for a good semi auto sporter get a Winchester model 100 in .308 or .243winchester.
for cheap plinking get a good used Chinese SKS in 7.62x39
you can get a french MAS 49/56 in 7.5 french or one converted for .308 for way less than a new Ruger mini 14, the french MAS 49 think SKS on Steroids.
Try a Ruger Deerfield .44 carbine, its a .44 cal mini -14
marlin Camp .45,
Hi Point 9945
(i have a HP 995 and its a good gun)