Originally Posted by Chainfire
I think that three guns could fill out your list:
1. Any reliable high-power center-fire, bolt action rifle. (I favor '06)
2. A good semi-auto .22 rifle (Marlin 60, 10-22 etc.)
3. A Remington 870 wingmaster.
If long-term reliability and durability are your main requirements, substitute numbers 2 and 3 with single shots.
This is actually a pretty good list. I also like the 835 Mossbergs but they are a little rattely and the action is not as smooth as the 870.
The perfect for X deal is very subjective though. I guess if everyone lived in the same place and had the same needs but it's not like that. I do like the 30 06 for a longer range gun. I honestly believe everyone needs a 22 rifle and some type of shotgun. But opinions are just that. Where I live geting a 200+ yard shot is not all that common. Most hunting ranges are 150 yards and less. So I can easily use a 30 30 for hunting larger game like deer. In face I'd say a 30 30 has killed 10 deer for every 1 taken with another round. They are also very easy to carry around in the hills here with the brush. Get into the wentern part of the state (KY) where it's flat and the whole deal changes though.
Mossberg makes a decent low cost bolt gun these days but the 100ATR 30 06 I have kicks like a mule. Maye with a heavier stock that might change. But I will get my 03A3 over it any time.
The old Enfields are cheap and ammo is not too bad price but ammo availability outside the net is not all that easy sometimes. But they can really reach out there and touch something. Find one of the 308 models and it's a win-win.
Rugers 10-22 and the Marlin 60 are two of the hands down best choices in a 22 rifle. There are other good ones but parts availability and price makes these a staple in most collections. I have an old Remington 121 Fieldmaster pump rifle though that can shoot more types of 22 than a semi so maybe that would be the best choice for me if I was to only have one.
A lot can be said for a SKS in most places.
I don't think there a best in any category though. WE all have preferences and the needs change dependent to where we are in the world. There's a reason there are so many different types of guns out there. Because we can find a need for most all of them.