Thank you all for your input! As you can see in the OP we started out with some very basic experimenting for an inexpensive load for my first hunting season with the rifle (I've had it for a year but missed last season due to studies and parties). We went from 43.0 to 45.0 grains of 203-b with 0.5 grain increments.
This way we stuck to Normas recommendations for loading their .308w brass while passing by some of the powder charges recommended here and elsewhere.
With an almost stock rifle and a not-too-magnifying scope operated by a relatively inexperienced shot using good but not perfect support the best 5-shot group measured 34.2mm @ 80m. This translates to just a little bit worse than 1.5 MOA, which is just what I need for all my hunting. Good enough for our smallish roe deer out to 200-250, in good to perfect conditions. Might extend that figure if I improve my shooting, the load or the rifle.
We only shot one 5-shot group with each load, but there will no doubt be more experimenting down the road.
Oh, I almost forgot: The winning load used 44.0 grains of norma 203-b in once fired norma brass, necksized and loaded with a winchester large rifle primer.