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Thread: 308 - short barrel loads for medium-long range

  1. #1
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    308 - short barrel loads for medium-long range

    Hi all

    I've lurked around for a while and haven't posted much. I do most of my hunting on the Canterbury tops (Reds and Tahr), with shots out to about 250-300m max.
    Rifle is a .308 Bergara B14, 16" barrel and suppressed - only used factory ammo but it shoots well, MOA or better if I do my bit. Scope is a 3-9 power Leupold.

    I'd like to do two things;
    1. Be able to shoot longer ranges, 500m or so
    2. Not buy a new rifle! Although a higher power scope with adjustable elevation is probably a must.

    This has probably been done to death, but are there any suggestions for a projectile / powder combo that would perform well at this further distance? I have read that Hornady EDL X will expand at lower velocities? Perhaps a few other projectiles too.
    I would be hand loading for the first time, probably with a lee hand loader + good scales (hopefully not a silly idea in itself?)

    Am I pushing s**t up hill with the calibre and barrel length?

    Really keen to hear some of the expertise on this forum,
    Thanks and all the best
    Angus

  2. #2
    Member Micky Duck's Avatar
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    pick a soft projectile....yeah hornady as mentioned but also lots of the ones from speer...... if you can hit a 3ltr milk jug consistantly at any given range you can ethically shoot a deer to same range.... yes once getting out there you will need rangefinder and twiddle n fiddle with knobs n dials
    but its all doable if you do your bit...now finding said components will be the hardest bit
    lee hand loaders are great fun and turn out good ammunition......my nosler #2 manuals has them turning out BETTER than factory bought....probably says as much about quality of factory ammo 40 years ago as anything.
    shooting hares with your centrefire will boost your confidence no end..if you can hit ol long ears at 400,a deer is in big trouble at same distance.
    Jukes likes this.
    75/15/10 black powder matters

  3. #3
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    You're right, this really has been done to death.

    Pick a reasonably slick middle weight bullet like a 165gr NBT or 168gr ELD-M and load it up reasonably warm with 2206h or 2208... it will just about have what it needs to kill reds and tahr at 500m without you needing to track, provided you can stick it in exactly the right spot.
    Micky Duck and 6.5 CRD like this.
    Resident 6.5 Grendel aficionado.

  4. #4
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    Yes at a pinch it will work, but a 16" 308 isn't the best tool for the job for 500m shooting, 500m is a loooong way for hunting.

    On paper it will work energy wise, but wind will be the real kicker as with the poor BC and low MV make consistently accurately shooting at 500m challenging. Also a light 16" rifle requires perfect technique to shoot well at those kind of distances.

    In terms of projectiles and powder the above recommendations are spot on. I've personally found 2206H to give best performance in my 16" barrel. I run the 150gr NBT but have also used the 165gr Speer SPBT to good effect and these have the advantage of having a pretty good BC for a 308.

    If i was you id sell it and get something better suited to the job, a 20" 7mm "something" would be far better all-rounder.
    Last edited by Hunty1; 28-04-2023 at 03:48 PM. Reason: spelling

  5. #5
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    As mentioned above, .308 isnt ideal for long range hunting, let alone being shortend to 16". Yes you can run a lighter pill with a stiff load of 2208/2206h behind it but it doesnt really pan out down range, you get the extra muzzle velocity but because your running a light & short but fat pill = low BC - it falls over pretty rapidly as far as trajectory & energy + gets pushed around by the wind more.

    Your best bet would be something like pommy has mentioned, 168gr ELDM would be a good pick. But even assuming best case scenario, you might see around 2600fps with a really stiff load of 2206h, with the 168gr ELDM thats down to 1760fps @ 500m & over 2ft of wind drift in a 10mph cross wind. Not ideal for trying to accurately and humanely kill game, but a good shooter thats had plenty of practise & confident with his gear & processes could do this no problem.. Average wind call and things can get messy real quick.

    Imo, If you dont want to change rifle/calibre, i would limit things to 400m rather than 500.

  6. #6
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    Exactly the sort of info I'm after guys, thanks.
    I'm not keen on going outside of the rifle limits with marginal ballistic performance.

    Hunty1 do you know what sort of velocity you were getting with your 16" barrel loads?

  7. #7
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    Greetings @AngusM,
    Hodgdon has loads in it's pistol section that would be a good place to start. 150 grain or 165 grain projectiles would likely be best to keep the velocity up a bit. Have a go at dialling the Leupold for a start and shoot at targets at the longer ranges to see what you can manage before you start on game. For a powder I would suggest AR2206H which I have found to shoot well in my .308 rifles (along with almost everything else). If you are loading with a Lee Loader you will still need to FL resize every few loads and it would be best to keep these loads for hunting. The last thing you want in the field is a live round stuck in the chamber. You should be able to find someone local to help with the FL resizing, they could also help you get started, especially important with the Lee Loader. Be sure to check that your sized cases chamber easily before loading. Please feel free to ask any specific questions.
    Regards Grandpamac.
    AngusM likes this.

  8. #8
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    @AngusM by 150 NBT is 2730fps and 165 Speer is 2530. Both with stiff charge of 2206H, dabbled with H335 but 2206H worked better for velocity and temp stability.
    Have shot a few animals out to 400m with this setup in perfect conditions. This is what i'd consider max range for this setup, most deer are shot at <50m with this rifle!

    Also have to remember that drop increases rapidly beyond 300m once out past that you need to be spot on with ranging as even 10m error starts to make a big difference.

  9. #9
    Caretaker stug's Avatar
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    I’m my 16” 308 45.5gr H335 with 150gr Hornady soft point gives 2574fps.

  10. #10
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    The powder that gives the highest velocity in a long barrel will also give the highest velocity in a short barrel, so powder choice is the same as what you'd usually pick.

  11. #11
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    Greetings again @AngusM,
    If you have been shooting factory loads for a while hopefully you have been saving your brass. If so it might be a good time to have a count up. Lee Loaders size the case from the outside but do not expand the neck. For this reason the lighter cases like Winchester are easier to load in a Lee Loader. You definitely do not want to load mixed head stamp brass as neck tension will vary widely. I would suggest getting a hand primer as well as I find the idea of seating the primer with a hammer terrifying. I neck sized brass for my .308 rifles for decades using a neck sizing die in a press but currently size my .303 cases in a Lee Loader with good results. It would be best to get someone to take you through the process to start with and explain what is happening at each step. The instructions and videos leave a lot out.
    Regards Grandpamac.
    AngusM likes this.

  12. #12
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    Happy to give you a hand if you got time avaliable week days. PM me
    AngusM likes this.

  13. #13
    Member SPEARONZ's Avatar
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    In answer to a question that you didn’t actually ask..

    Yes you should reload for it. Find a consistent load, like a 1 moa on a bad day load. Then find a better load, then try some other projectile and powder combos just for shits and giggles.

    After all that you will know your rifle inside and out and that 500m shot won’t actually seem that far, not that it will matter because you will then go out and buy a fast 7mm for your new long range obsession.
    Last edited by SPEARONZ; 28-04-2023 at 07:02 PM.
    Matt, 308, Micky Duck and 2 others like this.

  14. #14
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    For long range shots I would try Hornady SST 150 or 165 with AR2206H, I cheat my .308 has a 30" barrel and pushes 155 SMK's to 3010FPS with a safe load

  15. #15
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    45.5 grains 2206h, 150sst gives 2750fps in my 16 inch tikka. Seems to work up close & still does the job out at 400m+ when conditions permit

 

 

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