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.308 vs. .30 - 06 range and accuracy

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Jedi_7.62, Mar 16, 2003.

  1. Jedi_7.62

    Jedi_7.62 Well-Known Member

    I'm looking at getting a savage model 10 ($410 w/ scope). This will be my first "BIG" rifle. Being new to this game I'm uncertain as to which of these calibers is better suited for me. I'm looking for range and accuracy. I want to be able to take a deer at 800 + or so yards and I would like to know that it could serve as a poor mans sniper rifle, should one of those crazy far fetched scenarios ever unfold.

    Most likely deer hunting and varments though. I'd like to be able to pick a coyote out of the field from the house with out worrying to much about hitting one of our cows.

    Anyhow I know sniper rifles often come in both of these calibers but I have heard that something about the 30 - 06 is less accurate for some reason something like the bullet tumbling ????

    I think they are the same bore so what's the big difference?

    Thanks for your help,
  2. bedlamite

    bedlamite Well-Known Member

    If this is your first 30, don't even think about taking a shot at any more than half that distance without a range finder and a lot of trigger time. Bullet drop can easily be close to 20 ft at 800yds.

    Accuracy for both can be excellent. 308 is more efficient with lighter, faster bullets and will have a flatter trajectory, 30-06 performs better with heavier bullets and will arc more, but have more punch farther out. Tumbling can happen if you shoot too heavy a bullet out of too slow of twist.
  3. dakotasin

    dakotasin Well-Known Member

    if you really think you need to be shooting at deer at 800 yards, you need a caliber more suited to the task, and you'll need many hundreds of rounds of practice... that is a huuuuge outlay of cash, unless you reload, and even then, it ain't free...anyway, at 800 yards, you'd be best served w/ a 338 ultra, 338 lapua, maybe the hot 30's might be of use, and you will certainly need a scope up to the quality level required by long range shooting... the one that comes w/ the savage isn't it.

    i highly reccomend going w/ your 308, and learning to shoot reasonably well at closer distances first. as your skill comes up, your range will stretch. you will find that you won't really have a call for shooting beyond 300 yards...most deer shot come at 150 yards and closer. good luck.
  4. Quintin Likely

    Quintin Likely Well-Known Member

    Hunting deer isn't like hunting dangerous game, so that makes me ask:

    What in the world do you want to take Bambi out at 800+ yards for?

    That said, it really depends on calibers...30-06 will usually go farther flatter with heavier bullets, but anywhere the 30-06 will go, the 308 will go along with it. In one of the SHTF scenarios that we all know and love, you'd probably be able to acquire more 308 brass and loaded ammo through military surplus than you could 30-06.

    In regards to accuracy, there's lots of theories on which one is more accurate, but all those theories take the extremes into account. With the right rifle/shooter/optics/ammo, either one is plenty accurate for the average Joe Schmoe.
  5. Slick

    Slick Well-Known Member

    I'd be surprised if there was a handful of people on this board that could take deer at 800 yards with any consistency. Most people don't hunt from a bench rest under ideal conditions either. I can't think of a reason why I'd ever take that shot. Shooting at targets is one thing, but not when you need a clean kill. 800 yards leaves way too much room for error.
  6. DAL

    DAL Well-Known Member

    Since no one has come out and said it directly, allow me to be the first. Shooting at ANY animal, save a human enemy, at 800 yds. is unethical to the nth degree. Too much can happen between the muzzle of your gun and the target animal at that distance. An ethical hunter's burden is one of a quick, clean kill with as little calculated risk as possible.

    P.S. The above is not intended as a slam against you personally, Jedi_7.62, but please don't even think of hunting at that extreme range.

    P.P.S. BTW, to answer the original premise of your post, the .308 and the .30-06 are both fantastic rounds. The .30-06 probably has the edge if you handload due to the fact of more load combinations.
  7. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Comparing cartridges and guns: Most of today's hunting rifles come with barrels of 22" to 24". Some are in the 18" to 20" category; few are 26".

    The old standard of publicizing velocities was via 26" barrels. As a generality, the .308 loses some 50 ft/sec/inch as you go shorter than 26". The .30-'06 loses some 75 ft/sec/inch.

    Odds are, they're equal velocity in 22" barrels. Or so close as makes no nevermind, particularly to Bambi.

    I've killed a bunch of deer with 150-grain bullets. My father has probably killed three or four times as many. They've all been mostly one-shot kills. (Of some 50 deer, I've shot one at 350 yards and one at 450. The rest of them were inside of 200. My last--and largest--was at about 20 or so yards. :) )

    The '06 shines a bit brighter if you get a rifle with a 24" or 26" barrel. It's a better cartridge for elk, since you can get full-house performance from bullets of 180 grains or heavier. If your primary use will be varmints or deer, "Hit don't make no nevermind, nowhow."

    If you don't plan to take up reloading, the .308 would most likely serve you better. There is a ton of cheap ammo available, making it much lower cost to shoot to develop a high level of shooting skill.

  8. Jedi_7.62

    Jedi_7.62 Well-Known Member

    I don't actually "PLAN" to hunt at that range.

    I' m looking more for something that I can learn to shoot at long range. I do plan to upgrade the scope down the line.

    O.K. this may sound a little nutty but my goal here is to get something that will allow a clean kill at long range be it human enemy or deer.

    I want to learn to shoot at range and I want the rifle I chose to be capable of making a clean kill at range. I'm quite sure the only thing i'll be hitting is paper plates or maybe coyotes but I want the option once I learn the skill.

    I do hope to take up reloading sometime in the future when I have more time, money, and room.

    As far as my first 30 no have an SAR 1 that I love but I want to be able to reach WAAAAYY out there.

    I guess It's like buying a corvette or a car that will go 180 mph. You'll probably never do it but hey why not have it anyway.

    I'm curiose though what is unethical about hunting at long ranges?

    Assuming you are in a reasonable environment?
  9. cheygriz

    cheygriz Well-Known Member

    If you don't reload, the cartridges are essentially equal. The .308 is loaded to roughly 55 k Cup of pressure. The .30-06, in deference to older rifles, is loaded to about 47K CUP pressure. Because of this pressure differential, the smaller .308 can perform equal to the larger .30-06.

    If you handload the .30-06 to the same pressure levels as the .308, it leaves the .308 eating it's dust!

    The ability of the .30-06 to use heavier bullets also makes it suitable for all North American big game, except the great bears. Just a personal opinion, but I would not use the .308 on anything larger than elk.

    As has been said before, most hunters consider 300 yards the maximum range for shooting at critters.

    I have taken over 50 pronghorn antelope and about 75 percent were shot at less than 100 yards. None were taken at over 300. The several dozen deer I've taken were mostly 50 to 75 yards, although I did get one big muley at extreme range, almost 300 yards.

    Personally, I will not shoot at a critter over 100 yards away unless it is not moving, and I have some kind of a rest.

    It's important to be a good shot, but when dealing with living things, it's much more impotant to be a good hunter. And a good hunter can usually get to within 200 yards or less of his quarry.
  10. RTownsend

    RTownsend Well-Known Member

    It is unethical because you cannot guarantee a quick clean kill.

    To many things can happen at ranges over 200 yards. The game can move as the trigger breaks, wind could cause a bad hit, range estimation could cause a bad hit.

    You owe it to the animal to do the deed quick and clean.

    I can hit a deer target in the kill zone every time cold clean bore at the 600 yard plates at the range. I passed up a shot at a hog at 198 yards this year because I just didn't feel I could be sure of the shot.

    I get sick when I hear people year after year say "I just made a bad shot". Stuff happens but you shouldn't miss or wound anything anywhere near once a year.

    I know one guy who hunts deer with a .223 Rem. He can hit a bottle cap almost everytime at 100 yards yet he sometimes "misses" deer. It just seems unethical to me.
  11. Greybeard

    Greybeard Well-Known Member

    Quote: "I'm curiose though what is unethical about hunting at long ranges?"

    Without being too rude and crude, it sounds like you may need to take a hunter education course for several reasons. They are readily available via volunteer instructors in all 50 states.

    "Hunting Ethics" is a now a MANDATORY minimum 1-hour segment in many courses, far more than one can attempt to "teach" in an single internet forum post.

    I often begin the segment by having students verbally give their personal definition of "ethics". As food for thought, Webster's Dictionary says it is "The disipline of dealing with good and bad and moral duty and obligation."

    Another that I've seen Art use before here is to the effect of "Ethics is what you do when no one is looking. Conscience is how you feel, later."

    It is our "moral duty and obligation" to make clean kills - and I (and many others) think that only a small percentage of today's "riflemen" have any business taking a shot on a deer beyond 200 yards - and the majority of them often less than that.

    I'm just guessing that you have little or no experience with killing things. Whether rabbits, deer or "human enemies", they do not necessarily drop immediately and shut up like seen on TV or the movies, sometimes even when shot in a vital area. A poorly-placed shot that leads to an agonizing death is not how most of us care to remember an experience.

    One good way to test your capabilities is shooting the paper plates mentioned. The 8 to 9" ones are about the same size as the vital area on a deer. The 4 to 5"ers are about the size of the vital area on a coyote. Once you get your gun set up, try this: FROM THE POSITION that you will actually be shooting in the field, set up a plate at 100 yards (with a safe backstop of course). See if you can hit it 3 out of 3. If so, move back 50 yards and try it again. If 3 out of 3, move back another 50 yards. Repeat until you can no longer hit the "vital area" 3 of 3, at which point you can be realistic of your cabability with that rifle - and your limitations!

    If serious about the sport, "The Art of the Rifle" by Jeff Cooper - and practice - can help increase your distance capabilities. But at the same time, remember, you can also learn to do even more on your part - get closer. That's often why it's called "hunting", not "killing". ;)
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2003
  12. hps1

    hps1 Well-Known Member


    Right On!
  13. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    Jedi, you might benefit from some study in the archives at http://www.thefiringline.com where we had a number of discussions of hunting ethics. Search in the Hunt forum.

    IMO, though, if you're bound and determined to be ABLE to be effective at long range, get a 26"-barrelled '06 and take up reloading. You can send a 180-grain bullet out at around 2,900 ft/sec, and that will give quite adequate performance.

    And shoot a few thousand rounds over several years, most of it offhand or from a hasty rest. Get all "married up" to your rifle. If you can't reliably hit beer cans at 100 yards, definitely limit yourself.

    :), Art
  14. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

    Jedi, the mechanical problem with hitting a target at long range is wind and range estimation.

    From the Nosler reloading manual - 168 grain bullet at 3000 fps with a 200 y zero drops 19.5 inches at 400 yards. That's not too bad and you think the deer is at about 400 yards. At 500 yards, the bullet drops an additional 19.5 inches. So between 400 and 500 yards, you have almost 20 inches of drop. What happens if that deer is actually at 450 yards? Wounded deer. Wounded deer that's over a quarter of a mile away. Lots of time for blood to dry and to make tracking harder.

    Add the wind in there (drift at 400 yards is 11.8 inches per 10 MPH wind) and it gets ugly fast. Remember that additional 50 yards? Wind drift per 10 MPH is now an additional 6 inches (dwell time) at 500 yards, so you are once again looking at a 3 inch error.

    We haven't even started talking about 600 y plus shooting and having to either shim your scope or get a base that angles enough to let you zero at that range.

    It can be done - but it's a lot of time and trouble.
  15. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad member

    White man build big fire and sleep far away. Indian build little fire and sleep close.

    Shooting long distance at targets is one thing. It can be fun. But a real hunter can stalk to get close enough for an ethical shot. Wounded animals that non-hunters see (you know, the ones with festering wounds and arrows sticking out of hind quarters) are what fills PETA membership quotas.
  16. cratz2

    cratz2 Well-Known Member

    In addition to what the others have said about ethics and all, I'd like to add that the actual logistics involved in even getting on target at that range (800 yards) are pretty amazing. Many folks zero their 30 caliber class rifles about 2" high at 100 yards which should be about point blank out to roughly 300 yards or a bit less. That is to say, that you can point the rifle right where you want to hit and not worry about things like trajectory. And at 300 yards, with a 308 or 30-06, you probably won't have to worry about wind in most cases. After 300 yards, the bullets start dropping pretty much like a rock. They still have energy and they still have the capability of killing things pretty quickly but the path the bullet takes starts dropping very quickly.

    Sighted in dead on at 200 yards, a 168 Gr match bullet is going to be roughly 50 inches low at 500 yards. That's twice the drop as at 400 yards. This should give you some idea of how low you'll be at 800 yards. It should also demonstrate how critical range estimation is. I can't judge whether a deer is 400 or 500 yards away... I'm pretty close out to 150 yards or so. But at 400 yards... it's hopeless. If you estimate a deer to be 400 yards away and you take your shot, a perfectly executed and placed shot, and it turns out the deer was 500 yards away, you completely missed him entirely. And as I said before, it gets worse very quickly at longer distances.

    Not to be rude, because I really don't mean to be, but honestly, it sounds like you've done very little hunting and probably have even less experience with precision shooting at distances beyond 200 or 300 yards. I'd recommend you get the Savage package in 308 as it will allow for more shooting of factory ammo for a lower cost than the 30-06. The scope that comes with the package will get you shooting right off but in the not-too-distant future, you'll probably want to upgrade it. With lower cost ammo, shoot at 100, 200 300 yards until you are always in the black. 8" target would be where I'd start. Once you have this done, you'll be getting good enough to judge which ammo is more accurate than others. Buy several boxes of hunting ammo and do some shooting at 200 yards and see what your rifle likes. Shoot at 200 yards until the shots are withing about 2" or 3" of each other, every single time off a bench. Then learn how far away you can keep your shots withing about 6" shooting offhand or with an improvised rest - the type you'll likely have when shooting in teh area you plan to hunt. Side of a tree or a fence posts, off a large rock, prone... however you plan to hunt. When you find this distance, keep your shots inside this range if not a bit closer. Learn the anatomy of deer and where shots are likely to stop the game quickly. Now you should be ready to go out and hunt.

    I'm sure I've left off some important info or advice but this should get you going. Good luck and please ask more questions.
  17. Jedi_7.62

    Jedi_7.62 Well-Known Member

    Wow guess I kind of started a ruckus didn't mean to.

    You are correct I have little hunting experience small game rabbit, squirrel, and a couple outings for deer.

    My "precision shooting" consists of my SAR 1 and .22's other than that just handguns.

    I have no plans on attempting to hunt at that range. I was meerly trying to demonstrate what I want the rifle to be capable of.
    When I asked about the ethics I was presuming a kill, I would not want a wounded animal laying around because I didn't get the job done. That would be unethical and cruel. Nor would I even with my minimal experience consider taking a shot that was in question.

    Really I just wanted to know how the 2 calibers would compare if one was more accurate or had the "power" to do what I want at long range.

    I apologise if I may have offended someone.
    Hope I cleared it up a bit.

    Thanks for the info,
  18. cheygriz

    cheygriz Well-Known Member

    Jedi 7.62,

    I don't think you've offended anyone at all, my friend. Certainly not me.

    To many of us here, longe range target shooting is a passion. But the long time experienced hunters know that long range target shooting doesn't translate into effective long range hunting.

    I hope we have not come down on you too hard. This is somewhat of a "hot button" issue, and those of us that have tracked down wounded animals shot by inexperienced hunters at excessive ranges tend to get emotional quickly. At least, I do.

    But welcome to the ranks of big game hunting. I know you will enjoy it, and it sounds like you're trying to get the information you need to do it right. You'll be glad you did.
  19. labgrade

    labgrade Member In Memoriam

    No offense taken here, but you must know that mention of "I want to be able to take a deer at 800 + or so yards ... with out worrying to much about hitting one of our cows." makes one wonder. ;)

    Doesn't really set the stage, so to speak, for a reply post without talkig about ethics, etc.

    A decent long-range/benchrest type rifle will require a good trigger & good glass - besides the basic rifle - regardless of caliber. {i]You, however, will need to acquire the skill-set to be able to actually put that bullet there.

    Probally the whole point of asking, I'd bet, & good on ya fer the asking.

    Assuming a good rifle & experience, IMHO, neither really has the edge.

    As mentioned, the '06 has somewhat of one by figuring the heavier bullets, but the .308 will do most anything with a decent controlled expansion 165 gr.

    Placement above everything else.
  20. cratz2

    cratz2 Well-Known Member

    Certainly not offended here... just wanted to help you out a bit, that's all... ;)

    I've been shooting for several years considering my relative young age and consider myself a very decent shot. I wouldn't dream of taking an 800 yard shot on any game at this point unless I couldn't possibly get any closer (seems unlikely) and my family was hungry.

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