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.300 win. mag vs .300 WSM

Comparison of .300 win. mag vs .300 WSM Catridge Ballistics

Two excellent hunting calibers with just one word difference – “short.” How exactly can hunters decide between the .300 Winchester Magnum and the .300 Winchester Short Magnum? Both are specifically targeted to the hunter who needs a little extra umph and farther reach for big game at long ranges. Still, there are a few key differences between these cartridges that will help you decide which is the best for you.

300 Win Mag vs 300 WSM

The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the .300 Winchester Magnum vs .300 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.

.300 win. mag 165 gr vs 300 WSM 165 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.

300 Winichester Magnum 300 Winchester Short Magnum
Bullet Velocity (Muzzle) 3,100 ft/s 3,220 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds 2,877 ft/s 2,997 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds 2,666 ft/s 2,785 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds 2,464 ft/s 2,582 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds 2,271 ft/s 2,389 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds 2,087 ft/s 2,203 ft/s
Bullet Energy (Muzzle) 3,521 ft⋅lb 3,589 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 100 yds 3,033 ft⋅lb 3,290 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 200 yds 2,604 ft⋅lb 2,840 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 300 yds 2,224 ft⋅lb 2,442 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 400 yds 1,889 ft⋅lb 2,090 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 500 yds 1,595 ft⋅lb 1,778 ft⋅lb
Usage @ 0 yds Toughest Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 100 yds Toughest Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 200 yds Toughest Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 300 yds Toughest Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 400 yds Large Game Toughest Game
Usage @ 500 yds Large Game Large Game
Recoil Energy 23.5 (150 gr) 22.5
Recoil Velocity 13.3 13.3
Recoil Score* 3.79 3.69
*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures taken from Sportsman's Warehouse rifle ballistics and rifle recoil tables. Recoil score based on weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity normalized between 1 and 10.


Velocity is one of the first metrics we turn to when deciding between calibers. With a shorter (and smaller) bullet, it may not come as a surprise that the .300 WSM has an advantage over the .300 Win Mag when it comes to speed.

Right out of the gate, the .300 WSM moves at 3,220 ft/s, which is 120 ft/s over the .300 Win Mag’s 3,100 ft/s. The distance remains fairly steady as we get out to longer distances: at 500 yards, the .300 WSM is going 2,203 ft/s, while the .300 Win Mag is lagging just 116 ft/s behind at 2,087 ft/s.

While the .300 WSM does have a consistent advantage here, it’s important to note the razor-thin margin we’re working with – just over 100 ft/s at short and long distances. Even though the .300 Win Mag is just a bit behind, it’s still traveling at a highly impressive velocity.


But velocity isn’t the only concern here – we also want to know what happens when the bullet hits the target, no matter how quickly it got there. Bullet energy helps us understand which caliber has a greater stopping power, to help ensure a clean, ethical kill.

Here, we can see that the larger bullet of the .300 Win Mag leads to greater stopping power right out of the muzzle. However, as we get into longer distances, the .300 WSM starts to outstrip the .300 Win Mag.


While the two calibers have very similar recoil, the .300 WSM does soften the blow just a bit. Felt recoil varies by shooter and rifle manufacturer, so the difference may not be completely apparent. Still, if you know recoil impacts your accuracy (and thus your ability to ensure a clean, ethical kill), the slightly softer option may be a meaningful factor. Felt recoil can also increase your fatigue if you are shooting a large number of rounds over the course of a day or weekend.


It’s a bit obvious to say that you want the bullets to land where you aim them. So, trajectory can be a big part of determining between calibers. But with the .300 Win Mag and the .300 WSM, there’s essentially no difference in trajectory. Each caliber is as flat-shooting as the next. With either of these cartridges, you can expect a drop of about 45” at 500 yards.


Both the .300 WSM and the .300 Win Mag can be found in most major retailers. However, there is a slight advantage to the .300 Win Mag, simply because it is an older and more accepted cartridge. The .300 Win Mag might be a little more expensive depending on the retailer, but the prices of these rounds are very similar.


Since the word “short” is the only difference in how these calibers are named, it might not surprise you that size is the main difference between them. Both of these cartridges take .30 caliber bullets. You’ll find a larger neck and base on the WSM, but it’s also about half an inch shorter than the Win Mag. This also allows the .300 Win Mag to hold more powder, which increases its maximum pressure, and gives it greater energy right out the gate.

Rifle Type

The different sizes of the calibers directly correlate to the barrel and action length needed for each of them. The shorter WSM can be fired from a lighter, shorter rifle with a shorter action that needs less travel to eject and chamber the next round. This can be an important factor for anyone who is traversing many miles through the backcountry with their hunting rifle.

Which Caliber is Best?

So, which of these calibers should you take on your next hunting expedition? Each of these .300 caliber magnums will give you the stopping power needed to take down just about any target. If you're looking for more available ammunition with more name recognition, go with the .300 Winchester Magnum. If you're hoping for a little less recoil and a shorter, faster rifle, opt for the .300 WSM.

Disclaimer: Sportsman's Warehouse assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions of the information on this page. Although we strive to provide the most accurate information as we can the information contained in this page is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.