Best 223 Rifles – 2019 Complete Round-up

Finding the best .223 rifle can be a challenge. But if you have a good idea of what to look for in these kinds of rifles, then you know that the search won’t be as tough. A reliable rifle chambered in the .223 caliber will get you through almost any application you can possibly think of. Whether it’s for hunting or target practicing to name a few, you can never go wrong with a .223.

To help you find the best rifle for your own personal use, we’ve decided to put together a list of the seven best .223 rifles that are currently on the market.

Before we get to the list, we’re going to talk about what a .223 rifle is and how you can choose one for your own personal use.

Comparison Chart of the Best .223 Rifles

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Ruger 16" AR15 5.56 Rear Sight Rifle

  • Best overall .223 rifle.
  • Made from high-quality materials.
  • Includes a 30-round capacity magazine.
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Daniel Defense DDM4V11 Carbine Rifle

  • Runner-up for best overall .223 rifle.
  • KeyMod rail included for easier customization.
  • Includes handguard for quicker heat dissipation.
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Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II .223 Rem/5.56 NATO M-Lok Rifle

  • Best .223 rifle for the money.
  • Made from high-quality materials.
  • Includes a 30-round capacity magazine.
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Springfield Armory Saint Edge 5.56 NATO AR-15 Rifle

  • Best .223 Semi-Auto Rifle.
  • Made from high-quality materials.
  • Includes a 30-round Magpul magazine.
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Savage Axis II .223 Remington Bolt Action Rifle

  • Weighs 6.3 pounds.
  • Best .223 bolt action rifle.
  • Barrel made from carbon steel.
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Remington Model 700 SPS Varmint .223 26"

  • Bolt-action style rifle.
  • The barrel length of 26 inches.
  • Best .223 rifle for varmint hunting.
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What is a .223 Rifle?

A .223 rifle is designed to shoot cartridges known as the .223 Remingtons. They are a reliable round that can be used for applications like hunting, target shooting, and competition shooting to name a few. Typically the rifles used are AR-style rifles. An AR-15 is one of the most popular rifles that most use to fire off .223 rounds. 

How to Choose a New .223 Rifle

Choosing the right .223 rifle will take some time and a little bit of detective work. All it takes is keeping an eye out for the characteristics that make this rifle stand head above shoulders over the other models.

There are some characteristics and aspects that you need to factor in so you can choose a .223 for your own use. Here’s what you need to consider as part of your final purchasing decision:

Price

Rest assured, you will find a high-quality rifle that is excellent in quality and affordable in price. This is basically the goal here if you’re looking to spend a specific amount of money. Keep in mind that if you’re looking for better quality, you may end up paying what might be the “higher-end” of your budget scale. It’s a lot better than having to spend less money on a rifle that is considered a disappointment in terms of quality and performance.

Overall Performance

One of the things to look for while going through the list of reviews is taking note of what recent buyers are saying about each rifle. You might look for a rifle that has the best reliability or best accuracy. Or you could be looking for a rifle that might be best for hunting big game.

Either way, the overall performance should be a good indicator of whether or not a .223 rifle might be worth investing in. How accurate is it? Which application does it perform the best? These are a sample of the questions you should be asking while looking for a rifle.

Quality

The overall quality will be based on the kind of materials that each component is made with. For example, your upper and lower receivers will be made from high-quality aluminum. These are designed to handle all kinds of impact and abuse like nothing else.

Other materials to look out for include polymer (which can be found on some parts and accessories like magazines). The better the quality, the better chance it has of lasting you a long period of time.

Review of the Best .223 Rifles

The following is a list of the seven best .223 rifles that are popular on the market right now. While the list might be subject to change at some point between now and the next year, now is a good time to see which of these rifles are popular among AR-rifle enthusiasts right now. If you prefer to shoot .223 rounds, you need a rifle that is most compatible with them.

Be sure to take a note of the functions and characteristics of every rifle. This way, if you have an idea of how your ideal .223 rifle should be, knowing the functions and characteristics will help you find the best match possible for a rifle. Now, let’s start off the list by unveiling our “best overall” .223 rifle:

Pros

  • Excellent For Hunting and Target Practice Applications
  • Super Durable, Can Withstand All Kinds of Impact and Abuse
  • Not Too Long or Short in Length, Just About Right For a .223 Rifle
  • Very Reliable After 800 Rounds, No Jamming or Reliability Issues
  • Can Easily Punch Through Targets From About 200-300 Yards Out (On Paper Targets)

Cons

  • Trigger Quality Could Be a Little Better
  • May Need to Be Cleaned and Re-Oiled Before Use
  • Some Adjustments to the Sight Might Also Be Needed to Ensure Better Accuracy

​What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers were satisfied with the rifle itself. They were able to fire off really accurate shots at various distances. Once they’ve added a scope, they were able to consistently knock down targets from 200 to 300 yards out. Nothing but bullseyes, according to one user. Aside from the accuracy, some have reported that recoil was vastly reduced compared to other rifles out of the box.

​Why it Stands Out to Us

This rifle is solid in terms of construction. Plus, it’s the model of what a .223 rifle should look like. It’s not too long or short in length, it’s made from the best high-quality parts, and definitely works to your advantage no matter which application you use it for. In short, it’s a rifle worthy of the “best overall” honor.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be used by those who want a really good rifle for the purpose of just shooting around. You’ll want to spend the day at the range with a rifle like this. It doesn’t matter if it’s for tuning up or shooting targets, it’s a rifle for those that find shooting a whole lot of fun. But don’t discount this as a rifle that won’t get the job done as a hunting rifle either. This bad boy can make its money by knocking down varmint and big game.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

One improvement that we’d like to see with this rifle is to make it so the trigger weight is a little bit lighter than it is right now. Out of the box, it might seem like it can be useful. But over time, users might get a little tired of using it. That’s when you need to include a trigger with a pull weight of at least 3 to 4 pounds max so it ensures quicker shooting and even quicker follow-up shots.

​Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a rifle that is considered one of the best in the business, the Ruger 16 inch AR-15 might be exactly what you’re looking for. While there might be some rifles that will give it a run for its money, this rifle stands on top of the mountain right now and for good reason. For the best quality, performance, and reliability this .223 might be the closest that you can get to it.

Pros

  • Very Accurate Shooting
  • Lightweight and Easy To Carry
  • Super Durable, Can Take On the Impact and Abuse
  • No Jamming or Reliability Issues After 1000 Rounds
  • KeyMod Rail Can Handle All Kinds of Accessories Like Scopes, Sights, and Flashlights Among Others

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers did not go home disappointed after test firing this rifle. They were able to easily install their scope of choice and be able to knock down targets from 250 yards away. One user said that the rail was able to handle his scope that would normally fit on Picatinny rails. Aside from the performance, the rifle was still light in weight even with a full magazine according to some users.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Heat dissipation is important for a rifle. The reason being is not just to prevent yourself from getting burned from touching the barrel (which is the purpose of the handguard). A very hot barrel can affect the performance of your rifle. The barrel stays cool almost instantly even after an extended shooting session, and it is one of the handful of reasons why we love it.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be an excellent rifle for those who might plan on using a .223 for hunting varmint and big game. It has just enough firepower and just enough reach for you to knock down any moving target that crosses your line of fire in the field. It’s also a rifle for those who place customization at a high priority.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Despite no obvious cons to point out, there is an improvement that can be suggested. It should include a thicker recoil pad. By the looks of the stock, the pad itself is either too thin or non-existent. This should at least be addressed so there is less recoil and even more control for the shooter.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an excellent .223 rifle that will do its job in a hunting application, the Daniel Defense Carbine Rifle might just be right up your alley. Without a doubt, you’ll get some pretty good shooting out of this and a good deal of reach as well. While it might be runner-up for best overall, it might be #1 in the hearts of .223 hunters.

Pros

  • Super Durable Quality
  • M-Lok Handguard Makes Customization Easy
  • Very Reliable Shooting, It Still Holds Up After Hundreds of Rounds
  • Red/Green Optic Makes Shooting a Lot More Accurate and Precise
  • Collapsable Stock Makes the Rifle a Lot More Portable and Easy For Storage

Cons

  • Trigger Pull Weight Might Be a Little Heavy at First
  • Red/green Dot Sight Might Be a Little Distorted For Those With Poor Eyesight
  • M-LOK Rail May Not Accept Other Accessories That Would Otherwise Fit On Picatinny or Weaver Rails

​What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were quite happy with the rifle overall. The shooting ability was good and most of them were able to utilize the red/green sight. They were able to knock down targets with consistent accuracy from various ranges from 50 yards and up. Aside from the accuracy, the rifle was light in weight and didn’t feel like they were carrying a heavy boulder.

​Why it Stands Out to Us

While it’s probably one of the most affordable rifles currently on the market, the performance says otherwise. It says that it should be more than what the price tag says. We love this rifle because of two things: one, you get a good sight that will definitely help you land accurate shots. On top of that, the M-Lok rail makes customization a lot easier. How can we say no to adding this rifle to our list of reviews?

​Who Will Use This Most

This will be best used by those who are looking for a multi-purpose .223 but would want to keep it in a certain budget range. Application-wise, it’s good for target shooting, hunting, competitive shooting, and self-defense. So, no matter the application, you have a reliable rifle that will get the job done. If that’s something you’re looking for in a .223, your search ends here.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the improvements that could be done is to make some adjustments to the sight itself. Make it a little bit smaller so it won’t make the rifle look bulky. Despite the fact that it’s portable thanks to the collapsible stock, storage might still be a challenge because of the size of the sight.

​Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an excellent multi-purpose .223 rifle but want to keep your bank account intact, chances are you’ve found one in the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport. This rifle will serve its purpose one way or another in any application, but nonetheless, it’s quite reliable and goes above and beyond the expectations of what a budget rifle should be.

Pros

  • Recoil is Noticeably Reduced
  • Accurate at Many Distances
  • Easy to Customize Thanks to the Rail
  • Solid in Construction, Components Are Durable
  • Very Lightweight Rifle, It Doesn’t Feel Heavy Even With a Loaded Magazine

Cons

  • Not an Appropriate Rifle For Beginners
  • Some Adjustments May Need to Be Required Before Initial Use
  • It Might Be a Challenge to Disassemble For Maintenance and Cleaning Purposes

​What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers had no trouble firing off this rifle. Especially when they’re mostly casual target shooters. Other buyers were competitive shooters who were looking for a rifle that had smooth firing capabilities and is light enough for them to move around quickly. According to one competitive shooter, he says he found exactly that in this .223 rifle.

​Why it Stands Out to Us

It’s lightweight but sturdy. Nine times out of ten, you expect something with durable materials to be heavy, right? Wrong. This rifle is built to last, but it doesn’t have to show you how tough it is by being heavy. It’s all the more reason why this rifle should be yours to own. Other than that, how can we pass up on a rifle that gives you all the customization options you want.

Who Will Use This Most

This rifle will be popular among target shooters (both casual and competitive target shooters). The main reason why is because the cycling and firing ability is the smoothest, most reliable of any .223 rifle that we’ve listed thus far. Pair that with accuracy and you’ve got a surefire winner on your hands that will give you the edge over your opponents.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

To make it as user-friendly as possible, it would be wise to make it easy to assemble and disassemble. Cleaning and maintenance will happen once in a while, but it shouldn’t be a challenge for most users. So why not make it easier to take apart to perform simple tasks that only take minutes?

​Bottom Line

If you’re a fan of semi-automatic rifles, then it won’t be much trouble for you to choose this rifle. This will definitely give you the best firing ability that you’ll ever experience. No jams, no issues, no problem. Why settle for anything less than that?

Pros

  • Very Accurate
  • Super Durable Construction
  • Excellent For Varmint Hunting
  • Recoil is Reduced Right Out of the Box
  • Swivel Studs Can Easily Attach Many Slings

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were satisfied with the rifle’s overall performance. It does a good job knocking down varmint and small game with the right amount of firepower. They also said that the rifle was accurate with the use of the included sights. However, some were able to upgrade them to much more visible sights to make it even more accurate.

​Why it Stands Out to Us

Once again, we’re looking at a bolt action rifle that screams “hunting rifle”. You can tell that it was made for that purpose just by looking at it. Aside from the design, we’re quite impressed with the overall performance. It can handle a few rounds fully loaded, but it’s just enough to get you through the hunting day.

Who Will Use This Most

At this point, you probably know who will use it the most. If you’re an avid varmint hunter or even a bird hunter, this .223 will have just enough firepower to ensure that your targets are knocked down quickly and with accuracy. Plus, it’s also a great rifle for those who fancy themselves as a fan of the bolt action style rifle.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

Despite having no obvious cons, we will once again suggest that this rifle can do some good with a good rail on top. You will definitely need something that is stable and has the ability to accept a lot of scopes and optics. There will be times when the sights themselves won’t be enough when it comes to accurate shooting.

​Bottom Line

If you’re a varmint or small game hunter and need a rifle that will stick with you for the long-term, the Remington Model 700 SPS Varmint .223 might be the rifle that will stick with you for years or even decades to come. With just enough firepower and accuracy to knock down small targets, you won’t find any other bolt action rifle that will be as good as this.

Pros

  • Excellent For Hunting Applications
  • Bolt Action Slides Nice and Smooth
  • Recoil Reduction is Noticeable Right Out of the Box
  • Very Reliable Firing, No Jamming or Reliability Issues
  • The Top Rail Allows For Easy Attachment of Scopes and Optics

Cons

  • Length of Pull May Not Fit Some Shooters
  • Trigger Pull Might Be a Little Heavy at First
  • Top Rail May Not Fit Some Sights and Optics

What Recent Buyers Report

The recent buyers of this rifle were hunters. They came to the general consensus that this rifle is best used for hunting big game targets like deer and elk. The shooting is accurate and with the right scopes and optics, they were able to consistently land their bag limits and pull off consistently accurate kill shots. One user went so far to say that it will be the only hunting rifle he will ever rely on.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This bolt action rifle is not an AR-15. It’s just a standard rifle that can handle up to four rounds. But still, it’s chambered to fire .223 rounds. Performance-wise, it’s got a pretty good amount of range for something that can be classified as a hunting rifle. It has the reach and it has the firepower to knock down your big game targets. That’s good enough for us to add it to the list.

Who Will Use This Most

At this point, you’ve probably guessed it. Hunters will mostly use this rifle to their advantage. Especially when they need a rifle that can take on the bigger targets. Varmint might be a fine option if you are able to land consistent shots with it from close range distances. Either way, it's a hunter’s dream rifle if we ever saw one.

What Could Be Improved and Why

A possible improvement idea would be to make some improvements to the top rail itself so it has the ability to accept almost any scope or optic possible. A great scope or optic can definitely get a rifle to go so far no matter what application you use it for. So why not use it on a rifle that will support it?

Bottom Line

If you’re a sucker for bolt action rifles and want one that is specifically chambered to fire .223 shots, the Savage Axis II might be right up your alley. It’s the perfect hunting rifle that won’t steer you wrong. Use it wisely and you’ll land your big game target in no time.

Pros

  • Trigger Pull Weight is Decent
  • Some Recoil, But Quite Modest
  • Excellent For Deer and Big Game Hunters
  • Includes Scope Bases, Will Fit Most 1-Inch Scopes
  • Bolt Action is Smooth and Moves Back and Forth No Problem

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers were in search of a hunting rifle that has just enough firepower to knock down whitetail deer and other big game targets. This rifle for them was exactly what they were looking for. Some also reported that they were able to install their scopes easily using the included scope mounts. Overall, they were quite satisfied with the overall performance and firing ability of the rifle.

​Why it Stands Out to Us

What kind of rifle would be ideal for hunting situations where you’re staring down an 8-point buck that is worth another addition to the trophy case? Answer: a bolt action rifle. Especially one that can pack just enough of a punch to knock one down. It has a lot of punch, but the recoil is modest. That’s what impressed us the most and it was enough to give it a spot on the list.

​Who Will Use This Most

Obviously, it will be mostly used by deer hunters. This is probably one of the perfect rifles that can be used for the purpose of hunting down a buck that will definitely look good on your wall. Even if you’re a first-time hunter, this is a rifle that would be great for beginners.

What Could Be Improved and Why

While the scope mounts are welcoming, it would actually look even better with a top rail. This way, it will open up the door to a whole lot of customization options. The mounts can accept a wide range of scopes, but a top rail will accept more than just that.

​Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the best deer hunting .223 rifle, the Ruger American 22 inch .223 rifle will probably be something that deserves an even closer look. Judging by what we know, this .223 rifle is how a hunting rifle should be. Especially if you’re using it to knock down big game targets.

What is a .223 Used For

There are a few applications that are popular for .223 users, and they might be a factor in deciding which rifle is best for you. Here are some of the best applications that make a .223 useful:

Hunting

First off, we take a look at the tried and true application of hunting. A great .223 rifle will be best used for either varmint or big game hunting. No matter what your target it, this kind of rifle has just enough firepower to knock a target down from various distances. The rounds themselves have a good enough velocity to tear through hide and bone.

Target Shooting

If you’re a casual target shooter, obviously you’ll need a good rifle to level up on your marksmanship. What better rifle to work with than a .223? Most .223s with the right kind of scope or optic can be dangerously accurate (assuming you’ve sighted it in properly). Most of these .223 rifles will have the ability to reach targets that are 200 to even 300 yards away (or more).

Competitive Shooting

Similar to target shooting, accuracy becomes an important factor. The closer you are to the bullseye, the better chance you have at getting an advantage over your opponent. This is where reliability and accuracy meet. You need it to fire at exactly the right time. Meanwhile, your other goal is making sure the shot counts. A .223 has proven to be a preferred favorite among amateur and professional marksmen.

What is the Effective Range of a .223?

It really depends on the application. A very effective range can be anywhere between 200 to 300 yards. However, if you’re target shooting the range will be a little farther. Don’t be shocked when you’re target shooting and you can reach out and touch something as far as 500 yards out. This also depends on the kind of .223 you have and the scope or optic that you’re using.

Conclusion

The best .223 rifle is out there. It is up to you to find one that will work to your advantage. Whether you’re hunting, spending a day at the range, or gearing up for your next contest you cannot go wrong with finding a rifle that is reliable, accurate, and built to last. Remember, the rifle you choose will be one you’ll stick with for a long time. So it’s better to choose wisely.

People Also Ask

If you need an additional guide on how to find the best .223 rifle, these frequently asked questions should be useful for you. Consider the following answers below so you have a good idea of what a .223 is best used for and how it functions. Here are the following questions:

Can You Kill a Deer With a .223? 

The short answer: yes. You can legally kill a deer with a .223 rifle. If it wasn’t legal then we obviously wouldn’t add the best deer hunting rifle to our list, would we? In all seriousness, you can kill a deer or even varmint with a rifle of this caliber.

Is a .223 big Enough for Hogs? 

Indeed it is. In fact, it is probably one of the more preferred caliber types for hog hunters. The cartridges are big enough and have a good amount of stopping power to knock a hog down.

Are .22 and .223 the Same Diameter?

Both rounds are roughly the same size, but if you want to go into more precise measurements the .223 is slightly larger than a .22 round. Surprisingly enough, a .223 is actually measured at .224 inches in diameter.

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