Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Ruger SFAR. Image courtesy JWT for
Previous Post
Next Post

Don’t think of the Ruger SFAR as an AR10 in an AR-15’s body. It’s more like an AR-15 that’s chambered in .308 Winchester. And it’s wonderful.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

How did Ruger do it? Witchcraft. Probably.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
AR-15 (top), SFAR (below). (Image courtesy JWT for

The external dimensions of Ruger’s Small Frame Autoloading Rifle (SFAR) and your grandfather’s AR-15 are practically identical. Take a look at the lower receivers. The take-down and pivot pin holes line up between the tan AR-15 receiver and the SFAR.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

The SR25/AR10-size magazines necessitate a larger magazine well, but the rest of the lower receiver is very similar. Swap in any standard AR-15 trigger, mil-spec buffer tube, grip and buttstock you want. The buffer spring and the buffer itself are particular to the SFAR, however, and should not be replaced with aftermarket parts.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

The stock furniture is great, including a Magpul MOE SL stock and Magpul MOE grip. The slimline M-LOK-compatible handguard has slots on 270 degrees, with the top smooth except for a small section of rail at the muzzle end.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
AR-15 lower (above), SFAR lower (below). Image courtesy JWT for

The trigger is Ruger’s own Elite 452 trigger. Ruger advertises a trigger pull, but this one measured to 3 lbs 9.1 oz when averaged over five pulls on my Lyman digital trigger scale and the extreme deviation was just under 3 oz. The curved shoe has a wee bit of grit after the 1st stage slack and features a solid, very positive reset.

This upper receiver features a 16.1″ chrome-moly heavy profile barrel with 5R rifling and a 1:10 twist. A 20″ version is also offered that adds half a pound of weight. but gains the ballistic advantages of a likely 100+ fps of muzzle velocity.  You’ll find Ruger’s “high-strength super alloy steel” in the barrel extension mating up to the bolt itself.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
AR-15 BCG (above), SFAR (below) (Image courtesy JWT for

There are some obvious differences in the bolt carrier group, but it’s very similar in overall size to the standard AR-15 BCG. Again, compare the AR-15 BCG on top with the SFAR BCG on the bottom in the photo above.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

The bolt face itself is obviously a different size, and the bolt has larger, tapered lugs, dual plunger style ejectors and a larger extractor. It’s also clearly a different material than Carpenter 158 and Ruger touts this “high-strength super alloy steel” as a key feature in the gun’s ability to stay small and light while retaining the strength necessary to handle the larger chambering.

The carrier itself is chrome lined 8620 steel and the titanium firing pin has been DLC coated. When it comes to the guts of the gun, Ruger didn’t skimp.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

The SFAR features a 4-position gas regulator. This one shipped on the “3” position, throwing as much gas back into the receiver as possible. I had zero reliability issues with this setting, but after a couple of hundred rounds I noticed my brass was getting absolutely launched from the gun.

Using a 3/16 wrench (Ruger supplies one and tucks it inside the grip) I turned the setting back to 2. That reduced carrier speed, diminished shock back into my face, and still gets me perfect reliability while using the factory muzzle brake.

That muzzle brake is a big ol’ two-port affair that does a great job at reducing recoil but significantly adds to the noise and blast of the .308 Winchester cartridge, already loud from the short 16.1″ barrel.

Since the entire rifle weighs in at 6.8 lbs., that muzzle brake is required in order to keep your eye in the glass for precise shots or fast follow-ups. A sub-7 lb. 7.62 NATO gun is going to kick…there’s just no fighting physics.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

The better option is, of course, to put a can on it. Ruger makes that very easy, using a jam nut to time the brake and lock it in place, exposing the practically standard 5/8″x24 threads.

I shot the first 300 rounds with the supplied muzzle brake, then another 260 with a SilencerCo Omega suppressor attached and with the gas regulator set to the “1” setting. I also shot a few rounds suppressed and some unsuppressed with the rifle on the “0” setting, and in both cases, it turned the rifle into a single shot rifle, as advertised.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

I lubed the SFAR with a healthy spray of CLP prior to shooting it, shot 20 rounds, cleaned the barrel, and did that twice more. After that, I never cleaned any part of the gun again until the review was over and it was time to take photos.

Yes, it got dirty, but it never failed in any way. That said, my load selection was a bit narrow, out of necessity. I shot 40 rounds of Hornady’s 150gr SST Superformance round, which I’ve found to be a phenomenal hunting cartridge. I fired 60 rounds of Hornady’s 178gr BTHP Match round, and all the rest were my own home-rolled 175gr SMK M118LR clone cartridge. Ammunition pickins has been slim around here lately.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

If I were to judge the SFAR’s precision on my first 200 rounds, I would have given it middling scores, at best. My first five rounds of that 150gr Hornady round printed a 2.1″ five-round group at 100 yards from a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest and a US Optics 10X scope (sighting the gun in).  My own home-rolled round printed 1.8″.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

Shooting it all again nearer the end of the review, things had changed quite a bit. After 400 rounds through the gun, the 150gr round was still the worst performer, but now printing 1.6″ five-round groups averaged over four shot strings. My 175gr SMK barely beat that, at 1.5″, but the Hornady 178r BTHP Match round printed the best results at 1.2″.

No, nothing broke the 1 MOA mark, but that would be particularly challenging with a sub 7 lb. .308 autoloader. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen a sub-7 lb. autoloader break the 1 MOA mark consistently, at least not with five-round groups, but I’m hopeful.

I’m a huge fan of cartridges like the 6.8 SPC and 6.5 Grendel for the simple reason that you can get a lot of terminal effect in a small, lightweight AR-15 package. The SFAR takes that a huge step further.

Yes, those cartridges are still great simply for their lack of recoil and efficiency, but there’s no denying they don’t touch the .308 Winchester in terms of energy and mass delivered on target, especially at longer ranges.

The only real question here is longevity. This gun performs well at the 500+ round mark and shows no signs of significant wear. But what’s it going to look like at the 6,000 round mark, and how easy will it be to re-barrel the gun when it gets there? There’s one word that soothes my fears there, and it’s “Ruger” whose customer service and aftermarket support are second to none.

Ruger SFAR autoloading rifle
Image courtesy JWT for

The SFAR, especially this 16.1″ barreled version, balances well in the hand.  The muzzle stops and starts quickly and breaking the trigger on target then getting back on target is no real challenge, especially considering the chambering. It’s a .308 autoloader that’s easy to shoot and extremely easy to carry.

Ruger’s done something pretty amazing and unique here. Yes, there are a few other companies making AR-15(ish) guns that shoot 2.800″ OAL cartridges, but none that I know of that are quite this light, or light on the wallet. I was able to easily find this rifle online for under $1,100. I don’t know how Ruger will keep them on the shelves.

Specifications:  Ruger SFAR Autoloading Rifle

Caliber: .308 Win.
Stock: Magpul MOE SL
Handguard: Lite Free-Float with M-LOK Attachment Slots
Barrel Length: 16.10″
Thread Pattern: 5/8″-24
Grip: Magpul MOE
Capacity: 20Receivers: 7075-T6 hard-coat anodized aluminum forging
Finish: Type III Hard-Coat Anodized
Height: 7.20″
Weight: 6.8 lbs.
Twist: 1:10″ RH
Overall Length: 34″ – 37.25″
Length of Pull: 11″ – 14.25″
MSRP: $1,329.00 (about Ruger SFAR)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * *
It looks like an AR, but a good one.

Customization * * * * *
There are a few pieces specific to the SFAR, but it’s pretty amazing what all isn’t. When it comes to how the gun looks and feels, there is a ton of aftermarket options available.

Accuracy * * * *
Not breaking the 1 MOA means no 5-star rating, but near there is very good for such a lightweight AR.

Reliability * * * * *
Perfect, suppressed or not.

Overall * * * * * 
I wanted to review this rifle and when I got it, I found it very boring. Just another AR. But…this is just another AR-15, that shoots .308 Win, and shoots it well, all day long, with lots of ability to customize…and with solid features, under 7 lbs., and pretty affordable.  Ruger may have just made the perfect all-around truck gun. It’s been quite a few years since I bought an AR, but this one just made the top of the list.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. I LIKE IT! This would make a great hunting/SHTF rifle. It is suitable for long, hard use in the field as well as survival purposes. With the proper “glass” it would be perfect for almost any North American game.

    Great Job, Ruger!

    • Six months prior I misplaced my work and after that I was blessed sufficient to falter upon a extraordinary site which truly spared me. I begun working for them online and in a brief time after I’ve begun averaging 15k a month… The finest thing was that cause I am not that computer smart all I required was a few essential writing aptitudes and web get to to begin.
      ) AND Great Luckiness

  2. i’ll buy one and leave it on zero.
    this was in a periodical last month and i went straight to weight.

  3. I’d love to see a long term test between this and the POF Revolution since they both fill the same niche. I’ve been drooling over a Revolution since they came out but I haven’t been able to justify the cost. This Ruger though….

    • Thank you, I have a Revolution. The metallurgy will be quite different on the POF, I’m guessing. Nothing Revolutionary to see here, except the price. Pay less, get less.

    • A lot of the weight reduction is in the barrel. Barrels whip around when they’re shot, and the way they whip changes with temperature. Lighter weight barrels whip more and heat up faster so, all else being equal, a lighter barrel will not shoot as tight a group as a heavier one, regardless of being shot from the shoulder or a rest.

      In theory, there’d be no difference if you exclusively shot groups of all cold-bore shots but, even then, the extra whippiness of the lighter barrel would probably exaggerate the velocity differences of the rounds in the string as compared to a heavier barrel.

      • No. The rifle has a heavy barrel profile, as stated in the article.
        Regardless of if they are in a rest or not, guns move when they fire, and not perfectly reliably. Heavier guns move less. Brian Litz did some great work pointing proving that about half a firearm’s capability for precision could be determined by it’s weight.

        • Sorry, Brocheezle, the SFAR is not a heavy-profile barrel. A quick look at the shoulder behind the muzzle device would tell you that was a whippy barrel, regardless what your read/repeat of Ruger’s specs told you.

          We’ve met several times over the years, more than once on the range. I’ll admit that, after a relatively short initial discussion, you scared me much less than the majority of the other writers at the shoots, allowing me to spend much more of my focus on your colleagues’ muzzles than yours, but being someone who gets your words “published” (in quotation marks to emphasize the current state of what passes for journalism these days) doesn’t make you an expert in the subject, especially when you can dismiss barrel whip as a component of repeatability… and then go on to claim the SFAR had a “heavy profile barrel” just because Ruger’s marketing bullet points told you so.

        • CplCamelToe, your eyes need recalibrating. My calipers don’t.
          At its thinnest point it’s thicker than the other 308 autoloaders I own, including the SCAR 20S. I also fits the HBAR diameter at its smallest diameter. This is literally the definition of heavy barrel for an AR.

      • Even though Ruger calls it a heavy barrelled profile, it has at least six progressively stepped down reductions between the barrel nut and the muzzle brake threads, so not really what I would consider “heavy” profile… impressive accuracy for what it actually is though. Hopefully the 20″ version being less concerned about weight would be a more constant diameter.

  4. Damn, that’s a great design, let’s see what long term reliability will be. Maybe the next version will be a 6.5 Creed?

    • Someone from Ruger mentioned on this week’s Gun Talk they have 6.5 models, but they’re either unreleased or unadvertised for some reason.

  5. I’m getting MOA in my 16” out to 450yds with Federal 175gr Terminal Ascent, SIG 168 Hunter and just over with 150 Federal Fusion and 168 Federal BTHP. White box ball isn’t as impressive and is 2-3” which is about what I’d expect.
    The terminal ascent is my go to now.
    It was an absolute joy to carry during deer season last November. The rifle, scope, bipod and sling weigh what just the rifle I carried before did.
    I’ve had no hiccups with mine nor has my friend with his. I’ve seen some stuff on YouTube where’s theirs has but dunno why.
    I’m considering getting another one with just a dot for a truck gun to put down critters

  6. Great review, Jon! This looks much like my DPMS Recon MKII, which acted as the host for a pretty much full swap of components. I love the compact format of these .308 mutations.

  7. No 16” versus 20” in 308 debates in the comments? I was looking forward to some info.

    • It’s not too hard. Is velocity or compact more important to YOU.
      There’s no right or wrong
      I’m working a 16” to 500. That’s all I need for what I’m doing at the moment.

        • 20” is longer than 16” so 16” = more compact. Longer equals more weight too.
          Do you want short/lighter or higher velocities?
          It’s your choice

      • Oh yea, duh. Sorry. I was thinking ballistics when you said velocity. As in what would velocities counterpart be.

    • 100fps just happens to be the difference between .308 and .30-06.

    • I’m guessing you’ll lose around 150fps.
      Not same caliber however I made a rifle expressly for squirrel hunting. I’d cut the barrel back to 16n1/2 from the original 22 inch length. I should have marked the clicks required to rezero the riffle however it quite substantial. At extended yardage there was a big difference in the impact of the projectile. A human by using a pump up pellet gunm can get the real idea of what 100fps means in the field.

  8. I need one of these. I have a special place in the safe between the two MIA’s. You know to keep the fighting to a minimum, with all this Gun violence in the media.

    • I’ve only seen great reviews for this. Nut n fancy went “nuts”😀

      • I tried two different caebine length small frames. The first had just a simple flash hider the second a very aggressive muzzle brake. Forty rounds through each made up my mind to say no to the format due to the excessive recoil. Would make excellent hunting rifles but not anything requiring higher round counts. Purely an opinion your results may vary.

  9. I had lusted after a 16″ SFAR since it first appeared- I just needed to set aside extra cash until I could afford one. While my cash stash was growing, I heard more and more great things about the SFAR- and I also did some research on this “small” AR-10 phenomenon (about which I had previously known nothing).

    After giving my 300 BLK Mini-14 Tactical a “big brother” in the form of a Springfield M1A Scout Squad, I was determined to give my 300 BLK AR carbine a big bro in .308 Win- and the SFAR filled the bill perfectly. However, just as I was reaching the $1,200 cash goal- a wrench got thrown into the works…

    Something else I had always lusted after was a piston-driven AR. And in my research into small frame .308 AR’s- I learned there were small frame piston-driven .308 AR’s, too. Oh, my… now I had a quandary.

    Long story short- I decided to go with an Adams Arms P1 small frame piston .308 AR instead of the SFAR. And I ABSOLUTELY LOVE my P1! It’s almost a pound heavier than the SFAR, but I don’t mind because there is a just bit of recoil when touching off .308 rounds in an AR carbine (but it’s much milder than I had anticipated).

    What I wasn’t prepared for, though, is how much CLEANER the piston AR is compared to my DI AR. Good golly- there’s a HUGE difference when cleaning after a trip to the range! I typically have to wash my microfiber cleaning cloth after every range trip with the DI AR-15, but I have now taken the AA P1 piston AR to the range 4 (four) times- and my microfiber cloth is STILL clean enough to reuse. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it- a short-stroke piston makes a WORLD of difference in cleanliness compared to DI in AR’s. Color me spotlessly surprised.

    Bottom line: I have no doubt that I would love a Ruger SFAR… but for the same money I ended up with a small frame PISTON .308 AR instead- and the damn thing is AMAZING!

    (and thanks JWT for another great gun review)

    • Yup, that’s the real reason why most of my ARs are piston guns. I run cans on all of them, and it’s just soooo much easier to clean.

    • There is no debating that a piston gun is much cleaner.

      What is debatable is how well engineered a lot of these piston guns are. 10 years ago pistons were all the rage. Then people realized that most self destructed in 10k rounds.

      So DI is back, with all its filth and some upgrades to help it run longer while filthy. ARs don’t need to be clean to run. They just need to be lubed if they are dirty.

      There was a thread on from a guy who worked at a machine gun rental place in Vegas. Their guns got more rounds through them than almost anywhere else. He had a lot of data. But pretty much all of it indicated that no piston guns other than the HK416 ran as long as a DI gun before needing parts.

      • Well, I guess I’m lucky I’ll never get anywhere near putting 10k rounds through the rifle…

        (or any rifle for that matter)

  10. It’s a little light for .308. It needs to be fattened up with a 20″ barrel, an A1 or A2 Style stock and a Harris style bipod. Overall a decent, nicely designed .308 which should have a closed lower receiver, upper receiver appears to be high tang which is good as was the review.

    Would I trade one of my Aero .308 builds for one? No Way Jose.

  11. I went into Cabela’s yesterday to look at one of these. They did have one at $1149. The salesman was very condescending, dismissive and practically snatched it out of my hands to put it back in the rack. I thanked him for his time and left the store. I was left with the feeling I’d violated some protocol or etiquette.

    • You did. Its called the non customer service oriented customer service asshole protocol.

      • I recently bought a Shadow Systems from Cabelas. It was my first and last gun purchase from Cabelas. Never again..

    • You must not have asked any questions… I’ve found most Cabelas gun desk associates are only there to wow and amaze you with their vast knowledge of all things up to and including long-range bombers.
      Probably why they’re more expensive than almost any other sources nearby, I mean someone has to pay top wages for these human encyclopedias.

    • Cabelas really went to heck when the fishpeople bought the joint. They’re “different”

    • Local gunshow today. Large seller had @ $999 for choice of 16″ or 20″ and w/2 extra Magpul SR20 mags. I heard.

  12. First mistake: Cabelas. Nonetheless always small talk the sales person and then ask if you can handle the firearm.

    Only real downside for me is no closed trigger which is a lower strength feature. The seams between the upper and lower indicate a very good fit. The upper has forward assist which is a plus, it would have been nice to know if the upper has a machined sear relief for a shim.
    I would have liked to have seen a detach A2 carry handle and detach front sight tried. The price is reasonable and about what it would cost to piece something similar together.

  13. “Capacity: 20Receivers”
    LOL, wow, a capacity of 20 receivers — that’s a lot of receivers to fit into one rifle!
    Can we get it with a capacity of 10 receivers if we live in an AWB state?
    That reminds me of the anti-gun group who said an AR-15 has a capacity of “30 caliber clips per second.”

  14. Got one and love it
    only thing, back of case is chewed up no matter which brand ammo I tried. shot setting at 3, then 2, still chewed up.
    not downgrading. Would buy again. Love it. Just wonder why cases getting chewed up.

  15. Not mentioned unless I missed it, but by pic of bolt face, it appears the SFAR is direct impingement and not piston. NBD with me.

    The overall size/weight is somewhat appealing to me. I built up an AR 10 some time back and it’s a big, heavy thing I rarely shoot. Even though it doesn’t have optics, I’d much rather shoot my M-1A any day. When I need the accuracy I take my old set-triggered SSG69. This appears to be rifle I may check out. Thanks for the review.

  16. The POF Revolution DI has been around for 3-4 years now. This rifle is patterned after that one, and that’s not a bad thing.

  17. Since it isn’t mentioned in the article, I’ll ask here: What magazines does it take, and are there 20-30 rounders available for it? Thanks.

Comments are closed.