Exceeding High Rifle Standards

Well known for super-lightweight, accurate hunting rifles, Kimber has outdone itself with the new Hunter Pro Desolve Black.

Part II of III Lightweight Hunting Rifles
Story and Photos by Jason Brooks

Kimber is known for its extremely lightweight and accurate rifles. Machined to tight tolerances, assembled and completely built in the USA, Kimber rifles are carried into the backcountry each fall by hunters who want a rifle that shoots well but doesn’t weigh down the pack.
The Alabama company was founded in 1979 and has become an industry leader with a reputation for benchrest accuracy, comfort and quality construction of their firearms. For 2021, they added the Hunter Pro Desolve Blak to the Mountain series of rifles. It is one of the lightest production rifles on the market that is budget-friendly. This rifle is currently chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Winchester and .280 Ackley Improved. The rifle is 41¼ inches overall and the Creedmoor and .308 versions weigh only 5 pounds, 7 ounces, while the .280 Ackley is 43¾ inches and 5 pounds, 12 ounces.

ACTION: The rifle is an 84M bolt-action that has tight tolerances and virtually no “slop” when you lift the bolt knob. It has a Mauser claw extractor and a three-position Model 70-style safety. Sliding the bolt both backwards and forwards is smooth, with virtually no lateral movement. The design of the bolt is to reduce weight; in fact, everything about this rifle is designed to reduce weight while maximizing the machined accuracy of the rifle to its fullest potential. At the top of the action are predrilled and tapped holes to mount the scope bases.

The rifle also comes chambered in .308 Winchester and .280 Ackley Improved. The .308 and Creedmoor versions are slightly shorter and lighter than the third, but all weigh under 6 pounds.
BARREL: The .280 Ackley Improved is a long action and comes with a 24-inch barrel, while the short-action .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor are available with a 22-inch barrel. All of the barrels are pencil-thin to reduce weight. Each rifle also comes with a muzzle brake that is threaded on and a thread protector if you choose to remove the brake. For me, the muzzle brake is a must when it comes to a super-lightweight rifle. The chamber is match-grade, making for an extremely accurate rifle, and the barrel is mounted with a pillar block that helps accuracy. It is guaranteed to have a sub-MOA right out of the box.

STOCK: The stock is fiber-reinforced polymer in Desolve Blak pattern, which is a digitized grey splatter that accents the rifle well. It is extremely lightweight and tough, resisting scratching and comfortable to grip. It also tends to be “non-slip,” which helps when you use a rest to shoot the rifle, as it grips the rifle and helps you hold it steady. The rifle comes with a 1-inch recoil pad and the total length of pull is 13.75 inches.

Close-ups of the 84M action, barrel and trigger, as well as Desolve Blak pattern.
TRIGGER: When it comes to shooting a lightweight rifle accurately, one of the most influential factors is the trigger. Since the rifle is so light, any pressure on the rifle causes it to move and that decreases accuracy. Kimber knows this, which is why the factory trigger is adjustable. The assembly is easily removed and two set screws adjust the length of travel and the pull weight. When you get the rifle from the factory, it comes with the trigger pull set to between 3.5 and 4 pounds and no travel in the trigger. You can adjust this yourself if you feel the need, but be sure to stay within recommended tolerances. A quarter to half a turn on the set screw will lighten the trigger significantly, but I found it wasn’t necessary on this rifle.

SAFETY: Kimber uses a three-position Model 70-style safety. The safety locks forward once the rifle is fired, which is a reminder that the rifle has a spent case in the chamber. The three positions allow you to keep the rifle in the “safe” position and able to work the bolt to unload the rifle. It has a fairly large flange that is textured and is easy to use, even when wearing thick gloves for those late-season hunts.

MAGAZINE: Unlike Kimber’s Mountain Ascent series, the Hunter Pro Desolve Blak comes with a detachable box magazine. This is a nice bonus feature, as it is quick to unload and makes it easy to carry extra ammunition that’s ready to go in magazines. The magazines themselves are once again designed with weight in mind, as they are constructed of polymer and metal, and they hold three rounds of ammo.

MUZZLE BRAKE: Thankfully Kimber has made the muzzle brake part of the package instead of an add-on. This is an extremely lightweight rifle and recoil is not fun to shoot. But the muzzle brake takes a lot of the felt recoil out of the rifle. It does add to the increased noise and hearing protection is a must, even when hunting. If you decide you don’t want to use the muzzle brake, then you can simply unscrew it from the end of the barrel and put on the thread protector that is included.
The model I have is in 6.5 Creedmoor and though a muzzle brake isn’t necessary, it really helps stay on target for follow-up shots if needed. Even in this mild caliber, the rifle tends to jump a bit since it is so lightweight.

Bulk Ammo In-Stock
PERFORMANCE: Like my other Kimbers, and even a few other lightweight rifles I own, the Hunter Pro Desolve Blak is made to be carried easily afield. One of the main differences between Kimber rifles and other rifles I own that are sub-6 pounds is the accuracy and increased ballistics.
The longer barrel that Kimber offers for such a light rifle allows the full potential of the cartridge. The length of the barrel has two main influences when it comes to accuracy and performance. The first is that the longer the barrel, the less “off center” the projectile is when it leaves the barrel if you happen to flinch or move just slightly. The second thing is pressure build-up. As a cartridge is fired and the powder burns, it creates an increased pressure of gasses that pushes the bullet down the barrel.
Once the bullet leaves the barrel, it is no longer being pushed. The more travel or time the bullet is in the barrel, the faster the bullet accelerates, which means the long barrel increases the bullet speed compared to a shorter barrel. With very tight machined tolerances, the long barrel, quality trigger and pillar bedding, the Kimber Hunter Pro Desolve Blak is guaranteed sub-MOA accuracy with quality commercial ammo.

You may not want to take off-hand shots with
the rifle, but from a steady rest and when
topped with good optics, “this is one of the
best and lightest rifles on the market today” for
backcountry hunters, states Brooks.
THE TEST: Just like with any new rifle, the first thing I do is clean it. I remove the bolt and wipe it down with a solvent, run a few patches down the barrel and work the action once it is all assembled. This is an operational function testing to make sure everything is in working order. A Leupold VI in 3-9×40 matched the rifle and caliber very well. Three cartridges were loaded into the magazine and from there the rifle was placed on a shooting rest. The trigger didn’t need any adjusting and the rifle fired without issue. Cycling the 6.5 Creedmoor was relatively easy with no feeding problems occurring. Accuracy was better than I could shoot the rifle, meaning off of a bench and wearing proper safety equipment such as hearing protection and shooting glasses, the rifle shot extremely accurately. Replicating these conditions during hunting is impossible, but knowing the rifle shoots tight groups means that if I miss, then it is my fault and nothing to do with the rifle.

BOTTOM LINE: Kimber makes high-quality firearms and the Hunter Pro Desolve Blak, with a price point almost unheard of for a rifle built this well and lightweight, exceeds even their great gunmaking standards. Unlike other companies that produce dozens of rifles or more at a time, Kimber runs each rifle through tight tolerance inspections and it shows. The rifle will not make a good whitetail “deer drive” gun, as it should be fired from a steady rest. And if you take the time to set up for the shot, you will know that the rifle is more than capable of making it count. For the backcountry hunter, this is one of the best and lightest rifles on the market today.

Bolt Or Semi-Auto Rifle For Survival Preppers

What are the merits of these two major types of rifle actions?

There are many choices when it comes to selecting a long gun for multiple uses. Many of the questions and inquiries are from preppers, and survivalists that are gun users attempting to buy a firearm(s) that can yield effective results for many applications, including home defense, ranch, farm or homestead protection, as well as hunting for food and predator control. That is a pretty tall order for sure.

After much thought, counseling, and work in the gun related industry these past 40 plus years, the basic conclusion I have come to is that the rifle preference really boils down to personal choice. I mean, in terms of overall quality, reliability, functionality, and accuracy, there is not a significant difference between major makes of long guns now, whether a bolt action or a semi-auto.

While the caliber choice may be the first priority, that is no longer a huge issue either because the most popular choices in the .223/5.56 range (up to, say, the ever popular .308/7.62) are readily available in either platforms with numerous brand and feature choices to select.

It would be easy to recommend if all you could afford was one choice, then for sure, I would say the .308 would get the nod. It is fully capable with available factory ammo choices to perform work in protection and certainly for hunting and dispatching vermin regardless of the foot count.

CZ USA Winchester Bolt Action 308
AR 308 (pewpewtactical)

Though the fight breaks out when you mention the bolt rifle is inherently more accurate than the semi-auto, there are plenty of examples to defy that argument these days. I have been hunting with bolt guns since I was ten years old, but I have also taken big game with semi-auto rifles including an AR in .300 Blackout and a Rock River LAR in .308, both one shot kills.

In my own mind’s eye, owning and using both types of rifles, I do find the simple bolt action rifle easier to use, much more simple to clean and maintain, and easy enough in most cases to mount a scope. I love the quick and easy way to remove the bolt so the barrel can be easily cleaned from the breech end and not the muzzle. Shooting a bolt action is fairly straight forward and easy to train others by controlling the ammo use at the range. Safety mechanisms are usually simple to operate.

Even with bolt guns using detachable magazines, I have had no issues with them loading or unloading or feeding reliably. I use both a Browning A-Bolt and a fine Remington 700-DM without issue. I did buy factory magazines for these to have an extra in the shirt or coat pocket, and they have always worked just fine.

The Learning Curve
Learning to use most semi-auto rifles takes somewhat more training and range initiation. Loading, cycling the action, and engaging the safety can be easy, but it takes some practice to perform. Using magazines takes little effort, but sometimes they can be finicky.

I would be first to admit I am not crazy about taking down an AR-type platform rifle, removing the bolt carrier group from the action in order to clean the barrel. I am not fond of all the nooks and crannies that come with most semi-auto rifles either. I will be honest though that this is most likely for me a function of frequency than it is performance of the tasks.

I can envision the GI soldier taking down, cleaning, and re-assembling an AR-15 in the dark just by feel. It isn’t that it is so difficult, it is just that I don’t like doing it. AmSJ note: Most soldiers are trained this way so they can become highly proficient with the weapon out in any adverse field condition.

Of course some other semi-auto rifles (like the Browning BAR or the Remington 742 series and others) may be more intricate or detailed in terms of disassembly for cleaning and maintenance. For this, just follow the general guidelines in the owner’s manual and don’t take them apart any more than is recommended as necessary for regular maintenance.

Optics and Reliability
In terms of scope mounting, most bolt guns simply need the application of an appropriate one or two-piece mounts to be installed on top of the action. Then separate rings are attached to the mounts. AR types mostly use the Picatinny rail to mount scope rings directly to the rail slots or via a one-piece unit incorporating the mount and rings in one piece a la Nikon, or GG&G.

There are many variations to these themes, but neither is a big issue. Both bolt guns and semi-autos can be easily and securely fitted with an appropriate scope. Some adjustment in ring height might be in order, depending on the size of the scope’s front objective rings to clear the barrel. This is more of an issue for bolt action rifles but can be with some ARs.

It is a toss-up when it comes to rifle reliability. Just by the sheer action type moving in a relatively violent fashion, the semi-autos are sometimes blamed for more breakages than are typical bolt action rifles. Many times stoppages are due to powder and grime fowling in the gas system than a part actually breaking. Semi-auto actions do get pretty dirty pretty fast and therefore often demand more regular cleaning and maintenance.

Bulk Ammo In-Stock

Having said that, it would probably surprise most rifle shooters to learn that most guns these days are so well made that breakdowns are far and few between. That is, all else being equal. I mean most of us are not on the battle field firing thousands of rounds in a short time. Don’t be fearful of buying either a modern bolt gun or a semi-auto when it comes to reliability issues.

So, when you are ready to buy a long gun, rifle, then shop around. Seek advice, but be careful of the big box gun counter person that worked in underwear yesterday. Read, study, and compare. Visit a local range and ask questions. Again, it is a personal thing whether you want to cycle a bolt action or pull back a charging handle. Whichever, be sure to practice with it.

Story by Dr. John revised by AmSJ Staff

308 vs 30-06

In the long range shooting world the .308 and the .30-06 have been embedded in the history of American firearms. Both rounds have their roots in the U.S. Army and was used in many conflicts all over the world. The hunting community and self-defense groups also recognized its effectiveness and highly embrace them both. However, many gun folks love to debate which caliber is better or the best for hunting elk.
Photo from WildernessToday.com

Brief History
The U.S. military used the .30-06 in both world wars. Springfield M1903 was used during World War I. In WW II the .30-06 caliber was used in the M1 Garand. Conflicts in Korea and Vietnam also employed the .30-06. Today this round is used by snipers for special purpose. The .308 made its debut in the 1950s, which later developed into the 7.62x51mm NATO.

Caliber Differences
The bullets are an identical 7.8mm in diameter. The primers are the same. The only real difference is in the cases. Put a .308 and .30-06 next to one another the .30-06 has a longer case.
What it all really boils down to is that the Army liked the stopping power of the .30-06, but they didn’t care for the long action round. They wanted something better suited for short action rifles that would allow boots on the ground to carry more rounds into combat.
The military wanted a round that could cycle better out of their rifles. Which is why the .308 was the better option, with the less recoil that allows faster accurate follow-up shots.

Personal Preferences
When talking about .308 vs .30-06, a lot of people want to pick sides and ask ‘Which is best?’ But let’s face it, “best” is highly subjective, especially when we’re talking about two rounds that are for all intents and purposes nearly identical.

You can try and break things down by comparing bullet weights and muzzle velocity. Both are going to be slower as you use heavier bullets. There are differences there, but in some cases they’re so small that it doesn’t matter to most shooters.
A .30-06 has a muzzle velocity around 2,900 feet per second with a 150-grain bullet, while a .308 is around 2,800. You won’t be able to know the differences.


The choice you make between the two really depends on personal preference and what you intend to use it for. Both rounds are great for big game animals. If you’re deer hunting on the Kansas plains, you might want to go with a .30-06 hunting rifle. The higher velocity means this round is going to shoot flatter at longer ranges than the .308.
A good rule of thumb to remember is for long range, the .30-06 is the better round because of its higher velocity. Means it will shoot flatter at the long range distance than the .308.

You’ll also find some hunting and fishing guides in Alaska prefer a little bit of extra power that a heavier grain .30-06 has for protection against black bears or other angry large game animals. The extra stopping power is probably why it has become one of the most popular big game hunting rounds ever. Bighorn sheep, elk, antelope, bear, moose, deer, you can pretty much hunt them all with a .30-06.

As far as hunting cartridges go, it has more than enough stopping power for deer and similarly-sized North America game animals. It’s something to consider if you’re hunting an area where most of your shots are going to be under 200 yards. That’s not to say the .308 can’t go long range. It definitely can, but most hunters are more confident with the .30-06 at longer distance.

The .308 is also a round to consider for AR platform-style rifles. If you’re predominantly using the AR platform the .308 can be used. Maybe want the capability to launch many rounds down range with more rounds than the .308 is the better candidate.
If you don’t want the AR but still want to hurl .308. Take a look at a M14 or a M1A – which you can use effectively against most pest predators.
So, again, just to recap: a .30-06 is generally going to be better suited for long range shooting, and a .308 is going to be better for faster shooting.

You can’t go Wrong with Either Calibers
We’re not going to pick a favorite between the .308 and .30-06, because both rounds are great for what they are. You really can’t go wrong buying a sporting rifle chambered for either. Before you go to the gun store to buy one, just ask yourself what you’ll be using it for and pick the one that best suits your needs.

Either way, you can rest easily at night knowing that whatever task you have picked for your rifle, these cartridges are sure to deliver when the time comes!

PRICE: Which is Cheaper?

Price is something to consider when it comes to practicality – Yes, the .308 ammo is usually cheaper.
The .308 uses less brass and the popularity means bigger production and lower price. The difference isn’t that much, but if you’re an F-class long range shooter, then price can be an issue.

From a prepper/survival perspective, the .308 is mass produced for many different types of sporting rifles. Which means, the .308 Win will be easier to find and use in the event of some type of catastrophic event that requires you to hunt your own food or survive in the wilderness.

For Hunting
Experienced hunters will tell us it all depends on the size of the game. For short to medium range, both cartridges do an awesome job for game up to elk. Beyond elk, go with the .30-06 Springfield with a heavier bullet like 180 grain which gives you a bigger punch.
With this extra power – you can bring down bigger or angry 4 legged that comes at you. So, for deer, big coyote, elk, and even small moose you can use both cartridges with 150- or 165-grain projectiles.
If you’re a .308 Winchester diehard and insiste on big game, then get some high quality bullets. Hunters also know that the .308 Win has less recoil than the .30-06, which translates into slightly better accuracy.
-For whitetail hunting both soft-tip hunting rounds are great although the .30-60 might be too much within 100-150 yards.
-For smaller game like squirrel and rabbit, neither of the two are a good choice. Pick something less powerful like a .22LR.

Overall Winner
The .308 Winchester for survival, and for rifle hunters starting from scratch; 30-06 for really large game.
So if you’re trying to decide between the two calibers, maybe you shouldn’t worry about which caliber is more lethal or more accurate. View it from a practical and logistical factors, find the rifle you like in either caliber, and be confident that no matter which you choose, it will perform. Again its all about the Indian and not his arrows.

Is the .308 worth it for Long Range Hunting?

Sometime you gotta reach out and touch something

Currently, the majority of rifles designed for long range hunting these days appear similar to that of military grade weapons in size, weight, and their configuration. These large rifles tend to feature tactical stocks, bipods, larger scopes, and tapered barrels. The majority of these rifles seem to have been configured directly from the factory to utilize .308 Winchester, a powerful round, but one that makes the hunter question whether or not such a cartridge is useful when it comes to tackling big game at long ranges.

Long Range
Believe it or not, the term “long range” actually means many different things to hunters across the world, depending on where in the country you may find yourself. One of the big problems most hunters have with long range hunting is the ability to simply wound an animal instead of taking down your game with a single well placed shot.

If you are long range hunting, however, there are a few factors that need to be taken into account before ever squeezing the trigger on your rifle. Namely, trajectory, wind, velocity, and accuracy.

In terms of capabilities, the .308 is truly effective within its intended range and parameters. For example, one can tackle numerous game when within 250 yards or less. In this range, the rifle and round will shoot accurately and remains within the ethical limits most hunters tend to carry.


Outside of 250 yards, however, the performance of the .308 tends to come under scrutiny. As the distance of the shot begins to stretch, the accuracy and quality of the round appear to take a nose dive almost immediately. Some folks believe this is due to the cartridge’s low velocity and low energy.

Unfortunately, many who use the cartridge tend to ignore such limitations and stand by their choice in a bullheaded manner. Because the round is used by military snipers, some hunters feel it is more than enough to tackle a buck at 600 yards or more.

What Type?
Just like the rifle firing the round, not all .308 are the same. In fact, some outperform their like-named counterparts with ease.

Most hunters will outright tell you that you should never buy factory bullets when using .308 for long range hunting. In fact, most will tell you to simply load your own rounds so you may tune each one to the specifications of your rifle, barrel, and chamber. There are little nuances in every single aspect of the rifle that can affect the outcome of every shot.

In terms of the brand of ammunition being used, many recommend Berger as being the most accurate for long range hunting. Their rounds tend to travel at distances of up to 1000 yards, have high ballistics, and maintain their velocity over long distances; everything the hunter seeks in a single round.

Another option is the Hornady A-Max, which will occasionally offer tighter grouping than even the Berger, a top-class round. Unfortunately, the Hornady does have its downfall in the form of not remaining as consistent over long periods of time.

The .308 is a truly capable round when chosen and used correctly. When it comes to accuracy, trajectory, and resistance against the wind, the round is more than enough to topple big game at long range. Out to 500 yards or less, the .308 is perfect. Any further, however, and an ethical discussion will come into play. The bullet may not be able to perform as efficiently, but will simply wound an animal that the hunter may not be able to track at a later time due to the extreme distance.

So lets get more specific with hunting.

What is a good .308 round for elk?

Answers can vary based on hunters perspective and experiences. Use Hornady GMX, Federal TBBC or Nosler Partitions. Anything with 168 grain premium bullet should do the job.

Here’s a list of .308 ammo to check out:

  • Winchester Deer Season XP 150 Gr Poly
  • Federal Fusion 165 Gr Fusion
  • Federal Premium Sierra Matchking Gold Medal 175 Gr HP-BT
  • Hornady Match 308 168 Gr HPBT
  • Lake City 7.62×51 XM80 149 Gr
  • Wolf Polyformance 145 Gr
  • Sierra 150-grain GameKing SBT
  • Nosler 165-grain Partition
  • Norma 165-grain Oryx

Why the .308 is the best Cartridge

Since its 1952 debut, this round has aged well even as hot new ones have come online, thanks to
usefulness across military platforms, widespread availability and having downed a deer or two since.

Like a lot of you out there, I read a lot of gun magazines. Periodically, most magazines run an “everything old is new again” article about a particular weapon system or round. You know the ones I’m talking about; articles with catchy titles like “Best Revolvers for Combat.” What? I like a nice wheel gun as much as the next guy, but its time as a primary sidearm for combat has long gone.
In limited circumstances, such as a hammerless .38 as a last-ditch backup, it still has a tactical role. But by and large, the revolver’s gun-fighting days are behind it (regardless of how fast you can speed load it).
I can also make an argument that anything with an exposed hammer is also yesterday’s technology, but that’s a rant for another day. Another article that pops up from time to time is the utility of a stagecoach-style shotgun for home defense.
I’m not sure what person in their right mind would opt for a two shot weapon for home defense. Like the revolver, this seems like a great idea when you are at the range or tinkering (i.e. playing) with your guns at home. It will seem like a terrible idea when some bad guy is throwing down large volumes of lead at you from a handgun or rifle and you can only respond with two to six shots at a time before needing a reload.
Sorry, folks, sometimes the truth hurts With all that being said, old doesn’t necessarily equal obsolete. Sometimes something appears to be the best at everything, until it’s supplanted or replaced by other items that do specific things better.
Such is the case with the much maligned .308 round. It has lost some popularity in recent years, but it is arguably the best all purpose rifle round ever designed.

THE .308 HAS been around a long time. It was designed in 1952. It was the cartridge that powered the M14 Battle Rifle, the primary long gun for servicemen throughout the ’50s and well into the ’70s with National Guard and Reserve units.
It was the go-to round for sniper rifles, used extensively in every major conflict since Vietnam. It still feeds the military’s primary belt-fed weapon system, the M240, and is still the standard .30-caliber round for NATO.
So, what happened? Why did the .308 become the “old man’s cartridge”?
The .308 is really good at a lot of things, but other rounds are better in specific roles. Where the .308 is a jack of all trades, other rounds designed for one purpose have done a better job in the roles they were designed for. But none can fill all roles like the .308 can.

No doubt that in battle, the .223 is king – here’s an M4 – but the smaller bullets have their drawbacks.

In the combat/close quarters battle role, the .223 is king. There is no denying it. When the M16 replaced the M14 as our nation’s primary service weapon in the 1960s, it permanently made the .308 a less acceptable combat round. The .223 round is lighter, meaning you can carry more of it.
More importantly, though, the recoil is more manageable, an important factor in combat. Select-fire M14s were notoriously difficult to control on full auto, whereas the M16 firing the .223 is much better. There are other factors at play here, such as weapon design, but that doesn’t change the fact that the bigger bullet kicks more.
In combat, he who puts the most rounds into his opponent generally wins. Recoil has an adverse effect on this. There are other specialty rounds like the .300 Blackout and .458 SOCOM that are recent developments that are also great CQB rounds. Their large caliber results in significant tissue damage and they marry up well with the AR platform.
But where all of these rounds fail in comparison to the .308 is range.
The .300 Blackout and .458 SOCOM aren’t designed for long distance, but a .223 round with a high velocity should be able to reach out and touch. It doesn’t, not when compared to the .308.
A .223 coming from a long-barreled M16 is good out to around 600 yards, less with a short-barreled M4. A .308 round is effective out to about 1,000 yards. Big difference.
Another shortcoming of the .223 when used with an AR platform is how finicky it is with regard to twist rates and barrel lengths. Since the round is small it needs to tumble or break apart on impact with a target to do a lot of damage. When a .223 round is fired through the wrong barrel length/twist combo, it “icepicks” targets, going straight through and leaving a minimal wound cavity.
A .308 round is a significantly bigger round. Bullets are measured in grain weights. An average .223 round weighs around 55 grains, but a .308 is about 160 grains, almost three times as heavy. That results in harder hits down range that are less susceptible to barrel length and twist issues. The .308 is less affected by wind than its lighter cousin.
This also makes it a good dual-purpose round for CQB, as well as sniping.
The .308 round works well in an AR platform. For every major .223 tactical rifle made, there is a .308 caliber variant. SCAR, HK and Galil all have .223 variants as well as a big brother .308. Still not the greatest on full auto but significantly better than firing it from the M14.

FOR MANY YEARS the .308 was the primary sniper caliber for military and law enforcement. Bolt-action Remington 700s were the staple of Army and Marine snipers for many years. I carried a long-barreled 700 as a SWAT team sniper and found it more than adequate for what I needed.
During the Global War on Terror it was found that engagements were at longer distances than previously encountered. The .308 had a hard time zapping targets over a grid square away. Weapons like the .338 Lapua came into their own.
A good .338 Lapua fired from a quality rifle can get hits at 1,500 yards and further. That’s 50 percent farther than .308. The .338 not only travels farther, but has a flatter trajectory. In a side-by-side sniper competition, the .338 Lapua is superior.
Where the .308 has an advantage is in flexibility and modularity. There is a limited number of semi-auto .338 rifles out there but they aren’t made in the same quantity, nor have they seen as much use in combat, as .308 rifles.

The old man M14 has been an active participant in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many Vietnam era weapons were dusted off and used in their old wooden stock configuration. Others were modified with high-quality adjustable synthetic stocks, married with high-quality optics, turning them into excellent sniper weapons.
AR platforms such as the SR-25 have been in the war since the beginning. Many snipers prefer them because they can double as combat rifle when needed, albeit one that’s a little ungainly due to weight and long barrel length.
A bolt-action gun doesn’t lend itself to building clearing or close-quarters gun fights with opponents armed with AK-47s. An SR-25 type rifle also prevents the need to carry multiple weapon systems.
Carrying a bolt gun in a drag bag on your back while using an AR platform to defend yourself, with incompatible rounds, does not result in an optimal tactical situation.
As mentioned previously, the .308 is the standard NATO round. In a pinch, a sniper could pull a few rounds of .308 off a belt of machinegun ammo and use it, with the understanding that it wouldn’t be as accurate as a match-grade round.
Traditionally, in the United Kingdom sniper ammo is in fact machine gun ammo. The first round produced in the lot is reserved for sniping, while the rest are linked together and fed to machine guns.
Using nonstandard ammo like the .338 Lapua presents logistical issues as well. Anywhere the U.S. military goes, it brings .308 with it. It’s a common enough cartridge that it can be found in most other countries too. Try finding .338 Lapua if your logisticians haven’t forecasted the need for it and ensured it is well stocked.
There is no such thing as “overnight delivery” in many parts of the world.
The .338 Lapua isn’t going away, but it’s important to note that it’s a round designed for a particular type of combat. It really has come into its own in Afghanistan where almost all engagements are at a very long distance, unparalleled in previous American combat experience. So, in a way, it’s a round designed to fit a particular type of warfare (or war).
Which explains why the .308 was the preeminent sniper round up until that time.
Outside the tactical realm, .308 is a really good hunting round for medium to large game. It’s a safe bet that .308 (along with .30-30 and .30-06) has accounted for more North American game than all of the other calibers combined. I don’t think I’d go elephant hunting with it, but I’d feel confident using it on most large game.
So, despite its reputation as the old man in town, .308 is the best all-purpose round available. It works in every major assault weapons system, it is compatible with belt-fed weapons, it still functions well as a sniper weapon, and it can be found just about everywhere. So, this old man recommends it. ?

Story and Photos by Nick Perna
Editor’s note: Nick Perna is a sergeant with the Redwood City Police Department in northern California. He has spent much of his career as a gang and narcotics investigator. He served on a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team as an entry team member, sniper and team leader. He previously served as a paratrooper in the US Army and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco.

308 Ammo

Norma Bondstrike latetest addition to hunting bullet line holds together well.


My trusty old Ruger 77 MKII .308 Winchester – a wellworn, and well-proven rifle – had come along for this afternoon’s hunt. I was sitting with a buddy in a small patch of woods, trying to test some new ammunition; he had a tag for a buck, and I had a doe tag in my pocket, so whatever we saw first would dictate who shot.
With the exception of the camaraderie, it was an uneventful afternoon; the squirrels kept us mildly entertained, but the deer activity was lackluster, to say the least.

It was 10 minutes before legal time was up when a single deer crossed about 60 yards out in front of us. My buddy grabbed the rifle, settled the cross hairs for the only shot he had available – a straight on shot – and broke the Ruger’s trigger. The small buck folded to the shot, not even twitching.
The ammunition we were testing was Norma’s new BondStrike, the third in the Strike series, and I’m happy to report that it’s very good stuff. In the preparation for deer season, while going through the normal sighting-in process, I had the opportunity to test the new Norma stuff. Now, that rifle I mentioned – my early 90’s Ruger 77 MKII – is one I know very well.
It has a trigger that is, well, less than desirable – why I haven’t replaced it with a Timney yet, I do not know – but I know how it shoots in spite of the factory. Nonetheless, the new Norma ammunition shot very well from my rifle. You see, this gun will rarely break 1 minute-of-angle (mostly due to the 6-pound trigger), but the Norma BondStrike printed a three-shot group measuring 0.8 inches, which is more than accurate enough for almost any hunting scenario.

Velocities came very close to matching the advertised figures; the box indicated that the 180-grain bullet has a muzzle velocity of 2,625 feet per second, and my 22-inch barrel gave a muzzle velocity of 2,608 fps on my Oehler 35P chronograph.

BONDSTRIKE COMES ON THE heels of TipStrike, the cup-and-core, flat base, polymer tip bullet, and then EcoStrike, Norma’s chrome-plated, monometal polymer tipped bullet.
As the name indicates, this is Norma’s bonded core bullet, and as of this writing, it is only available in .308 Winchester, in the 180-grain weight, though I am assured many other common calibers will be available in 2019, with popular bullet weights.
Bonding a bullet’s core helps to maintain the structural integrity during the terminal phase of its flight, especially when the bullet has a boattail. The standard cup-and-core bullets have a propensity to demonstrate jacket and core separation upon impact, especially when bones are struck.
This phenomenon occurs more often with boattail bullets, so the cure was to chemically bond the copper jacket to the lead core. The process isn’t new, and certainly not new to Norma; their Oryx bullet has the rear portion of the jacket chemically bonded to the core, allowing for reliable expansion at the front of the bullet, and deep penetration because the rear of the bullet can’t come apart.
Our particular buck took the BondStrike bullet on a downhill angle, to the base of the neck, and as I reported, he dropped to the shot as if the “off switch” had been pulled. The bullet hit the spine and (uncannily) traveled down the bone for over 7 inches, with the hydraulic shock of the impact ruining that length of the delicious tenderloins. Quite obviously, any standard bullet would’ve broken into pieces under that type of strain (I probably couldn’t replicate that shot with a thousand opportunities), but the BondStrike held together rather well.

We recovered the bullet within the left back strap, smashed and flattened. Upon weighing the recovered bullet, I recorded its weight at 73.2 grains out of the original 180; however, having recovered dozens of projectiles from a large number of species globally, I can attest that this retained weight figure is not indicative of the potential of the BondStrike bullet. Traveling longitudinally down a spine – quite obviously one of the toughest bones in a deer’s body – will take its toll on any expanding projectile.
Did the BondStrike do its job? In my opinion, absolutely. That buck,
simply put, died without ever having known what hit it, and for a bullet to demonstrate straight-line penetration within the spine of a deer is a testament to its integrity.

I regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to test it on another deer – the season was marked with inclement weather and the duties of a traveling hunter – but I feel confident saying that this design would invariably exit on any broadside shot on deer.
I’ve used all three of Norma’s Strike bullets on a variety of game, and have been pleased with the performance. They have all proven to be accurate, as well as lethal, and I deem them a worthy investment. I wouldn’t hesitate to use the BondStrike load in my .308 on bears, elk, or even moose. 

223 vs 308

Heres What to Use it for

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Debates between different cartridges superiority is always a big discussion for gun enthusiasts at every gun club. Sometimes views from die-hard .308 users or .223 followers can be too one sided to reason with. Both cartridges have valid points to support their case. Lets take a comparison perspective between the .223 and the mighty .308 and see what its good for. Just to let you know this comparisons is not to be technical for the gun nut but for the layman’s gun enthusiasts.

General Comparisons
For the most part, the .223 Remington has a flatter trajectory than the .308 Winchester out to 500 yards. However, the typical .308 Winchester load has more than twice the muzzle energy than the .223 load.
Also, the heavier bullets with a higher ballistic coefficient used by the .308 retains more energy and velocity than the lightweight .223 bullets.
So basically, the typical .308 load usually has as much or more energy remaining at 400-500 yards as the .223 does at the muzzle. Which makes the .308 Winchester a much better choice for long range shooting.

With that in mind, the .223 Remington has a flatter trajectory at short range, and the recoil is less than the .308 Winchester. Felt recoil will vary from shooter to shooter and rifle to rifle, but free recoil energy is still a useful way to compare the two cartridges.

Both cartridges are used extensively in the military and police sniping operations because of its accuracies. Because its hard to choose an outright winner when it comes to accuracy between the two popular cartridges. Basically, for short range use the .223 and anything past 500 yards stick with the .308 heavier bullet. The .308 retains more energy and are less susceptible to wind drift.

Understanding what each cartridge is capable of helps us in choosing the caliber to go with and what we’re hunting. To simplify this the .308 is best used for taking down big game and the .223 can be used to hunt medium to large sized game.

Can you use the .223 for deer hunting?

Despite having less knock down power of the two, the .223 is perfect for varmints, coyotes, hog control and deer.

What is the range of .223?

The .223 ranges is effective from 400 to 600 yards but with less energy and knock down power than the .308, the .223 is more useful at shorter ranges. With the advancements in cartridge innovation, the .223 can reach out to 1,000 yards.

Since the .223 has a lighter recoil than the .308, this may be the thing to have if your hunting situations requires lots of follow-up shots like feral hogs control.

What is the effective range of a 308?

In the military the US Army emphasizes an 800 meter maximum effective range for the .308, the Marine Corps preaches a 1000 yard (915 meter) max effective range. For most hunt you won’t have to shoot at these ranges but at 400 and beyond you’ll be able to bring down the big game without a hitch.

In summary the flat trajectory and lightly constructed bullets most common with the .223 Remington make it great for taking shots at small, thin skinned animals like prairie dogs, bobcats, and coyotes.
The .308 on the other hand shoots heavier, larger diameter, better constructed bullets, and the .308 Winchester has a clear advantage when hunting larger species like deer, caribou, elk, and red stag. The .308 may be light for moose and grizzly/brown bear, but it will work with good shot placement.

Home Defense & Target Practice
When it comes to home defense the .308 cartridges is suitable for its stopping power. Even if you go with the .223 there are many good semi-auto rifles with quality ammunition available at a reasonable price.
.308 – Using this heavy round for home defense is kind of expensive and not the thing to consider. But if your purpose is for target practice and you compete as an F-Class shooter, then you’ll be going through rounds by the thousands per month. For a quick tip on choosing the bullet weight consider what your barrel twist rate is, here’s a quick guideline:

  • 1:15 twist: up to 150 grains
  • 1:14 twist: 150 – 168 grains
  • 1:12 twist: 168 – 170 grains
  • 1:10 twist: 170 – 220 grains
  • 1:8 twist: 220 grains or more

.308 For Plinking/Target Practice
Wolf WPA

This is pretty good for plinking at bottles or dirt crap and consider cheap military surplus FMJ. This here is $39.42 at Sportsman Guide.
Hornady Match 168gr

Hornady Match ammo is one of the most popular target rounds out there, and the 168gr .308 offering is fantastic for stretching the legs on your .308. $30 at Lucky Gunner.
Federal Premium Sierra Match King Gold Medal

One of the best match loads on the market, Federal uses Sierra Match King bullets to make an outstanding factory loaded round.

.308 for Hunting
Federal Premium Vital-Shok – 165 Grain Trophy Bonded Tip

Consider one of the popular game rounds. The .308 Vital-Shok offering comes with a 165gr Trophy Bonded bullet with a polymer tip for superior aerodynamics and controlled expansion. $30 at Lucky Gunner.
Remington Core-Lokt – 150gr Soft Point

The 150gr SP round is perfect for mid-sized games at close to mid-range, and is relatively accurate, even without the polymer tip. Remington’s Core-Lokt line is a favorite of whitetail hunters, especially in the Southeastern US where we don’t have those long 400+ yard shots to worry about. $24 at Lucky Gunner.

.223 – If you like to shoot many rounds and you’re a range rat then .223 is the way to go. the price of these .223 rounds is quite affordable for home defense and target practice. Here are some .223 ammo to try out for target practice or competitive shooting:
PMC Bronze

Very affordable and the brass is great for reloading. Low end recoil so you can practice shooting for target and/or competition shoot. $7.45 at Lucky Gunner
Wolf Gold

Reload galore, may be the best bang for the buck! $7.40 at Lucky Gunner
Federal Gold Match 69 gr

This costs a little more but if you’re a competitive shooter, get these for $22.75 at Lucky Gunner.
Tula .223 55 gr

Just heads up, this is Russian made these rounds may not be as accurate, but if you’re looking to save more money, these come in at $5.95 at Lucky Gunner. Oh yeh, you can’t reload these.
308 Home Defense Ammo

Yes, we mentioned that using 308 for home defense is a little pricy, but for the die hard .308 users maybe you’ll be sporting an AR10 Pistol and here’s a pretty good hitter.
308 Win 155 gr Critical Defense

Designed for short-range defensive situations, a new breed of FTX® bullets are at the forefront of the Critical Defense® Rifle ammunition line. The bullet’s patented Flex Tip® not only helps keep the nose cavity free from clogging as it passes through heavy clothing but also helps the bullet expand at low velocities.

.223 Ammo for Home-Defense
These are hollow/soft point used by law enforcement, which is great for self-defense.
Hornady Critical Defense 55gr

This will set you back at $21 at Lucky Gunner.
Speer Gold Dot Duty 55 gr

A good go-to brand for self-defense but less in price at $12.75 Lucky Gunner.

Last Shot
We can go on and on with this comparison but the bottom line is what are you going to use these cartridges for? We’ll just recap with the main Q’s and answer.
Do you want a cartridge well suited for hunting big game like deer, elk, or bears? Get a .308 Winchester since it’s much more powerful and there are lots of great ammunition choices designed for that sort of hunting.
Are you looking for a cartridge to hunt predators and small game animals with?
Both will work, but the .223 Remington is the better choice here because it has a flatter trajectory, ammunition is cheaper, and there are many types of .223 ammo specifically designed for predator and varmint hunting.
Are you very sensitive to recoil? Go with the .223 Remington as the recoil that cartridge produces is virtually non-existant.
Since the difference between them (223 vs 308) is pretty big in certain respects, each cartridge is better suited to specific situations than the other.

Here’s an entertaining perspective from Demolition Ranch’s Version

Sentiments from The Firing Line Forum on this subject
threegun – I periodically rethink my self defense weaponry from the ground up. My handgun and shotgun are good to go however I’m questioning (in my head) my AR-15’s in 223/5.56MM. Not the platform, as I’m very satisfied with the weapon itself, but the caliber.
I’m seriously thinking of adding the AR in 308 to my stable with intentions that it replace the 223 as my primary go to rifle. I would like your opinions pro and con on why I should or shouldn’t switch.

jmorris – What are you defending yourself against? How Many? Where at? For how long? At what range?

Creature – I would say that for self-defense, an AR chambered for .223 is a better choice for CQB (ala “self-defense”) than one chambered for the .308. The 308 to me is more of a “reach out an touch someone” kind of cartridge, whereas the 223 is an “in your face” kind of round. I may be the last of the Mohicans for thinking and saying this, but I consider the 223 to be just fine for CQB and short-medium range engagements. I consider the .308 better suited for medium to long range engagements, which in my opinion are NOT self-defense distances.

dalegribble – I agree with creature. Adding a 308 won’t replace your 223. They are 2 different cartridges for 2 different purposes. Look to the military and see the number of guns deployed in each caliber, the 223 far outweighes any other caliber in the number of guns issued.
If you feel the need for a 308 (as I do) then add it to your system, I’m sure you will be glad you did. Only you will be able to determin if it will replace the 223 as your goto caliber.

overkill556x45 – I would lean toward the .223 because ammo and magazines are cheaper than .308 ammo and AR-10 mags. The AR10 will get expensive fast, as mags go for $30-$50. In addition, cheap 7.62nato surplus is drying up fast (all surplus is drying up fast). If you’re going to reload (which is fun in and of itself), both can be affordable, but the .223 will be pretty cheap in comparison.

As far as application of force, your follow-ups can be faster with the .223. The .308 will obviously open up a bigger hole in your foe, and do it at longer ranges. However, on the civilian side (meaning not stuck with M855 ball ammo), the .223 can be loaded up with bullets like the Vmax and others that expand faster and should cause more catastrophic wounds than a standard ball round. Also, a .308, if used in a home defense situation, stands more of a chance of WAY over-penetrating (though more frangible rounds are available) and going through the BG, the wall, the exterior, down the street, etc. The .223 shouldn’t over-penetrate as much.

Really, it comes down to the intended use. Short-med range, I’d go with .223. Med-long, .308 win. Another consideration is how much money you want to spend. Either round is pretty versatile.

kraigwy – Ask me a few years ago I’d said the 308, having shot my M1A and have gone through and tought snipers schools using the M21.
However of late, I’d have to vote for the 223. Its beat all the 308 highpower records, even beating the 308 in Service Rifle 1000 yard matches.
The 223 is cheaper to shoot, both in factory and reloaded ammo. A good match AR is about a third the cost of a Heavy Match M1A and easier to shoot.
The 223 has allowed younger shooters and ladies to compete with us old folks.
At a small additional cost you can get an extra upper for shooting Mulit and3 gun matches without burning out your Match rifle.
If you want it for home defence you can get the shorter barrel of the M4 configeration. You want a varment gun you can get 50 grn bullets, you want a long range gun you can get 80 grn bullets. You dont have that versatility with the M1A.
Thats why its called AMERICA’S RIFLE.

2transams – Here’s my zero cents (it’s the internet,my opinion is not worth two cents) :
.223/5.56 is an extremely versatile round,and can be loaded with any and all types of bullets. Low recoil in a lightweight weapon make it excellent for CQB situations. Based on my observations of the layout of the town where I live and tales from friends and family who have seen combat in the Middle East,in any type of urban situation you will very likely not be making shots past 200 yards,where the 5.56 round is plenty ’nuff. But that’s already been discussed,moving on…

For me,even with a sling on the rifle the .308 is much harder to take faster follow-up shots. The recoil is harder unless you go to a heavier weapon,which to me defeats the purpose of a light-‘n-handy battle rifle. I really wouldn’t want to run around with a full-size M1A,and the SOCOM 16 puts that big ol’ thunderboomer pretty close to the face,I didn’t care for it,and I didn’t shoot well with it.

Now a good, heavy, accurate .308 seems to me would be great from a fairly secure position where you can take good clear shots,and you know you’re good for 100 yards on out. In that instance,bigger is better.
Just my zero cents.

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