This is NOT another article about “308 vs. 30-06,” like the one I wrote. The “300 Win Mag” and the “308 Winchester” are two types of rifles with very different calibers.
This essay is mostly for first-time hunters who want to buy a rifle with one of these cartridges.
However, I will also explain why more experienced hunters or shooters may prefer one cartridge over the other in certain situations.
In September 2022, a 20-round box of 308 ammunition costs about $40, while a box of 300 win mag costs about $55 (but I just found a box of Sako gamehead at my local Cabela’s for $35, so who knows?).
What 308 and 300 Win Mag are both great at
- Both the 308 Winchester and the 300 Winchester Magnum are great rifles for hunting big game in North America.
- They are sold together in stores that sell sports gear.
At this point, comparing things no longer makes sense.
Wins For the 308
The 308’s recoil is much less than that of the 300 win mag.
The recoil of a 308 is about 12–13 ftlb, but the recoil of a 300 win mag is at least 20 ftlb. For a beginner hunter, that’s a lot of kick.
Most magnum-chambered rifles have barrels that are 2 inches longer than what is needed for a 308 round. This makes them even heavier.
Most of the time, a 308 has a bigger magazine than a 300 win mag. You don’t really want more than one round, right?
The 300 Win Mag is not available in the Savage Axis or other affordable rifles. Also, 308 ammunition is a lot cheaper than in other models.
Lifespan of the Barrel: A 308 barrel should last for two to three times as many rounds as a 300 Win Mag barrel.
This is not a big benefit if you only use your gun for hunting and only shoot five rounds a year, but it is something to think about if you shoot a lot at a range.
Wins for the 300 Win Mag
The biggest difference between the 308 and the 300 win mag is that the 308 can shoot a bullet of up to 180 grains at over 3000 feet per second, while the 300 win mag is at its maximum speed. This speed gives the ball a beautiful, straight path, which makes it easier to make long-range shots.
From 200 yards away, a 308 with a zeroed scope needs 47.7 inches of adjustment to shoot a 165-grain bullet at 500 yards, but the same scope on a 300 win mag only needs 38.7 inches.
The 308 has enough power to kill bears, moose, and elk at a good distance, usually within 350 yards. The.223 Remington has a range of about 300 yards, but the 300 Win Mag can reach up to 600 yards with the same amount of force.
The 308 loses power around 700 yards and should be kept inside 500 to keep impact velocity over most bullet manufacturer’s suggested 1800 fps, but the.243 has enough power (1000 ft-lbs) to kill a deer at that distance.
300 Win Mag vs 308
Long-range hunters and experienced hunters who want to kill Elk and Moose at longer distances may want or need the 300 Win Mag’s better stopping power. But 308 is the standard recommendation for first-time hunters every single day.
Why? The recoil of a 300 Win Mag is strong enough to make new shooters jerk and make it hard for them to get a clean shot.
If they can’t use their rifle very often because of things like cost or recoil, they won’t get as good at shooting.
Most of the time, missing shots on game aren’t because you didn’t have a hot-rod round, but because you didn’t place your shot well. The 308 does a great job under 300 yards, which is where most game is taken.