.308 Winchester: How To Pick The Right Bullet Weight

.308 Winchester: How To Pick The Right Bullet Weight
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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. Bullet weights can vary from 110 grains all the way up to 185 grains, but the most relevant loads sit between 147 grains and 175 grains. Even in that smaller weight range, there are still numerous different bullet types. Here’s how to pick the right one for you.  

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.  

150-grain .308 Win. Ammunition

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.

165- and 168-grain Match and Hunting .308 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.

175-grain Heavyweight for .308

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.

The .308 Winchester has been the “do everything” cartridge for decades for good reason. It has bullet weights available for just about any application and you won’t go broke shooting them.

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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?