Effective range of .308 w/ 20" barrel


December 2, 2012, 04:24 AM
Hi all, just wondering what you would consider to be the maximum range one could expect to consistantly hit a man or deer sized target with a .308 Winchester chambered rifle sporting a 20" barrel. I know a longer barrel is going to ad some velocity, but the rifle I am looking at is designed with a shorter 20" barrel for greater mobility. Thanks for the help!

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December 2, 2012, 05:59 AM
Depends mostly on shooters ability and magnification. I figure the majority of shooters slap a 3-9 tasco on their rifle and eyeball align it so figure that crowd is good to about 200 yards ay farther 200 and they are throwing hail marys in the field.

December 2, 2012, 06:16 AM
A 20" barrel is more than long enough for any ethical shot at a game animal.

I have shot long range steel from 600 to1000 yds with 16" and 21" AR10's, both are very close to the same in scope dope.

December 2, 2012, 06:18 AM
Well being able to "consistently hit a target" has as much if not more to do with the shooter than the gun or barrel length. For the .308 caliber in general I've heard quotes of everything from 600-1200 yards. With your concern seeming to be geared towards the barrel length, I would research what the velocity of your chosen loads will be, compare the test barrel length (usually 24" - 26") to your 20". Quotes and opinions of average velocity lost per inch of barrel vary from 25-100fps / inch. Say your chosen load of 175gr travels at 2600fps out of a 24" barrel test gun. Then say, after research, you choose 25fps lost per inch. That would lead you to a theoretical velocity of 2500fps. You can then plug this into your balistic calculator of choice (http://www.jbmballistics.com/ if you don't already use one). Then decide what your restricting factor is: velocity (staying supersonic over 1100fps), energy, or other, and find that on the balistic chart and congratulations! You now have a completely theoretical baseline to go by.

In the end there will be no substitution for trigger time behind your rifle, with your skills, your load, your velocities, and your distances.

Best of luck.

December 2, 2012, 06:19 AM
I'd say easily 300 yards. If shot placement doesn't matter and you mean just hitting a target of that size, 500, providing that the shooter has a basic knowledge of trajectory.

December 2, 2012, 10:53 AM
Click on "articles" & then "SWAT Dec 2000"
I can't link directly on the website.

I have a 26" .308. I occasionally shoot F class @ 600yds. I feel good about paper at distance. I would cut the range down a bit for game. At one time I would say 50%. Now I would cut my range by 33% or maybe 25%. That has to do with rounds down range with a specific rifle / ammo combination. I don't hunt any more & down here shot are close by nature.

As you probably know range estimation & wind are your 2 biggest thing to overcome.

December 2, 2012, 11:09 AM
I love my M7, 20" stainless, .308, get about 2800 fps out of a 150 Ballistic tip, slightly more with a 140 Barnes. It'll take mulies at 400 yards across a canyon or whitetail out of a box blind from 40 yards. It's got a 2x10x40 Weaver on it, very versatile. Light for rough country, short for box blinds, fast to the shoulder in heavy brush still hunting situations, all around gun if ever there was and, unlike most compromises, it does it all very well. It shoots 3/4 moa for the first 3 rounds and after the barrel heats up, not much more.

Yeah, perfect conditions, I'd do 400 yards with it, no problem. I know the exterior ballistics and have 'em taped to the bell of the scope for reference in the field. I won't shoot any farther with my 7 mag, frankly, too many variables beyond 400 yards. Has to be a calm day with no up or down hill before I'd shoot THAT far, but I've taken a coyote at 370 with it, measured with a laser range finder.

December 2, 2012, 11:22 AM
As 'adelbridge says, "Depends mostly on shooters ability and magnification."'

I have a Remington 600 with an 18 1/2 inch barrel. At one time I had a Weaver T-16 target scope mounted. If I did my part, 500 yards was no problem (that was the longest shooting available at that firing range). As I got older/fatter/wimper, I have replaced the T-16 with a Red-Dot and wimped down my loads (the rifle is just too light and pounds me too hard). The Red-Dot is good to 250, maybe a little more, with my wimp loads before I have to adjust my aim.

The longer the barrel, the larger the volume of barrel that powder can be utilized in a controlled burn, greater velocities can be obtained. Optics don't care about barrel lengths. The other end of this is the greater the blast and concussion from shorter barrels with ammo/powders normally loaded for longer barrels.

To directly answer your question: As far as YOU can shoot it and hit what you are shooting at.

December 2, 2012, 11:53 AM
A good load with a 175 grn SMK should stay supersonic to a little over 1000 yards.

December 2, 2012, 12:44 PM
I'm not sure if it's just me, but some of this sounds more like benchrest competition or sniper training than practical, useful range of a mobile, lightweight medium caliber rifle.

December 2, 2012, 02:56 PM
Animal: 600 yards.

Paper: 800 yards.

Metal: 1000 yards.

December 2, 2012, 06:57 PM
I'm just getting started but my first time out at 500 yards I was under a 5" group and I did not have the parallax set right on my scope. Now I have gotten a little better and I am under 3". I know the gun is better than that. My Mauser has a 20" barrel. I am shooting 168grn hand loads.

December 2, 2012, 09:01 PM
Back in the sixties, rifleman class shooters could hit man sized pop-up targets out to 400 meters pretty consistently experts out to 600 meters. That's with of the rack issue M-14s and issue ammo and standard four shooting positions timed.

December 2, 2012, 09:06 PM
308 bolt action rifle with a 20" barrel will have an overall length of about 40". This is about a perfect tactical and hunting length weapon.

20" barrel proves plenty of bullet muzzle velocity to reach out to the ethic limits of deer hunting range.

On living things that shoot back at me 800 meters, on game animals 400 yards (if ranged with a laser out 500 yards).

The paper 1000 and metal target 1200 is very do able.

The weapon is capable, the question is the shooter.

December 3, 2012, 07:17 AM
Thanks everyone for the help!

December 3, 2012, 07:43 AM
Longest shot I've ever taken was this South Dakota antelope. 348 long paces. The 150 grain bullet struck right where I wanted and the buck toppled in his tracks.



December 3, 2012, 09:20 AM
As others have said it is mostly a matter of the shooters abilities more than the guns. The 20" barrel loses some velocity but really that is not much of a limiting factor it just changes the math. On living game I think good ethics limit the distance to a much shorter one than target shooting. I'm not comfortable setting a fixed rule, it depends on the shooter. There are guys that probably shouldn't try to shoot a deer at 300 yds and others that can rather easily double that.

As to target shooting the limit is really the shooter. On the magpul precision shooting DVD they shoot out to a mile aprox 1800 yards. Travis Haley is able to make a hit with an 18" barreled AR in 308. Even at that distance the bullet still has a surprising amount of energy (although I cannot recall the numbers off the top of my head). It was not a first round hit (but it wasn't randomly lobbing led either, and the point of shooting that distance was to show how essential fundamentals are and what a big difference small mistakes in fundamentals make at truly long ranges. Another take away is that shooters are typically much more of a limitation than their guns.

December 3, 2012, 04:55 PM
I have a 22" barreled M1A and used to have a 20" barreled LR-308. The trajectory was basically identical on them out to 600 yards. Beyond that I cannot attest to the difference. Either one could easily hit a man-sized target at that distance with either irons or optics.

December 3, 2012, 10:31 PM
consistently? 500 yards max

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