Century Arms C308 7.62x51mm Semi-Automatic Rifle

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

March 25th, 2015


Click pictures for a larger version.





Magazine release (top), safety (bottom).





Very effective muzzle brake.





Charging handle.





C308 comes with one five-round and two twenty-round magazines.





The C308 is not kind to brass, but it never fails to eject.



3Bucc Brass Catcher worked perfectly on the C308.



Century Arms now has a dandy version of the HK91/CETME/G3 style battle rifle available at a very affordable price. For many years, I wanted a HK91 rifle, which is pretty much just a semi-automatic version of the German G3 battle rifle, which was developed from the Spanish CETME design.

The original HK91 rifles that were imported into the US prior to 1989 were beyond my budget at that time of my life, and after George H.W. Bush banned the import of them in 1989, prices have been steadily going higher. Since that time, there have been various versions of the rifle on the US market; some imported from Greece and others made in the US, such as the PTR rifles. Most have lacked a solid, affordable way to mount a quality scope sight, but the C308 shown here, thankfully has a Picatinny spec rail permanently attached for easily mounting an optical sight to the receiver.

The G3/HK91 is one of the greatest battle rifles ever designed. It fires the powerful 7.61x51mm NATO cartridge (308 Winchester). It is light enough to carry as a main battle rifle, yet still has the power to fire upon targets at 800 yards and beyond. The design of the rifle, using a relatively low bore axis keeps felt recoil and muzzle jump low, for faster follow up shots, as well as reducing shooter fatigue.

The Century Arms C308 shown here is built by Century Arms in the US using some imported surplus parts, along with a new US-made receiver and barrel. Being of G3 design, the C308 uses the cheap and plentiful surplus G3 magazines, and it ships with two twenty-round magazines, as well as one five-round magazine. The C308 wears an eighteen inch barrel, fitted at the muzzle with a very effective muzzle brake. The muzzle is threaded standard right-hand 5/8 inch x 24 TPI, to accept accessories such as flash suppressors, muzzle brakes, and sound suppressors.

Velocity results are listed in the chart below. Velocity readings were recorded at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level with and air temperature of sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of fifty-four percent. Velocity readings are the average of several shots fired, measured at a distance of twelve feet from the muzzle, so actual muzzle velocities will be slightly higher. For accuracy testing from the bench, I mounted a Leupold Mark 4 8.5 to 25 power scope, attached using an ArmaLite one-piece mount atop the rifle’s Picatinny rail. I bore-sighted the scope using a LaserLyte laser boresighter, and then proceeded firing on paper at twenty-five, then fifty, and finally one hundred yard targets to evaluate the rifle’s accuracy from the bench. I rested the C308 into a Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest, firing three-shot groups at one hundred yards. Bullet weights are listed in grains. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Group sizes are listed in inches. XLC is a coated Barnes X bullet. SST and BST are polymer-tipped hunting bullets. SMK is the Sierra Match King bullet. HPBT is a hollowpoint match bullet.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Set Point Custom SMK 175 2550
Buffalo Bore Sniper SMK 175 2418
Handload Barnes XLC 168 2447
Winchester BST 168 2476
Federal Gold Medal 168 2437
Hornady SST 165 2635
Federal Soft Point 150 2792
Cor-Bon HPBT 168 2521

During all firing sessions, the C308 performed very well, with exceptions. Early on, it was clear that the five-round magazine was not going to function at all in this rifle. To me, that is no big deal, as this weapon was designed and built to run with twenty-round magazines, and with those they function well. However, if you need a low-round magazine, I am sure that Century would replace that five-round mag under warranty. The two twenty-round magazines functioned perfectly throughout the tests, with one exception, in which I had a double-feed. This malfunction is shown in the video, and only occurred once. Other than that, with the twenty-round mags, the weapon fed, fired, and ejected every cartridge perfectly.  If you are a hand-loader, be forewarned that the G3/HK91/C308 design is a roller-locking action with a fluted chamber, and is rough on brass. The cases come out dirty and dinged-up, but they come out every time, which is the most-important thing.

The C308 handles very well, and felt recoil is light, due to its excellent stock design and its nominal nine-pound weight. Specs list the C308 at eight pounds, but mine weighs just a fraction of an ounce under nine pounds, with no magazine. The trigger pull measures just slightly under six pounds on my digital gauge, and is very smooth in operation. The overall length measures 40.25 inches, and the length-of-pull measures 14.5 inches. The eighteen inch barrel is capped with Century's Chevron muzzle brake, and, as mentioned earlier, it is very effective at attenuating the recoil, resulting in a rifle that is very easy on the shooter's shoulder. The sights are very rugged and reliable, and are set for distances of 100, 200, 300, and 400 meters. The front sight elevation is adjustable to fine-tune the setting.

Shooting the C308 from the bench or while standing was a pleasure. Being left-handed, operating the charging handle with the scope in place was a bit awkward, but should be no problem for a right-handed shooter. Firing the weapon from the left shoulder, I did not experience any problems with the right-hand ejection pattern. 

Accuracy was very good. The C308 will not shoot as accurately as a quality AR-style 308, but it is not meant to be a target rifle. Still, one hundred yard three-shot groups measured as small as one and one-quarter inches with good ammunition, which is plenty accurate enough for most medium-to-large game hunting as well as for resolving any aggravating social conflicts which one might encounter.

The Century C308 delivers the power and performance of the legendary HK91 at a fraction of the cost, and is an excellent choice for those who seek to own a main battle rifle of this type. At the time of this review, the MSRP on the C308 rifle is $699.00 US.

Check out this and other firearms and accessories online at www.centuryarms.com.

To buy quality 308 or 7.62x51mm ammo, go to www.buffalobore.com, www.doubletapammo.com, www.luckygunner.com, and www.lehighdefense.com.

Jeff Quinn

Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.

Click pictures for a larger version.





Rugged, reliable sights.







1913 Picatinny spec optic rail.



Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest was used for all accuracy testing, with Leupold Mark 4 scope attached to receiver rail.



In addition to bulk mil-surp ammo and handloads, a variety of commercial ammunition was used for accuracy testing.



Best accuracy at 100 yards was achieved with Buffalo Bore 175-Grain Sniper ammo, but handloads, Set Point, and Federal Gold Match did almost as well.