The .308 Winchester is one of the most popular rounds for hunting and competitive shooting. But a lot of its popularity is not because of its performance. A lot of it is attributed to the fact that most people use it, and it’s readily available.
As a hunting round a lot of people talk about the .308s muzzle velocity, but what is the muzzle velocity of the .308 Winchester round?
The average muzzle velocity of a .308 Winchester round is around 2750 fps (feet per second). The heavier rounds like 185 gr (12 g) Lapua Mega JSP will be lower at 2,510 fps, and the lighter 125 gr (8 g) Spitzer will be around 3100 fps.
What’s A Typical .308 Winchester Muzzle Velocity
The .308 Winchester is a rimless rifle cartridge designed with smokeless gunpowder. It dates back to the 1950s, but an earlier .300 Savage inspires its design.
The US Military based its experiments on the .300 Savage to come up with the T65 series. Due to these T65 experiments’ success, Winchester designed one for the civilian market, the .308 Winchester.
Two years later, one of these series, the T65E5, became the 7.62*51mm NATO.
The 7.62*51 NATO and the .308 Winchester have similarities but are not identical. But both of them can be interchanged in most rifles.
Several companies have rolled out their version of the .308 Winchester, all with different muzzle velocities over the years.
I looked up some of the commonly bought .308 Winchester rounds and made a table.
Below is a list of some of the most common and their velocities.
|Remington Core Lokt 150gr PSP.||3110 fps|
|168 Grain BTHP – Hornady Match||2700 fps|
|Federal Premium Sierra Match King Gold Medal||2600 fps|
|Wolf Military Classic 168gr||2745 fps|
|Lake City 149gr FMJ 7.62x51mm||2790 fps|
|Prvi Partizan Match 155gr HPBT .308.||2788 fps|
|PMC Bronze 147gr .308||2780 fps|
|MEN/Magtech 7.62x51mm – 147 Grain FMJ||2707 fps|
|185 gr (12 g) Lapua Mega JSP||2,510 fps|
|125 gr (8 g) Spitzer||3,100 fps|
The table above shows why the 308 Winchester is popular among big-game hunters and those who enter the competitive shooting sport. With an average of 2750 fps, it has enough energy to cause damage and penetrate hard surfaces.
Bullet Grain And .308 Muzzle Velocity
Based on the table, the .308 Winchester comes in different bullet grains (gr), ranging from around 125 gr to 185 gr.
In most cases, a lighter bullet is a faster bullet and the round will have the greater muzzle velocity. This is because when fired it’s easier for the propellant, to act upon a lighter bullet.
As you can see in the table, bullet grain does affect muzzle velocity.
For instance, the lighter Remington Core Lokt is a 150 gr bullet and has a muzzle velocity of 3110 fps. The heavier 168 Grain BTHP – Hornady Match has a muzzle velocity of 2700 fps.
The only downside of high velocity is the recoil. Since velocity affects the energy, a high-velocity bullet may have a stronger kick, influencing the next shot.
Heavier bullets can fall drastically relative to the lighter rounds past a certain distance. They exit slower, so the range is slightly less. So it would be best if you looked for a balance between the weight and performance of the bullet.
Choosing the right weight based on the barrel’s twist-rate can also come in handy when selecting ammo for your rifle.
Does Barrel Length Affect Muzzle Velocity?
Besides the bullet grain, barrel length also affects muzzle velocity.
The longer the barrel, the higher the muzzle velocity since the bullet gains momentum within the barrel. In this test, the shooter tested the muzzle velocities of various .308 Winchester cartridges with different barrel lengths.
To minimize the errors, instead of using different firearms, he made a custom firearm and cut the barrel 1 inch at a time when conducting the test. The original barrel length was 28 inches, and the final barrel length was 16.5 inches. His tests recorded an average of 22 fps loss in muzzle velocity when he cut 1-inch of the barrel.
Besides affecting the muzzle velocity, the barrel length also seems to affect the Maximum Point Blank Range, the distance a bullet can travel without falling or rising. With a reduction of the barrel length by 11.5 inches, the MPBR decreased by at least 27 yards.4
A .308 Winchester round shoots pretty flat out to 250 yards, so an individual shooter can ascertain whether that’s important to them.