.300 Win Mag vs .308 Winchester: Which is Better For Hunting?

Why Compare the 300 WM and 308?

The 308 Winchester and.300 Winchester Magnum rounds are extremely well-liked big game hunting rounds all throughout the world, most hunters would probably agree. However, although there are some significant differences between the 308 and 300 Win Mag in some areas, those differences are sometimes overstated.

Furthermore, even while they do differ in a few significant ways, they also share a number of similarities. The advantages and disadvantages of the .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum and how they compare to one another are frequently rather unclear, which is not surprising.

We’ll examine two cartridges with the same bullet diameter in this post that perform considerably differently from one another. Despite their differences, the .300 Win Mag and .308 Winchester are two potent cartridges that, when employed in the appropriate circumstances, will provide successful hunts time and time again.


.300 Winchester Magnum

Winchester started manufacturing the .300 Win Mag, a 30-cal bullet, in 1963. This cartridge may be loaded with a lot of powder, which greatly increases its velocity and allows it to carry a lot of energy over a longer distance.

The cartridge can accommodate different bullet weights as well. Although there are various lighter and heavier rounds available, the majority of weights fall between 150 and 200 grains.

It also comes in a huge selection of bullet types, which greatly increases its adaptability. All of this has led to the development of one of the most well-liked magnum cartridges in contemporary sports.

This cartridge is quite well-liked among long-range shooters, including those who are after large animals. The .300 Win Mag is a favorite among long-range competitive shooters in addition to hunters. Although this cartridge has been and is currently used in military sharpshooting units, the majority of its use is in the hunting community.

.308 Winchester

Despite having a long history in other shooting communities, the .308 Winchester is a staple of the American hunting community. Winchester first offered the .308 in 1952, and the hunting world took to it right away. Soon after, to replace the .30-06 chambered rifles in Vietnam, the military accepted the cartridge and tweaked it to create the 7.6251 NATO round.

Although the .308’s widespread employment in the military was short-lived, it continues to be popular among hunters. The heavier bullets and casing produce a cartridge that has more than enough stopping power for medium- to large-sized game and can give outstanding range in the majority of hunting situations.

Additionally, the military and police still use it although not to the same extent as it was used in its earlier lifetime.

Specs Difference Between 300 Win Mag vs. .308 Win

.300 Win Mag                           .308 Win
Parent Casing                  .375 H&H Magnum                    .300 Savage
Bullet Diameter                          0.308”                                    0.308”
Neck Diameter                           0.339”                                    0.3433”
Base Diameter                            0.532”                                    0.4709”
Case Length                                2.62”                                      2.015”
Overall Length                            3.34”                                        2.8”
Case Capacity                           93.8gr                                       56gr
Max Pressure (SAAMI)           64,000psi                                62,000psi

There are some significant changes between these two cartridges’ basic specifications, as we can see. Both of these use the same diameter bullet, yet despite having the same caliber bullet, we can observe from performance specs that these two cartridges act differently.

The proportions of the cases are the primary distinction. The.308 Win and.300 WM have somewhat differing neck diameter bullets, with the .300 WM’s neck diameter being a few hundredths of an inch smaller.

In comparison to the .308 Win, the .300 WM has a larger base diameter and a noticeably longer case length, creating a far more voluminous case that can hold more powder and withstand higher pressure.

Cartridge Sizes

The shortest of the three cartridges has a case length of just 2.015′′ (51.18mm) and a maximum overall length of 2.81′′ (71.37mm).

The SAAMI requirements for the two cartridges somewhat overlap, thus the.30-06 Springfield and.300 Winchester Magnum have the same maximum permissible overall length of 3.34′′ even though the.30-06 Springfield cartridge in the picture is a little shorter than the.300 Winchester Magnum cartridge (84.84mm).

It’s interesting to note that the.300 Winchester Magnum has a shorter neck than the other two cartridges. As a general rule, cartridges should have a neck that is at least one caliber long (in this case,.308″) in order to hold a projectile concentrically and firmly.

This design approach is not a set rule, although it can aid in accuracy. The.300 Win Mag can nevertheless be quite accurate in the correct hands despite having a neck length of just.264″. The.308 Winchester similarly has a short neck at.304″, but it too has a stellar reputation for accuracy. The neck of the.30-06 Springfield is.385″ long.

The.308 Winchester can fit in a short-action rifle but the.30-06 Springfield and.300 Winchester Magnum are only compatible with long-action rifles due to their relative lengths (more on this later).

The.300 Winchester Magnum, which shares a maximum overall length with the.30-06 Springfield, has a slightly longer (2.62′′ vs. 2.49′′) and wider diameter (.532′′ vs..473′′) case due to its.375 H&H ancestry. In comparison to the.308 Winchester and the.30-06 Springfield, the.300 Winchester Magnum has a far larger case capacity.

Does the 300 WM have more recoil than the .308 Win?

The actual force produced by lighting the powder inside the cartridge is known as recoil. Both of these cartridges are capable of propelling bullets downrange at great speeds, which produces a considerable amount of force that humans experience as recoil or kick.

Both cartridges provide over 20 ft.lbs of force, giving them a powerful kick. This level of recoil is said to be sufficient to make many shooters flinch, which will significantly affect your accuracy.

When people complain about the accuracy of a round or cartridge, it’s frequently because the recoil is too strong and causes them to flinch when they pull the trigger. The.300 Win Mag produces somewhat more force than the.308 Win when the two are compared.

The difference of six foot pounds of force may not seem like much, but when taken into account with recoil, it becomes quite significant.

We can see that the pattern between these two cartridges was similar, with the.300 Win Mag delivering somewhat more force than the.308 Win rounds (around 5 ft.lbs).

What’s intriguing is that the data for the.300 WM rounds show a significant increase in recoil energy when bullet fired from a 7lb rifle, and the gap between the two cartridges increases to 13ft.lbs.

The recoil energy variation with this hunting cartridge is certainly something that has to be taken into consideration when thinking about carrying it about in the field. Rifle chambered for the.300 Win Mag are frequently somewhere within this 7 to 9lb range.

300 Win Mag vs. .308 Win – Ballistic Coefficient

When doing any study on cartridges, you will come across a quantity known as a ballistic coefficient. The BC is calculated using an equation that, in essence, indicates how efficient the same bullet is and is crucial for shooting at games from distances of 100 or more yards in less than optimum circumstances.

Generally speaking, the .300 Win Mag has a greater BC than the .308 rounds. Even though there is some fluctuation between rounds, this pattern will remain true for almost all rounds of the two cartridges you may find.

When we examine the statistics, we see that several.300 Win Mag rounds surpass the .5 mark whereas only one .308 Win round does so. In fact, there are two factory-loaded rounds for the.300 Win Mag caliber that exceeds the .6-mark, which is a higher ballistic coefficient for all cartridge types.

This part will be revisited when we discuss the application, so bear that in mind as we go on to bullet trajectory.

Does The 300 WM have a better Trajectory For Hunting Than the .308?

For a hunting rifle, a flat trajectory makes aiming and connecting on a shot much simpler, especially for long-range shots. Understanding the trajectory of the round you are using is essential to success, even with today’s optics.

There is a noticeable variation in trajectory between these two cartridges, even with the lighter .308 bullet. The.300 Win Mag starts to exhibit a flatter trajectory than the.308 Win at about 180 yards.

As they advance downrange, the difference between bullet drops continues to grow. The bullet drop with the.308 Win round increases by around 10 inches at 500 yards.

Short Range

The .308 is frequently associated with tighter range and hunting in dense cover, but the .300 Win Mag is more renowned for its long-range shooting capability. However, as we shall see, the .308 is not too shabby when it comes to longer range shots.

You should be ready to take shots from inside 400 yards since the.300 WM is a popular magnum round for big game hunters.

Both cartridges function relatively similarly out to 200 yards until the.308 starts to lose altitude at a faster pace than the.300 Win Mag rounds, though there will always be some variation depending on the round.

The information we currently have about these rounds is consistent with what we have just seen in their short-range trajectory. The.300 Win Mag rounds ought to have flatter trajectories because they contain more powder, better BCs, and a smaller gap between bullet weight.

Still, it’s advisable to look at the data from our broader data set to see if it corroborates what we have observed.

Long Range

We also want to look at how these two cartridges differ when on a longer flight path since we just looked at short range trajectory. Particularly considering that both are employed in distant contexts.

The.300 Win Mag rounds tend to have a flatter trajectory than the.308 Win rounds, despite the fact that the difference is only a fraction of an inch on average. While many of the.300 Win Mag and.308 rounds have considerable differences between them at 400–500 yards, there is a middle ground where the two cartridges have rounds with similar trajectories.

Despite this, the average bullet drop of the.300 Win Mag rounds is still significantly greater than the.308 rounds at 500 yards, with a difference of little over ten inches.

Muzzle Velocity Difference Between 300 WM and .308 Win

The fact that muzzle velocity has been found to be correlated with accuracy is one of the key reasons to consider it. Wind and gravity have less of an impact on a bullet as it moves quicker.

Many long-range marksman worry about how long bullets will stay in supersonic flight because of this idea, which we will also discuss at the end of this section. The less these external factors can skew the bullet’s trajectory, the more accurate the round will be. Again, there are other elements that affect accuracy, chief among them the shooter, but precision plays a significant role in the entire formula.

We will examine how these two cartridges compare to one another since velocity is important because these are common hunting and long-range shooting rounds.

The .300 Win Mag rounds have a modest advantage in muzzle velocity up to 500 yards. What we also observe is that all of these rounds continue to travel at speeds of over 2,000 ft/sec at a distance of 300 yards, and they continue to be supersonic out to a distance of 500 yards. This velocity is more than sufficient for accurate terminal ballistics.

Although the .300 Win Mag rounds have somewhat heavier weighted bullets, the greater powder loads that can be utilized prevent slower bullet velocity than the .308 round. This is one of the key explanations for why the velocities of the two cartridges are so comparable.

Is It True That The 300 Win Mag Has More Energy Than The.308 Win?

The .300 Win Mag rounds’ average muzzle energy is 3,600 ft. lb., compared to the.308 Win rounds’ average muzzle energy of 2,720 ft. lb. There is no overlap between any of the rounds from the two cartridges, unlike other categories, and this disparity persists through the 500-yard point, which is a very significant differential between the two cartridges.

Yes, the .300 WM bullets have far more kinetic energy than the.308 Win rounds. However, the .308 is no pushover in KE. At 500 yards, it is still carrying more than 1000 foot pounds of energy. Ultimately, the .300 Win Mag still carries more KE without a doubt.

Penetration (Sectional Density)

Given that both of these cartridges have the same diameter, there isn’t much of a difference in their SDs. Due to the heavier bullets, the.300 Win Mag does have rounds with slightly greater SDs.

This suggests that given their SDs and velocities, both have excellent penetration potential. The bullet momentum numbers’ appearance will be revealed soon. The heavier.300 Win Mag rounds will be the greatest option if deep penetration is required, but once again, you must take the bullet’s terminal behavior into account.

Applications of the 300 WM and 308 Win

Both cartridges work well with hunting games that range in size from medium to large. As we showed with the sectional density and bullet momentum data, the greater bullet weights of the .300 Win Mag are likely to provide you better penetration than the .308 for the bigger animal.

We also observed that the kinetic energy of the .300 Win Mag was significantly higher than that of the .308 Win. Overall, the .308 Win still possessed rounds that carried enough energy to prevent you from utilizing them in such situations, even with a lot of medium-sized games and even some larger games.

The trajectory and ballistic coefficients will be one of the deciding considerations for range and competition shooters. The ballistic coefficient of 300 Win Mag rounds will often be higher, making them more resistant to drag and drift.

The significantly flatter shooting and high BCs. For long range shooting competitions and range shooters, the 300 Win Mag at 500+ yards will likely be in high demand.

Recoil must also be taken into account. On average, the .300 Win Mag had a few more ft.lbs of recoil energy. Although you will have assistance on the range to handle the recoil, and these rifles are frequently heavier than those used for hunting, tiredness will set in more quickly with the .300 WM.

 300 Win Mag vs 308, Which is Better?

The greater terminal performance of the 300 Win Mag may be appreciated and required by experienced hunters taking Elk and Moose at longer distances. But for brand-new hunters: 308, seven days a week, damn it.

Why? New hunters are frequently also new shooters, and the 300 Win Mag has a lot of recoil, which can make them flinch and prevent them from pulling the trigger smoothly. It will also be detrimental to their marksmanship abilities if cost and recoil prevent them from frequently firing their firearm at the range.

Furthermore, poor shot placement is more often to blame for missed shots on game than not using a hot-rod round. The 308 is quite adequate at ranges under 300 yards, which is typically where games are taken anyhow.

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