308 Ammo
Sig Sauer/Nosler

.308 Ammo: 8 Top Choices For Hunting This Fall

The .308 Winchester is one of the most popular short action rifle cartridges in active use today. It is essentially the same as the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge developed for military purposes back in the 1950s. It can still be found being carried in the ammo cans of soldiers worldwide to this day. However, the .308 is also an excellent rifle cartridge for mid-sized big game hunting. Plenty of shooters now take to the woods every deer season and fill their freezer with this now iconic cartridge. We've already talked at length about the top hunting rifles we'd recommend to our fellow sportsmen and women. Today we are focusing entirely on the rifle ammo. There's a ton of options for .308 Winchester ammunition out there and it's vital to pick the right one for the hunting you plan on doing. Most importantly, we'll break down some of the quick ballistics and best animals to target with this versatile round. We will also do a quick rundown of some of our top picks for factory rifle ammunition on the market today. This will help you make an informed decision on what to load up with this fall for the best odds of success.

Ballistics and Performance of .308 Winchester Ammo

We'll talk about the muzzle velocities you can expect with different forms of ammo in our recommendations, but you can usually expect 2,600 to 2,800-fps of muzzle velocity from most factory options. The full metal jacket target style rounds usually fall in the 2,800-fps range while your hollow point boat tail and JHP style rounds usually fall closer to 2,600-fps. The speeds will vary slightly depending on bullet weight and type of course.

Hunters can expect energy in the 2,100 to 2,500-foot pounds of energy range at 100 yards from the .308 Win. More than enough to bring down an adult whitetail, mule deer, or pronghorn. It also performs well on feral hogs. There is some controversy over using the .308 for elk. There's no question it's been used to down many a big bull. However, there are plenty of hunters who don't feel confident it has enough energy to get through an elk's thick hide for a clean kill. Hunters who do use one for elk should be mindful of their shot placement and use a heavier bullet weight. You don't want to skimp on ammunition when targeting elk. The .308 can also be used on varmints, although it may be slightly overkill for the smaller ones like prairie dogs. For coyotes, it's a dynamite round that will quickly and humanely send them to a permanent dirt nap.

The trajectory of the .308 is excellent out to about 200 yards. Most hunters consider around 300 yards to be the maximum range, at least for hunting scenarios. We know plenty of target shooters push the limits of the .308 out to much farther distances, but ethically, it's probably best to limit yourself inside that 150 to 250-yard range. Simply because most factory ammo has a drop of zero at 100 or 200 yards. We're not saying an experienced shooter couldn't make a clean kill at distances past 300, but .308 rounds do usually experience significant drop after 300 yards. From an ethical standpoint, it's probably best to limit the range to lessen the margin for error. Let's look at some of the top factory ammo options currently on the market. We've included options to include a variety of budgets, which is why you'll see a mixture of premium and budget choices here today. Either way, these rounds will get the job done.

1. Remington Core-Lokt

We'll start this list off with a hunting classic. The Core-Lokts are also just a solid choice from a cost standpoint. It goes for about $32 a box. These rounds feature bullets with a solid copper core and a copper jacket. They mushroom quite nicely upon striking a big game animal, helping to create large wound channels and bring the animal down quickly and humanely. The velocity of these rounds is 2,620-fps at the muzzle, 2,200-fps at 100 yards. Remington puts the energy at just over 2,000-foot pounds at 100 yards. The drop is zero at 100, and -5.3 at 200. The Core-Lokts aren't super fancy, but they've been filling freezers since 1939, and sometimes that's all you need.

2. Barnes VOR-TX

When you need a premium factory ammo for that hunt of a lifetime, it's hard to go wrong with Barnes. These cartridges feature a copper body, polymer tip TSX bullet. They're lead-free, so that makes this a solid option for public lands with restrictions on lead. Barnes offers a 130, 150, and 168-grain option. You're looking at about 2,700-fps of muzzle velocity and 2,720-foot pounds of muzzle energy. The smaller 130 and 150-grain options will be slightly faster. Whatever bullet weight you choose, these rounds expand quickly to create quite the wound channel for easier trailing. That's if the animal doesn't drop on the spot. The only downside is the cost. As we mentioned, Barnes is something of a premium brand. You're looking at about $56 a box.

3. Hornady Custom SST

There's a lot to like about Hornady Customs and it starts with the 2,820-fps muzzle velocity. At 100 yards, you're still getting 2,600-fps, at 200 yards, 2,392-fps. Hornady has the drop at zero for 200 yards from a 24-inch barrel. The other huge selling point of these cartridges is the Super Shock Tip (SST) bullets. They are a boattail design with a polymer tip and interlock ring that helps keep the core and jacket together. This is going to help significantly with the expansion once it hits the target. With a 2,252-foot pound 100-yard energy and a 1,905-foot pound 200-yard energy, these cartridges have the power to get the job done on most medium big game animals. They're about middle of the road as far as price point goes. Expect to pay around $40 a box. The good news is, Hornady Customs are usually readily available and in stock in most major sporting goods stores across the country, even in areas where .308 isn't legal for big game.

4. Fiocchi Field Dynamics PSP

One of the more affordable pointed soft point options out there today at around $33 a box, the Fiocchi Field Dynamics is available in a 150 and 165-grain variant. Either one is going to be perfect for whitetail deer. Fiocchi puts the 150-grain version at 2,581-fps at 100 yards with zero drop. The 165-grain version is 2,496-fps at that same distance, also with zero drop. At 200 yards, you're only looking at about -3.6 inches for the 150-grain, and -4.1 inches for the 165-grain version. The great thing about this .308 Win ammo is that you can practice with the same rounds you'll be hunting with without worrying about how much you'll be spending each time your rifle goes boom.

5. Nosler Trophy Grade Partition

When it comes to 308 ammo, Nosler is some of the most expensive of the factory options on the market today. Expect to pay about $54 a box for these 165-grain Spitzer Partition bullets. However, if you just drew the tag of a lifetime for an extremely limited area, you get the quality you pay for with these cartridges. These rounds have bullets with a lead alloy dual core and a fully taped jacket made from copper alloy. The Partition in the bullet helps with expansion and retention of energy when it strikes a big game animal. The muzzle velocity of these rounds is around 2,800-fps, 2,578-fps at 100 yards. The muzzle energy is 2,871-foot pounds, and 2,435-foot pounds at 100 yards. Nosler puts the drop at zero for 100 yards and only -3.7 at 200. These rounds will help you fill that freezer quickly and efficiently this season.

6. Winchester Super-X

Another nice option for hunters who want simplicity and reliability. These rounds have bullets with an alloyed lead core and a contoured jacket. The "Power-Point" at the tip helps these bullets to expand and knock down animals quickly. Because they are so simple, they have excellent ballistics too. Expect a muzzle velocity of 2,820-fps. These rounds are still doing 2,513-fps at 100 yards, and 2,227-fps at 200. The energy at 100 yards is 2,104-foot pounds and at 200, it's 1,651. Winchester has the trajectory at zero for 100 yards and -4 at 200. These go for about $33 a box. Winchester also makes a subsonic version for use with a suppressor that goes for about $40 a box.

7. Federal Power-Shok

This is another nice budget option as you'll usually find these for about $35 a box. Federal Premium manufactures a 150 and 180-grain version of these cartridges. They are jacketed bullets with a traditional lead core that'll mushroom well between 100 and 200 yards. The 150-grain soft point versions have a velocity of around 2,500-fps at 100 yards, and the heavier 180-grain soft point version is doing about 2,300-fps. As far as energy goes, the 150-grain bullets are delivering 2,134-foot pounds at 100 yards while the 180-grain bullets are hitting with 2,194-foot pounds. This is another great option that can seamlessly translate between the range and hunting without feeling too much hurt on your wallet.

8. Sig Sauer Elite Copper Hunting

We know Sig Sauer is known more of their handguns and ammo. They just don't enter the hunting conversation too often, but they've produced some fine .308 ammo for hunting with the Elite Copper. These rounds are perfect for public land because they are lead-free jacketed hollow points. Sig Sauer put some extra work into the nose geometry to give these rounds an excellent ballistic coefficient. Expect a muzzle velocity of 2,900-fps and a muzzle energy of 2,800-foot pounds of energy from these 150-grain bullets. Sig Sauer nickel-plated the cases of these rounds too, producing what's arguably one of the most beautiful factory hunting rounds ever made. They go for about $50 a box, but we've also seen them go for $37 a box if you can catch a sale at the right time

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