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.308 vs .30-06 vs .300 winmag

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by JimmerJammerMrK, Aug 1, 2007.

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  1. JimmerJammerMrK

    JimmerJammerMrK Member

    Jun 30, 2007
    I'm looking for a full-blown comparison. From what I can tell muzzle energy, recoil, and cost of ammunition all increase as one goes up the ladder from .308 to .300 winmag.
    Are there any other factors?
    Is one of these cartridges flatter shooting?
    Is it worth just going .308 because the ammo is cheaper?
    If you own more than one of these calibers, how would you decide which to bring on a hunt, or to the ranger?
  2. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    I no longer have a .300 but still have my -06 and 308. Just don't need the big boomer. Actually, I never did.

    Taking your list from the bottom, my choice of weapon is dependant on the size of the game. Bigger game means a bigger case and heavier bullet of course but shot placement - field accuracy - is more important than muzzle velocity. It is easier to shoot a lighther round accurately so that fact counts.

    The only real difference between any two cartidges of the same bore is velocity and that shows up mostly with the heavier bullets. Sure, lighter bullets go faster so the magnum "wins" but, in the field, range estimation and accuracy are much more important than small differences in trajectory.

    No offense, but if you have to ask these quesitons I must assume you have relitively little experience in the field with any of the three. If so, I would strongly suggest you go with either of the non-magnum rounds and learn to shoot it well, and not just from a bench either.

    Magazines aside, few hunters can actually shoot well enough to benefit from any flat trajectory round past 200 yards and very few past 300 yards. So, the only real advantage the magnums have is with very heavy bullets for really large game inside 200 yards. If you don't shoot really large game at long range the magnum offers nothing over the -06 or .308. Stick with one of them for now, you will be glad you did.
  3. B.D. Turner

    B.D. Turner Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    Eastern North Carolina
    The USMC did testing on the 300 win mag for their sniper program and found that the 300 win mag barrel would not hold up to the many rounds as the .308 winchester. Throat errosion was sited as the problem. This information came to me first hand from Norm Chandler who is a co aurthor of several books on USMC Scout Snipers. Mr. Chandler told me the .300wm was a very good round for long range use and would be fine for civilian use but the marines needed a longer lasting barrel.
  4. woof

    woof Member

    Jul 21, 2007
    central Ohio
    I saw something on one of the cable channels awhile back about one of the services (Army maybe) and their sniper program. They were using the .300 mag exclusively and they had a shop that actually made the rifles and loaded the rounds.
  5. Legionnaire
    • Contributing Member

    Legionnaire Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    If you were going to own only one, a case could be made for the .30-06 due to its versatility and ability to handle heavier bullets than the .308.

    By that same logic, though, if you were going to own two, it should be the .308 and .300 win mag, because that would extend the ends while overlapping in the middle.

    So let's tackle the "which one hunting, or which one to the range" question. I personally have found the .308 quite accurate out to 850 yards or more (it will go further, but 850 is about as far as I can accurately judge distance using a mil dot reticle). If you need/want a range gun beyond 850, that would give the nod to a .30-06 or .300 mag. I would favor the latter, but that's a personal preference.

    Hunting decision depends on game and terrain. I most often hunt medium game in PA's wooded hills, where multi-hundred-yard shots are not common. A 150 grain controlled expansion bullet from a .308 is more than adequate to my needs here. If I had opportunity to take beanfield shots, though, I'd likely bump up to the .300 mag. If going after large game, though, I might favor the .300, again due to its ability to handle heavier bullets.

    But if deep woods, I might go with a pump action .30-06 ... not because it's a .30-06, but because of its pump action. Wicked fast follow up shot!

  6. Essex County

    Essex County Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    I think this one has been done to death. I'd forget the .300 as it's applications are pretty specialized. I'd take a white poker chip, write .308 on one side and '06 on the other. Flip in the air and be very pleased with whatever lands face up. I'm serious. Essex
  7. browningguy

    browningguy Member

    Jul 21, 2004
    Houston, TX
    I happen to own and hunt with all three, and each has it's place. I've got a .308 in a Ruger 77RSI, '06's in a BAR/HK SLB2000/Weatherby Vanguard, and a .300 Winnie in a Mauser sporter. The .308 is a good all around cartridge, although I like it best with light (150 gr.) bullets. As bullet weight goes up the 30-06 gets a little better than the .308, it's a much better cartridge when shooting 180 gr. loads than a .308.

    The .300 is as much better than an '06, as the '06 is better than the .308. It shoots the heavier loads much better (200's and 220's), and with 165 or 180 gr. loads it will stay supersonic farther for target shooting and has a flatter trajectory than either of the others. It also of course delivers more energy on target than the '06 at any range.

    I am a little biased toward the '06, which is why I have three of them, but both of the others are equally as useful. The only downside to the .300 is of course recoil. The 300 is where recoil starts to be an issue for most people and it takes practice to get used to it. I like to start off shooting my .458 Win, then everything else feels easy on the shoulder.
  8. JimmerJammerMrK

    JimmerJammerMrK Member

    Jun 30, 2007
    No offense taken, as you are, in fact, correct. Just researching before I buy.
  9. B.D. Turner

    B.D. Turner Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    Eastern North Carolina
    Being that you will likely shoot far less than a USMC Scout Sniper the .300wm has some outstanding down range preformance. The .308 is one of my most favorite rounds.
  10. Kimber1911_06238

    Kimber1911_06238 Member

    Jan 14, 2007
    i know people will call me crazy, but they are pretty similar. sure at 300 yards the win mag has significantly more energy, but at the muzzle we are talking only 300-400 feet per second difference with a 180 grain bullet. With 150 gran bullets, the win mag is a little bit bigger difference
  11. richardschennberg

    richardschennberg Member

    Jan 16, 2005
    .308 game up to deer, effective range up to 800 yards
    30-06 game up to elk, effective range up to 900 yards
    .300 Win Mag game up to elk, effective range slightly over 1000 yards
  12. High Planes Drifter

    High Planes Drifter Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    What will the rifle be used for? IMO, the '06 is the most versatile of the three.
  13. SoCalShooter

    SoCalShooter Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    That's for me to know and not you!
    Instead of 300 winnie I suggest 300 weatherby magnum.

    30-06 has been a standard hunting round for a very very very long time. And you can just buy the off the shelf stuff for it. If you want to get the best and most accurate performance from a 300 winmag your gonna need to load it for yourself. Now seeing as most of your shots for hunting are an average of 250 or less. You might not need the price for the performance. Especially if you are going to have several different rifles for several different jobs. I use the 300 weatherby because it allows me to take down just about anything on the N.American continent inside of 500 yds effectively (and thats only because i have not practiced a longer distance).

    The first deer however that I ever took ranged at 422 yds. That was taken with a 300 weatherby magnum. Bullet was there in less than 1 second. At 422 yds that 1266ft. As long as the round you are using is moving faster than that you are ok. But magnum rifles offer better range and usually a flatter trajectory because the bullet packs more powder.
  14. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

    Sep 8, 2005
    .308 if a compact rifle
    .30-06 for broadest variety of uses
    .300 WinMag only if you know exactly why you're buying it, and have really studied the numbers.
    .300 WbyMag after you find out how close the ballistics of .300 WinMag and the .30-06 really are ;)

    Me? Of the 3 I have only a .30-06.
  15. rangerruck

    rangerruck Member

    Jan 12, 2006
    Texas, baby!
    the 300 winmag, makes a real diff, when handloading, and/or using bullets at 180 grains or more. it is when you get up to this weight in bullets or more, that you really notice how much flatter it shoots, especially at 500 yds or more.
  16. Neo-Luddite

    Neo-Luddite Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    Northwest IL--the other 'Downstate'
    Essex is on the money. For what it's worth, I'd go .06 right now because the ammo from the CMP is a great bargin and you can buy more types of .06 ammo than any other centerfire rifle. That said, I've wanted a .300 Win-Mag for a couple of years. It really depends on what you are doing with it and how much it will be shot.
  17. CB900F

    CB900F Member

    Feb 22, 2003

    I've had, & hunted with, a .30-06 for a while now. Probably even a while and a half. When I wanted, not needed, a gun with more oomph, I got the .338 Winchester magnum.

    As I did the comparisons, I couldn't justify spending the money for a good rig & glass in a .30 magnum because they just didn't offer enough more than I can get with my ought-6. When I looked at the .338 though, it all became clear. There's no practical difference between the recoil of my .338 vs the big .30's. I shoot a 225 grain bullet at 2900 fps muzzle. That's over 4000 ft lbs. of energy departing downrange. With a 300 yard zero, mid range is 4.5" high. The B/C is .430 on the Hornady 225 gr SST. In other words, it'll carry if you do the homework & learn to shoot long distance.

    Just a word of advice here on sighting in. Don't shoot sitting at a bench. Use, if possible, a bench you can stand at that offers a solid rest. You'll be a lot more comfortable at the end of the day doing it that way rather than sitting. Trying to take substantial recoil while sitting has probably caused more bad shooting habits than Hollywood movies.

  18. Outlaws

    Outlaws Member

    Apr 10, 2006
    Valley of the Sun
    Depending on the rifle, the .300WIN is either a sniper round or a hunting round. If you intend to shoot targets, .300WIN is not a good choice unless you like buying barrels every so often.
  19. CaptainCrossman

    CaptainCrossman Member

    Apr 8, 2009
    Old thread worth reviving. I recently got a case of magnum-itis myself, and have played around with 264 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, and 300 Weatherby Mag. Fast, accurate calibers, the downside is more recoil, and muzzle blast, and more expensive to reload, because they burn a lot of powder.

    Looking at my reliable albeit somewhat dated Hornady hardcover reloading manual, something becomes quite clear- the 30-06 is a very efficient cartridge, and hard to beat for all-around use, esp. for N. American game.

    the other 300 cal. magnums burn a lot more powder, to get the same velocity as a hot 30-06 handload. For sake of comparison, look at the '06 with a 150 grain bullet at 3000 fps. Compared to the magnum calibers and how much MORE powder they burn, to do 3000 fps, it's obvious that beyond the 30-06 case size, magnum cases exhibit diminishing returns, compared considering how much more powder they burn.

    Even the oft-touted "highly efficient" 300 H&H burns more powder to get the same velocity. Let me clarify, a starter load for a 300 magnum, equals a hot load for a 30-06. But the truth is, magnum shooters who do a lot of target shooting, load the magnums down anyway, to reduce muzzle blast, recoil, and cost. So basically one ends up with a huge case with less powder in it, at 30-06 velocities anyway.

    here's how they stack up, using IMR 4064 powder, and 150 grain Hornady bullet, at 3000 fps. The 30-06 is safe maximum pressure load, the other 300 magnums listed are the recommended starter loads, all from the same manual, to attain 3000 fps. In the case of the 300 Wby the lowest velocity was 3100 fps.

    30-06 52.6 grains (maximum load)
    300 H&H 56.1 grains
    308 Norma 59.6 grains
    300 Win. Mag 61.4 grains
    300 Wby. Mag 68.9 grains (3100 fps)

    as you can see, the 30-06 gives the same velocity with a lot less powder, to attain 3000 fps, with the same powder and bullet. In the case of the 300 Win Mag, it will burn 20% more powder to just equal the 30-06 maximum load. The reason for this phenomenon is, what I like to call combustion chamber size, to borrow some engine terminology. The magnum case is larger, so the exact same powder charge from a smaller case, will give a lower pressure output in the larger case, because there's more space to relieve and lower the pressure, in the larger case, to begin with. So more powder must be burned to create an equal amount of pressure, in the larger case, to start with. Then beyond that point, even more powder added, to make velocity gains beyond what the smaller case can attain.

    so the question becomes, if I already have a trusty old 30-06, why should I even bother with any 300 magnum ? Why not just load up the 30-06 to full potential ?

    For many decades during the first half of the 20th century, 3000 fps was considered the "magic number" entry level into high velocity, hence the old "250-3000" name on the 250 Savage, albeit with an 87 grain bullet. Their original goal was a 100 grain bullet at 3000 fps, which was considered optimum for most N. American medium game. That can be attained in a 250 Savage easily with handloading.

    With the 30-06, you basically have a "30-3000" using a 150 grain bullet, without being a belted magnum, on a standard length action, and burning as little powder as necessary. Most don't realize just how good the 30-06 is, and that included myself.

    yes, the 300 mags can be loaded up to 3400-3500 fps or more, but for sake of the comparison, the 30-06 is a highly efficient round, and hard to beat. If one wants to try out a 300 magnum, just load a 30-06 to maximum safe pressure loads, and you're basically there, for all practical purposes.

    Jack O'Connor was well aware of this, and cajoled other hunters who were carrying the 300 H&H, that his 30-06 with his own handloaded ammunition, had the same power and velocity. At the time, he was right, the 30-06 could be handloaded to match the very early 300 H&H factory loads.

    I'm sure with some diligent load development, one can get more than 3000 fps from a 150 grain bullet, in an '06, with all these modern powders and bullets we have now.

    having said all that, there's just something about that big, belted magnum case, that makes any shooter want to try it out, at least once, or a few times. The only way a magnum makes practical sense, if with the heavier bullets, and very long range, against the biggest of animals- as some previous posters mentioned.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  20. 303tom

    303tom member

    Jul 16, 2011
    For what it`s worth, get the .30-06, you can walk into darn near any place in the world that sells ammo & get .30-06.............
  21. USSR

    USSR Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    Finger Lakes Region of NY
    Easily. About 10 years ago, myself and a friend on SnipersHide.com set out to take advantage of the .30-06's large case capacity to make it into an excellent 1,000 yard target round. We based it upon the Sierra 190gr MatchKing bullet and RL-22 powder. We were both able to attain 2900fps with 26" barrels and remain within pressure specs. I used this load in 1,000 yard F Class competition for several years.

    Lapua brass
    Fed 210M primer
    190SMK bullet
    60.7gr RL-22 powder
    2900fps velocity

    This load duplicates the ballistics of Federal's .300WM Gold Medal Match ammo. Another load tried in load development used the Hornady 178gr Amax bullet and N160 powder. The velocity attained with this load was 2950fps. Never really played around with 150gr bullets, since their low BC is really not conducive to LR shooting.

  22. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

    May 26, 2007
    Captain, on some points I agree with you, on others not so much. When comparing 308, 30-06, and the various 300's in their simplist terms the 308 does at 400 yards what the 30-06 does at 500 and the 300's do at 600.

    The question becomes, how good a shot are you?. If you have the skills to shoot at 600 yards, then the 300's are probably a good choice for you. It is a mistake to think that the 30-06 or 300's kill better at closer ranges, even with larger game. Even with the big bears a good quality 200+ gr bullet fired from a 308 seems just as effective as the same bullet fired from a 300 mag.

    Powder efficency for velocity is simply not that important. If I need or want 3400 fps instead of 3000 fps a few more grains of powder is very low on my list of concerns. And if it is important to you one of the most efficient chamberings is the 300 WSM, which you left out.

    My 30-06 rifles will get slightly more than 3000 fps with 61 gr of H-4350. My 300 WSM will only need 6 gr more powder to get 3300 fps. That is a 10% increase in powder for a 10% increase in speed. My 308 rifles are the efficiency winner getting just under 2900 fps with only 47 gr of Varget.

    I'm using a different powder in the 308. Comparing loadings with the same powder seems fair at first glance, but really isn't. Some powders will be far more efficient in some case designs, than in others. I think that using the powder that had proven to give the best balance of speed and acccracy in each chambering is a more fair comparison.

    FWIW I own all 3 and for the most part do prefer the 308 or 30-06 for all the reasons you cite. I can't really match the 300 mags, but I'm not good enough to take advantage of the extra perfomance. Acually my 308's are getting most of the hunting time because they run anywhere from 1/2 -2 lbs lighter in weight, shoot just as accurately with less recoil.
  23. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Oct 22, 2007
    Central PA
    Muzzle velocity doesn't kill.

    Increasing muzzle velocity reduces the amount of time it takes a bullet to travel a distance.

    Reducing the amount of flight time reduces how far a bullet will fall between the muzzle and the target (flatter trajectory). Flat trajectory does not kill.

    A flat trajectory reduces the amount of difference there is likely to be between point of aim and point of impact if you are wrong in your distance estimation. This becomes more and more important the farther away your target is.

    The magnums provide more of a "cushion" to your range estimation as distances get stretched farther out.

    Whether this matters to you as a hunter or marksman really only depends on how far away you're willing to risk taking a shot, and how well you are able to estimate distance and figure out your elevation correction accurately.

    Most hunters don't see a need to shoot at game that is 500 yards away, and don't have the ability to estimate range and calculate elevation corrections at those distances anyway, and don't trust their ability to consistently hit an 8" vitals zone (every single time, no excuses) that far out. Hence, a slightly faster-shooting rifle is really not very crucial for their needs.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  24. The_Armed_Therapist

    The_Armed_Therapist Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    Obsession, Guntopia, USA

    .308 WIN.............2700f/s.....2700ft/lbs.....-76.82"@500y.....Recoil: 17
    .30-06 SPR..........2750f/s.....2900ft/lbs.....-82.06"@500y.....Recoil: 19
    .300 WIN MAG......2900f/s.....3500ft/lbs.....-60.30"@500y.....Recoil: 25

    I tried to use similar loads for all three. .30-06 is probably the most diverse of the three. You can purchase loads with the speed of the .300 and power of the .308, or you can purchase loads with energy nearing the .300 with a much shorter trajectory.

    For practicality purposes, there isn't much difference at all. All will take down anything at 500 yards with slightly better trajectory for the .300 WIN MAG. For me, though, the recoil of the .300 would negate it's advantages. The .308 and .30-06 are also a ton cheaper. If you're a fantastic shot, wanting to do 600-1000y+ shots, who isn't bothered by recoil, and who has more money to spend than I, then .300 is your best choice.
  25. T.R.

    T.R. Member

    Jan 23, 2006
    Manatee County, Florida
    These 3 cartridges are flat shooting. They all shoot within mere inches of each other out to 275 yards. Beyond this distance, the higher powder capacity gives slightly flatter tajectory.

    Compare bullet drop on any good ballistics chart to affirm my statements.

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