Why the .308 is the very best Cartridge


Considering that its 1952 debut, this round has aged properly even as hot new ones have come on-line, thanks to
usefulness across military platforms, widespread availability and possessing downed a deer or two considering the fact that.

Like a lot of you out there, I study a lot of gun magazines. Periodically, most magazines run an “everything old is new again” report about a distinct weapon program or round. You know the ones I’m speaking about articles with catchy titles like “Best Revolvers for Combat.” What? I like a good wheel gun as considerably as the subsequent guy, but its time as a major sidearm for combat has lengthy gone.
In restricted situations, such as a hammerless .38 as a final-ditch backup, it nonetheless has a tactical function. But by and big, the revolver’s gun-fighting days are behind it (regardless of how quick you can speed load it).
I can also make an argument that something with an exposed hammer is also yesterday’s technologies, but that is a rant for an additional day. A further report that pops up from time to time is the utility of a stagecoach-style shotgun for house defense.
I’m not confident what individual in their ideal thoughts would opt for a two shot weapon for house defense. Like the revolver, this appears like a terrific concept when you are at the variety or tinkering (i.e. playing) with your guns at house. It will look like a terrible concept when some terrible guy is throwing down big volumes of lead at you from a handgun or rifle and you can only respond with two to six shots at a time ahead of needing a reload.
Sorry, people, in some cases the truth hurts With all that getting stated, old does not necessarily equal obsolete. At times a thing seems to be the very best at almost everything, till it is supplanted or replaced by other things that do certain points greater.
Such is the case with the considerably maligned .308 round. It has lost some recognition in current years, but it is arguably the very best all objective rifle round ever created.

THE .308 HAS been about a lengthy time. It was created in 1952. It was the cartridge that powered the M14 Battle Rifle, the major lengthy gun for servicemen all through the ’50s and properly into the ’70s with National Guard and Reserve units.
It was the go-to round for sniper rifles, made use of extensively in just about every significant conflict considering the fact that Vietnam. It nonetheless feeds the military’s major belt-fed weapon program, the M240, and is nonetheless the typical .30-caliber round for NATO.
So, what occurred? Why did the .308 grow to be the “old man’s cartridge”?
The .308 is truly fantastic at a lot of points, but other rounds are greater in certain roles. Exactly where the .308 is a jack of all trades, other rounds created for a single objective have carried out a greater job in the roles they had been created for. But none can fill all roles like the .308 can.

No doubt that in battle, the .223 is king – here’s an M4 – but the smaller sized bullets have their drawbacks.

In the combat/close quarters battle function, the .223 is king. There is no denying it. When the M16 replaced the M14 as our nation’s major service weapon in the 1960s, it permanently created the .308 a much less acceptable combat round. The .223 round is lighter, which means you can carry far more of it.
Additional importantly, although, the recoil is far more manageable, an critical aspect in combat. Choose-fire M14s had been notoriously tough to manage on complete auto, whereas the M16 firing the .223 is considerably greater. There are other components at play right here, such as weapon design and style, but that does not adjust the truth that the larger bullet kicks far more.
In combat, he who puts the most rounds into his opponent usually wins. Recoil has an adverse impact on this. There are other specialty rounds like the .300 Blackout and .458 SOCOM that are current developments that are also terrific CQB rounds. Their big caliber benefits in important tissue harm and they marry up properly with the AR platform.
But exactly where all of these rounds fail in comparison to the .308 is variety.
The .300 Blackout and .458 SOCOM are not created for lengthy distance, but a .223 round with a higher velocity need to be capable to attain out and touch. It does not, not when compared to the .308.
A .223 coming from a lengthy-barreled M16 is fantastic out to about 600 yards, much less with a brief-barreled M4. A .308 round is efficient out to about 1,000 yards. Major distinction.
A further shortcoming of the .223 when made use of with an AR platform is how finicky it is with regard to twist prices and barrel lengths. Considering that the round is modest it desires to tumble or break apart on effect with a target to do a lot of harm. When a .223 round is fired via the incorrect barrel length/twist combo, it “icepicks” targets, going straight via and leaving a minimal wound cavity.
A .308 round is a substantially larger round. Bullets are measured in grain weights. An typical .223 round weighs about 55 grains, but a .308 is about 160 grains, nearly 3 instances as heavy. That benefits in tougher hits down variety that are much less susceptible to barrel length and twist challenges. The .308 is much less impacted by wind than its lighter cousin.
This also tends to make it a fantastic dual-objective round for CQB, as properly as sniping.
The .308 round functions properly in an AR platform. For just about every significant .223 tactical rifle created, there is a .308 caliber variant. SCAR, HK and Galil all have .223 variants as properly as a large brother .308. Nevertheless not the greatest on complete auto but substantially greater than firing it from the M14.

FOR Lots of YEARS the .308 was the major sniper caliber for military and law enforcement. Bolt-action Remington 700s had been the staple of Army and Marine snipers for a lot of years. I carried a lengthy-barreled 700 as a SWAT group sniper and located it far more than sufficient for what I necessary.
For the duration of the International War on Terror it was located that engagements had been at longer distances than previously encountered. The .308 had a tough time zapping targets more than a grid square away. Weapons like the .338 Lapua came into their personal.
A fantastic .338 Lapua fired from a high quality rifle can get hits at 1,500 yards and additional. That is 50 % farther than .308. The .338 not only travels farther, but has a flatter trajectory. In a side-by-side sniper competitors, the .338 Lapua is superior.
Exactly where the .308 has an benefit is in flexibility and modularity. There is a restricted quantity of semi-auto .338 rifles out there but they are not created in the exact same quantity, nor have they observed as considerably use in combat, as .308 rifles.

The old man M14 has been an active participant in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Lots of Vietnam era weapons had been dusted off and made use of in their old wooden stock configuration. Other individuals had been modified with higher-high quality adjustable synthetic stocks, married with higher-high quality optics, turning them into exceptional sniper weapons.
AR platforms such as the SR-25 have been in the war considering the fact that the starting. Lots of snipers choose them simply because they can double as combat rifle when necessary, albeit a single that is a tiny ungainly due to weight and lengthy barrel length.
A bolt-action gun does not lend itself to developing clearing or close-quarters gun fights with opponents armed with AK-47s. An SR-25 kind rifle also prevents the want to carry numerous weapon systems.
Carrying a bolt gun in a drag bag on your back whilst applying an AR platform to defend oneself, with incompatible rounds, does not outcome in an optimal tactical circumstance.
As talked about previously, the .308 is the typical NATO round. In a pinch, a sniper could pull a couple of rounds of .308 off a belt of machinegun ammo and use it, with the understanding that it wouldn’t be as precise as a match-grade round.
Traditionally, in the United Kingdom sniper ammo is in truth machine gun ammo. The very first round created in the lot is reserved for sniping, whilst the rest are linked with each other and fed to machine guns.
Working with nonstandard ammo like the .338 Lapua presents logistical challenges as properly. Anyplace the U.S. military goes, it brings .308 with it. It is a typical adequate cartridge that it can be located in most other nations as well. Attempt getting .338 Lapua if your logisticians haven’t forecasted the want for it and ensured it is properly stocked.
There is no such factor as “overnight delivery” in a lot of components of the globe.
The .338 Lapua is not going away, but it is critical to note that it is a round created for a distinct kind of combat. It truly has come into its personal in Afghanistan exactly where nearly all engagements are at a really lengthy distance, unparalleled in preceding American combat expertise. So, in a way, it is a round created to match a distinct kind of warfare (or war).
Which explains why the .308 was the preeminent sniper round up till that time.
Outdoors the tactical realm, .308 is a truly fantastic hunting round for medium to big game. It is a secure bet that .308 (along with .30-30 and .30-06) has accounted for far more North American game than all of the other calibers combined. I do not consider I’d go elephant hunting with it, but I’d really feel confident applying it on most big game.
So, in spite of its reputation as the old man in town, .308 is the very best all-objective round accessible. It functions in just about every significant assault weapons program, it is compatible with belt-fed weapons, it nonetheless functions properly as a sniper weapon, and it can be located just about everywhere. So, this old man recommends it.

Story and Pictures by Nick Perna
Editor’s note: Nick Perna is a sergeant with the Redwood City Police Division in northern California. He has spent considerably of his profession as a gang and narcotics investigator. He served on a multi-jurisdictional SWAT group as an entry group member, sniper and group leader. He previously served as a paratrooper in the US Army and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco.


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