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Letter Re Advice on Valmet .308 Rifles and Magazines

Dear Jim:
I need your advice. Years ago, when it appeared likely that some type of an ‘assault weapon’ ban would be enacted, I began to look for a semi-automatic rifle which would be suitable for hunting, but which would also possess the absolute reliability and durability of a military weapon. I wanted something which wouldn’t look too ‘threatening’ to people who were not comfortable around military-style firearms, and something a bit more powerful, with greater penetrating ability and longer range than typical .223 based weapons.

I settled on a little-known rifle, the .308 Hunter made by Valmet Company of Finland. It boasted one of the best AK mechanisms ever made, fired the most satisfactory 7.62 NATO or .308 Winchester cartridge, and cleverly concealed it’s ‘mean looking’ gas tube and mechanism under conventional-looking wooden stocks.

My Valmet Hunter came with three magazines, one each of: 5, 9 and 20 rounds capacity. I did not attempt to add any extra magazines at that time. Sadly, our family’s home back then, was located in the populous Baltimore-Washington corridor, and opportunities to ‘exercise’ my Valmet were infrequent.

Now I live in a small south-central Pennsylvania town, and my wife and I are working feverishly to improve our family preparedness situation. Regrettably, during the intervening years, a ‘friend’ managed to lose the 20-round magazine, Valmet went out of business (After 40 years?!!) , and magazines for the hunter have become unaffordable at best and unobtainable in general! In-spite of the fact that the Valmet is not the most accurate rifle for long range shooting, I have become quite fond of it, and I am reluctant to let it go, but a personal protection weapon with only two small magazines is not the most useful.

What would you advise? Our family has very limited means. Right now we have only two handguns, a shotgun, one small caliber and one larger caliber rifle (the Valmet) . Should we give-up on the Valmet, sell it, and buy something else? Or, keep vainly searching for magazines which I might be able to hammer, file and grind to fit what we’ve got? Sincerely, Steve W.

JWR Replies: If you can find magazines, then keep that Valmet! OBTW, you can tell your friend that he lost a magazine that is now worth between $250 and $300.

My wife a has a shortened Valmet .308 Hunter (called a “Petra” in Finland”) with a Trijicon 3-9x scope, and she loves it. When I offered to build an L1A1 for her in the same stock and barrel dimensions, for the sake of magazine compatibility with our primary rifles, she refused to part with it. Luckily we had bought 9 spare 20 round Valmet magazines back when they were still affordable.
I recommend that you buy at least of a dozen of the 12 and 25 round Galil .308 “waffle” magazines (much easier to find than Valmet mags!) and have them converted to fit Valmet M76/Hunter pattern, by a competent gunsmith.
One good place to find 25 round Galil .308 magazines is Buddy Hinton’s board [1]. (You might try a “WTB” post there.) Some very inexpensive Galil 12 round .308 magazines–originally made for blank firing, but the the blocking plate is quick and easy to remove–are available from WhatACountry.com [2]. OBTW, when you call, please tell Yasha that Jim Rawles sent you. You might also try Ohio Rapidfire [3] (ORF) as a source for 25 rounders. They have apparently tapped into all of the importers for magazines from Israel since ORF has started building Galils in the US with surplus parts sets and American-made receivers.