Century Arms C308 Sporter, by Pat Cascio

If you’ve been on the firearms scene for any length of time, you will surely know the company called Century Arms. Century used to import a lot of military surplus long guns and handguns, at quite good prices. Then, some years ago, they started making AK-47 style rifles – using a mix of used mil-surplus parts and some brand-new parts. Now, if you know anything about the AK-47 rifle, you know it is simplicity at its best. They were designed that way, so they were easy to maintain by fighters in Third World countries, who didn’t know anything about firearms. The AKs were used and abused, and rarely cleaned. However they had a reputation of working without any lube or being cleaned – not the most accurate battle rifles, but they worked.

It has been widely reported that Century Arms, were using trained chimps to assemble their semi-auto only version of the AK-47. There were a lot of problems with Century Arms AK-47s not functioning. I know, I owned a few of them myself. Fortunately, I was able to do a little gunsmithing on those guns and get them up and running. On one gun, it simply needed the gas piston rod straightened out – who would have been so stupid to install a bent gas piston rod? Obviously, Century doesn’t test-fire the guns they assemble The good news is that Century Arms has improved their quality control. They are now taking extra care in assembling the military pattern rifles that they are selling.

Many years ago, I purchased a used Century Arms rifle that was marked “C308” and it looked very similar to the H&K Model 91 (“HK91”) battle rifle, with only a few slight differences. One difference was it had a faux flash hider on it, not a deal-breaker. And, whoever owned it before I did, performed a fairly decent spray paint can camo paint job on the entire gun – again, not a deal-breaker. And, best of all, used, but as-new Aluminum light-weight paratrooper 20-rd magazines were selling for 99-cents each. That was a give away price on magazines. I believe I had at least a hundred spare mags for that C308.

As is the case at times, I got stupid, and traded that rifle off, and I regretted it the moment I did the trade. The rifle never had a malfunction of any kind, using a good variety of military surplus 7.62 NATO ammo – and it was plenty accurate, too. A few weeks later, I was back in that same gun shop in Boise, Idaho and spied my old C308 – no one had bought it. So I bought it right back, and was happy. But then I fell on hard times and I was forced to sell it – not trade it. And, that was the last I saw of it.

My regular gun shop that I now haunt in Oregon bought a large gun collection. And in that collection was a brand-new Century Arms C308 – I did a quick trade and brought it home. It was assembled with a mix of brand-new and surplus (used) parts. The barrel and upper receiver are brand-new – made by PTR, who produces some outstanding clones of the original H&K 91 battle rifle. There are a few more U.S.-made parts, to meet the requirements of the Federal Section 922(r) import law. The remainder of the parts are used military parts – from military surplus HK and CETME rifles from around the world. The H&K Model 91 is a civilian version of the select-fire G3 rifle. All of the parts should be interchangeable – but some are and some aren’t. The main differences are in the fire control group — to prevent illicit conversion to full auto.

But a C308 could be made up of military surplus parts from a variety of countries – you just don’t know. The pistol grip and trigger housing holds the trigger. The variety used on mine is called a “Navy” lower – it is made out of polymer. The innards are partly military parts and partly civilian parts, to keep this rifle strictly semi-auto.

The safety is on the left side of the pistol grip, and it slips up for “safe” and down for “fire” and it has a short throw – easy to do. The magazine release is a push button on the right side of the mag well, easy to operate, and it locks in those same 20-round aluminum alloy G3 mags nicely. (But they’ve crept up in price to $4.88–still a relative bargain–in today’s world of $30 apiece FAL and M14 magazines.) Needles to say, I ordered up a lot of G3 alloy magazines from CDNN to have plenty of spares on-hand. At under $5 each, they are almost disposable.

My new C308 uses an old CETME rear sight – the CETME was the forerunner of the G3 and it has a rear sight that rotates from 100-yards up to 400-yards and that’s about the farthest you can accurately shoot with open sights. However, the Model 91/G3 had a rear sight that was rotary – very fast and easy to change the sights for range.  The CETME – not so fast, but it is okay. The front sight is the CETME version, too…hard to adjust for elevation, but once adjusted you don’t need to play with it anymore. HH&K sells a tool meant for front and rear sight adjustments – for $89.99 – no thanks. I modified a pair of tiny needle-nose pliers for the front sight adjustment.

C308 Specifications

So, what do we have with the Century Arms C308? Well, it’s chambered in .308 Winchester. However it will also fire 7.62mm NATO ammo and that’s a good thing. The gun weighs in at 9-lbs – it’s heavy, then again, it is a “battle” rifle, not a light-weight small-caliber carbine The barrel is 18-inches long – and as mentioned, is brand-new. The chamber has “flutes” cut into it, which is part of the delayed roller block design. Early PTR chambers didn’t have deep enough flutes cut into them, nor were they deep enough. But their recent production have that problem rectified. We also have the black polymer thin ventilated forearm, which is much preferred over the larger, triangular one found on most H&K Model 91 rifles.

The front sight is protected from damage by a ring around it. Then we have the charging handle parallel to the barrel…it is stout to pull back and chamber a round, but as I’ll mention I worked on it to get it to work smoother. The H&K design is quite a bit different than other military rifles…it has a bolt that locks/unlocks via delayed roller design…the rollers in the bolt carrier stay locked to reduce recoil after firing – thus the “delayed” version of locking/unlocking the bolt/bolt carrier – it does help reduce a lot of felt recoil. The buttstock is mil-surplus.  The muzzle device is a commercial brake, but a military flash hider could be substituted if you prefer.

Cleaning Basics

Takedown the C308 for cleaning, you press out two pins between the buttstock and upper/lower receivers – the buttstock pulls off, then you can remove the bolt/bolt carrier and the trigger housing drops down. The gun is easy to clean – clean the barrel and chamber as you would any gun, then clean the bolt/bolt carrier. The best way to clean that is using some automotive spray brake cleaner – quick and easy. I also use the brake cleaner to spray out the chamber…it’s a snap. Then of course lightly re-lubricate before re-assembly.

The trigger housing group – you can easily remove it from the polymer group and clean it, or once again, use the brake cleaner…then lube all the articulating parts – and you don’t have to over-due it with lube. Same for the bolt/bolt carrier group – I apply Break Free lube to those articulating parts, and slide the bolt/bolt carrier back into the upper receiver and put it all back together with the two pins you took out and you’re good to go. BTW, those two pins you removed…there are two holes provided in the buttstock where you put those pins while your rifle is disassembled – so that you don’t lose them.

Curing a Stiff Charging Handle

My C308 had a very, very heavy charging handle, it took two men, and a small boy to pull it back to chamber a round – ouch! I took some extra-fine sandpaper, and smoothed out the top of the hammer in the trigger group – it was rough – extremely rough…once I had a nice shiny look on the hammer, I applied some gun grease to it. I also lubed the charging handle assembly heavily. Then, when the charging handle was pulled back, it pulled the bolt/bolt carrier over that smooth hammer with the lube – it made a huge difference. And after firing more than 300-rds through the gun during my testing, it smoothed out further and made the charging handle even easier to pull back.

The proper way you’re supposed to charge the C308 is to pull back on the charging handle, and lock it in the notch at the end of the travel…then insert a loaded magazine, and make sure it locks in place, and then you simply “slap” the charging handle downward, and it will chamber a round. And when I say “slap” that charging handle downward, that’s what I mean, don’t try to release it slowly – slap that thing down and a round will chamber every time.

I had some spare parts from my previous C308 – I always try to keep some spare parts around for my long guns…and one part was the sling attachment, so you could clip the sling on the top/side of the gun, and then attach the sling to the buttstock. It makes carrying the gun much easier with a sling. I should also mention that the buttstock even has a rubber butt pad.

Before shooting any new or used guns, I always check them out, and looking down the barrel is one of the things I do. I couldn’t see much light down the barrel…a plastic barrel “flag” had obviously broken off in the barrel…had I chambered a round and fired it, the gun would have blown up – so always check the barrel of any gun – new or used.

I had a lot of South African military surplus 7.62 NATO ammo on hand. It is more than 40-years old, but every round I tested fired without any problems. The nice folks at Black Hills Ammunition sent me some of their .308 Winchester 168-gr Match HP ammo for testing in this new gun, too.

In all, I fired slightly more than 300 rounds, but was on my own for testing – we have this Coronavirus we are fighting, and I’m doing the social distancing thing. I don’t want to be around anyone other than family. So, it was a lot of work to load all those magazines and do all that shooting. Had lots of flat out fun shooting with that surplus ammo – it’s rock ‘n roll time with a substantial caliber gun.

I settled down for accuracy testing at 50-yards, using a rolled-up sleeping bag over the hood of my truck…just too hard to shoot 100-yards for accuracy with open sights. I got consist groups of 3+ inches with the surplus ammo – I was surprised it was shooting that well. When I hunkered down with the Black Hills .308 Win ammo, I was getting pretty consistent groups of slightly over 2-inches – again, I was shocked – for a gun made-up of mostly surplus parts, it was shooting very well – think it will do even better once it gets broke-in a little more.

I’m more than a little happy with this battle rifle – I needed it, wanted it, ok, I desired it – a good addition to my meager gun collection. Check one out – they are a bit hard to find – I checked around…seems like they are going around $700 price range. A genuine H&K Model 91 – will set you back at least $2,500 or a lot more – if you can find one.


  1. I have a Century CETME from way-back-when, it’s a lot of fun to shoot. That aftermarket brake does keep you from securely mounting the bayonet (and in fact Century replaced the combination bayonet lug and cleaning-kit holder with a blank plug, I rectified that) but between that and the heavy wood furniture most of the recoil is gone.

    A couple of points to add, keep an eye on the gap between the bolt and carrier that you can see through the magwell. There should be one, and it has a spec. It can be adjusted by replacing the locking rollers with different sizes. Also, I don’t know about more recent production rifles but the old CETME hands back in the day warned about feeding them commercial .308. It’s the opposite of the .223/5.56 NATO issue. 7.62 NATO has thicker brass as a standard and commercial .308 brass can blow out into the chamber flutes and cause a failure to extract. In the worst-case scenario the extractor can rip the head off the cartridge and leave you an awe-inspiring job of case removal. I couldn’t tell you if all that is true or just old-gunny stories but I’ve always kept mine on a NATO diet.

  2. I’ve looked at them but have stayed away wondering about quality and longevity. I didn’t want to buy a 90s Norico M14 that lasted 6-700 rounds then died and the AK debacle is enough to make anyone gunshy of the company.
    The last real HK91 I had in my hands was in 87. This might make the wish list.

  3. Thank you for this review of the C308. I too have heard negative things regarding Century, but I’ve had mostly good luck with their products. I’ve owned the C308 for five years or more, and have very much enjoyed it. I suppose the only real complaint I had was it appeared someone threw a handfull of sand in the assembly lube. As you indicate, a good cleaning is required before firing.
    I added the rubber coated charging handle which helps a bunch, and as you experienced charging will get easier as it wears in helped by a little smoothing here and there.
    My forestock was not ventilated, a few minutes with the Dremel fixed that.
    I bought the front sight adjustment tool. The front sight post is on an eccentric, so it is also the windage adjustment, different but as you indicate once it’s adjusted it’s there.
    I leave the C3 type rear sight on the 200 yd leaf, a battlesight being plenty adequate for this type rifle.
    The brass is dinged up pretty good by the chamber fluting and the ejection process so reloading is out, no matter, it seems to love the cheap steel cased stuff.
    When I bought extra mags they were $3 apiece, still a bargain.
    Disassembly/reassembly of the bolt is different, I suggest saving the instructions for the rare occasion that it’s needed. That automotive brake cleaner is the way to go and will clean adequately without complete disassembly of the bolt group.
    Thanks again, and if readers are lucky enough to find one snap it up and as many mags as you can find.

  4. Good review on a sleeper model of gun, even from century arms. (Yes, I have one, works great, and a great valuation for a battle rifle calibered unit) The C308 is cetme patterned so although most part interchange with the more common hk91/g3 patterns there is a subset of parts that as cetme specs, don’t mix. I patronized “rtg” parts in wyoming (good redoubter people) for spare parts or upgraded components. (Example, replace firing and spring with h/k type for durability upgrade example, they break causing slam fire upon loading, so f.y.i. +/or ymmv considerations) there is interchange parts listings available, and of course there is web forums chock full of helpful info. The C308 fills the gap for affordable battle rifles for the masses, instead of overpriced safe queens priced at unobtainium levels on gun broker, or consigned locally at personality and emotionally driven retail pricing points. Usability is more paramount at this point in time, instead of just buying and storing sacred collectables that never see sunlight anymore.

  5. Great rifles. I don’t think a person can go wrong with one of these.
    To add to above commenters, I also picked up dozens of mags, most new in the wrapper for 2 bucks apiece.

  6. I owned a REAL HK91 back in the early ’90’s, and it’s one of the few guns I regret selling.

    I picked up a PTR91 in ’08 finally, and dumb-lucked into one that was made with the White Oak bbl at that time. Sent the lower off to Williams Trigger Specialties for one of their “set” trigger jobs, and now she’s a MEAN machine! 😉

    Century’s reputation certainly follows them, but reviews like this are making me think, that perhaps I should nab one someday. I too, picked up over a hundred mags back in the $.99 – $2.00 days. 😀

  7. Bought mine used maybe 7 years ago. Is great gun to shoot and accuracy is pretty good. Cetme sights are awful so I’m thinking of opening up the 200 meter peep so I can actually see through it.
    You can find correct cetme steel mags I think for under $10. Great full power rifle!

  8. My first AK was from Century Arms. I’ll never forget that one. Like yours, it had an improperly fitted gas piston that dragged and cause the action to fail to completely cycle. I’ve had to clean up one other gas piston on one another shoddily assembled AK that had many problems. Being new to AK’s at the time, I was clueless. Had it not been for a friend who built AK’s, it would have never been fixed. It was a very long and difficult process, trail and error, to figure this one out. Other Century Arms rifles owned were also found to have problems. Because there are so many Century Arm rifles out there, my advice is never buy a Century Arms rifle that cannot be thoroughly test fired. I am now at the point where I might not buy any semi auto rifle from a private party without test firing. I take the old adage that ‘no one sells a good horse’ seriously. There are exceptions of course. I am otherwise a fan of AK’s, and recently submitted an article about AK ammo.

  9. 1) Mel Tappan circa 1978 (excerpts from Tappan on Survival ):

    “If you have received the impression that I am enthusiastic about the Heckler & Koch 91 and consider it a “best buy” for long-term survival use, you are completely on target. In addition to my own rather extensive tests, my personal consultation clients and readers of my survival newsletter now own more than 100 of these rifles and I have yet to receive a single complaint. ”

    2) Re the 223 / 5.56 NATO:

    “The .223 has certain valuable tactical uses and it is easier for women, youngsters, the elderly, the infirm and those of relatively small stature to handle.

    Unfortunately , however, the .223 is neither a certain manstopper nor a reliable killer of game, and whatever effectiveness it may possess in either category is limited to ranges of 150 yards or less. ”

    3) The military has made multiple upgrades to the 5.56 since then — the most recent one might be okay to 200 yds but I don’t think the ammo is available to civilians.

    On the other hand, Mel evidently never tried lugging the HK91 on a 15 mile recon patrol. Or carrying 210 rds of 7.62 vs 5.56. He didn’t really go into infantry tactics but appears to have assumed firing from behind a town’s fortified walls at a human wave attack starting 400 yards out. Reasonable way to protect a family but you give up a lot of initiative if you don’t also do combat patrols/scouting/ambushes.

    History is full of sieges which did not end well for those behind the walls.

    1. Going by the math heard after the Mogadishu debacle, it often took at least one, if not two or three, 3 round bursts of 5.56 from an M-4 to stop an attacker. Whereas it was reported that every time an M-14 fired, somebody hit the ground.
      At a ratio of 3:1 what does that ammo weigh?
      Count me as a firm believer that every infantry squad needs at least one person toting a real rifle, that knows how to use it.
      Shortly after this was when the military guys started working on something better, mostly centered around necking the 5.56 up for larger bullets. The 6.8 SPC and .300 BLK came into being from that work, as far as I know.
      Now, they are set on having a real rifle cartridge again, albeit in 6.5mm. Funny how the Scandinavians were using something with similar ballistics in the 1890’s.

  10. Re Mel Tappan’s praise for the 308 note that the FBI minimum standard for a 300 meter sprint (for all agents) is 55 seconds.

    Against a human wave attack, that suggests you might get off 2 magazines worth of shots (40 rds) before being overwhelmed by the attacking horde.

    Firearms have severe limitations — whereas a trebuchet could easily toss 10 clay pots of mustard gas or napalm out to 400 yards.


    1. PS I used the FBI standard just as a numeric data measure to illustrate how quickly a band of looters could overwhelm you — not to suggest that the looting horde would be FBI agents.

    2. Know and map out your terrain folks. A two man job. One person at the defended spot, one walking. The defender note everywhere the walkers knees disappear. That’s a crawl way that needs attention. Look around where would YOU put a rifleman to suppress your defenses? That needs attention.

      Fire cards and spray paint is useful. Spray paint on tree trunks can mark fire zones and be range markers. That way when you say “Danger red 5” the defenders KNOW what that means. I use Red (50 yards) as danger close zone where thrown firebombs and pistols can be effective. 5 would be the arc that danger is in. Yellow is 50-200 yards where sprinting wearing gear is possible to the Red zone. And so on. Whistles and laminated code cards is far superior to yelling “I NEED Help here” or gunshots. I don’t know about you but even after several live fire combat visits during my active duty years MY ability to yell is pretty limited due to stress. BUT I can blow a whistle.

      Look around what is the 3 most easy routes a angry mob can rush you? Attention here might be plantings of thorny blackberries or roses to funnel them into your point of contact choice. Might be shin high SMOOTH wire emplaced to trip up sprinters and befuddle crawlers. Ever try to crawl over or under shin high wire… Why Smooth wire? Because defenders (and your livestock) will have to move through those areas and minor wounds post SHTF can become serious problems.

      Defenders NEED to KNOW their own area BETTER than the attackers or they are doomed. Your counter attack is dependent on your ability to use your own AO knowledge against the attackers.

      1. 1) If the horde has competent leaders, it can slowly move closer to you by digging trenches in a zig zag .

        2) Of course, a much quicker way is to creep up close under cover of darkness and charge. You can fire marine parachute flares but since they last about 30 seconds you can run through a lot in a hurry.

        A cheaper, more robust solution might be LED flood lamps hooked to deep cell marine batteries , with the marine batteries kept charged with solar arrays during the day. Problem with that is enemy snipers. maybe have the lamps on poles that are kept in constant motion.

        3) One advantage of a village located on a river is that the river is a barrier and also a way to evacuate women and children by boat at night if the attackers look likely to prevail in the siege.

        4) In the Army, of course, they can just drop the subtle tactics and call up the Air Force or Navy to drop cluster bombs/napalm and then hose things down with Gatling guns on AC130 gunships.




        5) The Tears of the Sun excerpt above shows the great advantage of 7.62 ammo (whether AK47 or NATO ) over 5.56. The attackers are not duckhunting — they are aiming high to clear the high weeds but low enough that the bullets will drop back down into the weeds near Bruce Willis and his crew — the “Beaten Zone” tactic used by machine gunners to clear terrain mounds. The light 5.56 rounds would be deflected by the weeds and not penetrate.

        After TEOTWAWKI, the mowed lawns of the eastern USA would be covered by 5 foot high weeds in the summer — as you can see now in the farming fields kept in the Department of Agriculture soil bank.

        1. Don there will always be an unwinnable situation. I do think them out and thus spiritual prep is as important as plenty of bullets.

          That said zig zag trenches can be done. Was done at civil war sieges that lasted years. I doubt many folks even understand how much work it is to even dig a decent fighting position let alone hiding from small arms fire while doing it. I really doubt too many folks would shovel from the prone for a week plus just to find out that Molotov Cocktails HURT trench rats.

          Darkness is a blessing and a curse. As someone who has worked with current US Army NVG’s I can assure you it’s NOT just like daylight. As a medic I’ve had to fix many soldiers operating them like it’s daylight. Little peripheral vision leading to much injuries from wait a minute briars and such. Medevac’d more than a few that discovered an ankle breaking hole that way.

          If you know your terrain and have those wait a minute thorny bushes and smooth wires awaiting the Night Ninja’s they will hate you for them.

          A better more bullet resistant light source is doing a “periscope” style search lamp. The actual light source (automobile headlight) is at or below ground level, the light faces UP. A HVAC steel ducting and a rotating with up and down movement steel mirror directs the lights. They can shoot up the “search light” and in fact I want them too. Muzzle flashes are useful to me. Not all raiders have Uncle Sugars unlimited ammo resupply system.

          The HVAC sheet metal takes a lot of damage while still working and is easily repaired.

  11. I purchased a CETME rifle from Century Arms back when I lived in MI probably 17 years ago or so. I had one initial problem with it after only a couple months but Century Arms customer service handled the issue well and had the rifle picked up, brought it back and did a full repair on it at no cost. Good rifle and shoots well just very heavy. I also have a large box of mags I picked up over time for between $2.00 and $4.00 each. I have had a couple offers to buy it but I knew that I could not replace it for what I was offered. It is not the first gun I would grab from the safe if I needed it as I would instead go to my SCAR 17S with the Meprolight M21 reflex sight. That being said the CETME can be relied upon to do what it wasdesigned to do.

  12. Steel G3 magazines, $8.95, https://www.keepshooting.com/german-h-k-g3-steel-magazine.html

    Way back, as mentioned, the magazines were $.99 each at some companies. I have to think that a container ship of them must have arrived here after Germany got rid of its inventory. When an order was filled, sometimes steel magazines would show up in the order, but the magazines were mostly aluminum.

    As recently as five years ago, Keepshooting.com had two aluminum magazines in a rubberized military mag pouch for less than $8.00. I appears that these are sold out now.

    From memory, the original G3 rifle was used by 31 countries at some point. Although most military forces have switched to assault rifle calibers, I still see them in use by military units in Mexico, and I am confident that some countries in Africa are also still using them.

  13. I bought a couple of CETMEs from J&G for $600 and $750 fifteen years ago. Mine had the pitiful rear sights so I installed clamp-on rails for scope mounting. I got so frustrated reassembling the BCG after cleaning that I stopped shooting them. One of my shooting buddies was combat training with his CETME and fell on it while the bolt was locked back. It kinda locked up but we whacked it back into alignment and it worked fine. These are battle rifles, not precision instruments.

  14. CETME/G3/HK91 pattern rifles are a world unto themselves. Lured by the promise of economical mags and simple curiosity, a lot of folks get into them.

    The Spanish CETME rifle came first, before the German G3, which is based upon it and shares perhaps 80% of its parts. Some, not all, CETME parts will work in a G3-pattern rifle. Know before you go….

    CETME Sporters, which Century also made for a time out of a mixture of new U.S. parts and imported surplus Spanish parts, have several important differences to G3-pattern rifles such as the PTR-91. First, they accept CETME-surplus mags, which are slightly curved, and not interchangeable with genuine G3 mags, which are straight-sided and not tapered. Sometimes, a G3 mag will fit into the mag well of a CETME and work OK, but most of the time not. Expect to try 10-12 to get 2-3 that work.

    Second, the iron sights on the CETME are difficult to zero and have only a limited degree of adjustment. The rear sight, which is not adjustable, consists of four rotating steel plates with apertures cut into the them, graduated from 100-400 meters. Zeroing, such as it is, can be done on the front sight, but you’ll need a sight tool, which can be hard to find.

    Elevation zero is done like an AR15, whereas windage is also done with the front sight. The front sight base is mounted eccentrically, such as that it provides about 4 moa adjustment range POA versus POI. Beware, since many CETMEs floating around out there can’t be adjusted – due to mistimed barrels or other issues – such that POA = POI for a good zero.

    There are decent scope/optics mounting solutions available, however, so that is an option. If you can find an optic which will withstand the pounding of the stiff recoil of the rifle without breaking, that is. The old West German surplus Zeiss/Hensolt ZF-1s are supposed to be quite good; get the claw mount, too.

    The newer C308 rifles being marketed by Century Arms have a P-rail welded to the top of the receiver, which is beneficial considering the above issues with iron sights. They also accept G3 magazines, instead of requiring harder to find CETME ones.

    It’s luck of the draw with a Century Arms rifle. Some work, some are a waste of time and money. Better to save an additional $250-300 needed to buy a genuine PTR Industries PTR-91 rifle, which is manufactured based upon the old tooling, fixtures and blueprints purchased from Portugal, from when that nation made G3’s under license. The PTR-91 is of higher quality, and the company stands behind their products in a way that Century does not always do. A PTR-91 will have the much-superior adjustable rear rotary drum with 100-400 meter apertures, as well as an adjustable front sight. The sight tool is easy to get and not expensive.

    CETME-G3 pattern rifles have antiquated controls and their ergonomics stink by modern standards. The length of pull is too short for many modern users, and the rifles are heavy and ill-balanced for some tastes. The OEM triggers are lousy, and come in at around 12-14 lbs. with tons of creep and over-travel. The factory iron sights, while a vast improvement on the CETME, are still inferior to those on an M-14 or M-1, and they are graduated only to 400 meters. The placement of the charging handle, safety and selector are poor, and the magazine release likewise (some newer versions have an improved release). The rifle does not have a last-shot bolt-hold open, either, which is a major failing in a military rifle.

    On the positive side of the ledger, these rifles are as tough and durable as they come, and will tolerate abuse that would break most others. They are legendary for their ability to run even when filthy, and can run for months without being cleaned or lubricated. They are also extremely reliable, and having no gas system whatsoever, will “eat” just about any ammunition without issue. Recoil is stout, but that’s the cost of the roller-delayed blowback operation system.

    Although the triggers stink, the barrels are usually of high quality, so – properly worked over – a G3 can make an excellent DMR, which is how the German Bundeswehr uses them.

    G3-pattern rifles are hard on optics due to the difficulty mounting them, at least before P-rails became common, and the stout recoil impulse. If these issues can be solved or addressed, it is worth doing since a good optic really brings the rifle into its own. Surplus Hensolt ZF-1 4x scopes leftover from the Cold War are reputed to be very good bits of kit.

    Ironically, the G3 has outlasted its chief Cold War rival, the FN FAL, by many years. More than a dozen nations still use the design as an issued military rifle, including Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Pakistan, as well as a number of African, Asian and South American nations round out the list. Ease and cheapness to manufacture are part of its appeal, as well as its reputation for brutal toughness and reliability. It has also proven itself to be a good cold climates weapon, hence its continued use by many northern European nations.

  15. From experience owning a Century Arms c308 rifle. I tell anyone considering owning one to always have a broken casing extractor with you. The rifle I owned would often pull the casing apart leaving part of the casing inside the chamber.

  16. Being weened on the M14 from that age of 16 at a military academy, I found the G3/HK91 to be an obnoxious pain in the tush. The stock hump struck me in the face during recoil. The safety was designed by circus freaks with very long fingers- it was out of reach for me unless I rotated my hand around to swat at it. The charging handle was maladroit. The “flash hider” was totally worthless, as a distinct fireball of bushel basket size could be seen at mid-day. The rebar cutting notch in the flash hider was a cute thought, but OMG, can you imagine the splash back of shooting steel rebar that close?
    The fanatic extraction/ejection of the G3 cleared some 20 shooters off the range to my right when I fired my first magazine- not knowing it would throw hot brass 30 meters in a wide arc. When I reached for another, I noticed everyone standing far back in the parking lot. “Are you through shooting that thing?” I moved to the far right lane and profusely apologized for my ignorance!
    The sights are excellent, the diopter arrangement being very precise. But it stops short of the usable range of the 7.62 cartridge. And that is where the M14 and all its clones really shine. Some quality time out in the desert mountains will soon reveal how easy it is to get dust off of rocks to double the range of the G3. On high ground, a shooter who knows how to drive an M14 owns about 2 square miles of real estate.
    .308 vs 7.62NATO: There is a difference, however slight, in the headspace of the two. The .308 Winchester can be as much as .012″ shorter on headspace than the 7.62 NATO. That is why you often feel a slight resistance when chambering a 7.62 in a .308 Winchester rifle. They’re not the same animal, but most get away with shooting the two interchangeably. The idiot who arranged for this discrepancy is probably long deceased, but should be at least fined.
    Oh yes, the triggers on the G3 are awful, there are lots and lots of teeny-tiny parts that can get lost in the field during maintenance, and one cannot readily adjust for windage. It also all but ruins brass for reloading purposes, but if you shoot only Berdan primed mil-surp, you’re OK. The fluted chamber does make things in the action filthy, fast.
    Mr. Williams makes a very valid point about mobs. Hopefully you won’t be the only rifleman on the wall. On a timed shoot a few years ago, I successfully put 26 hits on an E silhouette at 300 yards in 60 seconds…with an M14/M1A Bush Rifle (18″ barrel, military iron sights). All holes were grouped within a volley ball centered at the navel. Dillon RL550 reloads with military components. Obviously, the target wasn’t moving, so that adds a bit of excitement. When things close to within 50 meters, though, the tempo picks up.
    One thing for sure, the threats that get hit with the 7.62…..STAY hit. You might even get a few twofers.
    The old M193 M16 ammo (55 grain FMJ) tended to shatter on soft tissue out to 150 meters when fired from a 20″ barrel. Sometimes it didn’t. One could score hits out to 500 yards with the old M16, and in truth, a hit at that range would still pose a medical problem for the recipient. A leak is a leak. You’re talking a point blank hit from a .22 Magnum rifle at 500 yards. Know anyone that would like that? Soft points add a bit of flavor to the debate.
    IMO, if you’re serious about your battle rifle, the M14 by Fulton Armory or Springfield Armory (M1A, a silly designation to confuse things) is much more pleasant to shoot, accurate, reliable, and is a serious tool.
    If the G3 series is all you can get, it sure beats a green umbrella.

  17. cl228, if you are reloading once-fired military brass, your problem is identifying and discarding defective cartridge cases before you reload them. This entails cleaning up the cases, resizing them, THEN INSPECTING THE INTERIOR OF EACH CASE WITH A SCRAPING TOOL to detect the stretch crack that is usually found about a quarter inch from the head.
    I’d sit in front of a TV with three buckets. One containing the brass to be inspected, one to the left for the rejects, and one to the right for the cases that passed inspection. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to perform this test! Insert the scraping tool all the way to the bottom. Rub the tool up and down the casing as you rotate it. When you feel the annular ring, toss it in the scrap barrel.
    In the old days when the M60 was the GPMG of the US military, I’d reject about 30% of the cases. Now that the M240 is in wide use, I reject less than 1%. The machine gun crews were not too careful about headspace when changing barrels.
    The broken case problem disappeared with the M14 after I purged my inventory and implemented the inspection routine.

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