7 Best .223 Rifles in 2020 – An Overview

Best .223 Rifles FI

Getting the best .223 rifle can be a challenge for anyone. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated, as long as you know what exactly you’re looking for. A reliable rifle that is chambered in the .223 caliber is one of the best options to help you through almost any shooting application you can think of. Whether you need one for target shooting, game hunting, home defense, or even self defense, you can always count on the .223 rifle to get the job done. 

The Purpose: What is a .223 Rifle Used for

The .223 is popular for several applications such as:

Hunting

A great .223 rifle is based used for varmint or big game hunting. The rounds on this firearm have enough velocity to tear through an animal’s hide and bone to knock them down instantly. 

Target Shooting

This is a good option to level up on your marksmanship at the range. Most .223s can be dangerously accurate with the right kind of scope or optic. Such cartridges can even reach targets that are about 200 to 300 yards away. 

Competitive Shooting

Similar to target shooting, accuracy is an important factor if you’re planning to join a competition. The closer you get to the bullseye, the better advantage you have over your opponent. With easy handling, this is an easy solution that benefits many amateur and professionals alike. 

The Criteria: How to Choose a .223 Rifle

But before we go into our top .223 rifles and their reviews, here are a few characteristics and aspects that will have an impact on your purchasing decision while on the hunt for a new .223. 

Quality

The overall quality of your .223 rifle will be determined by the type of materials used to fabricate each component of the rifle. A good weapon will have upper and lower receivers made from high quality aluminum that is able to handle all kinds of impact and abuse that you’re likely to subject your rifle to. 

Other materials that you may want to consider include polymer. These synthetic materials can be commonly found in some parts and aftermarket accessories such as the rifle magazine. Generally, the better the quality, the better chance your weapon will last you through a long period. 

Overall Performance

Another thing to take note of is what other buyers are saying about the rifle. You may want to look for a .223 rifle that offers the best reliability and accuracy. Or, maybe you prefer to get an option that supports you best while hunting down a big game. 

Regardless of what you plan to do with your rifle, the overall performance of the rifle would act as a good indicator of whether it is worth investing in. You only need to ask a few simple questions like how accurate it is and which application will perform the best to decide whether it’s a good fit for you.

Price

For those on a strict budget, you don’t have to worry as you will most certainly find a high quality .223 rifle that is also affordable. However, do always keep in mind that you should be aiming for the best quality that you can afford instead of settling for something that is cheap both in price tag and quality. 

More often than not, it’s better to spend that extra money than to spend less on a rifle that is a total disappointment in both quality and performance. Not only will you not enjoy shooting with this rifle, but you may even possibly have to spend extra to get a replacement. 

The Best .223 Rifles – An Overview

On our list today is some of the best .223 rifles you can find on the market right now. Whether you prefer something from the AR platform or a more traditional style, there’s definitely something on this list for everyone. As you go through each rifle and their review, do remember to take note of their unique characteristics and functions to best determine whether it’ll make the right fit for you. 

1. Ruger 16” AR 15 5.56 Rear Sight Rifle

Best Overall

First on our list is the Ruger 16” AR 15 5.56 Rear Sight Rifle that comes with an impressive 30 + 1 round capacity. In terms of construction, this model is pretty solid with just the right length – not too long or too short. It comes with a black anodized finish and houses either the 5.56 or Remington .223 round.  

The Ruger AR-556 rifle comes with a 16-inch medium contoured and cold hammer forged barrel that delivers exceptionally precise rifling. This means that you can expect very good shooting accuracy and construction to last you many years. 

The Ruger AR .223 5 56 rifle, even offers a tough synthetic telescoping buttstock with an M4 style design. Heat-resistant glass-filled nylon handguards are even included in the gun to let you continuously shoot off ammunition without your support hand getting hot. 

Along with this super accurate barrel, the rifle comes with a direct impingement type, which is more accurate than alternative piston action rifles. Additionally, you even get a flash suppressor muzzle, front sight tool, and a Magpul PMAG 30+1 magazine. Overall, this lightweight, accurate, and the high capacity gun only weighs 6.5 pounds, meaning you can go hunting without feeling like carrying a boulder.

The Ruger AR 15 Rifle has a nice pistol grip that makes a great fit for those who just enjoy shooting around at the range. Whether you’re tuning up or shooting targets, this rifle will certainly make the job a whole lot more fun. Other than making for a more enjoyable target shooting session at the range, this AR 556 even makes its money by knocking down varmint and big game by consistently hitting the bullseye. 

Customer Feedback

Many customers were happy with the rifle as they found that they could easily fire off accurate rounds from various distances. One even noted that he consistently hit the bullseyes of targets around 200 to 300 yards away once he had the scope installed onto the rifle. Aside from that, many have also noted that the firearm has reduced recoil compared to the others right out of the box. 

Overall

If you need an AR 15 .223 rifle that is considered as one of the best in the market, then the functions to Ruger 16” AR 556 Rear Sight Rifle may just be it. This rifle offers great value for money in the AR platform as it delivers great quality, performance, and reliability. 

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • High capacity
  • Precisely rifled barrel with no jamming issue
  • Very accurate shots 
  • Lightweight
  • Heat-resistant handguards

Cons

  • Slightly heavy pull weight
  • May need to be cleaned and re-oiled frequently
  • May require some adjustments to the sight for better accuracy

2. Daniel Defense DDM4V11 Carbine Rifle

Runner Up

Next on our list is a Daniel Defense .223 compatible Carbine Rifle that also offers a 30 + 1 ammo capacity. The KeyMod system on the rifle is integrated into their new SLiM RAIL Technology that offers better recoil resistance for accessories installed on it. 

The .223 rifle is equipped with a full-length Picatinny rail and uses a mid-length gas system to allow for super-smooth shots with little perceived recoil. The cold hammer forged and free-floating Government profiled barrel helps dramatically in terms of accuracy. The good heat dissipation also ensures the barrel stays cool even after an extended period of shooting. 

The Daniel Defense DDM4V11 Carbine Rifle is an excellent option for those who plan on using the .223 rifle for hunting and target shooting applications. This heavy duty hunting rifle has just enough firepower to help you reach out and knock down any big game or varmint in the field. It is also a good choice for those who love to customize their firearms. 

Although this .223 rifle does not have any obvious disadvantages, a slight improvement that can be suggested in its construction is to include a thicker recoil pad. Based on the stock, the pad seems to be either too thin or practically non-existent. A thicker one will help to reduce recoil action and make it more comfortable for the shooter. 

Customer Feedback

It is clear that nobody went home disappointed after giving the DDM4V11 Carbine Rifle a test run on the field. Many noted that they were able to quickly install their preferred scope onto the rifle to easily knock down targets from as far as 250 yards away. People are also impressed at how light the rifle feels even with a full magazine setup. 

Overall

All things considered, if you’re looking for an AR style .223 rifle to take out for varmint hunting or any big game hunting, then this firearm might just be right up your alley. This gun’s long range shooting ability, reduced recoil, and the ability to let off smooth, rapid rounds in succession will certainly help you bring back your latest trophy. 

Pros

  • KeyMod enabled
  • Government profiled barrel
  • Comes with full-length Picatinny rail
  • High capacity magazine with 30+1 rounds
  • Very accurate shooting with no jamming 
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Accessory focused

3. Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II .223 Rem/5.56 NATO M-Lok Rifle

Best for Money

The Smith & Wesson rifle is possibly one of the most affordable rifles you can find on the market that also delivers high performance. At a reasonable price point, this .223 rifle comes with a good sight to help you land accurate shots and an M Lok rail to help you out with customization. 

While it was designed predominantly for target shooting and sporting purposes, the M&P15 Sport II gas-operated action type rifle can also be used for home defense and hunting as well. 

The .223 bolt action rifle features a classic styled A2 front post and a folding Magpul MBUS rear sight to make a great combination for short to mid range target acquisitions. The rifle’s full length stands at about 35 inches long and it’s made with a lightweight polymer to help you maneuver easily during tactical situations. 

While this is a reliable rifle that will simply get the job done, one improvement that can be made to ensure a better shooting experience is to allow some adjustments to the sight itself. The rifle can also be made a little smaller so that it won’t appear to be too bulky. Despite the collapsible stock that makes it much more portable, storing this battle rifle might still be a challenge due to the large sight. 

Customer Feedback

Recent customers were quite satisfied with the rifle overall, especially since it fits their budget scale. Most of them were able to fully utilize the red/green sight while the rifle itself provided pretty good shooting ability. In fact, someone was happy to find that he was able to consistently knock down targets accurately from various distances of 50 yards and above. Furthermore, the rifle also feels pretty lightweight, which makes it easier for them to carry around. 

Overall

The bottom line is that the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II .223 Rem/5.56 NATO M-Lok Rifle makes for an excellent multi-purpose firearm that won’t cost you an arm and leg. This durable and reliable firearm will serve its purpose in almost any application such as target shooting and hunting and easily exceeds the expectations of what a budget gun should be. 

Pros

  • Durable quality
  • M Lok Handguard for easy customization
  • Reliable shooting
  • Includes red/green optic for accurate and precise shootings
  • Collapsible stock
  • A2 front sight post and Magpul MBUS rear sight
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Trigger pull weight might be heavy
  • M Lok rail may not accept accessories that fit on Picatinny or Weaver rails
  • Grip may not fit everyone

4. Springfield Armory Saint Edge 5.56 NATO AR 15 Rifle

Best .223 Semi Automatic Rifle

Next on our list is the Springfield Armory Saint AR 15 is one of the best battle rifles and it comes with a 16-inch barrel length and a large capacity magazine of 30+1 rounds. It also features a removable magazine and flat-top design with a sleek black finish. 

The battle rifle has a Chrome Moly Vanadium barrel with a 1:8 twist rate to enable the firearm to handle a wide range of bullet types. Other than that, the M16 bolt carrier group installed into the rifle uses a mid-length gas system accompanied by a tungsten buffer to deliver exceptionally smooth functionality in the shooting process. 

Included with the rifle are a flip-up rear aperture sight and an A2 style fixture up front that you’ll normally see on AR style rifles. Moreover, the 16-inch barrel length Springfield Armory Saint Edge AR 15 Rifle has a direct impingement action type, which gives you better accuracy compared to gas piston type designs. 

This standard AR 15 rifle is popular among target shooters as it delivers a smooth cycling and firing ability, one of the most reliable of .223 rifles that we’ve discussed so far. Pair that with precise accuracy and you’ve got a winner on your hands. 

One example that could be changed on the AR 15 Rifle is to make it much easier to assemble and disassemble. Cleaning and maintaining this rifle may take a while, but it shouldn’t pose as a challenge to users. Hence, it is best to come up with a design that can be assembled/disassembled within minutes. 

Customer Feedback

Most customers had no trouble firing off their new assault rifle. Competitive shooters looking for a rifle with a good trigger system that delivers smooth firing capabilities while still being light enough for them to quickly move around have also come to appreciate this .223 rifle. 

Overall

If you’re a fan of semi auto operation, then you may not need to look much further than this rifle. This .223 rifle is one of the best .223 rifles and will definitely give you the best firing ability that you’ll ever experience with no jams, no issues, and no problem. 

Pros

  • Chrome Moly Vanadium barrel
  • High accuracy at various distances
  • Easily customizable
  • Solid construction with durable components
  • Lightweight rifle

Cons

  • May not be suitable for beginners
  • Some adjustments may be required
  • Might be a challenge to assemble and disassemble rifle

5. Remington Model 700 SPS Varmint .223 26

Best .223 Varmint Rifle

The .223 Remington Model 700 varmint rifle was designed for exceptionally accurate shooting. The tactical rifle is designed based on the original and renowned Remington model 700 target gun to bring you all of the signature elements in an updated and reasonably priced package. 

This is a bolt action rifle that basically screams “hunting rifle” and you can quite easily tell that it’s made for hunting uses just by looking at it. 

The original Model 700 is one of American’s favorite bolt action centerfire rifles, but the tactical version now comes with a lightweight yet sturdy Hogue Overmolded synthetic stock to give you a really solid grip on your rifle through all sorts of weather conditions. On top of that, this .223 Remington 700 rifle even has an added semi-beavertail forend to let you shoot more stably from a rest. 

The .223 Remington rifle has a heavy contour carbon steel barrel for enhanced versatility,  accuracy, and durability. It has even been drilled and tapped to provide you with the ability to mount sights if needed. The dual point pillar bedding built into the rifle also helps to give the gun a superior ability to shoot accurately at long range distances while its SuperCell recoil pad helps to minimize felt recoil. 

If you’re an avid hunter looking to knock down prairie dogs, small game, deer, buck, elk, hogs, varmints, or other predators, then this .223 Remington rifle might just have enough firepower to ensure you hit your target quickly and with accuracy. This is also a great rifle for those who prefer bolt action rifles. 

However, one downside of this rifle is that it does not come with a rail on top. Those who like to customize their rifles and add on preferred accessories such as high quality scopes and optics may find it difficult to do so with this rifle. 

Customer Feedback

Recent customers were satisfied with this .223 Remington rifle’s overall performance as it certainly does a good job of knocking down varmints and small games with just the right amount of firepower. Although it does not come with rails on top, the hunting rifle does include sights that do a good job at delivering accurate shots. 

Overall

If you’re a varmint or small game hunter and are in need of a long-term rifle, then the .223 Remington model 700 SPS Varmint might just be the best one for you. With enough firepower and accuracy to knock down any targets of choice, this is certainly one of the best hunting rifles on the market right now. 

Pros

  • Very accurate
  • Durable construction
  • Hogue overmolded stock
  • Drilled/tapped for sight mounting
  • Dual point pillar bedding

Cons

  • Not the highest capacity
  • Not easy to install accessories

6. Savage Axis II .223 Remington Bolt Action Rifle

Best .223 Bolt Action Rifle

Now on our list is a whole different type of rifle with the Axis II. This incredibly affordable .223 rifle choice even comes with a bolt action mechanism and has a true classic rifle look that any enthusiast will love. 

Built with a carbon steel button-rifled sporter barrel, this game rifle features a barrel length of 22-inches to deliver excellent accuracy. It has even been argued that its performance is comparable with other pricier hunting rifles. 

Another great feature of this hunting rifle is that it even comes with a user-adjustable AccuTrigger, which is a two-stage trigger set up that lets you adjust your preferred trigger weight and settings. Savage Arms manufacturer utilizes thread-in barrel head spacing to allow for a much more fluid and reliable bolt action while the Realtree Timber camo stock works to give you added comfort and confidence while shooting. 

This beautiful rifle even features a Picatinny rail mounted on top for you to add on your favorite high quality scopes and sights. The detachable box magazine also means that you can reload preloaded spare mags in the heat of the moment, perfect for home defense and self defense scenarios. 

At this point, you’d most probably have guessed that this rifle will mostly benefit hunters, especially for those who need a rifle that can help them take on larger targets. Varmint might be a great option if you’re able to land consistent shots from shorter distances. No matter what, the Savage Axis II .223 Remington Bolt Action Rifle is certainly a hunter’s dream rifle if we ever saw one. 

One possible improvement that we may suggest is for the top rail to be designed such that it can work with almost any scope or optic of choice. This is important as a high quality scope or optic will help push a rifle’s boundaries in almost every application. 

Customer Feedback

Most customers of this rifle were hunters (no surprise here). Generally, they were pleased with their purchase and have concluded that this rifle is best for hunting large game targets, such as a deer or an elk. With the right scope, a buyer was able to consistently land their bag limits and pull off accurate kill shots easily. 

Overall

If you love to go out on varmint or deer hunting and want a reliable rifle that is specifically chambered to fire .223 shots, then the Axis II .223 rifle might just be worth a closer look. This is the perfect hunting rifle that you cannot go wrong with. 

Pros

  • Bolt Action Slides Nice and Smooth
  • Reduced recoil
  • Reliable firing
  • Top rail allows accessory attachment

Cons

  • Length of pull may not suit some

7. Ruger American Rifle 22” 223 Remington 4+1 RD

Best .224 for Deer

The Ruger American Rifle is one of the best .223 rifles that offer a strong sub MOA performance close to medium range precision shooters. Featuring a marksman adjustable trigger, this crips and light trigger only requires very little effort to get a shot off. Once you found the perfect balance, you’ll instantly notice that your shot groupings will become much more accurate over time. 

With a cold hammer forged and threaded barrel design, this Ruger rifle offers nothing short of precise rifling. It even has a factory mounted muzzle brake added for better durability and accuracy. 

One thing you’ll notice with this .223 rifle is that it has a relatively shorter barrel compared to other rifles of this type. This is a great feature as it allows you to maneuver your gun much quicker for tactical purposes, such as during close combat, home defense, and self defense uses. Furthermore, it even has some nifty built-in features that reduce perceived recoil for a much smoother and predictable shooting experience. 

The gun’s bolt design only accepts three lugs, which is a standard shotgun capacity. However, it can house a detachable single-column box magazine, which means you can always have spares ready to be loaded in. Additionally, the Ruger American Rifle features an ambidextrous, dual-position tang safety which means it can be easily accessed by both right and left-handed shooters. 

Packed with just enough of a punch to knock a deer down, this hunting rifle will mostly be favored by deer hunters. However, this gun can also be used for the purpose of hunting down other large games, such as a buck or even if you just plan to go target shooting at the range. The reduced recoil and easy maneuverability make it an ideal choice for even beginners. 

While the scope mounts on this rifle are welcoming, it would be better if the hunting rifle came with a top rail. The top rail will immediately help to open up a wide range of customization options to include accessories other than just scopes.

Customer Feedback

Those in search of a hunting rifle with enough firepower to knock down a whitetail deer and other big game targets were pleased to have found this rifle. The included scope mounts have also made it easier for many enthusiasts to quickly install their favorite scopes without too much hassle. Bottom line is that they were all pretty satisfied with its overall performance, muzzle velocity, and firing ability. 

Overall

If you’re looking for one of the best deer hunting .223 rifles, then the Ruger 22 inch .223 rifle may just be one of the best options for you. Judging by the looks and specs, this is definitely the right hunting rifle to help you knock down big game targets with ease. 

Pros

  • Decent trigger pull weight
  • Close discharge groups
  • Modest recoil
  • Excellent for hunting deers and big games
  • Includes scope bases
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Detachable magazine
  • Ambidextrous tang safety

Cons

  • Low capacity

Conclusion

Rest assured that the best .223 rifle for you is out there. All you need to do is to find one that will work to your advantage. Whether you’re getting one to accompany you while you’re out hunting, spending a day at the range, or gearing up for your next competition, you definitely cannot go wrong with a rifle that is reliable, accurate, and durable. Hopefully, this article has furnished you with enough information to shortlist an option that suits your needs and preferences. Finally, remember to pick a reliable rifle that will stick with you for a long time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are .223 rifles used for?

The .223 Remington rifles are good for home defense and high-volume target shooting. This popular cartridge is typically loaded with 40 and 70 grain bullets, but the most common grain size is the 55 projectile. The larger the projectiles the better they work to hit larger game. 

Q: Are .223 high powered firearms 

Yes, the .223 cartridge is considered a High Power Firearm. The definition of a High Powered Rifle is a centerfire cartridge. 

Q: Are the .22 and .223 models the same diameter?

Yes, both rounds are roughly the same diameter but if you want to be even more precise, then the .223 is slightly larger than a .22 ammo. However, you might be surprised to find that the .223 is actually measured at .224 inches in diameter instead of .223 as the name suggests. 

Q: Are .223 rifles big enough to kill hogs?

Yes, the .223 chamber is big enough to kill hogs. In fact, it is probably one of the more preferred calibers for shooting down a hog and predator. The cartridges are not only big enough but it even delivers a good amount of penetration, stopping power and velocity to knock a large target down. 

Q: Is the .223 cartridge often used by the army?

The .223 caliber is generally used by hunters but millions of pros such as the US army and special forces have also adopted this weapon, such as the FN Scar 20S Precision SemiAuto during battles.

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