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2/10/2012 1:12 PM
 

My main goal at Shot this year, outside of work, was to get hands on with all of the 308 semis available and about to be available. The goal was to find a 308 autoloader that was light enough that I felt I would carry it and use it for a general purpose rifle. I personally feel that for general purpose the semi-auto has a few advantages that are very real, and for my uses I want 308 in this capacity. The rifles I looked at included:

Sig Piston 308, Colt CM901, LMT both the MWS and new LW MWS, Larue all three models (OBR, Predatar, Predatobr), FN AR, FN SCARH, Armalite (they now make a version that takes pmags), CMMG MK3, Springfield M1a Scout and Socom 16. I have previous experience with the M1a Scout and Socom as well as the DSA SA58 Carbine with short gas system.
I didn’t even bother looking at the KAC stuff. Way too expensive for my uses, I have seen them before and they are nice rifles, but I just can’t justify the price for a single rifle.
The FNAR was too heavy in my opinion and the magazines are hard to find and expensive.
For just looks, I like the Scout and Socom16. They have a nice American sporter look to them with their traditional style stock, but they are too heavy. Heavy enough that the civilian lines aren’t enough of a benefit.
The LMT MWS, LW MWS and OBR are very nice rifles. They have great balance, but again are way too heavy as they are focused at the precision end of the spectrum. If I was looking for a purely dedicated precision rifle they would probably be the finalists.  The Predatobr is also heavier than I was looking for.
The Colt and Sig offerings are nice rifles, but they didn’t have the lightweight feel that I was looking for, and numbers wise didn’t feel light either. Basically, they are nice rifles with a good feel and balance, but not as nice as the LMT and OBR. It really comes down to the Armalite carbine versions, Predatar, CMMG Mk3, and SCARH.
The Armalite makes the weight, but it just feels long for some reason.  While this is entirely subjective, and probably isn’t the reality I have found that if I don’t like the handling of a rifle it doesn’t get used. Add to that the stock, grip, and gas block that come standard and it just doesn’t make the cut.
I disliked the Predator rail just like I suspected. I don’t know why they decided to go to a ribbed hand guard given how nice the OBR’s smooth hand guard is, but they did. It is probably the highest quality of all of the rifles that made the cut, but I just didn’t like the hand guard and for the price of a Predatar I am not going to buy anything that I don’t love especially to test a concept (is it light enough that I will actually carry it?).
The SCARH was my favorite of the bunch. I like the way it feels and handles. I like the modular stock and folding feature, and I like the big solid charging handle on the side. They are bringing barrel manufacturing on shore from Belgium, and expect that to lower the price. They are also expecting to put more onto the market along with magazines now that the military contracts are full which will also lower the price, but all of that is in the future.  Until then they are expensive and the mags can be a pain in the butt to find and expensive when you do.
This brings us to the CMMG MKE.  CMMG doesn’t have the best reputation for their AR15s (not fully milspec and poor QC), but the mindset behind their 308 is the correct one from my point of view. The MK3 was designed first and only then the heavy precision versions. The guy we talked to, who I think was the owner, wanted to develop a lightweight agile rifle for hunting and tactical use. With that as the background I think he succeeded. It comes with a MOE stock and grip (both of which are my preferred stock and grip), and a slick handguard with cooling slots and places to add some rails if you need them, which again is what I prefer. The barrel stays thick after the gas-block so some additional weight could probably be cut there if you got it re-profiled. The one thing I don’t like about the rail is that the top rail is screwed on not integral like the Troy TRX.  However, I am guessing the idea behind this is that if you are using it in a hunting role and don’t care about a light or BUIS then you can just remove it. At slightly over 7.5lbs, based on weighting mine, it is the lightest of the group by a .25lb on the Predatar and .75lbs on the SCARH. Subjectively, it feels the most like a heavy AR15. Couple that with the fact that CDNN is selling them for 1229 shipped in OD and flat dark earth, I felt it was worth the chance. Basically, I look at it as a proof of concept. It is the lightest 308 on the market setup basically like I would set one up. It handles well and feels good and comes in non-black. It will allow me to have a 308 in the weight and configuration I would choose to carry and shoot. I hope for perfect reliability, but this is more a will I actually choose it over my other options test than anything else given the extra weight. Down the road I can upgrade parts for better reliability if that is needed. It does come with a two-stage trigger. I will probably replace it at some point, but again down the road. At this point I have a few extra mags, my rifle TLR3 that moves from rifle to rifle as needed, and a sling and that is it. For those that care the gas key was stacked, but the castle nut was not, which is actually a good thing as it came with a side sling mount that I will want to take off long term. I can always stake it myself. The barrel is stainless, and reportedly they MPI their bolts and carriers.
I have a Leupold 2.5-8 in a Larue SPR mount that came off my 6.8 and a knockoff M3 RDS in a cantilever mount, which I originally got for my .22 M&P. I am using both of those for testing and evaluation at this point. If I end up liking the RDS I will pull the T1 off my 45/70 or get another Aimpoint.  I have also decided to pick up an inexpensive magnifier to go behind the RDS. I have long been intrigued by the idea of a RDS for most of your use with a magnifier for the longer range stuff. I am slightly far sighted and have trouble picking stuff up at distance and shooting precisely. So the idea of being able to add a magnifier if I need those capabilities is very intriguing to me. However, as I also have a slight astigmatism. I don’t want to drop the coin on an Aimpoint and Aimpoint magnifier until I see if it works for me. Thus the knockoff versions. I know a low power variable works in this capacity, but want to try this to see if it works as there are some advantages. At this point I have test fired it to the tune of 20rds, and carried it a few mornings during hikes, but due to life’s variables haven’t gotten it sighted in yet.  Hopefully this weekend. Recoil is about like my 6.8 was more than a 5.56, but very manageable. I have been carrying it slung with a VCAS padded sling, and don’t really feel like the difference between it and my bolt gun are noticeable. One of these days I will take both and switch back and forth with Evan. So far it seems like a very manageable portable package.     
I will keep folks updated, and encourage everyone to post their reviews and thoughts on 308 semi-autos in this thread.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/10/2012 1:30 PM
 

Are there any non-military semi-auto platforms that you would consider for a practical rifle?

Up here in gun restrictive Canada, about the only thing I could employ as a military style semi-auto in .308 would be an M14/M1a platform. We can buy Norinco M-14's up here for about $400. Even the shortie 18.5 barrels. I don't consider them overly practical though.,..they are heavy. As such, it isn't at the top of my acquire list.

There are some damn nice commercial sporting semi-autos in .308. The older Remingtons are very nice guns for the most part,  relatively inexpensive and very neutral in appearance. My dad recently scored a minty original Remington (not sure of the model) in .308 that has me thinking!

 
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2/10/2012 2:05 PM
 

Frankly, if I could buy a Shorty M14 for 400 I would. I would then spend time experimenting with different optics and other components to get it as light as possible and then decide where I am at. 

None of the semi sporters that I am aware of on the market have a good reputation for either accuracy or reliability or both. I am not talking about hey I put a couple of magazines through it and it seems to be good to go, and I am not talking paper plate at 100yds either.  I probably won't feel my MK3 is reliable until after I have 500-1k rounds through it including some higher round count quick fire drills. Is that expensive yup. Neccessary, only you can judge that.

I currently have a Sig 238 that was reliable for around 400rds, but has just developed problems. I now need to see if I can figure things out. It might just be time for a new recoil spring and if that is the case fine I now know that and can factor that into my maintenance routine.  If it is something else then it might be a worse issue.  I have had several semi-auto guns over the years that seemed at first blush to have no issues, but issues showed up down the road as the rounds started piling up.  Of course no gun is going to be perfection itself, but I prefer to run a gun until I am confident in it and familiar with it.  For me that is more than 100 or so rounds for a semi. The other thing is that if you have a lot of rounds through a guns that are quality rounds not just blazing you will have lots of confidence with that gun and have a very good idea of what you can and can't do with that particular gun. I have over 1k rounds through my boltgun. I know what it will do, and what I can do with it.

The other issue is magazine capacity. One of the three things a semi has going for it is magazines with higher capacities that is quick and easy to change. I don't feel you should always use a high capacity magazine, but having that capability is a real assest. I hardly ever use a 20rder in my bolt gun. I typically use a 10rder, and that is only because the 5rders are flush fitting enough they are a pain in the ass to get in and out.  In the MK3 all I have at this point is 20rders and frankly in the limited searching I have been able to do I haven't found any lower capacity magazines yet.  I hope to find both a 5rd and 10rder.  Again none of the sporting versions have the ability to take higher capacity magazines, and all of the ones I have handeled had designs that didn't lend themselves to quick magazine changes.  The FNAR does, and they are making a couple of more civilian looking versions, but again it is heavy. 

If you decide the M14 is to heavy then your best bet, which is commerically available right now, in my opinion is the Ruger Gunsite.

Wait, can you get a HK SL7 up there?


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/10/2012 5:35 PM
 

There are some HK SL7's up here, but they are pretty rare. Lot's of SL8's.

$400 IS cheap for an M14...just not convinced that It will do all that I need it to for a practical rifle. Cheap makes it attractive, but the fact that it is limited to 5 rounds in the magazine makes it sort of redundant.

The Ruger GS Scout is attractive in the bolt gun category. No limit on mag capacity for it which helps move it to the top of the list.

 

 
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2/10/2012 5:46 PM
 

Man oh man.... I had an SL7 once when I was younger and foolishly let it get away. That thing may have been the perfect all around rifle!

I'd take 10 rounders in a bolt gun over 5 rounders in a semi-auto every day of the week.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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2/10/2012 9:36 PM
 

evanhill wrote
 

I'd take 10 rounders in a bolt gun over 5 rounders in a semi-auto every day of the week.

yup


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/13/2012 12:59 PM
 

I finally got to the range this morning. Weather was overcast with a dusting of snow and about 28 degrees. Winds where calm. At the conclusion of the morning the rifle has about 140rds through it. With South African Milsurp and Federal Power Shok I was getting 1 moa at 100yds off the bench. Turns out the mount that comes on the knockoff RDS is not up to 308 so for the time being I am just going to put it back  on my .22 with the magnifier behind it for testing. It will get more rounds through it that way anyway.  The last magazine was shot using a magazine monopod and at around round 15 I had a stove pipe. A couple of factors there. First that was the first and only magazine that I have done using a magazine monopod. Second I started experimenting with a heavier lube, ewl30, last summer and by the time I got up to around 135 rds throught the rifle with most of it being surplus the action was looking a bit gummy. The lube was still on there and slick, but thicker than I would like.  So at this point the plan is to give it a good cleaning and relube it with a bit lighter lube for the next range trip and also try more shooting off the magazine to see if I can reproduce the stovepipe and identify the cause. 

So 1moa sandbagged at 100yds, and 1 stovepipe at ~125 rds without cleaning with a total of ~140rds downrange

On a side note when I ordered the ewl30 I ordered two bottles, one for my range bag and one for my cleaning kit, and the lube in one of the bottles is noticeablly thicker than the other. Next time I am around someone with regular ewl I am going to compare, but I think one bottle is mislabled, and guess which weight was on the rifle.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/13/2012 1:27 PM
 

Mabye I missed it, but what RD sight are you using on this? I have a Vortex SPARC coming for the 6.8.

 
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2/13/2012 1:36 PM
 

Since the RDS mount wouldn't hold during recoil, I am not using an RDS on it. It is a Walther labeled, but I am not sure who makes it.  The RDS itself was holding zero and works well  it was just the mount that was having issues, and I don't want to spend the cash for another mount.  So it will be on the .22 where recoil is not an issue.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/15/2012 12:34 PM
 

I did a little reasearch on the CMMG 308 and it does look very interesting. Still a little heavy for me but a step in the right direction. Give it more time and I am sure they will only get lighter. You bringing this beast along to the rondy?

 
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2/15/2012 4:55 PM
 

I have  long wondered what that point is. One guy has claimed to get 308s around 7lbs, but those where prototypes and not available for sale. The grail in my opinion is a modernized SL7 - synthetic stock, ergonomic safety, picatinny optic rail, rail on the forestock for a light, and side and bottom sling swivel cups. I think that in around 7lbs or maybe a bit less is doable.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/15/2012 5:56 PM
 

At 7 pounds on an AR type platform I would have to pick one up and give it a go. Less is always better of coarse but 7 pounds would be about right. I don't really see why I need one though. Those SL7's are sure ugly.

 
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2/18/2012 11:13 AM
 

In the civilian semi-auto .308 market, in addition to the SL7, have a look at the Valmet Hunter M-88. I had one in .308 a few years ago....and yes I regret not owning it now. I believe they made 5, 9 and 20 round magazines for them. I personally owned a 5 and 20 round magazine. They are very well built guns. It pretty much is an AK action on a civilian platform. From what I understand, they are over and above anything that Saiga puts out. I can't say for certain though as I haven't handled a Saiga yet.

They are a bit on the heavy side if I recall. I also had a replacement dust cover that had a scope mount on it. It really was a decent gun....my hang up at the time was cash. I needed cash, and the gun was just to new looking to bang it up in the field, so it was sacrificed.

They are pretty pricey up here in Canada. In the US they run about half the price of what we pay for one here. Magazines can be expensive. You can use magazines from the Valmet 78 I believe as well. So they might be a tad cheaper that the actual M88 magazines.

If I ever come across one again that is a good deal I will looking to grab it.

In the interim, I got my hands on an old Post 64 Winchester model 100 the other day that I plan to give a good work out.

 
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2/18/2012 9:20 PM
 

How did it shoot? I have looked at the Saigas more than once, but based on what I can find you can only expect about 4 moa and that just doesn't cut it for me. I will be interested to hear about your winchester.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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2/25/2012 9:53 AM
 

Sorry for the delay! I've been travelling alot as of late. The Valmet shot fine. I only ever tried South African surplus ball out of it. With that I was able to get 1.5" groups no problem at 100 yards. I suspect that it would have shot better with good commercial ammunition or the right handloads. Once I have had a chance to work with the Winchester model 100, I will post some results here.

 
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2/25/2012 12:55 PM
 

7 lbs shouln't be that hard to reach in an AR patterned rifle.  A quick look at Bushmasters website shows the 16" MOE .308 version is 7.75lbs without magazine and it has a heavy barrel.  A reprofiled barrel would certainly help with weight savings. 

 
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2/27/2012 1:32 PM
 

floorguy wrote
 

7 lbs shouln't be that hard to reach in an AR patterned rifle.  A quick look at Bushmasters website shows the 16" MOE .308 version is 7.75lbs without magazine and it has a heavy barrel.  A reprofiled barrel would certainly help with weight savings. 

It truly depends on how heavy the barrel is. My MK3 has a full diameter barrel past the gas block, but under the handguards it is a lw profile. On a .223 I could save around 6ozs potentially, with the bigger diameter bore I am thinking the weight savings would be less as there is already less material there.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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4/18/2012 11:02 PM
 

Well....I tried the shorty M14 route with a USGI glass stock. I really liked the rifle, but it is NOT going to work as general purpose semi-auto for me.

As much as I like the M14, it truly is too big and bulky to pack around for my purposes. I pulled out my current primary hunting rifle; a bolt action Husqvarna 7x64 Brenneke and took turns between it and the M14 slinging it and carrying it in different modes. While not exhaustive testing, it didn't need to be to show the value of the more sleek and lighter bolt gun. I am going to pick up the bolt gun long before I carry an M14 anywhere for any length of time.

I haven't given up in the idea of a general purpose semi-auto in .308, but the M14 didn't fill the niche for me. Back to the gunshows!

 
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4/19/2012 9:38 AM
 

I have about made the same decision with my 308 AR. Carrying it slung is not an issue for me. Yeah it is heavier but not enough to be a deterent.  However, it is just enough heavier when it comes to the using portion that I don't care for it.  I am not ready to get rid of it, but at tis point in my mind it is more in the precision AR category then a GP gun.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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6/13/2012 12:20 AM
 

FAL.

 
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