By James Card, Living Ready Online
There are volumes of ink devoted to explaining the virtues of the .22 long rifle cartridge. For good reasons, it’s the reigning champ of the survival and preparedness crowd. But for those looking for something with a punch, the .308 Winchester is a prime choice.
.308 Winchester: Breaking It Down
In power, the .308 Winchester is superior to the .300 Savage and almost equal to the .30-06. It delivers about 100 fps less muzzle velocity than the larger .30-06 with any given bullet weight.
Most authorities consider the .308 suitable for most North American big game, although it’s on the light side for moose or brown bear. This chambering is a favorite of target shooters and has a reputation for excellent accuracy. It is the basis for a number of wildcat cartridges that have been adopted as factory chamberings: .243 Winchester, 6.5-08, 7mm-08 Remington, .358 Winchester, and the rimmed versions of the .307 Winchester and .356 Winchester.
.308 Winchester: Availability
Yes, the ammo shortage has everyone concerned. The .308 Winchester offers better odds, though. All major domestic and foreign ammunition companies offer this cartridge. Practically every manufacturer of high-powered sporting rifles chambers the .308 Winchester, since it will work through medium- or standard-length actions.
History of the .308 Winchester
Introduced by Winchester as a new sporting cartridge, in 1952, the .308 Winchester is nothing more than the NATO 7.62x51mm military round. This was a very smart move, to tack the Winchester name on what was sure to become a popular sporting number.
The Model 70 bolt-action and 88 lever-action Winchesters were the first American sporting rifles so chambered. It was adopted as the official U.S. military rifle cartridge, in 1954, although guns for it were not ready until 1957.
Jeff Cooper on the .308 Winchester
The late Jeff Cooper, one of the most influential firearm instructors and writers of the 20th Century, had this to say about the .308:
-To be really useful a rifle must be as short, light and quick to use as is technically compatible with adequate power and useful accuracy.
-Adequate power may be had with any of the 20-caliber family of military cartridges, the best of which was probably the 30.06, now largely pre-empted by its compacted offspring, the 308.
-Useful accuracy is that which the shooter can put to use…Let us proceed on the assumption that we need a two-inch-shooting .308 as a base…A 30-caliber, 150-grain spitzer at 2700 fps may not be a “magnum,” but it has been logging one-shot kills all over the world for so long that one may well ask why anything more is necessary, unless one’s target weighs over 1,000 pounds.
Add it up, and the .308 Winchester is a top choice for survival ammunition.