As you may have noticed, .308 Winchester is one of the most widely used rifle cartridges available. It’s an exceptional round for a couple different uses. There is a huge array of .308 rifles available, which lead us to creating this article to identify our list of the best .308 rifles for the money on the market.
Before getting into the semi-auto rifles, it’s important to identify the primary uses for .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO.
First up, it’s one of the most widely used medium to large game hunting cartridges in the world. It offers good terminal performance, and has plenty of stopping power. There are multiple ammunition choices that utilized jacketed hollow point bullets to damage a ton of tissue on impact. These bullets are generally fired near 3000 feet per second, and produce over 2600 foot pounds of energy. Just based on these facts alone, you can start to see why the round has been so popular for so long.
The round also receives a good bit of tactical usage. .308 Winchester is the standard sniper rifle cartridge for the military and some police departments. As such, there are more than a couple tactical bolt action rifles available that offer great reliability and accuracy.
Another common use for the round is for any type of long range shooting. While it will be outperformed by some modern cartridges, .308 Winchester is more than effective for shooting at ranges up to 700 yards, assuming you know what you’re doing. Within 300 meters, the round is extremely accurate, and dependent on conditions and shooter skill, this accuracy will continue out for a greater distance.
As such, the round is used for some precision shooting, and any long range rifle shooting. While it wouldn’t be my first choice for precision shooting, there are some excellent guns for this purpose. As for range shooting, the round is a good choice because the recoil is manageable, and the ammunition isn’t horribly priced.
Due to the wide variety of uses for this round, there is a pretty wide variety of different guns available. There are quite a few different styles, ranging from modern sporting rifles to bolt action hunting rifles to precision rifles.
Before deciding on one specific best 308 rifle, you must first identify what you plan to use the rifle for. For this reason, we’ve divided the article up into a few different classes. The rifles are presented in no particular order.
- Best .308 Hunting Rifles
- Best .308 Precision Rifles
- Best All Purpose .308 Rifle
- Best .308 Semi-Automatic Rifles
Top 10 Best .308 Rifle Reviews
Best .308 Rifles for Hunting
These two rifles are both bolt action, and offer excellent durability for any outdoor hunting that you may be doing. While these are primarily aimed for hunting, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from making it a range gun. They are both accurate guns that are enjoyable to shoot.
First up, we’ve got the Savage Axis. Savage has become synonymous with affordability in the firearms market. While this is true, I also have really grown to respect their overall quality. Don’t expect a competition level firearm, but overall, I’ve been more than content with every bolt action Savage I’ve ever shot. At the end of the day, bolt action is pretty hard to mess up.
The Axis is a very basic bolt action. This makes it one of the best .308 scout rifles, because it is so simple and reliable. There’s nothing flashy about the gun, but it will fire extremely reliably. The action is decently smooth, especially after a little break in period. The trigger is a little gritty at first, and doesn’t match a competition trigger by any means, but it works. The rifle as a whole will allow you to fire with reasonable accuracy, and it will be extremely resistant to the elements.
Overall, this gun is a great choice. It’s an excellent combination of quality and affordability. For your basic hunting, this is a great choice.
The Ruger American Predator represents a much higher quality bolt action rifle aimed for hunting. In our opinion, this is the best .308 hunting rifle. The primary differences are in the trigger, action, and a couple of the external features.
The stock of Ruger American Predator is much more ergonomic, and offers plenty of grip. The rifle feels extremely natural and balanced to handle. In terms of simple aesthetics, the stock is a green synthetic material, rather than the traditional black, which is a welcome change.
The rifle also adds a picatinny rail above the action, which makes it significantly easier to mount a scope to it. It also adds a slightly more modern look, if that is your style.
When firing the gun, you’ll immediately notice how smooth the action is. It’s extremely easy to cycle the rifle, because it’s got dual cocking cams. The trigger is another excellent upgrade. The American has Ruger’s adjustable trigger. This feature alone significantly improved my accuracy, but also makes it much more enjoyable to shoot.
Another feature that adds into increasing the accuracy is Ruger’s Power Bedding system. This patented bedding block system increases the accuracy by free floating the barrel. You won’t find anything similar in the competition.
All in all, Ruger American Predator is a good quality gun. It’s still not quite competition level, but it’s a great rifle. The durability and overall functioning of the rifle, and this would be my go-to .308 hunting rifle.
Originally manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company between 1936 and 1980, the Winchester Model 70 is a true American icon among avid hunters.
Similar in appearance to the ever popular Remington Model 700 BDL, the Winchester Model 70 is an iconic piece of American history.
Starting with the introduction of the first model 70 in 1936 which is commonly known as a pre ’64 model (those rifles made prior to 1964), the original model 70 was widely known as a “rifleman’s rifle” because it featured a simple walnut stock combined with a sturdy bolt action and a simple but reliable trigger mechanism.
In 1964, Winchester made significant “upgrades” to the rifle’s action which made the new model 70 significantly easier to mass produce. However, many hunters felt that these changes actually detracted from rather than improved the rifle’s performance and thus, the pre ’64 Model 70 still has large following.
The modern version of the Winchester Model 70 is very popular among today’s hunters and it is available in several different models such as the Super Grade which is Winchester’s equivalent to the Remington Model 700 BDL.
Thus, it features a grade IV/V fancy walnut stock with a shadow cheek piece combined with a forged steel receiver and an integral recoil lug and glass bedded bolt action and a free floated, 22 inch, cold hammer forged, Sporter contour barrel with a recessed target crown and a polished blue finish, along with a M.O.A. trigger system, the Winchester Model 70 is designed to deliver both superior appearance and performance.
Best .308 Precision Rifles
These next two rifles are still bolt action rifles, but have been loaded with match grade components. They offer extreme accuracy, and are meant for competitive shooting that requires precision. As we already said, .308 Winchester is outperformed by some newer rounds, but it’s still a more than acceptable precision cartridge.
First up, we’ve got the Tikka T3X TAC A1. Tikka is a Finnish firearms manufacturer that has been around for a century. Tikka is well known for the accuracy of their firearms, despite not having that many guns available. If you’ve never fired a Tikka, I highly recommend it. They are great rifle.
The T3X TAC A1 is another great option from Tikka. It’s got our vote for the best .308 precision rifle. It is one of the most accurate 308 bolt action rifles on the market. There’s so much to love about this rifle, especially from a precision shooting standpoint. For starters, the action is silky smooth, and the trigger is excellent. It’s got a two stage trigger that is fully adjustable, so you’ll be able to customize it however you want. The trigger pull is great.
However, getting into other features, the chassis itself is great for precision shooting. It’s fully modular, so you can easily swap out any parts you don’t like. Many of the parts are AR frame parts, so they’re extremely easy to find. From the factory, it’s got an M-Lok handguard and an AR style pistol grip that work fine. The stock is completely adjustable, and it really does well to handle the recoil of the gun.
Shooting the gun is a dream. Everything about it is smooth, comfortable, and natural. The gun functions extremely well, and shoots very accurately. The only things that you’ll need are an optic and potentially a bipod. Both of these will be easy to attach, thanks to the picatinny rail up top and the M-Lok handguard.
Externally, the rifle is pretty sleek looking. The modular chassis is all black and tactical-styled. It’s a nice looking rifle, but it also functions extremely well.
The only downfall of this gun is that it is a little on the pricey side. However, the included components are all extremely high quality.
Our next precision rifle is called just that: the Ruger Precision Rifle. Similar to the Tikka rifle above, it’s a tactically styled black bolt action rifle. It’s got some great features, but it also falls a little short of the Tikka, in our opinion.
Many of the features of this rifle are the same as the Tikka. It’s got a free-float M-Lok handguard, utilizes quite a few AR components, and has a fully adjustable stock. The rifle honestly looks pretty similar.
In terms of functioning though, they are slightly different. The action of Ruger Precision Rifle is smooth and will be reliable for years to come. However, the trigger is not quite as good as the Tikka’s. It’s got an adjustable trigger, but the quality is not quite the same. However, it is acceptable, and it would be an easy thing for you to upgrade, if you wanted.
This rifle also adds a positive safety, in the same position as the AR-15 safety. For those that are familiar with the AR frame, this will be very intuitive to use. Other AR components include the pistol grip and some magazines that are interchangeable.
This gun is priced better than the Tikka, but it is not quite as accurate. They are relatively close in terms of accuracy, but this one does lag slightly behind. Our best guess is that it’s a combination of the trigger and slight differences in the barrels of the guns.
However, for the average shooter, Ruger Precision Rifle is a good starting point, at the bare minimum. The action itself is very smooth, and the gun presents no glaring issues.
Best All Purpose .308 Rifle
This last bolt action doesn’t really fit any of the aforementioned groups, because honestly, it could be used for all of them.
Let us start this off by saying that this is not a flashy rifle. It’s extremely high quality, but by itself, there’s nothing special about it. However, with some slight modifications, the options are nearly endless.
The Remington 700 SPS Tactical is the civilian version of the sniper rifle that the military and police commonly use. Right off the bat, this should tell you that it’s the best .308 sniper rifle, and the rifle is more than suitable for tactical purposes.
This specific version of the rifle comes with an adjustable trigger and Hogue grips. It’s also got an extremely durable finish, for if you want to hunt with it or anything.
Shooting this rifle is great. It’s accurate, and it cycles very smoothly in our opinion. Like we said, there’s nothing special, but this is a great starting point for quite a few different things. Dependent on what you add to this gun, you could realistically hunt, shoot at the range, or even do some precision shooting, all with the same gun.
All in all, it’s a quality rifle that is available at a great price.
Best Semi-Automatic Rifles in .308/7.62×51 NATO
You can’t talk about the .308 cartridge without mentioning some of the great semiautomatic rifles that are available in this cartridge. We won’t assign a more specific category to these rifles, because they could really be used for anything. Using any of these best semiautomatic .308 rifles, you could hunt, go to the range, and maybe think about precision shooting. I wouldn’t recommend precision shooting, but it has been done before.
When looking at AR frame rifles in .308, it’s important to note the difference between AR-10 frame and DPMS frames. Due to the fact that there is no mil-spec for .308 ARs, there are essentially two different ones. If you’re buying a full up rifle, it’s not as important to know, but if you’re ever building one or changing parts, you definitely need to know this information.
Another important note is that none of these guns are assault rifles/assault guns. Based on current laws in the United States, true assault guns are extremely hard to get. Generally speaking, assault rifles are fully automatic. This is an important distinction in today’s age of misinformation about firearms. So, do not have a "best .308 assault rifle" or "best .308 battle rifle" in my list.
The first one we’ll talk about is the S&W M&P10. This is somewhat of an entry level AR-10, but it is a great gun. There’s nothing extra about it, but it’s got all of the basics of any AR frame gun. And of course, as with all AR guns, you can easily upgrade almost any part you want, from internals to externals to accessories.
The components of this rifle are fairly entry level, and would be more or less on par with the mil-spec variants of the AR-15. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and it keeps the price pretty low. However, that also means that the trigger is a little lacking, and the barrel isn’t that great. The stock handguard isn’t my favorite, but it gets the job done. However, this is one of the huge appeals of ARs. They’re so easy to modify, that it almost doesn’t matter what you start with.
This one is on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Knights Armament SR-25 is simply the best .308 semiautomatic rifle. It’s got everything you love about the AR frame, but with the highest quality components available.
The barrel is great, the trigger is exceptional, I love the handguard, and the parts are extremely durable. Everything about the gun has been significantly upgraded. When you buy this rifle, there will be nothing left to upgrade.
However, as you can imagine, this comes at an extremely high cost. Many people won’t want to pay this much for an AR frame rifle, which I can definitely understand.
Other Semiautomatic Options
If you’re not a huge AR fan, there are other options out there for you!
This one is my favorite non-AR semiautomatic gun out there. Not only is it an awesome piece of history, but it’s also an excellent accurate rifle. I absolutely love shooting this thing.
Everything about this gun feels historic. From the looks to the iron sights, I can’t get enough of it. It’s an excellent reminder of the gun that our military carried for so long. However, if you aren’t a history buff, there are other variations of the gun that have been modernized. These tactical looking ones are excellent as well.
This rifle could be used for any use that the AR is used for, but I think it’s best suited for some hunting and range shooting. The rifle is seriously so fun. If you’re not interested in ARs, or you’ve gotten tired of them, this would be my first recommendation to you.
Another option is the PTR-91, but I have no experience with this gun. I’ve heard good things, but I have no personal experience using it, so I will leave it to others’ judgement.
Based on the original Browning Automatic Rifle dubbed the BAR M1918 designed by John Browning for the U.S. military near the end of WWI, the modern sporting version of the BAR is both significantly smaller and lighter than the M1918, but its design is based entirely on the original military version.
However, the sporting version of the BAR has undergone significant evolution since its introduction to become one of the single most popular semiautomatic hunting rifles on the market with the present version introduced in 1993 known as the Mark II which includes several significant upgrades such as a trigger assembly that is retained by cross pins for easy disassembly and a redesigned gas assembly for greater reliability.
Thus, the Browning BAR Mark II is considered by many hunters to be the ultimate semiautomatic sporting rifle and the Safari model features a Turkish Walnut, Grade I, buttstock and forend with a high gloss finish and a short action steel receiver with a 4 round, hinged floorplate, detachable box magazine combined with a 22 inch, Sporter contour, steel barrel with a chrome plated chamber and a polished blue finish.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the range of a .308 rifle?
This is a simple question with a somewhat confusing answer. Long story short, it depends on the exact shooter, ammunition, and gun. Under the perfect conditions, .308 can theoretically shoot out to well over 1000 yards. However, this would require a precise scope, a shooter with extreme skill, and probably a spotter to assist the shooter.
In more “normal” applications, meaning a standard shooter without high grade equipment and a trained spotter, .308 can realistically shoot out to around 750 yards, dependent on the gun. With tactical style guns and iron sights, that effective range may be reduced to around 600 yards.
Will a .308 rifle fire a 7.62x51mm NATO round?
Yes. You can fire the military 7.62x51mm NATO round out of a .308 rifle, but we would not try to do the opposite. There are slight differences between the pressure of the cartridges, which could have a negative affect if firing a .308 cartridge from a 7.62x51 rifle.
Why do snipers use .308?
This is a pretty common question, because there are newer rounds that can ballistically outperform .308. With this information, why would snipers still use .308?
For the military, it’s because specific rounds and gunsmust be approved before they can be used. Generally speaking, this takes years, if not decades, to get approved. Because the military has approved 7.62x51 (.308) previously, all of the sniper training, regulations, and equipment is focused on .308.
Law enforcement agencies are not as restricted by strict guidelines. However, they often use the same equipment and training as the military, so this can lead to them choosing to stick with .308 as well.
However, there are other reasons as well. The round is pretty inexpensive and doesn’t overly damage the gun systems that fire them. The round also does extremely well in windy environments, which some newer cartridges struggle with.
Which best .308 rifle is easy to customize?
Ruger® Precision Rifle Bolt-Action Rifles since it provides interchangeable magazine, thread replacement and mount replacements. Replacements are available easily.
How to Clean A .308 Rifle: Some tips
- Safe gun without ammunition while cleaning
- Divert muzzle direction to a safe one
- Never overforce the cleansing issue.
- Use a clean brush and a solvent always
- If possible, clean the bore as soon as you finish shooting
- Make sure you don’t spill the solvent onto other parts of rifle, it will damage the stock.
- No overnight soaking. One must use the copper solvent for just 10-15 minutes only.
- If a gel cleanser is used make sure you end the session with a solvent cleaner since when left inside the bore it may cause injury afterwards when the shot is fired owing to high pressures inside.
As we’ve talked about, .308 is a very versatile and popular cartridge. As a result of that, there’s quite a few different rifles that shoot this specific round. Choosing one can be difficult, but this short list will give you an idea of some of the best .308 rifles available.
The .308 Winchester not only has an interesting history, it also has a large following of hunters who find it to be an excellent alternative to more powerful rifle cartridges such as the .30-06 Springfield and the .300 Winchester Magnum since its muzzle velocity and kinetic energy levels closely approximate that of the .30-06 Springfield yet, it generates significantly less recoil than the more powerful cartridges.
Plus, due to its popularity among avid hunters, firearms manufacturers offer a wide variety of rifles chambered for this cartridge ranging from bolt actions to lever actions to semiautomatic actions to pump actions and thus, regardless of whether you need a extremely accurate, long range, bolt action rifle for hunting game at extended ranges in open terrain or a quick handling rifle that provides a fast follow up shot for hunting game in dense foliage, there is a rifle chambered for this ever popular cartridge to suite your needs.
Thus, if you don’t already own a rifle chambered for the .308 Winchester cartridge, then you might want to consider adding this extremely versatile chambering to your arsenal.