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Old April 19, 2013, 11:17 AM   #1
dalegribble
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308 semi auto vs bolt rifle

i see there are semi auto AND bolt rifle sections above but i'm not sure this fits in either so i will put this here and hope it is ok.

i am in the market for a new 308 rifle. i am looking for good long range accuracy. my question, is one format better suited to long range accuracy than the other? it used to be a no brainer that the bolt rifle would be the most accurate but not so much anymore. for example i have wanted a bolt rifle in 223/556 and yet my colt ar-15 shoots sub (very sub) moa and is (i feel) much more versatile.

i would like a sniper grade 308, something like the savage tacticle rifle. i am now seeing semi auto ar-10 type rifles like those from dpms that are supposed to shoot very well which makes my choice seem much harder.

given the 2 types and brands of rifles mentioned or others in their price range is there a REAL difference in accuracy between the 2 typed of guns ?
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Old April 19, 2013, 12:12 PM   #2
Skans
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A good Bolt-action rifle is still superior to semi-autos rifles for accuracy. If all I wanted was precision, long range accuracy, I wouldn't even consider a semi-auto.
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Old April 19, 2013, 12:42 PM   #3
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I wouldn't even consider a semi-auto.
I don't think I would go that far. The best I have done with my 700P was a 5 shot group the size of a quarter. I did that at 100 yards. I thought that was pretty good until I saw a 5 shot group shot at 300 yards with an LR308 that was the same size and witnessed by Illinois State Police. I wish I could find the site so you could see the photo. Unreal.
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Old April 19, 2013, 01:25 PM   #4
trg42wraglefragle
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Like usual what is the intended use?
If all you want is super accuracy get a bolt action as it'll be more accurate and cheaper for an accurate gun. Your going to be using expensive or reloaded ammo if you want super accuracy so you probably won't be throwing lead down range as quickly as possible.

If you want to do a bit of plinking or fast reaction shooting semi may be the ticket for you.
But id suggest that is what you have an AR15 for so I reckon a bolt will be your best bet.
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Old April 19, 2013, 03:45 PM   #5
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Bolt action rifles tend to be more accurate than semiautos. Fired cases from them can be reloaded dozens of times. These are better for longer barrels when heavier bullets are desired for longer ranges.

But a properly rebuilt AR10 semiauto will be 90% as accurate as the most accurate bolt action. But fired cases from them can only be reloaded 2 or 3 times; maybe 4 times if done exactly right.
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Old April 19, 2013, 04:41 PM   #6
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Assuming you shop smartly and know what you are buying...

A $500 bolt rifle can be pretty accurate. 1 MOA out of the box is quite do-able. A $500 semi-auto 308 does not exist.

A $1000 bolt rifle can be even more accurate, but you have to make sure you are buying accuracy/trigger and not a nicer stock or a more fashionable label. A $1000 semi-auto might exist (I am not aware of any), but it won't be be competitive with the similarly priced bolt.

At about $1600 you start to see good, accurate semi-autos like the M1A, AR-10 platforms, FN-FNAR. These are usually 1 MOA, more or less. But for similar money, you could get much more accuracy out of a bolt gun.

At the higher priced levels ($3k and up), with lots of customization, I don't really know what is possible... not my area of expertise.
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Old April 19, 2013, 04:44 PM   #7
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I've owned two accurate .308 rifles. A CZ 550 Varmit with a laminated stock and heavy barrel and a 24 " DPMS. I spent a lot of time reloading for each and at 300 yds, the range limit I had to work with, both could shoot within 2 inches. There was hardly any difference between them. I've seen Hart barreled Remington that cold shoot better but this is my experience.
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Old April 19, 2013, 05:03 PM   #8
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A semi can be amazingly accurate, but you can get the same or better from a bolt rifle for a fraction of the money. Semi's also need ammo loaded within a very narrow pressure range to function as well as needing perfectly loaded ammo. A bolt rifle will safely handle loads that would break a semi or not function in them. You also have the option of bullet seating options with a bolt rifle that would simply not be an option with a semi. They tend to be considerably lighter, or allow a heavier barrel at the same weight as a lighter barreled semi.
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Old April 19, 2013, 05:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
for example i have wanted a bolt rifle in 223/556 and yet my colt ar-15 shoots sub (very sub) moa and is (i feel) much more versatile.
Is the same or a similar level of versatility desired with the .308?
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Old April 19, 2013, 05:50 PM   #10
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I've shot military tuned M14 type rifles that were as good as most shooters could hold with issue sights or the medium powered optics attached. I presently have several bolt actions that shoot as well as those M14's but cost much less. That's the secret. Both can be made accurate but the bolt rifles usually involve much less cost to make it happen.
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Old April 19, 2013, 07:11 PM   #11
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Mobuck, the USN 7.62 converted M1's as well as the US Marine and Army M14NM's would shoot commercial match ammo or good handloads better than people could hold them. People, the best of them shooting slung up in prone, hold in an area about 3/4 to 1 MOA with any type of sights. Those rifles would shoot that ammo under 2/3 MOA at 600 yards; some near 1/3 MOA at 300 yards. So does the US Army's AR10's in .308 Win they use in competition.

Do you understand what I've said?
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Old April 19, 2013, 08:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
US Marine and Army M14NM's would shoot commercial match ammo or good handloads better than people could hold them.
I consider this an important point. Shooting is a skill, you have to practice it a long time before you get good. You can buy equipment but you cannot buy accuracy.
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Old April 19, 2013, 09:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
A $500 semi-auto 308 does not exist.
How much are saiga 308's going for these days???
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Old April 20, 2013, 08:31 AM   #14
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I gotta disagree with some of the ole wives tales above.
The AR bolt design with its multiple concentric locking lugs is every bit the equal or superior to a two lug bolt action design. The AR design barrel is easily free floated & many if not most are free floated.
No epoxy bedding or pillar bedding is needed or used with the AR design.
Superb triggers are readily available from multiple vendors, Geissele is a fine example.
Barrel changing or purchasing for top grade is easy and can be done with simple hand tools - no gunsmith needed, no chamber reaming, fitting needed, they come from the maker ready to go to your spec.
The accuracy from an AR design is excellent. I have three, all are sub moa, two are sub 1/2moa.
There must be a reason that the AR is essentially the only rifle on the line at high power matches.
Finally, adaptability. If you don't like your AR the way you built it or bought it, you can easily change virtually every part of it to conform to your new desire. Try that with your bolt gun.

Roger
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Old April 20, 2013, 09:08 AM   #15
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I was at the range yesterday and a friend of mine showed up with a heavy barrel DPMS LR308. I have one also but mine does not have the heavy barrel.

The range gunsmith built his trigger and while I have a pretty good trigger in mine (Timney), the one he had in his gun was the best I have ever seen.

He was shooting 168 gr. handloads and powder was 4895. I don't remember how much. He was getting it sighted in at 50 yards and had a 4 or 6 power Weaver scope on the gun.

He spotted a fairly small black rock at the 100 yard berm and asked me to spot for him. One shot and blew it to smithereens.

He asked me if I wanted to try the rifle and I did.

Seven shots into one ragged hole is not proof of performance at 100 yards but I was pleased with the gun. I could have done better if I had dry fired the gun first. The trigger really goosed me when it broke. . .

I shoot milsurp in mine and I have an EoTech red dot sight on it and it is no problem to ring the 300 yard gong.

We can't put paper targets up beyond 200 yards where I shoot unless you are on the high power range, so I am limited that way.

There is no question though, the LR308 shoots pretty darn good.
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Old April 20, 2013, 09:15 AM   #16
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When you combine the thoughts of accuracy per dollar, bolt actions still win. Think about it like this, you will see many more ACTUAL snipers use a bolt action. I see them using it for a couple reasons: 1. simplicity, 2. reliability (kinda goes with no.1), 3. weight. You can build a light accurate bolt action fairly easy nowadays. It's much harder to take the weight away from a semi and it still be reliable.
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Old April 20, 2013, 12:46 PM   #17
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A good Bolt-action rifle is still superior to semi-autos rifles for accuracy. If all I wanted was precision, long range accuracy, I wouldn't even consider a semi-auto.
As already stated - not true. The real difference is that you'll be in the $3K range for an AR style .308 that will do >.5 MOA at 100 yards. You can probably get that out of a $1500 bolt gun with a little work on it.

There are a couple of other things with an auto versus bolt gun. If you reload, you'll have to full length resize the cases to get them to feed properly in an auto. With a bolt gun, if you're very careful on overall cartridge length (case stretch at the neck), you can neck resize only for 3-4 uses. By doing that, you're using fire-formed cases and you're accuracy will improve very slightly because the case is fitted to the chamber.

Lastly is weight - if that is a concern. I have an AR 308 with a 20-inch barrel, and with the scope on it, it's about 14 lbs. A bolt gun, with a medium weight barrel, should be in the 11 lb range with a scope.

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Old April 20, 2013, 01:01 PM   #18
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Long range shooting isn't usually a speed event.
So, what would the reason for needing a semi auto?
Unless it's for more of a general use, with other possibilities, my choice would be clearly for bolt action.
And with practice, they can be quite speedy.
Not all that much slower in .308, considering recoil recovery time.
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Old April 20, 2013, 01:17 PM   #19
buckhorn_cortez
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Quote:
Long range shooting isn't usually a speed event.
So, what would the reason for needing a semi auto?
Precision tactical rifle is a timed event. The 20 round magazine can help depending on the stage length. Don't assume every use is F-class style shooting.

Quote:
Not all that much slower in .308, considering recoil recovery time.
I use a Les Baer Monolith with the Enforcer muzzle brake. The recoil is less than a .243 with virtually no muzzle rise.
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Old April 20, 2013, 02:04 PM   #20
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dalegribble

I have a POF308 with a 20" barrel which is generally considered one of the best AR-10 out there. It is a great rifle for multiple targets (pigs). It cost me $2,600 a few years back.

Having said that, I will say that my Savage 10, also a 308 is much more accurate. At a 100 yards the difference is only about 1/2" tighter groups but at 300 yards an beyond the Savage with a 24" barrel can still 2-3" groups and the POF spreads to 6-8". I consider myself an average shooter, so other could probably do much better. The kicker is that the Savage only cost $830.

Unless you got some dollars to indulge yourself the economics speak for themselves.
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Old April 20, 2013, 03:56 PM   #21
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Quote:
I gotta disagree with some of the ole wives tales above.
The AR bolt design with its multiple concentric locking lugs is every bit the equal or superior to a two lug bolt action design. The AR design barrel is easily free floated & many if not most are free floated.
No epoxy bedding or pillar bedding is needed or used with the AR design.
Superb triggers are readily available from multiple vendors,
Quote:
an AR style .308 that will do >.5 MOA at 100 yards. You can probably get that out of a $1500 bolt gun with a little work on it.
My AR's shoot as well as my best bolt rifles, but there are other considerations. A budget AR is in the $700 range, There are $300 out of the box bolt rifles that will shoot .5 MOA as well as $1500-$2500 AR's.

Don't get me wrong. Not saying Semi's cannot be very accurate. I own, like and use AR's quite a bit. I'm often amazed at the accuracy potential. Just that it is still cheaper and easier to get there with a bolt gun. And the fact that a bolt gun will function with ammo that would not cycle through a semi is a consideration for me as a handloader. Both have their place.
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Old April 20, 2013, 08:59 PM   #22
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There's a few myths floating around in this thread. Especially this one.....
Quote:
With a bolt gun, if you're very careful on overall cartridge length (case stretch at the neck), you can neck resize only for 3-4 uses. By doing that, you're using fire-formed cases and you're accuracy will improve very slightly because the case is fitted to the chamber.
And this one's almost a myth. . . .
Quote:
There must be a reason that the AR is essentially the only rifle on the line at high power matches.
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Old April 20, 2013, 09:58 PM   #23
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Bart B.
I guess you're saying you had better equipment to work with than I did. My comments were intended to make the point that semiauto rifles CAN be very accurate but making them perform at that level is expensive.
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Old April 21, 2013, 12:27 AM   #24
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thanks for all the info. i guess the reason for my post was to see if i could get one gun to suit my needs. it looks like i will be forced ;; to by both guns lol. i like that heavy barrel savage bolt and i believe i will also pick up one of the 308's by dpms as well as i can afford them.
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Old April 21, 2013, 06:22 AM   #25
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I bet if you start with the DPMS you might decide you can wait on the Savage. You will need to replace the trigger though. I went with Jewel.
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