After Bushmaster set out to design a .308-Win. AR-type rifle, the company’s engineers decided there was room for a new approach. One key area was the magazine. Other rifles of this type use either proprietary magazines or modified M14 magazines. So when designing a new .308 Win. rifle, it was only logical to choose a highquality, inexpensive and plentiful magazine. The FAL magazine met all three criteria. High-capacity .308 magazines for the ubiquitous Fusil Automatique Leger or FAL are reasonably priced and widely available.
With its .308, Bushmaster re-engineered the AR—originally designed for its magazine to be directly inserted into the magazine well—and modified it to use an FAL magazine. The FAL design is inserted front first to engage a magazine well recess and then rotated back to lock into place. Bushmaster’s engineers not only integrated the two components, but did so without modifying the FAL magazines. In the process, it arguably improved the controls over those of traditional AR-type rifles.
The magazine controls are ingenious, both in how they have been adapted to the FAL magazine and in how their ergonomics offer the shooter improved control. The magazine catch is a spring-loaded latch that engages the locking lug on the FAL magazine’s upper rear face. The release is fully ambidextrous. When the release is pressed from either side, a lever retracts the latch and the magazine drops free.
Like the magazine catch, the bolt release is a departure. It consists of a one-piece bar that extends across the bottom of the rifle just forward of the trigger guard behind the magazine well. Pressing down on either side releases the bolt. The optional ambidextrous safety transforms the Bushmaster .308 into the only fully ambidextrous AR-type rifle available. Bushmaster also eliminated the sometimes inconvenient charging handle latch, replacing it with a hidden spring-loaded detent in the center of the charging handle that engages a recess in the upper receiver.
The upper and lower receivers are made of forged 7075-T6 aluminum. About half of the .308’s components interchange with those of .223-Rem. caliber rifles, but none are stressed, so reliability is unaffected. Two versions of the Bushmaster .308 are available—an A2 type with fixed carry handle and sights and an A3 variant with a flat top upper receiver and a three-rail gas block. Barrels are rifled with four lands and grooves in a 1:10" right-hand twist.
The Bushmaster rifle came with an optional Ace Ltd. “ARFX” skeleton stock. This stock replaces the “A2” type fiberglass stock with one of hard anodized aluminum that is both lighter and stronger than the original. The stock has a closed-cell foam cover over the buffer tube. This provides a much improved cheek weld, and dampens vibration and noise. The stock comes with a 1/2" thick recoil pad that has a “tacky” feel that helps hold the stock in position.
Bushmaster’s “A3” .308 doesn’t come with iron sights installed, so we chose an EoTech Holographic Weapon Sight (HWS) as our primary sight. This sight has recently been adopted by the U.S. Army and is probably the fastest optical sight available. The 65 m.o.a. circle and 1 m.o.a. dot reticle draw the eye to the target, enabling almost instant engagement....