Ruger SFAR .308 | Big Power In A Small Package

Ruger's SFAR
The SFAR sits atop the new MTM Case-Gard ArmAR Cleaning/Shooting rest

As we know, the AR-15 rifle has come into its own. Used in increasing numbers by target shooters, hunters, homeowners, and competitors (not to mention law enforcement agencies), the AR is here to stay and keeps seeing an increase in production. The most popular caliber is .223/5.56mm. The AR is the Modern Sporting Rifle — truly!

But… what if you want more than the .223? You know, like .308? After all, the original AR-15 wasn’t a “15” but technically a “10” — it was released in 7.62 NATO in the late ’50s by Eugene Stoner. It was only at the military’s insistence that it was down-scaled to .223/5.56mm. So… what about the .308 AR? They are made, to be sure, and Ruger’s SFAR is one of the more popular rifles in that caliber. (SFAR… Was Ist Das SFAR, I hear you say? Small Frame Autoloading Rifle. Of course!). So where did it come from?

Ruger’s ARs

Ruger has been making AR-pattern rifles, mostly in .223/5.56mm, since 2009. As with most guns Ruger makes, the SR-556 was well-built, accurate, and affordable. They continued in the AR game, making variations-on-a-theme ARs in different calibers, barrel lengths, etc.

Enter The Ruger SFAR .308

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Then, in 2014, they came out with a game-changer… a 7.62/.308 AR, about the same size and weight as one in .223. Rifle shooters’ ears pricked up when they heard this. Finally, you could get .308-level performance in a light, handy rifle! Since then, they’ve added 6.5 Creedmoor to the stable.

Ruger’s SFAR, especially in a caliber such as .308, which is fairly easy to get, is a winner. Based on a .223-sized frame but is beefy where it needs to be. This rifle was the answer to many AR shooters’ prayers. Why? How’s it different from other .308-based ARs?

In two words, it’s smaller. I own ARs in different calibers and can attest to the fact that the ones in .223 are fairly light and easy to get into action. What if you wanted more oomph like the .308 delivers? After all, like I said earlier, .308 is pretty easy to source.

But many shooters balked at the size of the .308 ARs. They had to be built bigger, it was thought, to hold the .308’s pressure. Well, Ruger figured out a way to do that AND make the rifle about the same size as a .223 AR. Neat trick. They also made it compatible with the 7.62 NATO (7.62×51) military cartridge. Why does this matter?

.308 vs. 7.62×51 — Aren’t They The Same?

Before we get into more detail, here’s a question I’ve been asked before so I thought this might be a good place to stick this in.

Please know that there are differences between them. Military (7.62mm) brass is thicker than the .308. That alone would cause an equal powder charge to show higher pressures in the thicker case than the thinner one due to its slightly decreased capacity, all else being equal.

Also, the chambers of 7.62 rifles tend to have about .006″ more headspace than the .308. This allows functioning when many rounds are fired and things heat up, either semi-auto or full-auto. Since the .308 is loaded a bit hotter than the 7.62 (2,000 PSI higher), it could cause cases to stretch if fired in the longer chamber. That’s not good.

So, I have to say this… you shouldn’t fire .308 in a 7.62×51-chambered rifle. The other way around is cool — go ahead and shoot both in your .308. You may never have an issue, but I at least had to mention this. To end this little rabbit trail, know that the Ruger SFAR is good with either caliber. You might find some 7.62 NATO surplus a bit cheaper than .308. For more details on this topic, check out our recent post here.

The Rifle

When I was asked to do this review, I turned to my good friend Ed. He’s a teacher in a local high school but previously had been a county deputy for many years and has the guns to prove it. He loaned me his newly purchased SFAR (that he had put exactly three rounds through) to review. I gladly accepted. So, what about the SFAR?

The SFAR is built like other Ruger rifles… in two words: tough and reliable.

Made in the USA.

The upper is forged from 7075-T6 hard-coat anodized aluminum and includes a brass deflector and forward assist.

SFAR - title shot - right receiverSFAR - title shot - right receiver
Ruger SFAR upper receiver features a forward assist.

The full-length Pic rail allows placement of just about any optic you desire. The lower features a flared mag well to allow quick insertion of the 10-round magazine that comes with it.

The Pic railThe Pic rail
The long Picatinny rail allows many options

All the controls are pretty much where you’d expect them to be, and the M-LOK slots and Pic rail duplicate those found on most ARs.

The six-position Magpul MOE SL stock allows length-of-pull adjustment and handguard /receiver QD sling attachment points allow a conventional sling to be mounted easily.

SFAR buttstockSFAR buttstock
The adjustable buttstock came in handy when shooting

The heavy-profile barrel is made from 4140 chrome-moly steel and features a 5/8″x24 thread that houses Ruger’s “Boomer” muzzle brake:

muzzle brakemuzzle brake
Here’s the “Boomer” muzzle break

The rifle features a 3/4″ 4-position rotary-regulator gas block that allows adjustment for different types of ammo mounted on the rifle-length gas system.

Lastly, the Ruger Elite 452 trigger is included. It provides a 4.5-pound, 2-stage trigger pull. For more details, visit the SFAR Spec Sheet page here.


The SFAR takes AR accessories. That’s about what you need to know, and you already knew that…

My friend, Ed, likes to accessorize his guns. That’s great – he knows what works and what doesn’t, being a former deputy. To his SFAR, he has added a sling, a Bushnell scope, a bipod, and a 20-round PMAG. You can see some of these in the photos.


  • Weight:              7.2 lb.
  • Height:               7.20″
  • Stock:                Magpul MOE SL
  • Handguard:       Free-Float with M-LOK Attachment Slots
  • Finish:               Type III Hard-Coat Anodized
  • Grip:                  Magpul MOE
  • Sights:               None
  • Barrel Length:   20″, 1:10″ RH twist, 5 grooves
  • Thread Pattern: 5/8″-24
  • Capacity:           10 (one SR25/AR-10-pattern .308 Win/7.62 NATO-compatible magazine included)
  • Overall Length:  39.50″ – 41.25″
  • Length of Pull:   11″ – 14.25″

This is a full-blown AR-compatible rifle, so just about any accessories made for that platform should work here.

How Does the Ruger SFAR Shoot?

I grabbed some .308 ammo that I had on hand and headed to my backyard range. Targets were placed as close to my 100-yard backstop as I could get — a major maple tree blew down and blocked total access. Even so, I was able to get 97 yards. I know, it wasn’t 100, but you’ll at least get the idea. I stuck the rifle on an MTM CaseGard MSRMS – ArmAR™ Modern Sporting Rifle Maintenance Stand and let fly.

CaseGard restCaseGard rest
The new MTM CaseGard ArmAR cleaning/shooting rest – very handy!

All loads used 150-grain bullets. Here are the results:

Monarch shooting resultsMonarch shooting results
The Monarch load shows promise
Hornady American Whitetail loadHornady American Whitetail load
The Hornady Whitetail load was a bit more spread out
Hornady Superformance loadHornady Superformance load
Hornady Superformance – 4 shots in one hole and a flyer

A weird thing happened when I was shooting the Superformance, something that hasn’t happened to me in a very long time. Usually, high-end factory loads are consistent and safe. One of the 5 shots I took at the Superformance target (the flyer) had the primer pop out upon firing.

Evidently an over-pressure factory load - the rifle did just fine!Evidently an over-pressure factory load - the rifle did just fine!
Evidently an over-pressure factory load – the rifle did just fine!

This particular load was way over-pressure. You can see if you magnify the photo, slight impressions of the bolt face and extractor on the case head.

over-pressure loadover-pressure load
The bolt face and extractor were imprinted on the case head – a rare over-pressure load

Again, this is truly weird and unusual for factory ammo. The rifle was fine and handled the load easily. It handled the “boom” better than the shooter…


If you are in the market for an autoloading .308 that also shoots military 7.62 NATO rounds, take a look at the Ruger SFAR. Built to be about the same size as a “normal” .223 AR (whatever that is), it is easy to tote and lighter than many other AR-10-compatible rifles.

With the specialization that defines current .308 ammo, you could load lighter bullets and go after varmint- or hog-sized game and then turn around and re-zero your scope for deer slayer, heavier-bullet stuff. If you are a competitor, the SFAR would work, as well. My sample was accurate and I have no doubt it would work well at longer distances. Maybe you shooters out there who have had more experience with this aspect of rifle shooting could leave a comment. Anyway, for a general “do-all” rifle that would fit my purposes, I like the SFAR. I’m glad Ed lives nearby — the rifle is available!

About Mike Hardesty

With experience spanning over 45 years, Mike Hardesty has long enjoyed shooting and reloading. An inveterate reloader, he casts bullets and reloads for a diverse array of firearms, each handled with long-practiced precision. Living in rural Indiana, his homestead boasts a personal 100-yard range where he shares his love for guns to his four sons, their wives, and eleven grandchildren. As a recognized author, his writings have been featured in notable platforms like Sniper Country, Bear Creek Arsenal Blog, Pew Pew Tactical, TTAG, Dillon Precision’s Blue Press, and Gun Made, revealing his ongoing passion for firearms at the age of 72.

Mike HardestyMike Hardesty

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