Which .308 battle rifle has the most bang for the buck

Which .308 battle rifle has the most bang for the buck

This is a discussion on Which .308 battle rifle has the most bang for the buck within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I've spent the last few months trying to figure out what .308 battle rifle would be the best buy to go along with my savage ...

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Thread: Which .308 battle rifle has the most bang for the buck

  1. #1
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    Array buckeye .45's Avatar
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    Which .308 battle rifle has the most bang for the buck

    I've spent the last few months trying to figure out what .308 battle rifle would be the best buy to go along with my savage bolt action in .308. It seems like the low end would be CEMTE's, with some of the FAL reproductions being a bit more. Then at about 1000-1200 bucks basic AR-10s and the standard M1A. I realize the sky is about the limit on how much I could spend on a .308 battle rifle, but I'm trying to stay under 1500.

    One thing about the AR-10 and M1A, is I'd most likely want to go for higher end models, and then be needing to put optics on them, meaning more money. But if anyone has any input on their favorite .308 battle rifle and is willing to share I'd appreciate it.
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

    Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
    NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor


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    It is easy to get caught up and confused with the variety of 7.62 rifles out there. I am fortunate that I have one of each so will give you a quick rundown that may help you.
    CETME/HK/Clones. Good overall guns if you can handle and inspect them first or have a working knowledge of them so when you get it you can identify any flaws. I have a CETME with HK internals which shoots and works wonderfully. Mags are cheap, accesories are common, again just have to watch and fit accessories carefully some fit better than others.
    Cost is well within your budget, generally brass it flung far and wide and is damaged beyond use on occasion so reloading may be out. Optics are easy to mount with the claw mounts or other systems. Reloading mags into the weapon straight in with a push button mag release mags generally drop free.

    FN/FAL and clones. Overall fantastic rifles just have to watch where you get them from. I have a L1A1 that has a lower from the Aussie Defence Force, 1962, with a century receiver. You just have to make sure they are headspaced correctly which most are. I prefer the L1A1 series because they will accept either inch or metric mags. Others will only accept metric mags.
    Mags in general are cheap and they will shoot pretty much any ammo and optics are easy to mount by replacing the top cover. Mags are rocked into place from the front to back depending on model has a mag release lever two handed reloading here mostly.

    AR-10's are nothing more that stretched out AR-15's with refinements. Most external accessories made for the M4 type rifles will work on them. Internals are different. Most are very accurate but heavy at times. Mags depending on the brand of rifle can be common FN mags or proprietory to the gun and very pricey.
    Optics are easy to mount, most rifles come with a rail system. I prefer RRA just because of the triggers I have seen and shot some AR-10's that the triggers are horrible. Most of the time you can order with your choice of barrel length and twist rate to suit your needs. Mags go straight in and push button release mags generally fall out themselves.

    M1A family. From the days when battle rifles were made of wood and steel. I have an M1A made in late 2001 with some of the last GI parts and a 1963 TRW barrel on it. Love the rifle. Very accurate and reliable mags can range from new Checkmate Ind. mags to cheap surplus.
    Owners will range from out of the box goes bang is fine with me to every part must be GI spec and matching to get the utmost out of the rifle. I am middle of the road I guess my rifle shoots fine for me have added a few aftermarket parts to make it shoot better and more reliable.
    Mounting optics is not a cheap deal on this rifle. Avoid SA mounts and optics they are more trouble than they are worth. Mounts can be from cheap to just plain damn expensive. You can order a surplus mount for $35 and fight it all the way or get a Sadlak Titanium for $400 and put it on and forget it. Once optics are mounted you will need a cheekpiece to bring your eye in line with the optic these can be lace on leather or ones you actually attach to the stock.
    Surplus stocks can range from cheap beat up ones to new fangled aerospace plastic and aluminum for over a grand just for the basic stock. Mags are rocked into place has a mag release lever you have to practice to become proficent with the reloads.

    You can get into a CETME, FN well within your budget and buy all sorts of goodies for it including optics. The AR-10 you can get the rifle and stay under budget but optics and such may have to wait. You can still find M1A's in your price range but have to look hard and jump when you find it. You did not say if there is a specific job you will want the rifle to do defense, long range shooting, hunting or so on. Just decide what the main duty the rifle will be used for and choose one that will meet your criteria.
    Hope it helped and didnt add to the confusion.
    Last edited by tacman605; June 5th, 2010 at 09:41 AM.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

  3. #3
    Member Array D Strokes's Avatar
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    If you can find an FAL (not a cetme) for around a grand, that would probably be a good choice. I like the M1A's too, but they start at around 1400 or so, even for a used one, around here.
    "People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both." — Benjamin Franklin

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    Wow tacman605... Great info there buddy.

    But breaking your post into a couple of paragraphs, instead of all one lump would make it 100 times easier to read. My eyes about went buggy.

    BTW... I have a Century Arms L1A1, I got during the Clinton era which has the thumb hole stock... Is it legal now that the assault weapons ban has expired to go back to the original style furniture on it, or is there certain number of USA made parts I need to add to make it legal?

    It's a pretty decent tack driver with iron sights, but I hate the thumb hole stock.
    -Bark'n
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    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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    Sorry got in a hurry was busy here. Divided up now so even my old eyes can read it. I love my FN just bought a dozen more mags and got three South African Battle packs for $100 from a college kid who needed money.
    Will be able to shoot that up in a day at the range with everything.

    The century FN's probably counted the thumbhole as a compliance part but there is no reason you cant put an original stock on it since the ban is over, but not knowing how much of the rifle was original and US parts cant really say. There are plenty of little parts you can put on to take the place of the original stock for compliance parts but dont quote me on the legal aspects I have been over here for four years so I am sure things have changed.
    Ernst Armory online is a good place to look for parts and such I use them a lot.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

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    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    Most bang for the buck? The AR-10 types.

    Can be completely customized into what you want as a rifle, and can be switched from a door-kicker carbine to a long range precision rifle in under 30 seconds.

    Having said that, though--I am partial to the HK91-type rifles, in particular the PTR clones. However, they have a lot less versatility.
    There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.--RAH

    ...man fights with his mind; the weapons are incidental.--Jeff Cooper


    There is a reason they try and make small bullets act like big bullets--Glockmann10mm

  7. #7
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    Tacman, thanks a lot for that post.

    Part of the reasons I'm looking for a rifle like this is just a plain old SHTF rifle. Honestly, I saw Mark 11s (think AR-10), and M-21s (M-14s), perform a lot better than standard M-16a4's a lot of the times. So I want something semi-auto with a bit more power than the .223/5.56 can give me (I know shot placement is still king, and have seen the 5.56 do the job). So just a basic rifle is what I'm looking for right now.

    I've longed after a Match grade M1A for years, but still don't think I have the expendable income to get one all gussied out like I want yet, so I'm probably going to hold off on the M1A, unless I find a good deal on a standard one.

    What are some of the issues that the CEMTEs/91's tend to run into, if you don't mind me asking. I have plenty of experience with AR-10s and M14s, but not so much with the 91s and FALs. Do you have any experience with the ones from century arms?
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

    Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
    NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor

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    I'll put in a good word for the Springfield Armory M1A as I've owned one for nearly 20 years now. I never was too keen on the idea of a cast steel receiver and would have preferred to own an original M14 with its forged steel receiver, but my M1A has proven itself both on the bench and on the firing line.

    In former times, when the .30s ruled the roost in high-power competition, I've known of folks who fed their Springfield Armory M1A's a steady diet of handloads that I felt weren't prudent. Their rifles seemed to stand up to the large quantities of hot loads with heavy match bullets.

    My M1A is good for 100 yard, 1 1/2-inch groups from the bench rest with its iron sights when I'm in a good shooting humor. A few flukey 1 1/4-inch groups have been collected over the years. My rifle is configured like a standard military M14 with no special match parts or stock bedding. It has a low numbered receiver and a SAK 1-69 barrel.





    My brother-in-law has a Century Arms CETME. Personally I don't care for the rifle at all. It is ill-balanced, the charge handle is awkward, it is ammo-finicky with regards to proper function, and the method of butt stock attachment to the receiver seems weak.

    I've fired others' FALs which is a worthwhile rifle. I've not had any experience with the AR 10 types.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

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    Member Array Angry Bill's Avatar
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    You should be able to find a decent or DSA FAL for a tad over $1000 more or less depending on the exact model and the DSA FAL get's my nod.
    Whitestone Castle Armory, Austin TX
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    What about the Romanian PSL or Saiga .308?

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    The CETME's are based on the HK 91/G3 series of rifles. They are normally very robust and will shoot anything from match ammo to linked machine gun ammo. I got ahold of 5 here four of which were made in Iran and one was an original G3 made in 2/67. After cleaning the rifles shot fine and never had a bobble.
    As stated if you are a reloader you are screwed they sling brass 25-30 feet and can ding it up badly. This series of rifles does have a fluted chamber which aids in feeding and extraction and leaves nice little lines on the brass.
    I personally love the HK style sights once adjusted they maintain zero pretty well. The diopter rear has a V notch for 100 and then you simply rotate the drum to the 2, 3, and 400 meter peep sight.
    It does have some quirks. When you add the colapsing stock from HK it actually adds weight as it is all metal.
    The charging handle is awkward for some as it is a non recipricating charging handle that is located by the front sight
    and if I remember correctly the bolt does not lock back on an empty mag.

    The FN's are also good solid rifles they have been around forever and mags and parts are in good supply. I carried an FN here with a para folding stock and a 14 inch barrel which I loved it was a little flamethrower but would feed anything. FN's are headspaced by using a "Key" type set up for the lack of a better word of different sizes.
    If you can look at and inspect the rifle before would be the best however most of the outfits offering them do a pretty good job with inspections. I love the FN's, you have two styles inch and metric. Both operate the same basic way but have some differences. The L1A1 inch rifles will take either mag and will shoot anything I have put through them. Sights on the FN's are ok with most having a simple folding popsicle stick setup on the rear that will also slide up and down for adjustments. This is with the rear sight partially folded.


    The FN is a true gas gun and has an adjustable gas regulator that you can open or close depending on how dirty the rifle is or what ammo is used. It can actually be opened enough to fire a single round and the bolt worked by hand.

    Between the two I like the FN it just feels better to me. If you can find someplace or someone that has the rifles in stock it is worth it to go and handle them to see which one you like the best and if you can shoot one that would be even better.

    Also just for the heck of it look at the French MAS. They have one now on gunbroker for $599 or something like that. It was the service rifle of the legion for years. They come in 7.5 and 7.62 and are fed from a 10 round box mag. For a simple knock about gun they would be great.

    Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions.

    Just keep in mind these are full size battle rifles and can get a little heavy for carrying around after a bit. Recoil can be stout depending on the rifle and they have to be maintained a little more than the plastic stuff of today.

    Here is my L1A1

    My wife couldnt quite get it all in the pic.
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

  12. #12
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    120mm, I have great respect for the SVD (and the Romanian clone the PSL), but it's really more of a DM rifle than a battle rifle, plus part of this search is to share ammo with a .308 bolt action rifle I have.

    The Saiga just doesn't really appeal to me.

    Tacman, another good post, thanks. I'm going to go search the gunstores and see whats up once I get back home (I'm still in Afghanistan right now). I'm finishing up 7 months doing daily foot patrols in gear with a M-16a4/203, I'm not too worried about the weight of the rifle.

    I do kind of like the way the DSA FAL carbine with the folding stock looks, might have to try and find a deal on one.
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

    Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
    NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor

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    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacman605 View Post
    The CETME's are based on the HK 91/G3 series of rifles...
    Actually, it's the other way around. The CETME came first. The HK91/G3, however, tends to be a better rifle.

    My only problem with the CETME's commonly available now is that they've been cobbled together by the Century monkeys. Personally, with PTR91's available for right around the $1000 mark, I'd rather pay a few hundred bucks more and get a much higher quality rifle.
    vista461 likes this.
    There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.--RAH

    ...man fights with his mind; the weapons are incidental.--Jeff Cooper


    There is a reason they try and make small bullets act like big bullets--Glockmann10mm

  14. #14
    Senior Member Array Rigrat's Avatar
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    For a battle rifle I'd go the Saiga .308 if I couldn't get a M1A.

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    Member Array 9mmPro's Avatar
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    Sako in .308 bolt action is a pretty good rifle . Rem 700 is 2nd
    Bushmaster XM15 E2S Shorty
    Walther P99 .40 S&W
    Romanian WASR GP 10/63
    Remington model 700 30-06
    Savage Model 62 .22lr
    Glock 19 gen 3 TALO

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