In the mid 1950s, still during the early years of the Cold War, the M1 Garand was showing its age.

First adopted as the standard issue rifle of the US Military in 1936, the Garand was more technologically advanced than any other widely issued service rifle on the battlefield at the time. But then WWII came a long, leading to countless innovations in the field of small arms. After two decades in service, the M1 offered few advantages over the weapons being issued to rivals of the US.

M1 Garand
The very first widely issued semi-automatic rifle of the US Military was the M1 Garand, chambered in .30-06, also known at the time as simply “.30 caliber.”

After much debate, the controversial replacement for the M1 was finally announced in 1957, and it would be the Garand-inspired M14 rifle. Along with this change also came the end of the .30-06 Springfield as the US military’s primary rifle cartridge, first introduced in 1906 with the Springfield 1903 bolt action rifle. The M14 was chambered in the new 7.62×51 NATO cartridge, which shortly thereafter would be re-branded and introduced commercially as the nearly identical .308 Winchester.

The new .30 caliber round had a short-lived role as the standard cartridge issued to the American infantryman. After only five years, the M14 was ditched in favor of the M16 using the intermediate 5.56×45 NATO cartridge. Despite its metric counterpart being snubbed by the military, .308 Winchester meanwhile steadily gained popularity on the commercial market where it was frequently compared to the venerable .30-06.

A rivalry was born and ever since, competition shooters, hunters, and keyboard commandos from every corner of the country have argued over which cartridge is “better” in the great .308 Win vs 30-06 Springfield debate.

Similarities

.308 Win vs .30-06 Comparison

On the surface, .308 Win and .30-06 share many common traits. They both use bullets of identical .308 inch diameter in a weight range typically around 140-180 grains. Both are respected for their accuracy, moderate recoil, and impressive effective range (nominally 1000 yards, depending on who you ask). Either cartridge is suitable for hunting nearly any medium or large game on the North American continent, with the possible exception of some of the bigger bears. Military snipers continued to use rifles chambered in both .30-06 and 7.62×51 for decades after their respective service rifles were dropped from general issue. With so much in common, what actually distinguishes these cartridges?

Size

The most apparent distinction between the two is case length, which is nearly a half inch longer for the .30-06 than the .308 Win (2.48” versus 2.015”). This shorter case length is what the military was after when they were searching for a replacement for the .30-06. New and more efficient propellants that had been developed since the advent of the .30-06 in 1906 were able to push a bullet to the same velocities with a smaller case capacity. Shorter cases meant shorter bolts and actions for the rifles firing them, which in turn would mean  savings in weight and production costs. At least in theory.

Short Action vs. Long Action
On the left is the bolt from a Remington 700 short action chambered in .308. The bolt on the right belongs to .30-06 Remington 710 long action. Visually, the lengths of the two bolts seem very close, but the difference is noticeable when operating each action.

This difference is still evident in today’s bolt action rifles. Most major manufacturers of bolt actions offer several calibers, but only two different action sizes: long and short. Short actions are slightly more compact, lighter, and have shorter bolts, which can be quicker to operate. Long actions can accommodate larger cartridges at the expense of greater size and weight. The .308 Win cartridge is usually found in short actions, while the extra case length of the .30-06 requires a long action rifle.

Accuracy

In many ways, the .308 versus .30-06 revolves around the issue of accuracy. When .308 was first offered to the public, .30-06 was the dominant cartridge for marksmen and competitive rifle shooters. However, shooters quickly found that .308 offered a slight accuracy advantage, and the old “aught six” was de-throned as the favorite precision cartridge of the country’s top marksmen. In fact, the increase in accuracy was so significant that competition organizers eventually had to shrink the size of the standard bullseye in order to avoid ties between .308 shooters.

Since that time several decades ago, both .308 and .30-06 have been well surpassed by still more accurate cartridges that now dominate the precision shooting sports. But for us “Average Joe” shooters, the wide availability and (relative) lower cost of .308 and .30-06 keeps the debate raging.

Developments in cartridge technology have more or less leveled the playing field between the two cartridges, and today .30-06 loads are not so easily outshone by .308 as they were in the 60s. Comparing similar bullets from either cartridge fired in similar rifles, .30-06 may have a slight edge in terms of velocity, but .308 will have slightly less recoil. The difference in bullet drop between the two will be negligible.

Hardcore accuracy geeks will probably keep the race going for some time, but for all practical purposes, both cartridges are extremely accurate out to 600-800 yards with the right rifle in the hands of a skilled shooter.

Hunting

With similar bullet weights, similar trajectory, and next to no difference in accuracy, it would stand to reason that .308 and .30-06 are also equals for hunting game. Hunters’ opinions on the matter will usually come down to anecdotal evidence and a critique of the available factory hunting loads for the two calibers, but that, of course, only tells part of the story.

While it would seem that performance is very similar for factory ammo, the .30-06 still has a bit more case capacity than the .308. You’ll find plenty of hand loaders who swear by .30-06, because they can add more powder and load them a little hotter, giving a little extra punch over the .308. The success of these experimental loads, of course, depends on the rifle being able to handle these higher pressures and the hand loader knowing what he’s doing. But again, if we assume factory ammo and the shooting skill of the “average” hunter, distinguishing between the effectiveness of these two rounds is splitting hairs.

Rifle Selection

Looking at the selection of rifles available in these two calibers, its not hard to figure out that fans of .308 Win have far more to choose from than devotees of .30-06.

Because of its origins as the primary NATO cartridge for much of the 20th century, there have been many automatic and semi-automatic military rifles designed around the 7.62×51. As a result, there are a plethora of magazine-fed semi-auto derivatives of these rifles commercially available in .308 Win like the various clones and offspring of the HK G3,  FN FAL, M14, and of course, the AR-10.

Ruger SR762
AR-pattern rifles chambered in .308 have seen a recent surge in popularity, such as this SR762 from Ruger.

.30-06 was used almost exclusively by the US military, so If you want a semi-auto chambered in the older cartridge, you’re limited to the M1 Garand and a tiny handful of obscure commercial offerings. And although .30-06 once dominated the hunting rifle market, most of today’s bolt action rifle makers offer a wider selection of products chambered for .308 Win.

Ammo Selection

Ammo shopping tells a similar story. .30-06 is still one of the most readily available rifle calibers in the country, but most loads are designed for hunting with few choices for super accurate match ammo. Deserved or not, .308 has developed a stronger reputation as a well-rounded cartridge that’s great for hunting and precision shooting. As a result, you’re just as likely to find premium match ammo in .308 as you are to see .308 hunting loads that rival the .30-06 offerings. On the other hand, those interested in rifle cartridge hand loading may prefer the versatility offered by the additional case capacity of the .30-06.

The Verdict

I can’t really pretend to be unbiased here. I’m more a fan of .308, but purely because of the wider selection of rifles and factory ammo. When it comes to actually putting lead down range or in the field, I can’t think of anything I would do with a .308 that could not also be accomplished just as efficiently with a .30-06. So to anyone trying to choose between the two calibers, my advice would be to not worry about which caliber is more lethal or more accurate. Take a look at the practical and logistical factors, find the rifle you like in either caliber, and be confident that no matter which you choose, it will perform.


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  • Sean Yunt

    I’m not an expert but this doesn’t seem like the best article from you guys.

    .308 can be loaded almost as hot as 06 but in a smaller case. If for some reason you want hotter for large game etc. 06 might be slightly better as you can choose heavier bullets.

    I also think describing either round as “moderate recoil” deserves some context. Is your baseline .45-70 or .338win mag?

    I think a hunter, target shooter and self defense shooter won’t necessarily draw the same conclusions.

    • LG Chris

      Sorry you didn’t like this one, Sean. It’s meant more as an overview of the debate for those not familiar with why people like to argue over these two. Admittedly, more experienced rifle shooters will probably not find many new details here.

      As far as the recoil issue, it will of course vary widely depending on the specific rifle and load used, so “moderate” seems a good descriptor when broadly comparing them to any other common centerfire rifle cartridges.

    • Sean Yunt

      LG Chris Sorry if I was a bit blunt. I usually enjoy your content quite a lot and have become spoiled. Also, if you’re wondering, you really can’t get TOO technical. I personally love “myth buster” and similar type articles.

      Thanks for taking my criticism professionally.

    • Paul Dragotto

      RELOADED AMMO FOR 25 YEARS . EVERY CALIBER YOU COULD THINK OF. YOU PUSH A 308 TO IT’S MAX YOU WILL LOOSE ACCURACY. SAME WITH 30-06. IF YOU LIKE 308 STICK TO FACTORY AMMO. SAME WITH THE -06. WHY TRY AND OUT PERFORM A 308 TO THE 30-06. I ALWAYS LOADED RIFLE AMMO CLOSE TO FACTORY AMMO. EVERY TIME YOU USE A DIFFERANT BATCH YOU HAVE TO RE-DIAL IN YOUR SCOPE.

    • Kevin VanConant

      Paul Dragotto With technology now days you can dial in your reloaded ammo and stay spot on with your loads. I sighted in with some 150 gr projectiles and shooting 3 different loaded rounds I stayed spot on.
      I used loads from my friends reloading compared to my reloading I kept 1/2″ groups.
      His powder is about 2 years old and mine is just a few weeks old but had the exact same shot.
      I like my rounds hotter then factory for more punch. I have yet to have a deer even attempt to run with a hand reloaded round.
      I do agree if you max out your loads on either a .308 or 30-06 you will loose accuracy. But the 30-06 you can go a good bit hotter than the .308 before loosing accuracy.
      With a properly reloaded 30-06 you can reach over 3500 fps and a .308 at best you are going 2800 fps.
      With an extra 700 fps on the 30-06 you can reach out further with more accuracy.

    • Paul Dragotto

      SEAN! FROM MY RELOADING EXSPERANCE WHEN YOU TRY TO PUT MORE POWDER IN A SMALL CASE TO TRY AND GET THE VELOCITY COMPARED TO A LARGER CALIBER YOU RISK ACCURACY. INCREASE RECOIL.

  • Mick Wood

    Thanks. A fair explanation of the essential differences between the two calibers without getting so in-depth as to bore the non-enthusiast.

  • Jake Souders

    I totally agree. There’s not really a nickles worth of difference between the two.

    One question. Where does the .308 is more accurate than .30’06 come from? Are we talking about the actual cartridge or the rifles available at the time that made the difference?

    • Sean Yunt

      Assuming identical bullets, that could be loaded to identical velocities – and hypothetically similar enough barrels could be used – how could there by an accuracy difference/

    • Jake Souders

      Exactly Sean. We’re talking same BC, same SD. If we’re talking Garand Vs M1A ok, if this coincides with the development of 5R rifleing ok. For extremely long range the transition from supersonic to subsonic than the ’06 is going to have the edge. If we’re talking factory ammo then .308. Granted all this is a paper thin edge, but to say one cartridge is more accurate than the other (especially like you pointed out with the bullets having the same ballistic characteristics) is more a case of bow than arrow unless there’s something I missed.

    • Mike Strojny

      case size and burn…220 swift hot at 4100 fps, and not as accurate as when loaded to 3800 fps. same bullet as 22-250. 22-250 was more accurate. powder selection to fill the case and get the velocity and accuracy desired is important. every bullet weight/profile, barrel length,powder type will show a change in accuracy.

    • ltcjwb

      I read some interesting articles by and about competition shooters on this subject. ’06 was the most popular and most wining long range cartridge until the .308 came out. Within a couple of years, almost everyone had switched to .308. In part, because of lower recoil, which made it easier to shoot, thus more accurate. But there are some volume/burn factors that are beyond my comprehension that factor in, as well. Since then, the smaller cartridges, such as 6.5 Creedmoor, many based on the same case, have done even better.

  • Michael Bustamante

    Pretty good article if ya ask me! Enjoyed it a lot.

  • Mark Graham

    Very nice considering i shoot 30.06

  • Wes Fuhrmann

    The 06 will be able to handle heavier grain rounds without losing a lot of velocity. Anything above 180grain attention should go to the 06

    • ltcjwb

      Check Hunting Shack’s load data. 210 Berger HVLD in both. 26 fps difference at the muzzle, 23 fps at 500 yards. Given the proper twist (at least 1:11), either should be bad medicine for elk at up to 500 yards. Beyond that, get a Remchester Mangler.

  • Rusty Dossman

    I don’t have a dog in this contest but I do have my thoughts. Unless things have changed in the last dozen years, the availability of ammo would go to the.30-06. That comes from stopping in at any mom & pops little store in deer country & you will find .30-06 & 30-30 readily available if anything followed by 270 win. I think it’s called supply & demand. When it comes to reloading them to identical velocities & bullet weights, yes you can load the 06 down & the 308 up to max & get the same end results. But when you stick the long 150, 165 or 180 grain bullet into the 308 case, there went powder capacity. A 308 case is the same capacity as a .243 case only necked up to take a .308 dia. bullet. I personally don’t know very many people that hunt with a 308. I am in the minority at my age. The .30-06 is very widely in use by people my age & up. I look at peoples age & if they are mine & up I say you shoot a .30-06 don’t you. Or ask what are you shooting? A lot of the time it comes back an 06. I did break down & buy a .30-06 back in late Oct before obama was supposedly elected the first time. It is unshot even though I put the base & rings on it but never have mounted the scope. I think it will stay that way until the kids take it over. still new. On the other hand, I can say without a doubt that I will never own a 308. That’s kinda like women. There is someone for everyone. It’s a matter of taste.

    • Paul Dragotto

      IN YOUR NECK OF THE WOODS IT’S A COMMON ROUND. IN THE WEST THE M1A (SEMI AUTO M14) IN 308 IS A POPULAR ROUND FOR HUNTING DEER AND BEAR. THE REMINGTON MODEL 700 IN 308 IS USED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT SNIPERS. WHY BECAUSE YOU CAN GET BETTER ACCURACY FROM A 308 THAN A 30-06. OUT TO 500 YARDS. SOME LIKE TEA, OTHERS LIKE COFFEE.

      • kj

        But he doesn’t like the .308.

    • Rusty Dossman

      Paul Dragotto I’m sorry but have been hunting somewhere close to out west & have not found the 308 to be widely used to hunt (Co & NM). I am going again this year & will pay closer attention to rifle cal in use. Just know that I hunt different than you probably. I hunted in west Tex in the canyons beside all kinds of people in the old American Sportsman Club in the 1980″s until it went broke. I stood shoulder to shoulder with many people looking at deer & hearing them ask me if I could hit them for them. They said they could not hit them that far off. I never failed to let my rifle do it job & not mess it up. True law enforcement uses the 308 but there are reasons for that decision you fail to see such as a limited target distance so damage behind the intended target is not the result. Why are AR 15’s in 223 carried by most in a swat team. Most people I see trying to use the 308 come from a military back ground & got their preference there. I don’t see the numbers personally in the real world in my travels. Also the 10 mm was adopted by many police departments & they had to back down to the 40 S&W or even they are going back to the 9 mm today. Reason being the tough police guys can’t handle the 10 mm. My Speer reloading manual has 5 pages of data for the 308 but it has 9 for the 30-06. There are people that use the 308 but as I stated I don’t have a dog in this fight but I won’t EVER own a 308 personally.

      • Lenny Donovan

        Man Rusty, can you please drop your overly repetitive ramble about how you will never own a 308 already. This forum is not about what you think. I own both and will own both till the day I decide to sell or die. SoWhatWhoCares? This was suppose to be about a discussion on a great article that was well written, and not for a stage for you to hijack the discussion to repeat over and over your opinion. There is very little difference between the two. In my part of the country, .308 Win. ammo is easier to get than 30-06 sometimes. But to get back on track with the article, both are very very similar, unless you have never owned one or won’t ever own one, you will never find out, and ramble on about what you know nothing about. You will do well on that Chevy vs. Ford forum

    • Kevin VanConant

      Paul Dragotto A lot of officers use .308 because they don’t need to reach out as far and they want the bullet to have a chance to stop in the person and not pass through.
      A 30-06 will easily pass through someone if they have to snipe someone within a few hundred yards. Where as the .308 will have a better chance to stop inside someone rather then go through them.
      I would prefer a hollow point with a 30-06 to stop someone 500 yards and below. 500-800 yards I would rather a ballistic tip in 30-06, and 800+ I would rather a FMJ in 30-06.
      They don’t snipe with .308 because of accuracy because they run a smaller risk of going through and through with a .308.

    • Paul Dragotto

      Rusty Dossman a lot of differant comments. i used the m14 in vietnam. i was an army ranger, recon. i will agree a 30-06 will travel farther than a 308, but the 308 is a good all around great round. it’s accrate and it’s my choice. i had a 700 in 30-06 and did not like the bolt action. never have liked a bolt action rifle. SHOT PLACEMENT. AND WHO IS GOING TO SHOOT A DEER MORE THAN A100 YARDS AWAY. WHEN I USE TO HUNT DEER I GOT AS CLOSE AS 50 YARDS OR CLOSER. YOU GOT TO HAVE THE NINJA IN YOU.

    • Kevin VanConant

      Paul Dragotto I like both rounds myself as well but I like the power that comes from the 30-06.
      I’ve shot deer around 200 yds before. Most deer around us are skiddish so I always go for the longer shots. Deer around us spook at 80-100 yds. I know one deer I took was right at 220 yds.

    • Paul Dragotto

      Kevin VanConant WOW GUYS EVERYONE HAS THERE OWN CHOICE. NOT SAYING THE 30-06 IS A BAD ROUND , JUST NEVER REALLY LIKED IT . I GUESS WHEN I WAS A RANGER IN NAM I FELL IN LOVE WITH THAT M14.ACCURACY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BULLET. IT’S THE SNIPER WHO HAS THE PROFIENCY OF BE ABLE TO HIT HIS TARGET WITH EXSPERANCE. SHOT PLACEMENT!!

  • Michael Giffen

    For larger game, you can load the 06 with 200 grains. This is probably the biggest difference between the two.

    • ltcjwb

      Actually, Hunting Shack loads Berger 210 HVLDs in both. 26 fps difference at the muzzle, 23fps difference at 500 yards. The author of the article is correct. The difference between them is minimal, with any bullet. The ’06 does have a small edge, but not a lot. And I would not likely try to take game with either, past 500 yards. For that you need some kind of Remchester Mangler.

  • Dave Williams

    Yeah but when ammo is scarce you can still find .30-06 anywhere. Not so with .308.

  • Peter Shutt

    That is why i own one of each.SIG Ssg 3000 .308 and savage 30-06. Both great weapons

  • David Shannon

    I would have to say that even in the ammo crunch, I could still find reasonably priced in both cartridges. It did not seem to flex in pricing as much, if at all. I have one of each, but in different capacities, so I look for bulk/belted/surplus in .308 and target loads in .06. I enjoyed the read, keep up the good work.

  • Kevin Gough

    I have often wondered the difference. Thank you. I enjoyed and found it informative.

  • Duke Fry

    I have both same same to me.

  • John Powers

    Good article – I found it was helpful in understanding and appreciating the two different rounds.

  • Michael Mezzanotte

    LG Chris – you always are informative and me being a pistol guy, I love the conversation you initiated as I find myself learning from that as well. Enjoy broadening the horizons into the long guns when and where I can – Thanks!

  • Jessie N Wayne Rowett

    There is only 50 fps difference; the 308 being slower. However, I took a 3X5 elk with one shot with the308 and one shot on a deer. Have done the same with an 06. I load both and can’t complain about the performance of either.

  • Michael Nam Vet Zorn

    7.62 x 51 R what is it we know what a 7.62 x 51 is a 308 so we compare it to a 30 06 so let us look first at 7.62 x 51 R is the 30×30 Winchester The 7.62 x 51 NATO is a development of a shrunk 30 06 and an improved 300 Savage at 1000 yards the 06 has more down range velocity because it can start 190 gr bullet at almost equal speed but at 300 yards the lighter 308 is shedding velocity and most import impact knockdown in WW II they used them as anti aircraft hitting aircraft at 2000 yards.

  • Barry Addis

    Well done!

  • Matt Albenze

    Woe be the critter down range of either! Like my 1903…never owned a .308, as i have no need. Good article.

  • Leo Almeida

    Thank You on a great article.

  • Jeff Aziz

    Love them both. Looking forward to building a heavy barrel 06 to load some of the amazing .30 cal bullets I have been running in both my match .308s and my sporter 06.

    An extra 4-6 grains of powder in that case makes a big difference in the 168s (Amax, SMK, Nolser and Hornady HPBT) that fall trans-sonic at ~ 800 yards here in Central Florida, at safe .308 velocities.

    As to chamber length making that much difference: it is a non factor.

    Great article as I love both. Both have admirable barrel life and that is another big concern for me. High speed .300s (Weatherby, Win Mag, Ultras, etc.) are awesome but the prospect of new barrels at 1200-1500 rounds bums me out! For hunting it’s not an issue but I prefer to shoot long range and 1200 rounds is 3-4 range trips!

    Great work!

  • Bill Stahl

    Great article. Good verdict.

  • Jeff Hodge

    I’ve shot both and find them pretty darn close in performance as this article described. I like the fact that 308 is more widely found in most stores (not county the corner mom and pops). In the case of the zombie apocalypse (not a believer), the 308 is found world wide, not so with the 06.

    • Kevin VanConant

      Maybe back years ago the 30-06 wasn’t found all over the world but every country has the 30-06 now a days. It’s still one of the most widely used guns out there. It is still the #1 pick over all in the USA as a hunting rifle.

  • Anthony Foulke

    I hand load both but for different applications. My 06 is for hunting out of my 700 rem and .308 for my AR10. One huge difference, my 8 year old can shoot the .308 by the 06 has to much recoil. Of course this is apples to oranges with these 2 platforms. Good read!

  • Jeff Broughton

    Great information. Thanks.

  • Raymond Wright Jr.

    I like both cartridges, and with the A-max 178 gr it is a fantastic round, both. thanks for the article.

  • Geary McCleery

    I enjoyed the article and would like to see one debating the M14 vs the M16. Personally I prefer the M14 even with the extra weight – carried one in Vietnam.

    • Paul Dragotto

      ARMY RANGER RECON, 1969-1971. LOVED MY M14. HATED THAT MATELL M16/ ENED UP BEING ISSUED A M60.308. WISH I COULD FIND THE SEMI AUTO M1A.

    • Billy Barnett

      Paul I saw a real nice one today one synthetic stock one wood. But Kilgore TX is a long drive.

  • Layne Uyeno

    One of the interesting things I noticed during the ammo shortage and the local chain gun store’s shelves were bare…except for .30-06 & .44 magnum which they had plenty of. Same went for the guns that shot them.

  • Eric Nakamura

    Great explanation…I love both cartridges…

  • James R Hood

    You cannot go wrong with either caliber. Personally I like the .308, but in territory with black bears I would like the slight edge of the 30-06 better, not that the right .308 bullet in a well place shot would not do, but I would feel more confident about doing the same with the 30-06.

  • Johnnie M Rodriguez

    Sorry, I love 7.62 NATO/.308, but everyone on this planet that has lived long enough know the reason we adopted the .308, and that was the fact it cycled faster in a light machine gun,period. All the this and that about the M1 and it’s inability to hold more than 8 rounds is b.s., we had a large capacity.06 offered to us, the BM-59 and turned it down.

    • ltcjwb

      Actually, the Italian-made BM-59 was chambered in 7.62 x 51 NATO.

  • Rusty Dossman

    Let me put this on another level then. Does the same logic go for the 12 & 20 gauge shotguns? Both are shotguns & both shoot. Both loads would be too much to handle with a standard catcher’s mitt. I heard it said by people that used shotguns for more than dust collectors, anything the 20 can do, the 12 can do better. I still won’t own a 308.

    • Kent Cain

      Then don’t buy one. I have both and I like both. I also don’t see a huge advantage of a couple of hundred feet per second at the muzzle out at 200 yards or so. I’ve probably shot as many white tails in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas and mule deer in Colorado, with the .308 as I have with the .30-06. When hit with a .308 none of them went any further or were less dead than the ones hit with the .30-06.

    • Kent Cain

      If I were hunting elk or moose I would go with the .30-06. As someone earlier, maybe you, pointed out, the longer heavier 180 and up bullets do not perform adequately in the .308 due to the lack of powder capacity.

  • Leo Ryan

    The logistics of personally carrying ammunition on your person to me is the defining factor in this argument, I do own weapons in both calibers and they both give wonderful service.

  • Paul Dragotto

    I HAVE A MAC 90 AK, CHINA MADE. IN CALIFORNIA IT’S ON THE BAN LIST TO OWN. SO IT’S IN THE WALL. I BOUGHT A SAIGIN 7.62X39 AND REGREAT IT. I COULD HAVE GOTTEN THE 308 FOR A FEW 20.00 BILLS MORE. IT GOT DRESSSED UP INTO A ZOMBIE RIFLE. JUST IN CA YOU HAVE HAVE A BULLET BUTTON. TAKE A TOOL TO RELEASE THE MAG. WISH I BOUGHT THE 308.

  • Steve Allen

    Top notch article and spot on ! :-)

  • Family and Home defense

    While the .308 “had a short-lived role as the standard cartridge issued to the American infantryman” and” the M14 was ditched in favor of the M16 using the intermediate 5.56 NATO cartridge”, the 7.62 NATO round was never “snubbed” by the U.S. Military. It was used in the M-60 and M-240 series machine guns, both of which are still in use by the Marines and Army. As well as the M-24 and M-40 sniper rifles. While the .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua have taken over bolt action sniper rifles, the .308 NATO is still the caliber for Semi-Auto sniper rifles like the SR-25 and the newer versions of that rifle that are being fielded. The Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle-Heavy (SCAR-H) is also chambered in 7.62 NATO(.308).

    • Kent Cain

      I read an interesting book recently entitled “AK47″, which primarily discusses the impact that the cheap, reliable and rather inaccurate AK has had in altered the global political environment since its introduction. The book includes a discussion of the development and adoption of the M-16 and the 5.56 NATO round (which was evidently a very politically charged process). It discusses the difference in internal organ damage created by a high velocity round that expends all of its energy inside the body as opposed to a round that exits the body and dumps much of its energy outside of the body. Evidently this was also one of the reasons the Soviets moved to the 5.45mm round in the AK76. I read a similar article at one time comparing the amount of damage caused within a jell target (not the official name of the stuff) by a .300 RUM that went all the way through and exited the other end, taking some of the energy with it, versus a .30-06 (I believe) that didn’t exit the other end but instead expended all of its energy within the jell. Though the article pointed out the advantages in killing power of a slower 30 caliber round that expended all of its energy within the body, versus a higher velocity 30 caliber round with exits the body, taking a fair amount of energy with it, the message seemed to coincide with the arguments for the 5.56 round.

      I realize there more to the puzzle than what these two writings point out, but I found it interesting. It sort of countered what I have always thought … bigger and faster causes more knock down power and kills better. I understand though that a complaint about the 5.56 by military personnel is the lack of knock down power.

      Sorry for rambling without really adding anything to the discussion. But the book was very good.

  • Gary Ivy

    interesting article.

  • Brian Kloosterman

    Thank you for explaining the basics. The factor that concerns me the most is if or when the next ammo shortage occurs….which will be more available? The recoil issue doesn’t bother me……I was told the mosin nagants and lee enfields kick like a mule….I did not find either unmanageable.

  • Rusty Dossman

    Paul Dragotto. If you get within 50 yards of deer then a 308 is way more than enough gun to kill a deer. If you got tha ninja in you then put the challenge in it & go way smaller if your skills allow. Mine do. I use from 223 to 300 weatherby with many in between. None of which is or ever will be a rifle chambered in 308 win. I was in the Walmart in Santa Fe NM last week & did a test on available ammo cal. I found the normal ammo I expected to find in a hunting store out west. Funny thing I could not find any 308. They did have it but it was put off to the side & not easily to be seen. I had to ask a clerk if they had any. Military??? I have been around plenty of them. You don’t want to open that can of worms. Let me rephrase it again. I ain’t got a 308 & ain’t gonna have one either. Plain & simple.

    • Rusty Dossman

      Sometimes it’s like talking to a brick wall but at least I tried to be informative. I was in the Academy sporting goods store tonight in Waco Tx. They sell ammo. I looked & was able to find some 308 ammo. I found two places on the shelves for it. 12 20 round boxes in one spot & a few more than that in the other. Total I about 30 boxes of 308. Rows were full with n empty spots (deer season is about to start soon here). I then looked for 30-06 ammo. It was easy to find but hard to count. There was between 125 & 130 20 round boxed. There was numerous rows that weren’t full indicating that several boxes had already been sold & I couldn’t count them. Academy stocks what they think has a chance of selling & not worrying about someone”s ego & making them feel warm & fuzzy without much real world experience. I too get close to deer as I proved again on 10/15/14. I was within 8-9 yards of 2 bucks. I didn’t have a rifle but only my new compound bow. Both were legal to harvest. I could have killed them easier with my crossbow but chose to put more of a challenge in it while hunting with 2 really bad shoulders. Shooting right handed with a 2 inch diameter right collar bone. Some only can talk it, I do it. Again I don’t have a 308 & never will. I have a 30-06 but don’t plan to ever use it. This is no debate. Facts are facts on the retail shelves.

  • Matt Jackson

    Nice, fair article. You don’t see too many these days… Especially when two different rounds are compared.

  • John MacKenzie

    I’m with Rusty Dossman. I o[ted for the -06 because I could buy it anywhere at the time. I use my weapon for hunting and there is another significant reason I opted for it. The -06 was available in something like 27 different configuration. I could carry a clip with 150 grain, another clip with 180’s and a third clip with 220’s. The chosen round would depend on whether I came across a bear, a deer or a moose, how far out it was and if applicable, how heavy the brush was. Many more options.

  • Sam Horton

    I used to be a primary 06 person but just recently purchased a Mossberg MVP in 308/7.62. I really like the 308 now! The main reason would be that I am getting older (65) and there is definitely less recoil. Also the MVP was offered in a 6 position adjustable stock which I can adjust perfectly. (I have fairly short arms!) I will still keep my 06 but now I have 2 favorite calibers! By the way! The accuracy of the MVP was awesome!

  • Sporting Outback Supplies

    I am tossing up between a 30-06 Steyr and a 308 in full wood older model rifles primarily for hunting bigger deer like Sambar. I enjoyed the article and thought it was unbiased and factual and as ‘an average Joe’ just confirmed my own conclusions about both calibres. Of course, bullet placement is key and I have downed many Asian Water Buffalo with my Steyr Tactical Elite in .308 and as long as I can consistently shoot accurately I will stick with my favoured .308. Thanks you for the article. John.

  • Justin Horsfield

    My question is how do I back a .308 round accidentally fed into moss berg 30-06 rifle? Cartridge boxes got mixed around didn’t realize I grabbed wrong cartridges until I cou get the bolt to pull back on my 30-06 rifle?!

    • LG Chris

      If it’s stuck in there with the bolt closed, take it to a gunsmith. If not, remove the bolt and try tapping it out with a wooden dowel and a hammer from the muzzle end. If it doesn’t budge, see first suggestion.

  • Buck Kipper

    Rusty Dossman, you really should buy a .308.

  • Michael Keener

    “no matter which you choose, it will perform”.
    I want my 5 minutes back…

  • Robert Michaels

    If a .308 is the civilian version of the NATO 7.62 x 51, I assume a .308 can be chambered in a M-14 but a NATO 7.62 x 51 cannot be chambered in a .308 rifle such as the Ruger American and the Howa Whitetail due, not because the round casing dimensions but because of the load. It was my understanding that the 7.62 is a hotter load than the civilian .308. Is that a correct statement?

    • Michel_T

      From what I gathered, the ‘danger’ from shooting a ‘military’ 7.62×51 in a civilian 308 comes from the increased tolerance of what is acceptable for a 7.62×51 to pass.

      As in, the 7.62×51 chamber is slightly longer, therefore using that ammo in a 308 might cause a spike in pressure.

      Also, max pressure for a 308 (as per SAAMI) is 62,000psi. The 7.62×51 is listed at 50,000psi.

      • Ian Jordan

        Enjoy!

    • go4it

      Nope, other way around – flip-flopped from the M-16 / AR-15 rounds. In the “poodle shooter”, the MIL round – the 5.56 X 45 – is hotter than the commercial .223. In the Big Boy, the .308 is hotter than it’s MIL half-brother, the 7.62 X 51. Again, however, mostly “splitting hairs”. All 4 cartridges deliver substantial, lethal ballistic energy on a given target. The 30.06 comes in a whisker ahead of the .308 in all categories.

      (For those thinking even the .308 / 30.06 won’t get the job done, remove all doubts: Go with the .338 Lapua. Questionable target takedown with the 30 caliber rounds? The .338 is game over ……. )

  • Simona Si Bogdan Bratu

    excellent article…My personal prefference is 30-06…In a marlin xl7 with a leupold vx1 scope.For hunting is just perfect..308 is a superb cartridge also…The difference in bullet speed is neglectable,using factory ammo.If you reload it is a different story..306 is better than .308.period.

  • Konrad Carver

    I can think of one thing you cant do with a normally chambered .308 that you can with a 30-06 and that’s put 200+ grain bullets downrange.

    • ltcjwb

      Wrong. Check the HSM (Hunting Shack) factory load data. 201 Berger HVLD from the .308 is within 26 fps of the 30-06 at the muzzle, within 23 fps at 500 yards. Either should be fully adequate for elk up to that range. Beyond that, you would likely need some kind of Remchester Mangler. I wouldn’t want to shoot farther than that, in any case.

  • Konrad Carver

    By the way I shoot both and like both, The availability of semi-auto rifles in .308 is its major advantage. Case capacity and versatility are the major advantages to the 30-06 as hunter and hand loader.

  • Johnny Mansfield

    Can anybody tell me which has a longer barrel life?

    The 30-06 leaves the muzzle at 2800-2900 fps, the 308 leaves the muzzle at 2700-2800 fps. The 30-06’s max pressure is 60000 psi, the 308’s max pressure is 62000 psi. One travels a little faster, one has slightly higher pressures.

    Can someone tell me? I’m all confused.

    • Joseph Kool

      Barrel life is about the same, the difference is nothing to lose sleep over.

  • Carlos Sarria

    As a novice gun owner…your article was well presented. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

  • Cornelius Pope Cockeran

    Thanks dude

  • Jeremy Hamm

    I love history. That means I have a great respect for both. My vote is to not choose but to own both.

  • Jimmy Hayes

    A more honest opinion I couldn’t imagine. I’ve done it all w/both & couldn’t agree more. Very well written,sir.

  • Rusty Dossman

    Kent Cain

  • Brock Hine

    Nice article….very informative, especially since I’m faced with this dilemma right now. I was leaning .308 so this really confirms my own thoughts on the subject.

    • kj

      Well, it actually messed me up, because I was thinking .270 v. 06. Now I’ve got to give some more consideration to the .308. Arghh!

      • ltcjwb

        .270 would be an excellent choice, lots of deer and elk taken with that cartridge. A bit better at long range, and with heavy-for caliber bullets, because they have better trajectory and retain their velocity at longer ranges.

        • kj

          I wound up going with .308 in a Marlin X7. Haven’t shot it yet, but I can’t wait. .270 will probably be my next purchase.

  • Rusty Dossman

    Kent Cain. If your comment about them don’t buy one if I don’t like it seam it indicate to me that you may have a problem with reading comprehension & not be able to understand what you read if you truly read my posts on here. I stated several times that I don’t have a 308 & will never have one by virtue of purchasing or having someone give me one as a gift. I will not take, own or consider having a 308. I also stated that I purchased a 30-06 right before the first Obama election in 08. It has never been shot & I have no plans to ever use it. If I liked it for my needs I think I would have by now. Bottom line reread my thoughts here & find that I don’t have a dog in this fight. Neither is my choice but of the two I would pick a 30-06 because of my previously stated reasons. I read an article in Peterson’s Hunting from 2013. It specifically talked about that favorite 308 hunting rifle. It said to give it to your favorite nephew & get you something better for western hunting like a 270, .30-06, 7 mm Rem Mag etc. I suggest you read it & apply it in your knowledge. I also stated the reasons for not choosing a 308 when it comes to reloading. Why would anyone want to put such a limit unless their ability is the limiting factor in the equation.
    Here is the article in Peterson’s Hunting in the March 2013 issue. Page 33 titled “Open Country” by Joseph Von Benedikt. “Go Deep, Shoot Long When hunting out West, ditch the brush gun & brush up on extending your range.” Pay close attention to his first titled step called ” Gear Up”. I Quote, “Toss your bolt-action Walmart Special .308 to your nephew. He’ll love you for it, and your sister-in-law will help convince your wife that, yes, you do need that new rifle for your Western hunt. You don’t need a high-dollar custom rig, but you should have an accurate, dependable, upper-crust rifle, preferably a stainless gun with a quality- not injection-molded plastic-stock. And you need it in a fast, Western-capable caliber with a lot of wallop on the business end.
    What with today’s sophisticated rangefinders and ballistic reticle/turret-equipped scopes, estimating bullet drop isn’t the problem it used to be with slow starters like the .308 and its kin. But to cleanly kill a mature bull elk, you need plenty of energy (not to mention enough velocity to expand the premium bullets that excel on elk) at the far end of the trajectory. My apologies to you .308 lovers, but it just don’t cut the mustard.
    On the other hand, you don’t need to shoot a .300 Weatherby Magnum. It’s one of the elk hunting greats, but a heavy-for-caliber bullet from a .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag., or .30-06 is sufficient if you prefer to keep the cartilage in your clavicle intact.”
    This is not the whole article, but only where he started to discuss his outline for the total article. When he mentions the .300 Weatherby, I know about it too. I have one & it gives me no limits with my ability. It is my largest & goes down from there to way below what most would consider a standard minimum caliber to hunt deer size game on up. My weapons to hunt deer & up has started on the low side with a Buck 121 knife up including my .300 Weatherby.
    You did read & comprehend where he said my apologies to you .308 lovers, but it just don’t cut the mustard. My exact thoughts!!!!! And, pay attention, I ain’t got a .308 & ain’t gonna have one!!!!! I hunt where you can’t & only want to.

    • wetfloorsign .

      I stopped reading after “It has never been shot & I have no plans to ever use it.”

  • Philip Bryant

    That was the best info i could have dreamt of getting especially. Just off a random google answer ,not the norm very impressive and i feel comfortable with wat uve given me to advise a friend on these calibers now based on in your own honest and informative explanation on those rounds and a sensible summation to novice and avid sport shoter like myself now i feel i can actually advise my friends purchase of any of these calibers discussed about and give a honest and gelpfull realistic suggestion or answer to which for watever the gun will be soley for …all i can say is thank. You very much u went overboard in comparison to my original. Expectations from the usual run around to get wat i truely need from a internet search thanks alot dude ur report kicked ass and is going to make me. Look kick ass for a hot. Blonde now wat else can u truely. Ask and want nothing more from the net first pick …awsome thanks again

  • Norman E. Worsley

    Great write-up Chris. VERY informative and unbiased!

  • George Gilbert

    I’ll take my .270 Winchester , Any day of the week

    • TREKTIC

      not for big game!

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  • Greg A.

    Great read ..thank you! I’ve been trying to decide on my first bolt action rifle and caliber. It came down to these two cartridges. Think just Bc I can go bolt on one and then start an ar10 build, 308 is gonna take it for for me. Thanks for the help !

  • Orion the Hunter

    There is no more versatile cartridge than the 30-06 which is my preference. But, you are right, finding a gun that suits you is more important than the cartridge.

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  • ltcjwb

    Actually, the .308 can handle the heavier bullets, as can the 30-06; in both cases, barrel twist is critical. In the only factory comparison I can find, HSM sells both with the Berger 210-grain HVLD bullet. The difference in velocity at the muzzle is 26 fps; at 500 yards, 23 fps. Either should be enough for elk at anything up to 500 yards. The .308 might be a bit easier to shoot, because of its slightly lower recoil, with most rounds. With this one, I doubt anyone would feel the difference.

    • blucorsair

      Forgive me, but I was referring to the major ammo mfg’s. like Federal, Winchester Remington, Hornady, Norma, Sellier & Bellot etc. . These companies won’t touch the heavier longer bullets, because of the dimensinal differences between the .308 and 7.62×51 and their different chamber configurations! The pressure spikes in surplus rifles and law suits is the main reason why they don’t! HSM is probably a reputable aftermarket company, but does not adhere to the “Metro” ballistic standards and is in reality approx. 50fps. less than the 2508 fps. advertised velocity for the .308 Berger 210gr. cartridge. If you’re interested in aftermarket ammo check out Doubletap’s 200gr. Accu Bond load for the 30-06 @ 2650fps., which gives you an interbonded bullet that will out penetrate the Berger 210 hollow point accompanied by at least 100 yard advantage in terminal ballistics and effective range. I like and use Bergers Hunter 185gr.VLD bullet @ 2810 fps. in my 30-06 extensively and it is not a hollow point. The prior cartridges that I mentioned earlier are not available in the .308 mainly due to lack of case capacity and performance! A good elk rifle should be able to take large game at at least 300 yards or more and is a genuine arguement for the magnum cartridges at longer distances. In reality you can load any weight bullet into a .308 case, but don’t expect stellar performance from it! I remember when Black Hills tried a .308 220gr. offering that turned out to be a fiasco for performance some years ago. Hornady also, contemplated 220gr round nose for export, but never followed up with it for similar reasons, too! …Good luck and good hunting with your .308!

  • phil

    I agree with the author for the most part. As many comments have stated, the advantage of the 06 is it’s versatility to the handloader especially in terms of big game, heavy bullets, and extended range. Another advantage for the handloader is that brass seems more abundant at the range. A friend of mine goes for joy rides on his motorcycle and to not waste the trips he stops at all the ranges within 100mi of us, he’s filled 5gal buckets with 06 but seldom finds 308(he loads for both). That could be because 308 shooters tend to be higher volume and retrieve them or they use cheap berdan, ’06ers shoot a box of factory and leave them lay.

    If you added up all the 308 & ’06 ammo and bullets sold I think you’d find the 190 and heavier bullets to be a rather small percentage. If you use your ’06 for something that a 308 is inadequate for, perhaps you’d be better served by a 300win mag. Offered in the same platforms, it does everything a little better, costs similar, and factory ammo will do what your specialty ’06 does. So the arguments in favor of ’06 are a rather moot point when you consider the small amount individuals who are trying to decide between the 2 that will actually utilize it in this manner.

    I’ve got 2 ’06 and 3 308’s. The 308’s make it out way more for two reasons, cheaper ammo and more fun. Lately I’ve been buying 308 for between $.40-$.55/rd, where as ’06 is $.75 and up. As the author said 308 comes in a wide variety of platforms. Reliable semiautos with 10-50rd mags, that strip down easily for cleaning, are much nicer to take out regularly. In contrast, ’06 semiauto offerings are few, unreliable, difficult to properly maintain and have expensive low cap mags. In bolt guns it’s a wash, though a 308 can be lighter.