30-06 vs 308
By Guy J. Sagi Though the .30-06 Springfield has reigned supreme over other whitetail deer-hunting cartridges for decades,…
Just about every deer hunter on the planet has a favorite cartridge that they turn to when they want to down that trophy buck. Despite the fact that some hunters prefer cartridges like the .270 or 30-30, one of the most popular remains 308 ammo for deer hunting. Chances are that the .308 Winchester is probably your go-to option as well.
I mean, who can blame you? The .308 cartridge is extremely proficient at taking down deer. Few people (if any) will protest using the .308 on a hunt, there is plenty of debate regarding which .308 deer cartridge reigns supreme.
In order to help clear things up, we have identified some of the best .308 ammo for deer hunting ammo below. All four cartridges perform so well that we could not pick a winner. However, any of the options that we highlight will make a great companion for your .308 rifle on your next hunt.
As you can see from the performance data outlined below, most .308 deer hunting ammo is designed for use within the 300-yard threshold. This is due to the ballistics performance of the .308 cartridge. While a skilled shooter can get rounds on target outside of that distance, keeping shots to 300 yards or less will produce optimal results. The ammo compared below are all solid options that will help you reliably down your game.
When searching for quality .308 deer hunting ammo, we suggest checking out one of the following four options:
The Non-Typical .308 Win cartridge from Federal Premium Ammunition contains a 150-grain projectile and a “non-typical” soft point. It has a listed muzzle velocity of 2820 fps and is designed specifically for shooting whitetail. This cartridge maintains a velocity of greater than 2000 fps up to approximately 300 yards.
Federal Non-Typical features a “non-typical” soft point, with “soft” being the keyword. The bullet’s design is intended to expand quickly when hitting a deer, causing a massive energy transfer and creating a devastating wound channel. Expect deer to drop quickly depending on your shot placement. Keep in mind, that you’ll want a rifle with a higher barrel twist rate to get the most out of this 150-grain ammo.
|Federal Non-Typical||Muzzle||100 Yards||200 Yards||300 Yards||400 Yards||500 Yards|
|150gr Soft Point||2820 FPS||2532 FPS||2261 FPS||2007 FPS||1771 FPS||1557 FPS|
We would be remiss if we didn’t include a Hornady .308 cartridge on the list. As one of the premier ammo manufacturers in the world, Hornaday knows how to produce 308 ammo for deer hunting.
The Hornady .308 Win cartridge contains their unique Interlock bullet, which has an exposed lead tip to assist with consistent expansion. The muzzle velocity of this cartridge is 2,820 fps, which drops to about 2,063 fps at the 300-yard mark.
Hornady American Whitetail uses the famous Interlock bullet. It’s designed with a lead core that’s mechanically locked to the metal jacket. In the field, expect to see expansion double the size of the bullet’s diameter. If your shot placement is good, you shouldn’t have to track your target for more than a few yards. Again, keep an eye on your rifle barrel’s twist rate if you’re running a 150-grain cartridge. But know, Hornady optimizes their bullet velocities for each individual caliber, so expect above-average accuracy and performance.
|Federal Non-Typical||Muzzle||100 Yards||200 Yards||300 Yards||400 Yards||500 Yards|
|150gr Soft Point||2820 FPS||2553 FPS||3201 FPS||2063 FPS||1841 FPS||1636 FPS|
Winchester .308 Super-X
Winchester Super-X in .308 Win continues the trend of using 150-grain projectiles. This bullet weight seems to be the ideal choice for .308 deer hunting ammo.
The Super-X produces a muzzle velocity of 2,820 fps and maintains a velocity of 1,960 fps at 300 yards. It has a contoured cavity, which Winchester designed to aid expansion and transfer an optimal amount of force to the target.
Winchester Super-X rounds often get compared to Remington Core-Lokt, however, they aren’t the same. For starters, the lead nose of the Super-X is much more exposed, and the jacket features notches that allow for uniform expansion. Velocities between the two look similar at the muzzle, but the Winchester actually slows down more quickly, making it less likely to over-penetrate the intended target. The power-point bullet design is devastating on soft targets, it’s the reason hunters have trusted Super-X for more than fifty years.
|Winchester Super-X||Muzzle||100 Yards||200 Yards||300 Yards||400 Yards||500 Yards|
|150gr Power Point||2820 FPS||2513 FPS||2227 FPS||1960 FPS||1713 FPS||1492 FPS|
Remington .308 Core-Lokt
Rounding out our list is .308 Win Core-Lokt from Remington. This cartridge also contains a 150-grain projectile. It has a listed muzzle velocity of 2,820 fps and incorporates the Remington Core-Lokt design. The copper jacket is “Locked” to the solid lead core, which creates a much larger expansion upon impact.
Like the other entries on our list, the Core-Lokt maintains great velocity up to around 300 yards. After that threshold, it falls below the 2,000 fps threshold.
The Remington Core-Lokt bullet has impressive “mushroom” expansion in soft targets. While the design itself may be dated in terms of ballistics, with proper shot placement, it gets the job done. Many a deer has been dropped where it was standing thanks to a Core-Lokt bullet. The only downside is that the unbonded lead core can fragment, depending on how it hits the target. If that concerns you, you can always pick up Core-Lokt Ultra, which features a bonded bullet.
|Remington Core-Lokt||Muzzle||100 Yards||200 Yards||300 Yards||400 Yards||500 Yards|
|150gr Pointed Soft Point||2820 FPS||2532 FPS||2262 FPS||2009 FPS||1774 FPS||1560 FPS|
What Makes The .308 Cartridge A Great Deer Hunting Round?
The .308 cartridge has a unique set of attributes that make it an ideal choice for deer hunting. These attributes include:
The muzzle velocity of .308 deer hunting ammo will vary depending on the brand and manufacturer. However, almost every option out there will fall somewhere in the 2,600 fps range or higher. This means that the rounds have plenty of energy to down medium-sized game like deer.
As mentioned above, the .308 cartridge has similar ballistics performance as the .30-06 projectile. Purpose-built .308 deer hunting ammo will efficiently transfer a respectable amount of force into the deer upon impact. This is important for two key reasons.
First, you want to put your target down quickly for the sake of the animal. Using underpowered ammunition can cause the animal to experience unnecessary suffering and may only wound the deer.
Secondly, good shot placement and quality ammunition will limit how far the deer travels after being hit. This will prevent you from having to track the deer for hundreds of yards.
Due to its shorter design and the reduced amount of powder that it contains, .308 deer hunting ammo produces less recoil than many of its long-action counterparts. This makes it a good choice for shooters of all experience levels and statures.
While there is nothing wrong with using a hotter round like the .300 Win Mag for deer hunting, some shooters will find managing the recoil from this larger cartridge difficult. As a result, they may develop bad habits, like flinching in anticipation of the recoil, which will lead to inaccurate shot placement.
As a history buff, I can’t help but bring up the storied history of the .308 cartridge before we dive into the top available deer hunting rounds.
As of 2022, the .308 cartridge has been in production for seven decades. This prolific round is closely related to the .30-06, which is the cartridge that the .308 was created to replace.
While the .30-06 received high praise for its performance in World War 1 & 2, it sports a long action cartridge. As weapons technology advanced, weapons designers found that long-action cartridges did not fire reliably when used in automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Specifically, the .30-06 frequently caused jams and other feeding issues that could endanger combat troops in live-fire scenarios.
In order to remedy these issues, designers developed the .308 cartridge. The .308 is a short-action cartridge, which makes the round cheaper to produce and lighter. More importantly, short-action cartridges perform far more reliably in automatic weapons.
The .308’s ballistic performance closely mirrors that of the .30-06. However, it produces less recoil because it uses slightly less gunpowder than its larger relative. Although the .308 was created for the military, civilians quickly adopted it for hunting and recreational shooting purposes.
Looking for more ammo options for .308 rifles? Check out our handy guide to the best .308 ammo on the blog.