russians brought a rifle.

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      Seriously. Most mosin issues you see today stem from the fact that they were more or less not maintained in any appreciable way between 1945 and today. (and often weren’t maintained prior) The fact that the pre-1900 example still shoot just fine is a testament.

    2. avatar strych9 says:

      I have a number of Mosins. They’re not precision weapons but, quite frankly, I’ve never seen why so much shit is talked about them.

      The only answer that I have been able to come up with is that a bunch of people who know basically nothing about rifles bought them cheap without checking out the rifle before purchase. Those people also suck at shooting. The result is a bad rifle in the hands of a piss poor rifleman which predictably has poor results.

      Further, there are people out there who flat out lie about the rifle. Personally I have no great affinity for the Mosin but anyone who tells you (there’s a youtube video about this that I’m too busy to look up) that the 91/30 shoots a two foot pattern at 25 yards is one of four things. 1) A liar. 2) So piss poor they have no business being around a rifle. 3) Someone who got one that’s a POS and is also so piss poor they have no business being around a rifle or 4) All three of the previously mentioned statuses.

      For an example of straight out tomfuckery when it comes to the nagant, this is faster for me to find: http://www.breachbangclear.com/shrop-talk-mosin-nagant-vs-japanese-type-38/

      1. avatar jwm says:

        When the floodgates opened from the former soviet union we were getting Mosins by the boat load. I bought a couple for as little as 40-45 bucks. And here in CA they were classed as C&R and there was no waiting period on them. That loophole got closed.

        The biggest advantage to the ex commie guns was the ammo. I was getting surplus x54 for as little as a dollar for a paper and string wrapped packet of 20 rounds.

        Sticky bolt was cured with a drill and a length of cleaning rod with a brass shotgun cleaning brush. Soak the chamber in simple green or other cleaner of your choice and low speed that brush in there. Sticky bolt gone.

        A properly de cosmoed mosin is not a bad rifle. For a design from 1891. It has been surpassed by more modern designs. But that doesn’t make it a bad rifle.

        It is a butt simple design that even the village blacksmith should be able to keep working.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          The most FUN of the Nagant pattern is the 44 carbine. I remember them in barrels at guns shows for 80 dollars. All wrapped in paper and cosmolined like a ham.

          Damn those little things are brutal. But a great functional gun for next to nothing. Plius cheap ammo.

          I bought a Yugo Mauser in the late nineties for 140. Never issued. I also bought a 980 case of surplus ammo for 60 bucks.

          The halcyon days for sure.

      2. avatar 16V says:

        If you can’t hit beer cans pretty regularly at 100M with most any M-N variant, with open sights, you should just quit shooting.

        I own a few, one buddy has north of 100 variants, others in my shooting circle have a few dozen more. They aren’t tackdrivers, but if you can’t group a softball at 100M, either the gun is junk, or the shooter is.

  8. avatar BLAMMO says:

    I’m assuming that’s in no particular order.

  9. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Nothing wrong with any of them, Im kinda partial to the Mauser . Bolt actions have they’re place I’m a big fan,real big fan of them. If I had to run out the door and face “the world” I want something semi-auto n 308 caliber….Sorry ‘old girl’ but sometimes yah gotta shot a little faster

  10. avatar BC says:

    TTAG put that list together? I saw that so-so video, complete with “fitty” several times, a couple months ago:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4WThxBgMSA0

  11. avatar The Rookie says:

    Lee-Enfield. For when you’re out on the veldt, and have to apply Rule 303…

  12. avatar nelson says:

    Mauser then Enfield

  13. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    When someone asks me “What the best XYZ?” I invariably reply back “By what criterion/criteria?”

    This inevitably makes people angry with me. They want to hear that there’s one “best” bolt action rifle under all conditions, and that’s simply not the case.

    Best sporting rifle? The pre-64 (or better, a pre-WWII) Winchester Model 70. Hands down, there’s no better rifle in a mass-produced rifle. The coned breech, the claw extractor, controlled round feed, barn-door 3-position safety, the better trigger than the Mauser/Springfield, the handier 22″ barrel length – all make the M70 the best overall bolt action sporting rifle, IMO. The only way you get better is to have a Mauser k98 action customized into a sporting rifle – at great expense.

    Best battle rifle? Probably the SMLE. Most accurate battle rifle? Schmidt & Rubin K31. The Swede CG63 is an excellent, true target rifle, in a very good cartridge for long-range shooting , the 6.5×55. The Springfield 1903A3, with a two-groove barrel does the best job in US-made arms. Safest battle rifle? k98. Most dependable? Probably a toss between the Mosin and the SMLE. Strongest action? Arisaka, followed by the P1917 rifles.

    Best for customizing? Either the k98 Mauser, or the P1917 (for dangerous game cartridges), followed by the 1903/A3, with 03 bottom metal. Treat the ’03/A3 as a small ring Mauser and you’ll do fine.

    Best modern, mass-produced bolt action rifle? Feh. None of them impress me, it’s a question of “what sucks the least?”

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      I’ve found the Mk III SMLE to be of questionable reliability. As Karl and Ian on InRange can attest, the system has many issues including rimlock and a tendency of the bolt to jump out if run too quickly. Not as bad as some WWI era guns, but pretty bad. Not sure if they fixed the issues on the Mk IV as I’ve never shot one.

  14. avatar Michael Wright says:

    A couple of years ago I bought a Chinese M53 because I’m a sucker for old military rifles, cleaned it up real good and sanded the stock, made it into a reasonable looking rifle. Took it out to a range with a cousin who is a life long hunter and member of law enforcement in West Virginia. We didn’t bring any targets but found an old plastic coffee tub there and set it on the embankment at 100 yards.

    I was drilling the thing with every shot, my cousin couldn’t hit anything but dirt. He is a small guy and was pulling off on every shot. I’ve always wondered if that is a bit of where the Nagant gets it’s reputation, just people who aren’t comfortable with a big old military rifle.

  15. avatar Sledgecrowbar says:

    Every top ten list is subjective, and this video was certainly well put-together, but this feels more like a “First Ten Bolt Action Rifles I Found With A Cursory Google Search”, and then went to Wikipedia for caliber and production numbers info. This is the most well-known ten bolt actions rifles. The Mosin-Nagant isn’t a ten best anything, it was everyone’s first gun because they (were) cheap, and they were cheap because they were junk.

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      Mosins are perfectly serviceable WWI era bolt guns. The fact that so many of them are having so few major issues despite almost a century of abuse is a testament to the quality of the design. The only thing I’ve ever seen break on a Mosin is a firing pin whose protrusion wasn’t set right. I can’t say the same thing about Mausers or SMLEs. The former have a tendency to break extractors due to cartridges not properly seated in the magazine and the latter has all sorts of issues with the entire bolt assembly. The Mosin is the AK of WWI era bolt guns. Is it particularly accurate? No. Is it particularly easy to run? No. Is it dead nuts reliable provided you take basic care of it? Yes.

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