A .308 Winchester is arguably the most popular rifle cartridge for medium to big game hunting in North America. Alongside the 30-06 and 7mm Rem Mag, the .308 Winchester is perfect for whitetail deer, feral hogs, coyotes, and ungulates like elk and moose.
Many hunters feel more comfortable buying standard commercial ammo that they know is good and reliable. However, if you load your own ammo correctly, hand-loaded ammo can be safer, more reliable, have better ballistics, and still save you money. If you’re interested in learning how you can save money, time, energy on making your own ammo, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve written a lot about reloading your own ammo and how much money people can save by reloading with Frankford Arsenal tools, but we haven’t explained the benefits of one of the most popular calibers in the United States; the famous .308 Winchester. With so many different tools on the market, I chose to find the most universal tools so that I could save even more money over time.
Why Did I Choose Frankford Arsenal?
I was first interested in Frankford Arsenal because, after my research into RCBS and Hornady, the tools weren’t as universal as Frankford Arsenal. I realized unless I had an infinite amount of space to reload and set up my gear, I was going to need a small number of tools for as many calibers as possible. I spent months on research to find a company that could provide an easy-to-use, universal reloading kit for any caliber I shoot.
I quickly found out that if I use the Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper and M-Press single-stage bullet press, the only thing I have to buy extra is pistol dies for a .38 Special 9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP, and 10mm. If you buy the Universal Bullet Seating Die Kit, it will allow you to reload any rifle caliber all the way up to a .338 Lapua.
What Do I Need To Reload My Own .308 Winchester Ammo?
From my experience, if you buy the tools listed below you’ll save the most money over time with the versatility Frankford Arsenal provides. There are 5 tools that have shown to be the most useful for me. The Intellidropper Electronic Powder Measure, Rotary Tumbler 7L, Single-Stage Reloading Press, Case Trim & Prep Center, and the Perfect Seat Hand Primer. I chose these tools because they’re the most universal reloading tools that I’ve found for sale. You’ll obviously need other necessary equipment to reload your own ammo.
When I was choosing which powder measurer I wanted to buy, my most important considerations were, how accurate is the measurement, can universally measure and dispense every caliber I shoot, is it a user-friendly machine, and is it affordable.
I wanted a machine that I use from an App to make it easier to multitask while I prep my cases and ensure I have my powder funnel ready. The FA electronic powder measure allows me to set my presets, turn them on/off, and change the speed of the powder dispenser, all from my phone with a Bluetooth connection.
How Accurate is the Intellidropper?
One of the biggest differences between the Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper and the RCBS and Hornady models is the level of accuracy in the Intellidropper. For example, most machines under $500 have an accuracy of measurement of +/- 0.5%. The Frankford Intellidropper can dial in your powder level within +/- 0.1% for unprecedented customization.
From my understanding, the only caliber you can’t use for the Intellidropper and M-Press is the .50 BMG. The Intellidropper works perfectly for every caliber that I want to reload including:
7mm Rem Mag
300 Win Mag
2. Rotary Tumbler 7L Brass Cleaner
The rotary tumbler from Frankford Arsenal may not look as flashy as the M-Press or feature the technology that the Intellidropper has, but it’s invaluable in an ammo reloading kit. The rotary tumbler 7L model can hold well over 1,000 9mm cases and easily 500 .308 Winchester cases. You can’t control it from an app or use voice command, but if you can turn a dial, this tool is easy to use and works magic on spent cases.
Most of the brass I pick up is dirty and stained with carbon and fire markings. Once I separate my .308 cases out, I wash all of them in one wash, let them dry, and inspect each case for dents, gouges, crushed or deformed primer pockets, or a chipped or bent mouth. The Frankford 7 Liter tumbler makes it easy to use and operate with turn knobs for the recommended time you want it clean.
I normally won’t run a load of cases until I have enough for a full load to conserve resources and save me time. For this reason, I always turn it to 3 hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning and go about my day. The load will be done by the time daily chores and errands are done. The best part is you don’t have to be there the whole time the tumbler is running, it’s going to be ok without you.
All I need to clean over 1,000 cases of pistol ammo or 500 .308 or 30-06 cases is the cleaning solution and the cleaning media.Make sure you’re plugged into a 110 W socket and you’re golden. When emptying the cases and letting them dry, you can reuse media a couple of times before you have to replace them. Inspect your cases once they’re dry and be wary of steel media pieces stuck inside the mouth of the case. Leaving one in and not knowing could cause serious bodily harm to you or anyone next to you.
A reloading press is a machine that presses the bullet projectile into the bullet case at a depth that is predetermined by the bullet manufacturer. The Frankford Arsenal Reloading Press allows me to manually adjust the bullet depth to the exact millimeter. For example, if the bullet dimensions for a Berger bullet say it has a Cartridge Overall Length (C.O.L.) of 2.810", the M-Press can get you exactly to that depth. The best part about the M-Press is if you use the Digital Calipers to test the C.O.L., you can adjust it using the M-Press to find the perfect fit for every case.
In my short 3 years of reloading, I’ve learned that my rifle caliber cases wear down faster than my pistol caliber cases. For example, I can get 8-10 uses out of a 9mm case before I recycle it and only 4-6 uses out of my 30-06 or .308 cases. The Trim & Prep Center allows you to extend the life out of your cases by trimming the brass back to caliber specifications (SAAMI). I was initially really worried about trusting myself to alter the case, but the tool is incredibly easy to use.
This one machine allows me to trim, chamfer, deburr, and remove the crimp from NATO bullets. Every time I follow a video on how to use the tool, I turn this video on and walk through it at my own pace before I turn it on. The versatility of one tool having the ability to alter a case to ensure reliable use and higher safety standards is why the Frankford Prep Center is the best universal tool to own in your personal arsenal.
5. Perfect Seat Hand Primer
The Perfect Seat Hand Primer is simply unmatched with its versatility, reliability, and simplicity. I’ve primed my 9mm, .45 ACP, 30-06, 7mm Rem Mag, and my brother’s .380 with 100 cases primed in about 10 minutes once you get in your groove. This is another tool that you’ll be using with every single caliber that you reload. You can alter the depth of each primer until you dial in your desired length.
What is the Best Powder For Reloading .308 Winchester?
Just like anything in life, it’s all about what works best for you. I prefer to use the IMR 3031 or IMR 4064, but there are a dozen other powders that could work for reloading. The Ramshot TAC is another great option for Match level accuracy with a .308 rifle. For the sake of the blog, I want to stick with the IMR 3031 and Hodgdon Ramshot TAC powder because those are available more often than the IMR 4064 powder.
Why Do I Like the IMR 3031 Powder?
My number one reason for using IMR 3031 powder from Hodgdon is I love the 168-grain bullet weight for hunting. I either use 175 Grain or 168 for my Remington 700 with hunting both whitetail and mule deer. Anytime I hunt larger animals, I normally go up in bullet weight to a 175 or 178 Grain bullet. The IMR 3031 is perfect for me because it works well with bullets as light as 110 Grain and heavy as the 215 grain Berger Hybrid Target bullet.
The versatility of the IMR 3031 powder across the .308 spectrum is impressive, but it also works with my 30-06 Winchester Model 70. I think it’s incredible that the powder performs just as great at bullet velocities as low as 2,350 ft/s as it does with velocities over 3,300 ft/s.
I think defining the best brass comes down to what your purpose is for reloading your own. For example, if you’re trying to reload ammo so you can shoot more often and spend less money, then you don’t need Lapua brass to do that. Hunters and long-distance competitor shooters need brass that has minimal imperfections and high-quality metals.
For someone who shoots a lot with my Brother’s AR-10 and my Winchester Model 70, I prefer to only brass when I really need to. For the most part, I collect my brass at ranges when people “forget" to clean up after themselves. The last brass for my .308 that I bought was the 500-round jug from Top Brass that’s been remanufactured for resale.
Companies have to use these terms like remanufactured after they recycle brass to let us know it’s been recycled, but the quality of each case is excellent. I’ve never had to throw away a case before I prepped it for priming from Top Brass remanufactured brass. The best deal I’ve seen so far is at Sportsman’s Guide for $154.99 for 500 cases.
I’ve only used 2 large rifle primers, the CCI No. 200 and the Winchester Large Rifle Primer. It’s ironic that something as small as a primer can stop the entire operation of a gun. Since everyone knows that too, primers are incredibly difficult to find and it’s my job to do so. Fortunately, primers are normally sold in counts of 500 to 1000 for a box, so you don’t need to get lucky too often to get yourself some .308 primers. I’ll provide a few options to look at periodically and sign up for the email alerts. I was able to buy my primers from Sportsman’s Warehouse after I got an email alert and bought them immediately.
If you like 175 Grain, the Sierra MatchKing .308 Hollow Point Boat-Tail bullet has proven to be a great alternative to the 168 Grain HPBT for competitive shooters and military snipers. Most people would argue that the most important feature of the 175 Grain bullet is the improved ballistic coefficient AKA, the bullet’s ability to overcome crosswind and fly straight. The 168 Grain MatchKing has a Ballistics Coefficient (BC) of 0.462 and the 175 Grain Sierra MatchKing has a BC of 0.505.
Hunters (like myself) have also started switching to the 175 Grain because it packs a heavier punch than a lighter bullet and maintains its supersonic speed. This combination of bullet velocity and bullet weight is great for hunting big games like Whitetail, Feral Hogs, Elk, Bear, Mule Deer, and Pronghorn. The added weight from 168 Grain to 175 is a big deal when you consider hunting at 400-600 yards in the Colorado Rockies in early October.
Crosswind in the mountains can be brutally humbling when you pass on a shot because you’re not as confident in your ability to shoot in a 30 MPH crosswind. It’s hard to argue that a bullet that can cut through crosswind during high gusts is a bullet worth having for all hunters. The wind roars down the valleys and into the plains just as fast so hunters in the midwest could benefit from cutting into the unstoppable force of prairie wind. I haven’t tested this theory, but Sierra claims this 175 Grain bullet’s velocity will stay over supersonic up to 1,000 yards.
The way I pick out bullets to try in my guns is to base my decision on what I’m loading the bullet for. For example, If I’m hunting a Whitetail or Coyote, I don’t mind the 168 Grain because they’re smaller animals than a Mule Deer or elk. Hunting bigger animals at longer distances and you’ll probably want a heavier bullet that can combine a flat trajectory with minimal wind resistance and supersonic speeds. Either way, the best part about reloading your own ammo is experimenting with different components to see what works best for each specific rifle.
If we add the price per primer, bullet, and case we are loading bullets for about $0.70/bullet. However, it’s difficult to quantify how much a 1LB bottle of IMR 3031 will last, but generally, 1 LB gets up to 1,000 bullets. Even with a conservative estimate, the cost would be reloading your own .308 ammo at $1/per bullet versus $2.10-$3.50/bullet.
Price per Item
Number of Items
.308 Win Bullet
.308 Win Case
Large Rifle Primer
IMR 3031 Powder
$0.036 (Based on 1,000 loads)
As of right now, .308 Ammo is easier to find than in the past couple of years but it’s still very expensive at around $2.10/per round. Brownells is selling the Hornady Match 168 Gr Hollow Point Boat Tail for $41.99 for a box of 20 bullets. If you bought the tools and raw components and followed our reloading guides, you could reload .308 ammo for as little as $.66/per bullet after the first reload. Instead of paying over $40 for good ammo, you could make ammo that specifically fits your rifle starting at around $13.22-$20 for a box of 20. Compared to the Barnes VOR-TX BT ammo, you could save $39.78 for a box of comparable ammo. If you take it a step further, you could save up to $200 for 100 hand-loaded HPBT .308 bullets.
The amount of knowledge about ballistics and shooting that I’ve learned since I started reloading has changed the way I prepare for hunting season and the way I train. I’m able to train as often as I can because of the amount of money I save by buying my own components and dialing in my rifle’s optimal ballistics.
If you shoot once a month for 1 year you could pay for your reloading kit and components with the savings. By being meticulous and following along with your manual and guides and preparing properly ahead of time, reloading will be a very intrinsically motivating skill to learn.
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