Comparing the 308 and 280 is nearly the same as comparing the 7mm-08 to the 270.
It is true that a 160 gr 284 bullet has a higher S.D. then the 180 gr 308 bullet and in the case of the Accubond bullets, it has a higher B.C. as well.
The 280 will be faster then the 308 by how much is the question, really not enough to worry about. It really comes down to what you prefer to throw at big game.
If you prefer heavy bullets the 308 would be the choice. If you want as much range and the flattest trajectory over 300 yards, the 280 will certainly come out ahead.
Recoil will be nearly identical.
Depending on how extreme you want to go with this handgun, you can always buy an Encore barrel in 7mm Rem Mag or 300 Rem Mag and have it cut down to 15 to 17" and fit it on your handgun. The forend it longer but as long as you allow for this extra lenght in barrel length, these conversions work very well.
Many will say this is just a waste in a handgun. It may be more then some are willing to put up with in recoil but performance is certainly worth it. You would get full 280 and 30-06 rifle performance in a handgun!
This may seem like alot of performance lost by these rounds going to the handgun barrel but just compare what the 270 does in a rifle and then in the Encore, it looses alot as well, no way around that.
It would not cost much to do this conversion. If a customer brought in an Encore rifle barrel to be cut down to a handgun length, I would charge $30 to cut the barrel to length and another $15 to recrown it and thats it, $45 for the job.
If the recoil level bothers you, a Holland QD muzzle brake
will flat out stop any recoil and muzzle rise on these large hadnguns.
My XP-100 in 6.5mm WSM and 338 WSM have less recoil and muzzle jump then my 223 Rem XP's.
Jut another option to get a higher level of power without the extreme cost of a custom handgun.
The main reason I prefer the XP over the Encore or Contender is because my style of hunting is from ambush locations where I am set up in a fixed location in open country and wait for the animals to come into shooting range. In my hunting area, stalking is just not a practical method of hunting without pressuring the animals out of the area.
I generally set up in ground blinds and usually in prone position so I am shooting off the ground from elevated locations.
Shots can often reach 400 yards so I really prefer the added accuracy of the XP-100 as well as the ability to use a forend mounted bipod.
These can be fitted to Encores but I have found that the Encores POI will shift with the added weight in the forend if you happen to shoot it off hand and it also shifts when using the bipod.
I simply do not fine this acceptible.
I do use the Encore when hunting riverbottoms out of treestands where shooting ranges re much less and speed is more important.
Still over the last several seasons, I have come to rely on my XP's far more then my Encores.
Once I realized the power that the XP's could easily handle and also found the limits of the Encore in performance, there was no comparision.
Even same rounds in each result in more performance using the XP-100 and even the Savage Striker which are performing very well for hunters.
For shooting out to 400 yards, the power of the Encore always seems to be on the edge of what I liked. I have never had any problems killing an animal with the Encore but I have passed on some longer shots that I did not feel comfortable taking with that handgun which would have been a chip shot with the XP's.
It is true though that the XP's are getting hard to find and when you do find one in a big game caliber they are running anywhere from $550 to god knows how much.
I tell my customers to find an old beater in 221 FB and after I get finished with it they will have an extreme range big game handgun with no peers in the power, trajectory and accuracy departments.
The Encore is more versitile for sure but to call them cheap is hardly something I would agree with. Barrels alone are running in the $220 to $250 range for the handguns and a custom barrel like my Virgin Valley 7.21 Tomahawk will run you in the $400 range.
I had this barrel built using a Lilja blank and it shoots into the .3's quite often but unfortunately, I was told the Fat Lazzeroni round would be a great choice in the Encore by VV and it turned out to be a very bad choice as it creates far to much bolt trust and flexes the frame allowing the cases to stretch and eventually seperate at the head.
With $2.00 each brass this is not acceptible.
For $400 you can buy a 15" Lilja for $160 and have it fitted and chambered for another $200 and there you go. The XP-100 to build on will cost more then an Encore frame but in my opinion well worth the investment.
Just my opinion, to be honest, I have yet to miss a big game animal using either the XP-100 or the Encore since I started handgun hunting 9 years ago. They will both serve you well if you practice and know the limitations of the handguns.
These limitations will become very appearent once you get a handgun in the field and try to take big game with one. It is a great challange, even with one of these big single shot specialty pistols.
I hear from guys all the time that these handguns are nothing but short rifles, My reply is how many head of big game have you taken with a handgun. Those that have been successful in the field know how drastically different handguns are from rifles and much more difficult to use.
Any big game animal harvested with a Handgun, any handgun is a trophy in my mind. I have been fortunate to have harvested a couple dozen big game animals with my handguns and everyone is a true rush!