As you go out to choose from the market the best 308 rifle, a great variety of options available can confuse and overwhelm you. But you don’t deserve to feel that way. We’ve come up with this review to give you valuable insights about how to select a firearm of your choice within your budget and shooting range. What you want is a rifle that explores the maximum limit of the .308 cartridge. You also want a rifle that fits exactly the maximum range you’re comfortable to shoot at.
A key takeaway is that a longer barrel than a shorter barrel gives you more velocity but less accuracy. Recoil and muzzle blasts are less apparent in longer rifles than short rifles. But longer rifles are less compact and maneuverable than shorter rifles. And so, if you want to hunt in dense brush, it’s important you consider a short rifle. Moreover, you need to consider the twist rate of rifling, as it determines the weight of projectile your weapon can stabilize.
- Helping you find the best 308 rifle
- What is the Effective Range of a .308 Rifle?
Helping you find the best 308 rifle
As a hunter, you want a light weapon that you can carry around for a long hunting trek, so your muscles and tendons don’t wear out.
Weighing 8.5lbs (3.9kg), the best 308 bolt action rifle is kind of heavy. While .308 round produces a reasonable recoil, it won’t be a put-off if you aren’t a first-timer.
Barrel length is at the maximum: 26-inches (65cm) to give you speed and power sufficient to take down any medium- and big-sized game, except grizzlies, moose or elks.
Longer barrels give more speed but less accuracy than shorter barrels.
Don’t worry, though.
The manufacturer has receded the thumb hook to maximize accuracy. Moreover, you can easily adjust the trigger, so accuracy isn’t an issue.
Firearm length is among the longest at 45.75-inches (114.375cm). Therefore, you can fire long-range shots, and downrange flight will remain nearly flat. So, you can fire well beyond 500-yards but experts recommend between 600 and 800 yards.
A bullet will have rotated fully every 10-inches as it travels through the grooved barrel, as rifling is 1:10. That means your rifle can comfortably stabilize bullets whose weight ranges between 170 and 220 grains (11.02 g to 14.26 g).
Magazine can house a maximum of 3 rounds, but with all that power, you won’t need to fire so many rounds to take down a deer or a bighorn sheep.
But as a large the diameter of a round as .308-inches (0.77cm) requires lots of pressure (62,000 psi), and hence your weapon would be hot.
However, the barrel has a tactical flute to cool down temperatures. Built to last, the bolt action has a stainless finish, which withstands inhospitable conditions.
As heavy a rifle weight as 9.8lbs (4.5kg) means that you’ll experience less recoil. What’s more awesome, you’ll experience not more than 60% less recoil, because there’s a muzzle break, which also takes care of a frightening muzzle blast.
Ruger Precision Gen 3 Rifle length is 42.75-inches (106.9cm). Barrel without rifling has a muzzle diameter of 0.3-inches (0.75cm), but length is 20-inches (50cm), which is under the reference level of 24-inches (60cm).
Fire rounds inside 500-yards (457.2m) for maximum accuracy. And best of all, trigger breaks maximize accuracy. You can easily have an edge over your competitors in a tactical situation.
Interestingly, longer length means the muzzle blast is far away from your face. A beginner may find the best 308 tactical rifle attractive.
Ruger has created a headspace chamber to house the .308 Winchester cartridge. Making up the action is hardened steel, and the presence of lock lugs adds to the strength of the bolt action.
If you’re more concerned with accuracy than speed and power, then Ruger Precision is a weapon for you. Sure, heavy but relatively slow bullets would deliver a big punch, but won’t damage game meat. Twist rate is 1:10, which means your weapon can stabilize weight of bullets ranging from 170 to 220 grains.
Loaded with 10 rounds for a full magazine, you would need to have stamina and strength to carry this heavy weapon. Expect to struggle with a heavy and long rifle in a dense brush.
One downside with the rifle is that apparently there’s no mechanism for cooling, because the weapon becomes hot as the cartridge expands under a pressure of 62,000 psi.
Definitely a great choice for a hunter on a long hunting trip, you’ll be thrilled by as light a rifle as 6.75lbs (3kg). If you don’t see the need to carry so many rounds, the magazine has a maximum load of 3 rounds.
For a length of 44.5-inches (111cm), you’ll expect a heavy weapon – not so with Winchester XPR 308.
While the barrel has a length of 22-inches (55cm), it’s shorter than the reference standard of 24-inches (60cm). And so, you’ll have a benefit of more accuracy at the expense of velocity and power.
Which means when you fire rounds, you’ll lose a muzzle velocity in a region of 40 feet-per-second (fps).
We recommend you fire within 500-yards for dead-on accuracy. Since .308 cases demand lots of pressure from bolt, your weapon will heat up.
You needn’t be worried, though.
The barrel of the best 308 hunting rifle floats freely to remove heat stress, so your accuracy won’t reduce, even when you fire repeatedly.
Every 12-inches within a barrel, a single .308 round will rotate fully (the rifling has a twist rate of 1:12). For stability, use bullets whose weights range between 168 and 170 grains. Hence, heavy, relatively slow bullets won’t damage your venison.
Moreover, you shoulder runs a real danger of experiencing a “kick” of a heavy-recoiling caliber as .308, because the weapon is ultralight.
However, the long rifle length positions your face miles away from a muzzle blast, safeguarding you from the terrifying sound, which can “kill” your spirit for hunting.
Not just that, but a muzzle blast and recoil can conspire to reduce your aiming accuracy.
Weighing 10lbs (4.5kg), Savage 10 GRS is a heavy weapon, which doesn’t befit carrying around for long. Besides, maximum load in the magazine is 10 rounds, contributing more weight.
When you shop, you’ll find rifle lengths ranging from 38.5 (96.25cm) to 40-inches (100cm).
Recoil won’t affect your accuracy much, as the firearm is long and heavy. Nor would a deafening muzzle blast scare the hell out of you, as the distance between your face and the muzzle is reasonably long. As a first-time hunter, you’ll fall in love with this amazing weapon, but you’ll have to endure carrying it.
Length of barrel is 20-inches (50cm), which falls below the reference standard. As they emerge out of the bore, bullets would lose 80-feet-per-second, because of a shorter than standard barrel.
Therefore, downrange path would become less flat as the bullets fly toward the target. For greater accuracy, 500-yards should be the maximum distance which you fire shots.
But what you’ll benefit from a shorter barrel is a slightly greater accuracy. With a twist rate of 1:10, the weapon can comfortably stabilize bullets whose weight ranges from 170 to 220 grains.
As reasonably recoiling a case as .308 requires lots of pressure to expand within the headspace chamber sufficiently to propel the bullet. Definitely, your weapon will heat up.
No doubt the heaviest part of the rifle, the barrel has a flute for cooling. Hence, you can be sure of staying focused on target when firing repeatedly. Adding to more accuracy is a nice trigger, and AccuTrigger lives up to the hype.
Quite heavy a weight of a rifle as 8.8lbs (4kg), you’ll find inconvenience in carrying the best 308 semi auto tactical rifle. Housing a maximum of 10 rounds is a magazine. What makes M1A Socom to standout is that it’s solid and compact, offering you a level of handling approaching a pistol. This well-known rifle is probably the best 308 rifle out there.
With a length of 37.25-inches (93.12cm), the weapon is one of the shortest you can come across in the rifle market. On the limit of shortness is a barrel of length 16.25-inches (40.63cm) for ultra-accurate shots.
Way shorter than the reference standard, bullet velocity will have decreased by about 155-feet-per-second by the time bullet leaves the muzzle. Hence, firing longer ranges than 500-yards is a bit tricky.
What’s even more striking about this unique weapon is that it has a relatively big load but accuracy is dead-on. You might ask, “What are all those rounds for if the weapon can take down targets with a single shot of a deadly accurate weapon?”
Well, we begin to see the reason why the manufacturer made it that way when think about the sacrifice for speed and downrange flight. For certain, this weapon can be deadly in close range.
Besides, you’ll have to withstand recoil, which .308 cartridge or 7.62 NATO produces. On top of it all, a muzzle blast may put you off if you’re a first-time shooter.
Owing to a gas system and a muzzle break, recoil shouldn’t be a big issue.
Bullets weighing somewhere from 170 to 220 grains can stabilize within the weapon with a twist rate of 1:11.
Like any other manufacturer, Bergara has adapted rifles to various calibers, one of which is .308 Winchester, which you shouldn’t confuse with .300 Winchester Magnum.
If you’re looking for a light and relatively compact weapon, Bergara B14 fits your criteria. Weighting just 7.05lbs (3.2kg), you’ll be delighted as a long trek hunter.
No more unnecessary baggage, as the magazine has a maximum load of 4 rounds. Within the headspace chamber is an extra round, which you can carry plus the others in a full magazine.
And because you want your hunting trip to be worthwhile, accuracy is key. You don’t have room for missing shots, because the magazine has very few rounds. Nor do you want to damage your game meat with a light but fast bullet.
What you want is a bullet that delivers a power to bring down a deer or a bighorn sheep humanely. The manufacturer knew that, because the barrel length is 22-inches (55cm) for a weapon whose length is 42-inches.
What you get is sufficient accuracy, which you sacrifice for power and speed for a good reason. All that power isn’t necessary if I want to neutralize but not necessarily kill my target, so you reason.
And the curved trigger assists you with more accuracy, as you can adjust for poundage ranging between 2.8lbs and 4.5lbs.
That’s why the twist rate is 1:10, so your rifle can stabilize bullets weighing between 170 and 220 grains, which are just the right size you need.
What’s worrying, however, is you’ll experience more recoil for a lighter weapon. Nonetheless, longer length compensates for that.
Depending on your choice of a rifle, the headspace chamber can either accommodate a .308 Winchester or a .223 Remington cartridge. For a .308 caliber, the rifle at 7.5lbs (3.4kg) is light but heavier by 0.5lbs (0.23kg) than its counterpart.
Extra weight comes in with a magazine, which houses not more than 10 rounds. Hence, Mossberg MVP is quite light to carry, and may serve you well if you carry it or aim your sight for long.
Had the weapon been longer than 36.5-inches (91.25cm), it would have been heavier. Fortunately, it’s the shortest and one of the lightest weapons so far. On the barest minimum length of barrel is 16.25-inches for unbelievable accuracy and compactness.
What Mossberg had on mind was a hunter who struggles to maneuver in thick brush or a treestand, and they’ve nailed it. Shorter length means more maneuverability. And the shortest accuracy possible means the most lethal accuracy.
What you fall short of using this weapon is speed and power, as a shorter barrel doesn’t give the gas pressure sufficient time to propel the bullet to greater speeds.
We estimated that the .308 projectile will have lost 155-feet-per-second of velocity by the time it flies out of the bore. Rifling has a twist rate of 1:10, so use bullet weighing from 170 to 220 grains.
In addition, while a .308 cartridge produces recoil as reasonable as not to discourage first-timers, this “kick” becomes more effective with a shorter barrel.
Not just that, but a deafening blast from the muzzle can become louder with a shorter weapon. In the end, your accuracy suffers.
As poundage is 8.1lbs (3.7kg), Smith and Wesson is quite light, so it’s quite suitable for carrying around. Adding weight further are 10 rounds in a magazine and an extra one in the headspace chamber if you decide to load your weapon fully.
Key question is whether that weight will give you a comfortable handling of the recoil.
One of the shortest rifles in the market has a length of 36.9-inches (92.25cm) for a solid and compact weapon.
Quite as short a length of a barrel as 18-inches assures you of high accuracy. You won’t struggle much moving across an underbrush or a thick thicket
Bullets will have shed off a muzzle velocity of about 120-feet-per-second by the time they leave the bore. Therefore, you don’t get quite as much power as you’d like but that, in no small part, depends on your perspective.
At every interval of 10-inches within the barrel, a bullet completes a full spin as it travels. And so, the weapon is suitable for stabilizing projectiles weighing between 170 and 220 grains.
But their downrange path becomes less flat as range increases. To maximize accuracy, we recommend you fire your weapon inside 500-yards.
For sure, you’ll be thrilled with this weapon if you simply want to neutralize your target – not necessarily kill them. We don’t recommend you use this weapon against dangerous game like grizzlies.
Recoil and muzzle blast are very apparent in this weapon. Thus, they’ll cancel out high accuracy you’re trying to aim for. This rifle is very beautiful but the recoil kills the possibility of being the best 308 rifle.
You’ll find on the market lengths ranging between 33.5-inches (83.75cm) and 37-inches (92.5cm). Yet, the barrel length remains same at 16-inches, which is the shortest.
So far in our 308 rifle reviews, Daniel Defense’s rifle is the shortest by far; hence, the most compact. Such a weapon should very easy to handle. You’ll find it suitable for dense brush maneuvers.
No other rifle can be nearly as accurate as this one. Sacrifice for speed and power is quite big, but the weapon’s power can be destructive at close range.
At intervals of 11-inches (27.5cm), a bullet makes a complete rotation as it moves along the barrel but there’s only 16-inches (40cm) of barrel.
With a weight of 8.3lbs (3.8kg), you won’t tear your muscles and tendons when holding the weapon for a long time. If you load the weapon fully, then the weight will increase, because the magazine can house 10 rounds plus 1 in the chamber.
Chambered for 7.62 NATO cartridges, the rifle can accept a .308 Winchester.
However, we don’t recommend you use a .308 cartridge on this weapon, because its case is slightly smaller than 7.62 NATO.
A smaller case than a headspace chamber can accommodate gives more room for expansion when the weapon gets hot. But a .308 cartridge requires for propulsion a high pressure, which can cause the cartridge to shred, putting you in a risk of injuries.
Recoil and muzzle blasts are more apparent on this weapon. So, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll put up with them. Fortunately, there’s a gas system and a free-floating handguard to reduce thermal stress and recoil.
10. JP LRP-07
Not nearly as short and compact as Daniel Defense, JP LRP-07 is 40-inches long. Coming with a 20-inch long barrel, the manufacturer made the rifle with accuracy and maneuverability in mind. Headspace chamber accommodates .308 cartridge but you can fit 7.62 NATO as well.
Even more amazing about the best 308 semi auto rifle is its large load, with a magazine accommodating 20 rounds plus 1 in the chamber if you decide to load fully.
Fitting within a low weight spectrum, 8.05lbs (3.65kg) is quite light. Therefore, you can move across a dense thicket or brush when you undertake a long hunting trip.
A bullet, as it flies past the muzzle, will have about 80-feet-per-second less velocity. Hence, downrange ballistics of bullets become less flat sooner than 500-yards. You’ll be thrilled by how powerful a close range shot can be.
Accuracy is key, and boosting it is a trigger which you can adjust for poundage. Thus, you’ll require a minimum force of 3.5lbs to pull the trigger, and maximum 4.5lbs.
While a muzzle blast may be way off from your line of sight, it’s quite apparent. Just as apparent is recoil, only that there are handguard and gas systems to neutralize some of it.
One of the cartridges that JP has adapted the weapon for is .308 Winchester. With a high pressure, the weapon gets hot, and if a cooling system is absent, handling won’t be comfortable.
With twist rate of 1:10, the rifle can comfortably stabilize projectiles whose weights range between 170 and 220 grains.
What is the Effective Range of a .308 Rifle?
There’s no definitive answer to that question, although it depends in no small part on what maximum range you’d like to shoot targets at. While .308 Winchester is suitable for medium- to big-game shooting, the longer the range, the less power and penetration. Depending on the length of the barrel, the effective range of .308 Winchester varies widely. Longer barrels mean greater muzzle velocity than shorter barrels.
With a standard reference length of barrel at 24-inches, anything longer than that can propel the projectile at higher velocities but accuracy will be reduced. If your aim is to kill targets as humanely or painless as possible, it’s important you fire shots inside of 500-yards to maximize accuracy. That means you’d require a shorter barrel than 24-inches. It’s within the same yardage that you can easily take down a bear, moose, deer, an elk or a pronghorn.
Beyond 500-yards, the need for bullet drop and wind drift adjustments become more apparent. Therefore, you’ll require to install a rifle scope for better aiming, the best you can afford. Even so, you require a flatter trajectory. Besides, the more holdover or wind adjustments you need to make to compensate for bullet drifts and drops at a greater distance, the more difficult the skill you require to place an accurate shot. As distance increases, so is the size of a drop and a drift.
You’ll require a longer barrel than 24-inches, so projectiles can be nearly as flat as they left the muzzle. Some experts consider long-range to be a distance between 600-yards and 800-yards for a .308 cartridge. For some shooters, long-range is as soon as 300- or 400-yards. But 1000-yards and beyond is a bit on the extreme, and it would be nearly impossible to take down targets accurately. For such great distances, you’ll require an exceptionally gifted sniper who uses a very long barrel, possibly longer than 26-inches.
Bottom line, you require a clean job – you don’t want to injure game or your enemy, as alerting them could mean trouble for you – big trouble, especially when you consider a grizzly charging toward you.
Before you decide to select the best .308 for you, consider your budget and hunting situation. When talking of a budget, consider the price range within which you can afford, but don't forget the accessories, like the scope. The market has something for everyone. You really don’t want to waste money on a rifle, which gives you longer range than you require. Concerning hunting situations, the hostility of an environment and the maximum range you wish to shoot at are important.
If you want to take shots well beyond 500-yards, consider a rifle with a longer barrel. Remington 700 XCR has the longest barrel, and can serve you well in that regard. However, longer barrels and weapons are less maneuverable and compact than shorter barrels, so you will struggle in an underbrush. Ruger Precision Gen 3, Winchester XPR 308s, Savage 10 GRS, Bergara B14, and JP LRP are long rifles with short barrels; hence, not very compact. Solid weapons suitable for thick brush include M1A Socom, Mossberg MVP, Smith and Wesson, and Daniel Defense. Out of these, M1A Socom and Daniel Defense handle recoil very well.
Related weapons > Crossbows > Compound bows