DS Arms 'Voyager' FN-FAL with a 21 inch barrel.
Why, Well that is a complicated question. Let us look at the common available semi auto .308's.
Fairly unbiased process of elimination knocked out:
AR-10- The onees in my budget are of pretty questionable quality. The whole market is a mess with a serious lack of standardization. There are weird proprietary parts all up in pretty much every AR-10. To further complicate things none of these rifles (excluding the way too rich for my blood Knight SR-25) are really battle tested. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of promise and I do believe these are the way of the future for the semi auto .308 but it might be a few years till the previously listed issues get unscrewed.
M1A- Honestly these rifles should have never been made. Also the rifles are silly expensive and accessories are even worse.
Completely biased process of elimination knocks out:
The PTR-91. It is the cheapest semi auto .308 made by a reputable manufacturer. Accessories, and in particular mags are quite affordable. Why did it get eliminated? Honestly I am just really ambivalent about the PTR-91. Even if it doesn't make sense paying a grand for a rifle I am not at all excited about is kind of silly.
So we have spoken about the problems (real or perceived) with other platforms. Now specifically why the FN-FAL.
-Proven design. The FN-FAL was to the free world what the AK was to the communist world. Sure the US (and I believe Taiwan) had the M14 and Germany/ Portugal plus some others had the G3 but the FAL was the service rifle for 90 countries.
-Wide parts base. Sort of like say, the Winchester 30-30, so many were made for so long that parts are always going to be out there. Being dispassionate about this was hard for me. I have owned a Winchester 30-30 for my entire adult life and love them. They are beautiful rifles. Commander Zero and Peter of Bayou Renaissance Man brought up a point that really helped with this. Honestly the only situation where a 30-30 would beat a FN-FAL is in a serious nanny state situation. Thankfully as of now I am not in one of those and I hope to stay out of one.
-Away from the FAL in general and specifically to the Voyager. If possible I prefer the budget gun from a quality company (The Kahr CW9 is an example of this) than the supposedly nicer guns from a lower tier manufacturer like say a DPMS LR-308.
-While there is probably a temptation to keep messing with it the adjustable gas flow might be handy for shooting different ammunition or getting a dirty rifle running again in an emergency.
-The rife has a cool history. The era of the 'battle rifle' was pretty cool. Since they were a post Korea, pre gulf war weapon they mostly saw action in Africa. I stumbled into an interesting post on the history of the FN-FAL and G3 in Africa that is good for a coffee break.
-I sort of made a bargain with myself to sell the 30-30, eliminating a caliber, and pony up for a FAL. Since I am realistically going to have one (or just maybe two, a para FAL would be sweet, gosh I am starting an expensive hobby) or maybe two the price difference over a PTR-91 is not a deal maker.
-I really wanted one. They are a cool, classy rifle. The Voyager put a DS Arms rifle into my realistic price range.
-I love the way a FAL with a wood stock looks.
So anyway I ordered a FAL and some mags. I'd like 50 but 20 is not a bad place to be at. Going to get some ammo and hopefully a parts kit to provide spares soon.