Gratuitous Gun Pic: CETME 58 Model C (.308 Win)

I’ve only ever owned a few semi-auto “battle” rifles, but I have to say that since the Unfortunate Canoeing Accident on the Brazos River several years ago, I’ve felt the CETME’s loss rather keenly;  and this one from Collectors has not helped at all:

The design went on to be the basis for the HK G3 (unsurprising, as the engineers were post-WWII Germans), but for some reason I’ve always found the CETME more pleasant to shoot.  Purely on aesthetic grounds, of course, the wooden grips are better than the plastic ones by a country mile.  And I really like the quirky upper-mounted bayonet. for a bonus.

Mechanically, mine fed everything flawlessly — .308 Win and 7.62 NATO both — and it was as accurate as any of its FN-based counterparts.

The history of the CETME is here, and once you’ve overcome the shock of paying over a grand for any Century Arms offering, I have to say that this would be a lovely (and cheaper) alternative to the other 7.62 NATO rifles out there.

To paraphrase Othias, I’d take this CETME to war in a heartbeat.


  1. I have no experience with the FAL or G3 or Cetme. is there much difference in shooting any of them? Are their design features that make one better than the other?


    1. I don’t think so. Any semi-auto shooting the .308 will have the same characteristics, as long as weight and dimensions are about the same. It all comes down to handling, reliability and accuracy in the end, just as it would with bolt-action rifles shooting the same cartridge.

  2. I used to own a CETME just like that one, minus the bayonet and bipod. At the time, mid-1990’s, Century was selling them with an investment cast stainless receiver and funky welded/pinned flash hider for about $500. The pictured rifle appears to have a cast receiver (as opposed to formed sheet metal).
    It’s a heavy rifle and does all the things Kim describes.
    However, the fluted chamber sort of chews up the brass which makes reloading the ammo questionable. If you are shooting Berdan primed milsurp ammo, no big deal.
    I have a problem just throwing out otherwise good brass, so I go rid of the CETME and replaced it with an M1-A (for 3x price). Visualize dollars being ejected instead of brass cases.
    The M1-A is also a heavy rifle and does all the things Kim describes, but does not chew up the brass.
    Also, I can confidently say the M1-A is a much higher quality rifle in terms of materials, fit and finish.
    This is not surprising since the Century CETME’s used all surplus part except for the receiver. Actual CETMEs have not been produced for a long time.

    1. Same here. Being a reloader, I never seriously considered the purchase of any fluted chamber gas gun. I have shot various CETME, FN/FAL, H&K’s, what have you in the distant past. My impression was that their recoil felt a bit sharper than an M1A (at least at the time). The other thing that squirreled me was the availability and cost of spare mags. I have M1A mags that are still in the issue foil wrap.

  3. Very nice but I would not shoot .308 through it, IIRC it used the Spanish version of the 7.62 x 51 which was a slightly lower pressure version of the NATO round.

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