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G&A Perspectives: Does the .308 Fit the Long-Range Hunting Bill?

by Joseph von Benedikt   |  September 10th, 2013 121

Against my better judgment, I’m sticking my neck out to address whether the .308 Winchester—aka 7.62x51mm NATO—is a capable long-range hunting cartridge. It has such a cult following—especially in the Eastern, Southern and Midwestern states—that challenging its effectiveness is sure to cause gnashing teeth on a mass scale. Before I jump in with both cold feet, allow me to ask you to throw me a bone here and key in on the phrase “long range.”

Many misconceptions surround the .308 cartridge. To the uninformed, its history with military and law enforcement snipers seem to form the ultimate testament to its effectiveness in any and all situations. Well known as an exceptionally accurate cartridge in many corners of the world, the .308 is allegedly the modern equal of the veteran .30-06 Springfield—which is easily the most popular big game cartridge in the world. This school of thought is debunked with physics and hunting experience, as we analyze the capabilities and limitations of the .308’s terminal ballistics.

Capabilities & Limitations
Like most successful cartridges, the .308 is absolutely effective within its intended parameters. I’ve hunted extensively with the .308. In fact, I’ve taken 10 different game animals with it so far this year. Inside 250 yards, it is fantastic on deer, hogs, black bear and antelope, and is adequate for elk. It recoils politely, shoots accurately from most guns and is forgiving to reload. Within the ethical limits of most hunters, it’s all the cartridge they’ll ever need.

Outside 250 yards, however, performance becomes questionable, then downright poor as distances stretch. Why? It has poor wind-bucking ability, low velocity, rainbow trajectory and low energy.

Trouble is, many .308 owners refuse to recognize the cartridge’s limitations. Half the time I mention those limitations in mixed company, some previously nice fellow bristles up and gets crotchety with me. I get downright tired of hearing “If it’s good enough for our snipers to shoot terrorists at 800 yards, it’s good enough for me to shoot deer at long range.”

The problem with that logic is, an 800-yard hit on a terrorist’s kneecap counts. Wounding is often considered even more effective in war than killing, and more humane. But shooting at game is different. Wounding is anything but humane. Fast, relatively painless kills are not just ethical, but they are also critical to both our peace of mind as hunters and to the future of hunting as a sport. If you’re going to shoot long on God’s living, breathing animals, you owe it to them to use the best tool for the job.

Personally, I have serious ethical reservations about sniping big game at extended ranges. However, it does exist as a trend in the western hunting community, and the investigative journalist in me is interested by the technical aspects of its terminal results on larger species.

Performance Comparisons
For the sake of argument, let’s consider “long range” to be anything past 400 yards. There are other cartridges that have about half the wind drift at long range than the .308 does. Their projectiles drop significantly less, minimizing errors in range estimation. Even laser rangefinders can’t compensate for human error.

Let’s take a look at some hard data and compare. Today’s most popular long-range hunting cartridges are the .300 Winchester Magnum, 7mm Remington Magnum, and 6.5-284 Norma, among others. Americans love their .30-caliber cartridges, so we’ll use the .300 Win. Mag. for comparison.

These cartridges shoot heavy, long-for-caliber projectiles that are far more aerodynamic than any bullet the short-necked .308 can handle efficiently, which better maintains downrange expansion-inducing and energy-carrying velocity. The .308 is built for efficiency, not for hot-rodding, and powder capacity just isn’t adequate to push heavy .30-caliber bullets fast enough.

For most shooters, the excellent barrel life offered by the .308—along with the low recoil and economic powder consumption—is of more value than the ability to shoot extremely aerodynamic bullets.

To keep our comparison fair, we’ll look at an aerodynamic bullet the .308 handles well, and an aerodynamic bullet the .300 Win. Mag. handles well.

First, it’s important to understand although you can certainly shoot 180-grain bullets out of the .308, performance suffers. With the base of long-for-caliber, highly aerodynamic bullets intruding into powder capacity, velocity potential lowers exponentially. Sniper types and target shooters push the envelope with 175-grain bullets, but really efficient hunting projectiles for the .308 max out at about 165 to 168 grains.

One of the best is Swift’s 165-grain Scirocco II, with a G1-model ballistic coefficient (BC) of 0.470, which is about as high as 165- to 168-grain proper hunting bullets get. Most factory .308 loads allegedly push 165- to 168-grain bullets at 2,700 fps, but that number is derived in a standard 24-inch test barrel. Almost all .308 hunting rifles have 22-inch barrels, but real-world velocity averages are closer to 2,650 fps.

Ballistic calculations at 500 feet elevation, 50-percent humidity and 59-degree temperatures show when sighted in at 200 yards— with a sight height 1.5 inches—the 165-grain, .30-caliber Swift Scirocco II drops 51.2 inches at 500 yards, and it drifts 21.9 inches in a 10 mph crosswind. Retained velocity is 1,786 fps, which is too low to reliably expand many hunting bullets. Retained energy is 1,169 foot-pounds, well below the commonly accepted bottom threshold of 1,500 foot-pounds for elk.

For me, 500 yards is a very long shot when big game is the target. But for argument’s sake—and because the long-range guys promote shooting way out there—let’s look at 800-yard numbers, too. At that distance, the 165-grain, .30-caliber Swift Scirocco II drops 202.9 inches and drifts 63.6 inches in the wind. Retained velocity and energy are 1,375 fps and 693 foot-pounds, respectively. Those numbers illustrate why the .308 simply doesn’t have the sufficient terminal performance to shoot big game.

Now let’s compare that to the .300 Win. Mag. Nosler’s new 190-grain AccuBond Long Range (BC of 0.640) can be pushed to well over 2,900 fps with judicious, high-performance handloads—more out of the 26-inch barrels on many commonly available hunting rifles. But let’s show cringing .308 lovers a little mercy and just go with 2,900 fps.

Fired at that velocity in the same environmental conditions, and sighted in at 200 yards—the 190-grain, .30-caliber Nosler AccuBond LR impacts 37.4 inches low at 500 yards, and drifts 13.1 inches. Note that wind drift is over half that of the .308’s. Retained velocity is 2,221 fps—plenty to expand most big game hunting bullets, and retained energy is 2,081 foot-pounds—still over 25 percent more than the 1,500 foot-pound minimum for elk.

Taking it to 800 yards, drop is 139 inches, and wind drift is 36.5 inches—again, just over half that of the .308. Retained velocity is 1,860 fps, which is barely enough to still reliably expand most big game hunting bullets, and retained energy is 1,460 foot-pounds—close enough to the 1,500 foot-pound lower limit we’ve selected for elk.

Now, just for kicks, let’s take a look at a veteran cartridge that has historically been the most popular long-range hunting cartridge among very experienced, world-traveling hunting legends. The .300 Weatherby Magnum was making 500-yard shots long before laser rangefinders existed. With good handloads, it will push the 190-grain Nosler AccuBond LR at an astonishing 3,200 fps. Drop at 500 yards is only 30 inches, and wind drift is 11.4 inches. Retained velocity and energy is 2,476 fps and 2,587 foot-pounds, respectively.

At 800 yards, drop is 111.6 inches, drift is 31.6 inches—once again less than half that of the .308, and retained velocity and energy are 2,092 fps and 1,846 foot-pounds, respectively.

These cartridges outperform the .308 at considerable expense in recoil, ammunition cost and barrel life, but outperform it they do, and significantly enough to make them a far better choice for hunting where distances stretch.

Terminal Conclusions
I get a lot of flack from .308 loyalists when I say the .30-06 and .270 Winchester are better suited for distance shooting than the .308. Truth be told, none of them are actually good for long-range hunting. The .30-06 and .270 are more capable from 300 to 450 yards than the .308 is, but none of them are great beyond that point.

Parade out your arguments why the .308 can do anything the .30-06 can, but it just isn’t so. Lighter bullet weights close the gap pretty well, but no knowledgeable hunter uses light, 150-grain, .30-caliber bullets at long range, or on heavy-bodied western game either. The .30-06 and .270 both have long necks ideal for use with heavy-for-caliber, aerodynamic bullets, and considerably greater powder capacity to push those bullets. Additionally, many rifles chambered for them have 24-inch barrels, enabling more complete powder burn and greater velocities, while almost all .308 hunting rifles have 22-inch barrels.

All three cartridges are very good to 300 yards, but simple science proves the two long-action cartridges have an advantage at distances beyond that.

To blow a final hole in the .308 myth, many knowledgeable sniper teams—whether military or law enforcement—will tell you they wish that powers-that-be would allow them to transition to the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5-284 or just about anything else with legitimate long-range credentials. The .308 is well over a half-century old, and it wasn’t a good long-range performer when it was new. It’s outdated. Cartridge development has made leaps and bounds in the recent decades, and there are any number of better options available today. But old habits are hard to break, especially when the government is involved.

Go ahead, love your .308s. Use them hard. Within 300 yards or so, they’ll make you proud every time. Just don’t ask them to do something they’re unsuitable for.

  • Gary Griffiths

    Although I now have an M1A Scout which I love, I’ve never been a fan of the .308 Win. The “huge advantage” of a small fraction of an inch shorter bolt throw over the .30-06 just seems trifling, and my Western hunting rifle is a Remington 700BDL in .300 Win Mag, which will do with a 180-gr bullet what the .30-06 will do with a 150-gr. For short-range hunting, or for recoil-sensitive shooters the .308 is great, but it was never designed as a long range hunting cartridge.

  • D57H

    This article tho well understood is kinda silly, its kind of like comparing a .223 Rem to a 220 Swift or a 22 Short vs a 223, laws of physics will tell you this! I am a fan of all rounds and to make things short and sweet the 308 does what it suppose to do and does it very well! What this article should be about is that anyone taking that long of a shot on any animal better be dam sure of what they are shooting at!!!

    • poppagriz

      I totally agree with D57H. . . I realize the author of the article might be the world’s greatest shot, but if your hunting skills are so bad, you cannot get within effective range of the cartridge and rifle you are using, then stay home at your computer, you have no business out shooting a game over 400 yds away. Way too many people think they are marksman of the world, but can’t even judge distance without electronic gear and scopes to shoot, let alone hit what they are shooting at. Half mile shots at any game is foolish, and bullets flying around a hunting environment is not wanted.

      • HankBiner

        Great post.

      • Long Range DIspatcher

        Disagree. Yes you should never outperform the performance of your cartridge. However, long range hunting is a sport among taking animals itself. Although, I believe as a long range hunter that a man should earn each of his patches with stick and string before thinking of hunting with a rifle.

        • Joseph Kool

          Whatever

    • HankBiner

      Comparing a 308 to a 30-06 is more like comparing a 222 Remington to a 223 Remington, or possibly a 222 Remington Magnum (God rest its soul).

      I wonder what the percentage of vital zone hits taken on game at 800 yards is. If you watch You Tube or listen to the local gun store braggarts, you’ll think it’s pushing 100%. But I don’t think so, and I question how responsible it is even if the ballistics are up to the task. Trying to chase down wounded game or get a second shot from that far away is often no easy task.

      • Long Range DIspatcher

        This is the best reply in the entire thread! Sir this is why I do not shoot a 308. I shoot a 300 win mag with a bullet that will disable a deer or elk with a gut shot or a shoulder hit. Mistakes happen and bullets can drift left or right but elevation is evidence of lack of practice. It is unacceptable for a marksman to miscalculate elevation on an animal. I bet your percentage of vital hits are 70 percent with people who know how to practice.

  • Matthew Groom

    This is one of the bravest articles I have ever seen in gun periodical. I was always a fan of the .30-06 (still is my primary) because that’s what I got first, and cheaper, because used .308′s were more pricey. Then I found a used .300 Win Mag, which I was afraid to shoot, because I expected it to be “magnum”, but then I shot it and I was like “Oh, that’s not so bad.” It’s a somewhat heavy Browning A-Bolt with a BOSS on it, but it’s not as loud as everyone told me it was, either. Being able to launch a 190-grain bullet at the same velocity that a .308 can launch a 155 grain bullet in a rifle that only weighs about 1lbs more makes the .308 seem kinda silly to me, which will get me branded a heretic by many.

  • Joe

    Well written – what I took away from that, to paraphrase Mr. Eastwood, a man needs to know his limitations – and his rounds as well. The “average” once a year deer hunter has no business shooting at anything beyond 300 yards. Strictly my own opinion only. Just my own opinion! Don’t feel like getting yelled at. And btw, I shoot a .308

  • Jerry Verdugo

    The article makes sense, partly because I own a .300 Wby. Mag. Yes, the Creedmore is more desireable than the NATO round for longer range targets. Your article is pretty much well known for those that own larger calibers.

  • jerry

    Too bad He didn’t compare the 300 Blackout/whisper too. All the hype tells us it would take game at 350 yards. By Mr. von Benedikt’s standards it would be limited to 50 yards which of course would be a proper ethical range for that 30 cal.
    This article brings the correct ethical standards for all of us to follow. Good job.

  • BubbasBBQ

    I always considered the .308 a “medium” range cartridge, 50-200 yards, which is why I have one and I like it. it is the typical range I’d find deer in my area, it is easy to handle and easier to make a follow up shot if need be. Anything longer than that and you really do need more giddy up and go, which cartridges like the .300 Win Mag and .300 Wby Mag excel. the .308, like every other cartridge is really a tool and you do need the right tool for the right job. You wouldn’t use framing nails to assemble a walnut cabinet nor would you want to use finishing brads to frame a house.

    • HankBiner

      Most 180 grain premium hunting bullets still manage around 1300 ft pounds or a bit more of energy with the 308 Win. at 400 yards. That’s still enough for just about any deer. But it’s the range, trajectory and wind deflection that make the shots more iffy. If you’re not a great shot, replacing your 308 with a 300 Weatherby is not the answer. Being a good hunter and better shot is. Besides, who needs all the extra meat damage?

  • Timothy Rea

    It does a good job on radical islamists. Is that considered “big game”?

    • lee1001

      I would call it pest control. They are less than animals.

    • xphunter

      Not a radical Islamist by any stretch by any stretch of the imagination, but this doe antelope went down pretty quick with the inadequate 308 Win, chambered in 14″ MOA Maximum specialty pistol, using Hornady TAP (168 grain).

      The shot is also past 300 yards, but it seems no one told the bullet it could not perform well beyond 250-300 yards. Given the fact that the barrel is so short, I’m shocked the bullet even made it that far… (-;

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFafJpKGCMs

      • Mattitude

        GREAT shot sir!!! That doe was anchored right in her tracks. Shot placement is the key.

      • greenberetman97

        and it went through the doe!! enough velocity?

        • xphunter

          Sure did ;)

  • doctordoctor

    I hunt paper/steel only, so the .308 is perfect for that kind of hunting….well my furthest target hit is 1207 yards… but i have seen video of the .308 reaching out to a mile. But for hunting “big game” why would you not use a 30-06 or 300 WM???

  • Huntervic

    Reaction

    Yawn. Dear, what’s for dinner tonight?

  • Joe

    Joe Von Dummy is a dipstick and should try actually getting some experience reloading and hunting with the .308 Win at deer and other mid-size game at distances up to 450 yds. Sorry but just because Joe is a clown doesn’t mean the rest of us are limited to his abilities (or should I say INABILITIES) !

  • DHConner

    The .308 is an X-Ring bullet at 600 yards from my M1A. Many an enemy has fallen to at
    800 yards and more. Dead is dead. You can’t any deader that that. But is not the cartridge that the .30-06 is, and never will be. I do own an ’06. and in the old days it held itself well at the NRA Nationals. The .300 Win is a fine heavy game round, but the .300 W’by edges it out, and is widely available, which is why I bought one. And the of course the .300 Ultra-Mag is, I understand, capable of even greater reach and power. But I save the .308 and ’06 for paper and varmints, or places where the range because of terrain and trees, etc. mean it’ll be a fairly close shot, or not at all. Otherwise, When I want meat or defensive power, I put the 220 grain projectiles in the .300 W’by and then I can take anything .

  • Cabincowboy

    You failed to trash the 7mm-08 which is just a necked down .308. How silly of Remington to take an “outdated” cartridge, make it less effective, and market it as new ammunition. I always wondered why so many 1,000 yard benchrest shooters chose the .308. Why don’t we just forget about the 300 Win Mag, Weatherby Mag, or any 30 caliber rifle cartridges and go right to the 50 BMG which can shoot sub-MOA groups at 1,000 yards using a 750 grain bullet. I don’t own a .308 myself, I have two 30-06 rifles which are even more “outdated” than the .308. I shoot quite a bit at 300 yards, a range that very few hunters have even attempted at a paper target; although they don’t seem to hesitate shooting at game.

    • Schcotty

      I just bought a new Ruger American Rifle in 7mm-08 and will use that instead of my trusty M77 in 30/06 this year. I don’t plan on shooting at game beyond 250 yards anyway, even though I hunt on the flat to rolling plains of North Dakota. 7mm bullets are ballistically superior to .30 caliber bullets in the similar weight range, but just slightly so. I’ve only waited 30 years to get a rifle in this caliber and know of its properties and limitations. You also sound knowledgeable on the subject of performance with your 30/06s and ammo. The same knowledge we take for granted (because we’ve taken the time and effort to acquire it!) isn’t known or practiced by some hunters who take the fields each season. I know this from various years helping hunters sight in their rifles before hunting season at our gun club. Everything from loose scopes and mounts, improperly setup rifle/scope combos, handfuls of unknown ammo, damaged weapons, you name it, indicate that these shooters aren’t aware of what makes these rifle outfits tick and don’t have even the vaguest notion of what the ballistic performance (point-blank to maximum effective range, for instance) of the weapons they’ll be taking afield is/are. I believe this is the audience Joseph v.B. is addressing.

  • Tracy Thorleifson

    Frankly, there are very few ethical hunters who have any legitimate business shooting at deer-sized game beyond 400 yd.s. My TC Icon in .30-06 will shoot MOA all day long at the bench. Let’s double that for the field, just to be conservative. At 400 yards, on an average day, that means I’m putting my rounds into an ~8″ circle. On the first cold shot, that 8″ circle might even be directly on target, assuming I’ve doped the wind correctly. That’s good enough to guarantee a clean kill on a deer, but much beyond that is really pushing it for a guaranteed clean kill. And that’s true regardless of what flavor of high powered rifle cartridge you’re shooting.

    We all love to play sniper at the range; it’s good, clean fun. But we owe it to the creatures whose lives we take, and to the Creator whose creatures we all are, to kill cleanly and humanely. Hunt responsibly; know your rifle and cartridge like the back of your hand, and know your limits.

  • Bill

    I didn’t know that any sniper took shots merely “to wound” the enemy. I thought they took shots to “eliminate” the enemy and anyone taking a 500-800 yard shot at anything, other than an enemy, with any caliber, isn’t a hunter. He is a shooter, and you are right, there are better cartridges for shooting long distances. I know that my son shot an Arizona Whitetail at 255 yards with a TC PISTOL in 308 and knocked it head over heels BACKWARDS over a bush and that deer was just as dead as dead could be. Point is, we had to stalk the deer to get within 255 yards. That’s hunting. Sitting on a hill 1,500 to 2,400 feet away is shooting and I think that our snipers HAVE proven the efficacy of the venerable old 308. Don’t have one, but would like one.

  • RAM

    It is all about the drop at distance, and the .308 misses a-lot more than it kills. It was probably a .308 that broke a front leg on a deer I saw last winter. It was trying to out run the wolves that were chasing it. If you .308 fans were actual marksman and practiced at 500 and 800 ft., you would realize he is so right.
    It Texas all I need is a .270. I shoot my deer in the neck, less waste, more meat, more accuracy, more challenging.

    • BillyDee

      Gay rod right here lol

      • Sean

        why don’t the naysayers stand out a 500yrds plus and let a proficient marksmen shoot at them and then talk about how unsuitable the .308 is- I bet not…………..

    • Mattitude

      “Probably a .308 that broke a front leg on a deer I saw last winter”…really? What an assumption you made right there. I’m willing to bet it was some magnum caliber that another fool was using and flinched when he pulled the trigger and wounded that deer. Waaay too much emotion in your statement sir with zero fact to back it up.

  • Fieldkorn

    Good to see some common sense brought to the table on this subject. Truth be told, very few of us hunters should be poking our bullet’s noses as critters at such extreme ranges anyway. Shoot, in all the years I’ve hunted and for big game from hogs to antelope to deer to black bear to caribou to moose the furthest shot I’ve ever made was 200 yards. I HATE long-distance hunting (excuse me, shooting). Part of the thrill of hunting is actually approaching the game as stealthily as possible and making a good ethical connection. I follow this creed with archery hunting, too, and though I’ve taken a goodly number of deer with my crossbows over the years the furthest any of them have been is 20 yards. All the rest have been at 10 to 15 yards. I want to go eyeball-to-eyeball with my intended target. I’ll save those bravado hits to where they rightfully belong: In the hands of expert snipers protecting our troops. I’d rather brag on how close I came to what I was hunting and not how far away my range-finder said the animal was.

    • Long Range DIspatcher

      Well….Great white hunter. Sounds like you should be an archery hunter.

  • Fieldkorn

    Good to see some common sense brought to the table on this subject. Truth be told, very few of us hunters should be poking our bullet’s noses as critters at such extreme ranges anyway. Shoot, in all the years I’ve hunted and for big game from hogs to antelope to deer to black bear to caribou to moose the furthest shot I’ve ever made was 200 yards. I HATE long-distance hunting (excuse me, shooting). Part of the thrill of hunting is actually approaching the game as stealthily as possible and making a good ethical connection. I follow this creed with archery hunting, too, and though I’ve taken a goodly number of deer with my crossbows over the years the furthest any of them have been is 20 yards. All the rest have been at 10 to 15 yards. I want to go eyeball-to-eyeball with my intended target. I’ll save those bravado hits to where they rightfully belong: In the hands of expert snipers protecting our troops. I’d rather brag on how close I came to what I was hunting and not how far away my range-finder said the animal was.

  • Mike

    Go ahead, love your .308s. . . . Just don’t ask them to do something
    they’re unsuitable for. Exactly. Why I hate the .308? How ridiculous. Simply use it for what it’s good at and not what it isn’t good at.

  • Chimookman

    To each his own; many rifles out there for many purposes. I like a compact rifle I can carry in the overhead above my Jeep windshield, or the back of my pickup, so I use the .308 M77 Gunsight Scout rifle. It is far more useful than my Ruger Ranch rifle for example. For mule deer season, I carry my 30-06 with match grade ammunition. I am a fair shot but I still would stalk rather than take a chance on a wounding shot of better than 300 yards even with my favorite Shepherd Scope. I want a clean kill more than I want meat that I have to track all night while a buck suffers because my greed outweighed my ability as a fusilier.

  • CANRAY

    Well played sir; and knowing that the Pentagon has released new contracts for rifles in the .300 Winchester Magnum flavor should tell all that more is sometimes better. To those who still pretend the military was looking for a killing machine when it chose the 7.62×51, let’s look at logistics closely. It costs far less to produce than the .30-06, usually wounds instead of kills, and the individual soldier can carry more rounds of 308 versus 30-06 in weight comparrison. Hmm! That seems to be the same logic used to create the need for the 5.56×45 doesn’t it.
    The 308 is a good round, no doubt. But on those cold New Mexico mornings I’ll carry my 30-06 long before the other is considered.

  • theborg

    Let’s say, you are in Alaska and the 308 (AR10) is all you have when a 1200 pound Kodiak Bear rears up in front of you, wil the 308 put the bear down or not?

    • C. Lewis

      It will…….or it won’t. Try it two different times and you might get two different results. I’d definitely rather have the .308 rifle than any sidearm during that situation though.

      • twb930s

        Well, I haven’t been in that situation, but if necessary, I would think a Desert Eagle in .50 AE with HP’s would do the job. Something tells me that after a magazine of those, even the Kodiak would probably go down. If not, I’m hopping into the Surburban and hot-footing it out of Dodge.

    • JesseL

      Hopefully it will put the bear down, but it’s right at the bottom end of what I would choose to do the job.

      That late in the game, if all you have is a .308, does it change what you’re going to do? If all you’ve got is a .22 you’ll still be taking that shot and praying it works.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jay-Beach/689144370 Jay Beach

        And you will be taking more than one shot if you have any time at all for it.

    • rdsii64

      If you have the skill to put the bullet into the vital organs, yes a 180 grain accubond at muzzle 2650 FPS( very easy with a .308 from a 22 inch barrel) will kill a 1200 pound kodiak graveyard dead. Especially if its rearing up on its hind legs giving you easy access to the vital organs.

  • Frannie Oakie

    Black Rain PG-13 .308 works just fine at 25 yards when a meth cooker is climbing over my locked gate at 3 am – or my Glock .45 or my S&W .460

  • Longeyes

    Which one of the new bullet makers, trying to win a government contract is paying you for this article? Put a 308 168 grain boat tail in the hands of a shooter, go out to 1000 yards and see if he hits you someplace better than the knee. A snipers code is one shot one kill, not, not one shot one wounded someplace. I’ve seen a lot of the adds about now finally having a semi-auto rifle in the right caliber in the military sniper role. What was the XM-21 chopped liver? And, Oh yea, the new long range squad weapon is an improved M-14/M1A, in 308. Go figure. If you can shoot the 308, 165 gr. will take down most North American Animals out to 600 yards with no problem. LongEyes

  • Jonathan Deaux

    Long range hunting and long range military applications are two different animals. Having said that, the 7.62 x 51mm NATO round consistently outperforms 95% of those trying to shoot the round past 300 yards. Anyone hunting for food past 300 yards has other problems that are best left to a qualified psychotherapist. JD.

    • harddollar

      I agree 100% unless you are a Trophy hunter

  • Robert Jones

    I have cleanly killed Antelope out to 450 yards with an AR10TN 24 inch barrel, a Nightforce NXS 5.5-22X56 scope, a Leopold RX IV Rangefinder and a Knight Armament ballistic computer. I consider 450 yards to be the outer limit for terminal performance on a broadside shot on Whitetails and Antelope. I would not shoot at an Elk over about 200 yards with a 308 even though I can easily hit targets out to 1,000 yards with my AR10TN. The terminal performance just isn’t there.

  • Dave

    Should we start by stating the obvious? The shooter needs to know the capabilities of his rifle, ammunition and (gasp) …THE SHOOTER. Period. If any part of this equation is an unknown, no shot applies. Here in Michigan, most .30-30 users would love to have all the juice offered by a good .308 (like my Winchester 88, or the old Savage 99) but simply don’t need it; “long” shots here in most areas are 200 yards, if that, and those .30-30 hunters limit themselves to their own abilities.
    Not all of us get to hunt “out west”, so I’m glad you defined “long range” for us Midwestern hunters…

    • Sean

      I agree. This article is a no starter for me. It states the obvious. Know your catridge and its capabilities. Its like saying a ten speed bike is not the best choice do go from NY to LA. DUH!

      • RC

        There sure are some good shooters writing about this. I have participated in one form or another at High Power as well as shooting 800 yards service rifle peep sights with an M1Garrand when I was very young at Perry 45 years ago.(I live very close) It is interesting to read all this. Everyone is right and in my opinion everyone is also wrong. Lets take hunting aside for a moment. If we look at High Power competition in trajectory and shot placement only we will watch it drift through many calibers. Punching holes nicely through the years the 30-06 is one damn powerful round. The recoil must be protected against or you can join a few friends of mine with detached retinas. No not after one shot… after 1000′s of shots. A 30-06 is basicly a wildcat 8mm Mauser. Neck it down to .30 cal and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine what happens. Now about those long shots. Camp Perry is now dominated by a .22 caliber bullet. 1000 yrds. If you took that shot on anything alive it will have bad consequences. I have shot with and trust several shooters who consistently finish in the top ten. None of them trust themselves to try a shot like that on Game or Foe, one is going to get away and one now knows where you are. After doing the grunt work for a very good High Power Champion he took me on his annual hunts. Anywhere the shot was going to be on Game further than a TRUE 300 yards we endevered to get inside 250. Why… his 1000 yard 30-06 bench rest rifle was home and it weighed a ton with zero barrel taper and a 28″ Barrel. He took Elk, Moose, All Deer and some other game always one shot with a custom Mauser 98 and a hart sporter barrel. He refused to shoot at something he could not drop for sure with a well placed shot and a round capable of good penetration. Again the large caliber bench rifle was home. Some game you stalk and some you wait. Usually the little ones you wait. As you shoot they move farther away. The .308 sporter did not make him sure of a clean one shot kill on large game (bigger than deer) though we all loved that round on the 500 yard range. In a nice carbine or sporter there is no better deer rifle caliber made. Remember were going to eat whats left. In dog town out came the 5.56 nato now the king of the 1000 yard high power range. Why…….. it shoots like a lazer beam and goes right through paper. You can kill a hole digger with a sling shot. Paper is no match for a BB gun.

  • JuJuBee

    Idiot

  • Longfinger

    .338 Lapua magnum, in Accuracy International Arctic Warfare, is a desirable sniping system. Does this cross over to long range hunting?

  • Ryan

    Why not have a 338 lapua if you’re really going to throw egg on the 308 guys face. But honestly if you enjoy carrying around a 26 in barrel when it’s colder than a witches tit. That’s up to you, but anything past a 20 in barrel is a real waste if you have a proper cartridge. Plus not all of us have savings accounts aside for $2 a round ammo.

  • Paradox

    Any shooter worth a damn knows that any round has its limits, even the 308. In fact, everyone I’ve ever heard make a rational 308 to’06 comparison caveated the comparison as only being valid within the range limitations of the 308 that result from the reduced case capacity and inability to use heavier projectiles. Further, the notion that the 308 is worthless beyond 250 yards is ridiculous as I suspect a certain insurgent sniper in Iraq might be happy to attest had he not been dispatched by Jim Gilliland, at 1375 yards using, you guessed it, a 308. Granted, this was an exceptional shot in every sense of the word, but I think it is likely safe to say the round and those who are proficient with it are more than capable beyond 250 yards. Oh, and one last thing: I don’t know a single sniper that aims for kneecaps in the name of “more humane” warfare. If you look through an optic at a man, put the reticle on him, and squeeze the trigger, you do it for keeps. Otherwise, you risk your own life and that of your spotter by revealing your position only to leave a man alive that, if he didn’t want to kill you before, certainly does now.

    • Sean

      Exactly. “the 308 doesn’t do well with 180 gr bullets” You don’t say? This is why an intelligent person who has a task that “NEEDS” a 180 gr .30 cal hops up and uses a .300 win instead. Who let this idiot write this article.?

      • Al

        It’s due to idiots like you that articles like these have to be written.

    • Schcotty

      I believe that Mr. von Benedikt was making a comparison between wounding in warfare and wounding in hunting. Granted, a trained US sniper with a 7.62×51 can register hits at long range, but get real. At 800 yards an extremity hit when the aim point is the torso is a good possibility and will still take the bad guy out of the fight, at least long enough. Mr. von Benedikt goes on to say, “But shooting at game is different. Wounding is anything but humane.
      Fast, relatively painless kills are not just ethical, but they are also
      critical to both our peace of mind as hunters and to the future of
      hunting as a sport. If you’re going to shoot long on God’s living,
      breathing animals, you owe it to them to use the best tool for the job.” If you shoot a .308 at 500 yards I’d like to see the groups you get with it, using off-the-shelf ammo, rifle and optics. Chances are that one or more hits will be in the “extremity region,” even if you are an experienced rifleman.

      My son hit a running doe at close to 80 yards and “kneecapped” her with his .270 Win. on the first year he hunted whitetails (one day after he put down my deer with a perfectly placed round through her heart). Unfortunately she got away from us that day. Fortunately we found her the next day and with the help of two other hunters we banded up with we put her down, for good, with a 7mm Mag from 150 yards. My son was out of position to take the shot himself, and we owed a merciful end to the does suffering. He takes proper sighting in and careful shot placement much more seriously now, and has humanely taken whitetails at pointblank to about 200 yards since then.

      • rdsii64

        why limit me to off the shelf ammo. I have never once put an off the shelf ammo through my hunting rig. But I have put a 175 grain Berger VLD at 2700 FPS through a 300 pound hogs had a 475 yards.
        SHOT PLACEMENT AND DISCLIPLINE. If you have not mastered the basic fundamentals or rifle marksmanship you have no business hunting at all, never mind what range you choose to squeeze the trigger. This stuff isn’t rocket science.

        • Schcotty

          SHOT PLACEMENT AND DISCIPLINE. Amen. Don’t forget adequate practice at the range before you hit the fields.

          If you know your rig and what you’re releasing from it, GO FOR IT! If you have any doubts about the shot, pass. Custom loads and lots of range time are the way to prepare before you use your rig in the field.

    • Hawkzy

      This is the exact same event i was thinking of while i read this article. I feel that if a kill can be made at that distance on the first shot clearly it is capable. That being said i dont think many hunters out there have the same skillset, or rifle time of that of a professional marksman. And as far as my thoughts on hunting if you are 100% sure you can make the shot then take it

    • rdsii64

      Amen brother!! Calibers don’t kill. SHOT PLACEMENT does. You show me a deer inside 500 yards and I’ll show you a 180 grain SST at 2650 FPS that will kill that deer graveyard dead if the shooter has the PROPER SKILL SET.

  • Spartacus Whitefeather

    What a load of CRAP!

    FIRST of all; wind drift shouldn’t factor at all, because if it’s that windy, you don’t shoot. Second, only a slob-hunter / dirt-bag shoots at ranges beyond his capability.

    Third, my rifle has a 24″ barrel and I run compressed charges with 220 grain Sierra Match King Hollow Point Boat Tails and I’m getting ballistic coefficients on par with, or superior to, .300 Mags.

    As of late, the .338 Lapua is gaining popularity among military snipers and the .50 BMG has become a staple, for modern ultra-long range kills and anti-material work.

    But no other cartridge has been proven, more completely, than the .308 for long-range killing efficiency.

    This more proof that gun magazine writers don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

    Additionally, I could write everything the author knows about ballistics, the .308 cartridge, firearms history and sniping, on a B.B. with a wide-tipped marker.

    No wonder there are so many idiots, who think they have great information, when nothing could be further from the truth; they’ve been getting their “facts” from morons like the “author” of this article and taking it for Gospel Truth!

  • j.amato

    who’s the we in “why we hate”?

  • .45 hater

    I don’t have a dog in this fight although I prefer 30-06, but just because the military is still using it, does that make it the best choice? I have a PT92AF 9mm but I would bet that the military would rather have a 15 shot 10mm or equivlant. I’m all for the most rounds, the biggest cartridge and the best accuracy.

  • Ross

    Brave, very brave . . .

  • jedimarkus

    I am not a hunter so may I ask a really stupid question? Can’t you just use the .50 BMG and solve all the world’s problems even beyond 800 yards?

    • HankBiner

      Don’t you know anything about guns? You need a 20 MM cannon, preferably a rotary Gatling type. Some recommend the 30 MM off an A-10, but, personally, I think it causes too much spoiled meat.

  • bigscope

    If cost, weight of the round, weight of the weapon, and recoil were immaterial we would all be hunting with .50 BMG or 20mm. The arch of the projectile due to gravity is immaterial if you do your homework on proper range estimation and create a valid dope sheet.

    This article is frankly worse than informal gun shop banter.

  • al

    “A man ought to know his limitations”—Clint Eastwood.

  • athorn

    Ethical? I don’t think ethical really applies here. All the hand wringing about merely wounding something you are trying to kill sounds ridiculous.

    There are practical considerations that make some tools better suited for a task than others. The data in the article indicates that the .308 does not hit as hard and is more likely to drift at long distance than some other choices. The facts don’t make it useless, they only indicate that it may be less effective at long distance.

  • Sam

    Like so many have stated, know what your capable of and use the right tool for the job.

  • PDFS

    I live in the mountains of WV. 200 yards is a super long shot around here. I’ll stick with my .308.

  • moore787

    Unfortunately, the author disqualifies himself in his introduction with the statement that “wounding” if preferred or thought to be more “humane” in times of war. Any Joe Schmoe private knows that you shoot to kill and a sniper would be doubly mortified at this assumption. It seems the author’s research into military doctrine is lacking even in the most basic of principles.

  • Tom Crain

    The key is ethical shooting range. The M-1 and M-14 (30-06 & .308) both had military effective ranges for man sized targets of around 450 meters. Thousands of us qualified shooting them out to 400 meters with iron sights. Today there is a lot of interest in long range tactical and competition shooting. Only a small segment of the hunting/shooting public actually participate in it and only a small part of that group are good enough to consistently make kill shots out in the 600-1200 yard range. For the rest of us, the ethical limit of our hunting shots is probably inside 250 yards (where 30-06 and .308 shine) unless we engage in a lot of practice to extend our limits for a specific kind of hunting. Further we must recognize that accurate shooting at ranges beyond 100 yards is a highly perishable skill and requires practice to maintain. When it comes to shooting at those ranges, although it sounds cool and we enjoy dreaming about it, there are few of us who can walk the walk. It is not the caliber, it’s the shooter, “Beware of the man with only one gun.”

  • Gunnybo

    I like the 7.62×51 or .308 but I agree that it is not for long range targets that are not thin skin animals. The 30.06 is better but remember the 7.62×51 or .308 was developed to take the place of 30.06 because of recoil. Both ammunitions are great people killers for which they were designed for. They both still are great for long ranges. A well informed and good hunter would look at better ammunition and rifles for long range animal hunting to allow a kill shot and good shock power at the range being used for. If you can shoot any animal in the eye with a 7.62×51 or .308 at 500 plus yards EVERYTIME then yes a 7.62×51 is great long range ammunition. Of course if not then think about it before making a statement. No argument is worth the possible loss of a wounded animal. We hunt for sport and conservation. God Bless all who do the right thing.

  • Alaskan

    Ya, know I cant help but laugh when you call a “antelope big game” Just last weekend I took an (approx) 500lb caribou at 333 yards with my .308 it was a Remington sps with a heavy 26in barrel. the load was a 150gr hornady sst with 46grains of TAC and a cci primer. I dropped the animal were it stood with 1 shot. I live and hunt Alaska. there is no need to take 800 yard shots on anything other then varmints for fun. If someone is seriously considering shooting a critter much over 400 yards then peraphs they need to learn a bit about hunting in the first place.

  • harddollar

    Me I prefer a 7MM on caliber that has knock down power for all my
    hunting needs.
    Lets say a pig can out run it, but a goat or camel cannot .

  • Mattitude

    First off I don’t care for the condescending attitude and comments the author makes towards “.308 shooters” and is pretty much saying that all of us .308 guys are idiots and/or refuses to “see the light” with magnum calibers. Getting past that, I live in NC and I also hunt in SC and the longest possible shot that I can take is around 300yds across a bean field…the only “long range” opportunities are on a shooting range. Also the average whitetail deer around here is only 90-110 pounds with a big one considered 150 pounds live weight…definitely NOT a monster. Medium calibers are about perfect for a number or reasons with one of them being quite a bit less meat damage. I’ve seen .300WM literally destroy the front end of a deer. Yes it did drop in its tracks but there was a lot of waste. Many hunters have successfully harvested deer with .30-30 & .35 Remington out to 200 yards and as the author should know that the energies at that distance isn’t that great so I wonder if he would consider those hunters unethical for making those shots. Many handgun hunters use a .357 or .44 magnum to take game out to 100 yards, again not the highest energies the author would consider acceptable for clean kills. Lastly hunting comes down to shot placement. Just because a deer runs a few hundred yards from a shot doesn’t mean it was a bad or under powered shot as most hunters know that even a deer can/will run with a clean heart or lung shot, both very fatal and both ethical shots.

    • JM

      RIGHT ON!!!!
      JM

  • BJC

    I was surprised to see the 7mm mag not included in the underrated long range list.

  • Red Foreman

    I’ve shot the 308 in a modified M-14 since my service days in the early 70s. I still shoot that same platform with a heavy barreled M1A. I don’t shoot this rifle because it is the most accurate or the best at taking game. I shoot this platform because I can shoot it well. The first rule of hunting is to hit your target. When i was in the military, the longest actual combat shot I ever made was about 210yds. We did not have the long line of sight in most circumstances. In todays war its all flat and all long. I never hunt beyond my ability and I have never had the need. The 308 still has its place, its just not for everyone.

  • jm

    Joseph von Benedikt on

    “Does the .308 Fit the Long-Range Hunting Bill?

    If Mr. Joseph von Benedikt thinks Long-Range “taking” of an animal and hunting are the same thing, he has lost sight of what he calls a sport.

    The author states that he has “taken 10 game animals already this year with the .308 within 250 yards”, well, bully for him. I can only hope he was way under 250 yards. He goes on to say; “Fast, relatively painless kills are not just ethical, but they are also critical to both our peace of mind as hunters and to the future of hunting as a sport”. If he thinks that “taking” animals at over 250 yards is actually “hunting, ethical & sporting”, he is neither ethical, a hunter or a sportsman. HOGWASH!!!

    When hunting is considered a “sport” we should remember that only one “player” knows the rules and is aware that a “sport” is actually being played and the unaware “player” has no chance of winning, only having his opponent lose by default. For the opponent losing means dying so I think “sport” is the wrong term. When you become a “Game Sniper” you are no longer a hunter and certainly not a sportsman.

    The so-called sportsman-hunter who hires a guide to find his prey and then “harvests” his “trophy” at Long Range is no sportsman or hunter and has no ethics whatsoever, he is merely well funded and a very good marksman (usually with outrageously expensive equipment), a point which is better proven at the range rather than in the field. (I saw some fool on a TV Hunting Show shoot a Mule Deer and 750 yards, then jump up and down with high fives all around with his guide and TV crew as if he had just accomplished something amazing and I had to turn off the TV before I got sick.)

    If you want to hunt, grab a bow or a 30/30 or a 44 mag and get within range.
    If you want to shoot an elk or deer or whatever which is standing in the next county, you have every right to do so if it’s legal, but don’t try calling it hunting and don’t try to sell it as sporting or ethical because it is neither.

    jm

    CO

  • Rikki Tikki Tavi

    A 300 WM may have more energy, but that does not mean anything if the shooter twitches every time they pull the trigger. A 308 in the hands of a seasoned rifleman can be effective at ethical ranges. That is 1500 ft lbs for Elk and 1000 ft lbs for deer/antelope. This article just shows the ignorance of the writer, who is more apt to pull out a calculator, rather than get dirty in the field. I am glad I know the real face of these magazines, as it is time to renew my subscription. Not gonna happen now.

  • DarryH

    I have said the same thing about the .308 for along time, and like the author, I have been ridiculed many times. I favor the 30-06, but realize it is only very slightly better than the .308. I have shot the 300 Weatherby mag, and it is MUCH better at long ranges, but
    the recoil and expense makes it less than perfect. The 6.5 caliber guns offer a lot, but still come up short on energy at longer ranges. I have not fired the 6.5/.284 that others rave about. It seems to me that the 7mm guns, in the more powerful configurations, MIGHT
    be close to perfect.

  • xphunter

    Wow. I expected better.

    I am far from a Three-O-Late fan boy, but seriously only 300 yards?
    No hate here, just sad to see someone do comparison based possibly on their own capability or by skewing info to make your point stronger.

    One, by listing a short barrel for the 308 and then a longer one for the other two cartridges is not a fair comparison.

    Of course they are going to outrun the 308, but at least allow them to compete head to head.
    With the new Accubond LR bullets the impact velocity is supposed to be quite a bit lower than most hunitng bullets-Cool.
    I wonder if Litz has given hard numbers on the BC yet?

    Anyone who knows me, already knows that I do NOT think the 308 is the holy grail of LR anything.

    That being said, it is surely more capable than presented above.
    Drop is really not the issue in LR hunting, wind drift is.
    Even my mildly loaded Rem 40X chambered in 308 Win with 168 A-Max’s does 2730 fps. I’m using Hornady brass and 43.5 grain of Varget.

    In my conditions with a 100 yard zero it takes 10 MOA at 500 yards for drop with 3.25 MOA for a 10 mph FV wind. Impact velocity at 500 is 1973 fps, which is more than enough for this bullet design to work very well on tissue.
    I wonder what a 190 grain longrange AB would do in a 308 Win? A buddy and myself each put about 500+ rounds through our rifles several weeks ago. The rifle he used just happens to be a 308 Win., 200 grain Berger Hybrids at 2650 fps using Lapua 308 Palma brass. Brass was used multiple times in hot weather-No blown primers or sticky ejection and with 15 shot and 20 shot string firing, if you have much pressure it will reveal its ugly head in conditions like this.
    So if we drop the weight to 190 grain bullets and add approximately 100 fps to the muzzle velocity, now we have the lowly 308 running a 190 AB at around 2750 fps.
    At 500 feet elevation and at 500 yards with a 10 MPH FV wind, my 308 Win F-TR rig with the 190 AB only drift 13.9″ at 500 yards compared to the authors 300 WM data with the 190 AB. I calculated this on Exbal.
    This would only be if Nosler’s BC data is accurate.

    My POI is not going to go crazy after 4-5 shots on a hot day at distance either compared to most Weatherby’s I have shot.

    Oh, I must confess, the 308 in question has a 31″ barrel. :)

    Doubt if it would make a good mountain rig :)

    Even out to 1000 yards my impact velocity stays above the speed for the bullet to perform well (From what I have been told).

    OF course, if I was elk hunting my elevation would likely be higher and the ballistics even better.

    Am I recommending the 308 for 1K hunting? NO!

    But, can I take info and spin it in a much more positive way???
    Plus, do we really see a lot of guys choosing a 308 Win for a LR elk rig? Seriously?
    Deer sized animals would have been a better choice, since the majority of guys who may be feeling the hate toward you use their rifles for deer sized game.
    Would I hunt elk with a 308? yep. Is it my first choice for an elk rig? No

    At extreme distances? No
    Do I feel very competent with my 40X 308 Win. for deer sized game out to 500-600 yards with 168 A-Max’s?
    Yes! If I have good conditions and a steady rest.
    Is it my first choice for LR hunting? No.
    Does it work? Yes.

    Of more importance is the accuracy of the barrel, quality of trigger, repeatability of your optic, fit of your stock, etc. Of even more importance, is the skill of the one behind the rifle, and his or her ability to shoot under pressure, or for that matter, not shoot.
    Rangefinders are pretty much a given today for distance shooting, so the idea of holding over or guessing the distance is not really the issue in this discussion as far as I am concerned.
    Well, that is my 2 cents. I never thought I would defend the 308.
    Of course, I never thought I would own a 308 rifle either

  • Murican Gano

    Give me a Barrett Model 99 .416 with a 12-42×56 NightForce scope, let me camp on a nice gamey Idaho hilltop with a 270 degree view of hills, wet valleys, and bedding areas for 4 days waiting to pop off a buck or bull at over 1,500 yards. I personally wouldn’t care too much if I nailed it in the gut and spoiled the meat or in the arse and blew off a hind leg.. that deer or elk won’t be traveling far after being hit with a .416. Drive my ATV up to it and put a .454 Casull through its heart to finish the job if need be. Field dress and haul the carcass off to town, then head back to the taxidermist to retrieve my trophy later on. Honestly, do you REALLY enjoy hiking ten to twenty miles over 2-4 days with deer piss on your boots and a case of swamp ass between your cheeks all so that you may get within 200-300 yards of your target?? Do you REALLY think gamey meat tastes better than a juicy filet mignon?? OR…. is “hunting” just a means to an end of “SNIPING & KILLING”.. that moment when you have the target in your scope, you slow your breathing, exhale, squeeze the trigger, and BAM! The sound, the recoil, the hit, the KILL!!! Otherwise you might as well just grab a camera, take a weekend hike, snap a picture of a buck, and go home :( If ethics is a concern, you have yet to realize two things; 1.) ethics is a 100% subjective perspective which we do not all agree on, 2.) you are a hypocrite for even hunting in the first place and you should move to California to become a vegan. Lastly, if you use $$ as an excuse not to own proper long-range equipment, you’re either not working hard enough, not working ‘smart’ enough, or long-range hunting/sniping is not as important to you as you may think, otherwise your ambitions would attain the money required.

    P.S. There is absolutely nothing wrong with hunting using .308 if your hunting grounds are limited by dense foliage or the terrain. I personally enjoyed this article written by Joseph von Benedikt. Thanks Joe!

  • Rikki Tikki Tavi

    250 yards is now considered the “VZ” (the von Benedikt Zone)

    Definition: VZ, point in which ethical lines have been drawn for the 308 Winchester as a hunting cartridge. Sometimes considered an invisible force field in which mystical power will slap a 30 caliber projectile from the sky into the earth.

    Hunters should use caution as new scopes have been designed with only 5 moa of elevation as to prevent any wannabe snipers from harvesting game.

  • xphunter

    Regardless of how you feel about the writers opinions in his article I was suggest you check out this link and look at hard information and data that has been gathered.
    http://www.ballisticstudies.com/Knowledgebase/.308+Winchester+7.62+NATO.html

  • petru sova

    Gun writers these days do not have a clue about ethical hunting. To them an animal is a target and nothing more. Real hunters take great satisfaction on learning the habits of wild game and in the process outwitting them on their own turf. Real hunters respect the animals they hunt, they do not wound them at long range by using them for target practice. AS far as using magnums are concerned they are often more of a liability than an asset as they kick harder, have more muzzle blast and often do not have the velocity indicated in the bull-istics charts because they are often made with shorter barrels. A .270 with a 22 inch barrel often comes very close to a 7mm mag with an identical barrel. Also most once a year hunters do not even have the skill to hit big game at much beyond 200 yards under field conditions. The long range fantacies of gun writers are only designed to hype ammo or gun sales.

    • CLAY

      JUST LIKE TO SAY THAT MY 308 IS A GREAT HUNTING RIFLE,USE 168 GR.BARNS,750 YARDS MY BEST SHOT ON A DEER, LOVE MY GUN.

  • petru sova

    When the bulk of deer today are still taken with the archaic short range 30/30 rifle it tells you something about real people, real hunters and the fantacies of gun writers.

  • Mike c

    Internet troll at its finest example.

  • Celt51

    I really can’t understand why Mr. Benedikt’s article stirs up all the emotions. The .308Win/7.62 Nato is a good balanced cartridge. It is certainly not the most powerful or the flattest shooting. It can be a very accurate cartridge in an accurate gun. Anyone with any experience as a hand-loader knows that the limited powder capacity of the .308 will not allow stellar speeds with heavier projectiles. That’s where the old ’06 has it’s edge, and the .various .300 magnums shine. I personally load the .308 Win, .30-06 Spg, and .300 Wby. Simply no contest beyond 400 yards – the Weatherby blows them away! The Remington .300 Ultramag and the .30-.378 Wby add a bit more. There are, of course, 6.5mm and 7mm cartridges that have trajectories like stretched strings and several magnum choices in these when both factory and proprietary cartridges are considered. Various .338 cartridges will put the .300 mags to shame when it comes to delivering energy at long range. I believe that the author was making his point concerning bigger game – not whitetail deer or smaller (big) game. Whitetails are not difficult to kill; the .308 Win is more than enough when loaded with proper bullets. Likewise, there is no reason that the .308 would not be adequate for bigger game when loaded with a heavy bullet – PROVIDED – the range is moderate and the shot placement is good. However, I don’t think that was the issue. If I have an opportunity to hunt larger game where really long shots are common, I would not grab any of my .308 Win rifles for that purpose. I have rifles chambered for more suitable cartridges.

    Basically, I agree with Mr. Benedikt’s observations.

  • David Randall

    I believe I understand the jest of this article, but IMHO feel the writer took a camp soapbox and brought it to the pages of G&A. IMO, this writer tried to cover too many topics in one writing which looses the impact of the article – cover ethical hunting, or large game hunting and distances, or how the .308 may no longer be the best military cartridge. IMO, the writer lost a lot of credibility making the statement about a military sniper. The writer must be from a country outside of the U.S. The snipers I know have one goal, when they shoot, they shoot for an immediate kill, one shot, and move to the next threat. Also, IMO, one should never compare a sniper to a hunter… One is fighting for his and the lives of his squad and not just looking for food! The military comment about the need for a new round, based on your sources why did the military go with .308 AR platform for snipers? They are not shooting hand loads, they are shooting, I believe, 175 SMK’s and not thinking twice on an 800 yard target. Also is the writer comparing the skills of a highly trained marksman to hunter? What level are you considering this hunter? Anyway, is the .308 capable of an “ethical” kill at 800 yards? Yes! Does the animal you are trying to take need to be considered? Most definitely. Is a .308 capable of killing an elk at 500-600 yards? You bet. Is there maybe a better cartridge for it? Of course there is. I’m not speaking to my capabilities but that of the round. Personally I could take the 600 no sweat but I wouldn’t. I like to be closer. But if we are talking long range, heck the .338 LM 300 SMK would be great! One could take game from 1500 yards, but if your looking for long range in a short action the 7 SAUM may be your winner hands down with a 180 SMK.

    • xphunter

      Nice post David.
      E

  • Niles Coyote

    Never take a shot in the field at game that you have not
    taken and become proficient with in practice under the same conditions.
    Never take unproven BC claims as fact until you have proven them to be correct.
    No wonder scope, caliber, ammo or rifle system as a whole will make you a long range shooter or hunter until you understand how to use and apply the skills you have learned in real world practice/training with that equipment.
    I am a fan of the 308 and until recently it was the only caliber I used. Now I use either a 243 or 260 for deer hunting using my own custom hand loads because of their wind cheating ability. If the author were to buy a thousand or so rounds of 308 175 FGMM ammo and take a professional long range shooting course to refine his skill level and shoot the remaining rounds in practice under hunting field conditions all year long and continue to shoot many hundreds of rounds a year to maintain his skill over several years in all types of weather conditions… I may have more respect for his expert status as a valuable authority on long range and be inclined to listen to his advice.
    Until then I’d be happy to meet him at my range with his 300 win mag using the 190 nosler accubond and my 308 and handload for a shoot off… we could start with a 700 yard cold bore shot for bragging rights and then move on out and see who has the most first round hits on the remaining targets to the 1000 yard line. No bench, all shots from prone or kneeling under field like positions… weeds, wind and weather to be decided
    by God. Just a friendly competition between the two of us, no ego or ulterior motives, if I am beaten I will admit my defeat. One thing Long Range Shooting has taught me is there is always more to learn. Before my LR obsession I used to think I was a pretty good shot, now I know better.

    • Niles Coyote

      Oh and my 800 yard 308 data, 1620ish fps 1050+ pounds of energy with 183 inches of drop about 45 inches of drift but who talks in inches???

    • xphunter

      Will Joseph take responsibility for his writing and engage those who question him?
      I would assume if you believe deeply in something you should be willing to have a respectful discussion.

    • Davis Thompson

      I thank you for this response. You emphasis on learning how to shoot as opposed to relying on technology is welcome.

  • petru sova

    This article is nothing more than a warmed over Elmer Keith article from years past. Its Elmer’s magnimitus baloney all over again. Elmer would state that non-magnum cartridges were so anemic they would bounce off of game animals beyond 25 yards but magnums would penetrate 8 inches of solid steel at 600 yards. Lets face facts at 600 yards if our unethical hunter gets lucky and actually hits a vital spot on the animal the .308 will kill any big game animal dead especially with the new bonded rifle bullets. But reality shows he will more than likely wound the animal even if he is using a magnum. He probably has more of a chance in wounding it with the magnum because magnums cause people to flinch because of their excess recoil and muzzle blast. But is the magnum more lethal, no it is not because when the animal is killed by a .308 dead is dead not deader with a magnum caliber.

  • David

    It’s a pleasure to note the amount of real-world experience – and gentlemanly manners – evident amongst those commenting here.
    I believe we would all agree that a true hunter, a sportsman, tailors all his equipment to the conditions expected in the field. Here, in Western Kentucky, the topography dictates that viable game-shots over 400 yds. are the exception. I hunt in an area characterized by steep, narrow, gullies and very heavy undergrowth. I have never killed a whitetail at more than 80 yds., and my hunting-zero reflects that. It would be reckless, indeed, for me to peg a shot at a distant deer without re-zeroing my rifle.
    “Sportsmanship” includes the occasional gritting of teeth as we pass on an unlikely shot.
    Incidentally, all of my rifles are .308; they perform beautifully under the conditions I use them for.

  • Maluka

    When I attended USMC Scout Sniper School we trained using the Remington 700BDL in 7.62/308 equipped with a 3X9X40 Weaver for optics.. My longest shot was 900 meters but while hunting the 4 legged targets I limit myself to 400 meters or less with my Sako rifle. I have taken elk at 350, moose, antelope, deer, boar etc at less than 300. I wish I could make use of the technology of today but the cost, my rapidly advancing age and injuries prevents that pleasure.. I normally use the 165 gr. Sierra HPBT when hunting and 168 gr HPBT Matchking when I competed in National Match courses. When hunting, the 7.62/308 is sufficient to take any of the above animals with one well placed shot. Sierra’s bullet expansion has never failed me. When hunting in Alaska for moose or caribou I always use my Sako 375 H&H in case I come across Mr. Browncoat. I think a 7.62/308 will drop a grizzly with the ideal shot BUT I am not a betting man when the stakes are that high. I have lived a long time and do not intend to push my luck. Use the 7.62/308 and place your shot by practicing from various ranges and shooting positions. You don’t always have time to go prone with a nice solid rest.

    The article is correct in that new cartridges have surpassed the .30 cal because of new bullet design and propellents but if you have a .30 cal in good condition and a normal bankroll don’t be afraid to fill the freezer with it. . Good Hunting.

  • Redneckbmxer24

    It makes me wonder how editors like you keep a job when you spew BS that is easily debunked as fact. Fact is that a lot of 308′s come with 24″ barrels, not 22″. In fact every Remington 700 or Weatherby standard sporter model comes with a 24″ barrel unless you get a carbine or youth variant or a target variant in which case they could have anything from a 20″-26″ barrel. Another fact is that cutting a 24″ 308 down to 22″ is only going to cause a loss of 20-30FPS, 308 burns very efficiently in a 20-22″ barrel. You will have more than a 20-30FPS difference round to round in your load most of the time and you will also have more of a difference in barrel to barrel from the same manufacturer so it’s a moot point anyway. Take a look at the XM-3, it uses a 18.5″ barrel and is effective well beyond 1000 yards.

    The next problem with your little comparison here is that you’re comparing a 20 year old bullet in one caliber to the latest technology in another, not exactly apples to apples. You can drive that same accubond LR 190gr to 2600FPS in a 308 without any problem, nearly 2650 if you’re running a 26″ tube with a proper powder like RL17. Why don’t you plug those numbers into your ballistic calculator and see how they look. Sure 300WM is still going to look better but it’s not going to have half the wind drift like you would like it to appear. In fact the wind drift of 300WM vs 308 with the same bullet is really only marginally better.

    I’ve killed deer beyond 800 yards with the 308 and surprisingly they all drop, must just be my luck, right? Fact is a few inches of drop or wind drift is easy to correct, the limiting factor is going to be the shooter taking a shot in the field and that shooter is always going to shoot better with a rifle he is more comfortable with. Fact #2 is lower recoiling rifles are easier to shoot. This all comes in play at distance and most people don’t have the experience to make true long range shots on game, most don’t have the experience to take mid range shots on game (300-600 yards). A 300WM is only going to extend the range a skilled shooter could possibly take an animal with, there is not reason that it doesn’t have what it takes to make a 1000 yard + kill, the limiting factor is and always will be the shooter.

  • KT

    This article is a farce filled with half truths. Of course the 308 in the hands of an inexperienced shooter is not suited for long range shooting or hunting (300-800 yrds) but neither is any caliber.
    It appears to me the writer is only substituting a more powerful weapon system to over come his limitation and lack knowledge as a shooter/hunter. I believe this to be a common mistake among many hunter.

    Bullet selection and performance….you say.
    The Berger 175gr hunting VLD, CAN easily be loaded and shot out of 22″ barrel, at 2650fps ( I know, I’ve loaded and shot thousands………and ……… thousands). At the fore mentioned environmental parameters the berger bullet will stay super sonic well past a 1000 yards and carries the authors “required” 1500ft/lbs of energy out to 425yrds. I think 1500ft/lbs is over rated, any thing north of 1000ft/lbs is much more realistic. Seriously You’d think Mr. von Benedikt invented the 300 wm or had a steak in selling 300wm ammo…….
    I’m not say the 308 is the end all or even the standard or long range shooting/hunting; only that, if you cant do it with a 308 you should be trying it with a 300wm just because it bigger…..

  • plains

    People who don’t hunt on the plains don’t understand that 250 is a close shot. Also some one needs to tell the 10 mule deer I have killed at over 500 yards with the rainbow trajectory of a 168 amax should not be dead. I will agree that most hunters who go sight in there leupy vx 1 on a pie plate the day before the season have no business shooting past 100 yds but that would eliminate a lot of hunters. For the guy who shoots and practices 400 yds is pretty easy with decent equipment.

  • Damo450

    I really like and agree with this article. To many armchair snipers out there who believe exactly what you are arguing against. And the .308 has been kicked out of service by many branches and units. Just look at remingtons latest army contract. .300 win mag….

  • bluegrasscotty

    Mr. von Benedikt is spot on! The .308 is “Old Yellar”, & we know what happened to him. He had a good run but when it came time to put him down; Travis did what was needed. Time we did the same with the .308 Win. I can match .308 w/the .243 Win A.I. I can far exceed .308 performance w/my .260 Rem @ 1,000 yards. At that distance my .260 drops 22.8 ft – 23.7 ft., vs .308 drop of 34 ft. My .260 actually penetrates steel @ 1,000 & my buddies .308 just “dings” it. A 139gr bullet vs a 165 & 168gr bullet & penetration is 2-3 times greater than .308. I noticed Mr. von Benedikt plugged Hornady’s 6.5 Creedmoor. I wonder how much Hornady has spent to buy favorable press in it’s attempt to kill the .260 Remington? Truth is the Creedmoor is closer to 6.5x47mm Lapua, than .260 Rem. The REAL truth is the .260 Rem. & .260 Rem. A.I. will outshoot the Creedmoor any day of the week. So don’t believe Hornady’s P.R. war campaign they are waging. The Creedmoor will & can shoot but the .260 Rem has a slight edge over it. However the ole’ .308 is still a great hunting cartridge, but a legitimate 1,000 “sniper” round? Don’t think so. It’s high time we started being honest w/ourselves & admit the .308′s limitations; which are many.

  • Wolfman

    while you compare the .308 for long range here in N.A. I question why? other than some western shooters who are going for pronghorn or such. most N.A. hunters have no need for shots beyond 250yds. and those who hunt the heavier woodlands, even 100yrd shots are not made often. So for basic standard hunting of 200lb white deer or similar game, weighing between 100 and 250 lbs. the factory loads of .308 have never failed me. I use only 3 weights for my .308, 150gr. 165gr. and 180gr. depending on what I am hunting. Remington core-lokt ammo and when I can find or afford it Federal Nosler-partition. As for snipers use of the .308, the stories are legendary and vast. BUT it should be noted that when shooting game animals, all hunters I know, insist on a quick clean kill. Snipers like to claim the 1shot/1kill moto, but when shooting a human, we are typically weaker than most game animals, and a severe wound will put any human out of commission, with death being eminent. Had a .300 mag. for awhile, much bigger recoil, and typically shot 200 plus gr. bullets. Great for Elk, and the bigger game animals, and for longer ranges, but you pay for that power. Grew up on a .30-06 and 12gauge pump, but at 50 + yrs, and 2 shoulder injuries, I very much like my .308 and 12 ga. semi-auto. They just simply Get the Job DONE. // as for long range shooting, I find it fun for practice. (LR around here =500yrds.) but I Hunt with practicality for that one shot kill.

  • Name

    Reading through the comments it doesn’t appear that the majority of people even bothered to read the article.

  • Long Range DIspatcher

    Great article and the information was well put. Long range hunting is becoming a sport in itself on top of taking game. It is not going to go away and it is only growing in popularity. The 308 is a great military sniper round, it has proven itself in the ‘MILITARY’ for a very long time, however it is my own belief that humans are weaker than elk or mule deer. I believe that a mule deer even in its 160-200 pound point of life will take a harder hit than a human. (My personal belief as an outfitter) I think that the 308 has earned its spot in the hall of fame in the military and paper punch society but it does not have the force to ethically and consistently in hunting situations put deer and elk at long range down.(long range to me begins at 600 yards) Not to my expectations anyway. I never like to see an animal suffer, as much as I like to help people kill them and kill them myself. I will choose Magnum calibers and I will put animals on there ass beyond 600 yards consistently, in hunting situations, involving wind and weather.

  • REED F. POND

    DUH!

  • Watt

    Its really about having the right tools for the job at hand, and knowing the limitations of yourself and the rifle your carrying. I don’t take shots with my 30-30 that would take with my 300 RUM and and I don’t take shots with a 300 RUM that I need my 50 bmg for so get the right tools for the job at hand or do the leg work to get in proper range for your choice of rifle and skills to make a quick clean kill

  • Nat Lambeth

    I am a serious shooter, hunter, and Gunsmith. I now hunt with a .308 Win. I currently use two different rifles. One a Customized Remington model 7 with a 20″ 1:12, 5R, barrel and the second a customized Remington 700 with a 26″ 1:10, 6R , barrel. Both shooting Barnes 150 grain tipped triple shocks. The short barreled rifle is running an average 2860 fps. The longer barrel rifle is running 3010 fps. Both barrels are grouping sub .3 moa at 100 yards. I have run computer ballistics drop charts with both rifles and loads from 100 to 600 yards then sat on a bench and shot test loads at 25 yard increments verifying my trajectories. I feel confident and have successfully harvested whitetails with the short barreled rifle out to 400 yards. With the longer barreled rifle I have successfully harvested white tails out to 600 yards. My longer barrel rifle is a heavy AMU contour and the rifle wears a 8 x 32 x 56 scope. I am shooting sub 2 inch groups at 600 yards. I use a Leica 1600B range finder and can judge range to =/- 1 yard. I only use a controlled expansion bullet and use it in a velocity range where it will still perform as designed. I use to be opposed to long range shooting over 300 yards thinking it was unethical. I still believe that if the hunter does not have the skill and equipment to do the job he should not be hunting at any distance. I have harvested many deer with a 308 at distances of 300-600 yards with a 308. Just with any caliber bullet placement is the most important factor. A 308 is easier to shoot than the larger magnums. Practice make a hunter a shooter. Most people will shoot hundreds of rounds from a 308 and shoot only a few rounds out of a magnum.
    I don’t advocate shooting game bigger than deer at long distance with a 308.
    Nat Lambeth

  • Mac

    Interesting article but both the 300 mag and the 7mm mag have shorter necks than the .308. The good old T65 was designed for war as was the venerable .30-06, which it replaced around 1957.
    Any .30 caliber projectile will kill efficiently at muzzle velocities in the 2600 fps range with projectiles between 150 and 180 grains in weight, at distances below 400 yards. That is, if the hunter knows what he’s doing.
    Poor shot placement is the MOST COMMON reason for “wounded” game, not cartridge selection. And before we get all gushy about the vaunted “magnums” long range prowess, a heck of a lot of Bison fell to black powder cartridge rifles between .40 caliber and .50 caliber, at ranges better than 800 yards, with iron sights.
    Pick a cartridge that you shoot well, in a good rifle. Hunt within your actual
    [not fantasy] ability and the .308 will do the job with enviable predictability.
    I was trained by the military to qualify with iron sights out to 600 yards with the 7.62 Nato round [308] from a prone position. The .308 had no trouble reaching out to that range with some authority.

  • littled123

    I loved your article, I have used a 308 for years on deer, elk, antelope, etc. And yes it’s been a great gun that I have come to trust and have confidence in when I squeeze the trigger. However, I consider anything past 300 yds. off limits. I simply do not have those skills and I too like to try and close the gap when hunting. Honestly at 500 yds. I can’t tell what I’m really shooting at. I have felt for years that 99% of the guys bragging about their 500 yard elk don’t have a clue what kind of distance that really is. I think in their mind 500 is really more like 200. Love my 308 and I admire the guys that can shoot and kill ethically 800 yards and more. But I must admit I wonder if it has a place in the hunting world?? But I still know a lot of people who do not agree with inline muzzle loaders or compound bows for that matter. Great article and made a lot of sense. Thank you

  • 8541

    im sorry i wasted my time reading this

  • Brett Wagner

    I am asking questions here not arguing just want to understand. As a young Marine we would have to qualify with the M-16 (5.56mm x 39) and we would shoot targets at 200, 300, & 500 meters. At 500 meters it would be a man shaped target but slightly larger than a man but not as big as a big game animal. Now I would never try to take game with a 5.56 rd and it isn’t even legal where I live but as far as accuracy goes if I am expect to hit a target with that round at 500 meters why would the .308 not be at least as accurate as the 5.56?
    IMHO when it comes to choosing the .308, and I do not own one at this time, I also looked at ammo availability and cost. There is a ton of .308 ammo out there and even when I could not find .223 or 6.8 my .308 friends could always find their ammo. Now that I mentioned 6.8 SPC I think it is a great round and because of LWRC’s rather large contract with a friendly nation’s military for 6.8 guns and the fact that Colt bought LWRC and the fact that the U.S. military is now reevaluating use of 6.8 it is still hard to find and expensive. At about $1.25 per round it has become cost prohibitive to shoot. I have seen I can get .308 for about .40 per round in bulk so 3 x cheaper. What are the costs for the other cartridges? Could it be that those using .308 are also shooting enthusiasts that cannot afford to buy a gun for every use?

  • Whitetailer

    308 at 500 yards: “Retained velocity is 1,786 fps, which is too low to reliably expand many hunting bullets.” Win Mag at 800 yards: “Retained velocity is 1,860 fps, which is barely enough to still reliably expand most big game hunting bullets”.

    I guess that 74 fps difference in bullet velocity is critical.

    “To blow a final hole in the .308 myth, many knowledgeable sniper
    teams—whether military or law enforcement—will tell you they wish that
    powers-that-be would allow them to transition to the 6.5 Creedmoor,
    6.5-284 or just about anything else with legitimate long-range
    credentials.”

    Hog Wash, Military is using 300 WM and 338 Lapua now,
    Law Enforcement train for 100 meters and less, they have fun out to 300
    meters but TRAIN for 100 and less because that is where the action is,
    the real stuff, not T.V. Been there done that!

    Methinks a good portion of this article is heifer dust.

  • Joseph Kool

    I mostly agree with the article, but the velocity increase going to a 24″ compared to a 22″ barrel with 168+ grain bullets is marginal at best. With the 308 we’re talking 10-15 fps in fact some 22″ barrels may shoot faster than some 24″ barrels. It just depends on the barrel.

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