Key Point: Are you on the market for a .308 semi-automatic rifle? If so, you’ll be glad to hear that there are several high quality choices for you available on the marketplace, which each offer excellent performance, accuracy, durability, and reliability.
There are three models that stand out in particular: the Century Arms C308, Ruger SR-762, and the Springfield M1A.
Each of these choices certainly have their pros and cons, but they also each offer unique advantages that we will dive into in-depth with this article. We’ll also talk about the best benefits of owning a .308 semi-automatic rifle to begin with.
(This article by Will Ellis originally appeared at Gun News Daily in 2019.)
THE BENEFITS OF OWNING A .308 SEMI-AUTOMATIC
A solid case can be made that the .308 semi-automatic rifle is the most versatile centerfire rifle that you can own today.
The reason why is because it can be used for almost any purpose you need a rifle for. The .308 Winchester is an excellent round for hunting and can bring down almost any North American big game, including deer, elk, and black bear.
And as a semi-automatic with a 20 or so round magazine capacity, a .308 semi-auto will also be a good choice for tactical training and for defending your home and property against multiple attackers.
Granted, the .308 is not the best round for defense inside of your home because it can easily pass through each of the walls of your home and the walls of your neighbors. A handgun, shotgun, or a rifle in an intermediate caliber such as the 7.62x39mm or 5.56x45mm NATO would be a superior choice for that.
Finally, the .308 Winchester round itself has also gained a reputation for being an accurate long range caliber. It is now the most popular centerfire rifle caliber for hunting both in the United States and across the world, surpassing the venerable .30-06 Springfield round that previously held that title.
Overall, no rifle is absolutely perfect and there is no one rifle that can do absolutely everything. Guns are like tools in a toolbox, in that each tool and each gun fulfills a different purpose.
However, some tools can fill more purposes than others and are more versatile in that way, and guns are no exception. The .308 Winchester is an excellent and highly practical round that fulfills a wide variety of different purposes, and in the form of a semi-automatic with a large magazine capacity it becomes even more versatile.
With a .308 semi-automatic rifle, you can do long distance target shooting, go big game hunting, and defend your home and property against several attackers in an emergency or in a grid down disaster situation. For these reasons, a .308 semi-automatic rifle definitely belongs in your arsenal.
So which specific makes and models should you consider? Let’s find out.
THE TOP 3 BEST .308 SEMI-AUTO RIFLES
Since there are so many .308 semi-autos available already, it’s hard to narrow them down to the top three.
THE BUDGET OPTION: CENTURY ARMS C308
Semi-automatic rifles in the .308 caliber tend to be very expensive (as in over a thousand dollars) for a high quality model. That’s a fact you may be disappointed to hear if you’re someone on a serious budget.
Fortunately, there is one .308 semi-auto that’s made just for people who don’t have a lot of money to spend, and that is the Century Arms C308. This rifle is routinely available for between $500 to $700.
The C308 is essentially a copy of the HK G3, which is one of the most popular battle rifles in the world and utilizes a delayed blowback system. In fact, the C308 even uses some surplus parts from the G3!
Using a 5 round or 20 round detachable box magazine (which are widely available and extremely economical at less than ten dollars a mag), the C308 features a forward charging handle and a safety switch that’s right by your thumb while holding the weapon. Some have found the forward charging handle to be a rather awkward and unergonomic position, but it’s something that you can definitely get used to with lots of practice.
While the G3 design overall isn’t exactly the best choice for precision target shooting, it’s still accurate enough for the average shooter and will easily deliver 2 MOA groups at a hundred yards. And what the G3/C308 makes up for its slight loss in accuracy is excellent durability and reliability.
An improvement the C308 has over the G3 is a Picatinny rail mounted on the top of the receiver, which makes attaching optics and scopes very easy.
One of the biggest downsides to the C308 is that it comes installed with a plastic lower assembly and trigger guard, in contrast to the metal one that came on the original G3s. Fortunately, it’s not anything that you can’t swap out with aftermarket or surplus parts.
All in all, the Century Arms C308 is easily the best .308 semi-automatic for those on a budget. It may not be a top-of-the-line rifle, but for an affordable .308 battle rifle it can’t be beat.
Excellent value for the price
Durable and reliable
Picatinny rail makes it easy to install optics
Magazines are dirt cheap and easy to find
Not the most accurate .308 rifle on the market
Comes installed with a plastic lower assembly and trigger guard
THE PRAGMATIC OPTION: RUGER SR-762
The AR-10 market has exploded in the last few years, as many people who love the AR platform but desire a larger caliber have turned to it. Ex-military service members who were issued AR’s and are now looking for a hunting rifle are particularly drawn to the AR-10.
One of the best AR-10s available is the Ruger SR-762. This gun isn’t cheap at around $1,500 to $2,000, but it certainly delivers on quality.
The AR market is huge, and this means that spare magazines, aftermarket parts, and customization options are virtually endless. It is for this reason that the SR-762, or any other comparable AR-10 for that matter, is perhaps the most practical choice you can make for a .308 semi-auto rifle.
Excellent features that the SR-762 ships with include folding iron sights, a picatinny rail for adding scopes, and a two stage piston system that Ruger claims is the best currently available.
The biggest downside to the SR-762 is the trigger, which is far grittier in comparison to other AR-10 rifles. Ruger as a whole isn’t exactly known for producing guns with the best triggers either. Fortunately, it’s not anything that you won’t be able to replace on your own.
As a whole though, the SR-762 is a dependable and accurate rifles that does everything an AR-10 should.
Customization options are endless
Two stage piston system
Easy to add optics
Folding iron sights
Ergonomic rubber grip
– Poor trigger
THE CLASSIC OPTION: SPRINGFIELD M1A
This list would simply not be complete without the Springfield M1A, a civilian version of the military M14 rifle that has been in use by the military since the 1950s and is still in service as a DMR (designated marksman’s rifle) today.
The M1A today is available in a wide variety of different options and sizes: the 16.5 inch SOCOM model, 18 inch Scout Squad model, and the 22 inch Standard model. The 22 inch delivers the best velocity and range, while the shorter models are more nimble and better suited for tight conditions.
When outfitted with a wood stock, the M1A simply looks classy and can’t be beat by another .308 semi-auto in the looks department. The design, based off of the original M1 Garand, is accurate, reliable, and extremely solid. This is a rifle you could throw off a cliff and it will still shoot.
The biggest downsides to the M1A are the fact that it’s heavy and long, especially if you go with the 22-inch version. Another downside is the safety is located inside the trigger guard (so you have to put your finger inside the trigger guard to flick it off), which many people don’t like.
Nonetheless, the M1A is a design that has served the United States for many decadesand by the looks of it will continue to do so in the future. This rifle is equally at home on the shooting range as it is out in inclement field conditions.
Wide variety of customization options
Reliable and durable
Long and Heavy
Safety is located in the trigger guard
There are so many other great .308 semi-auto rifles out there that you should definitely continue your research. Other examples of makes and models for you to consider include the DS Arms SA58 FAL, the FN Scar 17, or literally any other make and model of AR-10.
But the three specific models that we have discussed in this article will serve you well. The C308, SR-762, and M1A are each reliable, accurate, and proven designs. You literally can’t go wrong with any of them whether it be for hunting, target shooting, or defense of your homestead.