The .308 bolt action rifle has been a favorite of hunters for over 50 years because of its reliability. It gets its name from the ammunition which has a diameter of .308 inches.
One reason these rifles are so popular is because it is legal to hunt most North American game with this ammunition.
In the past, the .308 was also used by snipers in the military because of its accuracy.
History of the .308
The design of the .308 was largely influenced by the .30-06. This caliber was chambered in the American sniper rifle of the First World War, the Springfield Bolt Action Rifle. The popular American M1 Grand of World War 2 also used these rounds, but in 1952 the .308 round was introduced.
It was designed to offer the same great performance of the .30-06, but with modern propellants in a shorter case. A shorter case was a necessity because the biggest issue with the M1 Grand was its limited magazine size of only eight. Shorter cases would allow for smaller ammunition and more rounds per magazine.
Other countries began to outshine the M1 Grand because they had machine guns with many more rounds available per magazine. The introduction of the .308 was supposed to allow the same high-quality bullets to fit into a larger magazine by reducing the actual size of the case.
The United States designed this bullet to work with machine guns which required much larger ammo capacities to be effective. The M60 originally chambered this ammunition and were used in the military starting in the late 1950s.
The M14 also originally used .308 rounds and saw use beginning with the Vietnam War. It was later replaced because it was a heavy and stocky weapon, with the M16.
The Army converted thousands of M14s into M21 sniper rifles. These remained the standard issue semi-auto sniper rifle in the army until 1988. The Marines adopted a version of the M14 to serve as their semi-auto sniper.
Most modern snipers will use calibers such as the .300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Magnum, and .50 BMG. These three calibers are much more useful for long-range scenarios as there is less bullet drop than the .308.
When to Use a .308 Caliber Weapon
Despite the .308 caliber’s decline in military use, it has increased in popularity inside the civilian market. Hunters in the United States and around the world use and favor this ammunition. Hunters tend to use .308 bolt action rifles instead of the semi-automatic ones that the military focus on; however, the .308 is used in some of the best semi-automatic hunting rifles such as the Remington 750 or the Browning Shorttrac Bar.
The .308 is a powerful bullet, but it has a slower firing speed than other popular hunting rounds. This slow speed means that .308 rounds are most effective up to 300 yards.
.308 ammunition can be used to hunt almost every animal large, medium, or small. It is used to hunt deer, elk, antelope, hogs, and black bears.
When hunting dangerous or predatory animals using .308 rounds, be careful if shooting from a long distance. The shot from a long distance may not be fatal, and the animal could be aggravated and become more dangerous. Stick to shooting targets within 300 yards to have the most consistency.
The .308 is recognized as a reliable type of ammunition for hunting. The .308 has survived for over 60 years, and it will continue to thrive as the ammo design does not have many flaws. Hunters will continue to load their rifles with this ammunition as long as it is reliable.