What Are the Best .308 Hunting Rifles?
The .308 Winchester bullet is one of the most popular and best-selling cartridges for hunting mid-size to large game animals all over the world. The most common animals we hunt with the .308 in America are Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, Elk, Black Bear, and Pronghorn. Many people ask if you could take a Moose with a .308, and the answer is yes, but I would recommend the 6.5 Creedmoor for a Moose or Elk. We are going to give you the best hunting rifles that are chambered in .308 Winchester in the same format as our 6.5 Creedmoor blog.
Each of the .308 hunting rifles will be graded based on their affordability, accuracy, durability, and quality of materials used to manufacture the rifle. Each rifle will be given a grade between 1-5, with 5 being the best rifle and 1 being the worst. For the sake of this blog, I will only rate the best rifles chambered in .308 to give you the best option of finding the hunting rifle for you.
What is a .308 Winchester?
Initially designed in 1952, the .308 Winchester is made from the 30-06 cartridge, except with a rimless casing and bottleneck design. For all of my Veterans out there, this is similar (not the same) to the 7.62 mm round with a shorter casing, designed for short-action rifles. This specific round is designed for feeding and extraction in bolt-action rifles under hostile conditions (extreme heat, cold, snow, rain, etc.). Since its inception into the market in 1952, the .308 Winchester has become the most popular hunting rifle cartridge in the world. It wasn’t until the 6.5 Creedmoor came around that the.308 began to lose its allure for big game hunters.
What Is the Best .308 Ammunition?
The best .308 ammunition is dependent on the big game that you’re trying to take down, so it can be subjective and relative. The bigger the grain, the more power it is going to have, so if you’re shooting at a Whitetail Deer, you’re not going to need anything bigger than a 125 grain. However, if you’re trying to take on an Elk or Moose, you need to go with something like a 168 to 175-grain bullet for extra stopping power and slower velocity. I recommend the 168-grain bullet because it seems to be the sweet spot between force and velocity. If you want to take down a bigger animal or if you want to drop that whitetail immediately, a 168 grain .308 will do the job. Just try to remember that if you shoot a smaller animal with a bigger round, you’ll lose a little meat, so you have to decide what is a reasonable tradeoff.
BROWNING 308 WINCHESTER 168GR BXC AMMUNITION
Browning’s BXC Controlled Expansion Terminal Tip ammunition is designed to bring down the biggest game you’ll need to shoot, such as Moose or Elk. You lose a little velocity versus the smaller grain bullets, but you gain the energy required to penetrate the thick hide and big bones of large game. This specific round is designed to be incredibly accurate (as with most heavier bullets) at longer ranges and maintain enough force and velocity to hit your target from distances well above 600 meters.
FEDERAL 308 150GR NOSLER BALLISTIC TIP VITAL-SHOK AMMUNITION
Federal ammunition is known as one of the most respected companies because of the quality, price, and precision of their bullets. This 150-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip round is specially designed for maximum accuracy at any range your rifle is capable of shooting. The velocity and force are excellent, and the expansion of the bullet is instantaneous upon impact and controlled to avoid fragmentation. I would recommend this round for a medium-sized game, such as pronghorn, sheep, and deer. I would avoid using this for large game, such as Elk, Bear, and Moose, because it may not have the force to penetrate the thick hide of the more massive game, especially at greater distances.
Best .308 Rifles
Now that we have the ammo taken care of, it’s time to get into the rifles that I would choose if I wanted a .308 hunting rifle. The Savage 10/110 Trophy Hunter XP, the Remington 700, and the Bergara B-14 HMR are some of the best rifles on the market today. As any hunter knows, it’s incredibly difficult to say these rifles are the best because everybody shoots differently, but I know you can’t go wrong with these choices. As our readers know, I am not a fan of shorter barrel hunting rifles, but I would make an exception for any of these rifles listed here. Using a heavier bullet and a stable shooting platform will get you to the distances you need to make a good shot.
SAVAGE 11/111 TROPHY HUNTER XP .308 WIN. WALNUT STOCK W/ NIKON SCOPE
Savage is an excellent company with an outstanding reputation for durability, dependability, and price. This rifle is less than $600, and if you buy it at Palmetto State Armory, it comes with a Nikon scope. As you’ll see below, scopes can run you into the thousands for the top of the line brands. Even though, I’d prefer a 24″ barrel, the 22″ barrel is plenty for any distance you’ll take a responsible shot from. If you’re taking shots at distances greater than 600 meters, you might want a longer barrel, but you could compensate with a heavier bullet, like the Browning BXC. The barrel is free-floating, which takes a lot of the recoil away while their famous AccuTrigger system provides a steady and incredibly light trigger pull. For the price, quality, and durability, I can’t find any rifle that is better than the Savage 10/110 Trophy Hunter XP .308 Winchester. 4.2/5
|Savage 10/110 Trophy Hunter XP|
- Best Trigger for any Rifle I’ve shot
- Made for all environmental conditions
- Heavier than a lot of competitors
- Bolt is not as smooth as most other newer rifles
- Needs modification for maximum comfort
- Free-Floating Barrel
- Walnut Stock
- Comes with Nikon Scope
Why You Should Buy This Rifle
This is an outstanding rifle to start with if you’re a new hunter because it’s the most economical rifle on the market today. I don’t want you to confuse economical with a cheap product, because this rifle is made with quality and precision in mind. To walk away with a new rifle and scope for $600 is an absolute steal for anyone who is worried about money and needs a hunting rifle.
Remington 700 XCR
I know many of you are probably tired of reading about the Remington 700, but the XCR model is one of the best rifles in the world. The XCR (Xtreme Conditions Rifle) is made for handling rain, snow, extreme heat, and the heavy winds of the great plains or the valleys of the Rockie Mountains. The TriNyte Corrosion Control System is so incredible the XCR can withstand literally any environmental condition we have on our planet. The 26″ barrel provides you with an opportunity to shoot upwards of 1,000 meters with the right conditions (expert shooters). Although, I’d never try a shot that far, you could make it in the right conditions with the proper scope.
|Remington 700 XCR|
- Most durable rifle I’ve ever seen
- Incredible accuracy
- 26″ barrel gives it extended range
- Very Heavy
- Complaints about the trigger require a lot of people to buy an aftermarket trigger
- Very expensive
Why You Should Buy This Gun
This is one of those rifles that hunters dream about, with the extended range, durability, and accuracy that can get you shots that most other rifles simply can’t make. I recommend this for experienced hunters because you’re going to spend about $2,000-4,000 when you add your scope and any other attachments you feel you need. At 10 lbs, this is a very heavy gun to be hauling around in the valleys and mountain tops of the Rockies or Cascades.
BERGARA B-14 BMP .308 WINCHESTER RIFLE
The Bergara B-14 Bergara Match Precision (BMP) is specifically designed for competitive shooting with complete customization of the buttstock and cheek well. It comes with a pistol grip that can be replaced with any aftermarket AR-15 grip to get the best grip angle and comfort. One thing that stands out with this rifle is how clean and smooth the trigger is. The trigger has no discernable creep to it and feels great for any sized hand and has about a 3 lb trigger pull weight. The best part of this rifle is the capability of shooting a sub 1.0 MOA at 100 yards with all factory settings, which is unprecedented in the gun industry. 4.5/5
|Bergara B-14 BMP|
- Amazing trigger
- shoots sub 1 MOA at 100 yards
- Great magazine capacity
- The most accurate rifle of the three rifles rated
- Easy feed and extraction
- I love the pistol grip
- Very Heavy
- Short Barrel for a long-range rifle
- Very Expensive
- The two-lug system provides incredibly smooth feeding and extraction
- QD Flush Cups included in the stock for east attachment of a sling
- Compatible with Remington 700 style rings and bases
Why You Should Buy This Gun
Due to this rifle being produced in Spain, the price is going to be higher due to shipping costs and tariffs, but don’t let that deter you. This rifle is explicitly built with competition in mind, so you know that it’s going to be as accurate as possible. Otherwise, they wouldn’t ever sell any of them. I recommend this rifle to any competitive shooter or experienced hunter with an expendable income.