7 Best Budget Battle Rifles: Semi-Auto 308 Winchester

If you’re looking for a list of the best budget battle rifles then you’ve come to the right place. This list will include budget options starting from under $1000, with the most expensive options costing more than $3000. We’ll cover all the details that make a great battle rifle, as well as a few accessories you may want to consider when setting up your firearm. Keep reading for more.

Battle rifles have traditionally been defined as semi-automatic firearms that fire a “full power” cartridge. This generally means any cartridge larger than 5.56mm, or it’s derivatives, like 300 Blackout. You’ll find that the vast majority of battle rifles tend to fire 308 Winchester, otherwise known as the 7.62 x 51mm cartridge.

While these cartridges are larger, and much more powerful than their smaller cousins, they aren’t any more lethal than 5.56mm. Don’t believe me, then check out the research on the best 5.56mm rounds for home defense and CQB. We’ll talk a little more about this later on. Before we do that check out this quick list of the 7 best budget battle rifles.

7 Best Budget Battle Rifles

This list of the 7 best budget battle rifles covers a wide spectrum of prices. Amazingly, it starts at less than a thousand dollars. The majority of these quality rifles go for around $2000, with the best options topping out around $3900.

I think the vast majority of shooters can actually have the most fun with the cheaper options on the list. As you’ll see, they shoot well, and are surprisingly accurate and reliable. Before we get to a brief overview of these rifles, we should review some key features on the modern semi-auto battle rifle, and explain why they out perform lighter carbines. Don’t forget to join the email list below, so you don’t miss any awesome articles like this one.

Battle Rifle Performance

Most shooters actually focus on the wrong details when considering why battle rifles outperform light weight carbines. It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of thinking that bigger bullets stop things better. While that logic may work for your Uncle Rick, it doesn’t hold up when you look at the data. Check this chart out below.

This chart shows the terminal performance of several different 223 rounds. This is defined by its tissue disruption into ballistic gel, yaw angle, and several other important factors. If you really want to dig into the details of this analysis read the article.

I want to highlight that they compared several different 5.56mm rounds to M80 ball, which is the US Military’s .308 Winchester round. You can see that it actually has worse terminal performance than 5.56, at distances less than 50m. That’s it huh, don’t even bother with these semi automatic rifles? Not so fast.

Battle rifles don’t actually stop bad guys better. They do provide one key advantage to a tactical shooter or hunter. They have much better range, and they retain more energy at these longer ranges. Here are some comparison charts.

5.56 energy at distance chart
Federal 62 Grain Round Energy at 390 ft/lbs at 500 yards

You can see this common carbine round retains around 390 ft/lbs of energy at 500 yards. It starts around 1250 ft/lbs and drops off from there. There’s quite a big difference in the next chart, where we examine the Federal 308 Gold Medal 175 grain round.

7.62x51 battle rifle energy at distance chart

Federal 308 175 grain Gold Medal Round

This round starts at 2600 ft/lbs, dropping down to about 1250 ft/lbs at 500 yards. This 7.62mm round has the same energy at 500 yards as the 5.56mm round had at the muzzle. That is truly the biggest difference between a 308 battle rifle and a lighter carbine.

Remember, this doesn’t mean it will put the bad guy down faster at close ranges, it simply extends the range where you retain enough energy to remain lethal. Practically speaking, you’ll find that you can engage targets out to 900 yards reliably, provided you do the work on the gun.

If you really want to extend the engagement range, you should look at other calibers like 6.5 Creedmoor, or something more powerful like the 300 Winchester Magnum. However, those rounds start to fall under semi-auto sniper systems, and less in to the battle rifle category.

Now that we have a good understanding of what makes a battle rifle a good choice for medium to long range engagements, let’s take a look at our 7 best budget battle rifles.

7 Best Budget Battle Rifles

As the title implies, all of these rifles will be chambered in 308 Winchester. Each will be a semi-automatic rifle, with the differences in key features. Many will be AR-10 style battle rifles, where as others will eschew a pistol grip for a more traditional stock. Others still, will be bull pup in design for ease of carry.

I will provide a highlight of the key options for each rifle, as well as the price they are listed for as of this writing (Feb 2024). I recommend following the links for more detail on the rifles that seem most appealing to you. This list will start with the cheapest option, and work to the most expensive rifle.

After we cover each rifle, I’ll review some accessories you may want to consider like: optics and bipods. Now, let’s get to the list of modern battle rifles.

The Ruger SFAR

The Ruger SFAR is by far the best value for money on this list. Ruger American has done what they always do, provide a quality firearm at a lower price than almost everyone else. The SFAR is no different. Taking a page out of POF USA’s book, they managed to produce a 308 battle rifle that is built on the same sized receiver as a normal AR15.

This lowers the overall weight and makes it much more pleasant to carry, for long periods of time. The variant linked above has a 16.1 inch barrel. It tips the scales at 6.8 pounds, which is amazing for a battle rifle. The barrel itself is 4140 chrome-moly, with a black nitride finish for hard wear resistance.

The muzzle has the typical 5/8 by 24 threads that most all 7.62 barrels use. It comes with a muzzle break, and because it’s actually longer than 16 inches, you can swap muzzle devices to your hearts content. In fact, you could use my favorite suppressor, the Dead Air Sandman K as it features an adjustable gas block.

If you don’t plan on shooting suppressed, you can still use the excellent muzzle brake it comes with. Here’s a quick video review of the rifle.

Most reviewers report that the rifle shoots under 1 inch at 100 yards, making it 1 MOA accurate. It also has a great trigger from the factory, with most reviewers testing it in the low 3 pound range. This is amazing for a battle rifle, especially at this price point. Of note it does not ship with iron sights. Currently you can pick this rifle up for $999.

Given the features the SFAR comes with, I think this is all the rifle most shooters will realistically ever need. However, if you want something thats more of a traditional AR10 size, you should check out our next option.

PSA Sabre AR-10

The PSA Sabre AR10 is a great budget AR10. It’s built to pay homage to the venerable M110 Semi-Auto Sniper System, that saw extensive use in Iraq and Afghanistan. Luckily it’s much cheaper than the current $37,000 price for a real M110. I teared up just typing that.

The Sabre is designed by PSA to be a great battle rifle, right out of the box. It comes with an awesome 3.5 pound trigger. It’s also important to point out that the rifle can be had in several different combinations. You can get a standard 16-inch barrel, or a shorter version at 13.7 in, with a pinned and welded muzzle device. Here’s a quick review of one version of the Sabre.

The PSA Sabre features an adjustable gas block, and a mid-length gas system. This allows you to tune the rifle for the ammo and suppressor combination of your choice. It also allows you to continue to shoot it once it starts to get dirty.

Most reviewers were able to shoot 1.5-2 inch groups at 100 yards. While this is no sniper rifle, it’s certainly good enough for a battle rifle. In my experience, the vast majority of shooters can’t actually group anywhere close to a guns true mechanical accuracy.

It also comes with a few other nice features, like an upgraded charging handle and a B5 SOPMOD adjustable stock. You’ll find that most of these SABRE variants run between $1100 to $1250 depending on barrel length and stock you choose.

The PSA Sabre is the best choice if you want to pick a rifle that’s already somewhat customized, saving you from having to upgrade all the pieces yourself. Next we’ll talk about the granddaddy of battle rifles.

Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM in Multicam Black

The Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 308 (Multicam Black) is the gun to choose if you want an old school option that will allow you to shoot out to medium range, or butt stroke anyone who get’s too close to you. Most reviewers found that this rifle was a good choice for folks that wanted something a little different than a standard AR10. Here’s a great video review of the Springfield M 1A.

The SOCOM variant is 16 inches in length, with a compact muzzle device. It comes with a 10 round detachable box magazine, which keeps the rifle somewhat smaller in size than many of the AR10s on the list.

I personally like the multicam black finish, and think this is a great rifle for those that want a reasonably accurate traditional battle rifle. I wouldn’t recommend it if you plan on using it for pure target shooting, as it’s probably the least accurate rifle on the list. Next let’s move to the lightest weight rifle.

POF USA Rogue 308

The POF USA Rogue 308 is based off of one of the most innovative battle rifle designs. Several years ago POF engineered a solution to fit a 308 round in an AR15 sized rifle. Originally they made it into a gas piston gun called the POF Revolution.

This technology has now trickled down to the their Rogue series of direct impingement guns, at much lower prices. Readers of this website know that I’ve really enjoyed my POF Renegade + pistol in 300 Blackout.

The Rogue has many of the same features they are known for including: a crisp sub 4 pound trigger, dual extractor technology on their bolt carrier group, and their awesome adjustable Dictator gas block system.

They also have a great heat sink barrel nut system that keeps the hand-guard from become super hot immediately. I also really dig the detail on the lower receiver. Here’s a quick video review of the pistol variant of the gun.

The biggest stand out feature of the POF Rogue in 308, is the sub 6 pound weight. This may not seem like a big deal, but for tactical users and hunters, carrying around a rifle all day becomes incredibly tiresome. I can tell you in my career, I’ver never once wished I had a heavier gun to carry around!

There are several variants of this rifle, including a 13.7 in barrel with a pinned and welded compensator. You can also select a tan finish if you don’t like black. As of this writing the POF sells for under $2100. Given the level of engineering put into this gun, I think this is a great option as a hunting rifle.

While this may be the lightest rifle on the list, it isn’t the most compact. That happens to be the next rifle we’re going to cover, the IWI Tavor 7.

IWI Tavor 7

The IWI Tavor 7 is a bull pup design battle rifle. As you would imagine, this makes it the most compact rifle on this list. Its overall length is 26.75 inches. The pistol version of the Rogue, with a 12.5 inch barrel, comes in at 29.5 inches. Most 16 inch battle rifles are 39 inches.

The Tavor is by far the most compact rifle without using shorter barrels. While it does weigh a somewhat hefty 9 pounds 13 ounces, it carries most of the weight in the buttstock, which makes it much easier to maneuver and aim.

Moreover, the Tavor features an adjustable gas piston systems which allows for cleaner operation. If you’re not familiar with different operating systems, a piston system is generally cooler and cleaner because the gas is used to push a rod and piston to cycle the action.

A direct impingement system, like the previous rifles on this list, directs gas back through a tube directly into the receiver to work the action. This can foul the rifle more quickly and build up heat. It doesn’t makes these guns unreliable, it just means more cleaning, and hotter operation. Here’s a quick review of the Tavor 7 tactical rifle.

The other nice thing about the Tavor is that it allows for complete ambidextrous control. You can swap all the controls, including the forward charging handle, to either side of the rifle. You can even move the ejection port to either side, which can keep hot brass off your skin!

The version you see in the video is a 16 inch barrel, but you can purchase a 20 inch variant as well. This would be ideal if you plan on shooting at 300 yards or more regularly. This battle rifle has a 4 pound trigger pull, and most reviewers report it’s about 1.5 MOA accurate. This isn’t going to embarrass any sniper rifles, but it’s more than most users will ever need.

As of this writing you can purchase the Tavor 7 for just over $2000. In my opinion this is probably the best configuration for someone who needs a rugged rifle for harsh environments. To put this price into perspective, this gas piston gun is almost 2000 dollars cheaper than the other two piston rifles on this list. Next we’ll talk about a battle rifle from one of my favorite firearms manufacturers, Heckler and Koch.

Heckler and Koch MR762

The Heckler and Kock MR 762 is your go to hell and back, do it all battle rifle, designed for long-range shooting. In fact, a similar version of this rifle has been selected as the United States Army’s new compact semi-auto sniper system, or CSASS.

You can purchase almost the exact same spec as the U. S. Military, but you’ll pay several thousand more for the privilege. The standard MR762 is by far the better option as it’s fundamentally the same gun with a slightly different twist rate in the barrel.

This is a large frame AR10 style gun that uses a gas piston operating system. Like other rifles on this list of the 7 best budget battle rifles, it is chambered in 308 and has a 16.5 inch barrel. This version has an MLOK handguard and standard HK controls. Here’s a quick video review.

Most reviewers note that it can easily achieve .75 MOA accuracy or better with the right ammo. You’d expect as much given that it’s used as a sniper rifle by the Army! I have to say that this is very impressive, as most piston guns don’t achieve this level of accuracy.

The MR762 is clearly built for heavy duty use. If you know anything about Heckler and Koch you know that they have a reputation for overbuilding their firearms, which makes them reliable, but heavy. This bad boy tips the scales at right under 10 pounds without optics, or accessories.

This rifle is clearly the best option for someone who doesn’t mind having a heavy gun, and wants the best accuracy they can get. As of this writing it sells for $3999. However, I have seen Palmetto State Armory sell this for as low as $3300. You may want to check back from time to time, if you’re considering purchasing.

Now let’s get to our final rifle on the list. You’e seen it on video games, and you secretly want one. It’s the FNH Scar 17S.

FNH Scar 17S

The FNH Scar 17s is currently still in service with US Special Operations Command, and has a reputation as a solid battle rifle. Most importantly, FNH has made some key improvements in this Scar 17, including making the charging handle non reciprocating.

I’ve spoken to folks who’ve deployed with the Scar 17. They report that the previous generations reciprocating charging handle was a big problem. It could injure your hand when shooting, and if it contacted anything it would induce a malfunction. It’s nice to see that it’s been fixed. Here’s a good video review.

One of the most obvious features is the folding stock. In fact, this is the only rifle on this list, that allows you to do this. This is because it doesn’t rely on a buffer tube like the AR10 rifles. Instead, it has springs that are mounted at the top of the receiver. Another nice feature of the stock is that it is adjustable for length of pull and comb height as well.

Say what you want about the FN Scar 17, you can’t deny that it’s accurate and easy to shoot. Most shooters report right around 1 MOA accuracy. Due to the mass of the operating system it has much lower recoil than other rifles on the list.

It’s also lighter than other options, coming in right around 8 pounds without optics or accessories. Because this rifle has been around for a while there are a wide variety of accessories, from extended foreends with m-lok slots, to nicer triggers.

As of this writing you can purchase this battle rifle for $3750. While this is the top end of the spectrum for battle rifles, you aren’t likely to be disappointed with this excellent choice.

Now that we’ve covered the 7 best budget battle rifles, we should quickly review some of the accessories you actually need to shoot your firearm. In the next section I’ll review some quality accessories for your battle rifle.

Best Accessories for the Best Budget Battle Rifles

There are several accessories you need to get the most out of your 308 battle rifle. First and foremost, you need a good quality optic. Readers of this website know that I think most folks are drastically over buying their optics. Marketing works, and we all want the next coolest thing.

Most shooters don’t need to purchase something that DEVGRU or Delta is currently using. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase those optics, it just means you’re paying for quality you aren’t going to use. That’s why I tend to recommend mid range optics most often.

308 Battle Rifle Optics

Because these rifles are capable of shooting out to 800 yards or more, you need an optic that will allow you to see with sufficient detail at those ranges. I would recommend something like this Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25x optic. Vortex has a great reputation for quality optics, and their customer service and warranty is unmatched.

Most importantly for long range shooting, this optic is first focal plane. This means that the reticle always has the same relationship in size to the target. This allows you to use the same reticle holds at any magnification level.

Realistically you don’t need 25 power to shoot at these distances. You start to get a lot of tremor in the optic at very high magnification. The Strike eagle can be used on almost any rifle at any distance. As of this writing you can pick the Strike Eagle up for $799.

If you plan on shooting your battle rifle at a little closer distances, then you could try something like this Trijicon Credo 1-8x scope which is also first focal plane. Trijicon makes very durable optics. While the Credo is a little more expensive than the Strike Eagle, it can be had for less than $1300. As a bonus, you could use this on an AR15 just as easily.

If you plan on hunting at night, or need all weather capability, check out this list of great night vision and thermal optics that you can use on your battle rifle. Next we’ll talk about bipods.

Bipods for your Battle Rifle

This is one accessory that is very dependent on your use for the rifle. If you’re big game hunting with one of the lighter rifles, then you probably don’t need a bipod. However, if you’re shooting at long range with a larger semi-auto rifle on the list, I think a bipod is a must have.

You can spend several hundred dollars on top notch equipment, with only marginal improvement over much cheaper items. I think this Magpul Picatinny bipod is a great option. It comes in at 11 ounces and attaches to the picatinny rail on your foreend. It costs right around $120, and is very durable.

Now that we’ve covered just about everything you need to know to pick a great battle rifle, I will finish the article with some final thoughts on this list of best budget battle rifles.

Final Thoughts

Like many of my other gear reviews, it’s important to point out that you don’t always get what you pay for. Marketing is a thing, and we often end up buying something because a large firearm manufacturer is paying industry influencers to promote their product. I mean, if a former Navy SEAL says its good to go then you have to buy it right?

I strongly recommend you examine your reasons for buying a battle rifle. If you just want a fun 308 rifle, then I think you’d be crazy not to take a hard look at the Ruger SFAR. It’s the best value on this list of the best budget battle rifles.

If you plan on lugging the rifle up and down the hills all day, I think your best option is the POF Rogue. It’s the lightest and it has a lot of great features.

For those shooters who will be putting a lot of rounds through their rifle, and need utter reliability, I think the HK MR762 and the Tavor 7 are your go to options here. However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any rifle on this list, and you should buy what appeals most to you.

If you have any comments or questions about the 7 best budget battle rifles put them below, and I’ll get you an answer. Now get out there and get shooting, and don’t forget to join the email list below.

Any links to Amazon, Brownells, Palmetto State Armory, Primary Arms, or other manufacturers are affiliate links. That means that we receive a small referral fee if you purchase from them after clicking on their link. It costs you nothing, and helps keep the lights on here. Read this for more info. None of these products were paid for recommendations. Thank you for the support. It helps keep the lights on here.

Source link: https://www.tierthreetactical.com/7-best-budget-battle-rifles-semi-auto-308-winchester/ by Jake at www.tierthreetactical.com