Cheapest Reliable 7.62x51 EBR? + Some questions...


August 12, 2007, 06:03 AM
So, anyone know what the cheapest reliable 7.62x51/308 mag fed semi auto is?

I'm looking into getting a rifle in 7.62x51 (one that can fire .308 safely would be nice, but not necessary). However, the main entry's into this category, the FN FAL and the M1A are a bit expensive. Anyone know anything cheaper?

I was thinking maybe an AR-10 might be cheaper, but I'd prefer to build it from a parts kit. Can you get stripped AR-10 lowers? I know you can get AR-15 lowers, but I haven't seen any AR-10 lowers/parts kits.

Also, are there any other options?

Accuracy would be nice, but not essential. I was thinking of buying a Savage 10 or 11 in .308 with some good glass for longer distance, rather than trying to get one rifle to do everything.

Anyway, this is just some basic research. I won't be buying anything for several months yet, as I need to save up.

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August 12, 2007, 06:08 AM
For a MBR in 7.62x51,I've got a Cetme as well as a converted
Saiga 308. Love the cheap price of G-3 mags to feed the Cetme,
but have to say the Saiga is a better shooting weapon.
They can be had now for the $360-$380 area,and are in stock
at most places. Some say the 16" is a fine shooter,but I like
my 22" one.
Good luck on your choices.


August 12, 2007, 06:16 AM
Saiga; accurate , cheap, reliable, eats everything. what more could you ask for?

August 12, 2007, 06:17 AM
Oh yeah, I have two.

Father Knows Best
August 12, 2007, 09:29 AM
Saiga. Hands down the best option if "cheap" is high on your list of priorities. If you want more of an EBR look, you can always have one converted to a traditional AK configuration. A converted Saiga will run you $650-700, which is still a lot less than a decent FAL or M1A.

August 12, 2007, 09:42 AM
I don't see how you can beat the Saiga in the cost category, and they seem to have a good reputation. Even the 'sniper' version is under $600 with scope.

Frightener 88
August 12, 2007, 09:50 AM
do the saigas damamge brass? or are they left in pretty good shape so you can reload?

August 12, 2007, 09:53 AM
Adding another vote for the Saiga 308. I've had an HK-91, FAL, and now the Saiga. It does everything I need it to do.

Since Guntech tossed in a pic, here is another pic of a "Sniper" version. :)

-- John

August 12, 2007, 10:04 AM

looks like a valdada optic, is it a BDC for 147gr 7.62x51?

also, how does it print @ 300?

am interested in these, considering purchase.


August 12, 2007, 10:08 AM
Well,if you guys are doing pic's!!!
Saiga before the conversion:

Saiga after less then 2 hours work:

She no longer looks like the last pic. She is now set up in a Romie lam. RPK
stock set. Still working on the bipod for her.


August 12, 2007, 10:09 AM
How expensive are Saiga mags? I am thinking of upgrading from an SKS to a Saiga, since I will never be able to afford an FAL.

August 12, 2007, 10:11 AM

looks like a valdadda optic? is it BDC'd for 7.62x51 ball? will the combloc mount go back {close} to zero if removed? how does it print @ 300?

am considering a purchase of one.

thanx in advance,

August 12, 2007, 10:15 AM
How expensive are Saiga mags? I am thinking of upgrading from an SKS to a Saiga, since I will never be able to afford an FAL.

You can find Saiga 8 rd mags for 30-35 each. They are made into 10rd
mags in 3 min. FBMG 20 rd mags cost a tad more.


August 12, 2007, 10:21 AM

looks like a valdada optic, is it a BDC for 147gr 7.62x51?

also, how does it print @ 300?

am interested in these, considering purchase.



It is the valdada optic that has BDC for 147 gr. 7.62x51. It does, indeed go back to zero after removal.

While I haven't shot too much at 300+ yards (our land is very wooded and long ranges are difficult to find on it.) I've done a little just to see.

In 3 shot groups, my worst 300 yard group was 5 inches diameter. My best was just over 2.0 inches.

Just for comparision, I can expect 1-1.5 inch groups at 100 yards.

I've been very busy with work and with a home restoration project for the last 6 months, so shooting has been VERY light. In a couple weeks, my father and I will be clearing our deer plots for planting. One of these plots has the capability to shoot a 500 yard shot. When we have it clear, I am planning to field test at 100, 300, 400, and 500 yards. I'll post pictures of targets when I get the chance to get out there.

How expensive are Saiga mags?

$45 dollars for 20 rounders from FBMG. Not terribly cheap, but not out of line for a quality M1A magazine or for AR-10 magazines.

-- John

August 12, 2007, 01:55 PM
New, I've seen .308 Saigas for $325.

August 12, 2007, 06:29 PM
do the saigas damage brass? or are they left in pretty good shape so you can reload?

I recall hearing that the Saiga dents brass pretty good (a trait that seems to be common to most if not all AK variants- they are made to extract/eject the brass reliably)

August 12, 2007, 06:41 PM
My brass gets a small dent, but nothing that could not be reloaded. It is NOWHERE near what the HK-91 I used to have would do to brass. However, the HK was more considerate by hiding evidence of its brass destruction by throwing it about 50 feet to my front-right so that it would never be seen again.

-- John

General Geoff
August 12, 2007, 07:04 PM
I agree, Saiga .308 is what you're aiming for.

August 12, 2007, 07:18 PM
I agree with the preivous posters in recommending the Saiga-308. It is the cheapest reliable semi-auto .308 rifle currently on the market.

Price wise it comes in at about one-third to everything else that is currently available on the market.

If you want to build your own, you can obtain FAL/G3/AR10 type recievers.
But, you'll end up spending 2-3 times more than what you would have spent getting a Saiga-308 & accessories.

August 12, 2007, 07:19 PM
Thanks guys. I had no idea that the Saiga .308 even existed. I'll definitely look into that. I was a little iffy on it until I saw that 20 round magazines could be had, though.

General Geoff
August 12, 2007, 07:31 PM
They can be had, yes, but they ain't cheap.

August 12, 2007, 09:30 PM
Something to consider

Saiga rifle: 375
10 mags:450
conversion: 300
Total: 1125

DSA STG58: 900
10 mags: 70
Total: 970

These a re rough numbers but I would rather spend my money on the gun and not the mags. If you don’t do the conversion on the saiga it would be less expensive but then it also really wouldn’t be in the same category as the FAL (cool factor).

August 12, 2007, 09:38 PM
What's does the conversion do? If it doesn't really increase the accuracy or reliability of the gun, then I probably won't do it.

The Deer Hunter
August 12, 2007, 09:46 PM
It puts a pistol grip on it.

August 12, 2007, 11:35 PM
It puts a pistol grip on it.

Not to mention it changes the trigger pull substantially on the .308. The unconverted trigger on the .308 is more of an up and back pull than straight back. I really didn't care for it on my 16".

Also, replacing the trigger group with US made parts helps you toward 922(r) compliance. You might consider doing a search on 922(r) if you want to use 20rd mags. There's more than one train of thought concerning legalities and it would probably be best if you knew what you were getting into beforehand.


August 12, 2007, 11:45 PM does that mean that the Saiga 308 only has 10 compliance parts, and in order to use a 20 round mag I'd have to replace something else with a compliance part?

Edit: Never mind. Just did some research at the Saiga forums. Looks like I would have to buy compliance parts if I wished to use 20 round magazine.....

Well, that makes it really not worth it. way too much of a hassle right now, and it brings the cost up to the point where a standard grade Springfield M1A isn't looking too bad.

August 13, 2007, 01:39 AM
Saiga; accurate , cheap, reliable, eats everything. what more could you ask for?

As noted cheap say in the $1-$5 range (like the G3 mags). :rolleyes:

FYI, Saiga conversion can EASILY be done in the $150 rang or less.

August 13, 2007, 01:50 AM
Where are you finding Saiga 308 mags for $5? The cheapest I could find for the .308 mags is $35, and that's for an eight round magazine, rather than a twenty rounder.

General Geoff
August 13, 2007, 02:06 AM
He said that in response to "what more could you ask for?"

What is all this crap about 922(r) anyway?

August 13, 2007, 02:14 AM
Anyone recall seeing saiga's converted to use the HK mags?

I paid like $300 for my cetme a couple of years ago, mags are still about 2 bucks each. (i like lots o' mags)

August 13, 2007, 02:26 AM
Geoff.....if you put a 20 round mag on a Saiga, it apparently become a device that is "no longer suitable for sporting purposes" under 922(r), and hence getting compliance parts is apparently a good idea in order to CYA.

At least, that's what I picked up on the Saiga forums. They had several threads over there discussing the necessity of doing so.

August 13, 2007, 02:41 AM
CETME, for $400ish
Mags for $1.20.

General Geoff
August 13, 2007, 04:09 AM
Geoff.....if you put a 20 round mag on a Saiga, it apparently become a device that is "no longer suitable for sporting purposes" under 922(r), and hence getting compliance parts is apparently a good idea in order to CYA.

What do they define as "sporting purposes"? Does it specify a magazine capacity? From what I understand, Saiga does not make a 20 round magazine for the .308 version, and as such any "sporting purposes" clause that is subject to arbitrary interpretation cannot be violated by adding a 20rd mag that's not been summarily judged by those who call the shots..

August 13, 2007, 04:28 AM
Geof....from the ATF website:


As in the 1989 study, we had to determine the scope of "sporting purposes" as used in section 925(d)(3). Looking to the statute, its legislative history, the work of the Firearms Evaluation Panel (see exhibit 6), and prior ATF interpretations, we determined sporting purposes should be given a narrow reading, incorporating only the traditional sports of hunting and organized competitive target shooting (rather than a broader interpretation
that could include virtually any lawful activity or competition.)

In terms of the statute itself, the structure of the importation provisions suggests a somewhat narrow interpretation. Firearms are prohibited from importation (section 922(l)), with four specific exceptions (section 925(d)). A broad interpretation permitting a firearm to be imported because someone may wish to use it in some lawful shooting activity would render the general prohibition of section 922(l) meaningless.

Similarly, as discussed in the "Background" section, the legislative history of the GCA indicates that the term sporting purposes narrowly refers to the traditional sports of hunting and organized competitive target shooting. There is nothing in the history to indicate that it was intended to recognize every conceivable type of activity or competition that might employ a firearm.

In addition, the FEP specifically addressed the informal shooting activity of "plinking" (shooting at randomly selected targets such as bottles and cans) and determined that it was not a legitimate sporting purpose under the statute. The panel found that, "while many persons participate in this type of activity and much ammunition was expended in such endeavors, it was primarily a pastime and could not be considered a sport for the purposes
of importation. . . ." (See exhibit 6.)

Finally, the 1989 report determined that the term sporting purposes should be given a narrow reading incorporating the traditional rifle sports of hunting and organized competitive target shooting. In addition, the report determined that the statute's reference to sporting purposes was intended to stand in contrast with military and law enforcement applications. This is consistent with ATF’s interpretation in the context of the Striker-12
shotgun and the USAS-12 shotgun. It is also supported by the court’s decision in Gilbert Equipment Co. v. Higgins.

We received some comments urging us to find "practical shooting" is a sport for the purposes of section 925(d)(3).48 Further, we received information showing that practical shooting is gaining in popularity in the United States and is governed by an organization that has sponsored national events since 1989. It also has an international organization.

While some may consider practical shooting a sport, by its very nature it is closer to police/combat-style competition and is not comparable to the more traditional types of sports, such as hunting and organized competitive target shooting. Therefore, we are not convinced that practical shooting does, in fact, constitute a sporting purpose under section 925(d)(3).49 However, even if we were to assume for the sake of argument that practical shooting is a sport for the purposes of the statute, we still would have to decide whether a
firearm that could be used in practical shooting meets the sporting purposes test. In other words, it still would need to be determined whether the firearm is of a type that is generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to practical shooting and other sporting purposes.50 Moreover, the legislative history makes clear that the use of a military weapon in a practical shooting competition would not make that weapon sporting: “if a military weapon is used in a special sporting event, it does not become a sporting weapon. It is a military weapon used in a special sporting event.”51 While none of the LCMM rifles are military weapons, they still retain the military feature of the ability to accept a large capacity military magazine.

In other words, if you change it from its original sporting configuration, you have created something that is illegal to construct or import without the required US compliance parts. And according to the ATF, having high cap mags is enough to change its sporting purpose.

The thread I got that from, here ( was started by someone who argued that it wasn't so, but the general consensus seemed to be that it was so, and hence compliance parts were a good idea to CYA if you use high cap mags. At least, that's what I gathered from that thread.

August 13, 2007, 07:34 AM
922(r) is not unique to Saigas. You play that game with AKs and other imported rifles as well.

I think what throws a monkey-wrench in the Saiga situation is that you are working with a foreign receiver. Usually the receiver is also one of your US parts on things like Vectors and Arsenals.

922(r) isn't all that big of a deal once you get used to it and how to play the game.

It irratates me that there is some wood furnature on a foreign site that I wanted to put on one of my AKs that I can't, however.

I will echo that if you are cost-concerned, the Saiga conversion is fairly easy to do by your self. The 308 is considered the easiest Saiga conversion because you don't have to worry about putting in a feed ramp. Because I still didn't really have a lot of confidence in my ability, and because I wanted to get a rifle to finish hunting season when I was robbed, I went ahead and got a pre-converted one for $599. The conversion was excellent and the fit, finish, and fuction was perfect.

-- John

August 13, 2007, 01:29 PM

Glad you were able to find it. I knew that if I tried to explain it you'd just end up confused (which, now that I think of it, might be an indicator that I'd explained it to you correctly). Thankfully, you went to the Saiga forum, which I should have recommended if I'd had my head on straight. It's a heck of a resource!


Father Knows Best
August 13, 2007, 03:43 PM
CETME, for $400ish
Mags for $1.20.
Good idea. I had forgotten about the CETME. I've never owned one, but I have a PTR-91, which is very similar. The PTR-91 is pricey ($900-1500), as is the HK-91 it is based on ($2500+). You can find good used CETME's for $400-500, though, and they are solid, reliable firearms. As MisterPX notes, magazines are dirt cheap -- the cheapest you'll find.

August 13, 2007, 04:57 PM
$2.00 Brass fix

Seriously, works well too.

August 13, 2007, 05:10 PM
Seriously...?!? Brass is good enough to reload from with this? Sure allot cheaper than the Valmet buffer/deflectors ($50-$60 each) I can't believe no aftermarket manufacture has reproduced this part yet.

August 13, 2007, 07:18 PM
Yes it works, no deep dent, just a scuff mark or a very shallow mark, depending on how many rounds you smack against the edge guard. We put close to 250 rounds through it and the guard is still intact.

My camera will not work in Macro mode to get a picture of it though.

I've suggested it a few times at the Saiga forum, people bought the $45 Valmet buffer instead.

I cannot reload the brass I shot however, it is old Lake City 5.56 reloads from HSM, (probably reloaded a few times and I'm not sure how it was stored, hot cold weather cycling??) the case necks or shoulder split.

The splitting though is not related to the Saiga, the cases did the same thing in a LMT M4 and in a Mini-14...

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