Everybody has a different version of their estimation for long range. For some it’s 200 yards, for others it’s a sniper shot out to 2000 yards.
When looking for the typically longer range cartridges, eventually people wonder about the .308 Winchester, and what its range might be. So what exactly is the .308 Winchesters ballistic chart and what does it look like out to 1000 yards?
The .308 Winchester round shoots pretty flat out to 200 yards when it starts to drop. At 300 yards it has dropped around 13 inches, and at 500 yards it’s just under 60 inches (5 feet). At 1000 yards a .308 Winchester will have dropped around 400 inches (30 feet) where it has lost 55% of its velocity.
Developed form the military, Winchester brought the .308 round onto the market in 1952. Since the early days, the round has found favor with police forces and competitive shooters. As well as recreational shooters interested in range shooting.
Whilst there are more powerful rounds out there, certainly more useable at a range of 1000 yards, the 308 is a time tested round that has proven it has the ability to deliver at range.
Everyone has a different need, and everyone has a different definition of what long range might be, but for most shooters, the 308 will be a round caliber that will be considered if you need distance.
Unless you are shooting at extreme ranges, for most people the .308 is suitable. It’s been a favorite of snipers for a while, particularly in its military form, and has many different ammunition choices to suit almost every target shooter.
What Is A .308 Cartridge
Well, Wikipedia describes the round as “a smokeless powder rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge”
The .308 Winchester is a cartridge modeled off the military 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge but for civilian use. It’s not exactly the same but the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) considers that you can interchangeably use the rounds.
The .308 Winchester having been around for a while has developed its popularity in the field. Coming from the military dimensions it found favor with long range shooters used to the round.
Around 70 years of bullet manufacture has seen dramatic increases in both quality and the available range of styles. It’s plentiful and effective.
Having come from a military background it’s no surprise to find it packs quite a punch. It has a typical muzzle velocity just under 3000 fps and at 1000 yards will still be traveling around 1200 fps, which is more than enough to do damage.
The .308 Cartridge Ballistics
So what exactly does a .308 Winchester ballistics chart look like?
Well, a bit like this.
That is a pretty typical chart for a pretty typical .308 round.
So, following a 2950 fps muzzle velocity, the round will travel pretty flat for around 200 yards, after which gravity takes its inevitable effect (yeah, I know it was acting on it before).
At 200 yards there is perhaps 4 to 5 inches of bullet drop. At 300 yards though, it’s perhaps looking more like 12 to 14 inches of bullet drop.
A typical question might be how much does a .308 bullet drop at the 500 yard distance. Weill, it’s about 5 feet or 60 inches.
So at 500 yards, a .308 Winchester is still pretty accurate for most shooters.
Over the next 150 yards though, out to 650 yards it’s dropped another 60 inches. Your .308 round will have dropped as much between 500 to 650 yards as it did in the first 500 yards of travel.
From 650 yards onwards, the shooter has to be capable of accurate shot placement whilst dealing with a further 240 inches (20ft) of bullet drop out to 1000 yards.
The .308 Winchester Effective Range
Effective range is always a tricky question to answer as it’s dependent on so many factors.
If you are used to taking into account 400 inches of bullet drop then it’s effective at 1000 yards.
But if you are inexperienced or it’s a bit gusty on the range then the shot may be extremely inaccurate at that range, certainly for shot placement.
However, there are some useful guidelines we can follow. Lets’s take a look at who might have an interest in answering that question.
The US armed forces.
The US army talks about an effective range of around 875 yards, where there will be between 20 and 25 feet of bullet drop.
The United States Marine Corps is somewhat similar in that they say a .308 cartridge is effective to be fired to the 1000 yard mark.
By effective, the US forces mean the chances of hitting the target are good. The round is still lethal way beyond 1000 yards.
So it would be fair to say that around 900 yards as an average is the effective range of the .308 Winchester, where the rounds can reliably be placed on the target.
308 Bullet Drop At 1000 Yards
While looking around the internet I came across some tables, which although were confusing I pulled the date to make the following table, which hopefully is a little easier to follow.
So here’s a table presenting the data for a .308 Winchester round, broken down to drop, velocity, and energy in 25 yard increments.
|Range (yards)||Drop (inches)||Velocity (fps)||Bullet energy (ft.lb)|
This data table is approximate, and shouldn’t be used to replace what any shooter sees as the realities on the ground.
First hand experience is always king.
Nevertheless, the data table shows consistency with the pictorial graph shown for the trajectory.
The .308 Winchester is certainly a caliber that can be used out to the 1000 yard mark. If the US Marine Corps uses it for the purpose, then it should be good enough for the rest of us.
So what exactly have we learned?
Up to 150 yards, the round travels extremely flat, as you might expect, and only drops an inch or two to 200 yards. Sub 200 yard shots will require little adjustment.
Targets beyond 200 yards, up to 500 yards a shooter will need to compensate for around 1 to 5 feet of drop. That is still pretty good. 500 yards is still quite a range, it’s lost around 900 fps of velocity at 500 yards, but still traveling at 1800 fps.
500 yards away, that round is still moving.
Between 500 to 650 yards is dropping at around 10 to 12 inches every 25 yards, and as it extends to 1000 yards you will need to aim 30 feet above the target.
Whatever anyone says, the .308 Winchester is a formidable cartridge and with plenty of life left in it yet.