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The 25 best mutual funds of all time

Kiplinger Logo By John Waggoner of Kiplinger | Slide 1 of 26: If you're seeking out the best mutual funds, keep your wits about you. Mutual funds have a mind-numbing selection of ways to claim bragging rights. "Best five-year record." "Best three-year record for value funds." "Best 10-year record for growth funds with at least $1 billion in assets."

Morningstar counts 110 mutual fund categories. Even if you spread the awards among the 8,000 or so garden-variety open-ended mutual funds, there would be plenty of opportunities for bragging rights. And, thanks to the longest-running bull market in history, everyone's 10-year record looks great.

But it's another thing to outperform the competition over the entirety of a fund's life.

Here are the 25 best mutual funds of all time. We looked at the records of all U.S.-listed stock funds – holding U.S. and/or international stocks alike – with at least a 20-year record, and ranked them based on returns since inception. Going for a minimum of two decades eliminates some of the bias from a decade-long bull market, and adds in at least two major bear markets.

You'll note there are no index funds, nor any international funds. We didn't exclude them – they just weren't in the top 25 top equity funds. Index funds don't aim to be top performers, and international funds are in a long-term performance drought. We did exclude bond and money market funds, however, because that's not where you go for high performance.

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Low-Fee Mutual Funds to Buy Now

The 25 best mutual funds of all time

If you're seeking out the best mutual funds, keep your wits about you. Mutual funds have a mind-numbing selection of ways to claim bragging rights. "Best five-year record." "Best three-year record for value funds." "Best 10-year record for growth funds with at least $1 billion in assets."

Morningstar counts 110 mutual fund categories. Even if you spread the awards among the 8,000 or so garden-variety open-ended mutual funds, there would be plenty of opportunities for bragging rights. And, thanks to the longest-running bull market in history, everyone's 10-year record looks great.

But it's another thing to outperform the competition over the entirety of a fund's life.

Here are the 25 best mutual funds of all time. We looked at the records of all U.S.-listed stock funds – holding U.S. and/or international stocks alike – with at least a 20-year record, and ranked them based on returns since inception. Going for a minimum of two decades eliminates some of the bias from a decade-long bull market, and adds in at least two major bear markets.

You'll note there are no index funds, nor any international funds. We didn't exclude them – they just weren't in the top 25 top equity funds. Index funds don't aim to be top performers, and international funds are in a long-term performance drought. We did exclude bond and money market funds, however, because that's not where you go for high performance.

Click through the slideshow to see them.

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Low-Fee Mutual Funds to Buy Now

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