30-06 vs 308
By Guy J. Sagi Though the .30-06 Springfield has reigned supreme over other whitetail deer-hunting cartridges for decades,…
Along with the .270 Winchester, the .308 cartridge remains one of the most popular hunting rounds in existence today. Thousands of hunters across the nation turn to .308 hunting ammo when they want a powerful and reliable projectile to down their prey.
In addition, armed forces use the .308 (also known as the 7.62x51mm NATO) around the world in belt-fed automatic weapons. While the .308 is a great option for taking out everything from deer to elk or even bear, not all ammunition is created equal.
With that in mind, we created this guide to help you select the ideal .308 cartridge for your next hunt.
If you are looking to get your hands on some quality .308 hunting cartridges, these are our top picks:
First up for the hog hunters is the Remington Core-Lokt .308 cartridge. This 180-grain projectile has a muzzle velocity of 2,620 fps and muzzle energy of 2,648 ft-lbs. It incorporates a “pointed soft point” design, which ensures sound penetration and consistent expansion on impact.
According to Remington, the muzzle velocity remains above the 1,500 fps mark at distances of up to 300 yards, but the muzzle energy drops to 1,110 ft-lbs. Therefore, we suggest keeping your shots within about 300 yards for optimal performance. At those distances, the projectile still packs plenty of punch to take down even the meanest wild boar.
|Remington Core-Lokt||Muzzle||100 Yards||200 Yards||300 Yards||400 Yards||500 Yards|
|180gr Soft Point||2620 FPS||2274 FPS||1956 FPS||1667 FPS||1415 FPS||1213 FPS|
While the Remington Core-Lokt projectile could certainly be used to down a trophy buck, we suggest going with a specialized deer cartridge. For our next pick, we turned to a product created by one of the most prolific ammunition manufacturers in the world, Federal Premium Ammunition.
Federal produces several different .308 Win hunting cartridges, but one of our favorites is the Fusion. This soft point projectile is skived in order to facilitate consistent expansion upon impact. It sports an electro-chemically applied copper jacket, which helps to maximize penetration and weight retention. Federal Premium offers three variants of the .308 Win Fusion cartridge.
The heaviest comes in at 180 grains. This option has a muzzle velocity of 2,600 fps and a muzzle energy of 2,702 ft-lbs. At the 300-yard mark, this projectile is still traveling in excess of 2,100 fps, according to Federal.
The middleweight option comes in at 15 grains lighter, for a total weight of 165 grains. This slightly lighter projectile boasts a muzzle velocity of 2,700 fps and muzzle energy of 2,671 ft-lbs. The lightest .308 Win Fusion cartridge still weighs a respectable 150 grains. As expected, this round has the highest muzzle velocity, which comes in at 2,820 fps. Despite being lighter than its counterparts, the 150-grain option has a muzzle energy of 2,648 ft-lbs.
|Federal Fusion||Muzzle||100 Yards||200 Yards||300 Yards||400 Yards||500 Yards|
|180gr Bonded Soft Point||2600 FPS||2427 FPS||2260 FPS||2101 FPS||1947 FPS||1801 FPS|
When searching for a big game .308 hunting ammo, you’ll find a lot of fancy options. So, we included a classic round to make it easy. Rounding out our lineup of the best .308 hunting ammo is the Winchester Super-X 180gr Power-Point.
We are willing to look past the simplicity of this 180-grain projectile because of its unparalleled performance. This cartridge produces a muzzle velocity of 2,620 fps and muzzle energy of 2,743 ft-lbs, but what sets it apart is its design. ThePower-Point has a jacketed soft point for consistent and reliable expansion, a lead-alloy core, and a design that thumps targets hard with deep, proven penetration.
|Winchester Super-X||Muzzle||100 Yards||200 Yards||300 Yards||400 Yards||500 Yards|
|180gr Power Point||2620 FPS||2392 FPS||2176 FPS||1971 FPS||1779 FPS||1600 FPS|
Before we turn our attention to specific .308 hunting cartridge options, let’s briefly explore the history of this well-known ammunition. Winchester designed and released the .308 cartridge in 1952 to supplant the .30-06. The .30-06 was highly effective in both world wars, but it is a long-action cartridge. While long-action cartridges have their benefits, they function less reliably in semi-automatic and automatic rifles.
As firearms technology became more advanced, the designers at Winchester were able to create the .308 Winchester cartridge, which is shorter than the .30-06. Despite being shorter, the .308’s performance is nearly identical to that of the .30-06. However, it is more compact, lighter, and cheaper to produce. An added benefit of the .308 cartridge is that it produces less recoil energy than the .30-06. This is because it uses slightly less powder. The reduced recoil makes the .308 cartridge more accessible, as less experienced or smaller framed shooters can manage the energy it produces. The same cannot be said of the .30-06.
The primary use case for the .308 cartridge is big game hunting. With the right .308 cartridge loaded into your chamber, you can confidently take on wild hogs, deer, moose, elk, and bear. However, I would not recommend taking any shots greater than 300 yards. While all of your shots are probably well within this distance, the effective range of the projectile must be addressed.
To be clear, the right .308 cartridge can be effective up to 700 yards or so when paired with a competition-quality rifle and high-end optic. However, you have to be mindful of bullet drift, bullet drop, and energy loss. These can all occur as the projectile travels through the air. Even if you can hit your target at distances of over 300 yards, the projectile may not transfer enough energy for a clean, humane kill.
In addition to hunting, the .308 cartridge is used in automatic and semi-automatic military weapons. The .308 has also found a home in the AR-10 platform, which is the larger variant of the AR-15. There you have it. That wraps up our breakdown of the top .308 hunting ammo that you should pack on your next excursion into the wilderness.
Looking for the best options for .308 rifles? Check out our handy guide to the best .308 rifles on the blog.