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When I was looking to see if anyone else asked this, the closest I could find were posts asking what the "Best Non AR" was.

My question is simple...what's the best semi-automatic rifle for both defense and general use? (Performance wise, not cost wise).

I'm not talking about popularity, availability, cost, or anything other than pure functionality... Meaning accuracy, dependability, endurance, etc.

I know the AR-15 is extremely popular, BUT is it the BEST? Or is it just really good for it's price?

If it's not, what's better?
FN Scar? Steyer Aug? Tavor X95? ACR? M1A? MCX?
The Mini-14 is reliable, but I've heard that the accuracy is inconsistent depending in what year it was made.

Also, I read an article about a recently declassified research project the Australian government did comparing the M16 to the Aug, and the Aug won hands down in nearly every category. Does that hold true of the Aug vs the AR15? What about piston AR15?
 

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Let's see; 'Australian Government Report', and Australian service rifle is what? Oh, yes, the F88 Austeyr (Steyr AUG Made in Australia). That report is absolutely certain to be unbiased. I believe that is as likely as NASCAR fans chanting "Let's go Brandon!"

My vote is for the FAL, or it's modernized counterpart, the SCAR17. I'm not a fan of the 5.56mm on any platform. If you must have a 5.56mm, the M-16/AR15/M4 platform is as good as it gets. It's weaknesses have been pretty well resolved over the past 60 years of combat use. Those that remain are very well known and easily managed.
 

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the AK...... your search for the best rifle has ended

you're welcome, glad to have been of help
That would be my recommendation, use and abuse, ignore for a week (or month, whatever), kick it open, reload and go.
Maybe not the most accurate over distance but something has to be far amiss for them not to run.
Accuracy can be addressed by a good aftermarket barrel and good reloads.
 

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Why not the M416 system? The western world seems like they’re all adopting it, or a variant.
 

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None are "perfect" but I found the FAL to be what I preferred to anything else.
I prefer the heavier .30 caliber for several reasons, to the 5.56mm which is designed for burst or full auto firing.
Its one drawback is the issue sights.
I'd mount a compact red dot on a railed cover.
 

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None are "perfect" but I found the FAL to be what I preferred to anything else.
I prefer the heavier .30 caliber for several reasons, to the 5.56mm which is designed for burst or full auto firing.
Its one drawback is the issue sights.
I'd mount a compact red dot on a railed cover.

exactly,

I use an AR,

Mini's are not that bad, minute of man is not a problem, target style shooting will disappoint
if going 30 cal, I prefer a M1A
 

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I had an M1a one of the older "Sprinfield Armory" ones , not a super match, but a national match.
I found a copy of the USMC accurizing manual & did the whole nine yards.
It was a nice rifle, even if it needed a little "tweaking to the gas block to "clamp" the "figure-8 nut' & a few other minor things.
To me it was closer to the one gen. earlier FN 49 than the FAL.
It definitely had way better sights, but I found it a little picky for ammunition. As a hand-loader I had a very accurate load worked up, but the rifle wouldn't run with it so I had to part with some accuracy to get reliable cycling.
 
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Really depends on what you mean by "general use" as that can affect the answer. Do you mean hunting? Some states have various requirements. Regardless, the AR platform is the best all around platform. It's so modular and lightweight, I really don't see how anything else comes close. Now, there are some rifles that use the platform, but have different operating systems. I really don't know how much difference there would be. I like the Sig MCX. I had a CZ Bren. I liked that as well, but it was a bit heavier and not as nimble as an AR. With an AR, you can have one firearm (the lower) and use various uppers depending on your needs. I'd say a short barrel (11.5 to 12.5) is about the best overall for general use. You can add a nice LPVO (or a red dot w/magnifier) and a weapon light. If you have deep pockets, and want to practice LARPing for the end of the world, you can also attach very expensive stuff for night vision. Ammo is fairly inexpensive, readily available, and in wide use throughout the world. Magazines are cheap and plentiful. Spare parts are fairly cheap and readily available. They are very easy to work on. I really cannot see how an argument can be made for anything else currently on the market.
 

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the AK...... your search for the best rifle has ended

you're welcome, glad to have been of help

Loose tolerances......good for sand/grit allowance,

Chrome line bore........good for lack of maintenance.

Hard to beat simplicity.


On a side note...............I would also use a M1 Garand.......which nobody else except me has now mentioned...........or are we talking about "Magazine" semi's only?
 

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M1, power, accuracy,reliability, wide variety cartridges, war winner, etc.
I had an after thought after posting a "like" to "Hag's" post.
If you know the M1 Garand, it is accurate and functions reliably. If you are not trained to use the M1*, and expect instant gratification because you watched a couple of Youtube videos by Garand gurus with their caps on backwards, then look elsewhere. This is not a SLR for the dilettante.

*I am not a Garand guru and do not wear my hat backwards. My experience with the M1 Garand dates to 1961 high School ROTC. I qualified with it in 1966 during senior army ROTC summer camp, after completing Garand training at Camp Pendleton during the previous spring break. USMC WW II and Korean war veteran gunnies trained me to shoot it. I can take it apart and reassemble it blndfolded. I know how to lube it correctly. I know how to reload for it.
 

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M1, power, accuracy,reliability, wide variety cartridges, war winner, etc.
Oh...is the criteria for an answer based on WWII and Korean Wars ...then its the M1 rifle followed by the No.4 bolt action Enfield. Is the criteria the post war 1950 to early 80's ....then its FN FAL or M1A and AK 47...pick your need for accuracy and decide then to buy. For todays battlefield...AK is still in the running and the HK 417 left the SCAR at the starting line...confused and ignored by most of the serious militaries of the world.

Best is a very wide avenue to follow but here is some good map directions : G3 and SCAR are wrong turns you can avoid. Not worse but certainly not best in the present age of battle rifles.

and recently LMT beat HK in the run offs for the German new battle rifle...no one ever mentions LMT but they've got some serious hardware worth looking at or at least being knowledgeable about.
 

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My vote for the best overall semi auto rifle would go for the M1 Garand. I packed one around for Uncle Sam for two years and it never failed me once. My next vote would go for the M1A which is just a second generation of the M1 and I really like its multi rounds magazine capacity. The SKS and the AK 47 in 7.62x39mm would be my next in line. I really like the round they use and their fast firing capability with ease to hold on target while firing 3 or 4 quick shots.
 

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I like the FAL, but it's big, long, and heavy. It's a battle rifle. I really wouldn't put it in the category of home defense or everyday beater.

You want an intermediate cartridge, just pick your preferred platform. I recommend the one you are most experienced & comfortable with.
 

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You want an intermediate cartridge, just pick your preferred platform. I recommend the one you are most experienced & comfortable with.
This exactly. “The best rifle” is arbitrary depending on who the user is. The AR is so popular in the States for the same reason the AK is in the Middle East- it’s available. The best rifle is the one you know how to use effectively. If we want to get into weight, ballistics, ergonomics, ect thats a different story
 

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As much as I love the M1 rifle in today's day and age you have to be careful with it as well. Mainly with the ammunition if you shoot ammunition that's not recommended for the M1 rifle you will bend your operating rod and screw up your rifle. Plus you have to keep in mind it is an enbloc system. If you fire five rounds at the enemy and your squad decides to charge a house you're like well I don't want to have three rounds. I rather have eight you're going to be unloading and then loading your rifle again. Battlefield Detectives all across Europe have found multiple enbloc clips on battlefields with ammunition still in them. Because no soldier is going to pick up a clip with three rounds of ammunition in the snow or mud they're going to move on. It is a phenomenal rifle but it has its limitations that you have to keep in mind. If I had to go to 7.62 I would pick the FN FAL. For starters any 7.62 ammunition you put in that rifle you can adjust your gas system to it the M14 you cannot it. It is very particular when it comes to its ammunition I know I've owned three of them. As for intermediate platforms I would probably go with the M4 the AK. What's nice about the M4 is the availability of parts and the ability to upgrade your rifle easily. Plus in a battlefield situation it's nice that I'm able to exchange ammunition and magazines with a battle buddy. Which in SHTF situation the chance of a friend of yours owning the exact same rifle platform is very likely. So you can actually fight together much more effectively. Still this debate of the best semi-automatic rifle has been going on for how long now. No matter what system you have every platform has its pros and its cons. What I do know about every rifle mentioned on this list has been a war winner and a great battlefield platform. And at the end of the day what matters is what you're comfortable with and how effective you are with a rifle.
 
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