deergrunt--I've used 168 SMk's over 45.5 gr of Winchester 748, WLR primers, in Federal match brass in my Springfield Armory M-1A NM semi-auto. I believe this was a bit below the maximum potential of the cartridge, but its what my rifle shot the best. Check reloading manuals before using any info, of course.
Deergrunt, in my rifle, I have found Varget and WCC 755 to work very well. WCC 755 is a surplus powder with a burn rate very similar to H380 and Win760. I use Win LR and CCI BR2 primers. Cases were Fed Gold Medal match and Cdn military surplus. In fact, the smallest group I have ever shot was with military brass. Go figure.
My chamber was cut using a Clymer M852 reamer. I believe this was designed specifically for the Sierra 168gr MK during the Vietnam conflict. Had generous neck dimensions but a nice lead and throat. Seems to work (1/4MOA capable).
I have shot Amax 155gr and Nosler 168gr J4 (similar to Match kings). My rifle liked the AMax much better. Shot that combo to 1500yds.
If going after deer size game, the bullets above would work just fine. Don't expect to get lots of penetration for Texas heart shots but broadside presentations will not pose any problems.
How tough are these bullets? Well, I shot through a 1/4" mild steel plate at 385yds using the a 155gr Amax bullet (muzzle vel 2850fps). Enough penetration to break a rib?
I have shot several deer with match bullets and so far have not had one move more than a few yards. Bullet placement is everything, have hit bucks as close as 105 yards and had a decent exit wound.
I suggest that you get some Hodgdon's Varget, load from 44.0 up to 46.0 grains with any of the 168 grain match bullets. Matchkings probably set the standard but some rifles shoot better with Hornady or Speers or Nosler J4's or whatever. Fact is you should also try the 175 Matchking, they are becoming the more popular bullet for getting the most out of a .308. The 155's are also worth trying, you can get them from Sierra, Nosler and in A-Max.
I believe that bullet making technology has improved the accuracy of "hunting" bullets significantly in recent years - there are several plastic-tipped boat-tails available that shoot almost as well as match bullets. They are cheaper to shoot and designed for expanding over a fairly wide impact velocity range - as in hunting...
We like an overall length of 2.830", that is going to fit nicely into most magazine boxes and seems to shoot very well. Better accuracy can probably be obtained a little longer, depending on your chamber.
Federal loads their match ammo with 4064, you might try it as a second choice to Varget.
Good luck, don't sweat finding a load for a .308 Win. that is usually the easy part. Make up a bunch of ammo and shoot it to get the skills and confidence to hunt long.
41.5 - 42.5 IMR or H4895 and 43 - 44 IMR or Accurate 4064 with Federal Gold Medal Match or LC-81 cases and F210M's works great with 168 MK's in my VSSF. In lighter, commercial R-P/W-W/Fed cases, you might get away with a grain or so more powder. You should be able to get the 168's close to 2800 FPS in your VS's 26" barrel.
For whatever reason, that rifle never has taken a liking to the 155 Palmas, and haven't had a chance to really work the 175's over yet. Its absolute best group came with standard old Speer 150 Spitzers.
I am also curious about using match bullets for deer. I am using a 300 ultra mag and would be interested in using A-max bullets. I have found the A-max to be fairly reliable on small game, coyote and chuck, out of my 22-250 (good penetration/wound channel).
Which weight would you suggest? I would appreciate any information you may provide regarding load information as well.
I have successfully used both the Match King and the A-max in a couple of 7 mm's with muzzle velocities around 3200 to 3400 fps. Both bullets killed the deer very dead. Just be aware that the jacket on the A-max is about 2/3 the thickness of that of the MK.
Thanks for the info. I decided to try Varget and 168 gr Sierra Match kings. I will also try some Hornady 155 gr A-max. I try and get as much information as I can before I go to the reloading bench, I owe it to the deer I hunt and to myself.........Just trying to be a responsible hunter, guess thats what I was thinking.