The 11 Best .308 Rifles Reviewed In 2019 – Bolt-Action, Semi-Auto to Sniper and Hunting Rifles

 

10. Best Tactical .308 Rifle – The McMillan CS5 Alias

 

The McMillan CS5 Alias

 

“Tactical” takes on many meanings and has different definitions for different users. However, in general, a tactical firearm is one that is adaptable to a number of different missions. Tactical rifles emphasize discretion, unfailing reliability, and the ability to be adapted to the mission at hand.

The McMillan CS5 Alias was designed to be compact, discreet, multi-use, user-adjustable, and perform exceptionally. Both the buttstock and the included suppressor quickly detach from the rifle to a disassembled length of under 2 feet. It can then be stored easily in a backpack or other carrier.

The 12” barrel was designed to provide .5 MOA accuracy with McMillan 200 grain subsonic ammo (for nearly silent urban use) or match-grade supersonic ammo (for full .308 stopping power). In this way, it can easily adapt to the situation at hand and provide superior performance.

Mcmillan cs5 alias upclose

The CS5 features an Anschutz match grade trigger with a round knurled surface for tactile feedback and an incredibly crisp break. The stock is micro-adjustable to fit any operator. Simply adjust cheek weld, length of pull, and other dimensions to get your exact fit.

The Alias was specially designed for the needs of elite military and law enforcement users. However, it is available for civilian purchase if the proper requirements are met.

The National Firearms Act requires an individual to apply for a tax stamp to possess a short-barreled rifle and a silencer. Upon receiving these tax stamps, the McMillan CS5 Alias may be purchased by a civilian shooter.

Pros:

  • Highly compact
  • Specialized for dual-purpose use
  • .5 MOA accuracy
  • Very user-adjustable

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Subject to strict restrictions for civilian ownership

Learn more about the Mcmillan CS5 Alias.

 

11. Best .308 Battle Rifle – FN FAL

 

FN FAL

 

It may seem blasphemous to recommend a service rifle not used by the United States as the best battle rifle. In fact, some shooters may indeed prefer the M14/M1A since it is considered capable of better accuracy.

However, the FN FAL did not gain the nickname “the right arm of the free world” for no reason!  The FAL is one of the most-adopted battle rifles in history, having been produced in a wide number of variants.

This FN battle rifle has gained popularity as a rugged and reliable gun that will stand up to the rigorous environment of combat. It’s also known to be sufficiently accurate for use as a marksman or urban sniper rifle.

Domestically, FAL parts kits are usually imported from foreign military services and rebuilt into US-legal semi-automatic rifles by their importers. One such company is Century Arms.

 

DSA sa58 upclose

 

A notable US manufacturer is DSA Arms. They continue to develop and produce parts and completed rifles for gun enthusiasts and professionals alike. These options range from 11” tactical purpose rifles to 21” traditional battle rifles.

Pros:

  • Very reliable
  • Will use surplus or cheap steel-cased ammunition
  • Availability of surplus and aftermarket parts

Cons:

  • Less accurate than other rifles
  • Heavy by modern standards

Learn more about the DSA FN FAL.

 

The Importance of Choosing the Right Rifle

target shooting with rifleA quality firearm can be an expensive, long-term investment. It may require a lot of saving to get the one you need, and it’s important that you’re satisfied with the money spent.

Firearms are also something that we put a lot of trust in. We expect them to work reliably and work the same way every time. We expect them to make the shot when it counts. We may even expect them to put food on our table, or to protect our lives when they are in danger.

It’s important to define what you expect your rifle to do and pick the one that suits your needs the best. You don’t want to buy an expensive, high-end competition rifle only to dread lugging it through the woods on a hunt. You also don’t want to worry if you can trust it to make the shot you need.

  • The right rifle is one that suits you physically. Adjustable stocks are an advantage here since you can move them until they feel right on you.
  • The right rifle is also one that is set up for the style of shooting you want to do. For instance, rifles designed for stalk hunting might be frustrating to use in a shooting competition with very different requirements.
  • You should also consider the attachments you want to use. If you plan to use a suppressor at some point, it would be better to buy a rifle with a barrel that is already threaded. Failing to do so will result in more cost and hassle later.

 

Background on the Cartridge

.308 Winchester

The .308 Winchester caught on shortly after its introduction in the early 1950s. At the time of its introduction, developments in powder technology allowed it very similar power and ballistics to the .30-06 Remington. All in a shorter package!

Two years later, the .308 was adopted by NATO as the 7.62X51mm NATO. The difference between these cartridges and their interchangeability has been a subject of much debate in the gun community.

7.62X51mm NATO

In truth, there are only very minor differences between the two cartridges. They are just exacerbated by differences in testing methods between civilian and military standards. Overall, the .308 Winchester has a slightly shorter chamber specification as well as thinner case walls.

SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) considers the two cartridges safe to interchange. However, they do not function exactly the same.

Using 7.62mm NATO ammo in a .308 Winchester chamber can lead to feeding issues, difficulty chambering, sticky extraction, and other problems. Typically, .308 Winchester ammo will function in a 7.62 NATO chamber. Just be aware it can lead to issues.

.308 stuck

In battle rifles that cycle violently, such as the FAL or H&K G3, the thinner case of commercial .308 Winchester ammo can actually be ripped apart by the extraction force and cause serious malfunctions.

The .308 Winchester is considered a highly versatile and capable cartridge. Its intermediate length means it’s been adapted to bolt-action, semi-automatic, lever action, and other types of firearms easily.

The cartridge is considered powerful enough to humanely kill almost any large game in North America. It even has competent ballistics for shooting out to 1,000 yards and potentially beyond. These characteristics have made the .308 highly popular for sporting, hunting, and tactical purposes.

 

How To Choose Your Dream .308 Rifle

We now know that choosing the right rifle is important for the best possible experience. But how do you make a choice with the information you have? Start by considering your desired use and the features you need. Common uses for the .308 Winchester include:

Hunting

 

Hunting rifles are designed to be carried for long distances, function reliably, and hold up to use in extreme outdoor environments. A hunting rifle does not place as heavy an emphasis on accuracy.

Hunting rifles should generally be lighter and easier to handle than target and tactical rifles. The barrels are typically thinner and the stocks lighter. They are more susceptible to point of impact shift due to barrel heating if they are fired rapidly.

Typically, hunting rifles will accept only a small number of rounds and many states place a limit of 5 rounds on rifles used for hunting. Internal box magazines are common these rifles. They are slower to reload, but all of the rounds are held internally in the magazine. This results in a rifle that is sleeker, easier to handle, and has fewer moving parts.

Detachable, higher capacity magazines are only used for specialty hunting purposes such as varmint shooting or pest control. They work great for removing coyotes and wild hogs!

Iron sights are the most common on hunting rifles. Iron sights are dependable, lightweight, and ideal for brush hunting where most shots are under 200 yards. Unfortunately, they lack the magnification and clarity for longer shots.

 

Target Shooting

man looking through rifle scope

A target shooting rifle can be bigger and heavier than a hunting rifle. In fact, they are usually shot while resting on a bench or otherwise supported.

Target shooting rifles usually have heavy profile barrels for more stability and may even have heavier stocks. They are also likely to be covered with accessories such as bipods, high-powered scopes, and muzzle brakes.

For a target rifle, maneuverability is not very important. In fact, having a heavier rifle is often acceptable and encouraged. More weight means less felt recoil for the shooter and more stability in the sight picture. This can make a big difference in long shooting sessions!

A target rifle may be single shot, have a fixed magazine, or accept detachable box magazines. It all depends on the user’s target shooting discipline.

 

Tactical/Competition Shooting

two men aiming rifles at firing range

Tactical-style rifles have some of the most demanding requirements and are consequently among the most expensive. They must have features that combine the best of both worlds, and the ability to be used in a variety of situations. They are expected to provide the maneuverability and dependability of big game rifles with the absolute precision of a fine target rifle.

Tactical rifles frequently make use of the most advanced technological developments in the firearms industry. They aim to provide accuracy, durability, reliability, and adaptability to the user while cutting weight. All this without reducing performance!

Tactical rifles may be used by professional security, military, and law enforcement officers. They may be used at distances from 30 yards to well in excess of 1,000, and often are expected to be able to switch readily between the two.

precision rifle series
precision rifle series

In addition, they are frequently seen at “run and gun” style competitions such as Precision Rifle Series and National Rifle League. Here, they are expected to make the ragged, one-hole groups of target rifles and do so for high volumes of fire.

Shooters that choose a tactical rifle will pay much more for the development and features provided. They are shooters that know what they want and expect their rifles to keep up with them. These people are willing to pay the extra cost for long-lasting exceptional quality.

Top Brands

If you are looking to buy a .308 rifle, you want a dependable brand. Here are our recommendations and thoughts about the top 3 brands: Winchester, Ruger, and Remington.

Winchester

Winchester logoThe Winchester Arms Company has been active in America since 1866. They’ve been responsible for the development of some of the most important firearms in American history, especially during the Wild West era.

Winchester has a reputation for providing well-built, quality firearms that are capable of being passed down through generations. Other brands have started using cheaper manufacturing materials such as plastic injection molding. Not Winchester. They have continued to create quality firearms with professional craftsmanship.

Winchester introduced the .308 caliber cartridge with the bolt action Model 70 rifle and the semi-automatic Model 100 rifle. Although both types of antique guns are collectibles, the Model 70 has remained more popular. In fact, it’s inspired many copies and imitations.

To this day, Winchester rifles retain their reputation for quality and craftsmanship. It is true that many other companies have undercut them on price. However, Winchester is content to continue making well-built firearms for a higher (but still reasonable) cost.

 

Ruger

Ruger logoRuger is known for finding innovative ways to create products that work well at competitive prices. They have shown an affinity for adapting to new market trends and evolving with the needs of the market.

Ruger offers a number of product lines for .308 rifles, from budget hunting combos to fine hunting rifles to tactical rifle setups. Recently, they have been a fierce competitor in the budget rifle field with the introduction of their Ruger American series.

These rifles produce accuracy that is difficult to beat in the budget firearms game. Furthermore, they produce a large number of hunting rifles with iron sights. Take notice, because this is something many hunters feel is lacking in the current shooting environment.

In fact, the American rifle combines .308 precision with features that are much desired in the tactical-based market of today. These include AR-15 accessories and full-length Picatinny rails for accessory mounting. Ruger has also stepped into the tactical game with the Precision Rifle, designed for tactical and competitive needs.

Ruger maintains a very favorable reputation in the firearms industry today for their commitment to innovation and competitive prices.

 

Remington

Remington logoAs mentioned earlier, the Remington 700 is one of the most widely sold bolt-action rifles in American history. The company has also produced a number of other rifles such as the 770 and 783. These were designed to compete at the budget level.

One of Remington’s most successful ventures has been the development of their 700 for military and police use. The Remington 700 spawned a number of notable military rifles such as the M24, M40, and XM2010.

Remington actions are commonly used for custom rifle builds. However, they will need additional custom work such as precision machining before they can become custom precision rifles.

Remington has faced criticism in the past due to their handling of potentially dangerous issues with their trigger system. Not only that, but some customers feel their quality control has gone downhill since their integration into the larger Freedom Group conglomerate.

Regardless, Remington still has many fans in the rifle world. These firearms can be found in the hands of users in almost any rifle-shooting discipline.

Another benefit is the very expansive aftermarket support in the form of replacement stocks, triggers, bolts, recoil lugs, and other accessories. This has caused many custom rifle manufacturers to design rifle actions which also fit these same accessories. 

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