308 Effective Range For Civilian Use

The .308 Winchester reigns supreme in the world of precision shooting, especially among sniper and counter-sniper roles. It's the go-to round for many standard-issue rifles, overshadowing other calibers with its versatility and effectiveness. 

On paper, a standard 308 bullet can reach up to 1000 meters at sea level. Meanwhile there are advanced 308 bullet designs featuring better aerodynamic stability for longer distance shots. It's important to note that not every .308 rifle will achieve sub-MOA accuracy.

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The .308 Winchester, commonly loaded with bullets weighing between 150 and 180 grains, achieves muzzle velocities ranging from 2,500 to 2,800 feet per second. This variance depends on factors such as bullet weight and the length of the rifle barrel.


Even considering a rifle with a 1.5 MOA accuracy, which translates to a 7.5-inch group at 500 yards, this level of precision is more than adequate for effectively targeting the vital zones of most big game species. This level of accuracy, combined with the .308 Winchester's ballistic capabilities, makes it a reliable choice for hunters aiming at long-range targets.

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Federal's 150-grain Trophy Copper .308 Winchester bullet maintains this speed up to 600 yards. While some shooters prefer the 270 Winchester for additional range. The .308 Winchester is heavier for hunting and knocking down targets.

When it comes to "shootability," which encompasses both the availability and the recoil comfort of a cartridge, both the .308 Winchester and the .270 Winchester stand out for their merits. High-quality hunting ammunition for both cartridges is generally available at comparable prices and in similar availability, notwithstanding occasional market shortages.

The least expensive .270 Winchester ammunition tends to cost around $1 per round, whereas .308 Winchester rounds can be found for as little as 60 to 75 cents, especially when purchased in bulk.

7.62 NATO Bullet Velocity VS Barrel Length Chart

The .308 Winchester cartridge, initially introduced as the T65E5 military loading, showcased its efficiency by propelling a 147-grain bullet at a velocity of 2,750 feet per second.

The velocity achievable with commercial ammunition and handloads can surpass the original military specifications, albeit with some constraints due to the .308's smaller case capacity when compared to long-action cartridges like the .270 Winchester and .30-06.

High-quality 168-grain match ammunition from manufacturers like Hornady, Black Hills, and PMC typically offers muzzle velocities in the range of 2,650 to 2,700 feet per second from a 24-inch barrel. 

To Achieve Higher 308 Bullet Velocity

For those seeking higher velocities, opting for lighter bullets is a viable strategy. Although commercial .308 loads with lighter bullets are less common, there are still options available, like Cor-Bon's 125-grain JHP boasting a velocity of 3,100 feet per second, and Underwood's 110-grain Hornady V-Max load reaching 3,200 feet per second. Handloading offers the potential to achieve even higher velocities, but practical limits with standard bullet weights usually cap the .308 Winchester's velocity around 2,750 feet per second.

308 Bullet Drop Performance Based On Bullet Weight

When considering the bullet drop characteristics of the .308 Winchester, it's evident that the cartridge's heavier bullets maintain energy effectively over long distances. However, the .308 experiences more significant bullet drop compared to long-action cartridges, impacting its suitability for long-range applications.

Here are some general ideas on where the 308 stands in terms of ballistic performance

Federal American Eagle 150 gr FMJ

Federal American Eagle 150gr FMJ Ballistics Chart
Range (yards) Muzzle Velocity Muzzle Energy Trajectory
0 2,820 fps 2,648 ft-lbs -1.5"
100 2,597 fps 2,246 ft-lbs 1.8"
200 2,385 fps 1,894 ft-lbs 0"
300 2,183 fps 1,586 ft-lbs -8"
400 1,990 fps 1,319 ft-lbs -23.3"
500 1,808 fps 1,089 ft-lbs -47.2"

Federal 165 gr FSP

Federal Fusion 165gr FSP Ballistics Chart
Range (yards) Muzzle Velocity Muzzle Energy Trajectory
0 2,700 fps 2,671 ft-lbs -1.5"
100 2,501 fps 2,291 ft-lbs 2"
200 2,310 fps 1,955 ft-lbs 0"
300 2,128 fps 1,660 ft-lbs -8.6"
400 1,954 fps 1,399 ft-lbs -24.8"
500 1,789 fps 1,173 ft-lbs -50.1"

Federal Gold Medal 168 gr

Federal Gold Medal 168gr CenterStrike OTM Ballistics Chart
Range (yards) Muzzle Velocity Muzzle Energy Trajectory
0 2,650 fps 2,619 ft-lbs -1.5"
100 2,455 fps 2,248 ft-lbs 2.1"
200 2,268 fps 1,918 ft-lbs 0"
300 2,089 fps 1,628 ft-lbs -9"
400 1,918 fps 1,373 ft-lbs -25.7"
500 1,758 fps 1,152 ft-lbs -52.1"
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