Welcome to caliber wars. We handle this topic a little different than everyone else does, in that our goal isn’t necessarily to pick a winner.
Though, I will tell you which I choose, personally.
This time around, we’ll be comparing the essentials of 308 Winchester and 30-06 Springfield.
308 Winchester vs 30-06 Which one is better?
In terms of ballistics alone, the 30-06 delivers more energy at all ranges and has greater velocity when the same size projectiles are used.
For example, when looking at 150 grain Federal Power-SHOK in both calibers, the 30-06 has a slightly faster velocity in terms of feet per second (FPS).
At the muzzle, the 30-06 travels at 2,910 FPS, while the 308 travels at 2,820.
But there is more that goes into it than just energy and velocity alone. We’ll now take a more in depth look.
308 VS 30-06 Stopping power
In terms of the much needed energy, which is responsible for stopping an animal in its tracks, the 30-06 has more of it at all ranges. This energy, as well as the velocity and the weight of the projectile itself, is what translates into stopping power.
Since the 30-06 is available with bigger (heavier) projectiles, they’re usually capable of taking bigger animals more easily.
30-06 VS 308 Ballistics
Below we have modified versions of the ballistics charts for each caliber. If you want to learn more about each cartridge, please visit our respective pages found on the following pages of our website:
Both cartridges are heavily used in hunting and both have a history for military use in one form or another. For the 308 Winchester, it’s as the 7.62X51.
If you don’t know how to read a ballistics chart, check out that page.
308 Win Ballistics Chart
This 308 Winchester ballistics chart shows 150 Grain Hornady SST fired from a 24″ barrel:
30-06 Ballistics Chart
This 30-06 Springfield ballistics chart shows 165 grain Hornady SST fired from a 24″ barrel:
30-06 Springfield vs 308 Trajectory
Both cartridges have similar trajectories and tend to drop about 11 inches by the time the bullet hits the 300 yard mark. This is with the above mentioned cartridges with a 100 yard zero when fired from a 24″ barrel.
308 vs 30-06 Recoil and other info
If all else was the same, so the weight of the gun, type of gun, ability of the shooter, etc., the 30-06 will recoil more into the shooter’s shoulder than the 308 Winchester will.
This perceived recoil will go down significantly depending upon the gun and the recoil management system (like the buffer tube in an AR-10 chambered for 308).
308 Win vs 30-06 Springfield Cost
Until the last year and a half or so, this was pretty cut and dry in favor of 308 being slightly more affordable. Now, however, with the ammo shortage things are upside down.
As of this writing the two cartridges are about the same price for a box of 20 of the same ammo. For example, on Federal’s website if you were to compare the prices of both cartridges side by side, you’d be paying just about the same amount for each caliber of similar ammo.
Of course, each cartridge will have the strange ammo that will be outside of the normal prices.
30-06 vs 308 Availability and Aftermarket
In terms of availability and aftermarket, the 308 Winchester is far more popular. There are more guns chambered in it, not to mention more of the smaller, boutique ammo manufacturers make 308 ammunition.
Still, the 30-06 is certainly no slouch, and is one of the most popular hunting cartridges available. It’s capable of firing heavier projectiles and therefore delivers more energy to target at all distances.
308 Win vs 30-06 Springfield Which one wins?
While hard to pick a winner here, I have to say that whenever a cartridge is picked as being the primary defensive caliber for the popular AR pattern rifles, it has to be the winner. The AR-10 is the bigger version of the AR-15, and the popularity is there.
308 is also popular as a bolt action hunting cartridge and is capable of serving double duty.
The 30-06 is a popular hunting cartridge, but has limited popularity in defensive situations. Because of this and the similar ballistics, I have to give the win, at least for me, to the 308 Winchester.
However, if I was hunting big game, the 30-06 would be the clear winner between the two.