Before you get a rope and hang me, please note that the purpose of this article is NOT to proclaim that the 308 is a superior cartridge to other popular cartridges. Rather it is to show that the 308, despite being an old has-been with nothing new and sexy, can and will hold her own when compared to other calibers, especially those built on or around the same case. I’d also like to show that it is still a very useful and effective round. It absolutely grinds me that so many shooters are of the mindset that sticking a smaller bullet will absolutely spank the 308 in every category. Too many articles have been written by ignorant gun writers about how the 260 Remington or 7-08 blows the 308 right out of the water and makes the 308 obsolete. Sadly, too many shooters have bought into this nonsense.
I am here to set the record straight about the 308. Those who know me know that I am passionate about the 308. There isn’t a force in heaven or on earth that could change my mind about it. Many have criticized me for using it even for long range hunting and for using it as my primary rifle for Alaska big game including the largest moose in the world. But I never give in. This is because this caliber is actually useful, even as a long range hunting round.
First, let’s talk about why I am drawn towards the 308. We first have to establish that to be successful from a long range standpoint, you have to be very proficient with your weapon. This comes from lots of field practice, development and experimentation, and testing to find the best loads and their true BC’s. All in all this could be several hundred to over 1000 rounds. For some calibers, this is not only costly but hard on the barrel. By the time you figure the rifle out, it is time for a new barrel.
The 308 barrel will last quite a long time, long enough for you to get to know your rifle intimately and have life left for hunting. It is accurate and easy to load for. There are not only a wide variety of powders to choose from, but many that will work well. There are also countless bullets to choose from. If you can’t get the one you really wanted to use to shoot well, there are numerous options.
It cracks me up to always hear the same thing regarding the 7-08: “The 7-08 with the 162 AMAX beats the hell out of the 308.” Here is the thing. The 162 AMAX is the only bullet (in my opinion) that can really make the 308 seem like an inferior round. This is well and good, but it is one bullet. What if your 7-08 doesn’t like it? Now what? Before we continue, let’s compare the two. I am comparing likely hunting ranges here. 1000 yard hunting with either caliber is marginal at best, so let’s look at 600 yards.
The 7-08 using the 162 AMAX will hit with 1895 FPS and has 1292 foot-pounds of energy, drops 60” and drifts 23” in a 10 MPH wind.
The 308 using the 168 AMAX will hit with 1835 FPS and has 1256 foot-pounds of energy, drops 58” and drifts 28”
The 7-08 outshines the 308 a bit in most categories, but marginally. It is hardly “spanking” though.
Let’s up the ante a little bit since our test rifle didn’t like the 162 AMAX.
The 7-08 using the 150 grain Ballistic tip hits with 1822 FPS and 1105 foot-pounds of energy, drops 59” and drifts 28”
The 308 using the 168 Ballistic tip hits with 1835 FPS and 1256 foot-pounds of energy, drops 58” and drifts 28”
Again, all at 600 yards, and again, neither really proved the other inferior, albeit the 308 in this example clearly outshined the 7-08 in most categories.
Now lets really up the ante. We will use the 7mm 180 Berger and the 308 177 GS bullet.
The 7-08 hits with 1821 FPS, 1325 foot-pounds, 65” drop and 23” of drift.
The 308 hits with 1961 FPS, 1511 foot-pounds, 56” drop and 21” drift.