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Forum Index > Rifles general discussion > A Question Regarding .308 Win. and Whitetails

A Question Regarding .308 Win. and Whitetails

25 Oct 2017
@ 03:38 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Hello everyone,

I have been trying to make a decision on one type of ammo to use for deer hunting. Ranges in yards are as close as 20, a max of 120, and an average of 75.This is going to be factory loads only for now. The rifle has a 20" barrel. The top contender is the Winchester Super-X 180s, the performance noted in the knowledge base and elsewhere seems like what I'm looking for, they're cheap, and widely available. Another consideration is Hornady Superformance 165 grain SST's, though they cost about 50% more here. Cost isn't really a big factor, just something worth noting.

What I'm wondering is if you think that the Winchester rounds mentioned will be a good choice from th 20" barrel, and if you guys have any other recommendations for a round that performs approximately as follows:

Full penetration at heavy quartering angles on deer that weigh (live) from 150lbs. to 200lbs, and as much internal damage as possible.


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06 Nov 2017
@ 12:35 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: A Question Regarding .308 Win. and Whitetails
RYAN Asked:
Is it possible to anneal the bullet while it's in a loaded case, and would that have any significant effect on terminal performance? I realize that nobody is going to recommend that I do that for safety and liability reasons, but hypothetically I think it could be done.

Bryan says
If you want to lose your eyesight or some fingers you could try it but I would never do so. Some aspects of reloading are not something to fool with. If you expect answers to your questions please use some judgement if you actually do know better than to do this like you said.

Ryan also asked:
- This is a general question that isn't specific to this ammo. On a quartering away shot, does the longer path that the bullet takes to reach vitals make up somewhat for an animal that might be too light or lean for a given bullet?

On a whitetailed deer that you asked about this will hardly matter. Your angle must still reach where it is supposed to go in order to effect a killing shot.
22 Nov 2017
@ 09:57 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: A Question Regarding .308 Win. and Whitetails
I managed to take a medium-sized buck on Sunday morning. I didn't get a chance to weigh the animal, however, based on previous animals weighed and the size of this one, I'd say he was 190 pounds or so on the hoof, give or take 5 pounds.

Shot placement was midway up the chest, in line with the front edge of the front leg. Shot was about 90 yards, he was uphill by about 5-8 degrees and slightly quartering away from me. The shot broke both shoulders, however, the damage was done mainly to the legs, muscles, and arteries. Wounding to the vital organs was minimal as the shot placement was perhaps an inch or two further forward than what would have been optimal. This is due mainly to the uphill and quartering angle. He died in about 30 seconds, blood loss due to damage to the legs combined with struggling to move without the use of the front legs. Entry wound was caliber size and exit wound was about 5/8". Based on the visible damage with the hide removed, it does look like there was pretty heavy damage done to the legs, and I'm pretty sure the bullet passed through the ball joint on its way out.

I took several fairly clear pictures of the entry and exit wounds both with and without the hide, and will take more throughout the butchering process later in the week after the carcass ages for several days. I'm still planning on taking one or possibly two more deer, and I will post pictures of everything after the season and butchering is done.

I'll be as detailed in the descriptions as I can be without making claims that I can't really support.
28 Nov 2017
@ 04:48 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: A Question Regarding .308 Win. and Whitetails
The regular gun season for whitetail deer is over, however, there is an antlerless season in two weeks. I'm going to be hunting that, I'm pretty confident I'll get an opportunity to kill at least one doe. Being that these deer are generally a lot lighter than the bucks, usually between about 130lbs and 180lbs, I'm going to re-zero the rifle for a lightweight frangible bullet like Winchester Deer Season XP 150's or something similar in construction and SD. I'll use a rear lung shot to conserve meat. I'll let you guys know what I end up using and be sure to take pictures during the autopsy.

As an aside to the above, I think the answer to the question of what to use on deer that weigh as little as 130lbs or as much as 250lbs is a heavy and soft bullet. Using the forwards chest shot placement on big trophy deer that I don't want to lose, and rear lung shots on meat animals. As long as the bullet is either heavy or tough enough to break through both shoulders like the round nose Remington 180's did but still gives relatively broad wounding on rear lung shots, it should do nicely for me.
01 Dec 2017
@ 04:17 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: A Question Regarding .308 Win. and Whitetails
The ammo I decided to try for the doe-only season is the Superformance SST 165 grain. I'll use my normal rear lung shot and see what happens.

If this kills the relatively light deer quickly using that shot placement, I will be impressed.

I was very close to buying a box of the Hornady Precision Hunter 178 grain ELD-X, but the SST Superformance in the 165 grain weight just seems so close to ideal. I'm actually kinda shocked that I can get around 2800 fps with a bullet this heavy from a 20" .308 Winchester. The ELD-X was a much longer bullet, so I was a bit skeptical of potential accuracy, and it was also doing about 2500 fps, significantly lower than the SST Superformance.

Assuming that I get good accuracy with these, which I think is a safe assumption, I will probably use this factory load as the benchmark for comparison of the hand loads I make in the future. Both as a standard for velocity with that weight bullet, and the terminal performance of that size SST.
04 Dec 2017
@ 02:31 pm (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: A Question Regarding .308 Win. and Whitetails
I re-zeroed the rifle earlier today for the Superformance 165gr SSTs. Windage was the same, but they were landing about 2.5 MOA higher at the 75 yard range I was shooting. Adjusted the scope dial and everything is right on once again. I'm fairly confident I'll see something next weekend to shoot, and there is also another week long doe season after Christmas as well. If I still have a tag, I'll do that hunt too. I'm going to use a rear lung shot with the SSTs and see what happens.
05 Jul 2018
@ 06:02 am (GMT)

Ryan Nafe

Re: A Question Regarding .308 Win. and Whitetails
I ended up losing the handful of pictures I took of the damage done by the Remington ammo. But I did manage to chronograph the two rounds a little while ago and thought I’d share the results:

Remington Core-Lokt 180 grain round nose: 2,460 FPS Average, EX of 26 FPS, and SD of 10 FPS.

Hornady Superformance 165 grain SST: 2,738 FPS Average, EX of 16 FPS, and SD of 6 FPS.

In light of the above results, I’ve decided to use that Hornady ammo as the single choice for that rifle and species. Its going to be very difficult for me to beat that performance with handloads, so I’ve begun to stock up on that Superformance stuff in the interest of consistency and simplicity.
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