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When it comes to the most iconic rifle cartridges developed by the U.S. Military that defined two generations, no one can debate that the 30-06 Springfield and the 308 Winchester are at the top of the list.
Not only have these two rifle cartridges served our troops faithfully overseas, but they are also two of the most popular hunting cartridges across North America and around the globe.
The debate over which cartridge is superior has been raging ever since the 308 usurped the service rifle throne in 1954 and has been a constant source of “friendly discussion” around internet forums, whitetail camps, and the National Matches ever since.
Does this debate REALLY need to happen? Let's take a look at the history, ballistics, and applications of both rifle cartridges to help you decide which one is best for you.
The 30-06 Springfield is slightly more powerful as it has a larger powder charge but modern propellants really bridged the gap between these two iconic 30-caliber cartridges. Both are excellent choices for hunting though the 30-06 does allow for the use of 200 gr bullets while the 308 tops out around 180 gr. This is only important if you're hunting very large game like moose and comes at the cost of higher recoil for the 30-06.
For competitive shooting, the 308 wins hands down unless you're doing service rifle competition at Camp Perry or your local across the course competition. The efficiency and lower recoil of the 308 cannot compare to the 30-06 and you'll rarely see a 30-06 at the 1,000 yard firing line.
Although the 30-06 is still one of the most popular hunting rounds ever made, the 308 has a lot of positives around it that cannot be denied.