Welcome back to another edition of TFB’s Round Table sponsored by Ammunition To Go! For those who are first joining us, this is a multi-part series where TFB will discuss the characteristics of great ammunition for specific applications. This could vary from big game hunting, plinking, precision rifle matches, small game hunting, or even pistol competitions. Chances are there is someone here at TFB who can offer you advice on buying the right round for your task at hand. This week I will offer up some tips on picking the best hunting ammunition for your .308 Win rifle.
TFB ROUND TABLE: PICKING THE BEST .308 win hunting AMMUNITION
When it comes to hunting with the .308 Winchester cartridge, you definitely have enough caliber to down big or small game, but that does not mean you should take the cartridge for granted. The .308 Win is a strong, time-tested round, but you still need to consider the game you are hunting, that animal’s anatomy, what you want your bullet to do upon impact, and how this will all interact with your specific rifle. Just because your buddy has a knock-down, drag-’em-out round does not mean it is the one for you. While there are a lot of variables to consider, this should not deter you from wanting to hunt. Simply, be mindful of your game, your rifle, and what the end goal is. Let’s dive in!
VELOCITy – how far you gonna send it?
Many people overlook the velocity of their ammunition unless they are reloading ammo from scratch. The reason why velocity is more important than you think might seem like a no-brainer, but the bullet has to reach its target. If you are hunting western big game like mule deer or elk and are confident in your shooting ability, you might attempt a poke at 400+ yards. If you only zeroed your rifle at 100 yards though and think your BDC Reticle in Name Brand “X” scope is going to do the rest, you could be in for a rude awakening.
Aside from the bullet actually reaching its intended target it is going to need those prolific buzzwords we all talk about in the shooting industry: knockdown power! A more quantifiable number we can discuss is the Ft-Lbs of Energy a round has when it meets something. Just because the Muzzle Energy and Velocity is sexy on a box of ammo does not mean it stays that way 300 yards downfield. Reading the statistics off the box or Googling up the manufacturer’s website can shed more light on whether your chosen round has the endurance to tip over your big game animal.
So knowing the velocity of your hunting ammunition at both the muzzle and potential shooting distances down range matters. This ties not only into reaching the animal, but also affording you enough energy upon contact to make a humane harvest. A final consideration is if you want to shoot suppressed (potentially sub-sonic) ammunition for something like pig hunting. This brings in a whole new dimension with your silencer. I would recommend reading our weekly Silencer Saturday articles from in-house expert and Editor Pete as well as our inaugural TFB Round Table article from last week.
BARREL – Why TWIST RATES, barrel length & BULLET WEIGHT matter
Something that often gets overlooked and misunderstood is the twist rate of rifles. When some people declare their rifle only shoots certain types of ammo well they might be unknowingly telling you what their twist rate prefers. Your rule of thumb is the faster your twist rate is the heavier you can go in your bullet selection and likely be accurate. The converse holds true for the slower the twist rate and the lighter you can go in bullets to be accurate.
With the .308 Winchester cartridge, your middle of the road twist rate is a 1:10″ twist. To better explain this, for every 10″ your bullet zips down the barrel on its departure it will make one full revolution. If you have a 20″ barrel .308 Win with a 1:10″ twist your bullets will make 2 full rotations or spins before spitting out the barrel. Your typical sweet spot with the average 1:10″ twist is 150 – 175 Grain bullets in a .308 Win cartridge. Your barrel length coupled with the manufacturer’s chosen twist rate will define what is the “perfect” grain weight for you to achieve that sniper-like accuracy you desire.
bullet type – knowing when to fall apart or keep it all together
The reason why there is a varietal buffet of bullets on the market is every one is meant to accomplish something specific for us. Some are great for lacing holes in paper, others perfect for disintegrating on impact, and some steam roll everything they touch like a bowling ball. While all of them can be accurate in a rifle you own that does not mean you should top off your magazine and head out hunting with them.
For most all big game hunting you are going to need a bullet that can keep itself together; weight retention is your ally. If we were to discuss something like prairie dogs and small game hunting a bullet that falls apart or essentially “blows up” on impact is a good thing. In regards to whitetail deer and larger game that could wound an animal and be a failed hunt. So bonded bullets or something that is all copper gives us higher weight retention upon impact and ensures all of your precious Ft-Lbs of Energy are deposited in your target.
Maybe your rifle is a picky eater and it will not shoot all copper or bonded bullets in neat 1/2″ groups like you would prefer. That is OK as long as your rifle can still shoot Minute of Deer. What’s that you say? If your rifle will only shoot 2″ groups at 100 yards, but where you specifically hunt you only have shot opportunities out to 150 yards max, you are still going to be able to humanely harvest anything you want. A 2″ grouping will connect on a heart/lung sized area. Hunting is not Olympic target shooting. Take into account your specific hunting scenario, potential shot distances, and what kind of accuracy you can achieve while sighting in.
WRAP UP – THE BEST .308 win hunting AMMUNITION
When you are picking out hunting ammunition do not buy the cheapest stuff possible. You are likely spending a lot of money on a multitude of other facets of your hunt and the ammo could define your success or failure. So here are your cliff notes for those who are not ready for our exam at the end of the article (Spoiler Alert: It’s Open Book).
- Velocity – We need enough speed to get to our Target & produce desirable Ft-Lbs of Energy for a meaningful hit
- Barrel – Know your Twist Rate, how that works with your Barrel Length & what Bullets should hopefully lay down good groups for you
- Bullet – Big game hunting requires bullets that punch like Mike Tyson; choose all Copper or Bonded Tips to ensure high Weight Retention
As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe, have fun, and we will see you next time for TFB’s Round Table. Also, let us know what you think in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.
TFB’S ROUND TABLE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY AMMOTOGO.COM
This is a 308 Win Federal Premium 150gr. Trophy Copper Polymer Tip Ammo. Trophy Copper is extremely accurate and provides devastating downrange performance, achieving up to 99% weight retention-even after the deepest and most aggressive penetration. You spend all year dreaming of the moment of truth—why trust it to anything less than the best. Vital-Shok is available with the world’s finest big game bullets, from the unrivaled Trophy Bonded family to Nosler, Sierra and Barnes. Match that with world-class brass, select powders and legendary primers and you get ammunition you can truly believe in. This ammo is brass cased, boxer primed, non-magnetic and non-corrosive. It comes packed in 20rd. boxes. Muzzle Velocity: 2820 fps.
This is 308 Black Hills Gold 150gr. Hornady SST Polymer Tip Match Ammo. This ammo has the Hornady SST Tip. Black Hills Ammunition is highly respected all over the country. Black Hills supplies all four US military with ammunition. There are many Law Enforcement Agencies using Black Hills nationwide. They only use the best components available. This factory new ammo is very accurate, dependable, 100% non-corrosive, brass cased, boxer primed and reloadable. This ammo comes packed in 20rd boxes.
This is .308 Win Hornady 150gr. Super Shock Tip (SST) Ammo. This ammo is manufactured by Hornady and is considered to be the best factory loaded ammo available. The 150gr. SST bullet has a muzzle velocity of 2820 fps. This ammo is so good you will think you handloaded it yourself. If you want the very best, Hornady is your answer. It comes packed in 20rd. boxes.
This 308 Win cartridge from Barnes’ VOR-TX line of ammunition sports a tipped TSX boat tail projectile. Like the original TSX, this bullet is made entirely of copper, so it causes very little fouling within the bore, is completely California compliant, and delivers up to 100 percent weight retention during penetration. The addition of a polymer tip to the TSX not only streamlines its overall profile, but helps to initiate rapid expansion upon impact. During expansion this bullet extends four extremely sharp cutting petals, which enable it to create a very wide and devastating wound channel that’ll drop even the most rugged game dead in its tracks.
This round’s 150 grain projectile is very accurate thanks to the pressure relieving grooves cut into its shank as well as its boat tail design. That latter feature enables the bullet to retain a greater amount of its velocity downrange, deliver superior momentum upon impact, better resist the effects of cross winds, and maintain a flat trajectory in flight.
This is .308 Win. Fiocchi 180gr. Interlock Boat Tail Pointed Soft Point Ammo. This a good quality and dependable hunting round. This new production ammo is brass cased, boxer primed, non-corrosive and non-magnetic. This ammo comes packed in 20rd boxes and 200rds to a case.
This is .308 Win. Federal Vital Shock 150gr. Barnes Triple Shock X Ammo. Features the Barnes Triple Shock X bullet designed for improved expansion and deep penetration. It reduces pressure and barrel fouling while increasing accuracy and features all-copper construction for high weight retention to bring game down hard. This ammunition is new production, non-magnetic, non-corrosive, boxer primed and reloadable brass cases. This ammo comes packed in 20rd. boxes.
This is .308 Hornady Superformance 150gr. SST Polymer Tip Ammo. Hornady Superformance ammo provides increased ballistic performance, and is safe to use in all firearms, including semi-autos, lever gun and pump actions. Increases in rifle performance, no increases in barrel wear and felt recoil, along with superior temperature stability are all realized with Hornady Superformance ammunition. This ammo is brass cased, boxer primed, and non-corrosive. Muzzle velocity of 3000fps. This ammo is packed in 20rd. boxes.
This is .308 Win. Fiocchi 165gr. Interlock Soft Point Boattail Ammo. Bang for the buck. Fiocchi has lived true to this saying since they came to the U.S.A. thirty years ago and it’s even more important today. This round features the Hornady InterLock SP Bullet. The Features of the InterLock are Aerodynamic secant ogive delivers flat trajectories and great accuracy, Tapered jacket for deep penetration and controlled expansion, InterLock ring locks core and jacket together, and the lead alloy core is tough enough for any game. This is a good quality and dependable hunting round. This ammo is brass cased, boxer primed, non-magnetic and non-corrosive. It comes packed in 20rd. boxes. Muzzle Velocity: 2700 fps.