The .308 Winchester has won more benchrest
matches than any other cartridge above the 6mm caliber. And continues to
win more Hunter class benchrest matches than all other cartridges combined.
The .308 is also one of our most popular big game cartridges, not only in
the U.S. but in many other countries as well.
Soon after World War II, the U.S. government issued contracts to Winchester and Remington for assistance in the development of a replacement cartridge for the .30-06. The result of those efforts was a shorter version of the .30-06 called T-65. Later the name was changed to 7.62mm NATO.
Realizing that any cartridge adopted by Uncle Sam was sure to become popular among civilian shooters, Winchester beat Remington to the punch by dressing the 7.62mm in civies and calling it .308 Winchester. It was a good move. The .308 went on to enjoy the popularity as a big game cartridge, not only in bolt action rifles but in pumps, single shots, autoloaders, and lever actions as well. Which pretty much sums up the primary reason for the .308's success. Its short overall length enables rifle manufacturers to offer it in any type of rifle.
Choosing the .308 instead of the .30-06 in a bolt action, slide action or autoloading rifle doesn't make sense simply because the shorter cartridge can never be made to equal the performance of the longer cartridge. But in a lever action rifle such as the Savage Model 99, the .308 is far superior to the .30-30 class of cartridges.
For hunting deer size game at close to medium ranges, the .308 Winchester loaded to about 2800 fps with a 150 grain bullet is an excellent performer. The .308 is by no means one of our better elk cartridges, but when loaded with a good 180 grain bullet it will suffice. H380, H335, IMR-4895, RL-12, and W-748 are excellent powders for the .308 Winchester.
Source: Hodgdon Data Manual, 26th Edition
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