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The most popular battle rifle for competition

The most popular battle rifle for competition

When it comes to battle rifles, there are a few that stand out as the most popular among competitive shooters. Ultimately, the best battle rifle for competition shooting is the one that best suits the shooter’s individual needs and preferences.

However, in this article, we will address the most popular battle rifle for competition such as ViMSAR. Let’s get started.

What is a battle rifle?

A battle rifle is a full powered cartridge rifle that is capable of being used in combat situations. It typically has a detachable magazine, though early versions such as the M1 Garand do not. 

Common battle rifle calibers include but are not limited to:

  • .308 Winchester (or 7.62×51 NATO)
  • 30-06 Springfield
  • 7.62x54R
  • 8mm Mauser (also known as 7.92×57mm or 8x57mm Mauser)

What are the most popular battle rifles for competition?

There are many different types of battle rifles that can be used for competition shooting, but there are a few that stand out as the most popular. These include the M1 Garand, M1A (the civilian version of the M-14), CETME-C (or HK G3 or HK91), FAL, and a few others as well.

Several factors go into determining if a rifle is the most popular including:

  • Availability in the United States
  • Number produced
  • Cost
  • Accuracy

It is also clear that Americans have a real desire to own whatever the US military has issued to troops in the past. It could be a sign of national pride, nostalgia from previous military service or watching movies/TV, or just the sheer availability of that rifle in the US. Whatever it is, it’s a real factor.

ViMSAR stands for Vintage Military Semi-Automatic Rifle. These matches encourage people to keep their rifles close to military stock condition. No national match sights or anything like that. Just plain military ball (lead core FMJ) ammo.

No AR-15s or AR-10s are allowed in the competition. However, it is worth mentioning that SKSs and AKs (only in 7.62×39) are allowed, but they have never won the competition that I have seen, when going up against the rifles listed below. Because of that, and because they are not true battle rifles, they have been excluded from this list.

It took over two years worth of data at Desert Sportsman’s Rifle and Pistol Club to come up with this information. I counted each time a firearm was used during the ViMSAR matches and came up with some interesting information.

Here’s my list of the most popular battle rifle for the competition. 

#10 MAS Mle. 49/56

This is a battle rifle that is chambered in 7.5×54mm French. Produced in 1949,  it was used until 1979 when it was replaced by the FAMAS. Only a couple hundred thousand were produced and they were completely removed from service in 1990. They were known for being fairly reliable.

The data shows that the MAS Mle. 49/56 is not a popular battle rifle among competitive shooters in the United States. This is most likely due to its low availability and high cost. 

Cost: $750

Availability: Rare

Accuracy: Good

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 3

% of Competitors Using It: less than 1%

#9 Tokarev SVT-40

The Tokarev SVT-40 is a Soviet semi-automatic rifle chambered in 7.62x54R. It was used by the Red Army during World War II and was popular among Russian troops. It utilizes a 10-round box magazine and is gas-operated.

1.6 million were produced from 1940 until now, and they are still in service in limited numbers.

The Tokarev SVT-40 is not a popular battle rifle among competitive shooters in the United States. This is most likely due to its low availability and high cost. 

Cost: $2000 and up

Availability: Rare

Accuracy: Fair

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 4

% of Competitors Using It: About 1%

#8 Hakim

The Hakim is an Egyptian semi-automatic rifle that was chambered in the popular 8mm Mauser. It was manufactured from 1954 until 1967 when it was replaced by the Maadi AK.

Only about 70,000 were produced, and they are no longer in service.

The Hakim is not a popular battle rifle among competitive shooters in the United States. This is most likely due to its low availability and high cost. 

Cost: $700 and up

Availability: Rare

Accuracy: Good

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 6

% of Competitors Using It: Less than 2%

#7 Italian BM-59

The Italian BM-59 is a battle rifle similar to the M-14 that was popular among Italian troops. It was chambered in the popular .308 Winchester cartridge and used 20 round box magazines.

These have been getting imported from time to time, but there is not a significant amount of them available on the US market. The shorter than the standard M-14 barrel means it gets less out of the .308 round, and it doesn’t shoot quite as flat at longer distances. 

Cost: $1300 and up

Availability: Rare

Accuracy: Fair

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 7

% of Competitors Using It: About 2%

#6 FAL

The FAL was developed in 1947 and was put into service in 1953. It saw service in over 90 countries. Chambered in 7.62×51 NATO, the FAL was known for being accurate and extremely ergonomic.

It is still in service with many militaries and police forces around the world.

The FAL is a moderately popular battle rifle among competitive shooters in the United States. This is most likely due to its availability and accuracy. 

Cost: $1200 and up

Availability: Moderately Available, being produced new by companies such as DSA

Accuracy: Great

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 9

% of Competitors Using It: About 3%

#5 CETME-C (or G3/HK91)

Designed in 1955, the CETME-C is chambered in 7.62×51 and typically uses a 20 round magazine. It was later adopted by the German military as the G3, or Gewehr 3 (Also known as the HK91).

CETME-C rifles have been imported into the United States for many years and are moderately popular among competitive shooters. They are known for their reliability and accuracy.

The CETME-C is the most popular of the versions showing up at VIMSAR matches.

Cost: $900 and up

Availability: Moderately Available

Accuracy: Fair to Good

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 10

% of Competitors Using It: About 3%

#4 FN49

The FN49 entered service in 1949 and was used by Belgium, Egypt, Argentina, and a few others. It is chambered in .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester, 8mm Mauser, and others, depending on the country that used the design. 

The FN49 is a moderately popular battle rifle among competitive shooters in the United States. This is most likely due to its low availability in the US. Only a few hundred thousand were made.

Cost: $1300 and up

Availability: Moderate

Accuracy: Good to great

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 11

% of Competitors Using It: About 3%

#3 Ljungman AG42B

The Ljungman AG42B is a popular battle rifle among competitive shooters in the United States. It was developed in 1942 and used by Sweden until the 1960s.

It is chambered in 6.5x55mm and is a popular choice for long-range shooting. The Ljungman AG42B is known for its accuracy and reliability.

Interestingly enough, while these are popular at our matches, only about 30,000 were even made. However, they are a very accurate battle rifle, so they are popular with competitive shooters. So, while there are not many out there, they are a popular option for people using a battle rifle in competition.

Cost: $1100 and up

Availability: Rare

Accuracy: Great

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 25

% of Competitors Using It: About 7-8%

#2 M1A

The M1A is a civilian version of the M-14 that was popular among American troops. It is chambered in 7.62×51/.308 Winchester and typically uses 20 round box magazines.

The M14 was the standard issue rifle of the US Military from 1959 to 1970. It was then replaced by the M16 during the Vietnam war. The popularity of this rifle seems to stem from a combination of availability and desire for anything that was fielded by the US military. 

While most M1As are made by Springfield, some of the M1A type rifles at the matches were also produced by others, such as Polytech and James River Armory. They are still produced brand new because they are one of the most popular battle rifles for competition. 

Cost: $1400 and up

Availability: Common

Accuracy: Good 

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 111

% of Competitors Using It: About 35%

#1 Springfield M1 Garand

The M1 Garand is an iconic rifle that helped US troops win WWII. Chambered in 30-06, the M1 Garand also uses an eight round en-bloc clip.

This rifle was used in dozens of wars and was used by many countries as well over the course of its life. The United States stopped using it in 1958, in favor of the M-14. 

The popularity of this rifle cannot be overstated. Over 5 million M1 Garands were made, and many of them have entered the civilian market through programs such as CMP. It’s no shock that this is the most popular battle rifle for competition in the US. 

Cost: $1100 and up

Availability: Common

Accuracy: Good 

# of Times Used in VIMSAR Matches: 141

% of Competitors Using It: About 44%

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