Caliber Comparison: 300 VS 308 Win Magnum [Recoil, Ballistics, and Price]

The tactical industry is moving too forward with various new launches. In that line, Winchester has also introduced two new rounds, and that has made a great revolution in the market. Many people were confused in finding the best, between the two cartridges. Well, do you want to know what are they? Here is the star of our article, 300 Win Mag and the 308 Win Mag. Let’s compare both of them and find out their strengths. You too start with me in comparison.

Before getting into the difference between the 308 Win Mag and the 300, let’s learn something about both the cartridges. 

History of .308 Win Magnum

The .308 Winchester Magnum came into existence in 1952 by the United States. At that time NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) decided to use a standardized cartridge for the military, replacing the .30-06 chambered rifles. It was an opportunity for Winchester to market this 308 mag round for civilian use. 

Winchester Magnum
Scenar-L .308
Scenar .308
AccuBond .308
Lapua Scenar-L .308 Winchester 175 grainLapua Scenar .308 Winchester 167 grainNosler Trophy Grade .308 Winchester 165 Grain
Bullet Weight
175 Grain
167 Grain
165 Grain
Bullet Type
Scenar-L OTM
Scenar OTM
AccuBond
Cartridge Case
Brass
Brass
Brass
Muzzle Velocity
2601 ft/s
2690 ft/s
2800 ft/s
Muzzle Energy
2621 ft-lbs
2690 ft-lbs
2872 ft-lbs
Primer Location
Centerfire
Centerfire
Centerfire

Winchester utilized this chance, and they rocked the world in the 20th century. Till today, it has been the most popular short-action hunting cartridge in the market.

Though .308 magnum was short-lived in the military, it has no signs of hesitation in the hunting world. The 308 is a small cartridge having less powder and manageable recoil. As it has less recoil, it provides more comfort for the shooters to acquire their targets faster. 

The larger-weight bullets give an excellent range for most hunting scenarios and provide more stopping power for a large size game. 

This is a very popular cartridge all over, as it is available with numerous options, which increases its versatility in the field. Military snipers, hunters, long-range shooters, target shooters, and combat shooters across the world have turned to this versatile .308 magnum for its availability and performance.

The parabolic arch produced by the .308 gets pretty significant at ranges beyond 300 yards. With a 100 yard zero, the shooter needs to hold off up to 2 inches to hit at the center of the target at 200 yards. At 300, the shooter needs to hold off nearly 15 inches depending on bullet grain size.

Most hunters zero their rifle at 200 to help alleviate the hold-off that is needed for longer-range shots. That’s why it’s crucial to invest in good glass, especially when dealing with higher loads.

History of .300 Winchester Magnum

In early 1913, .30 Newton magnum rounds were around for rifles. The desire for more power and faster velocities motivated the manufacturers to develop even more magnum rounds for the shooting world. 

Magnum
.300 Weatherby
.300 Winchester
.300 H&H
Nosler Custom Rifle Brass .300 Weatherby MagnumNosler Trophy Grade .300 Winchester Magnum 180 GrainNosler Trophy Grade .300 H&H Magnum 180 Grain
Bullet Weight
180 Grain
180 Grain
180 Grain
Bullet Type
AccuBond
AccuBond
AccuBond
Cartridge Case
Brass
Brass
Brass
Muzzle Velocity
2950 ft/s
2950 ft/s
2950 ft/s
Muzzle Energy
3478 ft-lbs
Primer Location
Centerfire
Centerfire
Centerfire

Therefore in 1925, the .300 H&H Magnum, and in the 1940s, the .300 Weatherby Magnum and .270 Weatherby Magnum arose. In that line, Winchester has also decided to join in the ring. Later in the 1950s, Winchester introduced several magnum rounds, including the .458 Win Mag, .338 Win Magnum, and .308 Win Magnum.

The .300 Winchester Magnum came out like a big blaster to market and bet all others in the race. But this is short-lived because it is more expensive and harder to find.  While others still exist, as it is available even now. 

The .300 Win Mag is one of the most popular long-range rounds on the civilian market. The size is the same as its name and the diameter is similar to the .308 magnum. This creates faster muzzle velocity and ranges farther than 300 yards. 

With a 100 yard zero, the .300 Win Mag will have a 2-inch drop at 200 yards same as that of .308. At 300, the drop is only 9 inches. The .300 Win Mag was designed for maximum power and accuracy that help long-range shooters to shoot out beyond 1000 yards. 

Mostly, Elk hunters prefer this .300 Win Mag round because most shots on Elk must be taken at more than 300 ranges over rugged terrain. If you want to do a lot at long ranges, then .300 Win Mag is a perfect choice for you. It brings a lot in performance and won’t cripple your wallet. 

Similarities in .300 and .308 Win Mag

Both .300 and .308 cartridges are housed in standard-length actions. The .308 easily fits in short actions, while the .300 Win Mag slides into long-actions. Magnum lengths do not add cost and weight.

They are available from 125-grains to 200-grains, giving a wide range of choices for the rifleman to shoot everything from varmints to bears.

Both .300 Win Mag and .308 Win Mag cartridges have proved themselves as accurate long-range options in military deployments as well as competitive venues to 1,000 yards or more.

Where Do They Differ?

  • The .308 Win Mag has started its life for military activities and quickly got approval as a capable round in the hunting fields. The .300 Win Mag was a sporting round chambered in standard-length actions.
  • The .308 can be used in compact and lightweight rifles that come in handy. While the .300 Win Mag was designed to use in heavier and longer barrel rigs. 
  • Recoil: The recoil of the .308 Win is very low and manageable even by amateurs or youngsters. The .300 Win Mag probably does not support new shooters. As it is a heavier rig, the recoil is also a little higher and can be tackled only by professionals or frequent hunters. 

.308 Win Mag VS .300 Win Mag Recoil

When comparing any two loads, the first thing that everyone will look at is the recoil. Recoil is the force that is backed up to your shoulders while firing the cartridge. Both these cartridges also generate a significant amount of force while sending bullets at high velocities. This we call it as recoil or kick. 

The barrel length and stock design are the other factors that help to quantify the recoil felt in those two cartridges. Both the rounds generate over 20ft.lbs of force which is enough flinching. This will greatly influence your accuracy. 

Blasting a cartridge for inaccuracy has happened a lot of times. Why does this happen? This is because of too much recoil that causes you to flinch as you pull the trigger. 

Average Recoil (ft.lb)

.308 Winchester Magnum: 22.15 in a 7lb Rifle.

.300 Winchester Magnum: 35.1/ 27.3 in a 7lb Rifle/ 9lb Rifle.

When comparing both the rounds, the .300 Win Mag generates a little more force of six lbs than the .308 Win. But this does not seem like a huge difference in recoil. 

The .308 Win Mag rounds are being simulated with a 7lb rifle while the .300 Win Mag rounds with a 9lb rifle. Bullet weight and muzzle velocity could also show some variations in recoil.

Finally, I conclude that the .300 Win Mag generates more recoil than the .308 rounds. And so here the winner is .308 rounds. 

.300 Win Mag Vs .308 Win Mag Ballistics

Ballistics is an important factor when comparing two different cartridges. Ballistics include various topics like muzzle velocity, trajectory, ballistic coefficients, and environmental factors. 

By looking at all of these components, we will have a better understanding of these cartridges which perform better in different scenarios. 

Velocity

Velocity is the most important factor to consider, as it correlates with accuracy. If the bullet travels much faster, then there will be less wind and gravity effect on the bullet. For this reason, many long-range marksmen use faster bullets. 

When looking at both .300 Win Mag and .308 Win Mag, lighter bullets give higher velocity than heavier bullets. So here .300 Win Mag has an advantage. They have a little increase in velocity than the .308 rounds. 

Average Velocity (ft/s)

Ballistic Coefficient (BC)

A ballistic coefficient is a number that you will come across when doing any research on cartridges. The BC is an important factor for taking accurate shots at more than 100 yards. 

If the BC is higher, then the bullet is less susceptible to drag and wind drift. A fewer adjustment is needed in the ballistic coefficient for a more accurate shot excluding all other factors. 

In comparison between the two rounds, I found that .300 Win Mag has a higher ballistic coefficient than the .308 Win Mag round.

Average Ballistic Coefficient

.308 Winchester: 0.434

.300 Winchester Magnum: 0.489

Trajectory

Once fired, the bullets do not move in a flat line. They’ll have a parabolic trajectory, and as they move downrange, the bullet will lose its altitude. Most centerfire cartridges have a flat trajectory at 200 or 300 yards. A flat trajectory helps in aiming and connecting a shot much simpler. This is very useful, especially for long-range shots. In a game .300 vs .308, the 300 Win mag shows a flatter trajectory than the .308.

Stopping Power

Even though all the ballistic properties are important for the bullet, it will not make a huge difference if the round does not have enough energy to reach the target for making a clean and humane killing. 

In this section, we’ll compare the amount of force that is transferred from the bullet to the animal on impact (ft. lb). We’ll also consider the bullet energy and penetration which are crucial while comparing the stopping power of cartridges. 

Energy

Every bullet fired from the rifle carries kinetic energy and that becomes the physical force when it reaches the target. Then, this energy is transferred to the surrounding tissues, nerves, or organs of the damaged area. The main components for this energy are the mass and velocity of the projectile. 

When comparing the energy for the two rounds, the .300 Win Mag vs .308 Win Mag, we found that our 300 is more in bullet energy than the 308 magnums.

From the muzzle, the average bullet energy of the .300 Win Mag cartridges is 3,600ft.lb while the .308 Win has 2,720ft. lb. This is a big difference between the two rounds.

As a whole, all the .300 Win Mag rounds have over 1500ft. lb of force at 500-yards. This is an amazing power for a hunting rifle and the .300 wins in this race.

Penetration 

Penetration is another factor that is very important when hunting a game with tough and thick bones. Here we’ll measure penetration of the bullet by sectional density and momentum. 

The sectional density is calculated by dividing the bullet’s weight by its diameter and then squared. Theoretically, the higher sectional density offers greater penetration, as more force is applied to the target. 

Depending on the use of the cartridge, you should decide whether you need more penetration or not. 

Momentum is defined as discovering how well an object in motion can be in motion. From the bullet point of view, momentum is how well it can overcome resistance and continue to run towards the goal.

For higher momentum, the penetration of the round should also be higher. 

Both of these rounds carry the same penetration with a little bit of deviation. But overall, both the .300 Win Mag and .308 Win Mag group tightly together.

300 Win Mag Vs 308: Price and Availability

Both of these cartridges are popular enough and can be obtained easily in the market. When coming to the price, the .308 Win Mag is much cheaper than the .300 Win Mag. You want to spend a little more extra for the .300 Win Mag cartridge. Both provide the ultimate performance. So it’s your wish to pick the one.

Applications

Both .300 win mag and .308 cartridges are excellent to use on a medium to the large-bodied game. For the largest game, the heavier bullet .300 Win Mag will give you better penetration while the .308 Win Mag gives a lot for a medium-sized game and even some larger games. 

Conclusion

Both 300 Win Mag and 308 Win Mag are the most popular cartridges for long game hunting. Both have excellent terminal ballistics and are highly effective when used in proper scenarios. So you can grab any of them according to your needs.

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