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My first season with the sako 123gr .308

18 Mar 2018
@ 01:54 pm (GMT)


Hi all, this is my first post here as I have just found this site. I am 22 and have been a keen stalker/rifle shot here in the uk since a young age. I have just completed my first serious season deer culling and as I have always been a bit anal when it comes to my shooting I have been recording my results. Around 150 of the deer that I have shot over the last few months have been shot with sako 123gr out of my semi custom bergara .308 win. I am confined to factory ammo (rules of the company that I work for) although I have home loads and different calibers that I use on occasions that I expect shots past 300m. Of the 150 deer they have been evenly split between muntjac (size of a spaniel dog) , roe, fallow, sika and red. Here are some of my findings with these bullets.
They are accurate in my rifle, shooting sub .5moa. They are advertised as having a velocity of 3018fps, in my rifle they adverage 3008fps with an ES of 20fps, not amazing but pretty good and I feel like their advertised velocity is a true to life reprosentation and isn’t designed to be deceptive.
They perform brilliantly on game sub 200m. They have adequate penetration to shoot straight through big reds yet they also open up fast and create wide fast killing wound channels on small roe and muntjac. Some people I know struggle with finding a .308 bulletin that will deal with both small roe and big reds.
They are cheap enough and common enough in the uk to be viable for high volume culling. Some of the more premium options are not.
Now the down side, they are a light low bc bullet. At the 200m mark their performance on game goes from fantastic to good, at 250m it goes from good to okay and at 300m it goes from okay to poor. I shot 3 deer past 300m with these bullets (past 300m I normally switch to 168gr amax home loads). Two were roe at about 320m that both ran 15 yards then fell over dead, however this was due to good shot placement and upon inspection the bullet had pretty much just pencilled through, if the shot placement was slightly off I have no doubt that they would have ran large distances. The 3rd deer was a fallow doe at 330m which took 10 steps then flopped over. The bullet expanded better on her and destroyed large amounts of lung which I put down to her offering more resistance to the bullet than the roe. I do like these bullets but I would definitely place a limit of 300m for effective performance on game. Will I switch to a heavier bullet? Probably, but for the shooting that I use my .308 for they offer good reliable performance and I am lucky to have a larger rifle for shots in more open areas. I hope this has been of some use to somebody and I think it shows the importance of having enough bullet weight at longer ranges.


22 Mar 2018
@ 04:26 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: My first season with the sako 123gr .308
For culling like you are doing, I personally would buy Harnady .308 ammo in 168 grain A-Max. I think that you would find they will do the job from close out to 700 yards or so.
23 Mar 2018
@ 11:41 am (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: My first season with the sako 123gr .308
HI Connor and welcome to the forum
very interesting read, seems like it's balancing act of availability, affordability and varied game weights.
Sounds like you have found combo that works as long as velocity is kept high, it's probably a similar story you'll here from your fellow countrymen that use 243's.
24 Mar 2018
@ 11:54 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: My first season with the sako 123gr .308
sounds to me like you have got things sussed pretty well and know how to place your shots to make it count......
looking at size of the animals you are "culling" the 130grn speer hp springs to mind straight away for me. I wouldnt shoulder shoot a big red with one but happily poke one in crease or neck if closer in. they MIGHT have advantage of transphering more energy into body and less into countryside beyond,eg go less distance after passing through,if they exit at all, they work simply awesome on feral goat,wallaby,fallow and sika....knick named handgranades by many who use them,they also have a following amoung professional chopper shooters who head /neck shot as a rule...makes sense if you think about it for them,less recoil and more expansion being bonus when shot isnt quite on the money.
you should be able to find them in factory load somewhere.also to "bend" company rules you could find firm that does bulk reloading to order like Belmont does over here...its factory assembled but you can get it to your specs.
25 Mar 2018
@ 08:32 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: My first season with the sako 123gr .308
Good observations Connor.

As you can imagine, had you been using a much tougher bullet of homogenous construction rather than a jacketed projectile designed to shed weight, results would be worse out long. As you say increasing weight without interfering strength of construction is the key. Bryan offered a very good solution offering both increased weight and also increased downrange velocity retention.
31 Mar 2018
@ 09:00 am (GMT)

Connor Huntbach

Re: My first season with the sako 123gr .308
Cheers for the reply’s. It isn’t an issue me using my 168gr home loads in situations that I need them as long as I’m getting through good numbers of factory ammo at the same time so that no one notices. I’m also thinking of trading in my 6.5x284 for a .300wm for longer shots as it is impossible to get 6.5x284 factory ammo over here (the only time that I have ever seen factory ammo for the 6.5x284 was in a shop in Christchurch on when I came over to shoot tahr). I can then run the .300 on homeloads as well as long as I put a few factory through it too. On a separate note over here if you shoot deer over 300 yards you would get lynched if the wider stalking community! Those of us who do tend to keep it to ourselves for fear of being branded as being reckles and inhumain! I’m really jealous of you guys in different countries, the shooting community really is a joke here in the U.K.!


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