7 Best Sniper Rifle + Buyers Guide

by Travis Pike

February 17, 2022

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Rifles come in different types, each serving specific purposes in the big world of firearms. From hunting rifles to military rifles, and especially sniper rifles, there’s a wide variety made for different jobs. Among them, sniper rifles are known for their accuracy and usefulness in tactical situations. In this article, we’ll explore the best 7 sniper rifle currently available on the market, with a focus on the most advanced and modern options.

Best Sniper Rifles

What Exactly is a Sniper Rifle? 

Most people know exactly what a sniper rifle is, or at least think they do. Tossing a scope on a gun doesn’t make it a sniper rifle. Accuracy is a serious consideration, obviously, but on top of that, the gun needs to be capable and useful in tactical applications. Plenty of highly accurate rifles are built purely for competition and wouldn’t last long in a war-torn country. 

These needs often require the rifle to be lightweight or easy to maneuver. It should be a scoped rifle, and in the modern age, this means compatibility with modern night vision devices. Accuracy is important, as is effective range. 

Sniper rifles should reach out and touch a target with ease. This requires a full-powered rifle cartridge at a minimum. Most modern sniper rifles are pushing for larger, more capable cartridges to increase range and to deal with modern armor threats. 

How I Chose the Best Sniper Rifle

As a former Marine with over two decades of shooting, I’ve seen my fair share of sniper rifles and even had the chance to review some for different companies. But this time, I set out on a mission to find the best sniper rifles that are modern. I was looking for ones that performed well, considering factors like shootability, reliability, ergonomics, accuracy, and value.

Before I put together the list of the best sniper rifles for this article, I talked to some of my shooter buddies who are pros in the field and gathered their suggestions. I wanted to make sure I got a good mix of opinions.

Even though I ranked the sniper rifles from 1 to 7, I made sure to include a variety so there’s something for everyone. And along with the list, I’ve included a simple buyer’s guide to help you know what to look for when buying a sniper rifle.

Finding the right sniper rifle is a personal journey. What works for me might not work for you. So, my advice? Have a read through the review, try out different models, and find the one that feels like the perfect fit for you.

Best Sniper Rifles

Best Sniper Rifles

Barrett MRAD
  • Easy to change between Multiple Calibers/Lengths
  • Adjustable and Quick-change Trigger
  • Folding Buttstock
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Knight's SR-25
  • 20” match barrel
  • Drop-In 2-Stage Trigger
  • 7.62 QDC Flash Suppressor
Check Price
Accuracy International L96A1/AW 
  • Effective Range 800 to 1750 yards
  • Accurate and Rugged
Check Price
Remington 700 Tactical
  • 20″ Heavy Barrel
  • Accepts AAC and other 5/8-24 threaded flash hiders
Check Price
Barrett M82
  • Semi-Automatic
  • Effective Range 2,000 yards
Check Price
McMillan TAC-50
  • Bolt Action Design
  • 29 inch Barrel
Check Price
SCAR 20S
  • Short-stroke gas piston
  • Extended monolithic receiver
Check Price

Best Sniper Rifles – Reviews

How does one choose the best sniper rifles? Well, rifles date right back to the civil war effectively and have continued to evolve. If we took this from a historical perspective, it’d be a very long list. So, I’m going to keep in the modern era with sniper rifles still being used and produced to this day. Guns like the M1D won’t make the list, even though it’s pretty freaking sweet. 

1. Barrett MRAD

Barrett MRAD

Barrett MRAD

The MRAD, or Multi-role Adaptive Design, originally came to be due to the SOCOM Precision Sniper Rifle program. Barretts has always been up for producing something innovative, capable, and accurate and sniper rifles are their bread and butter.

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  • Shootability B+
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 22 Reviews

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Barrett MRAD Specs

  • Calibers Various 
  • Action Bolt Action
  • Effective Firing Range 1,600 Yards 
  • Notable Users US Army, US Marine Corps, SOCOM

Barrett MRAD Review

The Barrett MRAD struck gold with both the United States Army and Marine Corps. The MRAD, or Multi-role Adaptive Design, originally came to be due to the SOCOM Precision Sniper Rifle program. Barretts has always been up for producing something innovative, capable, and accurate and sniper rifles are their bread and butter. 

The MRAD’s got a lot of claims to fame, but the main feature that drew the gun so much attention is the ability to easily swap calibers. Users can swap calibers by removing two Torx screws, changing the bolt face, and possibly a magazine change. Each barrel has a factory headspaced bolt face that covers a major problem with quick caliber conversions. 

For the Marine Corps and Army, the ability to swap between 338 Lapua Magnum, .300 Winchester magnum, and the classic 7.62 NATO makes the MRAD missionally and logistically adaptable. Snipers will be armed with a single rifle that could be used in a multitude of missions around the world. 

The MRAD uses a bolt action rifle design paired with an extremely modern chassis system. This accommodates a wide variety of optics, including thermal and night vision clip-ons that sit in front of your traditional rifle optic. Users can outfit an MRAD with every possible gizmo and gadget to make it a modern tactical sniper rifle. From high-powered IR lasers to simple bipods, the MRAD can accept it all. 

On the opposite side, the user-adjustable stock allows for maximum comfort and compatibility with various shooter sizes. An adjustable cheek rest allows the user to choose between different height mounts and different optic types.

You can read the full review of the Barrett MRAD here.

Barrett MRAD Deals

Barrett MRAD Ammo Options

Lapua .338 Lapua

338 Lapua Magnum

Marketplace
Cost
OpticsPlanet $69.99
Winchester 300 Win Mag

300 Winchester Magnum

Marketplace
Cost
Sportsman’s Guide $52.99

2. Knights SR-25

Knight_s SR-25

Knights SR-25

Knight’s Armory is a legendary company that’s provided some of our top-tier warfighters with the best weapons on the market.

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  • Shootability A-
  • Reliability A-
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A-

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

D-

Based on 5 Reviews

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Knight’s SR-25 

  • Calibers 7.62 NATO and 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Action Semi-Auto 
  • Effective Firing Range 875 yards
  • Notable Users U.S. Army, Marine Corps, SOCOM

Knight’s SR-25 Review

Knight’s Armory is a legendary company that’s provided some of our top-tier warfighters with the best weapons on the market. They’ve long offered Special Operations forces weapons, and suppressors, and most of the military systems utilize their rail designs. The SR-25 took the AR-10 style platform to new heights. 

Eugene Stoner himself worked with Knight’s Armory to perfect the 7.62 NATO AR, and thus the Stoner Rifle was born. Since then, this gas-operated, semi-automatic, direct impingement rifle has served some of the most elite forces in the world. The SR-25 came to be at a time when the bolt action sniper rifle ruled and was one of the first semi-auto sniper rifles to prove its merit. 

As warfighting evolved, the SR-25 followed suit. It became known as the Mk11 by SOCOM and the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The Mk11 served until 2017 with a number of sniper forces and proved its mettle in the Global War on Terror. I’ve been personally supported by a Scout Sniper team carrying the Mk11 Mod 0 in Afghanistan and felt quite safe. 

The Mk11 Mod 0 faded away, but the M110 SASS was born and used the SR-25 as its base rifle. The Marine Corps loved the Mk11 so much that they’d only replace it with a one-for-one swap for M110 SASS rifles. The M110 uses a URX rail, a stock with an adjustable LOP, a flash hider with suppressor QD, and a one-piece 30mm scope mount. 

The SR-25 retains the modularity of the Armalite rifles and has and will continue to be used as a semi-auto sniper rifle in various configurations around the world. 

L96A1/AW Specs

  • Calibers 7.62 NATO, 338 Lapua, 300 Winchester Magnum 
  • Action Bolt 
  • Effective Firing Range 800 to 1750 yards
  • Notable Users British Armed Forces, Australian Defense Force 

Accuracy International L96A1/AW Review

Accuracy International is the James Bond of sniper rifle companies. I don’t mean that just because they’re British either. They produce highly refined rifles at a high cost, but you can rightly expect significant performance out of the weapon as well. The L96A1 Arctic Warfare model might be one of the more legendary and well-known sniper rifles with a long history of service with the British Military and across Europe. 

The AI L96A1 rifles utilize a proven and time-tested bolt action and come in 7.62 NATO, 300 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Lapua magnum. Accuracy wise the rifle guarantees a .5 MOA group at 100 yards, making it absurdly accurate. Unlike many sniper rifles, the AI L96A1 design was not an accurized sporting rifle but a built from the ground up sniper rifle. 

The chief benefit is accuracy and a rugged design. Additionally, the rifle is modular and flexible, and caliber conversions are possible with minimal hassle to an armorer. Also, the use of a chassis system rather than a polymer or wood stock helps make the Accuracy International rifle a mainstay among snipers. 

In fact, it’s such a successful design that other companies use AI chassis on other rifles. For example, the Mk13 uses a Remington 700 action but an Accuracy International chassis. The Arctic Warfare model improved reliability in cold conditions. They used de-icing features to allow the rifle to reliably work in -40 degree temperatures. 

On top of that, they increased the size of the controls and functions to be easily used with gloves. The Arctic Warfare model has become the stock standard name for the famed Accuracy International rifle.

4. Remington 700 Tactical

Remington 700 Tactical

Remington 700 Tactical

The Remington 700 went on to become the M24, the M40, the M2010, and the Mk13 sniper rifle systems.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A-

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 15 Reviews

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Remington 700 Tactical Specs

  • Calibers 7.62 NATO, 300 Winchester Magnum, Numerous others
  • Action Bolt 
  • Effective Firing Range 800 to 1300 yards
  • Notable Users Entire US Armed Forces 

Remington 700 Tactical Review

The Remington 700 came to be in 1962, and the initial design was for a sporting rifle. While the rifle started life as a hunting rifle, the accuracy of the rifle quickly caught the eye of numerous burgeoning sniper rifle programs. The Remington 700 went on to become the M24, the M40, the M2010, and the Mk13 sniper weapon system.

I’m certainly missing some overseas variants of the Remington 700 Tactical and likely missing some of the domestic sniper rifle variants. The Remington 700 series are bolt action rifles designed with the idea of producing a rifle that had tight bore and chamber tolerances, and a very fast lock time. At the same time, the rifle needed to be capable of being easily mass-produced. 

Thus the Remington 700 was born. The Remington 700 provided snipers with a lightweight but extremely accurate rifle. Accuracy on top of simplicity and capability became the strength of the Remington 700, and both short and long action models have seen military service. The Marine Corps uses the M40A7 in 7.62 NATO, as well as the Mk13 Mod 7 in .300 Winchester Magnum. 

The Army labeled their Remington 700 the M24, which evolved from a simple 7.62 NATO bolt gun to the chassis enhanced M2010 sniper rifle in .300 Winchester Magnum. Remington 700 rifles have been used by numerous police snipers and forces, including LAPD and NYPD SWAT teams.

While the Remington 700 might be showing its age, the weapon perseveres and adapts as necessary for the next mission set. 

Remington 700 Tactical Deals

5. Barrett M82

Barrett M82

Barrett M82

The M82 offers snipers an anti-material rifle with extremely long-range capabilities. It’s less for personnel engagement and better suited for efficient penetration of material targets.

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  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A-
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

A-

Based on 8 Reviews

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Barrett M82 Specs

  • Calibers 50 BMG
  • Action Semi-automatic
  • Effective Firing Range 2,000 yards
  • Notable Users United States Military, French GIGN, Canadian JTF2 

Barrett M82 Review

A 50 BMG shoulder-fired rifle seems near impossible, but Barrett found a way to make it work. Not only did it work, but it worked well enough to become the M107 sniper rifle. Barrett utilized a semi-automatic action that used recoil operation. The barrel moves rearward with the bolt for a short period before stopping and being returned forward by a set of large springs. 

This use of a short recoil design with a massive muzzle device makes the Barrett series surprisingly manageable recoil-wise. I’d place it up there with a 12 gauge shotgun. As you’d imagine, the weapon is massive and quite heavy. The standard M82 utilizes a 20-inch barrel and has an overall length of 48 inches. The rifle tops the scales at 29.7 pounds. 

It’s roughly the same size and weight as a medium machine gun. The weight and length require the user to use the weapon in a supported position. Barrett includes a folding bipod to aid in supported shooting and a carry handle for administrative movements. 

The M82 offers snipers an anti-material rifle with extremely long-range capabilities. It’s less for personnel engagement and better suited for efficient penetration of material targets. 

The M82 and its 50 BMG round can stop cars, trucks, and even lightly armored vehicles, destroy equipment, and pierce through the cover. Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams even use the M82 to destroy explosive devices and detonate the devices from a distance. 

6. McMillan TAC-50

McMillan TAC-50

McMillan TAC-50

The TAC-50 uses a bolt design, and it’s considered a precision anti-material rifle. The finely tuned bolt action design squeezes the most accuracy possible out of a round designed for machine guns.

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  • Shootability A-
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A-
  • Accuracy A-
  • Value B+

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 3 Reviews

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McMillan TAC-50 Specs

  • Calibers 50 BMG
  • Action Bolt
  • Effective Firing Range 2,000 Yards
  • Notable Users JTF2, US Navy SEALs 

McMillan TAC-50 Review

How could you make a list of the world’s best sniper rifles without including the rifle used to make the longest kill shot in history? Canadian commandos with the elite JTF2 utilized the McMillan TAC 50 to kill a member of ISIS at 3,540 meters, which equates to 2.2 miles in freedom units. JTF2 isn’t the only elite force using the TAC-50. Snipers with the SEAL teams utilize the TAC-50 as the Mk 15. 

The TAC-50’s bolt-action design is a hallmark of precision rifles, and it’s considered a precision anti-material rifle. The finely tuned bolt action design squeezes the most accuracy possible out of a round designed for machine guns. It’s exceptionally accurate and does typically outperform the Barrett M82 in that department.

Weight-wise it’s still a beast at 26 pounds but does feature a long 29-inch barrel. That barrel is a match-grade design that’s made by renowned barrel company, Lija to precise standards. The barrel features fluting to decrease weight and improve cooling capabilities. In the end, we have a familiar booking and massive muzzle brake that certainly cuts down the recoil. 

The TAC-50 comes with a fiberglass stock and a folding bipod. The stock can be adjusted for length and even removed for transport purposes. It’s a mighty rifle that will help you send several hundred grains of lead downrange in a very accurate manner. 

McMillan TAC-50 Deals

7. SCAR 20S

SCAR 20S

SCAR 20S

FN’s SCAR series of rifles have seen numerous configurations and designs to make the platform an all-in-one choice for special operations personnel. The SCAR 20S is the civilian variant of what’s now designated the MK 20 SSR. The MK 20 SSR.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A-
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

C+

Based on 4 Reviews

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SCAR 20S / MK 20 SSR Specs

  • Calibers 7.62 NATO / 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Action Semi-Auto
  • Effective Firing Range 800 Yards
  • Notable Users US Navy SEALs, SOCOM 

SCAR 20S / MK 20 SSR Review

FN’s SCAR series of rifles have seen numerous configurations and designs to make the platform an all-in-one choice for special operations personnel. The SCAR 20S is the civilian variant of what’s now designated the MK 20 SSR. The MK 20 SSR, or sniper support weapon, is a semi-auto, short-stroke gas piston rifle that utilizes America’s favorite .30 caliber fighting round the 7.62 NATO. For civilian shooters, the 6.5 Creedmoor is also an option. 

FN’s SCAR series were plenty accurate, but they took it a step further with the SSR and ensured it provided top-flight accuracy for a semi-auto rifle. The 20S series SCAR offers a full-length monolithic upper receiver that allows snipers to mount a wide variety of optics. This includes day and night optics, laser aiming devices, and more. 

The 20S uses a 20-inch barrel that makes good use of the 7.62 NATO round. FN lengthened the receiver to better support the barrel and ensure snipers could accessorize the weapon as necessary. The stock is fixed but highly adjustable in the length of the pull and cheek weld department. 

The MK 20 SSR doesn’t provide the longest range capabilities but does offer accurate, rapid-fire capabilities for close to moderate range precision. Luckily, FN released a civilian variant of the weapon that matches the Military’s model. 

SCAR 20S Deals

Best Sniper Rifle – Buyer’s Guide

While the reviews can point you in the right direction, choosing the best sniper rifle really comes down to what you need and like. There’s a lot to consider, so here are some key factors to keep in mind when selecting a sniper rifle.

Factors To Consider When Buying a Sniper Rifle

Define Your Purpose: Start by asking yourself why you need a sniper rifle. Are you a professional shooter, a dedicated hunter, or a long-range enthusiast? Understanding your purpose will guide your decision-making process and help you prioritize features that matter most to you.

Consider Caliber: Think about the distances you’ll be shooting and the type of targets you’ll be engaging. Caliber choice impacts everything from accuracy to recoil. For example, .308 Winchester is a versatile option for medium-range shooting, while .338 Lapua Magnum excels at extreme distances. Choose a caliber that matches your intended use and shooting preferences.

Action Type: Decide between bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles based on your shooting style and preferences. Bolt-action rifles are known for their precision and reliability, making them popular among professional snipers. Semi-automatic rifles offer faster follow-up shots but may sacrifice some accuracy. Consider how you’ll be using the rifle to determine the best action type for you.

Accuracy: Look for rifles with a reputation for exceptional accuracy. Read reviews, watch demonstrations, and seek feedback from experienced shooters to gauge a rifle’s performance. Pay attention to factors like barrel quality, chamber tolerances, and trigger mechanisms, which can significantly impact accuracy.

Build Quality and Durability: Invest in a rifle built to withstand the rigors of shooting in various conditions. Look for manufacturers known for their craftsmanship and attention to detail. Quality materials like stainless steel and aluminum contribute to durability, while advanced polymers offer lightweight strength.

Ergonomics: Choose a sniper rifle that feels comfortable and natural to shoot. Pay attention to factors like weight distribution, balance, and recoil management. Features like adjustable stocks and ergonomic grips enhance user comfort and shooting performance.

Customization Options: Consider how you’ll personalize your rifle to suit your preferences and shooting needs. Look for rifles with modular designs and accessory compatibility. Features like Picatinny rails, adjustable stocks, and ergonomic grips allow you to tailor the rifle to your liking.

Budget: Set a realistic budget based on your financial resources and shooting aspirations. While high-end sniper rifles can be expensive, there are also affordable options available that offer excellent performance and value. Consider the long-term investment of owning a quality rifle, including maintenance and accessory costs.

Test Before Buying: Whenever possible, test-fire different rifles to experience their performance firsthand. Visit shooting ranges, attend demonstrations, and participate in rental programs to evaluate rifles in real-world conditions. Testing allows you to assess factors like trigger feel, recoil, and overall shootability before making a purchase.

Sniper Rifles Rule 

Since most military weapons feature a giggle switch, there aren’t many you can often own as an accurate representation of the rifles. Most sniper rifles are either bolt action or semi-auto weapons, and the average Joe doesn’t have much of an issue owning one or building a rifle into their dream sniper rifle. 

Plus, who doesn’t love a weapon that sees 1,000 yards of range just to warm up? What’s your favorite sniper rifle? Let us know below!

Best Sniper Rifle – FAQs

What is the effective range of a sniper rifle?

The effective range of a sniper rifle can vary quite a bit depending on a few things, like what caliber it’s using, the type of ammo, and how skilled the shooter is. Generally, though, modern sniper rifles are pretty impressive, able to hit targets accurately anywhere from a few hundred yards out to well over a thousand yards.

What caliber is best for long-range shooting?

Choosing the right caliber for long-range shooting really depends on what you’re looking to achieve. Some popular options are .308 Winchester, which is great for medium to long distances, and 6.5 Creedmoor, known for its flat trajectory and low recoil. For really long shots, you might consider .300 Winchester Magnum or .338 Lapua Magnum. Each has its pros and cons, so think about your specific needs and preferences.

Can you customize your sniper rifle?

Yes, many sniper rifles offer customization options, such as adjustable stocks, rails for mounting accessories like scopes and bipods, and interchangeable barrels or calibers. Customizing your rifle allows you to tailor it to your preferences and shooting style, much like a trained sniper would do to optimize performance.

Can a sniper’s rifle use the same ammunition as other firearms?

While some sniper rifles may use common ammunition calibers, such as .308 Winchester or 7.62 NATO, others may require specialized ammunition tailored to the rifle’s design and intended purpose. It’s essential for snipers to use ammunition optimized for accuracy and performance in their specific rifle platform.

Are sniper rifles legal for civilian ownership?

Yes, in many countries, including the United States, civilians can legally own sniper rifles. However, there are regulations and licensing requirements that vary by location. It’s important to check and follow the specific laws in your area to make sure you’re in compliance.

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Happy 4th of July, I hope your guys are having a great weekend.

    Just a quick comment. I understand that this is a little after the fact and probably doesn’t really matter but….

    The USMC uses the M40A6. There is no A7, A6 is the latest variant. Also the Mk13 mod 7 is not a REM 700 based system. It uses a Stiller action. The older mod 5 version was a 700 but the mod 7 is not.

    Have a great day

  2. A great many people know the very thing an expert rifleman rifle is, or possibly figure they do. Throwing an extension on a weapon doesn’t make it an expert sharpshooter rifle. Exactness is a not kidding thought, clearly, however in addition, the firearm should be fit and valuable in strategic applications. A lot of exceptionally precise rifles are fabricated only for contest and wouldn’t keep going long in a conflict torn country.

    These necessities regularly require the rifle to be lightweight or simple to move with. It ought to be a checked rifle, and in the cutting edge age, this implies similarity with current night vision gadgets. Precision is significant, as is viable reach.

    Expert rifleman rifles ought to connect with an objective easily. This requires a full-controlled bullet at the very least. Most present day sharpshooter rifles are pushing for bigger, more competent cartridges to increment range and to manage current defensive layer dangers

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