Today’s factory rifles are, on average, more accurate than I thought possible when I started shooting. American hunters and rifle shooters have long been obsessed with raw accuracy, probably more today than ever before because of the growing fascination with long-range shooting. How much accuracy is really needed depends entirely on what you intend to do. Bench-rest and thousand-yard competitors need all they can get, and so do varmint hunters. Most big-game hunters probably have more accuracy than is truly necessary—but it’s a wonderful confidence builder to know that your rifle is capable of producing teeny, tiny groups!
That’s avalid reason to demand extreme accuracy—and it’s amazing how many of today’s basic, inexpensive factory rifles deliver. I think this is because, with modern manufacturing, factory tolerances are tighter than ever, with more consistent barrels.When I was a kid, we figured a factory bolt-action that produced 1.5-inch 100-yard groups was pretty darned good. Rifles shooting one inch and better were cause for bragging.Today it’s amazing how many factory bolt guns retailing for less than $500 will consistently produce one-inch 100-yard groups.
The 308 Winchester is based on a 30-06 Springfield case shortened from 63mm (2.494 inches) to 51mm (2.015 inches). It was introduced in 1952, the year of my birth so, like me, is no spring chicken. We must never forget that the 30-06 Springfield is the most powerful cartridge ever adopted by a major military power. The 30-06 Springfield and its 1903 Springfield bolt-action rifle definedwhat we think of as “standard” action length. In part this was its undoing; its later Garand rifle was long and heavy; we wanted a shorter and more efficient self-loading action.
Well into the Fifties the 30-06 Springfield was not only America’s service cartridge, but also our most popular sporting round. Unabashedly, I am a 30-06 Springfield guy. As such, I have huge experience with the 30-06 Springfield … and not nearly as much with the 308 Win. In performance on game, the 308 Win and 30-06 Springfield are similar. Always it depends on who is doing the loading but, with greater case capacity, with bullets up to 180 grains the 30-06 Springfield averages about 150 fps faster than the 308 Win.
Game animals are unlikely to discern the difference; there’s really nothing you can (or should) do with a 30-06 Springfield that you can’t (or shouldn’t) do with a 308 Win. The gap widens with heavier bullets. These days few of us actually use heavier bullets, but with 200-grain bullets the 30-06 Springfield is about 200 fps fast, and with 220-grain slugs the 30-06 Springfield is nearly 300 fps faster than the 308 Win.