Best Of Rifle Roundup 2023

America's most popular types of rifles and the accessories which make them even better.

posted on January 5, 2024
Rifleroundup Cover

There's more to the modern firearm world than just defensive pistols. The AR-15 and other rifles are a fun way to spend a day at the range, and they also work well for home defense and competing in a variety of different shooting sports.

Those are some of the reasons why we rolled out "Rifle Roundup" in 2023, a new monthly video series to give our readers of what's out there in the world of rifles, carbines and similar guns. Here are the top five videos of 2023, and we look forward to more years of showing you the best what's out there in the world modern rifles.

5: FN America FN15 Guardian Rifle, Swampfox TriHawk Optic, Mantis Blackbeard X

The modularity of the AR-15 is one of the reasons why it’s the most popular centerfire rifle in America. However, that modularity means it’s hard to know where to begin your AR-15 journey. A well-built AR with a free-floating barrel and adjustable stock is a great place to start, and that’s just what the FN15 Guardian gives you. Add in a three power prism optic from Swampfox optics, and you have an excellent general-purpose AR-15.

A rifle, any rifle, is only as effective as the person behind the trigger, so an easy to use and effective training system like the Mantis Blackbeard X comes in, giving you feedback on your trigger pull and other important accuracy measurements

4: Rifle Roundup: Rock River Arms LEF-T AR-15, Primary Arms GLX 1-6x Optic, Angled Foregrip

Sure, the AR-15 is great, but if you’re left-handed (or cross-eye dominant) and shoot rifles from your left shoulder, the ejection port winds up right in front of your face, which is not pleasant. The LEF-T series of Ars solves that problem, plus it has controls that are very friendly to southpaws.

LPVOs, or Low Power Variable Optics, are a popular optic for an AR, and the Primary Arms GLX 1-6x is a good example of a quality, budget-friendly scope. With enough zoom to get you out to 400 meters and the ACSS reticle, it’s darn close to a “do it all” optic for your AR-pattern gun.

A solid, consistent grip is one of the keys to good marksmanship, and an angled foregrip on your rifle helps you place your support hand on the same spot, time after time. The version we have, made by Stark Engineering, is out of production, but similar grips are made by Magpul, FAB Defense and others.

3: Suppressed APF .300 BLK AR-15, Lucid Optics P8 Sight

.300 Blackout, or .300 BLK for short, was originally created as a response for a .30-caliber round that could work in an AR-15. It’s blossomed since then into something that’s useful for all sorts of applications, including home defense and hunting. The APF rife we shot is a full-featured .300 BLK gun with all the performance you need to take advantage of the .300 BLK round.  

A prismatic optic makes a great alternative to a red dot. The etched reticle means you don’t need batteries during daylight hours, and it works great for people who are dealing with astigmatism. On top of that, a prism optic can be magnified, something that’s not true of a red dot. The Lucid Optics P8 gives you 4x magnification and all those great features we just mentioned, plus it uses a blue LED for illumination, making it easier on the eyes and giving you longer battery life.

.300 BLK was designed from the get-go to be suppressed, and so a suppressor is a natural accessory choice for a gun chambered in that round. The particular SIG Sauer suppressor we used has been replaced with other models, but with subsonic ammo, it’s a safer way to enjoy a trip to the range or a hunt in the woods.  

2: .224 Valkyrie Wilson Combat Super Sniper Leupold Mark 5HD Optic, Luth-AR Stock

When most people think on an AR-15, they think of a maximum effective distance of around 500 yards, which is where the 5.56 NATO starts to run out of juice. Swapping out the upper of a 5.56 NATO AR with something chambered in Federal’s .224 Valkyrie cartridge, however, means your AR can now reach out and touch targets at 1,000 yards and beyond. Team that up with the quality and care that’s built into every Wilson Combat AR-15, and you may just have the ultimate long-distance AR-15.

A long-range AR needs a long-range scope, which is why we topped the AR with a Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18x-44mm scope. The first focal plane reticle meant I could effectively range my target, and the clear, ultra-sharp glass meant we could see the darn thing at distances which reached out past 1,400 yards.

Consistency is the key to success in long-range shooting, so we swapped out the stock that came with the Super Sniper for one made by Luth-AR. This allowed us to set the length of pull, comb height and other parts of the stock to where we had a consistent and repeatable view behind the optic, which also sped up our engagement times.

1: Springfield Armory Saint, Holosun 510c Sight, Surefire Scout Light

A quality AR-15 from a well-known and well-respected manufacturer is hard to beat, and the Springfield Armory Saint M-Lok is all that in spades. It has the features you want in a beginner’s AR-15, such as an M-Lok fore-end for adding accessories, an upper receiver topped with Picatinny rails for adding optics and an adjustable stock for comfort and convenience.

You may not need anything more from your AR-15 other than what comes standard on this rifle, but it’s nice to know that if you do, you’ll have a solid foundation for wherever your fancy may take you.

Speaking of hard to beat combinations, the 1-2-3 punch of a selectable reticle, great value and rock-solid reputation of the Holosun 510c open reflex sight combine to create a rifle optic that works well with any AR-15 out to 100 yards and beyond. The model we used has a red LED laser powering the reticle, but green a LED version is also available. If you need/want it, there is also a separately available lower 1/3 co-witness spacer that increases the dot height to 1.63 inches.

Home defense is one of the main reasons why people buy AR-15, and it is well-suited to that task. Positive identification of the target (PID) is absolutely essential in a home defense situation, so adding a weapon-mounted light, or WML is a very good idea for any dedicated home defense gun. The Surefire Turbo Scout Light Pro gives you the proven ruggedness of a Surefire light teamed up with the increased candela and throw of the Turbo series, resulting in a light that can reach out and light up target within common home defense encounters. Add in the ability to run either a 18650B rechargeable battery or two CR123A batteries, and it’s a “must have” for your defensive AR-15.


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