.308 Winchester: How To Pick The Right Bullet Weight

308 Grain Weights and Ballistics
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.308 Winchester: How To Pick The Right Bullet Weight

A guide to the 147-, 150-, 165-, 168-, and 175-grain bullets offered in .308 Win.

Few cartridges can claim the number of commercial ammunition offerings like the .308 Winchester, also known as 7.62x51mm NATO.

Renowned for its versatility and effectiveness across various shooting applications, .308 Win bullet weights can vary from 110 to 185 grains, with the most relevant loads between 147 and 175 grains.

With so many grain weight options available, our ammunition experts have selected the five most popular variations, their ballistics, and their velocity so you can pick the bullet weight that best fits your needs.

147-grain FMJ .308 Ammo

.308 Winchester ammunition loaded with 147-grain bullets is meant for blasting at the range. The 147-grain bullet wears a full metal jacket (FMJ) and was originally designed for use in belt-fed machine guns.

It is mass-produced in the world’s largest ammunition factories and gets shipped all over the world.

Ammunition loaded with 147-grain FMJ bullets can come from Eastern Europe (Igman), Korea (PMC), or the United States (Lake City). All of those factories make high-quality ammunition, so blast with confidence.

Bullet Caliber:  308 Win
Bullet Name:  USA Winchester 308 FMJ
Bullet Weight:  147gr
Bullet Coefficient:  0.417
Inital Velocity:  2,800

Shop all 380 147gr Ammunition 

150-grain .308 Win Ammo

The next common bullet weight is 150 grains, these are usually found with either an exposed lead soft point (SP), a monolithic copper hollow points, or wearing a polymer-tip.

In all cases, these are hunting bullets ideally suited for medium-sized game like hogs and deer. 150 grains is relatively light for a .308 Winchester, so muzzle velocity will be high for the cartridge, usually around 2800 fps.

High muzzle velocity leads to rapid expansion on impact and rapid expansion is a great idea on not-huge critters. When hunting hogs and deer, 150-grain bullets work great anywhere in the vitals.

Bullet Caliber:  308 Win
Bullet Name:  Federal Hi-Shok Soft Point
Bullet Weight:  150gr
Bullet Coefficient:  0.315
Inital Velocity:  2,820

Purchase 308 Win 150gr Federal Hi-Shok Soft Point 

165- grain and 168-grain 308 Win Ammo

Hitting the 165- to 168-grain bullet weight is where ammunition selection gets more complicated. Some 168-grain bullets are labeled “Match” and can have either small open tips on an all-copper jacket or a polymer tip.

In both cases, these bullets have thin copper jackets surrounding a soft lead core. The jacket is kept thin to ensure bullet uniformity for maximum accuracy.

These loads are great choices for shooting groups on paper or ringing steel at whatever distance you feel like shooting. Muzzle velocity for these rounds (out of a 24-inch barrel) usually sits right around 2725 fps.

There are also lots of hunting bullets in the 165- to 168-grain range. Nosler makes an excellent 165-grain Accubond load that is fantastic for deer and elk.

This bullet is light enough to have great velocity, has a polymer tip for rapid expansion, and has a bonded jacket to ensure the bullet stays together, even if it hits heavy bone like those found in the shoulder.

If a bonded projectile doesn’t sound robust enough, Barnes makes a fabulous 168-grain solid copper expanding bullet that is available with and without a polymer tip.

Get the polymer tip if you want the fastest expansion possible. What makes these solid copper expanding bullets special is their toughness when passing through heavy bones and the fantastic penetration they offer through the vitals.

Hitting an elk on the shoulder is a great way to ensure the animal doesn’t run off, but bullets that aren’t robust enough can come apart on impact and then fail to get to the vitals. This is a horrible scenario.

Solid copper bullets also penetrate extremely well, so quartering shots on large animals represent and ideal situation for solid copper bullets.

Bullet Caliber:  308 Win
Bullet Name:  Federal Trophy Bonded Tip
Bullet Weight:  165gr
Bullet Coefficient:  0.453
Inital Velocity:  2,700

Shop all 308 Win 165gr Ammunition 

Bullet Caliber:  308 Win
Bullet Name:  Winchester Ballistic Silvertip
Bullet Weight:  168gr
Bullet Coefficient:  0.476
Inital Velocity:  2,670

Shop all 308 Win 168gr Ammunition 

175- grain Heavyweight 308 Win Ammo

The final common bullet weight in .308 Winchester is the venerable 175-grain Match bullet.

This projectile is what our military snipers shoot and it’s the best choice for long-range precision. It is slow out of a 24-inch barrel at right around 2675 fps, but the bullet’s great aerodynamics make up for it over the long haul.

It is so efficient in flight that is has higher velocity at ranges exceeding about 600 yards, hence the top pick for the best performance for long-range precision use.

Bullet Caliber:  308 Win
Bullet Name:  Federal Sierra MatchKing BTHP
Bullet Weight:  175gr
Bullet Coefficient:  0.503
Inital Velocity:  2,600

Shop all 308 Win 175gr Ammunition 

.308 Win Ballistics Overview

Bullet Weight
.308 ammunition is available in a variety of bullet weights, typically ranging from around 110 grains to 180 grains or more. The most common bullet weights for .308 are between 150 and 180 grains.

Muzzle Velocity
The muzzle velocity of .308 ammunition varies depending on the specific load and bullet weight.

Generally, muzzle velocities can range from approximately 2,500 feet per second (fps) to 2,800 fps, although lighter bullets may achieve higher velocities and heavier bullets may have slightly lower velocities.

Muzzle Energy
The muzzle energy of .308 ammunition is significant, providing strong terminal performance. Depending on the bullet weight and velocity, muzzle energy can range from around 2,500 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) to over 3,000 ft-lbs.

.308 ammunition exhibits a relatively flat trajectory, allowing for accurate shots at various distances. When zeroed at 100 yards, the trajectory typically experiences a gradual drop, with a noticeable decrease in bullet impact beyond 300 yards.

Ballistic coefficients (BC) vary among different bullet designs and weights, affecting the trajectory and wind resistance.

Effective Range
The effective range of .308 ammunition depends on factors such as bullet design, velocity, and the shooter's skill.

Generally, the .308 is considered effective for engaging targets up to around 800 to 1,000 yards, depending on the specific load and shooting conditions.

Terminal Performance
.308 ammunition is known for its excellent terminal performance. It delivers a balance of expansion and penetration, making it effective for various applications such as hunting, precision shooting, and law enforcement or military use.

The .308 cartridge generates moderate recoil, which can be manageable for most shooters, especially when fired from rifles with appropriate stock design and recoil mitigation systems.

Recoil perception can vary based on factors such as rifle weight, muzzle device, and individual shooter preferences.

Bullet Selection
There is a wide selection of bullet types available for .308 ammunition, including full metal jacket (FMJ), hollow point (HP), soft point (SP), ballistic tip, and more.

These different bullet designs cater to various shooting applications, including target shooting, hunting of various game sizes, and self-defense.

*It's important to note that specific ballistic characteristics may vary depending on the specific load, bullet design, barrel length, and other factors.

Always refer to manufacturer data or conduct detailed research on the specific .308 ammunition you plan to use to get accurate and precise ballistic information.

Final Thoughts on 308 Win. Bullet Weight

The .308 Winchester has been a reliable and versatile cartridge for many years, offering a wide range of bullet weights for various shooting needs at an affordable price.

Its power, accuracy, and versatility make it ideal for hunting, precision shooting, and tactical use.

Additionally, the various grain weights available in .308 Win allow shooters to customize their performance characteristics according to their needs, whether a flat trajectory and high velocity or deep penetration and stopping power.

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Ron G
Is there any real difference between a 308 at 150 grains compared to 149 or 148 grains, why would a manufacture make it with such a slight difference?
Eric Watson
Thank you..
Eric Watson
Thank you.