Rifle racks bristling with black flash suppressors and polymer pistol grips can induce boredom. Still, even riflemen weaned on hand-checkered French are impressed by Eugene Stoner’s space gun of the 1960s. The Armalite in 5.56mm NATO became the AR-15 autoloader and M16 selective-fire rifle.

I’ll not burn page space detailing differences between the 5.56mm cartridge and chamber, and those of its sporting version, the .223 Remington. Most civilian shooters with AR-15s load up with .223 ammo. It’s good ammo largely because, like the .30-06 and .308 preceding it, the .223 owns a military heritage, was cleverly designed and is widely chambered in bolt rifles, as well as so-called “black guns.” Over the years, the .223 has benefited from some aggressive development.

Initially, the M16 couldn’t match the reach or accuracy of the M14 or M1 Garand in service-rifle competitions. After many refinements, the AR-15 shoots about as well as tuned bolt-action rifles.

The .223 Remington now comes in myriad forms, with bullets of 35 to 77 grains, and velocities up to 4,000 fps. You can pick full-jacketed, hollow-point, polymer-tipped or traditional soft-nose bullets.

As versatile as the .223 Remington has become, it’s still a .22. Bright prospects for the AR platform in police and military units, and a growing fan base among civilian shooters, have yielded new powerhouse chamberings.

Scroll through the gallery above to get a look at some of today’s best new multi-purpose rifles, in all manner of chamberings, from the top makers in the industry.

There are another 46 rifles in the AR Rifleman 2016 Buyer’s Guide. To see the rest of the list, pick up a physical copy on

For more information on the rifles listed above, please visit the following websites:

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