The .308 Winchester is one of the most popular rifle cartridges not only in America, but worldwide. Introduced in 1952, the .308 Winchester has met with great success. It is now widely used in hunting, sporting, military and law enforcement.
There are many reasons choosing a .308 rifle makes sense for a shooter. It’s sufficiently powerful for almost any use, the recoil is tolerable, a variety of ammunition is readily available, and the cartridge fits in a short action receiver.
If you’ve decided on getting a .308 gun, your next step is to navigate the vast options on the market. Luckily, we’ve chosen a few of our favorites to point you in the right direction.
The 11 Top .308 Caliber Rifles of 2021: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for .308 rifles in 2021:
- Best budget: Ruger American Predator
- Best for the money: Bergara B14 HMR
- Best for hunting: Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Stainless
- Best bolt action: Remington 700
- Best semi-auto: Daniel Defense AR-10
- Best sniper: Accuracy International AX
- Best tactical: McMillan CS5 Alias
- Best battle: DS Arms FN FAL
|Category||Best Bolt Action||Best Semi-auto||Best for Hunting|
| || ||
|Barrel Length||22 in||16 in||24 in|
|Weight||6 lbs 12 oz||8.3 lbs||7.5 lbs|
|Length of Pull||13 3/4 in||not specified by manufacturer||13 1/2 in|
|Finish||Walnut and Satin Finish with Premium Pachmayr® Decelerator® Pad||Mil Spec Brown Cerakote||Matte Black Synthetic w/Overmolded Grip Panels|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
1. Best Budget .308 – Ruger American Predator
Ruger has established a reputation for consistently producing quality firearms at working-class prices. In a very saturated rifle market, Rugar has again firmly established their reputation with the American Predator model.
Available at under $400, the American Predator has features that used to be reserved for more expensive firearms. Users report that this rifle commonly shoots groups under 1 inch at 100 yards. This is considered a benchmark for accuracy.
Ruger has managed to create this accuracy at an economical price point by using an aluminum bedding block in the stock. This ingenious change helps to secure the action and free-float the barrel.
At a handy 18 inches, the barrel size allows the rifle maneuverability. At the same time, the length maintains enough velocity to take advantage of the .308 cartridge. The barrel is also threaded 5/8X24 to accept muzzle attachments such as brakes and suppressors. This is a very rare feature in the entry-level market.
Did we mention that the rifle, minus scope and ammo, weighs a scant 6.25 pounds? Other features include a user-adjustable trigger, ergonomic tang-mounted safety, and a 70-degree bolt throw for quick cycling.
Overall, the Ruger American Predator is a great choice for the budget minded shooter who wants an accurate and capable rifle for hunting and target shooting.
- Very budget friendly
- MOA accuracy out of the box
- Comes threaded ready for muzzle attachments
- Molded plastic stock is sometimes reported to feel cheap or flimsy
2. Best .308 Rifle For the Money – Bergara B14 HMR
Many rifle makers try to play the “do-all” game to produce a rifle that is capable in all situations. However, because different uses demand different features, they are rarely successful.
Bergara looked at this problem and decided to fix it, producing the B14 HMR (Hunting & Match Rifle). The B14 is a fully-featured precision rifle designed to work equally well at home, on the range, or in the field.
The Bergara action is known to be exceptionally smooth and well-built, but that’s just where the B14 begins. The polymer stock is molded in the shape of other precision rifle stocks such as those made by McMillan. This even includes the pistol-style grip and rear support-hand hook.
The stock is adjustable for length of pull with a series of adjustable spacers. You can also cheek weld with an adjustable cheek piece. The B14 HMR also features two sling swivels, flush cups for sling mounting, and an internal bedding chassis for consistent accuracy and repeatability.
The 20-inch barrel comes threaded 5/8X24” and the trigger is set at a crisp, reasonable 3 pounds. Additionally, the rifle comes set up to accept AICS style magazines. One 5 round magazine is included, and 10 round AICS style magazines can be used as well.
The B14 HMR is a great choice for somebody willing to spend a moderate amount (starting at $1,000) on a precision rifle to fill many roles. This rifle can easily be used for hunting as well as competitive shooting disciplines such as the Precision Rifle Series.
- Set up for both hunting and competition shooting
- Accepts AICS magazines
- Internal chassis for consistent accuracy
- High-quality stock
- High price for a beginning shooter
3. Best .308 For the Money #2 – Savage 110 Tactical
At a lower price point (available for $600), the 110 Tactical offers a lot of features to be excited about. Savage rifles are known to be very accurate despite being inexpensive. This is due to their innovative floating bolt head.
The Savage 110 Tactical is based on a standard Model 110 action dropped into the Savage Accu-Stock. It features their standard Accu-Trigger, a bladed trigger that is user-adjustable from 1.5 to 6lbs.
The medium contour savage barrel is heavy enough to resist point of impact changes based on barrel heating. It is also fluted to help with weight reduction and heat dissipation.
Topping the receiver is an Evolution Gun Works Picatinny rail with 20 MOA elevation for extended-distance shooting. Two forward sling swivels allow the user to mount both a bipod and a sling if desired.
The barrel is threaded 5/8X24 and the stock accepts AICS style magazines. A 10 round magazine is included with the rifle. Just be aware many localities require the shooter to buy a 5-round magazine if the rifle is being used for hunting.
The Savage 110 Tactical offers a lot of features used in various long-range shooting disciplines at a very reasonable price. The nut system allows users to easily swap out the barrels themselves if a new barrel is needed. In addition, there are plenty of options to upgrade other parts of the rifle at a later time.
This rifle would be well suited to the shooter who wants an accurate, dependable shot at an affordable price. It’s also great for anyone looking to get into the discipline of long-range shooting.
- Set up with lots of features for long-range shooting
- Very competitive budget
- Crisp Accu-Trigger
- Adaptable to many roles
- Heavy for strict hunting purposes
- Older Accu-stock models are known to feel cheap
4. Best .308 Hunting Rifle – Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Stainless
The Model 70 was one of the first .308 rifles produced after Winchester introduced the cartridge in the early 50’s. It quickly gained popularity due to its intuitive handling, strong action, and controlled-round feed claw extractor system.
Although some of the more popular features of the Model 70 were removed in design changes after 1964, the Featherweight series retained some of the more important features.
The controlled-round feed claw extractor allows the user to maintain positive control over the cartridge while loading. This decreases the possibility of malfunction by fumbling or short-stroking the bolt.
The Model 70 Featherweight features an elegant dark walnut stock with checkering, a satin finish, and a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad to save your shoulder. Since stainless steel is very resistant to rusting and corrosion, this rifle is ideal for harsh outdoor conditions.
A 3-way safety system allows the user to lock both the bolt and trigger, safely manipulate the bolt while leaving the trigger on, or fully unlock the rifle for fire. This is very useful for loading, unloading, and clearing issues without compromising safety.
Overall, the Model 70 Featherweight Stainless is a great, classic hunting rifle. It’s been designed for field conditions and has the craftsmanship to maintain heirloom quality as it’s passed down through generations.
- Claw extractor controlled round feed
- Very crisp trigger
- Stainless steel to resist corrosion
- Lightweight for woods carry
- Wood Stock not suitable for more extreme shooting conditions
5. Best .308 Hunting Rifle #2 – Ruger No. 1
A single shot, big game hunting rifle has been considered to be the epitome of hunting sportsmanship for decades. Single shot rifles are lightweight, easy to carry, and have a sleek and attractive profile.
Ultimately, the sportsman knows they have only one shot and they must make it count. Succeeding with this type of rifle is considered the epitome of showing off your skill. For this reason, a fine single shot hunting rifle has been considered an item of prestige among hunters.
The Ruger No. 1 is among the most famous and sought-after modern production single shot rifles. Utilizing an artillery-style falling block action, the very compact receiver is one of the strongest on the market. It is known to hold up to a number of high-pressure rounds.
The Ruger No. 1 can be had with express-style iron sights – good for brush hunting and snapshots – or a scope, depending on shooter’s needs. Furthermore, the compact receiver allows a long barrel length in a very handy rifle – affording the shooter extra velocity.
The Ruger No. 1 is produced every year in a limited number of calibers, making them highly collectible. Currently, the 50th anniversary .308 model is being produced, and it is sure to be highly sought after.
Just to be clear, this is definitely not the rifle for everyone. For those that love the challenge of hunting and want to invest in a fine rifle that will be as reliable as the shooter, the Ruger No. 1 is held in special esteem.
- Light, compact action
- Good rifle for stalk and brush hunting
- High collectability
- Single shot action gives a shooter only one chance to make a shot
- Production is limited
6. Best .308 Bolt Action Rifle- Remington 700
It’s very hard to pick a best bolt action .308, and there may be some debate about our inclusion of the Remington 700. Recently, Remington has faced some criticism over their handling of potential safety issues regarding their triggers.
However, it would be impossible to ignore the widespread impact of the Remington 700 on the hunting, sport shooting, law enforcement, and military industries. This bolt action is one of the most produced civilian rifles ever, and has long been a popular hunting rifle.
Unsurprisingly, the 700 has been produced in about every configuration imaginable. Remington has created long-range platforms, to iron-sighted hunting rifles, and even as single-shot varmint hunting pistols!
This rifle has been a huge success in the law enforcement market, and is commonly used in SWAT deployment and large event security. It has also spurred much development in the field of military sniper and marksman rifles.
The military M24, M40 series, XM3, and XM2010 are all rifle projects that were built for military use off of the Remington 700 and related actions (such as the 40-X).
In light of this, and the fact that the Remington 700 has shaped the aftermarket stock industry (it’s a major selling point for new rifles to use very common Remington 700 aftermarket parts), the Remington 700 should be given a place as one of the best bolt action .308 rifles.
- Strong aftermarket support
- Wide variety of configurations
- Very strong action for high-pressure rounds
- The triggers are prone to failure and best replaced with aftermarket parts
7. Best .308 Bolt Action Rifle #2 – Winchester Model 70
The Model 70 has already made a place on our list under best hunting rifles, but its reputation earns it a place among the best bolt action rifles in general. To begin with, it’s hard to ignore the legacy of the Model 70. It helped launched the .308 Winchester cartridge!
The Model 70 has earned a reputation for accuracy, craftsmanship, and reliability. The forged receiver with integral recoil lug makes the action truly sturdy, secure, and repeatable. The trigger is widely known for being smooth, crisp and consistent.
As a hunting and sporting rifle, the Model 70 has enjoyed much popularity. Did you know it also has a military history? Famed marksman Carlos “White Feather” Hathcock was known to have used a Winchester Model 70 as a sniper/marksman rifle during the Vietnam war.
- Controlled Round Feed
- Crisp Trigger
- Available in several hunting configurations
- High-quality craftsmanship
- 3-way safety selector switch
- Rifles made before 1964 are more desirable for their high-quality features
8. Best Semi-Auto .308 – AR-10
Before the AR-15 was ever invented in the .223 Remington Caliber, the AR-10 was designed around the .308 Winchester cartridge. Since then, the development of the AR-10 has come a long way. It can no longer be recognized as one gun, but more of a platform that different features and designs are built around.
Nearly every maker of AR-15 rifles has stepped into manufacturing larger caliber AR-10 rifles as well. Notable brands manufacturing the AR-10 include DPMS, Palmetto State Armory, Patriot Ordnance Factory, and Daniel Defense.
The 10 has all of the same benefits of the smaller 15 – modularity, intuitive controls, low recoil, and inherent accuracy – but with higher power. Because of the ability to easily change components, an AR-10 can easily be set up to specialize in a variety of roles such as hunting, competition, target shooting, or tactical use.
The 10 can be bought or assembled from purchased components. These come in a variety of prices to fit the shooter’s needs for budget and quality. This is ideal for somebody who wants a modern semi-automatic .308 platform with good performance and very broad aftermarket support.
The biggest downside to the AR-10 is the fact that legislation may make it illegal or severely restricted in several states. Shooters should know their local laws before considering a purchase and may need to find a less-restricted firearm according to their locality.
- Ergonomic Controls
- Highly modular
- Some models can be very heavy
- May be restricted in some states
9. Best .308 Sniper Rifle – Accuracy International AX .308
The .308 Winchester has long been pursued as a sniper rifle. It has a short action receiver, stopping power, and high ballistic performance with a shorter barrel.
Perhaps the best and most modern incarnation of this is the Accuracy International AX .308. Although pricey, the AX was designed to deliver exceptional performance and unfailing reliability in a mobile package.
The six-lug bolt with 60-degree throw is positioned directly above the trigger. It requires only a very short movement to unlock and cycle the bolt. This allows the shooter to very quickly cycle the next round with minimal disruption to the sight picture.
The one-piece receiver with dual integral recoil block is mated to a full-length internal aluminum chassis for absolute accuracy and repeatability. Additionally, the AX is equipped with a side-folding stock for quick transport and storage.
The 20-inch barrel is maneuverable in urban environments while at the same time providing plenty of velocity. The attached, large-port muzzle brake drastically reduces recoil to keep a stable sight picture. If you choose, you can replace this feature with a silencer.
This Accuracy International rifle accepts a 10-round detachable box magazine for quick reloads. Furthermore, it has mounts in line with the scope for night vision devices. This is perfect for anyone that likes to do their shooting in low-light situations.
The AX .308 is not in the price range of the normal recreational shooter. It is a true professional sniper rifle and one of few that deserve the title in its proper usage.
We recommended it the professional who needs a duty rifle, or the dedicated gun enthusiast who is willing to pay the price for ultimate performance in hunting, competition shooting, or tactical uses.
- Very rigid receiver and chassis for accuracy
- Very quick bolt throw
- Options for night vision mounting
- Very high price for the average shooter
- Accessories are specialized and also expensive
10. Best Tactical .308 Rifle – 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.
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.
- Highly compact
- Specialized for dual-purpose use
- .5 MOA accuracy
- Very user-adjustable
- Very expensive
- Subject to strict restrictions for civilian ownership
11. Best .308 Battle Rifle – 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.
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.
- Very reliable
- Will use surplus or cheap steel-cased ammunition
- Availability of surplus and aftermarket parts
- Less accurate than other rifles
- Heavy by modern standards
The Importance of Choosing the Right Rifle
A 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
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.
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.
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 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.
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-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.
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.
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.
The 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 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.
As 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.