Bushmaster .308 ORC Review
The AR is America’s favorite carbine; the AR might as well stand for America’s Rifle. Every time I go to the range, I’m seeing more and more shooters trying out their newly purchased AR. Decking them out head to toe with optics, lights, grips and whatever else they can fit on the rails, whether if it’s practical or just tacti-cool—the AR is the carbine platform of choice for shooters across the country. With the continuous popularity of this carbine, we’re seeing an endless variety of accessories, and even a vast selection of versions of the AR platform itself.
Well what about those who want a little more UMPH, or a little bit of a longer reach than what the .223/5.56 NATO in the standard AR-15 is able to deliver? While keeping the classic profile of the AR-15, Bushmaster has released a .308 version of their popular ORC (Optics Ready Carbine) specifically for those wanting that longer reach and that more powerful punch.
I realize our contributor Josh Silverman did an excellent and thorough review on the DPMS .308 A4 (and almost everything said in that article could be said about DPMS’s sister company’s Bushmaster .308 ORC. I know it seems that October is quickly turning into AR-10 month at Gunblog.com, but we feel the Bushmaster ORC deserves its own review considering the are a lot of AR-10 shooters that were anticipating Bushmaster releasing the ORC in .308. I was excited to get this entry level AR-10 expecting it was going to be a good starter .308 rifle, and after doing the review, I’m more anxious to develop/upgrade it to become a superb and more personalized rifle.
Construction and Ergonomics
Anyone with any type of military experience or who has ever shot an AR will be completely familiar with the Bushmaster .308 ORC. Everything on the platform is instantly recognizable from the classic oval hand guards to the proverbial telescoping stock. Controls are in their standard locations from the bolt release to the safety; so there’s really nothing new that can be said about the mechanical design of the carbine.
The Bushmaster .308 ORC comes with a hard case, one 20 round magazine, and a sling. The rifle features a 16” heavy profile barrel with a 1 in 10 right hand twist making the overall length of the .308 ORC 33.25” with the stock collapsed (37.25” with the stock extended). Bushmaster’s .308 ORC uses the traditional gas impingement system, which is mid length and contains a milled gas block with just a bayonet lug on it, and no front sight. It weighs in at 7.75 lbs. without a magazine and 9.25 lbs fully loaded.
The selling pitch for the Bushmaster .308 ORC is in its name, Optics Ready Carbine. Which basically means it comes with no sights at all, and is ready for an optic of your choice to throw on top of it. Along with picatinny rails running atop the upper receiver, there are two ½” picatinny risers that come with the Bushmaster .308 ORC; this will help shooters who wish to transfer an optic which has low profile rings already installed on the optic, to be easily mounted on the .308 ORC—which is exactly what I did when I mounted a Nikon Monarch that came off a Remington 700. Luckily those risers came with the ORC, unless the scope mounts would not have had enough clearance to mount on the carbine. This could save shooters, who already have a similar optic solution, money on higher scope rings/mounts (which tend to be more expensive than the first time buyer expects; however just like anything else in the gun industry, you typically get what you pay for).
The Bushmaster .308 ORC mimics the quality construction and finish of all their AR rifles, keeping consistent the quality Bushmaster generally delivers with its rifles. The only real complaint I would have regarding construction and ergonomics would be that the handguards had a little wobble to them. I tried to reseat them; however, they still had a little play after the reinstallation. The effect was minimal, but noticeable. Even though this was in the back of my mind when shooting, I believe the affect towards accuracy was more mental than actually physically contributing to just a few (ok, ok… more than just a few) missed shots.
First I would like to say that the missed shots were all contributable to my own marksmanship short comings, the Bushmaster .308 ORC is a very accurate rifle. At the range, after dialing in my scope, when I did my part (patience, patience, patience) I was able to keep my groups around 1.6” at 100 yards (or around 1.6 MOA). The smallest group I was able to achieve while bench shooting using the supplied rests was 1.45 inches. I believe if I was able to test the Bushmaster .308 ORC on a sled, I could tighten that group to be able to hit just above 1 MOA. For the most part, and especially when I did my part, the Bushmaster .308 ORC was very accurate right out of the box. With a few simple additions/modifications, like a bi-pod, the ORC’s accuracy would rival any semi-auto .308 I’ve shot in a similar price range.
The first noticeable attribute while firing the Bushmaster .308 ORC is of course, the recoil. With my first visit to the range, I threw about 250 rounds down range, and I felt it afterwards. This is no surprise; anyone reading that last sentence would be thinking, “It’s called a .308 stupid.” Of course I anticipated more recoil with this AR-10 style carbine; however in comparison with other .308 rifles I’ve shot, I feel that the traditional collapsible M-4 style stock doesn’t lend itself too well to the heavy recoil of the Bushmaster .308 ORC when shooting 200 plus rounds. Adding an M-4 buttstock recoil pad (which is available in the 2010 Bushmaster catalog or almost any gun accessory website) would assist in a much more comfortable shooting experience. I believe the typical shooter won’t send this much lead downrange in one sitting on average, especially with the .308 cartridge costing on average 80 cents a round (I don’t even want to mention match grade prices), but I certainly felt the effects of the recoil after that range visit.
Reliability with the Bushmaster .308 ORC was great as one would expect from Bushmaster. I tested practically every type of .308/7.62 ammunition I could get my hands on—Black Hills 175 gr and Fiocchi .308 168 gr to off the shelf Winchester white box and Federal budget 7.62—every round went through the carbine with virtually no failures of any sort. The only cleaning I did on the .308 ORC was when I first received the rifle before going to the range, no cleaning was done between shooting sessions; only after the review was accomplished is when I first cleaned it. After about 1,000 rounds of .308/7.62 (our most costly review to date), the only malfunction was one failure to eject from the budget 7.62 Federal. Of course, my groups seemed noticeably tighter with the more expensive match grade ammo. Shooters can rest assured that no matter what brand/type of ammo is available to them, the Bushmaster .308 ORC should be able to handle it with no hiccups.
We also tested Magpul 7.62 PMAGS with the Bushmaster .308 ORC, and it we experienced no problems what-so-ever while using the popular magazines during the review.
Cleaning the Bushmaster .308 ORC is what one would expect cleaning an AR type rifle with a gas impingement system, but slightly worse. Of course, this depends on what type of ammunition you’re using, but the extra powder in the .308/7.62 is noticeable when cleaning. I’m used to this since my favorite gun to shoot that I own is my Frankensteined AR, but the Bushmaster .308 seemed to take a little longer to clean than a standard .223/5.56 AR. For me, it’s not a big deal spending a slightly extra amount of time to clean the Bushmaster ORC.308; I find it therapeutic and actually thoroughly enjoy cleaning my guns.
Well the wait is over, the ORC from Bushmaster is finally available in the .308 cartridge, and to sum it up, it’s a great AR option. I like the fact that Bushmaster is offering a “vanilla” AR-10 that is open to let the customer customize it to his or her personal preferences. It supplies a reliable and powerful base AR-10 platform at a very obtainable price for a .308 semi-automatic rifle (the MSRP is $1,395 but I’ve already seen them online for about 10-15% less than that).
Granted, the AR-10 accessory market is not as robust as the AR-15 market, and the AR-10 accessories seem to be almost manufacturer specific—accessories that would fit on an Armlite AR-10, won’t necessarily fit on a DPMS or Bushmaster AR-10. Even with that being said, there are still almost an endless supply of personalized options one could add onto their Bushmaster .308 ORC. And starting out with just a “plain Jane” AR-10 that is ready to have whatever optic someone wishes to add to it, along with the potential it possesses as far as customization, makes the Bushmaster .308 ORC a favorable option in my eyes.
That’s why I contacted Bushmaster and let them know I wish to purchase the one they sent us for review. I plan to use it as a base for building an AR-10 with the exact options I wish to have, a sentiment I believe a lot of other shooters can relate with. A lot of us like our weapons as personalized as we are, we take pride in the guns we’ve built, and we love to show them off. And I think that’s the absolute best feature of the Bushmaster .308 ORC. Along with the outstanding reliability, and dependable accuracy, the Bushmaster .308 ORC delivers a platform that the shooter can constantly look forward to adding to like with any AR—providing an endless potential to make the rifle their own.