FIB I shot a 308 for years and still have one in the stable. My son has shot it for the last five years. It is an excellent deer round. Try different brands and weights of bullets as most rifles will have a prefference. My ruger 77 varmint in 308 prefers federal premium 165 boat tails. Consitent 5 round groups od one inch or less at 100 yards. Excelletn perminal performance with this round as well. This rifle has accounted for over forty whitetails and assorted other game over the past 25 years. Okieshootist (David H)
Any of today's ammunition will kill whitetails at reasonable ranges, out to say 300 yards with a .308. So try several different brands and bullet weights to see what your rifle likes. Having load/bullet combination that will kill a whitetail at 750 yards, even if you hit it in the hoof, is useless if your rifle won't group that load.
If you think you might be shooting at extended ranges, try Hornady's Light Magnum loads, they give you a decent performance boost over traditional .308 rounds.
But the key is to find a load that you and your rifle will shoot well.
I don't own one now, but I killed a truck load of deer with two 308's I have owned. I used 150 gr. factory Rems and and/or 150 gr. Nosler Balistic Tips at about 2,700 fps.
The 308 is an easy round to handload with a plethora of options. For deer I'd stick with the 150 to 165 gr. loadings. The 180's are for bigger game and may not open up quickly enough on the smaller deer species. I haven't, but some load the 125 gr. game bullets (not the varmint bullets) to keep recoil lower.
I have been using a 308 for years. A load for a friend but one year he wanded to use factory ammo and he bought either 165 or 180 gr ammo. In two days of hunting he asked if I had any 150 gr handloads. I said I did but why? The 165 or 180 gr bullets just went right through the deer without doing their job. The bullet was so fast it did not have time to expand. The 150 gr bullet at a lower speed did its job. When handloading I like the Round Nose 150 gr bullet and mid range of low and high gr. Its a good cal to have and to use.
I'd say stick with 150s. I shot a small doe with my .30-06 this year at a little over 160 yards, and the 165 gr Game King went right through it without opening up a lot (I'm guessing muzzle velocity was around 2700 fps). Deer ran about 75 yards or so and finally died. Bullet missed the heart, took out the left lung, and exited at the edge of the lower right ribcage (guts).
Living on the west coast, I don't get many chances to hunt whitetails, but I have hunted mulies and blacktails for over 30 years using a .308. I started using Remington PSPCL 150 grain factory shells before I started reloading, and after trying for over a year to build a better shooting load, they shoot better in my BLR than any handload I could come up with. The Remington 180 grain PSPCL shoots just as well in my rifle. With the 150 shooting 2 3/4" high at 100 yards, the 180s drop in about 1 1/4 inches lower, and group just as tightly. I have shot many deer with 150s, one moose using a 180, and a ton of fallow deer with the 150s. Most have been one shot kills, from 35 on out to 300-325 yards, with about 60-65% bullet weight retention.
You don't need to load a superfast shell, nor do you need to use an ultra-expensive bullet. ask around to the old guys in your area who always seem to get their deer, and find out what they use. I think you will find that a lot of them use the same box of factory ammunition they bought 5 to 10 years ago, and the fire a test group to check their zero, then one to drop their deer. Buy a bunch of different loads, shoot for group (don't worry about being on the X ring, you can adjust your sights for that when you settle on the load you want to shoot), and when you have a sweet grouping shell, buy a bunch of the same lot number, so you will have ammunition to last you for years. Remember to clean your rifle between groups, let the barrel cool completely between groups, try a fouling shot out of a clean barrel to see if a clean barrel makes a difference in point of impact, then go for group.
A buddy of mine shot doe with a 130 gr (.270) Game King, and it looked like it exploded when it hit rib (big entry wound), went through the deer from the left and lodged just under the skin after breaking the front right leg. Deer ran about 75 yards. Recovered bullet weight 86 grains.
I shot a buck with the same load I shot the doe with. Made a bad shot, high and to the left of there I was aiming. 165 gr GK put a hole through both lungs, and removed at least two inches of spine. Exit wound wasn't very big. That one dropped like a rock.
The 308 is a premier game and target round. It has the horsepower to harvest most game, versatility that may only be exceeded by the 30/06, and the accuracy potential to make most any game rifle a prized possession.
Recoil is moderate, and the rifle is often shorter and lighter than a standard arm, which makes your day after carrying it afield.
Availability of surplus military plinking ammo and inexpensive components does not hurt either.
The above 101 yard group was comprised of the basic Service Rifle Match load. Win case and primer, 44.7 gr Accurate 2520, and 168 Sierra MatchKing. C.O.A.L. is 2.79", to accomodate the Browning's magazine.
Factory Browning barrel, precision prepped brass, but not neck turned. This is not this gun's best group.
I don't own a 308 but have killed a lot of deer with my 270 and 130 grain Remington Corelokt factory ammo. I also have a 7MM mag and bought some Winchester FailSafe CXP2 140 grain ammo and it was awesome on 3 big deer with picture book mushrooming from the recovered bullets. I heard that that ammo is no longer allowed because of some publicity from antigunners. What is the story on that ?? Is Winchester Supreme SilverTip CXP2 for light skinned game such as deer just as good as the FailSafe with the Barnes bullet ??
The advice to try different bullets and powder is spot on. I've used a 308 for over 40 years and found the 150 gr Hornady interlock spire pt. with 48.4 grs of Win 748, ww cases and win LR primers to give me the best groups and results on deer, both whitetail and mulies. I tried some boat tails when they came out and the group really opened up, result, back to the one that worked. Longest shot was 400 +- yds on a mulie and is one of two bullets I've ever recovered, wt retention was 128 grs with classic mushroom. Longest whitetail shot was approx 100 yds headon shot with the second bullet ever recovered, wt retention was 132 grs again classic mushroom. All rifles are sighted in 2 inches high at 100 meters. Good luck on your choice, I don't believe you can go wrong with the caliber.
308 Win. is popular in Ontario. But could not sell a box of 150/165 ammo. My customers have to use 180 ammo. Most interesting.My customers shoot this pump & auto guns. I have always wondered why 150/165 ammo was not more popular for deer hunting. Lots of Ontario hunting is done in wooded areas.