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308 Winchester long range performance

20 Dec 2016
@ 04:51 pm (GMT)

Etienne De Beer

Hi Guys
I would appreciate some advice please. I would like to take my 308 Howa (24" barrel with 1 in 10 twist) as far as possible, shooting steel targets, not hunting. At the moment I'm shooting 155gr Lapua Scenar as well as 175gr Sierra MatchKing with a jump of 0.5mm at about 2750 and 2500 fps respectively. At 1500m hits become very unpredictable, especially in the wind. Apparently, with a 1:10 twist I would be doing better with a bullet 1,423" in length. After looking at the big manufacturers it seems that the following projectiles would suit my application better:

Berger 185gr Target Hybrid 1,435" and BC of 0.576
Hornady 178gr ELD-X 1,420" and BC of 0.552
Sierra 175gr Tipped MatchKing 1,384" and BC of 0.545
Swift 180gr Scirocco Boat Tail Spitzer 1,435" and BC of 0.520

I realise that 1500m is pushing it with a 308 but would like to go as far as I can with it. Any suggestions?

Much appreciated.


20 Dec 2016
@ 07:26 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
Hi Etienne, this is a tough call because we tend to lose some accuracy during the transition from super to sub sonic regardless of how hard we try to avoid it. A slightly high ES will also ruin your day. A slight gust will knock your .308 regardless of what you try. I would suggest that the Scirocco will for example, pose the risk of a high ES due to its design and construction.

In my rifle, I can run a 200gr ELD-X just inside 2500fps with its short barrel. ES is about 4 or 6fps from memory. Yours may be able to do the same or better with its longer barrel, It may also shoot the 208gr ELD-M and may do even better with a Lapua small primer pocket case.

Otherwise, it is what it is- a long way using a low power (relatively speaking) cartridge. Try to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. Work up your loads and chase a low ES. Once you are done, shoot and be content to walk in your shots while being accepting of misses. I have a correspondent who does the same but with a .50-120 and mortar like sight settings.
21 Dec 2016
@ 06:31 am (GMT)

Etienne De Beer

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
Thanks very much for your reply Nathan.

Speed and BC seems to be the two major factors as far as long distance shooting is concerned but obviously you can't have both in a 308 Win. At what point does the higher BC become unrealistic due to the lack of speed? I would prefer not to test all the projectiles available in .308. One thought seems that heavier bullets will be less affected by wind whereas other people say that the lighter projectiles with less "sail effect" and more speed would be less affected. I'm quite sure that this question must have been asked many, many times but just can't seem to find conclusive evidence about it.

I have other calibers that are a lot more suitable to these distances but he 308 has turned into a bit of a challenge!
21 Dec 2016
@ 06:40 am (GMT)

Bob Mavin

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
I'm using 168 Z-Max in my 308 @ 2740 fps great kill results on Fallow & Pigs out to 500m so far.
21 Dec 2016
@ 10:20 am (GMT)

Etienne De Beer

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
I'm using 168 Z-Max in my 308 @ 2740 fps great kill results on Fallow & Pigs out to 500m so far.

Thanks Bob! Any idea what it does further out?
21 Dec 2016
@ 11:14 am (GMT)

Bob Mavin

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
Not yet. But 3" group at 500
28 Dec 2016
@ 06:06 pm (GMT)

Etienne De Beer

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
Hi Nathan
I bought your book on reloading and am about half way through it. Just a quick question. You mention that the Lee collet dies rely on firm contact with the case holder to work properly. Does the same apply when using a Forster press?
29 Dec 2016
@ 01:53 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
Yes. if you get the die the instructions will also assist you, and I think the Co-Ax press will do a great job with it.
29 Dec 2017
@ 10:01 pm (GMT)

Z Cameron

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
I have had great results with the fairly new sierra tipped match king 168grain bullets. my rifle is an off the shelf tikka t3 stainless with a standard Mc Millan hunting stock and a Night force 4-16x40 ACTACR.
They are made to stay supersonic past 1000 Yrds. I use 2208 and am getting around 2750fps.
They don't seem to mind seating to mag length in a tikka magazine. Have tried a few others but don't come anywhere near these bullets. Maybe my rifle just likes them but definitely worth trying for long distance in a 308 from my experience. Just thought id mention now that these are out.
30 Dec 2017
@ 07:14 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
Yes, the TMK is definitely a good bullet. My research into this bullet can be found in this latest edition of the Cartridges book.
07 Jan 2018
@ 03:59 am (GMT)

Kenneth Kephart

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
While ES is important, i do go more by my SD.
In my 7mm-08AI i get 2,916 fps with RL17, ES of 35, SD of 17.
With Power Pro 2000 i'm getting 2,836 fps with ES of 7, SD of 2.

For shooting out towards your 1500m, you may want to try the 155gr Palma bullets. Light enough to get your MV up, with decent BC.
12 Jan 2018
@ 11:22 am (GMT)

308 FTR

Re: 308 Winchester long range performance
You are really pushing it on this one. Basically your configuration is a challenge to push out that far even for high BC for caliber bullets.

For your configuration you are possibly best looking at the 200 grn bullets. The Berger 200.20x offers a very good BC and can be pointed to squeeze a little more BC out of it. It doesn't have an overly long bearing surface which will hep a little with pressure, but you still need the long free bore (around .168) to keep the bearing surface out of the neck/shoulder junction of the case.

Running that configuration at 2500 would keep you competitive at 1000 but very dubious past that. If your quite high above sea level you might get a little more. Recoil management is another matter.
As a relative number, serious competitors are running 200 class bullets up to 1000 yards anywhere from low 2600s - low 2700s with the later being very hard on brass and few are running that high.

Most competitors running heavy bullets in .308 are running small rifle primer brass to get brass life with heavy .308 bullets. This is due to needing to push pressures up with heavy (185 grn +) bullets in .308.

Some food for thought and good luck.


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