.30-06 vs. .308

What's the Difference?

The .30-06 and .308 are both popular rifle cartridges that have been widely used for hunting and military purposes. The .30-06, also known as the 7.62x63mm, was developed in the early 1900s and has a longer case length compared to the .308, which is also known as the 7.62x51mm. Due to its longer case, the .30-06 generally has a higher muzzle velocity and more energy, making it suitable for larger game hunting at longer distances. On the other hand, the .308 has gained popularity for its shorter case length, which allows for a more compact and lighter rifle. It is often favored for its versatility, as it can be used for hunting various game sizes and is also commonly used in military and law enforcement applications. Overall, both cartridges have their own strengths and are widely respected in the shooting community.


OriginUnited StatesUnited States
Year Introduced19061952
Parent Case.30-03 Springfield.300 Savage
Case TypeRimless, bottleneckRimless, bottleneck
Bullet Diameter.308 in (7.82 mm).308 in (7.82 mm)
Case Length2.494 in (63.34 mm)2.015 in (51.18 mm)
Overall Length3.34 in (84.84 mm)2.8 in (71.12 mm)
Max Pressure60,200 psi (415 MPa)62,000 psi (430 MPa)
Effective Range800-1000 yards800-1000 yards
Popular UseHunting, militaryHunting, military, law enforcement

Further Detail


The .30-06 Springfield and .308 Winchester are two popular rifle cartridges that have been widely used for hunting, target shooting, and military applications. While both cartridges have their own strengths and weaknesses, understanding their attributes can help shooters make an informed decision based on their specific needs and preferences.

History and Background

The .30-06 Springfield, also known as 7.62x63mm, was introduced by the U.S. Army in 1906 for use in the M1903 Springfield rifle. It quickly gained popularity due to its excellent performance and versatility. The .308 Winchester, on the other hand, was developed by Winchester in the 1950s as a commercial variant of the military 7.62x51mm NATO round. It was designed to fit in shorter actions, making it suitable for a wider range of rifles.


When comparing the ballistics of the .30-06 and .308, there are some notable differences. The .30-06 generally has a higher muzzle velocity and more energy at longer ranges compared to the .308. This can be attributed to the larger case capacity of the .30-06, allowing for a greater powder charge. However, the .308 has a flatter trajectory and less recoil, making it easier to shoot accurately for many shooters. Additionally, the .308 tends to have better barrel life due to its lower powder capacity and lower chamber pressures.

Availability and Cost

Both the .30-06 and .308 are widely available and have a wide range of ammunition options. However, due to its longer history and military adoption, the .308 tends to have a slightly larger selection of loads and bullet types. In terms of cost, the .308 is often slightly cheaper than the .30-06 due to its shorter case and lower powder requirements. However, the price difference is usually minimal and may vary depending on the specific brand and load.

Recoil and Shootability

Recoil is an important factor to consider, especially for shooters who are sensitive to recoil or those who plan to shoot for extended periods. The .308 generally has less recoil compared to the .30-06 due to its lower powder charge and slightly lighter bullet weights. This can make the .308 more comfortable to shoot, especially for smaller-framed individuals or those who prefer a lighter rifle. However, it's worth noting that recoil perception can vary between individuals, and factors such as rifle weight and stock design can also influence shootability.

Hunting Applications

Both the .30-06 and .308 are highly capable cartridges for hunting a wide variety of game. The .30-06, with its higher muzzle velocity and energy, is often favored for larger game such as elk, moose, and bear. Its ability to deliver heavier bullets at longer ranges can provide an advantage in certain hunting scenarios. On the other hand, the .308 is a popular choice for medium-sized game like deer and antelope. Its flatter trajectory and lighter recoil make it well-suited for quick follow-up shots and shooting in dense woods or brushy areas.

Military and Law Enforcement Use

Both the .30-06 and .308 have seen extensive military and law enforcement use. The .30-06 was the standard U.S. military cartridge for several decades, serving in both World Wars and the Korean War. It has a proven track record of effectiveness and reliability. The .308, as the civilian variant of the 7.62x51mm NATO round, has also been widely adopted by military and law enforcement agencies around the world. Its shorter case and compatibility with shorter actions make it suitable for a variety of firearms, including semi-automatic rifles and sniper rifles.


In conclusion, the .30-06 and .308 are both excellent rifle cartridges with their own unique attributes. The .30-06 offers higher muzzle velocity and energy, making it a great choice for larger game and long-range shooting. On the other hand, the .308 provides a flatter trajectory, less recoil, and better barrel life, making it a versatile option for medium-sized game and general shooting applications. Ultimately, the choice between the two cartridges depends on individual preferences, shooting requirements, and the specific firearm being used.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.