6 Best .308/7.62 Semi-Auto Rifles [2019]: Battle Ready

I want to preface what I’m about to say by making one thing clear: I love all firearms.

Big ones, small ones, common, rare, old, new, whatever. If it goes bang, it holds a special place in my heart.

i love you elf gif

Tthe most special place in my heart is always going to held by the majesty that is the semi-automatic battle rifle, which usually means a semi-auto in .308/7.62×51 NATO, which is just fine for me.

Why .308?

Well, I’ve talked before about how much I love the .308 cartridge, and how perfect it is for my needs and the needs of most shooters and hunters. It’s good out to 800 yards no sweat, and good match ammo, while expensive, will probably be more accurate than most shooters.

So while I love things like the 6.5 Creedmoor and .224 Valk, good ole .308 is what I’m after most of the time if I’m buying rifle ammo.

PSA AR-10 .308
PSA AR-10 .308

It’s cheap, available everywhere on the planet, and is available from just about every company that makes ammunition, so there’s no shortage of options from cheap FMJ plinking ammo you can get from a surplus store to precision match ammo at $2.50/round.

Let’s talk about some quality examples of these excellent guns, where to buy them, and how to choose the best one for you.

Why a Battle Rifle or Semi-Auto?

Listen, I love reaching out to a thousand plus yards as much as anybody. I’ve got my bolt-actions for those rare occasions when I get out to do that kind of thing though. Any semi-auto that can do things at that kind of range is going to be more expensive than most people, me included, can easily afford.

Especially when I can get a bolt gun for about half what an equivalent semi-auto would cost.

For inside six hundred yards though? A quality semi-auto is just fine. And for inside fifty yards with some kind of dangerous game coming at me? Keep your damn 1800 meter precision bolt gun and give me that AR-10.

This winding intro leads us to our topic for today: the best semi-auto rifles in my favorite caliber, the venerable .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO.

Best .308/7.62 Semi-Auto Rifles

1. AR-10

When most experienced gunhands hear the words “.308” and “semi-auto” in the same breath, their mind probably goes to the AR-10, as well it should.

The AR-10 is the starting point not only for most modern battle rifles but for most Western semi-auto rifles in general. It would go on to spawn the AR-15 and all of its variants, making it the progenitor of arguably the most popular firearm family in the world.

ar10s
The original AR-10 design field stripped. You can see the obvious similarities between it and later rifles.

You can read more about the history of both these rifles in our AR10 vs AR-15 article.

Originally developed by Eugene Stoner to replace the aging M1 Garand for the US military, the AR-10 has had a long and successful life, and in that time it has remained in use around the world, though these days mostly in specialized circumstances, or in the hands of civilians.

That said, its still an incredibly robust platform, and modern refinements have only made it better.

Here are two of the best examples of AR-10s.

Aero Precision M5E1

This is the gold standard for AR-10 for people that don’t have two grand to spend on just a rifle.

Best Bang-For-Buck
1400 at Aero Precision

Prices accurate at time of writing

Coming in somewhere between $1500 and $1800 depending on options, the M5E1 is an excellent choice for those who want a rifle that’s good out of the box, and can be made great with just a few small upgrades.

Aero Precision M5 AR-10
Aero Precision M5E1 AR-10 Complete Rifle

You can read the full review here.

Palmetto State Armory PA10

PSA is a budget firearms enthusiasts dream come true. I’m not sure exactly how they do it, but they have everything from ammo to AR-10’s at rock-bottom prices.

Best Entry Level AR-10
600 at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best of all, their PSA-branded uppers, lowers, and complete rifles are all very cheap in comparison to the competition but perfectly adequate. Fit and finish is nothing to drool over, but they go bang every time, and they’re more accurate than the price would seem to allow.

Testing the PSA AR-10 .308
Testing the PSA AR-10 .308

If you’re looking for an entry model AR-10, or semi-auto .308 in general, the PA-10 from PSA is available in multiple configurations starting at about $600.

Full review of the .308 version and 6.5 Creedmoor version.

Other AR-10 Info

Now, we’ve talked a lot about the AR-10, both here in this article and in our AR-10 Vs. AR-15 and 8 Best AR-10s articles, so make sure to hit those links if you want to know more.

Most .308’s out there that aren’t bolt guns are going to be an AR-10 variant of some kind, no matter how they’re dressed up. As far as other semi-auto .308’s, there’s a few we’ve never really covered.

I guess now is as good a time as any to do that.

2. Century Arms C308

Both of the first two rifles on this list are variants of a gun first manufactured over half a century ago, the Heckler and Koch G3, one of the most revered battle rifles ever produced.

What would go on to become the H&K G3 was first produced in 1958. Primarily designed by German engineers working for the Spanish CETME development group, the CETME-C was a Roller-Delayed 7.62×51 rifle.

C308
Century Arms C308

This legendary rifle would go on to inspire a huge number of similar rifles (and quite a few blatant copies) and to be used by just about every country with a military.

There are a number of modern copies of the G3, but the most well-known is definitely the Century Arms C308, which is manufactured by Century using in-house parts as well as some original CETME stock, the last of which was bought out by Century a number of years ago, so when these rifles are all in private hands, you’ll have to go through collectors to get one.

Now, you’d think that would make these rifles prohibitively expensive, but you’d be absolutely wrong. The C308 in even its most expensive variant comes in cheaper than all but the most economically-priced AR-10’s.

Mine was $625, with shipping. You can get one for about the same price as well.

And second best of all, G3/C308/HK91 magazines are DIRT cheap. I mean, really – disgustingly cheap. They are also often times disgustingly dirty…the last batch I bought I had to soak in soapy water for a half-hour before scrubbing them clean.

If you want to scrub clean your own surplus mags, you can get them for as low as $3 a magazine.  Or you can get clean, good condition, German surplus magazines from Brownells for $5 or less per mag. I choose Brownells, now.

Buyer beware though: this is a battle rifle. It’s got a stamped and welded receiver just like an AK, the trigger does double duty as a medieval torture device, and it’s only slightly more accurate than just picking the rounds up and throwing them.

You can get trigger upgrades and with good ammo the rifle likes, I’m comfortable calling it 2-3 MOA gun (but don’t expect much more than that). Of course, you’re paying for a piece of history, and a rough-and-ready piece at that, so don’t discount the C308.

If you want a precision G3 clone, you ‘ll need to look at…

3. PTR 91

The PTR 91 is an American-made G3 clone that uses tooling references from the original H&K G3 to be as accurate as possible to that original design, but with all the advancements and improvements of a modern manufacturing complex.

1650 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

The overall fit and finish are significantly improved over the C308, but the price goes up accordingly. The PTR 91 is about $400 more than the C308.  

It also features the iconic H&K diopter sights (the little rotating drum you probably recognize most from the MP5) and unlike the C308, a standard 5/28 threaded barrel making it ready for suppressors out of the box.

Finally, you still have an absolutely atrocious trigger, but the rifle is overall more accurate than the C308. I’d be comfortable calling this a 2 MOA gun with mid-range ammo. To get better than that, you’ll probably want to invest in an aftermarket trigger if you can find one, or purchase one of PTR’s upgraded models.

For a battle rifle that’ll handle anything, it’s certainly not bad at all, and I’d feel good about having one to rely on in anything from home invasion to an alien invasion.

4. DS Arms SA58 FAL

FNH developed the Fusil Automatique Léger (Light Automatic Rifle) and would go on to be a competitor to the M14 (which we’ll get to in a minute) and the AR-10. During the Cold War, it was adopted by many NATO countries as their primary battle rifle, which is where it got the nickname “the right arm of the free world”.

1750 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

It uses a fantastic short-stroke, spring-assisted piston action that was very modern at the time, and is still relevant today, allowing the FAL to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with much newer firearms.

The FAL is one of the most battle-tested rifles on the planet, and the trigger is considerably better (usually) than most of the G3 options out there, and is going to be a little more accurate to boot.

Reliability is a toss-up between the two and will depend on which variant you go with.

Personally, I love the FAL, and it’s one of those guns I think anyone looking to build a serious gun collection should have. For me, it sits slightly above the AK and slightly below the AR-10/15 in the pantheon of shoulderable small arms.

Of course, if you want one, you’ll have to talk to an importer and get a civilian one. For that, I recommend DS Arms and their SA58. DS Arms is one of very few companies producing parts and accessories for the FAL.

The SA58 is a solid recreation of the FAL, side-folding stock included, and it holds its own with the other non-AR .308’s we’ve talked about thus far in the accuracy department. I’d even say that’s it’s probably the top of the heap in terms of accuracy and reliability of what we’ve gone over so far.

5. Springfield Armory M1A

Well, you could maybe ask for a Springfield Armory M1A.  This is the civilian version of the absolutely legendary M14, aka the rifle that trounced the AR-10 and the FN FAL for the US Army’s main battle rifle back in 1959 (the AR-10 would get the win in the long run in the form of the M16, but I digress).

1475 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

The M14 is, of course, a fully automatic military rifle, but the Springfield M1A is a semi-automatic, civilian version sold by Springfield Armory in a variety of configurations. You can get everything from short-barreled carbine versions on up to 20” barreled sniper configurations designed to get as much accuracy as possible out of the gun.

And the gun has plenty of accuracy to give. This is easily one of the most accurate firearms on this list, and for the price, one of the best .308 rifles on the market in terms of precision and dependability.  

I own one in 6.5 Creedmoor and I couldn’t be happier, but holy moly do I want a .308 version. I can’t quite justify the price when I have the ostensibly better-performing 6.5 Creedmoor version though, so this is one of those “if I win the lottery” guns for me.

That said, the .308 version is just as hardy and reliable as my 6.5 version, if not more so, and it is a frequent sight on the field of competition.

Combat Center shooting team puts rounds down range
Sgt. Maj. Karl Villalino, Combat Center Sergeant Major (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd/Released)

The M14 version is still used in a mostly honorary capacity by the US military, with one or two exceptions, one especially notable one being its use by a number of competitive rifle teams from various branches.  

I think that says a lot for the ole girl.  The M1A version is just as accurate, and with the number of accessories out there for it, it can be as accurate as you want it to be, though it can get pretty expensive, especially if you factor in the cost of a scope that will let you get the most out of it.

6. SCAR-17S

We’ve already given a spot on this list to the FN FAL, but I’d be remiss if I left out one of the most popular modern, .308 battle rifles around.  

The FN SCAR-H is a 7.62x51mm monster of a gun designed to be as modular as possible and to serve a variety of uses, from the CQB weapon of choice for various door-kickers and SF units to a scout sniper and sniper support platform, depending on how the weapon is configured.

Best Modern Battlerifle
2900 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

A SCAR-H is a fully-automatic battle rifle capable of laying down 600 rounds a minute, while also reaching out to the utmost limits the .308 cartridge is capable of.

Meanwhile, the SCAR-17S is the civilian version that goes bang as fast as your trigger finger can manage to go back and forth, and that’s plenty fast enough for me.

This is as solid of a rifle as you can get. The civilian version ships with a 16.5-inch barrel, but it can be swapped out after removing just a few screws, and you can slot in any number of aftermarket barrels, from 13 to 20 inches, depending on your needs.

US SEAL FN SCAR 17s
US Navy SEAL using an FN SCAR-H

It uses a modern version of the short-stroke piston FN developed for the FAL, and it is currently in service in 24 countries around the world in one capacity or another.

For the civilian shooter like you and me, we get something that’s as battle-tested as any rifle can be, and is as close to military spec (aside from a notable lack of select-fire capability) as we can get.

The trigger is…not perfect, but certainly better than the FAL, and there’s a huge amount of aftermarket trigger options out there if you’re going to slap a 20” barrel on there and reach out to 800 yards or more with any accuracy.

All in all, its one of the best modern battle rifles out there, and is pretty perfect if you’re looking for a heavy duty semi-auto for hunting dangerous game like hogs or bear. The price is a bit high, but hey.

We can’t have everything.

What’s your take on the SCAR?

Readers' Ratings

4.9/5 (125)

Your Rating?

Parting Shots

That’s all she wrote for this one folks. Well, all I wrote. Not that I’m a she or anything. It’s just an expression, okay?

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this look at some of the awesome semi-automatic .308 battle rifles that are out there. I certainly enjoyed writing it. I hope some of this was helpful, and if you haven’t found your next purchase, I hope you at least learned something.

What do you think of these rifles?  Which one is your favorite? Thinking about getting one? Got your favorite semi in .308…now feed it properly with Best .308 Ammo for Target Shooting, Plinking, & Hunting.

36 Leave a Reply

  • Zrock

    Galil ACE .308 turds on most of these mentioned. Making this list pretty useless.

    4 hours ago
  • Dave

    Love my M1A! I always think it's too big and heavy in the safe, then spend a whole afternoon shooting it. Now I want a Bula version

    2 days ago
  • Gregg Cromeans

    What about the Saint Victor 308?

    2 days ago
  • mike altland

    I love my FNAR...... but then again I love my LR 10 too

    1 month ago
  • Old dude

    Zastava m77. Boom

    1 month ago
  • David S

    I have two of these rifles. Both I built from demilled kits. The first one is from a CETME kit which cost $178. It came with everything but receiver but had the front trunnion. I then bought a ready to use PTR receiver for around $300. from Atlantic. It was a bear to get the trunnion/barrel set up and spaced but worth every head ache. I powder coated the rifle a stealth grey and it looks very exotic. I also installed an HK forearm that has the fold up bipod. While no 1000 yd. shooter I can bang the 250 yard steel with ease using fmj surplus. My next surplus built rifle was an FN Fal kit I got for just over $500. I then bought a receiver from DSA. The receiver was one that they had made for a cancelled order placed by the Mexican Government. I think the receiver was right at $300. It doesn’t have a carry handle cut out. I also purchased a new 16” barrel from DSA as well. Remembering how much a pain setting the head space on the CETME was and me not having any of the gauge pins and unsurity of the process I opted to let DSA install the new barrel onto the new receiver. I sent them all the parts to assemble the upper assembly and for $165. and about 2 weeks in time I received a completed properly headspace upper assembly. Neither of these guns are not light to carry but if the SHTF I am ready. I also have a Garand that will easily hit steel open sighted at 250 yards. The M1A is on my list but I just can’t can’t find one in my price range.

    2 months ago
  • michael enochs

    I grew up on a farm with my grandpa who was a ww2 nut. It wasn't until after his death that I realized he was collecting military weapons. I just didn't know that was his reasoning, I just thought he loved guns. I didn't appreciate his m14 until I shot it and that was with basic peep sights. It was the only large caliber I've shot that blew the bullseye out at 110 yards. I mean every shot touching no black left. When he passed, it went to my uncle. Here I am 10 years later, went through the Marine Corps and I want my own. I'm very happy to see the M1A on this list, very happy. It's helping me justify my next purchase. Think I'll go with the 20" version in 308 and read forums on enhancing accuracy with gunsmith work I started to read about.

    2 months ago
  • Jake

    Check out the IWI Tavor 7. Same amazing amazing traits as the other Tavors, but chambered in 7.62X51mm. Feels awesome to shoot, especially suppressed.

    3 months ago
  • John Gibson

    POF Revolution is by far the best.

    5 months ago
    • Charles

      So, you're a shill, then.

      4 months ago
  • John Dwyer

    I like the Rock River Arms LR-8 in the Standard Operator configuration. At my age I am not much good out beyond 600 yds and I find the LR-8 under a Nightforce ATACr to work well. The last piece I want is a full auto anything. That sort of thing is for when Victor Charles is coming through the wire at 3 AM. Not these days though. Now he's making furniture.

    5 months ago
  • Someone

    Aero AR-10 are awesome guns. I have two. Both are tack drivers. They are Not using an adjustable gas block and work just fine. They shoot everything. It took shooting them for a while and a lot of oil to loosen up the very tight BCG.

    5 months ago
  • Sasquatch61

    I'm going to build an Aero precision AR 10

    5 months ago
  • C DAVIS

    Is the PSA rifle in your photo the same one you saw listed for $600? The only one I see with a stock like the one on the photo cost $750 and has a 20" barrel. The $599.99 version looks totally different. https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-gen2-pa10-18-mid-length-308-win-stainless-steel-classic-rifle.html

    5 months ago
    • Sasquatch61

      You are correct the one that's $600 has an A2 style front sight and a standard milspec stock

      5 months ago
  • William Davis

    Getting ready to get my 308 Semi auto. I am probably going to choose either the PSA. I am also considering the DPMS Recon Gen II, fo you have any comments or advice on that model? Great rundown, salute!

    5 months ago
  • Steve

    Having spent my life to this point shooting, this article was a great read. I have had in the past a Century FAL, still have a Springfield M1A and a PSA AR10 20" heavy barrel with a CMC 3.5# trigger. Most of the others I've come in contact with and agree with your assessment in the article, as you vary them, the assessment changes. All in all a fun read and a good article for those thinking of taking the plunge. And I do love the 308, my tack driver is the Savage model 10 FLCP-SR w/24" bull barrel and 4X12 Nikon M-308 scope, a very capable rifle that didn't empty my bank account! Keep up the good work!

    5 months ago
  • Sergii

    And how about DB10ELB? Or DB10CKMB. Its cost from 960$ to 1099$

    5 months ago
  • Richard

    Great article and a fun read- hoping for a lottery win!

    5 months ago
  • Bert Powers

    I find your article accurate from my personal experience, a well written buyers guide.

    5 months ago
  • SJaggard

    Thanks love my Aero’s never a problem everything I need -would love a M1A tho so damn cool

    5 months ago
  • Jay

    Enjoyed the article -- wasn't expecting the c308. Could've had at least one bullpup.

    5 months ago
  • Greg Hapke

    Galil Ace? I prefer mine over my FAL.

    5 months ago
    • CrazeeAZ

      This is the question that keeps me up at night. Galil or FAL? FAL or Galil?

      5 months ago
      • Michael Johnson

        GALIL for the win !

        5 months ago
  • Ben

    Any experience with or feedback on the Colt LE901 S or SE ?

    5 months ago
  • Rusty in Bend OR

    I can't imagine why the LWRC Int'l REPR MKII wouldn't be on this list ... probably #1. I get it ... very expensive ... but an awesome high-end long-distance weapon. I have it in .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor, and I'd put LWRC quality, accuracy and reliability up against any other device. For those that can afford 2x the price and want 4x the weapon ... it's an easy choice.

    5 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      An AR-10 is basically an AR-10. There are better-made ones and worse made ones, but it is the same pattern of rifle. This list was more a look at battle rifles as a whole Vs. just a long list of AR-10s.

      5 months ago
      • Rusty in Bend OR

        That's an interesting response. The name of the article is "Best .308/7.62" ... not "Cheapest" or "Battle" or whatever. I'm just sayin' ... you identify the best "Bang for the Buck" and other categories, so I'm wondering why a "Best High End" or something like that wouldn't rate consideration, unless you think it's just not a good .308. If it's the best on the market, like LWRCI usually is thought of, it shouldn't be excluded from a "Best of ..." list like this. Your article - my opinion - both are respected. Thanks for the great work. I don't have to agree to enjoy the quality journalism.

        5 months ago
        • Kris from MLT Wash

          Hi rusty .They did a best ar10 article months ago and the Repr was on the list. The author of the article actually glommed all over it on how much he loved it.After reading about the Repr I would defenetly opt to purchase if I had the means.I have 2 AR's in 308 a savage msr 10 and a PSA PX 10. The PSA is ok. The Savage after s#*t canning the Blackhawk grip,stock and trigger and replacing with Magpul and Ruger elite trigger,this I believe to be one of the finest 308's in the AR platform on the market.Enjoy your firearms and God bless. Kris

          5 months ago
          • Rusty in Bend OR

            Great perspective, and I just saw the article. Owning two, I can attest to the fact that "Yes" ... they really are "that good". When I go to the range, if I want practice, I bring one of my other rifles. If I want precision shots in sub-MOA bulls-eyes to and through 500 yards ... I bring my .308 REPR. If I want to hit the 14-inch gong at 1,200 yards ... I bring my 6.5 REPR (Vortex Golden Eagle 60x scope). One of the things that nobody ever mentions in articles (because they only test-shoot them) ... is how easy they are to clean. I can put 100 rounds down-range, and the bolt carrier group and upper receiver clean with a simple wipe-down and re-grease due to the piston-driven gas system. All that nasty carbon never gets to the bolt since it drives a piston that pushes the bolt, instead of doing that with gas. Clean-up takes 15 minutes to be ready for the safe, and most of that is punching the barrel. I have 1,000+ rounds down-range on both, and I've never had to take a brush to either bolt carrier group to have them looking like new.

            5 months ago
        • David, PPT Editor

          It is one of the best high-end AR-10s, it's just in another article ;) Glad you enjoy!

          5 months ago
          • Rusty in Bend OR

            Just read the article that reviewed the LWRC REPR. I agree, after buying the .308 and loving it so much I bought the 6.5 Creedmoor Elite (carbon-fiber barrel). They're beyond expensive ... but I'm grossly overpaid ... and I WANTED THEM. Pondering the AR-15 SBR version, but I believe if I bought another one, my wife would load it up and shoot me in the @$$.

            5 months ago
  • Big Jim

    Can t belive you put the springfield so far down on the list thats crazy bud

    5 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      The list isn't in a set order.

      5 months ago
    • Smurf211

      Saved the best for last.

      5 months ago
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