7mm-08 vs 308: Which One Is Better?

You have probably been wondering which one is better between the 7mm-08 vs 308.

7mm-08 vs 308

The .308 Winchester has long been considered the go-to rifle cartridge for hunting medium-sized game.

While not quite big enough to reliably put down a large bear, it can hold its own with virtually anything smaller than that.

But then you hear some hunters claim that the 7mm-08 is a much better cartridge.

If that's true, then why are so many people still using the 308? That's a great question.

In this article, we are going to compare the 308 vs 7mm-08. We'll take a look at a quick history of both cartridges, look at ballistics, and then discuss the other factors on why the 308 is still the most popular.

Disclosure:   Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

7mm-08 vs 308

308 History

The .308 Winchester was first introduced in 1952, and the .30-caliber cartridge rapidly became the caliber of choice for hunters worldwide.

This necked cartridge has an average muzzle velocity of between 2,600 and 2,700 feet per second.

With a bullet weight varying between 110 and 180 grain (from just over one-fourth of an ounce to nearly half of an ounce), the .308 packs plenty of punch for taking deer, moose, elk, and other similarly-sized animals.

Two years after its release, a derivative of the .308 was developed as a new standard rifle cartridge for NATO, the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge.

The main benefits of the .308 that were carried over to this new cartridge include the hard-hitting .30-caliber bullet and a relatively short casing.

This casing is shorter than the .30-06, the previous standard-issue rifle ammunition for the US military.

While .308 and 7.62 x 51mm are very similar, these two bullet types are not identical.

Attention must be paid to what caliber your rifle is chambered for prior to attempting to mix and match.

As a general rule, it is safe to shoot 7.62 x 51mm ammunition in a rifle chambered for .308, but one should avoid trying to shoot .308 Winchester in a rifle chambered in 7.62 x 51mm NATO.

7mm-08 History

The 7mm-08 Remington is a much newer round and is a close copy of a wildcat (custom-made) cartridge released in 1958 called 7mm/308. In 1980, Remington renamed and released it as a chambering option for their 788 and 700-series rifles.

The 7mm-08, like its predecessor, is essentially a .308 casing that has been necked down to accept a 7mm-diameter bullet.

This produces a very fast-moving round with a muzzle velocity between 2,600 and 2,800 feet per second.

The 7mm-08 is available in varying weights that range between 120 and 175 grains. The result is a round that weighs about the same as a .308 but with a smaller bullet diameter and more powder behind it.

Ballistics

Let's look at some data in the tables first for a comparison between 308 vs 7mm 08, and then we will discuss the observations. The comparison was done using the Federal ballistics calculator, with the Federal Nosler round with ballistic tip.

Velocity

Velocity (fps) Comparison - Federal Nosler (Ballistic Tip)

Range (yd)

7mm-08 Rem = 140 gr

308 Win = 150 gr

0

2800

2820

100

2613

2611

200

2433

2410

300

2260

2219

400

2094

2037

500

1935

1863

600

1784

1701

Energy

Energy (ft-lb) Comparison - Federal Nosler (Ballistic Tip)

Range (yd)

7mm-08 Rem = 140 gr

308 Win = 150 gr

0

2437

2648

100

2122

2270

200

1839

1935

300

1587

1640

400

1363

1382

500

1164

1156

600

990

963

Trajectory - Drop

Drop (in) Comparison - Federal Nosler (Ballistic Tip)

Range (yd)

7mm-08 Rem = 140 gr

308 Win = 150 gr

100

0

0

200

-3.6

-3.6

300

-13.1

-13.2

400

-29.4

-29.9

500

-53.4

-54.7

600

-87

-90.2

Trajectory - Wind Drift

Wind Drift (in) Comparison - Federal Nosler (Ballistic Tip)

Range (yd)

7mm-08 Rem = 140 gr

308 Win = 150 gr

100

0.7

0.8

200

2.7

3

300

6.4

7.2

400

11.9

13.3

500

19.1

21.5

600

28.7

32.7

Findings

In terms of ballistics, the .308 typically has between 50 and 70 inches of bullet drop at 500 yards, with a terminal velocity of between 1,600 and 2,000 feet per second.

Certain types of .308 Winchester ammunition have the ability to produce hydrostatic shock—an instant collapse of the target upon impact. This is one of the many reasons it is so popular with hunters.

Of course, physics dictates that heavier bullets will slow down faster and drop farther than lighter ammunition. So, your bullet selection should be determined by the target you intend to hit.

Generally speaking, the larger the game, the heavier your bullet should be. For example, a soft-tipped, frangible .308 weighing between 165 and 168 grains is preferred by snipers and police marksmen and is also a favorite of long-range hunters.

Comparatively, the 7mm-08 provides marginally more force of impact over longer distances with slightly less bullet drop.

In our table head-to-head comparison between a 150 grain .308 Nosler Ballistic Tip and a 140 grain 7mm-08 Nosler Ballistic Tip, the 7mm-08 outperformed the .308 by a small margin only at long distance.

In this comparison, the two bullets were neck and neck at 200 yards in terms of bullet drop and kinetic energy.

From there, the gap widened—at 400 and 500 yards the .308 continued to drop farther, lose more energy, and drift more than the 7mm-08.

At the furthest test range of 600 yards, the 7mm-08 held the advantage in all categories. It had 3 inches less bullet drop, 27 foot-pounds more terminal energy, and 4 inches less bullet drift than the .308.

While these margins are relatively slim, they do make a difference for long-range shooting.

Don't forget that long range shooting requires solid optics. We recommend you check out the Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20x50mm as a great scope.

Recoil

On average for different bullet grains, the 7mm-08 will have a little less recoil than the .308. However, as you get up to the larger grains, the recoil gap starts to become minimal.

Basics

Price

However, while the 7mm-08 Remington may slightly outperform the .308 Winchester, the .308 has a clear advantage in three important categories—price, availability, and infrastructure.

When comparing prices online, the least expensive box of .308 Winchester came in under $14 for a box of 20 rounds or $0.70 per round.

Conversely, the cheapest box of 7mm-08 Remington was $20 per box of 20 or $1 per round. A $0.30 per round difference may not seem like much, but it quickly adds up for those who shoot regularly.

Availability

In terms of availability, the .308 is a clear winner with countless combinations of grain weights, bullet types, and casing options.

For 7mm-08, the options were very limited—there were several plastic-tipped or soft-tipped rounds and three hollow point rounds available, but few options in terms of ball ammunition.

Infrastructure

The greatest advantage of the .308 is the infrastructure that has been built around that caliber.

There are literally hundreds of different rifle models chambered in .308 in virtually any action type (bolt action, semiautomatic, etc.). A plethora of companies make accessories designed around rifles of that caliber.

There are also dozens of .308-caliber AR platform rifles on the market in a variety of configurations.

In comparison, the 7mm-08 is largely in use with bolt-action rifles. There are also a few lever-action options, but comparatively few semiautomatics being produced.

In terms of AR platforms, while there are some 7mm-08 upper receivers available that can be added to a .308 AR lower receiver, only a few AR variants are made specifically in 7mm-08 Remington.

Conclusion

In summary, while the 7mm-08 Remington and .308 Winchester are similar, the 7mm-08 does not have the same wide acceptance, availability, and infrastructure as the .308.

Looking at the ballistics for the 7mm 08 vs 308, we found that the 7mm-08 has a bit of an advantage for longer range shots.

Ammunition for the 7mm-08 is more expensive, with fewer options in terms of bullet type and grain weight.

The 7mm-08 may be a superior caliber in terms of performance, but the .308 remains the most popular round in its category.

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