Best Whitetail Deer Hunting Magazine in 2023
Deer and Deer Hunting Magazine
Dawn of American Deer Hunting: A Photographic Odyssey of Whitetail Hunting History
North American Whitetail
Big Bucks the Benoit Way: Secrets from America's First Family of Whitetail Hunting
Deer Hunting for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started Hunting Deer: Tactics and Strategies for Tracking and Bagging Deer in North America (Happier Outdoors)
Shots at Whitetails: A Deer Hunting Classic (Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine Classics Series)
Bowhunting Tactics That Deliver Trophies: A Guide to Finding and Taking Monster Whitetail Bucks
Fun & Game Wardens: A Collection of Warden and Wildlife Magazine Articles
Hunting Trophy Deer: The Best of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine
Deer Hunting with the 308 Winchester
Article looks at .308 Winchester for whitetail and mule deer hunting.
The .308 Winchester packs a lot of punch into that short action cartridge. Compared side by side with either the 30-06 or the .270 Winchester, the .308 holds its own. Using ballistics charts from Remington.com with their fine Core-Lokt bullet in 150 grain in the .308 and 30-06 and 130 grain in the .270, here are some numbers. Each of the three carries 1000 foot pounds of energy past 400 yards. At the same 400 yards, with a 200 yard zero, the .270 Winchester shows bullet drop of 20.9 inches, the 30-06 shows a bullet drop of 24.4 inches, and the .308 Winchester shows a bullet drop of 26.2 inches. With just over 5 inches of difference at a range that most deer hunters will never shoot (and probably shouldn't) the .308 shows that it can hang with the big two at long range.
Far more important in my eyes than bullet drop and even energy (within reason) is accuracy. The inherit accuracy of the .308 Winchester is not in question as many bench rest competitors can attest. For most deer hunters, and especially beginner deer hunters, recoil is the biggest deterrent to accuracy. While rifle selection is a big component in felt recoil, factory loaded or hand loaded reduced recoil ammunition can fix this problem with any popular cartridge. The recoil charts show the 308 Winchester with lower recoil velocity and energy than the .270 or 30-06, but the difference between the .308 and .270 is slim. In theory, the lighter short action rifles of the .308 should produce more felt recoil than a heavier long action rifle but I have never noticed a difference. A deer hunter who practices with their rifle in any reasonable chambering should be able to learn to cope with the recoil.
With a wide range of bullet selection to choose from and good availability of ammunition, the .308 is a perfectly fine choice for a deer hunting caliber. Chambered in a short action rifle that saves a little in length and weight, the .308 Winchester is a great performer in both the deer fields and the deer woods.