Is my .308 deadly enough?

ask the experts

ask the experts - Credit: Archant

I’m worried my .308 is not deadly enough... Should I switch to a magnum calibre? Andrew Venables replies

Q: My friends tell me I need a magnum calibre because my .308 is not deadly enough? Are they correct?

ANDREW VENABLES replies: As a 30 year old, I would have said, yes, get a .300 WM – the additional long-range ability, power, shock, awe and ‘magnumitis’ approach is the way forwards, so why not get a .460 Weatherby while you’re at it... and so on.

Now in my late 50s, I’m unaware of anything alive which cannot be killed quickly and humanely with appropriate placement of modern high-performance .308 bullets fired from a 20” barrel. Nor is there anything alive which cannot be wounded by a .300 WM or more powerful rifle.

My advice is to stick to the .308, learn to shoot it well and love it. Use 150-180gr ‘ho-hum’ soft points for deer. Use 180-200gr premium bullets like Swift A-Frame or Nosler Partition for boar, elk, antelope, etc. You could just stick to 165gr soft points for deer and 165gr Barnes X or TSX for everything bigger. Using the top-end bullets just mentioned, mammals up to around 400kg bodyweight are certainly on the menu. Professionals with a true understanding of anatomy, penetration and killing can handle animals of 1,000kg and beyond with one shot.

Until you get to Africa and consider hunting Cape buffalo and hippo, you don’t need more than a .308 anywhere really. A skilled practitioner with a .308 and good bullets is welcome in any hunting camp anywhere in the world. They can do the job out to 200-300m, no problem. You can get .308 practice ammo for between 60p and £1 a shot.

The best way to prevent suffering is to put ‘enough bullet’ in the right place. The .308 will do this on boar, in Africa and beyond. Learn to shoot the .308 really well, hunt to within sensible ranges and the world is your oyster.

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Other easy-to-shoot rounds that will do it all are: 30.06, .270 W, 7x57 (.275 Rigby), 8x57, 6.5x55, 7mmx08, 7x64, .303, etc. Bottom line: it’s about confidence and skill, not recoil and muzzle blast.

If you really want a .300 WM, get one. But don’t let anyone tell you that you need one because your .308 is not deadly enough. It is.