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.300 win. mag vs .308 win.

Ballistics Performance Comparison of .300 win mag. vs .308 win.

The .300 Winchester Magnum and the .308 Winchester are both tried and true hunting cartridges with strong track records and loyal devotees. At first, it might seem difficult to compare the short-action .308 with the long-action .300. But if you’re a hunter deciding which caliber is right for you, you’re probably thinking more about outcome than you are about action right now. In this guide, we’ll help you understand the advantages of each of these calibers, and determine which is right for your specific needs.

300 Win Mag vs 308 Win

The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the .300 Winchester Magnum vs .308 Winchester based on bullet weight and various performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.

.300 win. mag 150 gr vs .308 win. 150 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.

300 Winchester Magnum 308 Winchester
Bullet Velocity (Muzzle) 3,275 ft/s 2,940 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds 2,988 ft/s 2,715 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds 2,719 ft/s 2,502 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds 2,466 ft/s 2,298 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds 2,227 ft/s 2,103 ft/s
Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds 2,001 ft/s 1,919 ft/s
Bullet Energy (Muzzle) 3,572 ft⋅lb 2,879 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 100 yds 2,973 ft⋅lb 2,455 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 200 yds 2,463 ft⋅lb 2,084 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 300 yds 2,026 ft⋅lb 1,758 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 400 yds 1,651 ft⋅lb 1,473 ft⋅lb
Bullet Energy @ 500 yds 1,333 ft⋅lb 1,226 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 Large Game
Usage @ 400 yds Large Game Medium Game
Usage @ 500 yds Medium Game Medium Game
Recoil Energy 23.5 15.8
Recoil Velocity 13.3 11.7
Recoil Score* 3.79 2.97
*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

When it comes to hunting cartridges, velocity is incredibly important. How quickly will your bullet land on a moving target? The .300 Winchester Magnum does have the advantage over the .308 Winchester in this department, though that advantage decreases across longer distances.

As we can see from the table, the .300 Win Mag starts stronger out of the muzzle with a velocity of 3,275 ft/s, which is 335 ft/s faster than the .308’s 2,940 ft/s. As we continue out to farther distances, the difference between velocities lessens. At 500 yards, the .300 comes in at 2,001 ft/s, which is only 82 ft/s faster than the .308’s 1,919 ft/s.

While the .300 shoots heavier bullets, it is also released with more powder. This helps it have a higher velocity than the .308.

Energy

The energy of a bullet is a huge part of determining is stopping power, which is vital for hunters, especially if you are targeting big game with large bones and/or thick skin. Even though these calibers have very different lengths, they share the same diameter of .308”. This means that they have very similar sectional densities upon impact.

However, the extra weight of the .300 does make a difference here. The use of more powder plus heavier bullets gives the energy and stopping power advantage to the .300.

Trajectory

With the increased speed and energy of the .300 Win Mag also comes a flatter trajectory. This makes some intuitive sense: you can imagine that if a bullet is speeding more quickly through the air, it will drop more slowly toward the earth.

Let’s say you’re shooting a 165 grain bullet at 500 yards, and you’ve zeroed both calibers for 200 yards. The 300 Win Mag will need just 38.7” of correction, while the .308 will need 47.7”. This means that it will be easier to hit targets at long distances using the .300 Win Mag.

Versatility

Both of these calibers are excellent hunting cartridges that have been used to take any game in North America. However, the .300 Win Mag does have the advantage over the .308 for long range hunting. Experienced hunters taking elk and moose at long ranges with excellent marksmanship may prefer the .300 Win Mag. Newer hunters who want to shoot without the stronger recoil of the .300 and/or will be shooting under 300 yards might want to opt for the .308.

The .300 Win Mag has the capacity to be loaded up to 220 grains, while the .308 Winchester can only be loaded to 200 grains, and most factory loads cap out at 180 grains. This can make a difference for the .300 Win Mag’s ability to take out large and dangerous game.

Size

The .300 Win Mag and the .308 Winchester share the same diameter of .308”. However, the .308 Winchester is a full half-inch shorter than the .300 Win Mag. This is the primary advantage of the .308 Winchester: it is able to give comparable performance to the .300 Win Mag, but in shorter, lighter rifles. If you are a backcountry hunter who will be carrying your rifle over long distances, being able to use a short action makes a big difference as you stack up the miles.

The .308 does hold slightly less powder than the .300 Win Mag, in exchange for a little more power and a lot more recoil.

Recoil

The .300 Win Mag kicks back significantly more than the .308 Winchester. The .308 is considered a milder recoil for the big game calibers, but this difference is still substantial. Recoil can affect a hunter’s ability to place an accurate shot, so this is a serious consideration if you’re thinking about bringing out the power of the .300 Win Mag. If you won’t be shooting the kind of large game that requires the .300 Win Mag, it might be overkill for your target and your shoulder.

Rifle Type

The .300 Win Mag and the .308 Winchester are fairly similar in cost, though the .308 can usually be found a little more cheaply. The .308 is one of the bestselling centerfire rifle cartridges of all time, so while both of these rounds are generally available, you’ll have more luck and a wider array of options with the .308.

Price & Availability

The .300 Win Mag and the .308 Winchester are fairly similar in cost, though the .308 can usually be found a little more cheaply. The .308 is one of the bestselling centerfire rifle cartridges of all time, so while both of these rounds are generally available, you’ll have more luck and a wider array of options with the .308.

Which Caliber is Best?

The best caliber is going to depend on your individual shooting needs. For a long-range caliber that packs a punch both on your target and on your shoulder, opt for the .300 Winchester Magnum. For a lighter weight cartridge with a softer recoil that will get almost the same job done within 300 yards, go for the .308 Winchester.

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.