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 has a place in my heart.
But the mostspecial place in my heart will always be held by the majesty that is the “battle rifle” — which usually means a semi-automatic chambered in .308 Winchester/7.62×51 NATO.
I’ve talked before about how much I love the .308 cartridge and how perfect it is for my needs and those of most shooters and hunters.
It’s good out to 800-yards, no sweat, and with quality match ammo, it will probably be more accurate than most shooters.
So while I love things like the 6.5 Creedmoor and .224 Valkyrie, I can’t get away from good ol’ .308.
If you are a fan of .308 and on the hunt for a new battle rifle, you might have noticed there are a few options on the market. So which is best?
I’m going to walk you through some of the Pew Pew Tactical team’s favorite battle rifles. We’ll examine some pros of each and discuss what makes them worthy of your attention.
So without further ado…let’s dive in.
THE QUICK LIST
Best .308/7.62 Semi-Auto Rifles
When the words “.308” and “semi-auto” are uttered in the same breath, most people’s minds probably go to the AR-10.
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.
You can read more about the history of these rifles in our AR-10 vs. AR-15 article.
Originally developed by Eugene Stoner to replace the aging M1 Garand for the U.S. military, the AR-10 has had a long and successful life.
In that time, it has remained in use globally, though these days mostly in specialized circumstances or in the hands of civilians.
That said, it’s still an incredibly robust platform, and modern refinements have only made it better.
Aero Precision M5E1
The Aero M5E1 is the gold standard for people that want a customizable AR-10 without breaking the bank — though you’ll have to piece it together yourself.
Coming in somewhere between $1,200 and $2,000 depending on options, the M5E1 is an excellent choice for those who want a solid rifle that can be made great with a few small upgrades.
You can read our full review here.
Palmetto State Armory PA10
PSA is a budget firearms enthusiast’s dream come true. I’m not sure exactly how they do it, but they have everything from ammo to AR-10s at rock-bottom prices.
Best of all, their PSA-branded uppers, lowers, and complete rifles are all very cheap compared to the competition. Their fit and finish are nothing to drool over, but they go bang every time, and they’re more accurate than the price would lead you to believe.
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. They start at about $700 and top out at around $1100.
You can check out our reviews of the .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor versions and peep our video review of the .308 version below.
Other AR-10 Info
Simply put, the AR-10 is the king of battle rifles. They are inherently accurate, reliable, and modular. Aside from the models we listed, there are plenty of great options out there Sig 716I and higher-end options like LMT MARS-H and POF Revolution.
Be sure to check out our AR-10 vs. AR-15 and 8Best AR-10s articles if you would like to know more.
The PTR-91 is a modern variant 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.
This legendary rifle would go on to inspire a number of similar rifles (and quite a few blatant copies) and be used by just about every country with a military.
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.
It also features the iconic H&K diopter sights (the little rotating drum you probably recognize most from the MP5) and a standard 5/28 threaded barrel making it ready for suppressors out of the box.
A nice bonus about these guns is the widespread availability of dirt-cheap magazines. You can find surplus magazines for $5 to $10, and new magazines can be had for as little as $10 to $15.
This is a battle rifle. It’s got a stamped and welded receiver just like an AK, and the trigger does double duty as a medieval torture device. Beware, these things absolutely chew up brass; so if you are planning on reloading, this gun will literally put a dent in your plans.
I’d be comfortable calling the base model a 2 MOA gun with mid-range ammo. Stepping up to their FR model with the match-grade bull barrel is an option for those looking to squeeze a bit more accuracy out of the platform.
There are several variations of the PTR-91, but they typically run from about $1,000 to $1,400.
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 a home invasion to an alien invasion.
3. DS Arms SA58 FAL
FN Herstal developed the Fusil Automatique Léger (Light Automatic Rifle) in the 1940s and saw it completed in 1953. During the Cold War, many NATO countries adopted it as their primary battle rifle, where it earned its nickname “the right arm of the free world.”
It uses a fantastic short-stroke, spring-assisted piston action that was very modern at the time. The system 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 usually, the trigger is considerably better than most of the G3 options out there, which may lead to better practical accuracy.
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 DSA SA58 lineup. DS Arms is one of few companies producing parts and accessories for the FAL, including complete rifles.
The SA58 is a solid recreation of the FAL that holds its own against the other non-AR .308s we’ve talked about in the accuracy department. Although modern versions of these guns tend to be pricier, hovering between $1,500 to $2,500, they are fun and steeped in rich history.
Check out our review of one of DSA’s modernized FAL variants here.
4. Springfield Armory M1A
Next up is the Springfield M1A. This is the civilian version of the iconic M14 — the rifle that trounced the AR-10 and FN FAL to become the U.S. Army’s primary battle rifle back in 1959 (however arguable those test results may be).
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 various configurations.
You can get everything from the short-barreled SOCOM version to 21-inch barreled sniper configurations designed to get as much accuracy as possible out of the gun.
Some would say that M1A isn’t a great rifle, but I would disagree. Much of the accuracy of these guns is derived from a quality barrel and the mating of the action to the stock. This means that repeated detail strips of the gun can affect accuracy, especially on the base models.
Stepping up to the Loaded model that comes with the national match barrel is a good step in the right direction if you want those tighter groups. Fiberglass bedding between the action and stock will really let show you what a properly set up M1A can do accuracy-wise.
I own one in 6.5 Creedmoor, and I couldn’t be happier, but holy moly, do I want a .308 version. I just can’t quite justify the price for a second one, given that they run anywhere from $1,299 to $2,700, depending on trim level.
These rifles are a frequent sight on the field of competition, especially in service-rifle competitions. With classic ergonomics and excellent iron sights, the M1A lends itself well to shooting without optics.
The M14 is still used in a mostly honorary capacity by the U.S. military, with one or two exceptions — an especially notable one being its use by a number of competitive rifle teams from various branches.
While it may not be the best combat rifle or the cheapest battle rifle option these days, what it lacks, it makes up for in pure soul and fun. And if you aren’t sure which model is right for you, check out our ultimate guide to the best M1A models.
5. IWI Galil ACE Gen 2
Here comes the dark horse in the competition — the Galil ACE Gen 2 in 7.62×51 NATO. The first-generation Galil ACE was launched in 2008 but hasn’t been featured as heavily in the U.S. market, or video games for that matter, which kept it off many people’s radar.
So what is it, you ask? In a nutshell, the Galil ACE is the ultimate refinement of the AK-47 platform. It uses the same long-stroke piston and rotating bolt design as the Kalashnikov and even sports a similar pop-off dust cover.
What does all that mean? It means you get the robust and proven durability of the AK platform, combined with the hearty build quality that IWI is known for. Sprinkle in a version chambered for 7.62 NATO, and you have a hell of a battle rifle.
IWI recently introduced the Gen 2 version of the ACE. Updates include an M-LOK handguard, AR-style buffer tube for use with your favorite stocks, improved 2-stage trigger, and improved ergonomics.
By virtue of using a long-stroke piston, the ACE is able to have a folding stock and fire when folded. It also sports a non-reciprocating charging handle on the left side. Additionally, its cold hammer forged barrel ensures good accuracy and long service life.
Although a bit heavier than the SCAR-17S or the average AR-10, the ACE is still manageable at 8.6 pounds. The ACE also benefits from using standard SR-25/AR-10 magazines.
These rifles are a bit pricier, around $1,700 to $2,000, but are far from the most expensive on this list. If you are looking for something modern that isn’t an AR-10, the ACE might be your ticket.
Want to know more about the platform? Check out our full review of the 7.62×39 Galil ACE or watch Johnny B’s video below.
6. FN 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 being a CQB weapon for various door-kickers and SF units to a scout sniper and sniper support platform, the SCAR-H can do it all.
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 of what 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 you can swap them out by removing just a few screws, allowing you to slot in any number of aftermarket barrels, from 13 to 20 inches, depending on your needs.
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 military-tested as any rifle can be and is as close to military spec (aside from the lack of select-fire capability) as we can get.
The trigger is…not perfect, but certainly better than the FAL. The good news is that there are a considerable amount of aftermarket trigger options. If you’re going to slap a 20-inch barrel on there and stretch the SCAR out to 800 yards or more, you might consider swapping the trigger out.
All in all, it’s one of the best modern battle rifles out there and is pretty perfect if you’re looking for a heavy-duty semi-auto. The price is steep, but hey, you are getting a modern military-grade firearm, and that doesn’t always come cheap.
Be sure to check out our review of the SCAR-17S or watch the full video review below and let us know your take.
That was a look at some of the awesome semi-automatic .308 battle rifles out there. I certainly enjoyed writing it, and I hope some of this was helpful. If you haven’t found your next purchase, then hopefully, you at least learned something interesting.
What do you think of these rifles? Which one is your favorite? Thinking about getting one? Be sure to check out what to feed these beasts with our article on the Best .308 Ammo for Target Shooting, Plinking, & Hunting.