Throwback Thursday: 4 Alternatives to the AR-10

Black PTR-91 rifle

Depending on what you’re trying to put holes into, the venerable 5.56 isn’t always the right choice. Sometimes, you need that hard-hitting .308. While the AR-10 is a fine choice, here are four .30-caliber rifles you should try before pulling the trigger on the variant you’ve been eyeing. After all, there are a labyrinth of variations of the AR-10-style of rifle that make customizing them a real pain for the beginner.


Black PTR-91 rifle AR-10
The PTR-91 is much more affordable than its predecessor—the HK.

Ever since the SAS (Special Air Service) stormed the Iranian Embassy with the now iconic MP5—the HK series of roller-delayed rifles have been the choice of many top tier professional shooters. The ruggedly reliable G3 was produced by HK from 1958 to 1997. After HK dropped the rifle from production, PTR Industries picked production up in 2002. Thankfully, the PTR-91 is far more affordable than the HK rifles—making them a bargain. As for why you should give serious consideration to this rife, it has MP5 controls, excellent HK drum sights, an amazingly reliable action, and it throws giant .30 caliber pills down range. What isn’t to like? Couple all of that with super cheap surplus magazines (under $3) and you have the recipe for a really awesome rifle.


Black FAL rifle
Featuring an adjustable gas system, the FAL makes a wonderfully soft-shooting .308 that will work with just about any ammo, in any condition

The FAL has rightly earned the nickname of “the right arm of the free world” because it was adopted by so many NATO countries during the Cold War. The FAL has been largely forgotten by the shooting community in recent years because the parts kits have dried up, and there are no reasonably priced reproductions. Thankfully, DSA builds a bargain-priced FAL you can now seriously consider. Featuring an adjustable gas system, the FAL makes a wonderfully soft-shooting .308 that will work with just about any ammo, in any condition. Not considering one of these would be a disservice to yourself.

Springfield Armory M1A

M1A Loaded Series from Springfield Armory
M1A™ Loaded Series from Springfield Armory®

With the price of a quality AR-10 and a M1A being so very close, there is no reason not to think about the M-14’s offspring. There is just something charming and warm about the beautiful wood and metal construction of the M1A that makes me gravitate to this rifle. Maybe it has something to do with the M1A’s roots in a rifle that I am rather fond of and own several—the M1 Garand. After WWII, the military recognized the need for a magazine-fed rifle and the result is more or less what you see here, minus the fun switch of course. Now the M-14 did only serve five short years as the main line issued rifle, but it did live on in special roles. As a result, there is a whole host of parts out there that allow you to “tacti-cool” your rifle ’till you’re as operator as your heart desires.


Black FN SCAR rifle
The SCAR 17S has been reported to be the best battle rifle that money can buy these days.

The SCAR 17S has been reported to be the best battle rifle money can buy. The soft recoiling rifle has replaced the venerable M-14 in many military rolls largely because the M-14 is a bit long in the tooth after serving for 56 years. Not only is the SCAR a pleasure to shoot, but it also has almost as many accessories as the AR platform, allowing you to tailor this rifle to your exact needs. Now you might be asking, is it worth the premium over some of the other rifles? I think so. Boasting features such as a folding stock, built-in rails, adjustable cheek rest, and ambidextrous controls, it is hard not to see the value. Throw in the capability to convert calibers by buying the caliber conversion kit of your choosing, and you have a gun that really is something special.

As a result of the selection of interesting .308 semiautos being a bit on the thin side, I was forced to limit this to four options. If you have AR fatigue, like so many shooters do now, this list might help you along with the process of selecting your next .308 rifle.

If you, the reader, have any suggestions for an interesting alternative to the all too-common AR-10-style of rifles, please let us hear it in the comments.

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Comments (57)

  1. The idea of “AR Fatigue” is difficult to imagine to me, but I guess it’s ‘possible’… regardless though, if you’re looking for something other than an AR-10 variant, you’d be hard pressed to go wrong with the Springfield Armory M1A in .308 win. The only ‘caution’ I could offer is to make sure you get the “loaded” series rather than the “standard”. It’s only a small bump in price, but you get a lot of upgrades – nat’l match barrel, nat’l match trigger group, nat’l match aperture rear sights, etc. Essentially you’ll get an sub-MOA weapon out of the box. I introduced myself to the world of .308 AR’s by building one after getting hooked (as everyone has) by the AR-15. But I grew up with a Mini-14 and will never have a bad word to say about either them or the Mini-30. However the second I went into the field with a buddy and his SA M1A I was an instant convert. To this day, the M1A has to be the softest and smoothest cycling .308 I had or have ever run. And the M1 Garand lineage is the epitome of coolness if you’re into the historical side of firearms too.

    Overall it’s a beautiful rifle that handles & shoots every bit as good as it looks. At a hair under 10# with a walnut stock, it’s a touch heavier than an AR. In the synthetic stock it’s just a hair over 9#. Weight correlates to pain as they say, but the beauty & ruggedness of the walnut (to me anyway) is worth the added ounces. Dollar for dollar the M1A is about the same retail price as any quality/reliable AR-10 that anyone’s likely to find. And for those who just can’t be satisfied with ‘a stock rifle’, there are just about as many mod possibilities out there for the M1A as there are for the AR based platforms

    To be sure, if you’re looking for a semi-auto .308 & actually DO have this condition referred to as “AR fatigue” (the existence of which I remain uncertain) I cannot imagine ANYone being dissatisfied with an M1A, let alone regretting one.

  2. Another good option in 308 is the FN FNAR. Even though AR is in the name, it has no similarity. The AR comes from John Brownings infamous BAR.

  3. There’s a “New Kid In Town”, the 7.6 Creedmoor (7.62×50). That can be chambered in any .308 Win firearm…

  4. Bought my DSA SA-58 (FN-FAL) back when Clinton was president and I can second what W Murphy said. Excellent quality, great accuracy (for a battle rifle) and large supply of available magazines (that don’t cost upwards of $50 each like Springfield M1A mags), makes for a great alternative to an AR-10. Add to that my SA-58 eats everything including steel case Russian crap, as needed. …just a great all around 7.62 rifle.

  5. My comment’s in line with other comments. Why would you spend considerable amounts more than the average AR-10 costs? You can pick up a decent AR 10 starting around $850 and up depending upon the extra’s you want.

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