Hi everyone. I am new to this talk forum. I want to know what it is that makes the .308 a great long range caliber. I know that it has won a lot of long range competions. Why isnt the 30-06 very common in long range guns, but .308 and 300 mag are?
Not a definitive answer, by any means, but I'd reckon it has to do simply w/ gov't backing.
The .308 Win, aka 7.62x51mm NATO, was accepted as a more or less international cartridge. We had the M14 chambered in it, and overseas there was the FAL and the G3 as well. Most of our allies used it in their machine guns as well. Subsequently, it started seeing use in sniper rifles purportedly for logistics reasons: easier to stock fewer different kinds of ammo, and if push came to shove, it *would* fire ammo taken from an M60 belt. Kind of doubt that happened much, but that's the line of reasoning I always heard.
Also as a result of the 'international' aspect, most of the countries involved w/ Palma agreed to use a standard cartridge, and for some political reasons I don't entirely understand, that defaulted to the .308/7.62 w/ a 155gr bullet.
So now we have the .308/7.62 being used for military sniping by the U.S. and other countries, U.S. HighPower Service Rifle out to 600yds, and the Palma teams beyond that. Also somewhere in that mix, I believe the early BR shooters discovered that the .308 was inherently extremely accurate at shorter ranges as well. Add all this up, and add to it that the .308 fits in a short action, and you have a pretty powerful momentum to use the .308 Win.
From what I gather, the .30-06 does out perform the .308 Win, but not by a huge amount. When people wanted to make a definite step up, they went for a .300 Win Mag for a larger 'bump' in speed vs. the .30-06 if they were going to have to use a long action anyway.
Not saying these are the only reasons, or even the 'right' reasons, but they are the 'logic' I've always heard touted.
Location: The rifle range, or archery range or behind the computer in Alaska
The answer to your question is that the 308 is MUCH more accurate that the 30-06 especially at long range. That is not to say that it is impossible to make an 06 accuarate, but a 308 is very easy to make accurrate. There are 2 perfectly balanced cartridges in the long range world. The 308 Win and the 50 BMG. That is why it is the prefered sniper weapon and such a popular match round. The 155 grain palma and the 175 grain Match king are 2 bullets when fired from a 308 at 1000 yards can hit consitently at 1/2-3/4 MOA and even less. Like I said, I am not dogging the 06, but the only advantage it has is about 100 FPS over a 308 and you can use heavier bullets easier with the 06, but for the accuracy, the 308 is not even in the same class. The military used the 06 for years in combat and matches. When the 308 came out it wasent recieved well because its power was less than the 06. But when the 308 broke all the 06 long range records, it had met the challenge. Some tests showed 40 round groups at 1 and 2 inches at 600 yards.
The 300 win mag is also popular because it too is fairly accurate inherently and it has less wind effects than the 308 and has more energy at long range for a hunting round. But the 308 can hold its own as far as killing power at long range. Bullet placement is key and easy to do with the 308.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (where the shot goes, how big the group is, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.
I believe the stats would show that the 30/06 won more long range competitions (Wimbleton, Leach, etc) than the 308, if you discounted the competitions where you are required to use the 308. I believe they have to use the 308 in a lot of competitions because it is the NATO round. Mid range (to 600 yards) the 308 is popular. A lot of shooters are using 6.5 s also for mid and long range. I don't understand inheritance as far as accuracy is concerned, some cases might make accuracy easier, but if quality components, and a good rifle is used by a good shooter (with good windbucking bullets) what else can you inherit?
In a nutshell, fashion and availability. The 308 is current issue, there are tons of info on it, it shoots very well, recoil is moderate.
The 30-06 is every bit as accurate as the 308 and it will provide a higher muzzle vel for every bullet weight you want to shoot. Recoil is higher then the 308 but less then the 300WM.
The 300WM provides the "smallest" standard case that can launch the really heavy 30cal bullets with reasonable vel. However, an improved '06 is going to be very close in performance with bullets 190gr and under. Use less powder and slightly less recoil.
The great interest for the 308 started when it became the NATO cartridge and all services had to shoot it. Development for the 30-06 stopped so none of the benefits of newer powders and bullets have been exploited. Also, how do your compare barrel tech from the 50's to today's gems.
If match reamers for the '06 were made (same neck, throat, and chamber dimensions as the match 308, just longer), they would provide the same accuracy at higher vel.
Same concept as the 45-70, -90, -110, and -120. Bigger cases to launch the same bullet faster for better long range performance.
This principle if being used in 6mm and 6.5mm match cartridges too.
With tongue slightly in cheek I would say the most inherently accurate long range shooter I've witnessed in action was the Army 8" SP Howitzer and the USS Missouri's 16" guns. Otherwise I'm more inclined to put my faith in a good shooter with a good rifle than a particular cartridge design.