.308 Winchester is one of the most popular cartridges in the world. It is accurate, powerful, and has an impressively effective range. These are all reasons .308 is widely used for hunting, target competition, and military and law enforcement applications.
However, even the best .308 cartridges are useless without a quality rifle. After all, you won’t be throwing those cartridges at downrange targets. Hopefully, you’ll be shooting them from a rifle.
There are a ton of rifles out there chambered in .308 Winchester. From semi-automatic battle rifles to good old traditional bolt actions, there is a .308 rifle perfect for shooting just about anything your heart desires.
With so many different rifle designs available, navigating the vast sea of options can feel like an impossible mission. We’ve put together this list of our favorites to help point you in the right direction.
These are the best .308 rifles ever built
Here’s what we consider some of the best .308 rifles in production today.
Remington Model 700
The Remington Model 700 routinely makes appearances on “best rifle” lists. This classic bolt action model has been tried and tested for almost every shooting application, and it routinely comes out on top. Not only is it one of the best-selling civilian rifles of all time, but it’s design also provided the base for the military M24, M40 series, XM3, and XM2010 rifles.
A long-time favorite of big game hunters, the Model 700 has also had huge success as a law enforcement and military sniper and marksman rifle (with a few upgrades, of course).
Remington offers this model in a wide variety of configurations. Affordable, dependable, and practical, the Remington Model 700 has a seriously strong action and a ton of aftermarket support.
Winchester Model 70
While we’re on the subject of influential bolt actions, the gun that helped launch the .308 Winchester cartridge definitely deserves some attention. We’re talking about the Winchester Model 70. First introduced in 1936, this iconic rifle earned the nickname, “The Rifleman’s Rifle.”
The Model 70 has enjoyed major popularity as a hunting and sporting rifle, but it also earned a special place in military history. The legendary Marine Corps sniper, Carlos “White Feather” Hathcock, used a Winchester Model 70 during his service in the Vietnam War, where he logged 93 confirmed enemy kills.
These sturdy, reliable rifles are still in production today and are produced with the same quality craftsmanship as the originals. Great for target shooting or big game hunting, the Model 70 is available in a variety of configurations chambered for .308.
Developed in the 1950s by engineer, Eugene Stoner, and Armalite, the AR-10 was initially designed as a possible replacement for the US military’s M1 Garand. Although this lightweight, semi-automatic rifle ultimately lost out in that regard to Springfield Armory’s T44, the AR-10 is anything but a loser. In fact, it would eventually win its own military presence in the form of the M16.
The basic design of the AR-10 (including the direct impingement system) helped birth the most popular semi-automatic rifle ever invented, the AR-15. That’s right, folks. The AR-10 is the older, more powerful big brother of the AR-15.
The AR-10 has all the same benefits that its cool younger brother has, like low recoil, inherent accuracy, easy-shooting, and aftermarket support. The AR-10 is basically the AR-15 – only with more power. Because the AR-10 is chambered for .308 Winchester rather than .223/5.56, you can use it to hunt bigger game and shoot longer distances.
You can also get an AR-10 set up for competitive shooting, hunting, target shooting, and tactical applications. If you like the AR-15, you’re going to love the AR-10.
Ruger Number 1
While plenty of shooters appreciate the convenience and capacity of a semi-automatic rifle, others prefer the challenge of a single shot. The Ruger Number 1 fits the bill, offering a lightweight, attractive and easy-to-shoot package. In fact, the Ruger Number 1 is probably the most popular modern single shot rifle, and its compact receiver is one of the strongest in current production.
The Number 1 has an artillery-style falling block action which, when paired with express-style iron sights, makes a great brush gun. It’s perfect for intuitive snap shooting. However, the Number 1 does allow you the option of mounting a scope if that better suits your shooting style. Whichever option you choose, you’ll just need to make that first shot count.
Springfield Armory M1A
The Springfield Armory M1A is the civilian version of the T44 which became the military’s legendary M14. (The one that initially beat out the AR-10). While the M14 is indeed fully automatic, the M1A is a semi-automatic version. It is hands down one of the top .308 rifles when it comes to precision, durability, and reliability.
Although slightly dated when it comes to design ergonomics, there’s nothing quite like shooting a historic wood clad semi-auto. Not only is this thing deadly accurate, it’s also pretty darned cool.
We’re going to slip one more bolt action .308 rifle in the list, because it is hard to beat the level of long-range accuracy and dependability they offer. The Mossberg Patriot is a simple rifle with clean lines and a conventional design. Without integrating a bunch of expensive bells and whistles, Mossberg was able to provide an incredibly affordable .308 bolt action. The Patriot is so affordable, you’ll have plenty of cash left over for ammo.
Although the Patriot isn’t going to win any long-range shooting competitions, it is perfect for standard hunting ranges. In fact, it’s entirely comfortable dropping deer out to 500 yards.
The advantages of .308 Winchester are plenty. Combining decent velocity and enough power to push a capable bullet an impressive distance, .308 WInchester may be one of the best all-around cartridges ever designed. It also functions well in most action designs and produces more than manageable recoil from relatively compact, lightweight rifles.
While the rifles on our list are what we consider some of the best ever made, this list is by no means exhaustive. There are plenty of other high-quality rifles out there that are chambered for .308.
These rifles tend to be some of the most accurate rifles out there. However, even the best .308 in the world is no substitute for good old fashioned practice, so make sure you hit the range with your new rifle. The best way to shoot accurately is to spend some time sending lead downrange. Oh, and buy a good scope for your .308.