All this data is potentially out of date, and should be taken with a truckload of salt
The Rifter is the top tier combat ship of the Minmatar race. It is a flexible ship, with a balanced layout of 4/3/3, enabling to fit many different kinds of modules and fill in a large amount of roles.
The Rifter once was considered to be one of the best (if not the best) T1 combat frigate of choice for PvP activities. This changed after the the whole T1 frigate line was rebalanced in the Inferno and following expansions, though after spending some time on the other side of the balance cycle it had it's bonus changed from tracking to fall off range and around a year later it received minor buffs to fitting.
It can be either shield or armor tanked, though if it is shield tanked it will not be able to fit the web/point/prop mod combo. It's fall off bonus helps it apply damage at a wide range, so being able to dictate range well is important to success.
Below are additional ships images. Click the image below for a larger version:
Rifter with new turret animations