|Place of origin||United States|
|Parent case||T-65 experimental cartridge series|
|Case type||Rimless, bottleneck|
|Bullet diameter||0.308 in (7.8 mm)|
|Neck diameter||0.3433 in (8.72 mm)|
|Shoulder diameter||0.4539 in (11.53 mm)|
|Base diameter||0.4709 in (11.96 mm)|
|Rim diameter||0.4728 in (12.01 mm)|
|Rim thickness||0.0539 in (1.37 mm)|
|Case length||2.015 in (51.2 mm)|
|Overall length||2.800 in (71.1 mm)|
|Case capacity||56 gr H2O (3.6 cm3)|
|Primer type||Large rifle|
|Maximum pressure (C.I.P.)||60,191 psi (415.00 MPa)|
|Maximum pressure (SAAMI)||62,000 psi (430 MPa)|
|Test barrel length: 24 in (26 in for Lapua) |
Although very similar to the military 7.62×51mm NATO specifications, the .308 Winchester cartridge is not identical, and there are special considerations that may apply when mixing these cartridges with 7.62×51mm NATO, and .308 Winchester chambered arms. Their interchange is, however, considered safe by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI).
During the 1940s, the .300 Savage became the basis for experiments on behalf of the U.S. Military that resulted in the development of the T65 series of experimental cartridges. The original experimental case design by the Frankford Arsenal was designated the T65 and was similar to the .300 Savage case, but with less taper. The experimental cases were made from standard .30-06 Springfield cases which gave a little less capacity than standard .300 Savage cases because the Frankford Arsenal cases had slightly thicker case walls. The later T65 iterations were lengthened compared to the original T65 case and provided a ballistic performance roughly equal to the U.S. military .30-06 Springfield service cartridge. Over forty years of technical progress in the field of propellants allowed for similar service cartridge performance from a significantly shorter, smaller case with less case capacity.
Winchester saw a market for a civilian model of the late T65 series designs and introduced it in 1952, two years prior to the NATO adoption of the T65E5 experimental cartridge iteration under the 7.62×51mm NATO designation in 1954. Winchester branded the cartridge and introduced it to the commercial hunting market as the .308 Winchester. Winchester's Model 70, Model 88 and Model 100 rifles were subsequently chambered for the new cartridge. Since then, the .308 Winchester has become the most popular short-action, big-game hunting cartridge worldwide. It is also commonly used for hunting, target shooting, metallic silhouette, bench rest target shooting, palma, metal matches, military sniping, and police sharpshooting. The relatively short case makes the .308 Winchester especially well-adapted for short-action rifles. When loaded with a bullet that expands, tumbles, or fragments in tissue, this cartridge is capable of high terminal performance.
The .308 Winchester has 3.64 ml (56.0 grains) cartridge case capacity. The exterior shape of the case was designed to promote reliable case feeding and extraction in bolt action rifles and machine guns alike, under extreme conditions.
.308 Winchester maximum C.I.P. cartridge dimensions. All dimensions in millimeters (mm) and inches.
Americans would define the shoulder angle at alpha/2 = 20 degrees. The common rifling twist rate for this cartridge is 305 mm (1 in 12 in), 4 grooves, Ø lands = 7.62 mm, Ø grooves = 7.82 mm, land width = 4.47 mm and the primer type is large rifle.
According to the official C.I.P. (Commission Internationale Permanente pour l'Epreuve des Armes à Feu Portatives) rulings the .308 Winchester can handle up to 415.00 MPa (60,191 psi) Pmax piezo pressure. In C.I.P. regulated countries every rifle cartridge combo has to be proofed at 125% of this maximum C.I.P. pressure to certify for sale to consumers. This means that .308 Winchester chambered arms in C.I.P. regulated countries are currently (2008) proof tested at 519.00 MPa (75,275 psi) PE piezo pressure.
North American SAAMI maximum pressure for the 308 Winchester is 427.47 MPa (62,000 psi).
Usage and performance
The .308 Winchester is one of the most popular hunting cartridges in the United States, and possibly the world. It has gained popularity in many countries as an exceptional cartridge for game in the medium- to large-sized class. In North America it is used extensively on whitetail deer, pronghorn and even the occasional caribou or black bear.
Clay Harvey, an American gun writer, said it is usable on moose and elk. Layne Simpson, an American who has hunted in Sweden, said he is surprised how many hunters there used the cartridge. Craig Boddington was told by a Norma Precision executive that the .308 Winchester was one of Norma's best-selling calibers.
In Africa the .308 Winchester is one of the most popular calibers among Bushveld hunters and is used on anything from duiker right up to the massive eland (a small and large African antelope respectively). Proponents of the hydrostatic shock theory contend that the .308 Winchester has sufficient energy to impart hydrostatic shock to living targets when rapidly expanding bullets deliver a high rate of energy transfer.
While .308 Winchester has traditionally been the most popular cartridge in the past, the development of lighter recoil chamberings with sufficient downrange energy, like the 7mm-08 Remington, .260 Remington, and 6.5 Creedmoor, is becoming more common for metallic silhouette shooting.
PALMA shooting is a variant of full bore target shooting done with a bolt action rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester firing match grade 155 grain bullets and using micrometer aperture iron sights out to 1,000 yards.
F-class is a variant of fullbore target rifle which permits optical telescopic sights and shooting rests at the front and rear, such as a bipod or bags. Competitions are fired at distances between 300 and 1,200 meters (or yards), and the targets are half the size of those used in traditional Palma shooting. Based on equipment, competitors can choose to compete in one of the two classes, open and standard: F-TR ("target", standard class): A restricted class which permits a scope, bipod, backpack and rear bag (no front rest), the caliber has to be either .223 Remington or .308 Winchester. In addition, the weight limit including optics is 8.25 kg (18.15 lbs).
The .308 Winchester has slightly more drop at long range than the .30-06 Springfield, owing to its slightly lower (around 30 metres per second (100 ft/s)) muzzle velocity with most bullet weights. Cartridges with significantly higher muzzle velocities, such as the .300 Winchester Magnum can have significantly less drop at long range, but much higher recoil.
Trajectory comparisons between .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum
Ultra-high speed photo of a 150 grain FMJ .308 Winchester bullet photographed with an air-gap flash
As a parent case
Several more cartridges have been developed using the .308 Winchester as a parent case, some becoming very popular for hunting, particularly in North America. These are the .243 Winchester, the .260 Remington (6.5-08 A-Square), the 7 mm-08 Remington, the .338 Federal, and the .358 Winchester (8.8×51mm). In 1980, two rimmed cartridges based on the .308 Winchester were introduced for use in the Winchester Model 94 XTR Angle Eject rifle: the .307 Winchester and the .356 Winchester. In 2014, the rimless 45 Raptor was introduced to provide a big bore cartridge for the AR-10 by combining the .308 Winchester with the .460 S&W Magnum.
- The 308 Winchester family (circle size proportional to recoil).
- .30 RAR
- Delta L problem
- List of firearms
- List of rifle cartridges
- Table of handgun and rifle cartridges
- Sectional density
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