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Old May 12, 2012, 08:53 PM   #1
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.308 vs 30-06?!

I've been hearing a constant argument about whats better, .308 or 30-06. I hunt mostly whitetails but plan on going elk hunting soon and i want a rifle that will be versatle enough to have me tag both species, so am i better off shooting a .308 or a 30-06
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Old May 12, 2012, 09:07 PM   #2
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It depends on how you define 'better'. A .308 with the right bullet can take an Elk. A .30-06 can do the same, but with more force (on both ends). How do you handle recoil?
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Old May 12, 2012, 09:10 PM   #3
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I'm fine with recoil, i shoot 3 1/2' turkey loads in 10 gauge and it bothers me, but my 12's seem like 20's now. haha
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Old May 12, 2012, 09:45 PM   #4
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hair splitting

On paper, the '06 has a SLIGHT edge, especially with heavier slugs. But we don't shoot game on paper. In the field, I think the difference between the two is moot.

Given the variances of rifles, barrel length, loads, dx to target, etc, they perform the same.

I like the .308 due to the short action, which is less rifle to tote.

Get the rifle you like, and find an elk.
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Old May 12, 2012, 10:22 PM   #5
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Both shoot the same bullet, the 30-06 will shoot them about 200 fps faster with proper handloads. Only about 100 fps faster if you are shooting factory loads. Most 30-06 factory loads are very conservative and can easily and safely be improved upon with handloads. The 308 is a newer round loaded to higher pressure and factroy loads are a little harder to improve on.

With proper loads a 308 is adequate for elk at up to 400 yards. The 30-06 will give you about 100 yards more useable range before bullet velocity gets too slow to reliably take elk. That is with good handloads. The 30-06 does not have that much of an advantage if limited to factory loads.

A rifle in 308 can be built considerably lighter and more compact, but most manufacturers don't take advantage of this. With most guns there is only a few oz. difference in the guns weight and it is not a factor. But if you choose the right gun it can be huge. My Kimber 308 weighs exactly 6 lbs, and that includes the scope and mounts. My 30-06 rifles are all in custom lightweight McMillan stocks and still weigh between 7.25-7.75 lbs including scopes and mounts.

I can't tell you which is best for you. I have both and use both depending on the situation. My personal thoughts are that if I'm going to buy a full size and weight rifle there is no reason to not get a 30-06. If your goal is to buy a lightweight gun then the 308 only makes sense if you buy a truly lightweight rifle.

Either will work on elk and neither should be a real problem with recoil. Since you will be using it for deer mostly, buy the gun you think you will enjoy deer hunting with and make it work for elk instead of the other way around.

My best advice is to find the rifle you like best and let that determine the chambering. I've settled on 308 and 30-06, and simply don't want to have to keep up with additional calibers, but if I were you, and ran across a rifle I really liked in 270, 7mm-08 or several others I wouldn't pass just because it wasn't a 308 or 30-06. No deer or elk will ever notice the difference.
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Old May 12, 2012, 10:24 PM   #6
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If you handload, the .30-06 is far more versatile, and you can bump it up to close to .300 WM levels or down to .308 levels as needs be.

The .308 is plenty enough for white tail and elk, though. Just make sure to use heavier (170-180gr), better constructed bullets for elk. The .30-06 will just give you a bit more range.
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Old May 12, 2012, 10:37 PM   #7
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Agree with Regolith. I've messed with the '06 for some sixty years, but if I were not a handloader, the .308 would work just as well.
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Old May 13, 2012, 12:06 AM   #8
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Im a reloader for 30-06 as well and from my experience its dominant over the .308. I dont care about the short action long action debate. Whats the difference? 1-2'' in bolt length and travel? No big deal. Ive had my 06 for a long time and it was the first caliber I ever reloaded for so might be partial. They are both capable.
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Old May 13, 2012, 02:09 AM   #9
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What they say may be true about the /06 but the 308 is no slouch and very capable of taking an Elk. My son took a fine Bull Elk back in 2000 (or was it 01). He used a 180 gr Partition handload out of a 700 ADL Youth rifle. I have nothing against the 30/06 but realistically, a slight trimming of weight, throw, and recoil of the 308 makes a real sweet shooting little package. The added power and range of the /06 were not missed since he took this Elk at about 80 yards.

If I was going to use 200 grain bullets, I would use a 30/06.
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Old May 13, 2012, 02:52 AM   #10
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Man this argument goes down allllll the time. We all know everyone has their personal preference, I know I like my 308 more than my gramp's 30 ott but ya know what, nothing beats the price and fun of a .22. Now, I'm not saying you'll take down an elk with it, buttt it's fun.
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Old May 13, 2012, 09:51 AM   #11
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As most have said, the '06 has an advantage in versatility if you handload, but it is pretty much a moot question, especially with factory ammo. Either will do the job handily. I would recommend looking around to find a rifle that fits you well, and then look for a deal. Go with the caliber you can get the best deal on in the rifle you like.

Out of curiosity, you said you currently hunt whitetails... what do you use for that?
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Old May 13, 2012, 12:36 PM   #12
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It's doubtful whatever you shoot with one or the other will notice the difference.
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Old May 13, 2012, 01:14 PM   #13
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Choose the one that the rifle you are lusting after is chambered in , because the critter wont know the difference and honestly neither will you in the field results. Either of them will make clean kills on elk at further ranges than most hunters have any business shooting .
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Old May 13, 2012, 04:39 PM   #14
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Smokin' barrels:

I call them kissing cousins. However, with bullets of 180 grain and heavier the 30-06 prevales because it has more case capacity to hold more powder.

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Old May 13, 2012, 06:23 PM   #15
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I'd prefer a 30-06 if I were buying a bolt action rifle, and I'd go with the 308 in every other kind of action.

A few years ago the 30-40 Krag was considered a VERY good elk rifle. The 308 beats it. So there is no way it can be a "bad choice".

With 150 and 165 grain bullets there is no practical difference between the two. With 180 grain bullets the 06 is in front a little bit. If you look at velocity loss in flight with 180 grain bullets, you could say a 30-06 is the same as a 308, with an extra 40 yards of range.

With 200 and 220 grain bullets the 06 starts to step away from the 308. I LOVE the 220 grain bullets for elk, but most men shoot 180s.

In all honesty, the 180s work very well. Use one that will hold together and you have all the elk rifle you could ever need with either one.
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Old May 14, 2012, 04:30 PM   #16
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No one has talked abotu the ohter sub sonic side of the scale. If you want to shoot sub sonic the 308 is the way to go, with a suppressor it is some good pest medicine. I have both an 06 and a 308, and if you are going to hunt white tail either is fine, I would choose the 06 for Elk just because I do handload and the larger case capacity has its advantages.
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Old May 14, 2012, 05:42 PM   #17
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The 308 Winchester is the commercial offering based on the T65 cartridge being used for testing the T44 rifle in 1951. T65 ammunition, based on the 300 Savage, was designed to duplicate 30-06 ballistics with 147 gr ball ammo, and did so very well. As modern powder technologies have progressed, the 30-06 with its higher case capacity retained and improved its advantage over the shorter case, specifically with heavier projectiles. So having said that, for most intents and purposes, they are so close that you would probably have similar velocity/energy variation between two different brands of 30-06 ammo as between the 308 and 30-06. Pick one, they're about the same.
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Old May 14, 2012, 06:36 PM   #18
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If you consider the availability factor in determining what's better, then I think you'll want to go with the .308. After two world wars+ of service, the availability of .30-06 ammo made it a very popular civilian cartridge. These days, after years of being a NATO cartridge, the .308 has the advantage over its progenitor.
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Old May 14, 2012, 11:09 PM   #19
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A few years ago the 30-40 Krag was considered a VERY good elk rifle.
If by "a few years ago" you mean 1/2 a century or more .... then yeah, it'd have been an established gun for big big game- a bigger gun by 10 grains than the mighty thutty-thutty!

Jack O'Conner was espousing the .270 WIN for Elk over 50 years ago .... the Krag's day had passed by then, except for some old salts that thought of Jack as some brash youngster .......
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Old May 15, 2012, 07:28 AM   #20
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Within 200 yards a Krag is a very good elk rifle. For that matter, so is a .270, and you can add another 100 yards to it. I'll bet the argument between the '06 guys and the .308 guys is one of the most common on these forums.
redneckrepairs pretty much said it all.
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Old May 16, 2012, 03:14 PM   #21
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Either the .308 or 30.06 will do the job. On paper, the 30.06 has a little more performance with a little more recoil. Real world, either will do the job assuming you do yours.

Buy the one you like best.
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Old May 16, 2012, 05:17 PM   #22
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I like the 308 but that is my opinion.
I have 4 rifles in 308 Winchester all bought new.
Savage 99 F Lever Action
Remington 700 Bolt Action
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New Winchester Model 70 Bolt Action made in South Carolina.
If I need anything bigger than the 308 the Weatherby Mark V Deluxe Rifle comes out in 460 Weatherby Magnum.
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Old May 17, 2012, 12:43 AM   #23
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both rounds are versatile enough to handle both whitetails and elk effectively. the difference in energy and range is pretty negligible. the 308 is probably the best for long range shots while the 30-06 is holds more energy at close distance. neither will overly damage deer or other medium game as long as you place your shots well while both will generate the necessary shock to take down larger game when used in conjunction with soft point or ballistic tip ammo.

06 rifles are generally easier to come by while 308 ammo is slightly cheaper to practice with. whatever flavor suits you best. I don't shoot 308 very often but having shot 30-06, 303 brit, 7.62x54R quite a bit I would say that just about any 30 cal rifle cartridge would be able to do either job well, even getting into the 7.62x39 or 30-30 range as long as you kept to close range(flame suit on) would be able to take an elk with a good soft point.
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Old May 18, 2012, 09:33 AM   #24
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.308 vs 30-06?!

I own a 30-06. A shooting pal has a 308. I'm not a big game hunter, but he is and he's had no trouble whatsoever taking a couple of Colorado elk in recent years. I like the -06 more for sentimental reasons than anything else. The 308's short action is nice in a bolt rifle, though. I think the real world performance difference between the two is pretty small. My advice (worth what you paid for it) would be to get whichever you may have a slight preference towards.
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Old May 18, 2012, 01:20 PM   #25
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This is a regular topic. A search of the forum will show a bunch of threads with the same title.

The odds of someone needing a rifle configured to take advantage of the .30-06 are pretty slim. So just flip a coin.
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