Takedown rifles are a tiny portion of the overall broad rifle market, itself only a subset of the firearms market; this small segment offers rifles to some of the most passionate and vocal groups of shooters in all of the market – who swear by the utility and practicality of the guns.
This is an article about the best takedown rifle currently on the market. While this is a realm that usually centers around the small caliber .22LR, there have been major improvements in engineering, materials, design methodologies and increased market demand which have all helped to push the industry towards larger, more accurate and more powerful takedown rifles.
The reason that historically the takedown rifle has been such a small portion of the market is that it’s been relegated to smaller calibers, touted as a last ditch or survival type gun and made by manufacturers who market cheaper guns, generally.
There are a lot of other reasons that this type of gun has been so historically low-volume, in addition to the above reasons.
- The gun is a tool that needs to be manufactured on a machine. Time on that machine needs to be optimized to provide the best profitability for the company. Historically, the takedown has been marketed as a secondary or tertiary option for shooters. As a result, the impetus for the purchase hasn’t seemed as immediate for other market options.
- Additionally, the inability for a rifle to be ready for use because it’s being packed or carried in it’s broken down format, means that many shooters justify other purchases ahead of the takedown rifle.
- Furthermore, the historic lack of broad appeal means that many manufacturers don’t produce this as a portfolio option.
Reasons that the takedown rifle has reemerged as a more popular option
For the same reasons that we listed in the paragraph above about the “plight” of the small market takedown rifle, we believe that the takedown platform is starting to gain traction.
- The desire to have survival rifles and backup rifles has begun to be more popular.
- Smaller caliber, especially rimfire calibers are cheaper to shoot and easier to handle.
- Who doesn’t enjoy a good bargain when buying multiple rifles, which a majority of shooters are beginning to embrace, where historically there had been a much larger contingent of single rifle owners in existence comparatively?
- Additionally, as we explained above, the improvement in tooling to produce higher tolerance, higher quality components, especially complex mated surfaces which connect the two halves (barrel grouping and receiver grouping) has led to the ability to produce higher quality, heavier caliber rifles.
This has improved the marketability of the platform exponentially, especially to a market segment spoiled by modular builds and component driven rifle concepts.
With market heavyweights like Ruger pushing the narrative in recent years and offering some interesting changes to the “typical” takedown rifle, the market for these guns may well take off.
Some other assorted notes
Of late, there has been a push for tactical, battle style rifles to be made in a kit form or in a takedown model to increase mission compatibility. As interesting as this is, and as a potentially much higher volume SKU on the market as it represents, the models that have been produced thus far have been generally either too unreliable or too expensive, at least in centerfire caliber configurations.
The modular build style of modern tactical rifles is going nowhere – that is, they are here to stay. This market offering will undoubtedly have more makers take any interest in the sub segments of the market, of which, the takedown rifle is.
Because the only viable units on the market current cost more than $5000 USD and have not yet been proven to be reliable over the long term, we have chosen not to include them in this list.
That isn’t to say that all of these rifles are losers, or that any are not viable. It is to say, none of them have emerged as a truly best in class option; and not one of them has bridged that mass market appeal the makers (mostly small independent producers) had hoped they would command.
Below we list the top takedown rifles currently on the market. We make no excuses for our choices and we stand behind their efficacy, despite the list being slightly skewed towards specific makers, build and style. Simply put: the best rifles in this segment of the market are substantially similar in style and scope.
Best Takedown Rifles
Ruger 10/22 Takedown LITE Semi-Auto Rimfire Rifle
Currently the reigning champ of the takedown rifle market from an overall capability perspective, this is the world beater. The way that the Ruger 10-22 has performed over the years makes it the best in class semi-auto .22LR rifle period. This is an enhanced version of the rifle in every way, particularly from an accuracy and follow-up capability perspective.
The innovative barrel is a key component here as it offers lightweight accuracy. The heat dissipation is also important because of the tendency for shooters to shoot thousands of rounds with the .22LR in a single setting. The tensioned barrel design helps keep the gun light and balanced, but also gives the type of torsional rigidity that is necessary to maintain accuracy over the long-term.
The inner barrel sleeve is cold hammer forged. It’s got incredible accuracy considering it’s a tiny profile for a barrel (the outer barrel is a tensioned tube that helps to keep the inner liner from warping). It’s 16 inches long and offers a compact footprint for easy carry; while offering more than enough accuracy and velocity for the .22LR in 16 inches for you to reach out accurately to beyond 200 yards. The muzzle is threaded for a ½”x28 TPI suppressor or other muzzle attachment, though a suppressor makes the most sense with a .22LR.
The Ruger is known for it’s amazing reliability, with the magazine (a rotary-fed box magazine) forming the core of that reliability with the exceptionally low-cost bolt and receiver allowing a lot of value for money.
The Ruger 10-22 has always been a 100 yard 1MOA or less firearm, even in it’s cheapest form factor. The LITE Takedown rifle continues that capability and probably bests it significantly for most shooters. The LITE is not a rifle with iron sights though, so you must be ready to use the included scope base to mount a suitable optic.
The return to zero is enhanced by the “Zero-play” mating plates on each half of the rifle. The process to de-couple and couple the firearm is exceptionally easy, but the stability of the platform is second to none.
The stock is adjustable for comb/drop/LOP and there is a carrying case that offers a lot of utility for carrying or storing the rifle.
- Proven platform
- Accepts suppressor
- No CONS
Tactical Solutions X-Ring Takedown Semi-Auto Rimfire Rifle
Even the best competitor to the Ruger 10-22 takedown is based off of the 10-22 action and magazine. That’s how excellent the 10-22 is. It’s in a class of its own. The Tactical Solutions X-Ring is an accurized variant of the Ruger 10-22 (a non-factory version) that utilizes a Magpul backpacker stock which itself is a best in class too.
So, the combination of two top tier products equates to a top tier rifle in the market segment. What you get is a match grade .22 LR that is also very easy to carry and can be used for hunting in the field while still minimizing carried weight. By the way, the total weight ranges from 3.7 lbs. to 5 lbs. depending on the model you choose from Tactical Solutions.
There are 4 models (3 are right-handed shooter variants – 1 is an ambidextrous model) and they range in price, but this is not a cheap .22LR rifle. Thanks to the build quality and the reliability of the mechanism, this is likely to be justified by shooters who want a truly packable rifle.
One of the core features is the Magpul stock itself, which allows the shooter to stow the barrel and fore end into the buttstock which makes the overall footprint compact and short. The resulting package can easily be carried in most normal sized backpacks.
The barrel is threaded on the muzzle end and allows for suppressor attachment, which fits right in with the concept of this rifle, which is to be packable, discrete and capable for shooters who trust the 22LR for their needs.
Super high-quality iron sights are a game changer for this type of firearm, and they pair nicely with a rail which can mount just about any optic suitable for a 22LR.
- Super accurate
- Lots of optics options and superior iron sights
- Proven components equate to a rock-solid firearm
- Overpriced compared to the nearest competitors (which this is based off of)
Savage 64F Takedown Semi-Auto Rimfire Rifle
A classic design that’s been seen before in a different model type, and which has been proven to work; and yet it’s uniquely a Savage rifle. It looks a lot like an AR-7, but it’s different still and it does not have the stock stowing capabilities of the AR7.
That said, it’s got better fit and finish, especially in the barrel connection lug, which attaches similarly with a knurled barrel nut. The positive lockup of the barrel is more than enough to keep the gun accurate (there is a simple indexing divot that keeps the barrel in the proper position for iron sights and accuracy).
The composite stock is premium quality, albeit a bit small. That said, the overall package size is still minimal, and the rifle can be transported in many different ways or carrying bags. The accuracy is probably best stated as under 100 yards, though realistically, this is a 50 yards or less firearm, and for most purposes it should be used that way.
That isn’t to say that the gun isn’t capable, but that it fits into a specific spot where the shooter who chooses it is already likely to be interested in or engaged in. If you want a more accurate long-range takedown rifle, there are several options on this list that make more sense.
Savage’s recent rifle offerings have been exceptional, and the takedown model is made much better than others in the same platform style, especially given the price point.
- Not the best rifle on this list
Ruger SR-556 Takedown Semi-Auto Rifle
In full transparency, this is a gun that has been discontinued. The link to the rifle can allow a purchase, as there may be items still in stock across the company’s stores nationally. But please read on:
The SR-556 was an excellent rifle out of the factory and the concept was legitimate, but the fact that Ruger has changed since Bill Ruger stopped running the company means that guns that are novel concepts that have a following may not survive like they did when Bill was at the helm. It’s about profit, and that means something too. It means that the market spoke with their dollars to tell Ruger that it simply wasn’t a gun they were willing to spend more than $2000 USD on.
That said, it is worth every penny; especially for those that value the compact travel size and versatility that comes from a multi-caliber, gas piston driven battle rifle that can re-index without re-sighting the scope.
The interesting part though, is that Ruger chose to pair the gun (at its heart a takedown rifle) with a gas piston driven mechanism, which is dramatically more expensive to produce than direct impingement models. Specifically, the gun was largely panned because it was priced to the price point of other gas driven AR’s – NOT because it was a break down rifle.
Centerfire breakdown or takedown rifles are generally hard to find because they have special considerations, like recoil, that need to be factored in while engineering the gun. There are less than a handful of guns on the market that can boast of being a centerfire take down rifle with power and accuracy.
There is a legitimate market for that type of gun, but it’s much smaller than a company like Ruger can support thanks to the tooling costs and maintenance factors (replacement parts production etc.); when they already have very profitable SKU’s that can take its place.
The point of adding a discontinued rifle on this list is two-fold.
- It’s truly an excellent rifle with a lot of versatility including a .300 AAC BLK barrel conversion
- It’s a market segment that exists, but there needs to be a company willing to build the rifle – it’s likely that it won’t be a major manufacturer because they can already fill their tooling slots with profitable SKU’s
That doesn’t mean there are hundreds of millions of dollars in this niche segment either – the proper candidate for production of a rifle like this is one that has a strong offering that is separate from the takedown rifle; and then offers the takedown model.
Furthermore, the market is crowded in the .22LR takedown rifle market – not because there are dozens of models, but simply because the 10-22 and clones are so exceptional in performance metrics.
- Very capable for a bunch of different needs
- Ruger quality
- The best centerfire semi-auto takedown in history
- Expensive for many shooter’s tastes
- Tried to be an “everything to everybody” rifle and was priced out of the market by cheap overabundant AR’s that now have fallen out of favor in the same market
BLR Lightweight Centerfire Lever Action Rifles
Aside from the Blaser rifle that is not included on this list (because it is prohibitively expensive and very difficult to find for sale; and it is essentially a semi-custom rifle), the only rifle on the market that can take the top spot of the centerfire takedown rifle models is the Browning BLR.
It’s amazing that a large company like Browning can make a gun profitably that is such a niche offering, but then again, the Browning BLR occupies such a small portion of the overall lever action rifle compared to some other guns on the market (mostly due to pricing), that this rifle feels more like a value add to existing customers than a financially viable SKU that the market might respond to.
That said, it is easily the best mainstream production centerfire takedown rifle on the market. It is also a gun that makes a lot of sense for shooters. Given the huge range of calibers available from Browning it’s incredible that they are still producing this rifle. That’s a compliment to Browning not a challenge to the company to remove the SKU.
The following calibers are available in this rifle format:
- 7mm Rem Mag
- .300 Win Mag
The BLR has some specific advantages against other offerings on the lever action market, the biggest being (for a limited field capacity hunting rifle) the removable magazine and the accuracy and smoothness of the build. It is easier to cycle; faster to load and follow-up and easy to change the grain weight with a simple magazine change – not to mention the fact that round nose bullets are no longer a limitation because of scary accidental primer strikes.
The BLR takedown is accurate, flexible, powerful and built to a standard that many cheap lever actions on the market cannot even attempt to recreate. The smoothness of the action is game changing as well.
- Fit and finish is superior
- Very full caliber mix
- Robust build quality
- The removable magazines are excellent options for field use of different grain weights
- No CONS
There are a lot of reasons that a takedown rifle makes sense. Most of them fall on the side of sporting endeavors, but some of them are tactical mission specific. As the market has embraced the reemergence of takedown rifles, the chance that other applications will come online increases. Already the market is seeing one off versions of “mission specific” takedown rifles, even though the “missions” vary wildly.
A perfect example of such a rifle is the Blaser takedown rifle, which offers significant firepower and significant accuracy in a hunting specific gun with a top tier piece of wooden furniture attached to it.
The point is this: when you need the portability of a takedown rifle and can afford to build the setup time into the non-critical timing aspects of your mission, the takedown rifle makes sense.
There is room for growth, and the segment interest is growing steadily as many shooters look for the next cool thing to add to their collections and improve the quality of life on a nuanced level.
The best takedown rifle will always be a part of the market, an we can only hope that that segment grows to include more and more options within it; and applications for this beloved but rare platform.
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