The 308 Winchester is a commercial caliber derived from the 7.62×57 NATO military caliber, and made its debut in 1952. It was designed as a rimless, bottle-necked rifle cartridge and has become a very popular big-game hunting cartridge particularly in short-action rifles. In North America, the 308 Winchester is notoriously favored for use in Whitetail hunting rifles, as well as for hunting other medium- to large-sized game, such as Moose, Elk, and Pronghorn.
This cartridge is extensively used for big game hunting in Africa, but has also been successfully applied in hunting a variety of different classes of game, from the tiny Duiker, to the large Eland. Although often considered a modern equivalent to the 30-06 caliber, the 308’s slightly lower velocity lends itself better to mid-range targets, as opposed to the long range targets acquired by the 30-06 Springfield.
Why the 308 Winchester is a popular hunting caliber:
- Imparts Hydrostatic shock: The 308 Winchester delivers sufficient energy to the target to impart hydrostatic shock to the game being hunted, thereby increasing the efficiency of the shot. Hydrostatic shock theory suggests that rapidly expanding bullets have a hydraulic effect on liquid-filled tissues of a living animal. The kinetic energy of the bullet delivers a shock wave to the body, which promotes incapacitation and the disruption in functioning in various bodily systems in the target.
- Reliability with feed and extraction from rifles: The cartridge’s design should reliably feed and extract from bolt action rifles and machine guns.
- Can be used on medium to long range targets: Although 308 cartridges have been noted to drop slightly in comparison to calibers with higher velocities and more energy, the 308 Winchester can be reliably used over the medium- to long range. It is considered to be most effective, however, for targets within the short to medium range.
- Less recoil and highly accurate: The 308 Winchester has comparatively light recoil, reloads easily and is considered to be very accurate.