The .308 Winchester, also known as the 7.62x51mm NATO in its military designation, is a versatile and widely popular centerfire rifle cartridge introduced in 1952 by Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Though these cartridges are often considered interchangeable, you should understand the differences between the .308 and 7.62x51mm before shooting. Developed as a shorter, more efficient alternative to the .30-06 Springfield, the .308 Win quickly gained acceptance among civilian shooters and hunters for its excellent long-range capabilities, effective terminal performance, and manageable recoil. The cartridge was later adopted by NATO as the standard rifle cartridge for member countries, further solidifying its place as a mainstay in the shooting world.
The .308 Winchester features a rimless, bottlenecked case and utilizes a .308-inch (7.62mm) diameter bullet. The cartridge typically employs bullet weights ranging from 110 to 180 grains, with muzzle velocities between 2,600 and 3,000 feet per second, depending on the specific load and bullet weight. This combination of power and velocity allows the .308 Win to deliver consistent performance across a wide range of applications, from hunting to target shooting and tactical scenarios.
One of the key advantages of the .308 Win / 7.62x51mm is its high ballistic coefficient and sectional density, which contribute to a flat trajectory, excellent wind resistance, and deep penetration capabilities. These characteristics make the cartridge highly effective for taking down a wide variety of game, from deer and antelope to elk and black bear, at distances up to and beyond 800 yards.
In addition to its hunting applications, the .308 Winchester has gained recognition among long-range shooting enthusiasts, as well as military and law enforcement snipers, for its inherent accuracy and consistent performance. The cartridge’s performance can be further optimized with the use of modern, high-quality bullets and propellants.
Factory-loaded ammunition for the .308 Win / 7.62x51mm is widely available from numerous manufacturers, offering a variety of bullet types and weights to suit different hunting, target shooting, and tactical applications. Additionally, handloaders can find an extensive selection of .308 caliber bullets, brass, and reloading data to customize their ammunition according to their specific needs and preferences.
In conclusion, the .308 Winchester / 7.62x51mm is a versatile, accurate, and powerful cartridge that offers hunters, long-range shooters, and tactical professionals a reliable and effective option for various applications. Its impressive ballistics, flat trajectory, and effective terminal performance make it well-suited for a wide range of game and shooting scenarios, earning it a place among the most popular and respected cartridges in the world.