Best 308 Ammo for Hunting & Target Shooting
The .308 Winchester is a do-all round. Whether you intend to hunt big game animals or enter long-range precision shooting competitions, the 308 has you covered.
With that said, the best 308 ammo varies for each application, which is where I can help.
After hunting and target shooting with the 308 many times, I understand the hype regarding this caliber.
Using the correct ammo, I've witnessed it take down deer and elk and accurately make incredibly long shots.
I know you're in a hurry, so I'll shoot you straight and won't waste your time.
The best 308 ammo for deer hunters is Winchester Deer Season XP because it has less recoil but maintains its speed and terminal ballistics.
For elk hunting, I would use Remington Core-Lokt because its higher bullet weight will allow for deep penetration into the large animal.
The best ammo for long-range shooters looking for sub-MOA rounds will be the Nosler Ballistic Tip because the light bullet weight gives less recoil when shooting max distances.
Let's dive deeper into each round and a few honorable mentions.
Best 308 Ammo for Deer Hunting
Winchester Deer Season XP 150-Grain Extreme Point
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: Polymer-Tipped
- Bullet Weight: 150gr
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,820 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 2,648 ft-lbs
- Less kick than heavier bullets
- Excellent terminal performance
- Reasonably priced
- Less than ideal for other big game animals, such as elk and moose
Why We Chose It
The Winchester Deer Season XP 150gr are ideal for whitetail deer hunting because they're fast, reasonably priced, and have less recoil than heavier bullets.
Winchester is the namesake of the 308, which means they should be trusted to make some of the best ammunition for this caliber. However, it's wise to note that Winchester Ammunition and Winchester firearms are separate companies.
The polymer-tipped bullets give hollow point bullets better performance than traditional hollow points.
150-grain bullets are plenty heavy enough to harvest a deer ethically. With the high-ballistic coefficient of 308 bullets in general, you'll be able to take longer shots without worrying about wounding the animal.
Though 308 hunting rounds are not cheap, the Winchester Deer Season 150gr XP comes at an affordable price, so you can use it for hunting hogs in the offseason without breaking the bank.
With a heavier bullet, the Hornady American Whitetail 165-grain InterLock SP will have slightly more kick than the Winchester Deer Season 150gr and lower muzzle velocity.
However, this soft-point bullet has higher muzzle energy, which means it will carry more power to the target.
If you're leary of polymer-tipped bullets, these are the rounds for you because they offer similar ballistics in a soft-point bullet at the same price.
A slightly more expensive option is the Federal Fusion 150-grain 308 hunting bullets. They have an identical bullet velocity and somewhat more energy, but they're the same bullet weight, so you should feel an equal amount of recoil.
These rounds are soft-point bullets which are suitable deer hunting bullets.
The Remington Core-Lokt Tipped 150-grain has better ballistics than the other 308 hunting ammo. The primary downfall it has is the price. It's the most expensive 308 ammo for deer hunting.
For deer hunting, it's not a significant concern, as you shouldn't shoot a box of ammo in a season. However, when you transition to the offseason and still want to use it for hunting hogs or varmints, the price of ammo is more of a concern.
Best .308 Ammo for Elk Hunting
Remington Core-Lokt Tipped 180-grain
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: Polymer-tipped
- Bullet Weight: 180gr
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,640 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 2,785 ft-lbs
- A favorite amongst hunters
- Trusted brand
- Excellent ballistics compared to other hunting rounds.
Why We Chose It
The 180gr Remington Core-Lokt is consistently a favorite for big game hunting, such as elk, black bear, and moose.
The bullet has enough stopping power to ethically harvest large animals without having an unbearable recoil.
Remington is a brand that many hunters and shooters trust because they consistently produce high-quality factory-loaded ammo.
The downside to this ammo is the price. The cost begins to add up quickly if you plan to do a lot of practice and hunt with these rounds.
If the twist rate of your barrel prefers a lighter bullet, you might need to try Hornady Precision Hunter 178-grain ELD-X. The ballistics are not as good as the Remington Core-Lokt; however, they're still within a reasonable range to take down an elk.
The price is the same for both rounds, so it boils down to preference. Hornady is a well-known ammunition brand, so you can trust you'll be buying dependable ammo, no matter what conditions you're hunting.
Though my first preference for big game hunting is generally heavy bullets, the Federal Premium Trophy Bonded Tip 165-grain has more than enough force to make any elk hunt successful.
As expected, these rounds have less muzzle energy but a higher muzzle velocity. The Federal Premium name is a trusted brand but comes at a premium price; these rounds are the most expensive 308 ammo for elk hunting.
Best 308 Ammo for Target Shooting
165-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: Polymer-tipped
- Bullet Weight: 165gr
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 2,871 ft-lbs
- High muzzle energy
- High-quality bullets
Why We Chose It
Shooters recognize Nosler as one of the best bullet and ammunition manufacturers. Their products often set the bar that other brands strive to achieve.
The 165-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip is ideal for long-range target shooting. If you're just getting into competitive shooting, then it's time to start sending these factory-loaded rounds downrange.
As you progress, it'll be easier to switch to handloads, especially if you're using a Nosler Reloading guide.
The fast, high-energy bullets will better maintain a flat trajectory, which is what you need for long-distance shooting.
The worst feature of this ammo is the price, but if you want the best, you'll have to pay for it.
The Sierra MatchKing Competition 168-grain HPBT is another match-grade ammunition, though it doesn't have the ballistic performance of the Nosler 165gr Ballistic Tip ammo.
The Boat Tail (BT) bullets are more aerodynamic than traditional hollow-point bullets, so you'll have increased accuracy during the competition.
These are very expensive, so they're not intended to be plinking ammo unless you've got money to burn.
If you're looking for some ammo that will allow you to enjoy a fun day of shooting at the range, Prvi Partizan 145-grain FMJBT should be your choice.
The lightweight bullets are less than ideal for long-range shooting, but they're fast and don't have as much recoil, plus it's challenging to beat the price.
You won't have to sell an arm and a leg just to buy a few boxes of ammo.
The Black Hills Gold Ammunition 150-grain SST is on the expensive end of the spectrum, but it's much cheaper than Sierra MatchKing. The Black Hills 150gr SST offers less recoil due to the lighter bullet, and the ballistics are better than the Sierra MatchKing 168gr HPBT.
However, it still isn't as ballistically sound as the Nosler 165gr Ballistic Tip.
For the price, it's dang near impossible to beat Sellier & Bellot 150gr SPCE. It's a consistent shooting round at a reasonable price. So you can spend more hours at the range without draining your 401K and get excellent groupings.
How to Choose the Best 308 Rifle Round for Your Situation
Ask five shooters which is the best 308 round, and you'll get back five different answers.
So how are we supposed to know which is the best for us?
I use four factors to help determine the best 308 ammo for my situation. The intended use, barrel twist rate, price, and gun are the four primary factors I use.
Your intent is pretty obvious. Are you going to hunt with it? If so, what do you plan on hunting?
Do you plan to take it to the range and have fun plinking, or will you be competitive shooting? These two scenarios are very different and will need different types of ammunition.
308 hunting rounds vary depending on what you're hunting.
Whitetail deer don't require as large of a bullet as elk or black bear do, so you can purchase a lighter bullet when deer hunting, or if you plan to do a little bit of everything, it might be best to use a bullet in the middle, so you won't constantly have to resight your scope.
Barrel Twist Rate
The twist rate of your barrel works best with specific bullet weights. Typically the heavier the bullet, the less twist is needed.
You can use the data below to estimate what grain bullet will be most accurate with your barrel twist.
- 1:15 twist: up to 150gr
- 1:14 twist: 150gr – 168gr
- 1:12 twist: 168gr – 170gr
- 1:10 twist: 170gr – 220gr
- 1:8 twist: 220gr +
As you can see, heavier bullets need less twist to maintain accuracy, while lighter bullets need more twist to stay on track.
Your rifle should be marked with the barrel twist rate. If not, it's not difficult to find out the twist of your barrel.
We must keep cost in mind; unless you're a billionaire, the price of ammo won't matter much to you.
I tend to push the boundaries a little because I want high-quality ammo. I tend to use ammo on the upper end of my budget because that's what I've consistently gotten the best results from when shooting and hunting.
The one exception is when I'm target shooting for fun. I'll buy the cheap ammo to spend more time pulling the trigger and less worrying about how I will pay for it.
On top of your barrel twist rate needing to be considered, you'll also have to test out different brands and loads with your specific rifle.
You'll find you're more comfortable shooting specific brands, and your gun will cycle certain brands and bullet types better than others.
This typically takes time to dabble with several different brands, bullet weights, and bullet types before you find the perfect 308 ammo for your situation.
Which means you could end up spending more money than you want to pay. So keep reading to learn how to save money on ammo.
How to Save Money on .308 Winchester Ammo
Whether searching for the best 223 ammo or looking to stock up on handgun ammo, there are a few ways to save money.
Buy In Bulk
Manufacturers are willing to offer steep discounts when you buy bulk 308 ammo. You can often get $0.05 or more off per round when you buy in bulk.
This might not sound like much, but when you buy 1,000 rounds, you could save $50, which could go towards more ammo.
Typically the more rounds you purchase at once, the better the discount you receive. So if you buy 100 rounds, you won't get as good of a bargain as you would if you purchased 1,000.
The biggest drawback to buying in bulk is having the money upfront.
Reloading is the best way to get the highest-quality rounds at the lowest price. Handloading allows you to control all the controllable variables, which means you can craft the perfect round for your rifle.
Reloading is also fun if you like to experiment and dabble with things constantly. Plus, it's an excellent way to teach kids about firearms safely.
However, it is expensive to begin reloading because you have to buy all the equipment and supplies, but if you're a serious shooter, it's worth it.
Combine the Two
Buying in bulk and reloading the spent brass is the best way to compound your savings on ammo.
This has a significant upfront investment but will pay for itself over time.
Common 308 Bullet Types
Seeing all the different bullet types is confusing as a new shooter, but don't worry, I'll walk you through them here, so you know which one will work best for you.
Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) bullets are a lead core surrounded by a more rigid metal (typically copper) to hold its shape once it's fired.
These are generally the least expensive bullets, but they're not suitable for hunting or self-defense because they cause less damage than a soft-point or hollow-point bullet. They're also prone to overpenetration.
I recommend FMJ bullets for plinking.
Hollow-Point (HP) bullets are concave at the bullet's tip and cause the bullet to mushroom, which inflicts more damage to the target.
They're great for self-defense and hunting in states that allow HP bullets for hunting.
You'll also see HPBT, which means hollow-point boat tail. The boat tail adds to the aerodynamics of the bullet, making it even more accurate.
Soft-Point bullets expose the lead at the tip of the bullet, which allows it to deform and cause more damage on impact.
They're generally the cheapest hunting rounds you'll find and work well like Winchester Power Point bullets, though they're not as good as HP or polymer-tipped bullets.
You'll likely find PSP bullets which are pointed soft-point bullets. The pointed tip gives shooters a flatter trajectory at long ranges compared to the traditional soft-point. However, that flatter trajectory means they're more expensive.
Another variation is the SPCE or Soft-Point Cutting Edge bullet. It is essentially a modified semi-jacketed bullet designed to expand in a controlled fashion. This bullet doesn't wholly lock the lead core, unlike standard soft points or hollow points, where the core is often bonded with the casing.
Polymer-tipped bullets are hollow-point bullets with a plastic tip that aids aerodynamics but don't harm the bullet's expansion.
These bullets are primarily used for hunting but can also make good long-range rounds, as with the Nosler Ballistic Tip.
Common 308 Uses
The 308 is a versatile caliber that offers its users excellent ballistics no matter the situation. It's the most popular round because so many people own at least one firearm chambered in a .308 Winchester.
This also means ammo is readily available just about anywhere you look, including Ammo.com! After shooting the 308, you'll see why so many others love this caliber.
Unlike a 5.56 NATO, which is only good for hunting varmints and small game, the 308 can take out a moose just as easily as it can take out a varmint.
Its wide hunting applications add to its popularity. If you plan to take long shots or hunt big game, the 308 should be at the top of your list.
This centerfire cartridge is a leader in long-range shooting. Many professional shooters still opt for the 308 despite all the hype surrounding the 6.5 Creedmoor.
It's a flat shooting round, and if competitive shooting isn't your thing, you can find reasonably priced ammo to use for plinking at the range.
Military & Law Enforcement
The military and law enforcement agencies use the 308 for the same reasons hunters have used it for decades. It's one of the best bolt-action rifle rounds available, and it's simple to train on without busting the budget.
It's now clear why the best 308 ammo depends on your situation because there are various applications and types of ammo.
These are my recommendations, but to truly know which is best for you, you'll have to purchase a few boxes and begin experimenting.
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