Should we Reconsider the 308 Battle Rifle?
Kevin Felts 09.29.19
How many of the readers have either added a 308 battle rifle (PTR-91, FN/FAL, M1A) to their arsenal, or are planning on adding one? For more than a decade I was a proponent of having at least one, if not several 308 battle rifles. However, after deep consideration I have grown to doubt that philosophy.
What are some of the benefits of a 308 semi-automatic rifle? One of the main selling points is that the 308 Winchester can harvest larger game than the 223 / 5.56mm and 7.62×39. Another selling point is a balance between modern hunting and military-grade firearms. Modern military rifles opt for a smaller cartridge than the 308 and 30-06.
Why would we want to reconsider having at least one, if not several 308 battle riffles?
Price is a factor for most readers. There are a few who can throw thousands of dollars around at a whelm, but most of us live on a budget. Rather than breaking down prices for the PTR, FN/FAL and M1A, let’s say the average rifle costs around $1,100.
A Marlin 336 will typically set the reader back around $400. That means we can buy two Marlin 336 30-30 lever action rifles for around $850 (tax included), then dump $250 into ammunition.
Let’s mix things up a little bit… a S&W M&P 15 costs around $600 (tax included). Let’s throw a $400 lever action into the mix, and that leaves us with around $100 for accessories and ammo.
If we wanted to go really cheap, how many used guns could we get for $1,100? We could probably walk into any Pawn Shop and walk out with half a dozen guns for less than $1,100.
With all of that in mind, does it make sense to invest so much money in a single firearm?
Heavy and Bulky
The M1A, FN/FAL and PTR-91 date to an era before “space-age polymers” and aluminum became widespread. In short, these are steel-framed rifles made for the battlefield.
For example, my personal FN/FAL with scope and five rounds of 308 Winchester weighs in at 11.4 pounds. The rifle was weighed for this article.
Remington model 700 chambered in 280 Remington 7mm express (with a heavier aftermarket stock) weighs 8.4 pounds.
Marlin 336 (no optic) weighs seven pounds.
Overall height of a FN/FAL with optic is 9 3/4 inches.
Overall height of a Marlin 336 without optic is around 6 inches.
Some people may say we are comparing apples to oranges, and that is fine. However, if we are going to invest thousand of dollars into firearms, shouldn’t we consider our options?
Then again, with all of that said, while planning for an upcoming hunting trip I cannot decide between my 308 battle rifle, Remington bolt action, and Marlin lever action. If we were post-collapse the choice would be easy — it would be the FN/FAL.