You've been asking this question for a while: what is the best 308 battle rifle? Here, we will answer that question.
In this article, we are going to cover the top 5 rifles of all time that fall into this category. But first, let's sort something out.
Here's the thing:
The term “battle rifle” is often used to describe any rifle used by a military force in battle.
But there's a catch...
Unfortunately, this is not an accurate definition of the term. It goes a little deeper than that.
The good news?
There are four key features that define what makes a “battle rifle.” We are going to cover them next, and then we will jump into the top 5 battle rifles of all time.
Best Battle Rifle Features
A battle rifle is an “auto-loading” rifle, meaning that each time a bullet is fired, the force of recoil pushes back the bolt assembly and compresses a recoil spring.
As the recoil forces dissipate, the spring’s tension pushes the bolt forward, which loads another cartridge from the magazine into the rifle’s chamber.
Because of this feature, the bolt-action rifles that were in service during both World Wars are not considered “battle rifles” by modern standards.
A battle rifle is chambered to fire a medium-caliber, full-powered rifle cartridge.
In other words, the round must be more powerful than the.223 Remington/5.56 x 45 mm NATO cartridge used in most modern AR-15 variants, but less powerful than the larger .50 BMG, .300 Winchester Magnum, or .338 Lapua cartridges.
Battle rifles have used a number of different calibers over the years, such as 7.62 x 54R or .30-06 Springfield, but the .308 Winchester/7.62 x 51 mm NATO chambering is the most common in modern battle rifles.
A battle rifle uses a detachable magazine instead of the internal magazine mechanism.
While early battle rifles such as the M1 Garand or SVT-40 used internal magazines, the introduction of the detachable magazine quickly made rifles with internal magazines obsolete on the battlefield.
This is due to a dramatic increase in the speed with which a soldier could reload and continue firing.
Semi Or Full Auto
Many battle rifles have fire controls that allow either semi-automatic fire (one shot for each pull of the trigger) or full automatic fire (when the trigger is depressed, it will continue to fire until the trigger is released or the magazine is empty).
Selective fire controls allow the rifle to be used to accomplish two different tactical objectives.
Semi-automatic fire allowed the soldier to conserve ammunition while taking precise, well-aimed shots, while automatic fire would allow them to spray an area with bullets to keep an enemy force pinned down and prevent them from advancing.
Firing a battle rifle on the full-automatic setting causes the muzzle to climb off target due to recoil. Consequently, automatic fire is often used sparingly with battle rifles.
If you are more interested in hunting or the range, check out our list of the top 308 rifles for that type of shooting.
Another topic that always comes up is long distance shooting. If you want to explore those weapons, check out our review on the top sniper rifles. Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at some awesome rifles.
Best .308 Battle Rifles
There are many civilian variants of classic battle rifles available on the market, but they are semi-automatic rifles and do not permit the user to engage full-automatic fire.
This brings up a great moment to remind you to always check your federal, state, and local laws on gun ownership and make sure you are in compliance.
For the purposes of this article, we will discuss the top five civilian variants of battle rifles that are chambered in the common .308 Winchester or 7.62 x 51 mm NATO caliber.
The FN FAL is one of the earliest firearms to meet the standard of a battle rifle.
It was initially designed to accept the 7.92 x 33 mm cartridge and saw considerable use by the German army during World War II.
In 1954, it was released in its current form and chambered in 7.62 x 51 mm NATO.
The FAL was unique for its time because it featured a charging handle on the left side of the rifle, which allowed the user to keep their “trigger hand” on the rifle’s pistol grip and operate the charging handle with their support hand instead.
The FAL also came standard with a carrying handle that could fold to the side when not in use.
The rugged and dependable FAL was adopted by over 90 different countries and is still in use today. The civilian legal variant of the FN FAL is the SA-58 made by DS Arms.
M-14 and M1A
The M-14 was the battle rifle issued by the U.S. military as a replacement for the M1 Garand.
While the Garand was an excellent weapon, there were complaints about its overall weight, lack of automatic fire capability, and limited capacity of its internal magazine.
At the request of the U.S. Army, Springfield Armory redesigned the M1 and made some dramatic improvements.
The weight was reduced from around ten pounds down to about nine. It was given selective fire controls and a twenty-round detachable magazine instead of the Garand’s eight-round internal magazine.
The barrel length was shortened by two inches. The ability to mount a bipod was added along with the ability to fire muzzle-mounted grenades.
Despite its relatively short 7-year service life before being replaced by the M16, the M14 proved to be reliable and effective as a battle rifle.
Repurposed M14s are still in use by the military as designated marksman rifles. The civilian-legal variant of the M14 is the M1A made by Springfield Armory.
Heckler & Koch G3
The G3 was released in 1959 by German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch as a more refined version of the STG-45 prototype rifle that almost went into production near the end of World War II.
The G3 quickly became the standard-issue battle rifle of the West German Army.
Its receiver design became a hallmark of Heckler & Koch firearms with variations being used on later models like the HK33 (chambered in 5.56 x 45 mm NATO) and the famed MP5 submachinegun (chambered in 9 mm).
The G3 was simple, reliable, and effective. It was initially designed with a fixed stock, diopter rear sight, twenty-round detachable magazine, and select-fire capability.
Adopted by the armies of over 50 countries, this firearm is still in service today.
While the original HK civilian model (the HK91) is hard to find and very expensive, civilian variants are currently produced by PTR Industries as the PTR-91.
AR-10 (and variants)
Eugene Stoner’s AR-10 came late to the party in terms of battle rifles.
When the M-14 was chosen as the main battle rifle of the U.S. military, the AR-10 was sold to several foreign militaries.
This battle rifle saw service in several major wars that the U.S. was not a part of.
When the Armalite brand was purchased by Mark Westrom in 1996, the AR-10 saw a surge in popularity back in the United States.
The AR-10 has two distinct variants (the “Armalite” and the “DPMS”). They accept different types of magazines, but both have proven to be as effective as the G3 or FAL.
In some respects, they are even more desirable due to their slightly lighter weight and modular design.
While there is some lack of standardization within the AR-10 variants, both the DPMS and Armalite platforms make perfectly acceptable modern battle rifles.
However, they are most known for their service as designated marksman rifles. There are a number of companies that manufacture AR-10 variants in many price ranges.
If you are interested in the best models, check out our top 5 review.
FN SCAR-H and SCAR-17S
FN Herstal’s SCAR-H is a modern battle rifle that takes up the torch where the AR-10 left off.
The Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) is extremely modular, allowing special forces operators to adjust the rifle to suit the needs of their mission.
This modern battle rifle can go from being a short-barreled personal defensive weapon (or PDW) to a sniper rifle by simply changing the barrel and adding optics.
Initially released in a .223 “light” version and a .308 “heavy” version, the latter (designated SCAR-H) gained massive popularity with the special operations community and has been in regular service since 2009.
Although it is a newcomer to the battle rifle market, the SCAR has been adopted by over 20 different countries and is currently in use by special forces worldwide.
The civilian version is available from FN Herstal as the SCAR-17S.
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