Choosing the Best .308 Rifle for Hunting

The .308 Winchester cartridge is a rimless, bottlenecked, rifle cartridge that was introduced by Winchester in 1952 as a somewhat more powerful alternative to the .300 Savage which serves as its parent case.

.308 Winchester muzzle velocities closely approximate that of the venerable .30-06 Springfield cartridge but, unlike the .30-06 which requires a long action, the .308 Winchester cycles in short actions; thus making it perfectly suited for use in both lever and semi-automatic actions as well as bolt actions.

Consequently, it was adopted by the U.S. Military in 1954 (with minor changes to the case dimensions) as a replacement for the .30-06 Springfield cartridge and was subsequently dubbed the 7.62 x 54mm NATO which is still in use today.

Since then, it has become an extremely popular rifle cartridge for hunting both medium and large game species and, in fact, according to Norma who is a European ammunition manufacturer, it is one their best selling cartridges.

According to the book The 20th Century’s Top Rifle Cartridges written by Lane Simpson, the .308 Winchester has become the single most popular short-action, big game, hunting cartridge in the world!

It is capable of firing a very wide range of bullet weights ranging from a 100 grain “plinker” to a 200 Spizter at velocities ranging from 3,330 fps to 2,400 fps respectively and thus, it also a very versatile hunting cartridge for species ranging from varmints to large deer and small bear species.

Consequently, nearly every gun manufacturer around the world offers rifles chambered for the .308 Winchester cartridge and thus, below you will find a list of some of the best .308 Winchester rifles available.

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Some of Best .308 Rifle

• Winchester Model 70 Super Grade •

Savage® Arms Model 16/116 Lightweight Hunter Bolt-Action Rifle – Stainless Steel

Originally manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company between 1936 and 1980, the Winchester Model 70 is a true American icon among avid hunters.

Similar in appearance to the ever popular Remington Model 700 BDL, the Winchester Model 70 is an iconic piece of American history.

Starting with the introduction of the first model 70 in 1936 which is commonly known as a pre ’64 model (those rifles made prior to 1964), the original model 70 was widely known as a “rifleman’s rifle” because it featured a simple walnut stock combined with a sturdy bolt action and a simple but reliable trigger mechanism.

But, in 1964, Winchester made significant “upgrades” to the rifle’s action which made the new model 70 significantly easier to mass produce. However, many hunters felt that these changes actually detracted from rather than improved the rifle’s performance and thus, the pre ’64 Model 70 still has large following.

Even so, the modern version of the Winchester Model 70 is very popular among today’s hunters and it is available in several different models such as the Super Grade which is Winchester’s equivalent to the Remington Model 700 BDL.

Thus, it features a grade IV/V fancy walnut stock with a shadow cheek piece combined with a forged steel receiver and an integral recoil lug and glass bedded bolt action and a free floated, 22 inch, cold hammer forged, Sporter contour barrel with a recessed target crown and a polished blue finish, along with a M.O.A. trigger system, the Winchester Model 70 is designed to deliver both superior appearance and performance.

• Remington BDL •

Savage® Arms Model 16/116 Lightweight Hunter Bolt-Action Rifle – Stainless Steel

Although the Remington Model 700 lacks the interesting history of the Winchester Model 70, it is arguably the single most popular hunting rifle in American today and, according to Remington, it is the most accurate out-of-the-box rifle manufactured today; a claim that is supported by the fact that the U.S. military uses Remington Model 700 bolt actions as the basis for their proprietary M24 Sniper Weapon System.

Featuring a high-gloss American walnut Monte Carlo stock with a distinctive fore-end cap and a raised cheek piece combined with Remington’s famous model 700 bolt action and a 22 inch, Sporter contour, barrel with a polished blue finish and a four round integral box magazine with a hinged floor plate, the Remington Model 700 is immediately identifiable by any avid gun enthusiast due to its stunning appearance.

In addition, not only is the receiver drilled and tapped for easy mounting of a scope, the model 700 also includes both an adjustable front sight and a ramped, hooded, front sight for those hunters who prefer open sights over scopes.

• Browning BAR •

Browning® BAR MK 3 Stalker Semiautomatic Rifle

Based on the original Browning Automatic Rifle dubbed the BAR M1918 designed by John Browning for the U.S. military near the end of WWI, the modern sporting version of the BAR is both significantly smaller and lighter than the M1918, but its design is based entirely on the original military version.

However, the sporting version of the BAR has undergone significant evolution since its introduction to become one of the single most popular semiautomatic hunting rifles on the market with the present version introduced in 1993 known as the Mark II which includes several significant upgrades such as a trigger assembly that is retained by cross pins for easy disassembly and a redesigned gas assembly for greater reliability.

Thus, the Browning BAR Mark II is considered by many hunters to be the ultimate semiautomatic sporting rifle and the Safari model features a Turkish Walnut, Grade I, buttstock and forend with a high gloss finish and a short action steel receiver with a 4 round, hinged floorplate, detachable box magazine combined with a 22 inch, Sporter contour, steel barrel with a chrome plated chamber and a polished blue finish.

• Browning BLR •

Browning® BAR MK 3 Stalker Semiautomatic Rifle

For those hunters who prefer lever actions over semi-automatic or bolt actions, the Browning Lever Rifle is commonly considered by hunters to be the ultimate lever action sporting rifle.

However, unlike the lever action rifles manufactured by Winchester, the Browning BLR features a hinged floorplate with a detachable box magazine and thus, it is capable of firing ammunition loaded with Spitzer bullets without the danger of an accidental discharge in the magazine.

Plus, it also features a Grade I Black Walnut buttstock and forend with a short action, 4 round, aluminum receiver and a 20 inch Sporter contour steel barrel with a polished blue finish.

• Remington 7600 •

Remington 7600

Last but not least, we have the Remington Model 7600 for those hunters who prefer pump action rifles over semi-automatic or lever action rifles.

Originally designed for hunters who lived in states who’s governments were uncomfortable with the idea of hunters using semiautomatic centerfire rifles to hunt game, the Remington Model 7600 provided hunters with a rifle that was capable of a quick second shot should the need arise and it is still a popular model among avid hunters today.

Plus, it is the perfect choice for pump action wingshooters. In addition, it features an American Walnut buttstock and forend with a gloss finish and a short action, aluminum, receiver with Remington’s rotary bolt lock-up design and double slide rails for reliable feeding and ejection along with a 4 round, drop out, magazine combined with a free floated, 22 inch, carbon steel, barrel with a deep blue finish for superior accuracy.

So, as you can see, the .308 Winchester not only has an interesting history, it also has a large following of hunters who find it to be an excellent alternative to more powerful rifle cartridges such as the .30-06 Springfield and the .300 Winchester Magnum since its muzzle velocity and kinetic energy levels closely approximate that of the .30-06 Springfield yet, it generates significantly less recoil than the more powerful cartridges.

Plus, due to its popularity among avid hunters, firearms manufacturers offer a wide variety of rifles chambered for this cartridge ranging from bolt actions to lever actions to semiautomatic actions to pump actions and thus, regardless of whether you need a extremely accurate, long range, bolt action rifle for hunting game at extended ranges in open terrain or a quick handling rifle that provides a fast follow up shot for hunting game in dense foliage, there is a rifle chambered for this ever popular cartridge to suite your needs.

Thus, if you don’t already own a rifle chambered for the .308 Winchester cartridge, then you might want to consider adding this extremely versatile chambering to your arsenal.

Maintenance of 308 rifles

As an efficient shooter, be it for sports or hunting, the emphasis should be given on taking use of proper potential of the rifle along with its correct ammo combination for maximum tactical response. For exact shot to another shot, there is a need for extreme precision and one of the methods to enhance this is proper maintainanace and cleaning of the weapon. Many methods have been advocated, two groups of which are mechanical and chemical.

Mechanical method involves scrubbing the bore with a solvent or any polytetrafluoroethylene based lubricant. The cleaners effectively clean out the powder fouling or the accumulations but create a Dagwood sandwich effect. Underlying this effect, whenever a shot is fired and the bullet travels through the bore, minute particles of copper are dispensed which settle on the inner circumference and then over them a layer of powder sticks. Cleaning may not remove these copper particles effectively and as more and more shots are fired, the bore becomes congested and starts wearing down.

To clean out this, one needs to go for chemical cleaning in a bid to save the accuracy of the weapon. Copper solvents are available that will eventually react to the stuck copper and clean the bore but care should be taken not to keep the solvent for longer times since it will attract moisture. Always make sure the cleaning rods be made of steel so that it may not flex. Make sure to use cotton patches for their excellent absorbency. For a .308 Winchester with a spear point jag, the measurement of patches should be one square inch while if using a wraparound jag, patches should be about four square inches.

One shouldn’t be short of patches because rifles need to be pitch clean. A chamber guide is necessary for bolt action rifles. These type of rifles need to be cleaned from the chamber side and not from the muzzle side since the opposite may damage the chamber.

For feeling what happens inside the bore, a burn test can be done. Thin aluminum strips can be cut and solvent be poured over them and set to fire. It will leave a thick brown residue. Now if one starts removing the residue with the solvent, one can expect how messy and damaging it can be. That exactly happens when a shot is fired every time. One more test to check whether the copper fouling has been removed by the current solvent that one uses. Pouring a copper solvent and the normal bore cleaner on American pennies will show exactly whether the cleaner one uses cleans the copper fouling or it needs to be changed. The copper solvent will turn blue since it is reacting with copper from the pennies.

Some tips to remember while cleaning:

  • Safe weapon without ammunition while cleaning
  • Divert muzzle direction to a safe one
  • ​Never overforce the cleansing issue.
  • ​Use a clean brush and a solvent always
  • If possible, clean the bore as soon as you finish shooting
  • ​Make sure you don’t spill the solvent onto other parts of rifle, it will damage the stock.
  • ​No overnight soaking. One must use the copper solvent for just 10-15 minutes only.
  • If a gel cleanser is used make sure you end the session with a solvent cleaner since when left inside the bore it may cause injury afterwards when the shot is fired owing to high pressures inside.

FAQ’S

  Which of the .308 rifles is best suited for hunting purposes?
   Ans: It’s the Savage® Arms Model 16/116 Lightweight Hunter Bolt-Action Rifle – Stainless Steel. Because it is light weight weighing only 5.65 pounds, and has a black synthetic stock, one can hunt in any season and be carefree about the warping problem as well as weight issues that matter in long term hunting.

  If one wants to customize the .308 rifle, which rifle should one choose so that easy configurations may be done?
  Ans: Ruger® Precision Rifle Bolt-Action Rifles since it provides interchangeable magazine, thread replacement and mount replacements. Replacements are available easily.

  What are the uses of the Springfield Armory® M1A-A1™ Scout Squad™ Semiautomatic Rifle?
  Ans: It can be used for hunting as well as sports too. All-in-all a great rifle to be invested on.

Conclusion

It depends upon the choice of the shooter what he wants in a rifle. If he can carry heavy weapons, he can choose an 8.8 pound rifle while if one has planning for a hunting expedition with friends, it is good to follow a lighter 5.65 bolt light weight rifle. Several of these rifles are grouped according to the needs and uses, one grants for. In the end, it is always the features one counts for rather than looks. But it is also not uncommon to find rifle lovers to like to collect pieces based on their outer finishes only. The lightweight Savage® Arms Model 16/116 Lightweight Hunter Bolt-Action Rifle is one of the best .308rifle for hunting purposes. While the Remington 700 Tactical is the one considered an overall Best .308 rifle, for sport-shooters, the precision bolt action rifle may be considered well. In any case, the Best .308 rifle is chosen best according to its purpose so that its full zeal and potential may be put to work. Why not, rifles are the first loves of many out there!

Choosing the Best .308 Rifle for Hunting
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