Making A Case For The 308 Winchester By Michael Eichelle


Mar 6, 2008
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.
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Love the 308 and the 7mm-08, however I pretty well limit hunting with either one to 300 yards or so. I like the 7mm08 for the fact it is a great 300 yd deer gun with low recoil quick handling.

Just like a flatter shooting cartridge for LR hunting (600 plus) though.

I shoot FTR with a 308 Marine M40A1 stock, Mike Rock M24 countour barrel and 175 SMKs. It will hang with any of the 308s except the Palma guns and 155s at over 3000 fps. The wind will beat you up with it though at LR.

Makes a great learning tool though.

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Thank you for the teaching!!! And thanks for reinforcing positively the idea I had for my next long range shooting-hunting rifle. Another reason for me to consider the 308, is that I dont live in USA, and finding cases, primers, bullets, powder is very difficult, except for the 308, because it is the cartridge the military and law enforcement agencies use, and you can get ammo from them. So planning for shooting a lot in my particular case the 308 fits just perfectly, and it will also be my teaching caliber for long range shooting. I know I will be able to shoot with it more accurately farther out than with my 270 Win.
Thanks again for the class!!!
Thanks so much for this insightful article. I have a friend who swears that a minimum size caliber for elk should be .338 Lapua or 300 win.
Dang Michael, I was just about to sell one of my 308s and buy something else. Hope my wife didn't read your article. Seriously though, I have two 308s, one is a very accurate long range practice rig, and the other is an excellent all weather carry rifle (my go to rifle). I was thinking of letting one go to get a larger caliber, but neither one has given me any real reason to get rid of it. I just can't seem to do it even though I have two!
Re: Making A Case For The 308 Winchester

I began deer hunting over 40 years ago. The first center fire I had to shoot was a Remington 141 in 30 Remington. Basically a rimless 30-30 designed for a pump action rifle.

About two years later I bought a Remington 742 in 30-06. I also started reloading centerfire rifle ammo that year. Two years later I had shot 2000 plus rounds through that model 742. The bolt came out and the rifle was returned to Remington. They replaced the bolt, and barrel. It was loose and I traded the rifle for a model 700 BDL in 30-06. Two years later I bought a model 700 BDL in 243. Since then I have owned many more centerfire rifles. In 1981 after graduating from college I bought a model 700 BDL in 300 Win Mag. After shooting about 2200 rounds in that 300 I rebarreled and added a new stock and Canjar set trigger. It had gone through 3 Lepould scopes and now was wearing a 4.5 x 14 X 50 AO. I have harvested over 400 whitetails and 20-30 mule deer, several black bear, several elk, two moose, and a brown bear with this rifle. I have been very pleased with the 300 Win Mag and think it is the most universal of all centerfire rifles.

Getting older and more mature I added a 4 wheeler to my hunting equipment.
My 300 winchester has a 26" barrel and tended to catch every tree and vine I passed while riding the 4 wheeler. I won a Winchester Featherweight 270WSM at a SCI function and decided to trade it for a Remington model 7 Stainless Synthetic in 308. Hornady made the light magnum ammo that was advertised to shoot a 150 grain bullet at 3000 fps. I started load development and worked up a load with 150 grain bullets that was shooting .5 0ne hundred yard groups and acheiving 3019 fps. Over the last 7 years I have fallen in love with that 308. Last year the barrel went south and I thought I would loose shooting the rifle the entire season. Tim North at Broughton barrels made me a new (20" finish length), 1:12, 5C barrel quickly and chambered it within a week af receiving it. Last year I harvested 9 deer with that little rifle.

I have taken deer from near muzzle end out to 300 yards. As with any rifle, with good bullet selection and correct bullet placement it is a first class hunting rifle. I personally think it is one of the best hunting rounds available for the tree stand hunter, walking hunter and mobile hunter. The rifle is capable of longer ranges than 300 yards in heavier longer barreled rifles.

The 308 fills many needs from the begining to the professional shooter.
I also shoot FTR and the 308 is a very good 1000 yard rifle. The target bullets give this rifle an additional 400 yards of effectiveness. With hunting bullets it is my opinion the 308 should be limited to 600 yards for deer sized game.

Yes, I love my 308..

Nat Lambeth
I wish I was able to claim as much experience as Mr. Lambeth....only in time I guess! The truth is, I'm on the forefront of my hunting career and I do still have a lot to learn.

That being said, I truly believe that certain calibers better suit certain situations, as they also suit certain individuals. I've been profoundly fond of the .308, and will eventually pick up a few other calibers along the way - namely the 7mm Rem Mag. Right now, however, I've been more than happy with my .308.

My choice for my first bolt-action came after much research. I spent hours online reading forums and other articles. I shot friends' guns and talked to local dealers. If I would have read this article, I probably would have made the purchase immediately! Very well-written!!!

Forget the 40-year history that the USMC has had with this caliber, just look at the raw data! I love shooting my .308, and I definitely will add on an AR-10 in the near future!

Great job on the article!
Great article, I racked up a few long range kills with my old M1A and never had any problems. After reading this article I might just pick up a SPS Tactical that has been calling to me. From the kills that I have seen in the past I would not hesitate to take it out past 600 yards on deer.

Thanks for a great article in "Common Sense". I think far too many folks get caught up in magnumitis and just gotta have the latest & greatest that is shown in the gun rags.

With that said, all cartridges have their place & it does bother me that it seems alot of newbies go from using a handed down 30-30 straight up to a 300 Rum or bigger/faster/louder/$$ and consider themselves LRH experts. Hopefully this article will make other newbs consider the .308 and get the basics down first before they take the big guns on.

Again, great article. Thanks for writing it.


Thank you for a wonderful article. I will be getting a new .308 bolt very soon because of all the things you mentioned in your article.

My only quesiton has to do with barrel twist. I have read nearly everwhere that a faster twist rate is required to stabilize heavier bullets, but I got from your article that the opposite is true (p.2 paragraphs 2 & 3).

Can you help clarify this?

Again, thank you!
Gardien, you will need a faster twist to go to a heavier bullet. In a .308, 10 or even 11 will handle heavy bullets quite well, while the common 12" twist generally is best for bullets under 170 gr.

Michael, I have two .308s and nothing else that I hunt with and I love 'em. As Bryan Litz pointed out in his recent article on this site on the shortcomings of the .30 cal design, there are good arguments to be made about smaller calibers being better. However, the .308 is a very good cartridge for hunting. It's also something I know I can always find ammo for (haven't forgotten any yet, but I can imagine walking into a C-store in some small Montana town and asking for 7-08 rounds and being greeted with a blank stare).
I really enjoyed this read, thanks for taking time to write it. Most of us are men, and men need to have the biggest, best and fastest toys we can. Iv fallen into this trap many times, and find myself going back to the old standbys more offten than not.

My only quesiton has to do with barrel twist. I have read nearly everwhere that a faster twist rate is required to stabilize heavier bullets, but I got from your article that the opposite is true (p.2 paragraphs 2 & 3).

Can you help clarify this?

Again, thank you!

You are correct in that heavier bullets require more twist. Technically it has more to do with the density of the materials used and its weight/length relationship. If we could use tungsten for bullets, a 200 grain 30 cal bullet would need less twist than a 200 grain lead bullet and a 200 grain lead bullet needs less twist than an all copper bullet.

Since we use mostly jacketed lead I will base any statements on jacketed lead.

Another factor that involves twist is bore and bullet diameter. The smaller the caliber and heavier the bullet for that caliber will need a tighter twist. For example a 175-180 grain 30 cal bullet really only needs 12x - 13x for proper stability where as a 180 grain 284 cal needs about a 9x for proper stability.

The larger the caliber, the slower the twist typically needs to be for average bullet weights. Granted there are 30 cal bullets that require a 9x but are very rare. Most 30 cal rifles will do their best with 11x or 12x depending on bullet weights. A 10x is needed for the 240 SMK. Most shooters would go with a 9x for a slower round like the 308. The 11x will handle up to the 210's even at 308 velocities. That is about more bullet than is practical for the 308. I use the 208 on occasion but more often than not I am running 155's through 200's with the 168-180 being shot the most. With that in mind I use a 11x for all of my 308 needs. If I were going to use a maximum of 190 grains I would use the 12x for my 308 needs. You can run the 200's in a 12x but my opinion is that 12x is very marginal for 200 grain pills especially the newer ones like the Accubonds. 12x and the 200 AB works ok for the 300 RUM's but not so much the 308 due to the lower velocity.

Having said all that, bullet weight for bullet weight and specifec gravity for specifec gravity, the 30 cal requires less twist than a smaller caliber. This slower twist allows for slightly better velocity/pressure relationships and less radial torque during recoil. The same rules apply when switching from the 30 to 338 or 338 to 375 calibers. The bigger the bore the less twist is required for equal construction and weight compared to a smaller caliber.

I hope that helps!
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