308 factory loads for deer

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by jonidiffer, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. jonidiffer

    jonidiffer Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Hi Everyone,
    I'm new to the forum and was wondering if someone could give me some advice. I don't have any custom rifles, but I do own a few accurate factory guns. One is a heavy barrel 308 that shoots very well. I wanting to find an accurate factory load for whitetail deer. My gun shoots Federal Gold Medal with Sierra Matchking BTHP very well but I know that some people don't agree with using this bullet for hunting. I was considering Blackhills Gold 168 Barns Triple shock. Does anyone have experience with this load or have any load that they would recommend for long shots on deer?
  2. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2008
    I personally think the SMK's would be OK for hunting at longer ranges. You could possibly develop a load for more conventional hunting bullets at shorter ranges and use the SMK's for longer ranges.

    The TSX is a great bullet but not a real good BC. I believe the 308, 168 is designed to open down to 2000 fps and most or all the other TSX's are designed to open down to 1800 fps. Based on that, the TSX's are good to about 300 yds out of a 308 for performance.

    I'm sure you'll get a lot of good advice here.

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2008

  3. Dave Schenck

    Dave Schenck Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    SMK is the bomb

    Look no further than the 168gr SMK - it will do the job everytime and you will not be tracking deer. I use the 135gr SMK in .270 at ALL distances and have yet to track an animal (except one but that was my fault!!) I have found that at high velocities these bullets break up BUT only once they have penetrated a few inches - this causes massive trauma so while you cannot retrieve any part of the bullet, the buck dies instantly. At longer distances they open well and dump the buck just as well. Ask yourself the question "do you want nicely mushroomed bullets from buck you had to track or do you want to dead buck right there?" (I have never found a use for nicely mushroomed bullets that have been recovered - not even fried with bacon in an omelette - lol!!)
  4. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

    Jul 20, 2007
    Even though I am a one load per rifle kind of guy Mr. Montana has a good alternative. It sure beats carrying two rifles like I use to, my long range rig and a short barreled carbine automatic for the walk in and out. Yeah laugh it up...but very effective!
    I had a bad experience with the 168SMK in a 7mm Mag that convinced me they are not a close range deer bullet. A 30 yard head on brisket shot, flipped the deer on it's back but didn't penetrate to vitals. The deer got up, to my amazement, and was making a very quick get away and required two additional shots to put it down for good. If I was gonna be picking my shots and hitting them behind the shoulder I would use them. But after having the deer of a lifetime stolen (on public land) because it was hit behind the shoulder with a ballistic tip and had enough composure to run a couple hundred yards and into the path of some a-hole who didn't fear severe bodily harm, I want to break them down on the spot and try to break at least one shoulder and still have enough to destroy vitals. The exceptions are heavy for caliber .308 and the .338 SMK's. Those things wreak havoc on whatever they hit. Just my experiences.
  5. chazmatic

    chazmatic Active Member

    Nov 17, 2009
    I am convinced that any thing in the 150 gr, up will fit the bill for deer. 308 is the cal. Too. I have the howa 308 varmit supreme 1500 that is too heavy to lug through the woods.
    But last weekendthis weapon won me a remington 700 in 308 in ms. This is the rifle to take deer hunting. It is as accurate as the howa.
    Just remember your weapon is only as good as the scope mounted on it!!
  6. roninflag

    roninflag Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    A 150 or 165-168 ; either a balistic tip or spbt. i would not shoot a mk. a berger 150 or 168 but they don't come in factory.
  7. Orddy

    Orddy Active Member

    Nov 24, 2009
    Over the years I've used pretty much nothing but Remington core-lok bullets whether I used the green and yellow box factory ammo or loaded my own. I pretty much used the 165gr bullet in my 308 or 06. If I was going too use my 270 I used the 150gr bullet. I never lost a deer from a bullet not doing it's job just so long as i did my part.
  8. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    I would suggest anything from Black Hills Ammo, and the Federal Gold Match. A new and upcoming company to consider is the Hornady Tap with the 168 A-Max and there new Superformance with the The 165 SST, and the GMX option. Both bullets will work well. My cousin shot a deer close range (30yrds) with a 165 SST and poked a quarter to half dollar size hole after destroying some vertebrae in its neck. Good performance as far as I am concerned.

  9. 500yd

    500yd Active Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    I've been killing whitetails in Northwest Missouri with my .308 Rem 788 since 1987, so about 23 years now, on average 2 kills per year. Matter of fact I just finished re-stocking it yesterday with a Boyd's Laminate Thumbhole Applejack. I added a fixed Harris bipod in 89-90, which I transferred to the new Boyd's stock along with a new custom swivel mount I made for it, as the Harris is nearly useless on uneven ground. Since acquiring the bipod I nearly always shoot prone, or off the hood of a pickup, fallen log, feed trough, etc.

    The first couple of years I had my beloved .308 I shot Winchester 180 gr SilverTips. These produced a chest exit wound the diameter of a Coke can out to 150 yds or so, and produced instant drop kills. I killed 4 or 5 deer with these rounds, and while very effective, I hated the recoil. At that time my 788 had the factory solid plastic butt plate, and those 180s just hammered the crap outta me--and anyone who shot it. I was 15 or 16 at the time, and no small kid either.

    After some reading at the time, and knowing I needed a round with longer range capability due to my hunting location, I picked up some 150 gr Winchester Supreme SilverTip BoatTail. These produced good accuracy, and range. I killed my nicest buck to date in 93 with these rounds. Due to being winded after running 400 yds down a valley and up the other side to get within range, I pulled the shot high and severed his spine just behind the shoulder blades--he dropped instantly, but was only paralyzed, not dead by a long shot. I walked the 175 yard or so to within 30 feet of him, and popped him in the neck at the base of the shoulders, so as to allow for a cape mount without fur damage. His head didn't drop! I hit him a second time in the same spot and his head still didn't drop. As I was chambering another round he slumped and it was over. When I skinned him, both rounds in the neck passed through the vertebrae and were embedded just under the skin on the opposite side, fully mushroomed. After this experience, I went looking for yet a better round.

    After more reading and chewing ears at a local gun shop that specialized in reloading supplies, I decided to go with the Federal Premium 150 gr Nosler Ballistic Tip. I immediately took a liking to this round at the range, printing sub 1" groups at 100 yards. I zeroed the rifle 2.5" high at 100 for a 7" pie point blank range of about 280 yards. The 2nd year I hunted this ammo I killed a doe running (bounding) full tilt at a measured distance of 410 yards. I had the bipod deployed on the hood of my b-in-law's Dakota, and tracked her left to right for about 300 yards, getting my rhythms down--breathing, lead, elevation holdover. I saw the muzzle flash through the scope, then her hind legs fold up underneath her belly as she went down. When I got to the carcass, I found a small entry wound on her right ribcage, and no exit wound on her left side. When I field gutted her, I found the remainder of the bullet lodged in her left ribcage, buried in the (shattered) first rib. The green tip was obviously missing, the lead was missing, but the bulk of the copper was intact, though seriously mangled due to impacting ribs.

    I head shot a button buck a few years later. He was facing straight away from me, 275 yards. The round entered between the bottom of the skull and the first vertebrae, and exited the mouth cavity, barely scraping the top palate. It took a good while to find the wound channel, as we could find neither the entrance nor exit wounds. It wasn't until skinning the little guy that we found it. This became the deer that was "scared to death" in local hunting lore. It was after this kill that I became a "head/neck" shooter and ceased being a "heart/lung" shooter. Every deer I've killed since with one, maybe two exceptions, has been brained or necked.

    Some time after this kill, I found a steal on Winchester Ballistic SilverTip 150 gr at Sports Authority in St. Louis. Apparently they were phasing it out. They had it marked $6.95/box. It's functionally identical to the Federal, and with nickel plated brass to boot. They had 7 boxes left and I bought em all, of course. The last box of Federal Premium had cost me $23, so this was a huge steal. This was back in..97 or 98 IIRC. I've been consuming this 140 rounds of Ballistic SilverTip, a little each year, ever since, and still have 41 rounds left, which should last me at least 5-6 more years, assuming I don't shoot up too many rounds re-zeroing the rifle this weekend due to the stock replacement.

    Two years ago I shot another button buck (because from a distance they look like does) in the back of the head from 200 yds. Last year was my record setter. I killed a good sized doe, last day of the season, at dusk (damn near dark), at a measured 515 yards, prone, shooting slightly uphill, off the bipod. This, without a range finding scope. The scope I've been using for 6 years or so now is a cheap BSA Chinese tube. It's a 3-12x50 with the integral sun shade, with Butler Creek flip ups. I think I gave $90 for it back then, at WalMart of all places. It gets the job done. It was dark enough that I couldn't tell which way was she was facing. All I could discern was that there were no antlers. She was standing 30 yards into a flat harvested field, and as I was downhill from her, she was in essence standing on a hill. There was just enough light in the sky that she was silhouetted from her ears to her shoulders. I laid the xhairs across the top of her ears and raised the horizontal about a foot, then two, as I went through the ballistics table in my head. The round drops 46 inches at 500 yards with a 200 yard zero, which is 1.8 inches high at 100. Since I was zeroed at 2.5 inches high at 100, this gives a zero of about 250 yards. I raised the xhairs up another foot to about 3 feet over hear ears, took at least 15 seconds getting my rhythms down, squeezing ever so gently, primer ignition occurring without anticipation on my part--perfect as it can get. After the muzzle flash, I had a minor problem. It was now so dark I couldn't see any terrain markers identifying where this dead doe lay, if indeed I'd hit her. She disappeared from the scrope FOV after the flash, but I couldn't tell if I'd put her down or if I'd missed and she'd run off. That 515 yards was a long walk.

    After climbing the fence, and getting assistance from another in our party, we found the carcass after about 10 minutes of searching the area of the field where I though she would be. As I said, I wasn't sure of her orientation to me when I fired. Turns out she was actually almost broadside to me. At 500 yards, the .308 is impacting at a fairly steep angle, not like the 90 degree impact you get at 100 yds. The round impacted from the top into the front edge of her right shoulder, passed directly through the center of a vertebrae severing the spinal cord, and exited the other side of the neck. I was impressed by the fact that the 150 gr Ballistic Tip passed through that much solid muscle tissue *and* a vertebrae, with a full expansion exit wound, at 500+ yards.

    In summary, based on my personal experience only, the 150 gr Nosler Ballistic Tip and the Winchester cousin are absolutely fantastic whitetail killers, from 0-500+ yards, assuming as always, that the shooter does his/her part. I've killed 1 at 500+ and 1 at 400+ with a few dozen kills of bucks, does, and buttons of all body sizes at all distances in between, and none of them took a single step after projectile impact. In all fairness, the no-step killing probably has more to do with my shot placement than this particular round. Nonetheless, this round has done its part every time I've done mine.

    A few pics at the link below of the "old" rifle, yardage measurement the day following the 515 yard kill (10x zoom and no zoom on the digital camera to give a visual cue as to the distance--a GPS unit was used to measure distance, not shown in pic), a pic of the severed spinal cord discovered when I halved the carcass with the recip saw (post me digging for the bullet in the damaged tissue and widening the wound channel), and a pic of the "new" rifle with Boyd's stock and self fabbed custom bipod swivel mount:

    500 Yard Whitetail Kill

    Now that I've installed my new Boyd's thumbhole stock (finished with two spray cans of clear enamel to protect against the elements and field abuse) I plan to take deer at even greater distances, should the opportunity present itself. I still can't bring myself to purchase a range finder or range finding reticle scope, given the cost involved, and the fact that I'm pretty proficient with holdover at distances up to 500 yds. I like huge objective scopes (50mm), but units of that size combining a BDC or game circle reticle are either rare, very expensive, or both.

    I'm thinking a mil dot reticle will be in my future before the aforementioned units as there are many relatively inexpensive large objective mil dot scopes on the market. With a mil dot with adjustable turrets and sufficient self education/training, I should be able to kill whitetails out to 800 yards at will with my .308 and the 150 gr Ballistic Silvertips (Nosler Ballistic Tip). This round from a 22" tube has more than sufficient energy at 800 yards to dead drop a whitetail with a head/neck shot. Hopefully I'll be able to prove this theory in the next couple of years when I have the gear and practice secured.

    Last edited: Oct 14, 2010