Firearms

5 Best .308 Winchester Semi-Auto Rifles

.308 Winchester cartridges on black target with holes

When .223 Remington just won’t do it, many turn to the venerable .308 Winchester. The classic “battle rifle” is a term dedicated to semi-automatic rifles chambered in a full-power rifle caliber — typically the .308 Win. The .308 Winchester often offers the extra performance needed compared to the .223 Remington, and provides shooters with the upper hand.

Whether it’s for fun at the range or in preparation for a SHTF scenario, here are the top five .308 Winchester semi-auto rifles that you can bet your life on.

Why Choose a .308 Battle Rifle?

There are several reasons to choose a .308 Winchester semi-auto rifle over something chambered in a lesser caliber. The two main reasons being superior ballistics and increased effective range. For example, when looking at two comparable Federal loads with a FMJ BT projectile, we see that a 62-grain .223 Remington has a velocity of 3,020 fps and produces 1,255 ft/lbs of energy, while a 150-grain .308 Winchester has a velocity of 2,820 fps and produces 2,648 ft/lbs of energy. This means that, on average, your rifle chambered in .308 Winchester will produce over twice the amount of energy as your standard .223 Remington rifle.

Additionally, the .308 Winchester has a max effective range of roughly 1,000 yards according to the USMC, while the .223 Remington only has a max effective range of around 600 yards. This allows shooters, with proper marksmanship fundamentals and abilities, to put more distance between them and a threat.

In a SHTF or bug-out situation, you could also use a .308 rifle to hunt a wide variety of game. This could be beneficial for survival with the right skills and conditions in place.

.308 Cartridges in Pile

Cons of Using .308

Though there are a number of reasons to choose a .308 Winchester semi-auto rifle over something chambered in 5.56 NATO, there are also some cons. The primary impairment will be weight — rifle weight, loaded magazines, and spare ammo will all be heavier. If you are going to be carrying a full loadout for an extended time period or distance, the extra weight exacts a toll on the body. It can also account for limitations on the amount of additional gear you would otherwise be able to carry.

The increased power of the .308 cartridge comes with an increase in recoil, muzzle blast, and report. This makes the rifle harder to fire accurately and can slow down follow-up shots. It can also have a negative effect on your vision or hearing when firing in certain environments, such as indoors or at night, due to the excess concussion and muzzle flash.

You will also have a reduced capacity compared to a 5.56 rifle, moving from a standard 30-round magazine to a 20-round mag. You can find extended .308 magazines, but you will still be dealing with the additional weight and lower capacity compared to extended 5.56 mags.

Man firing AR-15 rifle while prone

1. Smith & Wesson M&P10 Sport

Starting off the list as the most budget-friendly option, the Smith & Wesson M&P10 is an AR-10 platform .308 Winchester rifle. This provides shooters with good parts compatibility for upgrading or replacing accessories and components. Constructed of durable 7075-T6 upper and lower receivers, the M&P10 is capable of taking a beating. The 16-inch barrel provides excellent accuracy while keeping the rifle lightweight and maneuverable at only about 6.5 lbs.

The Sport variant comes with a standard A2 handguard, pistol grip, and stock, but the rifle is also available in different configurations depending on your preferences. Overall, the M&P10 Sport allows shooters to get into a quality .308 Winchester semi-auto rifle without breaking the bank.

S&W M&P10 AR-10 Rifle

2. DS Arms SA58 FAL

Introduced in 1946 and dubbed “the right arm of the free world,” the FAL is a well-known .308 battle rifle. The DS Arms SA58 provides an improved version of the original FAL with the inclusion of an M-Lok handguard for attaching accessories, top rail for mounting optics, adjustable side-folding stock, enhanced ambidextrous magazine release, and extended cocking handle knob. Additionally, the rifle features a 16-inch medium-contour fluted barrel and is equipped with an elevation adjustable front sight post along with a quick-adjust dual aperture rear sight.

DS Arms also offers a standard version of the SA58 with an 18-inch barrel and standard furniture that is more in line with a traditional FAL. All parts of the DS Arms SA58 are high-quality and made in the USA.

DS Arms SA58 Improved

3. Springfield M1A SOCOM 16

The Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 16 is the highest evolution of the trusted M1A/M14 series of rifles. The SOCOM 16 model features a 16.25-inch barrel for a more compact and maneuverable overall package. The SOCOM variant of the M1A also incorporates an optic mount, as well as an XS Sights tritium front sight post with an enlarged military aperture ghost ring rear sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation. The M1A includes a 10-round magazine, but 20-round magazines are available. If classic wood and steel is more your style, take a look at the standard M1A.

Springfield M1A SOCOM 16

4. IWI Tavor 7

The IWI Tavor 7 is unique, in that it features a bullpup design. Bullpup rifles move the action to the rear of the firearm. This makes for a more compact rifle, even with the 16.5-inch barrel length. The Tavor is highly regarded as a durable and dependable rifle — partially due to the short-stroke gas piston design with a rotating closed bolt.

The Tavor 7 incorporates an ambidextrous safety lever, magazine release, and bolt catch. Additionally, the charging handle and ejection side can be reversed, making this a great choice for both right and left-handed shooters.

IWI Tavor 7 7.62 NATO

5. FN SCAR 17S

One of the most well-known .308 Winchester semi-auto rifles is the FN SCAR 17S. The .308 SCAR comes in two configurations, a shorter version with a 16-inch free-float barrel called the 17S, and a longer version with a 20-inch barrel called the 20S. Purpose-built for long-range shooting, the short-stroke gas piston system efficiently absorbs recoil for greater precision and faster follow-up shots.

The SCAR features an ambidextrous safety lever, magazine release, and a charging handle that mounts on the right or left side. Further, the SCAR utilizes a telescoping, side-folding polymer stock with an adjustable cheek piece allowing the rifle to be fitted to the shooter.

FN SCAR 17S

Honorable Mention: IWI Galil Ace

The Galil Ace is often looked at as a sort of modernized and upgraded AK-47. Typically chambered in 7.62x39mm, there is also a .308 Winchester version of the Galil. It features a 16.5-inch chrome-lined, cold hammer forged barrel and utilizes a 20-round magazine. When compared to the AK, the reciprocating charging handle has been moved to the left side of the milled steel receiver, allowing for weak hand operation.

The Galil features a closed rotating bolt, long-stroke gas piston system that makes it incredibly reliable. Additionally, the rifle features adjustable iron sights with a tritium front post and a two-dot tritium rear aperture. However, the Galil Ace also incorporates a full-length top rail to mount an optic. An adjustable, side-folding stock makes for easy storage and transportation, and allows the shooter to fit the rifle to the desired length of pull.

IWI Galil Ace 7.62 NATO

Conclusion: Best .308 Winchester Rifles

Sometimes having a full-power battle rifle is just what the doctor prescribed. They shoot farther, hit harder, and have a distinct feel that no standard AR-15 can match. So, if you’ve decided that a semi-auto .308 rifle is for you, any of the options on this list are sure to serve you well.

What is your favorite .308 “battle rifle”? Let us know in the comment section.

  • S&W M&P10 AR-10 Rifle
  • DS Arms SA58 Improved
  • Springfield M1A SOCOM 16
  • IWI Tavor 7 7.62 NATO
  • FN SCAR 17S
  • IWI Galil Ace 7.62 NATO

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a relatively young firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting consistently for around seven years. Though he is fairly new to the industry, he loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related.

Alex tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills. He also enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and to keep them properly cleaned and maintained. He installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn.

Additionally, he is very into buying, selling and trading guns to test different firearms and learn more about them. He is not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (40)

  1. Vince From Georgia
    The Browning BAR is chambered in 308 because my dad and brother and I all have one.

    Wes Infidel – I agree it is not a squad weapon, but it does have 5 rounds and is accurate.

  2. POF Revolution piston 6.5 creedmoor 20” barrel shooting 130 grain Berger Ammo is awesome and runs like a watch. But within seconds I can swap out the 6.5 upper to a 16” 308/7.62 POF piston upper and well, there ya go. To me, this is the perfect set up. Just wish Ammo would become more Available.

  3. I think the AR10 clones are the most practical, especially for someone trained on ARs. They are the cheapest and parts and mags are plentiful. They are really a dpms LR308 clone and even compared to the M14, they are heavy. My M1A is very accurate but mounting a scope solidly was a pain, and mag changes are not nearly as smooth as an AR. I noticed one comment that confused today’s BAR sporter with the 30-06 light machinegun onece used by our military (a common mistake). I have a BAR sporter in .243. It’s very accurate, but the “trapdoor” four round magazines (I have 4) all had feeding problems after about 1990. I have the Winchester version of an FNAR which is a “tactical” version of the BAR sporter which you can get a 20 round mag for ($60). It has black plastic stocks and pistol grip and will take a detachable mag as mentioned. It feeds much better than the .243 but alas, it’s not that accurate. I think a scout type bolt action that takes a 10 round AICS mag is the is the wisest choice for travelling because it is legal just about everywhere in the United States, maybe even outside of America in places like California, New York, New Jersey, etc. God bless and stay safe.

  4. Excellent article. Short but informative. I would add one (2) more rifles. The HK91 is an incredible battle rifle but a tad bit expensive and difficult to find, therefore my alternate choice is the PTR-91 which I believe should have been mentioned. Extremely reliable and a very close clone to the HK-91.

  5. My semi-auto .308 is the FNAR. This one and the 3 others I’ve shot were all sub-moa with their favorite ammo. Mine likes 162-168 gr. bullets, and the others preferred the 175s. Tough, dependable and accurate. Browning designed. Nothing wrong w/the others mentioned. Good article.

  6. While everyone was busy building AR15’s 10 years ago I built two 9.5lb with Scope Armalite based AR10’s. My goal was to build a rifle my wife could easily handle that would out gun most bad guys. They are as short as my AR15 and only 1.5lbs heavier. 16” JP barrel and hand guard with bolt carrier coming soon. They are very handy and accurate rifles. My 5’3” 115lb wife loves hers. Light, compact and accurate. A do all rifle.

  7. I did have a bad experience with longevity with a new DPMS AR-10, so I got a new Ruger Mini 14 in .223 // I really do think if anyone has a problem deciding what firearm to purchase of any type, the Ruger brand would be a good choice. I’ve never regretted buying any Ruger product, or felt like it needed improvement, or that there was something better I could have got instead.

  8. Glad to see my baby the Tavor 7 get some recognition! I love mine. Funny, as an extremely left handed person, it’s my first fully left handed gun. Usually just shoot righties on my left shoulder, which works for everything but bullpups. Which is my favorite configuration. T7 has very reasonable recoil and is super easy to shoot. I have shoulder problems that makes holding a rifle cantilevered out over my front hand difficult over extended periods. Bullpups put almost all the weight behind my front hand which means I can shoot offhand for extended periods no problem. As a result of this, I also prefer shorter braced pistols as well.

  9. Transitioned from the M1/M2 carbine to the M-14 in 1971. It’s a 50 year love affair that has never gone cold. I’ll hump the weight for the range, hitting power and reliability. My M-16/AR-15s are wonderful nail drivers, but my M-14 would be my choice if I only had one weapon.

  10. I believe Mr. Crispens BAR is the civilian hunting rifle not the squad automatic rifle.
    Browning BAR Mark II Safari Walnut Blued 308 Win

  11. All of the mentioned rifles are good choices, but it is strange how Ruger gets overlooked most of the time. The Ruger SR762, a piston driven .308 rifle, like all Ruger arms, is tough reliable, and the multiple units I own are accurate too.

  12. Check out the POF Rogue. 5.9# .308 rifle. Light enough for an old fart like me at 81 to carry all day & guaranteed accurate to 1MOA with match ammo. With the factory muzzle brake the recoil is less than an M1A by a good bit. With a loaded mag and a scope it’s still light enough to carry all day.

  13. I’ve had the Springfield M!A for a number of years. Great rifle for mid to longer ranges and will handle most game in North America. I also have an S&W M&P10. Nice for shorter ranges, but not as accurate at range. I also have an M1 Garand as well.
    As for anything else, just let it go that911 to a I’ve collected a number of guns over the years. All of which are in working order and get brought out from time to time for fun.

  14. First rifle was was at Marine bootcamp with an M1 rifle. They forced the M-14 on me. Shot expert 24 years alas better with the 14 but…. First rifle I ever bought was a 30-06 FN most accurate I’ve shot. Elk and deer were a breeze and carried all day no sweat. Old now and hate’d M-16 in Nam. But I’ll take my 30-06 and back-up my 308 Ruger Scout. Oh yes, my Sig 45 Nightmare is always there.

    Bottom line. “Just use what you have confidence in.”

  15. The socom 16 is horrible on muzzle blast. You are much better off with the FULL sized rifle.
    Likewise for the M1A tanker!
    On your list, I put the Scar 17S (20 inch barrel first place) and the FN/FAL STG 58 in 2nd place of your offerings on that list.
    You do not list a standard M1A Springfield with the full length barrel which I shot very successfully in NRA matches.
    When you get OLD and get put on blood thinners and have heart surgery, you can NO LONGER stand the recoil as it makes your whole chest go black and blue. The cardiologist was worried I would get a clot. SO… I’ve been working on changing an AR 15 over to 6.5 Grendel. It supposedly is “close” to the ballistics of the 7.62Nato/.308.
    I add that for folks who have My condition. Obviously it is NOT on the list as it is NOT a 308.

  16. Brian— I bought it new, & I read everything on the barrel & instructions & online. It was marked .308 Winchester/7.62X51mm. DPMS didn’t build an AR-10 that won’t safely fire .308 Winchester ammunition. Except the one I purchased. I’m just glad it’s gone & there are better guns.

  17. Wow! You picked a SCAR or an H&K G3 variant?
    We fielded the SCARs but testing left us less than impressed with build quality and reliability in the field.
    In, fact of all the “Battle” rifles listed in the the article, I would only carry the FAL (and if nothing else available) the M1A1.
    Thanks for sharing your opinions.
    –MG

  18. Per the USMC shooting manual, The 5.56 in the M-16 has an effective range on a point target (i.e. “Human”) of 500 meters and on an area target (a group of people) of 800m. That considers enough velocity at target to produce a casualty. It is inaccurate, has relatively no energy, and the ballistic curve has significant progressive drop past 800m. Also at 800m the 5.56 only has about 100 foot/lbs. of energy
    The effective range of the M14 with 7.62×51 NATO is also rated at about 500m and maximum at 800m. This is because the higher drag coefficient of about .400 of the 7.62 (the 5.56 is closer to .300) causes it to reach transonic range at about the same range as the 5.56 which has higher initial velocity but less mass. At 500m the drop is 68″ (a little less than 6 feet) and at 800m it is 266 inches or over 20 feet of drop. At 1,000m the drop of the 7.62×51 is about 44 FEET, but it still has enough energy because of the heavier bullet to create a casualty.

  19. Rock River Varmint,26 inch heavy barrel 308/7.62×51. One of the most accurate 308s I have.

    Not the cheapest 308 around but one of the best.
    Don

  20. I agree with some of the authors picks but not nearly affordable prices. I’ve had my AR-10 for years now and have shot many rounds thru him. Always feeds any brand round is highly accurate in my hands and is just straight fun. I built my rifle thru AR-10 for under 600 bucks.

  21. DaGunny is 100% correct.M14 still no.1.
    Crispens was talking about the civilian BAR.Not like Dad carried in the Pacific.I a 30-06 like his.
    Sfc Moore

  22. I trained with the M14 at Paris Island. But when arriving in Danang they handed me the M16. I was disappointed. Combat units shared with me in firefights the enemy always slowed when they heard the 308 M60’s were in the patrol. We own a Springfield Socom mentioned in your article. I also purchased an AR10 from Panther Arms. I agree the Socom is the best weapon on the market, though prices are high!

  23. I totally have to disagree with the comment about not using 308 Win in 7.62×51 chambers. When I was on the Marine Corps Rifle and Pistol Team, we fired thousands of rounds Federal 308 Match through M-14s in practice, Division matches, and at Quantico. There is no semi-auto substitute for the M14 for 600-1000 yard shooting. Even though I have an AR-10 the M14 is the most reliable and accurate. Having been in combat I would much rather have the heavier wood stock and ammo than the plastic junk we now see.

  24. Patriot Ordinance Factory 308. Purchased in Feb 2009. A year later I followed up with a POF .223. Made in the USA. I shoot the .308 more at the range, 600 yards at the CMP range, than I do with any other rifle, including my M1 Garand (also purchased at the CMP store). Beginning to get into long distance shooting with a Ruger Precision 6.5 Creedmoor. (and taking up reloading)

  25. My dpms oracle in 7.62 NATO has given 4 years of great service and 100’s of round fired no problems at all.

    Mil-Spec wanted to FYI that .308 ammo shouldn’t be fired in a & 7.62 NATO chamber..

  26. The max effective range of the M-16 (5.56, 55 grain round) is 800 meters (2624 feet), not 1000 yards as stated by the author of this article.

    Also, the max effective range of the M14 is 800+ meters (with optics).

    @Gary Crispens: Yes, the BAR is a 30 caliber rifle, but, it is not chambered in .308, it is chambered in 30.06.

  27. I don’t think you can beat the SCAR. It isn’t by any means a low end rifle cost wise but I have fired all the listed weapons and I found the SCAR 20S tobe the most accurate particularly at longer ranges. My SCAR 20S has been well worth the money I paid for it.

  28. Purchased an FN SCAR 17s. Great rifle but, when you dig down into the details they tell you that you can’t use a suppressor. WTF? My dealer was also unaware of this important detail.
    Since you can’t use a suppressor, the SCAR 17S should not be included in this list.

  29. A couple that were left out I’ve taken into battle several times n no can’t say where or when, but the H&K PASGT and the FNAR, both as accurate as their replacements, but for me a bit more “solid” especially when switching from long range to a bit closer n faster.

  30. OK, a sales list. In real life a .308 M1 Garand is the best heavy rifle to ad to your ar-15 and 9mm hand gun. 45 auto if you want to carry the weight.

  31. The “best” certainly isn’t the DPMS Panther AR-10 .308… I bought a brand new one & it lasted through 80 rounds. Round #81 split the chamber. That particular round was .308 Hornady American Whitetail ammunition, but only the last 10 rounds were Hornady. Others previously fired were Tulammo 7.62X51. Regardless, it shouldn’t have blew up. No barrel obstruction

  32. This list seems to be more of categories of 7.62 Battle rifles rather than “best”. There are dozens of AR10s like the S&W and while it’s a value I would say the HK or Knights or LMT is best of the AR10s IMO. The others are more one or two manufacturers. But I would have had the HK G3 over the IWI based on its track record.

  33. What about the granddaddy of 308 semi-autos?
    The Browning BAR that I have hunted with since 1980 and is supper accurate?
    I will never part with this one!!!

  34. My favorite.308 semi-auto rifle is my BULA M14 standard. A beautiful forged rifle that is made in Ohio. Mine has a walnut hand guard like the original M14. The one I trained with, a long time ago, had a fiberglass hand guard.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please click the reload button and complete the captcha once again.

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.